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Cricket News & Views

ICC look at new tech to end chucking

NEW "wearable" technology is to be introduced by the ICC to settle doubts about illegal actions, a problem that still occasionally hurts cricket, especially at international development level.

The ICC announced from Dubai this week that they had entered a second phase of an agreement with a consortium of high profile Australian cricket, sports science and sports engineering institutions to test the legality of bowling actions in match and training conditions.

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In the past umpires have reported doubtful actions, and players have been suspended for remedial work, but borderline cases have not been satisfactorily settled by the ICC's use of relatively crude technology. Muttiah Muralitharan in exasperation used his own 'technology' in 2004 -- a plastercast on his right arm -- to prove he could bowl his doosra and those huge off-spinners stiff-armed without a hint of a throw. This was not in the ICC street, effective though it was at silencing sceptics. The Sri Lankan achieved his turn with a strong shoulder action and double-jointed wrists. He looked as though he threw without actually doing so, hence the controversy.

The ICC have been working with experts to produce a process capable of measuring bowlers’ actions in a match environment. Known as inertial sensors, they employ similar technology to that used in iPads, mobile phones and car crash impact detection systems.

The ICC are expecting the technology to be light, cost effective and wearable on the bowler’s arm, not hindering performance while still allowing information about the throw-like features of an illegal action to be assessed in near real time in both match and training environments.

Bowlers under report for a suspicious bowling action are currently required to attend an ICC-approved biomechanics laboratory to assess the amount of elbow extension in their bowling action.

It seems as though, from the ICC news release, that the technology will eventually become widely available so that individual countries and elite centres can monitor their own players. Actions can be scrutinised and adapted without too much fuss and cost.

The research team comprises sport scientists and engineers from Griffith University’s centre for wireless monitoring and applications in Brisbane (Engineers Dr. Daniel James and Dr. Andrew Wixted), the Australian Institute of Sport’s biomechanics department in Canberra (Cricket Biomechanist Mr. Wayne Spratford) and Cricket Australia’s centre of excellence in Brisbane.

The project is being managed on behalf of the ICC by Praxis Sport Science Pty Ltd, an Australian-based sports science consultancy company headed up by Dr Marc Portus. Dr Portus was involved with the original research behind the 15 degree tolerance threshold for illegal actions when he worked as a Biomechanist for the Australian Institute of Sport and Cricket Australia.

The second phase of the three-phase project will conclude in late 2013 and is concerned with the technology’s measurement methods and precision against current laboratory protocols. In 2014 phase three will focus on making the technology more comfortable for players as well as maximising wireless data transmission and battery life.

ICC chief executive, David Richardson, said: "The ICC is keen to see this technology implemented in elite cricket and believe it will be a significant stride forward in detecting illegal bowling actions in match conditions.

"We would also like to see the technology used in training environments as a tool to help bowlers correct their flawed bowling action. We are encouraged by the progress made so far by the Australian research team and also acknowledge the MCC, who have made a significant financial contribution to the project."

Posted by Author Name
29/08/2012 12:14:32

Interpol offering reality check

INTERPOL, the international policing organisation, have offered to help the ICC by taking steps to prevent organised crime from infiltrating cricket. This follows hard on the warning by the ECB this week that the domestic game in England remains vulnerable to corruption.

A cold draught has been blowing into the game since the Pakistan corruption case at Southwark Crown Court in November, when one half-expected giant screens to flash up "guilty" like a third umpire's verdict. Reality is very much upon us.

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Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were sent to prison, guilty of cheating and accepting corrupt payments. Their fixer Mazhar Majeed, the classic dodgy dealer, was given the longest sentence, two years eight months, for conspiring to cheat and for making corrupt payments. This was the first time that corruption had led to more than mere suspensions by the International Cricket Council. The events in London involved not just a trudge back to the pavilion but barristers... police... prison officers... cold walls...

And now the Interpol secretary general Ronald K Noble, on a two-day tour of India, has offered an arrangement to the ICC president Sharad Pawar and Indian Cricket Board vice-president Rajiv Shukla that would give them access to Interpol intelligence, as with football. FIFA agreed a 10-year deal for almost £13,000 in May to keep tabs on global betting and to monitor the activities of suspected match-fixing syndicates. With support from FIFA, an Interpol centre in Singapore is being planned to promote 'integrity in sports'.

