SEPTEMBER 28, 2014

County Cricket

Leicestershire's turmoil

Leicestershire have not won a county championship game for two seasons. They are stuck in the second division. They lost promising young talent to other teams as well and were forced to issue a press release accepting the situation needs to change. BBC spoke to former and current players from the county, coaches and administrators to get to the root of the problem and Shiv Thakor, a recent export to Derbyshire, mentioned the off-field support was lacking.

"Leicestershire are going through a rebuilding phase - both on and off the field - and I felt I need to be somewhere where they had an established programme in place. "I really wanted to make a push to play for England and I want go somewhere that will give me an opportunity me to do so and has a structure in place immediately.

JULY 14, 2014

England cricket

Down with flat pitches

England's quicks have been the most overworked in the past year, and they were given little respite at Trent Bridge when India were welcomed with a pitch that wouldn't have looked out of place in Nagpur or Rajkot. Simon Hughes, in the Telegraph, questions the quality of Test cricket on such decks and the ensuing impact on fast bowlers.

Neither of England's opening bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, will be fully fit for Lords. They cannot be. Anderson bowled 59 overs in this match and Broad 54. That is more than 300 deliveries per man. Each ball they charge in 20 yards, jump into their action and land at the crease, putting a force six times their body weight through their knees and ankles. You cannot recover from that in three days. Your body aches for a week after effort of this intensity. Never was it more obvious that bowlers are seen as cricket's expendable labourers.

MAY 11, 2014

New Zealand cricket

Breaking the glass ceiling of sports administration

Therese Walsh, who is leading New Zealand's operations for the 2015 World Cup, talks to, about her accidentally entry into sports administration and the challenges she faced at the beginning. Walsh admitted that she had been mistaken for a secretary on a few trips abroad and said she had faced the little practicalities of "fitting in" in a male-dominated area.

The first few months as a woman in what is often a man's world were not difficult but not a walk in the park, either.
"At the beginning there were some challenges in getting used to it. There were big things like not necessarily talking the same language - men follow sport more closely so it was just trying to figure out how to fit in."
It also boiled down to little practicalities like the expectation that the management and board of sporting organisations will wear ties.
"That doesn't work for a woman. So what do you do for a woman?"

MAY 08, 2014

IPL 2014

Cricket needs red cards

The Pollard-Starc spat was a disgrace to the sport, but also a "by-product of the studied indifference to abuse on a cricket field," writes Harsha Bhogle, in his column for the Times of India. Urging administrators to take stricter action, Bhogle suggests one way to clamp down on boorish behaviour: red cards.

Players and teams have to be hit where it hurts most and I am afraid the Pollard-Starc affair now makes it mandatory to have red cards on a field. If the Mumbai Indians were to lose the services of Pollard and the Royal Challengers were to see Starc sent off at that point in the game, you would never see what you did. And what about the terrible antics of the Chahals and the Bumrahs, the next gen cricketers who are learning bad behaviour as quickly as they are learning cricket.

I am not asking for a genteel tea party, I am asking for a ban on boorish behaviour. The Dravids, the Tendulkars and the Laras became world class, feared cricketers without disrespecting the game; Malinga and Dhoni don't feel the need to put on boxing gloves either.

APRIL 23, 2014

Indian cricket

To thwart BCCI stalling

The BCCI-suggested three-man probe panel was at least two-thirds fair until the far-reaching influence of the BCCI made it obsolete. With the Supreme Court rejecting them, Suresh Menon, in Wisden India believes it is high time the proper authorities are given greater control of the investigation into alleged corruption in the IPL.

But professional investigators have to come into it too: the CBI, the police forces in Delhi, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu. In another month, it will be a year since television pictures of a player with a towel tucked into his trousers shocked a nation. In all that time, the BCCI has merely stonewalled the investigation. Many wasted meetings, air fares, hotel accommodations and daily allowances later, it has nothing to show for its efforts to clean up the game. Neither the spirit nor the flesh is willing.

APRIL 05, 2014

England cricket

Rejigged county schedule to England's rescue?

