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    June 30, 2005

    Of averages, Warney, the new ICC rules, Pietersen's handling of spin, England's opening problems, New Zealand-Zimbabwe and a new Champions Trophy

    I've been too busy over the last couple of days, and today as well. I'll try to do my best to recap what I've come across this period and my views on the events and people.

    Tim de Lisle, in his column in "The Times", is spot on when he talks about how irrelevant averages really are. I'm all for removing the stupid practice of discounting not out innings while calculating an average.

    Malcolm Conn writes in "The Australian" about how Warne has always perceived the exposes and attacks on his various antics, which now have resulted in some serious personal ramifications, as being mudslinging and yellow journalism rather than take responsibility for his actions. Now as more new scandals (link thanks to "Bowled Warney") and skeletons tumble out of the closet, Warne may actually be in trouble with Australian cricket authorities since all contracted players are expected to adhere to the spirit of cricket code they endorsed a couple of years ago. The code explicitly states:

    Our off-field behaviour
    It is acknowledged that we have a private life to lead but understand our off-field conduct has the potential to reflect either positively or adversely on us as individuals and also on the game of cricket. We consider off field conduct that may be likely to warrant legitimate public criticism to be unacceptable conduct.

    Perhaps Cricket Australia chief executive, James Sutherland who felt that Warne's misdemeanours were his private life needs to have a rethink. Warne meanwhile, writes nothing about his off-field life, and sticks to the cricket in his column for "The Times".

    I was checking on Kevin Pietersen's stats, given that he is fast approaching an iconic status as far as this blog is concerned. I found that in his brief one-day career so far, on the six occasions that he has been dismissed, four have been to spin. Add in the fact that Michael Clarke picked him up twice early on in the tour and there is obviously something for opposing captains to think about. From what I've seen, he does tend to go hard at the ball, preferably over the infield. So when you have someone bowling slow spinners, he could tend to either overbalance or lose control of his shot.

    Jason Gillespie has had a fairly ordinary NatWest Series with the ball so far. Ian Chappell doesnt seem to have lost faith in him though and reckons that he is better off trying to bowl at full pace in order to get his rhythm back.

    The new set of changes to ODI cricket approved by the ICC last week have had reactions from various quarters. Players, former and current, are either undecided about the impact or severely critical, while those like Gilchrist feel that the players want to have their say when such drastic changes are being contemplated. Andrew Ramsey reckons that the new changes suit Warne's return to one-day cricket, something which has been talked about for a while now.

    Aside from my earlier comments on the new rules, I think that the rule related to substitutes tends to favour the team winning the toss and thereby increases the importance of the toss. I dont know if the rules allow a player swap at the toss. But consider the situation where a captain losing the toss had penned in a particular player, say a batsman, anticipating that he would win the toss and bat first and replace the batsman with a bowler later on. Now he loses the toss and is asked to bowl first. If the rules dont allow him to change his team at the toss, he has lost the services of either the batsman or the bowler. He could bring his bowler on first change, but then he cant use his batsman while chasing. Alternately he could not bring his bowler on at all, which means he has lost use of his bowler in the first innings.

    Speaking of bowlers, why has there been no effort to increase the overs allowed per bowler in a one-day game? Why not make it say 15 overs per bowler, or perhaps, as Ganesh suggested to me in various conversations, allow one extra over, in excess of the 10 limit, per wicket taken. So if a bowler has taken 3 wickets and he is into his 9th over, he could bowl a maximum of 13 overs. This would even out the game a lot more.

    Jonathan Agnew is concerned about England's one-day opening bowling problem, especially since Gough seems to be leaking runs too often and is unlikely to last until the 2007 World Cup. England have another problem. While Trescothick and Strauss have piled up runs during the series, very few of those have come against Australia. Strauss has 44 runs from 3 innings while Trescothick fares even worse, with 27 runs from 3 innings against the Aussies. Even more worryingly, McGrath has already dismissed both batsmen twice, and seems on track to fulfill his vow. BBC Sport features previous one-day finals between Australia and England and if the past is any indication, Australia will win hands down.

    Here's a picture gallery from the England-Australia game at Edgbaston which got rained out. See if you can figure out which restuarant Collingwood and Hayden agreed to visit after the game.

    Astonishingly enough, the ICC seem to have been prepared to accomodate David Shepherd as an umpire in the forthcoming 'Ashes' series, and making an exception for him since ICC "Emirates Panel" umpires only stand in neutral tests, unlike those in the international panel. Shepherd announced his decision to quit umpiring in test cricket a few months ago and the last test he umpired in was between West Indies and Pakistan.

    As reported here late last year, opposition to New Zealand's tour of Zimbabwe is growing. Several politicians have now jumped into the fray but Andrew MacLean argues, perhaps in vain, that cricket and politics do not mix. We've already seen that it is never really the case.

    The ICC announced changes to the format of the ICC Champions Trophy, effective the 2006 edition in India. This has so far been a tournament conducted entirely cluelessly. The new format has eight teams split into 2 groups, with the top two from each group playing in the semi-finals. The top six teams in the ICC ODI table qualify automatically while the remaining four battle it out for two places in a pre-tournament qualifying round similar to what you have at the tennis Grand Slams. I dont know what the cut-off date to determine the seedings for the next event is, but this means that India, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Bangladesh really do need to get their act together and start winning a few more games against those teams higher up in the table. It would be totally ironical if India were to miss out on the tournament when they host it. It'd only be matched by England being dumped out of the 1999 World Cup by India, a day before the official World Cup song was to be released.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 7:05 PM |
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