Noble described the meeting with Pawar and Shukla as "cordial" and "positive" and he added: "We would like to have a prevention programme put in place, when there are incidences of young players, agents and officials taking money to fix matches. We know these young players are easy targets."

One should remember that Hansie Cronje, a self-confessed crook, was never prosecuted by the South African law enforcers for spot-fixing. The issue was funked and never progressed beyond the King Commission inquiry. The Pakistan fixing case in London became a landmark when the sanction was prison.

Bearing in mind that the Southward courtroom must have witnessed many cases of violent crime, lawyers had to talk hard to show that deliberately overstepping a white line for betting purposes in 2010 was a serious offence that produced victims. The prosecution succeeded in arguing that the viewing public, especially, did not deserve to be cheated while players enriched themselves on a separate bookmakers' agenda. But was 'acting' cricket on brief occasions worth prison?

The former England batsman Geoff Boycott reckoned the authorities should lock up these people "and throw away the key". As the fixer had had the gall in court to claim Boycott as his friend -- they met in a hotel lobby once -- one could predict his fury, but it is a safe bet that his suggestion will not reach the statute book.

Mr Justice Cooke spoke of the damage to the "image and integrity" of cricket and the betrayal of followers of the game. He said he would have heavily extended the two-year six-month sentence given to Butt, the captain, as a clear deterrent if the player had not been already banned from cricket for five years.

To me, one of the sourest aspects was the conspiracy that gave Butt power. The position of the incorruptible Shahid Afridi as captain of the Test team became untenable when undermined by a nucleus of players, including a few not on trial, so that the Pakistan Board was hoodwinked into promoting Butt for the series in England last year. The jury heard how Afridi's presence made fixing very difficult and that the gang needed him out of the way. So here was one victim at least. It was not just about a white line.

Watching sport -- events that matter when they do not really matter -- requires suspension of disbelief for enjoyment. A bottle of beer thrown at a television screen by an over-emotional viewer might be the extreme example, but integrity lies at the heart of all sport. In my view athletes caught cheating with performance-enhancing drugs should be jailed just like the cricketers. The athletics and cycling authorities should have called in the police a long time ago. And they still have not. With soft suspensions the only deterrent, the moral aspect is now dreadfully distorted. The thinking has changed. To some athletes -- and to some lawyers, one imagines -- drugs are only no-go if they are officially banned. New dope is fine until the authorities update the list...

Individualistic sports such as tennis and snooker have been long vulnerable to corruption, but the advent of spot-betting on live television -- wagers on small events such as wides or no-balls during play -- has brought cricket into focus, as with football. The key problem for cricket is that there is no regulation of the biggest gambling market, India and the subcontinental region, where betting is illegal. The boom in cricket has produced a multi-billion pound bookmaking industry where no suspicious betting patterns can be detected in the way that protects above-board bookmakers. Heavy wagers on an Amir no-ball at Lord's, for example, would sound alarm bells in a regulated market outside Mumbai or Dubai.

Cricket is a quirky game built on justice while the fielding side gang up against the batsmen. Umpires make judgments, sometimes on appeal, and uphold the Laws. At international level the 'third' umpire waits in his studio, ready with cameras and infra-red detectors to adjudicate at an on-field umpire's request. When camera back-up for run-outs and stumpings began in 1992, red and green lights were used for the verdict. Red meant 'in' at first before being changed to 'out'. Almost inevitably the wrong button was once pressed by mistake, in Karachi in 1994, so that the South Africa batsman Dave Richardson was given out when he should have been in. Here was press-button injustice of the cruellest kind. But at least this was not a Crown Court.

Posted by Charlie Randall
17/12/2011 10:53:37

ICC start Pakistan talk shop

THE Pakistan Task Team, a panel set up under Giles Clarke by the ICC to drag Pakistan cricket out of the mire after spot-fixing allegations, has underlined the zero-tolerance policy towards corruption.