The England Cricket Board will implement the findings of it's own survey conducted regarding the schedule of county cricket this season. T20s will form Friday evening entertainment, a bulk of the first-class matches shall begin on Sundays now and the action would start in early April. Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, believes the changes will serve well in preparing the national side for the summer ahead.

This was the time of year when county players, on six-month contracts, returned from whatever winter employment (or, too often, unemployment) had brought them. A week's "training" perhaps, which would barely count as a warm-up these days, followed by nets, a university fixture maybe, or practice matches against another county, and then the first championship match of the summer right at the end of April. A personal check tells that in 13 seasons only five of my championship matches began in April, and none started earlier than the 28th of the month.

Now, the first matches begin (rain, of course, is forecast) and almost half of the championship will have been played by the time the team for the first Test against Sri Lanka is picked.

MARCH 30, 2014

West Indies cricket

How will the Pybus Report fare?

West Indies have opted for a host of changes to their cricket structure in their Systems Report for 2014 and Tony Becca in Jamaica Gleaner is impressed with the emphasis on building professionalism in first-class cricket, with 15 players per team playing under contract and top-grade coaching staff on call. But memory serves him to be wary of how they take effect.

I remember also in the days of Jamaica's county championship, a two-day tournament which featured some of the West Indies contracted players, when many of the West Indies players turned up with sick mothers and aunts, fathers and uncles, in places like Canada and England, and were excused from some of the matches. I hope, really hope, nothing like that happens this time around.

MARCH 23, 2014

Indian cricket

The challenges in Jammu & Kashmir cricket

Cricket in Jammu and Kashmir is rife with roadblocks and a lot of them tend to be off the field. Jonathan Selvaraj in the Indian Express explores how the players have had to deal with the haphazard facilities, troubles with terrorism and accusations of bias. But this Ranji season, J&K brushed aside the past and progressed into the Ranji quarterfinals, under the leadership of Parvez Rasool, the first player from the state to be selected for India.

Forty-seven-year-old Abdul Qayoom Bagaw, however, has seen much worse. Now coach of the team, Bagaw is also J&K's leading wicket-taker. The broad-shouldered right-arm quick saw his career suffer because his prime years as a cricketer coincided with the most turbulent time in the Valley. After four regular seasons of first-class cricket, Qayoom had taken 86 wickets, and was poised to leap into the big league. But at the start of the 1992-93 season, a letter arrived home. "It was a death threat signed by militants, warning me not to play for India," says Qayoom, who was 25 then. He didn't turn up for his side that year.

MARCH 21, 2014

England cricket

KP for England captain?

The ECB have closed the book on Kevin Pietersen and have been urging the English fans to bid farewell to the talismanic batsman. Ted Corbett, writing in the Hindu, prefers to walk to a different tune and offers examples of previous comebacks from improbable circumstances

I would be happy to see Pietersen walking out to bat for England again -- say in the first Test against India -- and it would also give me pleasure to hear that he had been made captain once again. When Geoff Boycott stepped down from his England spot there were many who thought that at 36 he would not play for England again. Eventually Alec Bedser, chairman of selectors, saw that if England was to be great again Boycott had to return and made it his business to negotiate a way back.

FEBRUARY 12, 2014

India cricket

IPL clean-up needs hard evidence

Writing in the Hindustan Times, Kadambari Murali Wade, the former editor of Sports Illustrated India shares her experience of meeting with the Mudgal Committee that was probing the spot-fixing and corruption charges in IPL 2013.

Drawing on her experience of an investigative story published in the magazine, and her interactions with the committee, she says that mere allegations or suggestions of corruption by the committee are not likely to help the cause of Indian cricket.

The ACSU does get information from several sources, players, journalists, officials etc. They reportedly even have several players on an unofficial watchlist. However, they find it difficult to push forward because of a lack of evidence that will stand up in court. Against this backdrop, it is interesting to note that a Supreme Court-appointed committee seems to think there is enough "evidence".

Everyone knows that Indian cricket needs to be cleaned up. But it can't be done on the basis of allegations, unless they've received hard evidence, allegations by a committee of this magnitude could be even more damaging.

