Who writes the Rules (not the Laws) and the Regulations?
As you will know if you visit here often
I rarely comment on men's cricket. Indeed I haven't written much at
all lately but more of that later.
Yesterday, no doubt in the company of
millions of others, I watched the Men's World Cup Final. It was
undoubtedly one of the finest and certainly most closely fought games
I have ever seen appear on my plasma (or is it LCD?) screen. From
minute to minute, especially as the game neared its climax, I was on
the edge of my seat wondering who would manage to hold their nerve and
come out on top in this hard-fought contest.
And, would you believe it, no one did!
As you all know, not only did the match end in a tie but so did the
so-called Super Over (SO), or as a scorer I know insists on calling it
OOPS as the regulations once used this abbreviation for "one over per
side". Now here's a problem! What to do now. Well the regulations will
help us and so we dig into them expecting a logical answer to the
problem in front of us. What might it be?
For instance, could it be we have
another Super Over? Boy, that would really wind up the excitement to a
pitch that prompted one commentator to ask his fellow "Is anyone
selling defibrillators?" Were we going to pile excitement upon
excitement? Well, we could have done but 'No' there was an answer in
the fount of all knowledge. Enough excitement for one day - we can't
have any more...
I know, why don't we work on who who has
lost the fewer wkts? That would be logical. If two teams make an equal
number of runs then the one losing the fewest wickets has obviously
played better on the day. Apparently that wouldn't do either. We need
to drag out the scoresheets and decide who had hit the most boundaries
in the match.
When I heard this I could hardly believe
my ears. Had something changed in the Laws of the game? Were
boundaries suddenly going to be worth more than an equivalent number
of singles? Makes no sense that 1x4 doesn't equal 4x1. Had whoever
written this not done the most basic maths at school? Or was there a
sudden change to the Laws of the game part way through the match and
the later boundaries should be scored as 5 rather than 4. Maybe that
The result to me was highly
unsatisfactory. Please don't get me wrong! I am an England supporter -
well if you've read anything here in the last 22 years you'll already
know that - but this was really not the way I would want 'my' team to
win and it's not the way I would have wanted to win anything back in
the day when I dressed all in white - we hadn't invented coloured
clothing then - well not for the cricket field anyway.
I have to extend my sympathy to New
Zealand. Not only did they not get the rub of the green on the day
(Ross Taylor's dismissal that shouldn't have been, and the extra run
after the ball thrown in from the bounday that hit Ben Stokes' bat
acquired one more run than it should have and put the stronger batsman
on strike) but that's cricket. All human's are fallible including
umpires, and despite some helpful but not fool-proof technology, we
all have to live with that.
Nonetheless, why didn't we have another
SO? It would not only have allowed one side to actually win (for I
fear no one really did with this odd arrangement) or even a third or
fourth. It could so easily have added so much extra drama that those
in their twenties would one day be telling their grandchildren about
it. It was a huge opportunity missed!!! [And don't tell me that's TV
schedules for you - no TV company would have cut away from that!]
For a while I felt I was probably the
only person on this side of the world who held these views when I
received the following from a regular correspondent.
Because it feels
like we won on an arbitrary technicality that has no part in normal
cricket! After 50 overs, in my mind, New Zealand had won because they
had lost fewer wickets. I mean, how do we record wins by the team
batting? We say "won by X wickets" don't we? Do we ever say won by X
boundaries? No. Did we once use wickets as a tie breaker? Unless my
memory is playing tricks, yes we did.
Back to basics is my
Well, at least I'm not totally alone!
In summary, England were lucky, New
Zealand were robbed and cricket was the winner. It is likely to be the
hardest fought match I will watch for many a year and it's a shame the
trophy wouldn't be shared. [Notice I say 'wouldn't not 'couldn't']
That's what both teams really deserved!
Take a look
here. Notice how Clare Connor stresses from time to time the
'consultation' and 'speaking the various people involved including....
volunteers'. It would seem she hasn't been speaking to the same people
I have and, anyone who knows me will know, I speak to quite a few!
She also mentions that women and
girls of any age can find a place in the structure somewhere. If only
this were true for more than a handful of players.
Let's take a closer look.
Number one - I have spoken to coaches of women and girls teams who
work at county level. I meet many of my summer journey around the
country. They have told me, off the record so I will not give their
names or counties, that they have had little, or in some instances, no
input whatever into these decisions, or have been listened to and,
with no feedback, ignored. They
have felt their opinions, in spite of the fact they are the ones
working at the coal face, have been passed over while the opinion of
others, far removed from the actual work, have held sway.
