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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.
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.
Therese Walsh, who is leading New Zealand's operations for the 2015 World Cup, talks to Stuff.co.nz, 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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.