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The panel's main activity has been to help educate players on corruption issues and to make reforms to restore confidence in the administration of the game in Pakistan. The ICC are taking a well-worn path and, while intentions remain good, it is easy to see Clarke's group as another talk shop. In practical terms the cancer of corruption is extremely difficult to stamp out, especially while betting remains illegal in India, with unusual betting patterns impossible to monitor. In the meantime the ICC are having to rely on 'messages'.

The game in Pakistan has been damaged by terrorism and by the corruption allegations against Mohammad Amir and Salman Butt, a captain with some serious explaining to do at the ICC hearing to be heard by Michael Beloff QC in Qatar on October 30-31. Amir and Butt are contesting their suspension by the ICC. The third player under a cloud, Mohammad Asif, decided to withdraw his appeal.

The provisional suspensions were imposed on the players in accordance with the ICC Anti-Corruption Code after they were charged with various offences under the code on September 2. The charges followed revelations by The News of the World newspaper and subsequent investigations by the ICC’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit into ‘spot-fixing’ allegations. Beloff will be considering only the suspensions and not the substantive charges laid against the players.

ECB chairman Clarke was joined in an ICC teleconference by members of his task team, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt and the Board's senior general manager Subhan Ahmed. The discussion, a process that followed a recent ICC board meeting in Dubai, included raising awareness of anti-corruption issues among international players, particularly those from Pakistan, and supporting the country's urgent delivery of anti-corruption policies, processes and education.

The panel supported the Pakistan Board in reviewing its structures and making reforms necessary to restore confidence in the administration of the game in Pakistan, and the enforcing of the ICC's zero-tolerance approach to protect the integrity of international cricket.

The PTT received an update on the agreed measures that the Pakistanis had already started to introduce. ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "We are encouraged by the excellent progress reported and also the willingness of the Pakistan Cricket Board to embrace the ICC recommendations. However, we can never be complacent nor distracted in our determination to tackle corruption.

"Recognising that integrity is fundamental, the Board was unanimous and showed absolutely no compromise in taking steps to ensure the public retains confidence in the game."

Lorgat said all 105 ICC members were advised to immediately consider and undertake the following actions:

>To remind all registered players, support personnel and member board officials about their responsibilities, the ICC's clear stance on corruption, the need to abide by the ICC Anti-Corruption Code and that failure to take these measures could result in severe penalties.

>To review the adequacy of processes and procedures to protect against all threats of corruption (domestic or international) and, where necessary, introduce new measures which would include a domestic anti-corruption code that mirrors the ICC code.

>To review player contracts and introduce relevant clauses to ensure players comply with all relevant anti-corruption rules and regulations.

Lorgat added: "We have issued a broad advisory to every ICC Member about the need to root out corruption from our great sport. This advisory requests all international players and support personnel to sign a once-off declaration before participating in the next FTP match and/or ICC event. Such declaration is intended to serve as an important reminder of the spirit in which the game is meant to be played, the importance of its integrity and their roles and responsibilities in this regard."

The task team meeting reminded the Pakistan Board of its agreement to encourage all its players to come forward and disclose to the Anti-Corruption and Safety Unit any relevant information which will be treated as strictly confidential.

Mr Lorgat said: "Every single player who cares about the game should step forward and help us to eradicate corruption from the game. I can assure that such disclosures will be treated in strict confidence."

Pakistan Task Team: Giles Clarke (England, ICC director), Peter Chingoka (Zimbabwe, ICC director), Haroon Lorgat (ICC chief executive), David Richardson (ICC general manager, cricket), Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka, ICC chief match referee), Mike Brearley (England), Ramiz Raja (Pakistan).

Posted by Charlie Randall
24/10/2010 13:33:03

ICC powerless to stop the cheating

THE unpalatable truth is that the ICC can do very little to stop spot-fixing in international cricket. This has been apparent ever since Hansie Cronje, captain of South Africa, was exposed as a greedy cheat in 2000.

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Cronje showed remorse, perhaps genuine, though he was probably more upset at being caught. He was forced to own up to spot-fixing as the result of compromising cellphone conversations with underworld characters recorded by Indian police, and he never admitted anything that was not put to him at the King Inquiry. He was proud to insist that he never threw an actual match, though he did entertain the idea in the presence of an incredulous dressing room.

Yet some people in South Africa were satisfied that Cronje had made "a mistake" and that he should be forgiven and allowed back into the game. Apologists, presumably those who did not understand sport, even remembered him as a saintly figure who carried the sins of others. In short, his misdemeanors had been a blip.

The ICC can ban mobile phones from dressing rooms and keep peripheral people at a distance during match days. That helps, but the bottom line is that a sector of society sees fixing incidents in a mere game as none too serious. Compared with murder and violence, it isn't serious, even though the consequences are far-reaching. Tainted sport is undermined as a meaningful event, and that is all. That is very very damaging for sports followers, but the courts would have a hard job proving that no-balls and dropped catches are deliberate.

The possible charges against Mazhar Majeed would be for defrauding bookmakers and not for ruining professional cricket. Even the players under a cloud -- Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and the captain Salman Butt after allegedly arranging no-balls at certain points in the match -- will not face a prison term.

The best defence against the fixers is for the players themselves to report any approaches immediately, as already required. That is what the home boards expect of all those with international aspirations. Players are told that co-operating with fixers over something 'harmless' such as the weather or a wide would leave them open to blackmail and far deeper involvement.

Pakistan players have become more vulnerable than ever. There has been so little income after terrorist activity ruled out international home matches. Relatively low pay leaves all of them open to the temptation of great wealth.

There was a rumour circulating after the 1999 World Cup in England that an England seam bowler was offered a few thousand for starting with a wide, which could be a normal occurrence. How many readers of this column could honestly say they would not bowl one wide early in a match with, say, £10,000 on offer?

The following year the Cronje story broke. Several Pakistan and India players were 'at it' and were exposed by circumstantial evidence that nevertheless did not withstand legal testing on appeal. Once a senior group in a team acquire the taste of corruption their influence becomes very powerful and invasive.

Posted by Charlie Randall
30/08/2010 16:49:40

Umpire Gould set for the Italian job

THE English international umpire Ian Gould is Italy-bound this week to officiate in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Four, the pathway to World Cup qualification for minor countries.

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The tournament starts in Bologna on Saturday, with Gould adding experience to the umpiring panel and David Jukes acting as referee. Tension can boil over in these events, and the Division Five tournament in Nepal was scarred by serious crowd trouble. The United States and Nepal were promoted and compete in Division Four alongside Italy, Cayman Islands, Argentina and Tanzania on Aug 14-21.

Two sides will be promoted as they push towards inclusion in the ICC World Cup 2015. The Division Three tournament is to be held in Hong Kong in January 2011.

Commenting on the upcoming tournament Steve Massiah, the American captain, said: "We have good knowledge of Nepal, who we played against in February, and also Cayman Islands and Argentina, whom we have regularly played, including as recently as May in ICC Americas Division One and we beat them on both occasions. The other two teams we don’t know so well, but I’m confident we’re prepared and ready to continue moving up the World Cricket League ladder."

This will be the first global ICC event to be hosted in Italy. Matches will be played at three venues in the Bologna area at Pianoro, Medicina and Bologna.

WCL Division Four schedule

Aug 14: United States v Nepal (Pianoro); Italy v Cayman Islands (Medicina); Tanzania v Argentina (Bologna)

Aug 15: Italy v Nepal (Pianoro); Argentina v Cayman Islands (Medicina); United States v Tanzania (Bologna)

Aug 16: Rest/Reserve Day

Aug 17: Italy v Argentina (Pianoro); Nepal v Tanzania (Medicina); United States v Cayman Islands (Bologna)

Aug 18: Cayman Islands v Tanzania (Pianoro); Italy v United States (Medicina); Nepal v Argentina (Bologna)

Aug 19: Rest/Reserve Day

Aug 20: United States v Argentina (Pianoro); Cayman Islands v Nepal (Medicina); Tanzania v Italy (Bologna)

Aug 21: Final (Pianoro); third/fourth play-off (Medicina); fifth/sixth play-off (Bologna)

ARGENTINA: Esteban MacDermott (capt), Grant Dugmore, Agustin Casime, Alejandro Ferguson, Pablo Ferguson, Donald Forrester, Tomas Francis, Carlos Gibson, Diego Lord, Lucas Paterlini, Matias Paterlini, Pablo Ryan, Gary Savage, Martin Siri.

CAYMAN ISLANDS: Saheed Mohamed (capt), Pearson Best, Ryan Bovell, Kervin Ebanks, Paul Chin, Marlon Byran, Ricardo Roach, Jaylon Linton, Abali Hoilett, Conroy Wright, Alassandra Morris, Kevin Bazil, Ramon Sealy, Ronald Ebanks.

ITALY: Alessandro Bonora (capt), Roshendra Suroshan Abewickrama, Din Alaud, Dilan Shameera Fernando Arsakulasuriya, Damien Crowley, Gayashan Ranga de Silva Munasinghe, Thushara Achintha Kurukulasuriya, Damian Muthunamagonnage Fernando, Andrew Northcoste, Nicholas Northcote, Hayden Patrizi dell’Agnello, Peter Petricola, Michael Raso, Stanly Hemantha Samaraweera Kankanamge.

NEPAL: Paras Kadka (capt), Gyanendra Malla, Shakti Gauchan, Sharad Vesawkar, Mahesh Kumar Chhetri, Anil Kumar Mandal, Amrit Battarai, Basant Regmi, Binod Kumar Das, Sanjam Regmi, Rahul Kumar Vishwakarma, Mahaboob Alam, Manjeet Shrestha, Pradeep Airee.

TANZANIA: Hamzi Abdallah (capt), Abhik Patwa, Hasnain Damji, Khalil Rehemtulla, Seif Khalifa, Riziki Kiseto, Kassim Nassoro, Issa Kikasi, Enjo Kiongozi, Shaheed Danani, Rashidi Amiri, Benson Mwita, Harsh Ramaiya, Ally Kimote.

UNITED STATES: Steve Massiah (capt), Muhammad Asad Ghous, Steven Taylor, Rashard Marshall, Sushil Nadkarni, Timroy Allen, Orlando Baker, Carl Wright, Aditya Thyagarajan, Adrian Gordon, Lennox Cush, Khawaja Usman Shuja, Kevin Darlington, Nasir Javed.

Posted by Charlie Randall
09/08/2010 10:09:05

ICC bow to Nepal stone-throwers

THE stone-throwing Nepal public, not the cricketers, helped their team to promotion from Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five in February, and the ICC have concluded they is nothing they can do until they amend the rules.

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The ICC have published their report into the day when the unruliness of the 12,000 crowd affected the match between Nepal and United States in Kathmandu. The suspension of play at Tribhuvan University for 48 minutes and recalculation of the run target led directly to Nepal pipping Singapore to promotion that day by 0.004 on run-rate.

The Singapore Cricket Association complained immediately after they realised there had been an unfair influence in the round-robin tournament, but the ICC investigation panel said they found no reason to change the final placings or impose sanctions. There was no remedy for retrospective justice within the rules.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said the decision was a "most unfortunate outcome" for Singapore and added: "While everyone agrees that this was a regrettable incident and one which we do not want to see repeated, there is no justifiable basis to promote Singapore, and such temptation would create a dangerous precedent to the integrity of competition and the playing regulations."

Really? Brick, rock and stone throwing by a hostile Nepal crowd turned the competition on its head. Singapore would have been home and dry without the shortening of the match due to action beyond the boundary. Unfortunately for Singapore the panel found no way of administering natural justice. Suspending Nepal from the next Division Four tournament and allowing Singapore to fill the gap might have been one way, but this did not form part of the investigation remit. 

Players could have been killed, according to the tournament referee, and they had to shelter in the pavilion. So why would it be a "dangerous precedent" to prevent a crowd from influencing the outcome of a competition? In fact the ICC panel did indeed consider the crowd action to be a dangerous precedent because their report made recommendations that sanctions be introduced in the future.

The panel members were David Richardson (ICC general manager of cricket), David Becker (ICC head of legal) and Ravi Sawani (general manager of the Anti Corruption and Security Unit). The ICC said that the scope of the investigation, based on the complaints and concerns raised initially by the Singapore Cricket Association, included:

(a) Conduct of the match officials during the match;

(b) Conduct of the event technical committee;

(c) Computation of the net run rate and the argument of ‘unfair advantage’ lodged by SCA;

(d) Alleged breaches of security policy on the part of Cricket Association of Nepal ;

(e) Allegations of possible corruption in the match

Only the argument of unfair advantage was really relevant. Apart from crowd control, the match day was run faultlessly, and the ICC said in a press release: "The inquiry found no evidence to support the claims of the Singapore Cricket Association, but made recommendations that the proposed Mandatory Safety Standards, being introduced by the ICC Security Task Force, considers including sanctions against the home board when the home crowd interrupts a match or a home crowd interrupts a match such that the home team benefits."