On the second point, the abolition
of the senior county 50-over tournament means many girls/women feel
they have nowhere they wish to go. A number expressed to me forcibly
that the fact that club cricket is in such a poor state that they
don't wish to play "such poor level cricket" . The discussion
apparently is whether to take up tennis or hockey or maybe both and
leave cricket behind. This might apply not only to the many of the
players in the 1st division of county cricket but to a greater number
in lower divisions. Unless you believe that anyone not yet involved in
a KSL or similar team over the age 17 will never be of any use to the
national side, this is idiocy! It's the abandonment of potential
talent. It may well be that girls entering county cricket at 15 to 17
may feel, "have I made the right choice?" At other sports I'll be
able to continue at a decent level even if I don't make it to the top,
while in cricket I won't. Now please don't believe I am in
anyway 'knocking' club cricket even if it may sound like it. They play
a huge part in the recreational side of the sport which is as
important in my opinion as nurturing a national team, but the fact is
that club cricket is in a parlous state overall, even though there are
some glorious exceptions. This fact has already been acknowledged by
Clare Connor in a recent Press statement about the change she
Unless you feel the only future for
women's cricket internationally is the T20 format, the little we know
of the proposed changes also makes no sense. You will know I asked
before who makes the best T20 player - the answer of course being one
who has learned their cricket playing the 50 over version. A glimpse
of the IPL, for instance, easily establishes the point. So why abolish
the county 50-over but keep the T20? It would have been far more
logical, if money is so tight in the women's game you cannot have
both, that you keep the 50-over and abandon the T20. It's just a shame
that cash is in such short supply, when previously both could be
And then we have the proposals
around the "hundred". In view of the above it would seem almost
superfluous to criticise it, but, of course I will do anyway.
It provides even poorer opportunities to train
players for the international arena
No other country in the world has expressed the
slightest interest and some have even stated their opposition to
playing that format themselves.
It is unlikely to produce any more 'bums on seats'
than the KSL has done and in that regard you are trying to fix
something that isn't broken. The first few matches may produce a
'curiosity' factor but let's see if it last more than a few weeks
I predict it will be just as difficult (if not more
difficult) to follow the regulations surrounding the game as that
governing the T20 so the idea of 'simplification so that women can
understand' (one of the most misogynistic expressions I have ever
heard) will not in any event be realised.
A much simpler format could have been devised nearer
to the current T20 if the aim was to shorten the game for TV. A TV
executive (whose level in the hierarchy is unknown to me) expressed
astonishment at the idea it needed to be shorter than a T20. I was
asked where on earth I had got that idea from...) Does it need to
be shorter from the crowd's viewpoint? A simple survey would find
out but my instinct says no. The most sensible suggestion I have
heard is bowl five conventional overs from one end, then swap to the
other end, carry on
like that through the innings. This would have the same effect of
shortening the time required and
the benefit of better equipping players for the international game.
The crowd, having become familiar with T20 cricket, would also more
easily understand the change.
I have heard more
recently that we are to have "strategic time-outs" in the matches.
Well, not only won't they be strategic (I'll explain why in a later
blog) but there goes the time you'd have 'saved' as opposed
The information being released on the 'hundred' seems
more and more confused with every press release.
To FTA or not to FTA
There has been much talk about
the desirability of getting cricket back on free to air TV. Some of
the talking in fact has come from the ECB, forgetting perhaps that it
was their decision that took it off the air in the first place.
This is potentially a
difficult nut to crack. There are two things to balance here. Let's first take the
Participation is a word
on the lips of all those (the vast majority it must be said) of the
supporters of the idea. It is certainly a powerful argument. It
finally acknowledges that the current level of participation in this
sport is not as high as it should be, something apparently
contradicted by the figures released from time to time. This
idea could well work. That, of course, assumes that many more will
watch than currently do on Sky or similar platforms. There should be
an increase but just how many? And how many will be in the age group
that, in women's cricket at least, the ECB will be hoping for. The, in
my opinion, very ageist attitude of the authorities shown by their
cancelling the women's County Championship while leaving the age-group
teams in place, suggests that anyone over 20 watching and thinking I
might like to play that, had better perhaps think hard whether another
sport might not view them similarly, if they would like to get to the
top. Let's all hope the theory works?
How about the case "against"? Well
removing matches from Sky or another commercial broadcaster might well
reduce the amount of money available to the powers that be. Maybe,
even if current remuneration to the few players who receive such is
maintained, perhaps it will be more difficult to increase this and
close the male/female gap. It could mean less cash to support the
grass roots too which is desperately in need of it. Maybe we could
afford to restore women's county cricket, (I wish), that base that has
served England so superbly for decades!
The final proof of the pudding will be, as
always, in the eating. I desperately hope that much of the criticism I
have levelled at the proposed changes will prove to be wrong, but I
cannot pretend that my views are that we are stepping backwards to the
days when we had 'regional' cricket and then expanded out of that
scene. It feels so much like a retrenchment to me.