OCTOBER 19, 2013

England news

ECB pick a diamond for a managing director

Simon Hughes in the Telegraph lauds the ECB's decision to appoint former England wicketkeeper Paul Downton as the board's managing director, stating that the latter is more than capable of rising to the challenges of his new job.

Behind the benign facade was a determination and a commitment to succeed and a total dedication to the team. He does not possess an iota of selfishness, and willingly took on the most demanding role both for Middlesex and subsequently for England, keeping wicket, cheerleading and batting in the middle order. He made the most of his ability. Many times having laboured for hours behind the stumps against the all-conquering West Indies, he went in to face the full wrath of their fearsome pace attack when the chips were down and stabilised the innings. He was a human pacifier.

OCTOBER 01, 2013

Indian cricket

The challenges facing N Srinivasan

Deccan Herald runs an editorial on the challenges facing N Srinivasan and the responsibilities to be undertaken by the man who was recently re-elected as BCCI president for a third term.

The way Srinivasan mowed down his detractors was quite ruthless. Niranjan Shah and Sudhir Dabir were shown the door at the first hint of taking sides with the rival camp led by Sharad Pawar and Shashank Manohar. Lalit Modi, once his closest aide and now his strongest critic, has been banned for life from the activities of the BCCI. It's time then for Srinivasan to show the same diligence while reconstructing the battered image of BCCI.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

South African cricket

South Africa's domestic players brace for impact

South Africa versus India was billed as one of the premier clashes of the 2013 calendar. Now, however, the tour is almost certain to be stunted from the original three Tests, if not abandoned altogether as the respective boards are locked in a power struggle. If the tour is scrapped, not only will the fans be deprived of some great cricket, Cricket South Africa's finances will also take a big hit. Every domestic cricketer could end up losing R160,000, writes Neil Manthorp in Business Day.

In South Africa the percentage of Cricket SA's (CSA's) gross revenue that comes the way of the players is a little under 20%. If India's tour of South Africa at the end of 2013 is severely curtailed, as it now has to be if it is not cancelled altogether, the likely loss of revenue to CSA will be in the region of R200m. Twenty percent of that is R40m, of which 40% goes directly to the domestic players in the six franchises, a sum of about R2.7m. Each franchise has a contracted squad of about 17 players, which breaks down to an average of R160,000 per player.

AUGUST 07, 2013

Indian cricket

Grassroots the way

The KSCA have targeted grassroots cricket in order to find the next crop of Indian cricketers, and perhaps more importantly, Anil Kumble's management are attempting to provide young cricketers easy access to every facility needed to better their career. So a 33-acre plot of land in Alur, an hour and 20 minutes from Bangalore, has been fashioned into a cricket academy, with hopes of eventually becoming a Centre of Excellence, writes Venkat Ananth in Yahoo Cricket

Inaugurated in June 2012, the Alur facility now houses the Royal Challenge-KSCA Academy, headed by Indian legend Gundappa Viswanath. Srinath said, "Initially, academies in Karnataka were used for specific representational teams, like the Under-19 squad would train here for a camp ahead of a tournament. Access was limited, and it would almost seem like a transit camp. But now the idea is to make full use of the facility all round the year."

JULY 02, 2013

India cricket

BCCI and the pervasive stench of corruption

In Caravan magazine, Prem Panicker comments on the culture of a 'moral safe-house' within the BCCI, a result of the fact that the board has done little to guard itself against corruption as was evident from the recent instances of conflict of interest within the board.

The problem is rooted in the fact that in the years since 1996, the BCCI perfected to a fine art the business of cricket, and brought unimaginable wealth into the sport, without any revision of operating procedures to guard against corruption. Thus means, opportunity, and the ability to rationalise aberrant behavior--the three classic elements of the fraud triangle--came together. And to this, the BCCI systematically added a fourth element as a safety net: over-arching political patronage.

