Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Latecomer

I must apologise. Several matters of interest have occurred and I have failed to comment upon them. Such a neat and absorbing one day series between England and Australia. Assertive and unfazed England domineered Australia into defeat with a thrilling third match decider. Andy Flower seemed a genius and the English ascendent. Then they crumpled and were routed in the remaining dead rubbers. A key aspect of England's success lay with their wealth of (effectively) all-rounders- Michael Yardy, Luke Wright, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad. They gave great depth to the squad with assured bowling and the extra impetus in batting for several of the victories. Eoin Morgan is the great hero of the series though and one hopes that perhaps he can pinch Bell's spot in the test team. That might make for an interesting Ashes. I have doubts about England's bowling though. Swann is fantastic, though his twitter is a bit self-assured for my liking. Anderson is class but has been indifferent of late. Finn could be good but it would be nice for him to get a bit more experience under the belt. Broad is a concern and I am not convinced that he is a skilled enough bowler to perform in the Australian summer. This is a bit a vague foreboding at present and I am sure I will write more at a later date, particularly as these concerns will be aired in the English test series against Pakistan.


Fascinating that Australia reached out to Shaun Tait for deliverance. What an odd career the chap has had, mistrusted in his homeland for his unique boganism and spectacular self-destruction. He is brutal and debilitating on song but is so often erratic and useless. Australia have also embraced the concept of a handful of all-rounders and Steven Smith's probable test debut against Pakistan will be intriguing.


What distresses me is that the MCC is pushing for day-night test matches. No doubt this is due to the fact that the crowds were hardly milling for the Bangladesh series. Personally I hate the concept and associate test match cricket with five long days in the unrelenting sun. I like to imagine when I walk home that I have earnt the sweat that cakes the brow and obfusticates my clothes rather than face the reality that I have been scoffing pork pies and boiled eggs all day long. I feel that if you can't take a few days off work a year to watch the test match then what worth are you as a cricket fan. I cherish this week and don't want my enjoyment tarnished by the hoi polloi turning up like cretins in the darkness. In 1958 the American serialist composer Milton Babbit published an article titled 'Who Cares if You Listen?'. Speaking of his esoteric, modernist music Babbit claimed that the interaction of an audience is not essential to its function as art. I would like to maintain a similar elitism in test match cricket for players shall continue to contest for its glory and the faithful will continue to congregate at the shrine. The limited overs formats can bear the other nonsense.

This is beside the point though. The percieved epicentre of blue-blooded and snobbish cricketing conservatism, whose views I have been echoing, is leading the charge of "messing" with the sport. Such a charge is usually left for the BCCI, the boorish nouveau riche upstart of the cricket community. It proves that there is dissension in world cricket and I think the derailed presidential career of John Howard highlights this.

There has been much vitriol in this country over the matter and, perhaps along with nostalgic sympathy for Rudd, we have embraced the eventually maligned leader who was unceremoniously ousted from office as obviously a perfectly wonderful cricket administrator. Howard was seen as a figure to give the conflicted sport the boundaries it needs and his rejection was recieved as the worst sort of politicking. Zimbabwe oppossed Howard because Mugabe is corrupt and a thug to the bargain who has invested his nation with a similar attitude. Rather than stand on principle South Africa joins her for the sake of African unity. This presents Howard as a martyr from unscrupulous claims of victimisation begat by self-blinkered oafs. This is not the only criticism levelled at Howard though and several articles have accussed Howard of racist policies toward refugees as well as Australian aboriginals. Also Sri Lanka's opposition is very credible for what on earth was the prime minister doing commenting upon a bowling action. Speaking out of turn in attempt to appeal to the masses is a dicey business and Howard should have known better. What I have been searching for though is why the BCCI finally opposed Howard though and used their muscle to pressure Pakistan and Bangladesh to the bind as well. Were India merely appeasing these malcontents for greater allegiance or did they have legitimate concerns or even fears about Howard?


The ICC presidency is little more than a figurehead and even were he to be elected there is presumably little Howard could have done to effect any change. As they contribute three quarters of the body's revenue the BCCI rules the roost and with the deep dissension within India over the problems facing cricket it is unlikely any accord will be reached soon. Chief among these is the relationship between twenty over cricket and the other formats. This results in an excess of the sport which is leaving fans disinterested and running players into the ground. India has perhaps suffered most in this regard. The great stars of the IPL, absolutely brilliant performers including Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, and Pragyan Ojha, failed miserably as a fifty over team and lost twice to Zimbabwe in the triangular series. With the increasing importance of domestic twenty over leagues there promises to be an almost year round continuance of the sport and the ICC needs to negotiate these new developments rather than allowing them to make their own slipshod way. It also needs to decide whether its focus is upon consolidation or expansion. Audiences will dwindle if their teams are contesting inferior sides.
Indian cricket administration has problems. There is rooted traditionalism steeped in Ranji cricket and the national sports minister has questioned the existence of the twenty over format. Yet it runs rampant even with Lalit Modhi falling into a mire of corruption. I am not scared of this but I wish the MCC would just be a bit more staid in the midst. And Howard is nothing, what has happened is merely symptomatic.

1 comment: