County Cricket, IPL and the MCC

14 04 2010

It may have been noticed that the Compulsive Hooker’s offerings have been rare over the past week and a half. From today, however, we are back to normal and have much to talk about. Some of it is news a few days old, but due to other commitments we were unable to publish anything about it at the time, so forgive us if you feel the opinion we offer isn’t as topical as it might be!

County Cricket

Beginning with cricket and the first round of the County Championship matches, the stand out performer bearing an English passport was undoubtedly Steve Finn who took an incredible 14 for 106 in the match. This included an amazing 9-37 in the second innings as Worcestershire folded for a mere 119. Unbelievably, Middlesex and Finn went on to lose the match by the sizeable margin of 111 runs as the Middlesex batsman folded in the 4th innings chasing 281. Rarely can a bowler have done more for a side, only to see them lose.

On the positive side for Finn, Andrew Strauss, who missed the Bangladesh leg of the Winter tours, will have been highly impressed and it can only have done his prospects of a longer run in the test side good. Finn probably only rated as a ‘solid’ performer in Bangladesh, with Cook on occasions seeming reluctant to throw him the ball, yet if he can maintain this sort of form, who knows where he might find himself at the end of the Summer. Maybe even on a plane to Australia!

For Worcestershire this represents a magnificent start to a season in which they were deemed one of the favourites for the wooden spoon in Division II. Looking at their team, excluding it must be said the Australian Phil Jacques, the names are a roll call of journeyman (and worse) cricketers. Vikram Solanki is probably their best known player having played a handful of one day games for England, and with this in mind they must be secretly relieved to have got off to such a good start.

With changes seemingly inevitable in the format of the County Championship, it is imperative that sides like Worcestershire, Derbyshire and Glamorgan remain competitive in all formats. If they don’t it will simply provide more ammunition for the advocates of the conference scheme amongst other things. For a superbly argued piece on why these changes should be either avoided due to the high number of false premises these changes are being based upon, read George Dobell’s piece ‘Heading into the abyss’.

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IPL Continues Inexorably On

It seems to us that the IPL has been going on for at least 3 months already. Having checked on Cricinfo, it seems scarcely believable that in fact it has only been on for the relatively short matter of 1 month and 2 days. The Compulsive Hooker must confess that we were hardly enamoured by it at the beginning, yet surely the masses of Indian (and other nationalities following it closely) must have got bored by now.

20/20 cricket is a game by definition that is over in a flurry of big hits almost before you’ve realised it’s begun. In many ways this is perfect for the modern high speed, always in a hurry world, Yet the complexities of the game have been lost and certainly its ability to surprise. We read a statistic somewhere recently, that in this years competition, a six has been hit every 24 balls. A quick look at the ‘Most Sixes’ table reveals that most batsman have been scoring at least one six per innings, with Yusuf Pathan, Chris Gayle and Uthappa all scoring 2 per visit to the crease. Even Jacques Kallis, usually more of a Boycott type player, has scored a four or a six every 5 balls. (In actual fact his enormous success in this format is a real shot in the arm to those who suggested that his game was limited, proving that the great players are always adaptable).

Cricket, as mentioned above, is a game in which the element of surprise is key. 20/20 cricket has lost this with so many balls disappearing for four or six, wickets going down due to ridiculous shots rather than an inspired bit of bowling and the  consequently the sheer predictability of it. As calls are made once more for an ‘English Premier League’ based on franchises around various cities in the UK, we really hope that the powers that be resist this particular sirens call. In the recent few weeks, authorities such as Adam Gilchrist and India’s Sports Minister M.S. Gill have said that any more 20/20 cricket would be harmful towards itself as well as test cricket. In Mr. Gill’s case he also criticised the B.C.C.I. for their apparent conflict of interest regarding their financial backing of the IPL. With the more powerful English counties uniting with the ECB to try and push this idea through, potentially at the expense of the lesser counties, the danger has never been more apparent to the English game.

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M.C.C. to Sponsor Australia vs Pakistan Series

Good news emerged from Lords yesterday, with the MCC agreeing to sponsor the Australia versus Pakistan series to be played in England over the Summer months. With the PCB unable to hold home test series due to the unstable nature of their country’s politics, it is good to see the traditional guardians of the game step up with the necessary financial backing. This will be the first time that the MCC have ever sponsored a series and it should provide an enormous fillip to Pakistani cricket. Pakistan have long been a country who produce exceptionally talented, if a little mercurial, cricketers and a strong Pakistan is essential for test cricket in particular. Whilst recent results have gone against them at the hands of a dominant Australian team, they possess enough young talent, that given exposure to top level cricket will mean their demotion from the top table of world cricket is not a long one.

From Australia’s point of view this gives their players an ideal opportunity to experience English conditions and measure themselves directly against the English team who are also playing Pakistan at home this Summer. As English supporters, the Compulsive Hooker hopes that they struggle and Pakistan post and unlikely win over the men from down under.

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2 responses

16 04 2010
Russ

The IPL’s perceived length is a structural thing. What should be a 14 week league is being scheduled like a knockout tournament with games every day. While it does maximize the potential television coverage, it is no different to the EPL playing its 380 games Monday to Sunday with minimal overlap. The rythym of anticipation and watching would be all wrong. Sure, at first you’d think “great, there’s football on every day” but after about a month you’d be completely burnt out.

On franchises: the fact that the Indian players were pulled from the English T20 season this year tells me that it is already a perceived threat to the IPL. I’m not sure how the proponents think they will benefit from a franchise system. It will still play at the same grounds, attract the same fans, the same media companies… The current limitation on revenue potential is scheduling – the international summer is too long and the county schedule moves between competitions too frequently. The IPL succeeds because it found a date-slot when it could attract the best talent, and works within that constraint.

Lastly, and I’ll apologize here for commenting at such length, the MCC sponsorship worries me. It is cricket sponsoring itself, really, which implies that this series couldn’t attract an actual corporate sponsor. Some might see this as a series worry for international cricket, but I’m more inclined to think that it is just a signal that the existing FTP is broken.

18 04 2010
Bradders

Thanks for commenting Russ, no worries about the length! As you may have realised if you’ve read more of these I am not really a fan of the IPL anyway which probably makes it seem like its dragging on more than it actually is!
Perhaps you are right on the MCC sponsor thing, hadn’t looked at it from that angle. Lets hope this isn’t the case. Sadly any series involving Pakistan just isn’t a great prospect currently which also might contribute to it. Sponsors are probably so wary of the bad press that keeps coming from them seemingly on a weekly basis.

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