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July 4, 2014
The Bank of England's annual game of cricket has been abolished under the watch of the Bank of England's new governor Mark Carney in a decision that will leave his predecessor Mervyn King aghast.
King was an avowed cricket tragic, a regular mover in high circles at Lord's, and took great delight in being made president of the cricket chairity Chance to Shine.
Carney is a Canadian - with, it appears, traditional Canadian tastes.
This Sunday, the Bank of England's annual sports day in Roehampton, in the south west of London, will offer a game of football (perhaps better known to Carney as soccer), plus other lesser-known pursuits demanding rather less complexity than cricket.
The decision puts clear blue water between Carney and King in a way that his views on house prices or the Bank of England interest rate never quite will.
Carney, who took charge of the Bank last July, asked his 3,500 staff what they wanted to play this year, daring to question the sport that King believed has built England. Rounders, tug o' war and a three-legged race topped the poll. Cricket apparently was seen as too exclusive and technical by non-sporting types. Twas ever thus.
Aware of the effect that key economic decisions can have on the exchange rate, the Bank even took steps to clarify the decision. They exonerated Carney and blamed the staff. Sterling, at a four-year-high against the dollar, recovered after losing nearly half a cent earlier in the day.
"The arrangements for the day were left in the hands of staff," said a bank spokesman. "They chose a number of other sports to play such as rounders and a tug-of-war."
Several governors have been well-known cricket enthusiasts, none more than King, who left The Oval somewhat reluctantly when news of the global financial crisis in 2007-8 began to break. He fielded teams including former professionals such as ex-England batsman Graeme Hick for the sports day. Those who have sat next to him at cricket dinners have discovered an unquenchable interest in the sport.
King is quoted on the Chance to Shine website thus: "Playing cricket at school taught me the importance of practice and teamwork. Captaining a side on the field helped me significantly in my career in later years."
He described cricket, in a way that resonates with ESPNcricinfo, as "the ultimate team game that reaches across boundaries of gender, race and class, offering opportunity to all".
Carney does not seem to see it that way.
George Osborne, the chancellor, has yet to pass comment.
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Alastair Cook has got used to feeling of the axe hanging over him. Only his team-mates can save England now
They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity