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    November 21, 2008

    Cricket digs its own grave

    Yesterday was a bad day if you were a fan of cricket, and wanted the game to survive. Funnily though, 8 out of the 10 test playing nations were involved in games yesterday and it should have been a moment of celebration, because its not something that happens too often.

    Really, it should have been a fantastic sequence of games. Imagine someone in India would start watching the Trans-Tasman trophy test from 6 in the morning, switch to the England v India ODI at 9 am, then move on to the Zimbabwe-Sri Lanka ODI around 1 pm and then the Bangladesh-South Africa test at 2 pm. So basically there was cricket for something like 15 hours of the day.

    The problem was that of the 4 games, 2 were guaranteed to be mismatches, and going by the past two one-dayers, the Eng-Ind ODI was also expected to be one. As it turned out, the NZ-Aus test and the Eng-Ind ODI were really enthralling to follow, while even a passionate fan of the game like me couldn't really bother about the remaining two games. Surely, that's not a good thing for cricket!

    Zimbabwe collapsed from 124/3 in 27 overs to 127 all out in 31! Murali got 3 in an over, Mendis got 2 in an over. Bangladesh, after conceding 441 to South Africa, including a score of 299/1 at the end of the first day (after choosing to field first, no less, thus qualifying for a Cricket 24x7 captaincy clanger award!) were in danger of being dismissed for less than 100 and only managed to get 150 because of Mushfiqur Rahum & Shahadat Hossain. The big question was if Graeme Smith would take the huge risk and impose the follow-on!

    As it turned out, while the on-field quality was poor in these two games, the other two interesting games showcased the worst of cricket's rules.

    Let's start with the Australia v New Zealand test, where Daniel Vettori won the toss and sent Australia in despite the fact that the last time a visiting team won a test after sending Australia in was 1986!

    Having batted for all of 20 balls, after coming in to bat at #5, Michael Clarke took a juice break. Why didn't the umpires step in and tell him to take his water break during the drinks or lunch interval? If the conditions are hot and humid, as they presumably were at the Gabba yesterday, why can't the umpires carry around a bottle or two of Gatorade (with ICC sponsor logo etc. on it) with them and get the players to take a swig whenever they feel thirsty? Instead, the 12th man or 13th man runs out during an break (in-between overs, or when a third umpire referral is pending, or when the ball is being retrieved/changed) and time is unnecessarily wasted waiting for the errand boy to get his fat arse off the field of play.

    Then, after Clarke had finished his juice, it was ridiculous that New Zealand's bowlers & fielders hadn't yet gone back to their marks and were not ready to bowl. Australia were 55/3 at that stage. Any team that was desperate to make a mark would have been all set to have a go. An over or so later, Clarke got hit in the abdomen guard, and another bottle of juice was ferried out to him. That just proves my point - the umpires should keep a bottle or two with them so that the 12th man doesn't have to run these stupid errands.

    It isn't just test cricket that showed the rules to be silly yesterday. The India v England one-dayer first was truncated to 49 overs a side even though play started 45 minutes late. What's the big deal about 1 over a side being reduced? That's like hardly 4-5 minutes each innings. So they really could have just gone in with a 50-over game.

    Then, as it happened during the England v New Zealand one-dayer earlier this year, although play was lost, the lunch break was barely impacted. It's not as though the players have a seven course meal at lunch. In any case, only 13-15 out of the 22 players, and the umpires, will have to get their lunch done rapidly. If the ostrich ICC doesn't want to change the rules on truncating the lunch break, at least the umpires could be given the authority to accept a request from both captains to shorten the break!

    The other problem was that the floodlights couldn't be used. This is something that I wrote about after the India v Australia test at Bangalore. It is downright stupid to require both teams to agree on usage of floodlights. It should be the host association's responsibility to provide good quality floodlights. The ICC must lay down & enforce the rule that all grounds which host tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals must have lights of an acceptable quality. If the lights are non-existent or aren't good enough, then the venue gets struck off until the lights are fixed. If the game is impacted due to bad light, (the floodlights don't work at all or don't provide quality & sufficient lighting) then the game is awarded to the visiting team. If the venue is a neutral one, the game is a draw/no-result.

    Lastly, how on earth does Tony Greig manage to get away with commenting on a test match when he's so completely involved (on the executive board, no less!) with the ICL? Surely the BCCI has been sleeping. If it can prevent players from signing up for counties that have ICL players on the roster, it can also put pressure on boards to ensure that the broadcasters and telecasters don't have anyone associated with the Indian Cricket League on their list of commentators or anchors!

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 5:36 AM |
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    2 sledge(s):

    pls link my blog onto your site as I've done regarding yours.I've linked your blog under the title "cricket 24X7" a year ago.

    By Anonymous Sanath (23-Nov-2008, 10:04:00 AM)  

    really good analysis

    By Blogger Daniel Pristine David (23-Nov-2008, 2:53:00 PM)  


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