After the crowd incidents the Cricket Association of Nepal agreed to hold no further international cricket at the university venue until certain remedial measures were carried out. These measures included reconstruction of the boundary wall that supplied the stones thrown by members of the crowd.

The match on Feb 26 went badly for Nepal, who could afford to lose -- but not too badly. The Americans were cruising at 150-5 off 32 overs in pursuit of the home total of 162-9 when the trouble erupted. Play did not restart for 48 minutes and, as per the playing regulations, the United States target was recalculated according to the Duckworth-Lewis Method to 157 off 46 overs. Nepal knew that delaying an inevitable defeat by one or two balls would be enough to protect their run-rate. The United States duly won to become champions and Nepal grabbed second place ahead of Singapore, who won easily elsewhere on the same day.

Full ICC report:

Match report: Scroll down to 'Americans caught in Nepal riot scare'

Posted by Charlie Randall
11/05/2010 11:43:52

IPL needs to prove its integrity

THE SALE of two further franchises at Pune and Kochi for a combined price of $703 million for an eight-year term has underlined the fact that the Indian Premier League is here to stay. This is fine while the Board of Control for Cricket in India does remain in 'control', but the landscape will change soon.

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In 2012 the IPL is due to become a public company and the whole concept will become more aggressive. There were five bidders for the latest franchises and they were all described as "very high quality" by the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.

The Pune franchise was bought by Sahara Adventure Sports Group for $370 million. This western town is quite close to Bombay where Mumbai Indians were bought by Reliance Industries for $112.9 million two years ago, the most expensive of the eight 10-year franchises that formed the inaugural IPL. One can easily assume that all franchises have at least tripled in value, and this fire-breathing dragon could eventually destroy cricket's structure. The IPL  needs to show it has lasting value to enhance the game, not destroy it.

Most of the franchises, perhaps all, make a profit in view of the television interest and large stadium crowds that boost merchandising income. The franchises share 72 per cent of the broadcasting rights, which have topped $1,000 million. If the IPL becomes a public corporation as planned, the circuit is bound to expand and overlap with seasons in other countries, causing friction that will not be oiled by altruism. The good of the game of cricket will not feature in the thinking.

It will be interesting to see how many viewers ITV4 will attract in the afternoon for their daily IPL matches. If the figures seem healthy, the ECB will have some data to tempt future terrestrial coverage of games from the English circuit. However, as the ECB are currently arguing strongly that a Sky monopoly is the only route to survival, ITV's interest in cricket comes at an inconvenient time.

There are drawbacks to the IPL, clearly a credible rival in world-wide appeal to Premier League football. The Twenty20 format is not actually ideal for television because the ball flies all over the place, forcing frequent camera switches. Unlike longer matches, the short format allows the highest quality players only a short time on view.

Most viewers are not particularly bothered which Indian team wins unless perhaps they are Asian, and the action can be crippled by bursts of gormless commentary. Hyperbole comes tumbling out -- "there it goes, waaaaay into the crowd" -- and the words are too often waaaay over the top. After all, sixes are not uncommon.

No one should be surprised at the success of the T20 format because, after all, cricket took root in the 18th and 19th Century as a game of coloured clothing and violent hitting with curved bat against underarm bowling. Matches were quite short and sweet, and betting was an important element among the crowds that attended. It was not cricket's fault that an age of elegance, close-mown pitches and over-arm bowling changed the game's earthy character.

Test cricket is bound to decline in importance, especially on the subcontinent, in the West Indies and probably in Southern Africa. Big-money 20-over leagues offer a big draw, despite the ICC's laudable determination to hang on to the status quo. The MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw sees a future with fewer teams and players involved in Test cricket, coinciding with a near-doubling of international T20 sides in five years' time.