JULY 01, 2013

Pakistan Cricket

PCB fail to make a stand

The schedule of all ICC events until 2023 was determined at the governing body's annual conference in London this June and Pakistan will not be hosting any during that period. Former ICC president Ehsan Mani, in the Express Tribune, criticises the PCB and its acceptance of this proposal, while urging the board to take the necessary steps to bring international cricket back to Pakistan

This development reflects the sad state of affairs within the PCB. The body has been dysfunctional and there has been no strategic planning or a roadmap to bring back international cricket to Pakistan. The bottomline is that no progress has been made since the tragic attack on the Sri Lankan team. They have basically adopted a hit-and-miss approach in asking various cricket boards to pity them and visit. This unprofessional attitude has put them in no-man's land.

JUNE 28, 2013

Pakistan cricket

The talented Mr Najam Sethi

Mani Khawaja insists criticism against Najam Sethi's appointment as interim president of the PCB is a sign of people wanting to stir things up. He says Pakistan cricket is in good hands, even if they are largely inexperienced in cricket administration, through a satirical blog entry in the Express Tribune.

With a deteriorating infrastructure that was failing to produce quality cricketing talent, mired in controversies and allegations of nepotism and sexual misconduct, a very capable and seasoned pair of hands was needed to steer the ship back into steady waters.

And that is why the current government went with Najam Sethi, a senior journalist with no prior experience in cricketing matters whatsoever

JUNE 23, 2013

The Investec Ashes 2013

Australia need to learn to love the coach

An unsettled Australian team has historically never done well in England and with problems regarding the team surfacing on this tour, questions are being asked of Australia's ability to match England in the upcoming Ashes. How they counter these problems, according to Tim Lane in the Age, will depend on team unity and the backing that the coaching staff - specifically Mickey Arthur and Pat Howard - can provide to Michael Clarke.

Australian cricket took a long time to accept the concept of a coach. Bob Simpson was the first and he was eventually forced out for being too interventionist. Ian Chappell, who profoundly influenced Australian cricketers over more than one generation, always said coaches were for transportation from hotel to ground. Shane Warne, whose level of influence needs no elaboration, was similarly dismissive. These two are archetypal figures of Australian cricket and their views resonate. Right now, though, it's hard to avoid the view that Clarke needs all the support he can get from off the field. And if that involves tough love, so be it. Those who are causing trouble need to be confronted with the type of coaching discipline footballers expect to receive if they wilfully step out of line.

MAY 25, 2013

IPL fixing controversy

The IPL needs a scrub down

With the IPL facings its toughest credibility test, the Indian Express' editor-in-chief, Shekhar Gupta, highlights the flaws in the governance of the tournament, including the conflicts of interest that border on corporate fraud and "cricketing permissiveness". The controversy, he says, has presented the BCCI with a critical choice where they can either make the IPL a serious cricket league or reduce it to a mere spectacle.

Some controversy hits the IPL every year. But this controversy is by far the most crippling. Because this has put the credibility of the very league in doubt. It has brought criticism and apprehension to the minds of all kinds of stakeholders, from politicians, who want to nationalise the BCCI or ban the IPL, to Pepsi, which may want out as its lead sponsor. This time, the BCCI cannot blame a mere individual and hang him. Nor can it rely on the old cynical and lazy notion that cash will solve all problems. It has to clean up not just the IPL, but itself, make a promise of transparency and offer itself voluntarily to some kind of an impartial, outside oversight, if not RTI

MARCH 29, 2013

Indian Premier League 2013

Stance on SL players against IPL's spirit

Since its inception, the Indian Premier League has gained recognition not just for the talent on display but for the role it has played in sustaining the sport around the world. Given this stature, the recent controversy surrounding the participation of Sri Lankan players and the IPL's response to the issue may have done the game a disservice, writes Mini Kapoor in the Indian Express.

The roll call of names is important because this expedient measure is, in the end, about them. It is not based on some abstract principle of not playing cricket with another country, which, highly debatable though it may have been, would have moved the discussion away from the field of play. As the state of play currently stands, Sri Lankan players are very much part of the IPL, they will play at other venues, and it is only on account of presumed security concerns in Tamil Nadu that they will not be allowed to alight on the Chennai ground. This move is, then, clearly not about using sport as an element of coercive diplomacy to pressure the Sri Lankan government to deliver on devolution, reconciliation and rehabilitation. It is only targeted at a bunch of individuals to make some point -- which is what exactly?