Writing in the April issue of The Wisden Cricketer magazine, Bradshaw said: "I consider myself optimistic, but it isn’t difficult to look ahead and see the pessimists’ apocalyptic version of the future of the game, where Tests are virtually redundant, Twenty20 saturates and players are globe-trotting mercenaries."

He continued: "We know several players have already forgone playing Tests to prolong more lucrative Twenty20 careers, but I believe the more covert long-term problem will be that young players will be schooled purely in the Twenty20 game and be unable to adapt to the demands of cricket played over three, four and five days. The transition from Test to Twenty20 cricket is much easier than the other way round, and the result could be far fewer players capable of playing five-day cricket."

Bradshaw said that while Test cricket remained the pinnacle of the game its position should not be taken for granted. "We have a warped sense of the well-being of Tests in England because they attract good crowds. Yet there is a real danger that the format could become the preserve of four or five countries unless efforts are made to reinstate a fairer balance between bat and ball, to work alongside rather than against Twenty20 competitions to ensure players do not have to choose between playing for their country and their club, and to attract new audiences.

"Twenty20 could sound the death knell for Test cricket, but it could also prove to be the perfect vehicle for the expansion of the game into other countries. The shorter the game, the greater the leveller and Twenty20 is an excellent pathway into the elite fold – just think of the fairy-tale qualification of Afghanistan for this year’s World Twenty20."

Looking ahead he said: "I firmly believe the next big step will be the growth of cricket in the United States and it’s not unrealistic to think there could be 20 countries capable of playing competitive Twenty20 cricket within the next five years – surely something to celebrate."

The April issue of The Wisden Cricketer celebrated Sachin Tendulkar’s historic one-day double century against South Africa by featuring the India maestro on the front cover. This sort of innings cannot exist in T20.

Posted by Charlie Randall
24/03/2010 19:39:37

ICC investigate Nepal trouble

AN investigation is to be held by the ICC into the events surrounding the Pepsi ICC World League Division Five match between Nepal and United States, which was interrupted by an unruly crowd at the Tribhuvan University ground in Kathmandu last week.

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Rocks and bottles were thrown on to the outfield, and the time lost on the suspended play, adjusted by Duckworth Lewis method, allowed Nepal to pip Singapore for promotion on net run-rate by a tiny fraction -- in fact by two balls. If the United States had taken two balls fewer to seal their five-wicket win to top the table, Nepal would have missed the two promotion slots.

The ICC will investigate firstly whether the event technical committee correctly applied and interpreted the tournament regulations and, secondly, the nature of the security breach at the ground. Imran Khwaja, the chairman of the Singapore Cricket Association, said: "I have spoken with the ICC and I am satisfied with the course of action that they are pursuing."

Posted by Charlie Randall
02/03/2010 12:22:57

Nepal exploit American collapse

CRICKET won this time. The final of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five tournament in Kathmandu lodged in the memory for seven wickets by a 17 year-old left-arm spinner as Nepal defeated United States by five wickets. The ugly crowd scenes from the previous day were not repeated.

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The attendance at Tribhuvan University, the only international-quality ground in Nepal, again swelled to at least 12,000, but the match lacked tension, with both teams safely promoted. The Americans collapsed to 172 all out as Rahul Vishvakarma took 7-15 in 8.2 overs to punish a series of wild shots.

Nepal deserved success, but the fact remains that they would probably not have qualified for promotion if the Friday match had not been suspended due to crowd hooliganism. By the time it was safe for the Americans to resume and knock off the remaining runs for victory, with rocks and bottles cleared from the outfield, four overs had been deducted under Duckworth Lewis. Though this made no difference to the result, it affected Nepal's net run-rate. If the seven winning runs had taken seven balls, Singapore would have finished ahead. In fact the Americans faced nine balls, allowing Nepal to claim second place by the slimmest of fractions. It left a sour taste.

In the final Vishvakarma was the third left-arm spinner used as the United States made a formidable start through Orlando Baker, with 49, and the captain Steve Massiah (55). When the student switched to over the wicket, the match changed dramatically, and a score of 141 for two in the 36th over became a heap of rubble as Vishvakarma took seven wickets for three in his next five overs.

Baker was run out going for a second run, and the fun started when Massiah was held by Shakti Gauchan with a brilliant diving catch from a sliced drive. After that, further good catches were taken and everything the Americans did turned to dust. The total offered a comfortable target for the Nepalese in reply, allowing the crowd to acclaim their heroes. This time the riot police had little to do.

Jersey defeated their fellow relegated opponents Fiji in the last place play-off to finish a disappointing fifth.

Final, at Tribhuvan University:

United States 172, 47.2 overs (Steve Massiah 55, Orlando Baker 49, Rahul Vishvakarma 7-15)

Nepal 175-5, 46.5 overs (Anil Mandal 37)

Nepal won by five wickets

Posted by Charlie Randall
27/02/2010 13:01:34

Americans caught in Nepal riot scare

RIOT police moved in to subdue an angry 12,000 crowd as a sensational match between Nepal and the United States was interrupted by rock-throwing in Kathmandu today.

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The Americans needed a convincing win against the host nation to snatch one of the two promotion slots in the final match of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five round robin tournament, and during the afternoon the realisation quickly spread that such a result could push table leaders Nepal into third place.

As the United States closed in on their required victory by five wickets, the enormous crowd at the Tribhuvan University ground grew restless. There seemed to be no particular flash point, but fighting started among spectators. Rubbish, rocks and stones were thrown on to the outfield, forcing play to be suspended for 45 minutes.

Nepal, a strong side captained by Paras Khadka, had been restricted to 162 for nine in their 50 overs, with former Guyana seamer Kevin Darlington taking three wickets, but the crowd became elated when the United States slipped to 84 for four in reply. Then the atmosphere turned ugly when batsman Sushil Nadkarni launched a counter-attack, hitting four sixes in his final score of 57 in 59 balls.

Peter Della Penna, a journalist for the American website, witnessed the intimidating climax to the game, fearing that a full-scale riot was about to break out as spectators began pouring out the ground. He thought he could see tear gas being used.

"The riot police are trying to keep fans from coming on to the field," Della Penna reported on the dreamcricket run-of-play blog. "Mayhem here. Absolute mayhem and it's quite scary. The players have all left the field. Rocks, big ones, are being thrown onto the pitch. I've never seen 12,000-13,000 people sprint out of a stadium setting so fast in my entire life. Very scary here for a good 10 minutes. There are rocks everywhere on the field. Both teams were rushed into their dressing rooms."

The chaotic scenes abated after a while, and members of the local media and riot police officers took wheelbarrows around the outfield and picked up all the rocks and stones and other objects. "This is an absolutely surreal and bizarre scene here at Tribhuvan University," Della Penna said before play resumed with the United States on 150 for five in 32 overs, needing 13 to win, a total target later adjusted to 159 on Duckworth Lewis.

There were more "wild scenes" when the winning runs were hit, though the Americans were denied proper celebration. When the bench started to come out to welcome the two undefeated batsmen, more rocks were heaved from behind the pavilion dressing rooms. "The players are told to stay out on the field as the people in the dressing rooms are ushered back in," Della Penna said. Even Nepal's players had to make a dash to safety.

Promotion had been a close-run issue, the United States reaching their target with less than two overs to spare to improve their run-rate enough to overtake Singapore, who were pushed back to third after demolishing Jersey and relegating them to Division Six. As it turned out, Nepal did achieve promotion in second place, and the ICC will be keeping their fingers crossed when Nepal meet United States again at the university in less pressured circumstances on Saturday to decide the champions...

At Tribhuvan University:

Nepal 162-9, 50 overs (Gyanendra Malla 52, Kevin Darlington 3-23)

United States 159-5, 33.3 overs (Sushil Nadkarni 57*, Steve Massiah 42)

United States won by five wickets

At Engineering:

Jersey 192, 48.1 overs (Matt Hague 52)

Singapore 195-3, 26 overs (Buddika Mendis 85* Munish Arora 45)

Singapore won by seven wickets

At Military Ground:

Bahrain 276-9, 50 overs (Tahir Dar 54)

Fiji 181, 39.3 overs (Tahir Dar 4-19)

Bahrain won by 95 runs

Posted by Charlie Randall
26/02/2010 12:20:23
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