"DRS has not worked well" Flower – India vindicated?

There was a time when every person in the cricketing world laughed at the BCCI and Indian cricket team for not using the decision review system. Even I had a few questions for the ICC in not implanting the system for all test series. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I was one hundred percent wrong over this issue.  

On tour to England a few years ago English commentators Nassir Hussain and Ian Botham both laughed every time an Indian batsman was given out wrongly. The famous words from Hussain were “India do not want a fair game Rahul you have to walk.” I may suggest that under the current decision review system which is being used a bad decision like that would not be over turned. 

This Ashes series will go down in history as one of the most controversial, both sides have suffered bad decisions. The only consolation for the teams are that these decisions are balancing themselves out. The review system will now always be tarred with the image of Stuart Broad standing his ground taking full advantage of the two reviews or the awful reviewed decision to give Kawajha out. 

It is likely that both England and Australia will now scrap DRS for the next series starting in December with England coach Andy Flower joining the debate. He does not state in his interview that they will scrap the idea totally but states it needs better umpires. Until a new system comes in which is fairer I do not believe India will ever sign up. In the mean time other nations may join them in not using the flawed system.

So much controversy has been caused by the technology aid that it has now overshadowed what has been a fascinating series. Quite frankly Australia can count themselves very unlucky not to have won a game by now. 

Spot fixing scandal the only blip on the best ever IPL:

This season of the Indian Premier League will stand out in my mind as one of the best as well as one of the most controversial. The early pace was set by the Royal Challengers Bangalore, but as soon as they were installed as favourites they spectacularly fell away. It is no surprise that their batting centred team did better at home in Bangalore where the boundaries were shortest.

As with most IPL seasons Dhoni guided his team to the playoffs, once again proving he is a great captain. His record as captain probably excuses the poor performance in the final by his Chennai side. The West Indies are always very well represented through the tournament, this year these players were the stars of the show. Dwayne Bravo ended the season as the leading wicket taker, Pollard came into his own towards the end of the tournament almost single handily guiding Mumbai to the title. The other big West Indian provided the most memorable moment of the competition, Chris Gayle’s 173 not out will be remembered for a long time.

The season also saw many endings, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist will not return as players and there are doubts that we will ever see Muralitharan either. Sahara Pune Warriors also ended again, their owners have cancelled the contract to bring them back next season. This season also saw Delhi Daredevils go from top of the league last season to a bottom of the table battle, probably due to injuries to key players such as Kevin Pietersen. The rebranded Deccan Chargers were many peoples favourite to be at the bottom of the league at the start, they surprised many by qualifying strongly.

It was also a season to showcase two potential future Indian captains in Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. In my opinion the Mumbai captain showed off better captaincy credentials and could overtake Kohli when the call has to be made.

The coverage of the IPL in England has been brilliant, ITV4 showing that cricket can work on channels other than Sky Sports. They only complaint with the coverage was their decision not to show cricket on one the other ITV channels when British Touring Cars was being shown. It is clear that the popularity of the competition has increased in the UK, and the sport is now on a par with NFL.

The only negative to come out from this seasons Indian Premier League was the spot fixing scandal. This is something that will rock the sport and seems much deeper than what has already been revealed. Some famous names have been caught this year, with Sreesanth claiming he has been framed. The arrest of Gurunath Meiyappan an alleged associate of Chennai Super Kings will bring Indian cricket to its knees, as he is the son of the head of Indian cricket. The on-going story has many chapters still to write, lets just hope it does not implicate too many big names. 

Despite the shocking spot fixing news that came out towards the end of the competition I will remember this season for many good reasons. 

ICC very weak as ECB & BCCI battle continues

The governing of cricket is meant to be down to the ICC, but in reality they do not have as much power as they should. A reason for this being that the two super powers of world cricket want to apply their own ways on the game. English cricket has traditionally been the association which had supremacy over world cricket, but the BCCI have firmly taken over role because of the wast amounts of money available to cricket in India. 

This seems to be the fundamental reason for the long term feud, it is very possible that the ECB do not like this shift of power. It is also possible that the BCCI want to have a bigger say on ICC matters using their powers for personal interests, just like the ECB have done in the past. 

The latest argument is over having a window to play domestic T20 competitions, this window could be worked so that it does not effect English domestic cricket, but this will mean cutting the IPL right down. This argument will never be settled because the ECB do not like players going around the world through the season and the IPL makes the BCCI a lot of money. The long standing issue over DRS is still going on. Giles Clarke recently advocating the proposal for the home sides having a right to choose if the system should be used without consultation of the away team. It is not clear why India just do not accept the system, but what is clear is that the ICC board will not make DRS mandatory until BCCI accept it. 

Another issue of dispute between the two boards is about how many teams should compete in the world cup. It has been suggested that non test playing nations support India as they want more teams in the world cup. The proposed test championship was also scrapped after India started to perform worse in test cricket. This is something that the ECB do not like, they without a strong Indian team could not generate enough interest. 

The ECB decision to pull out of the champions league for the next few years is also a little perplexing, this was a good way for county teams to earn a little extra money as well develop players. It is evident that the ECB jealous of the success of the IPL. This being a reason why they didn’t allow any of the England players to play in the first few seasons. 

Another issue that other people have against English cricket is that the governors at the ECB are seen as a little snobby. This can be represented by English players and pundits alike only rating Ashes series above anything else in cricket. Australia on the other hand seem to realise that winning a world cup is on a par. Some of the England players also have had a run in with the board because they are depriving some top players of competing against the best players in the world. 

The arguments are not just between the boards but also the media. English media generally want India to create pitches that suit England and seem bowling. When they don’t and England don’t win they have a ready made excuse. The Indian media dislike the fact that the English media are focused only on England and ignorant to world cricket and the fact that they don’t bother pronouncing players names properly. Wasim Akram stated a few weeks back on Indian TV that he doesn’t talk to English media any more due to them being overly biased to England.

From the arguments of the last few years it can be suggested that both parties are at fault and a little stubborn when it comes to dealing with the other party. The power struggle will continue and there is no end to the general bickering which takes place. 

It is now time for the ICC to change the system of governance. My suggestion would be to make ICC full of former players who are voted in by current players and an election every few years. Players like Andrew Strauss and Rahul Dravid could have roles here. Only if the ICC get firm then all this silly fighting will end. 

India ring the changes, but is it the answer?

Indian cricket is in a bad state, at the moment it is probably the worst it has been for at least 20 years. The alarm bells must have been ringing after the bad tour of England or the disaster down under, on both occasions not much had been changed. The signs of a home defeat were also highlighted after a poor showing against New Zealand which covered up the cracks. The final straw seems to be the loss of the 2nd and 3rd test against England. 

For me the old selectors who did nothing after the bad away tours took too long to act, I just hope the new selectors have made the changes out of future thought and not just for a way to differentiate between the old selection committee and new. The players who have got the chop for the last test Zaheer, Harbhajan and Yuvraj. It seems pretty clear to me that these players test careers are finished, they all have been playing for a while and a recall will only now come through influence and not form. 

What is worrying is that Zaheer Khan is a shadow of the player he was, he is not worthy of being called an international cricketer any more, but there is no one to replace him. I am a fan of Yadav, but am not sure if he is injured or just left out. Awana is a good bowler and worthy of a call up in place of Zaheer, but is he a bowler which will scare England? All in all the dropping of Zaheer is a decision I agree to. 

Harbhajan Singh has also been chucked out AGAIN, I am still not sure why he had been brought back into the team, but he definitely will not get another chance. Where has the passion gone for him? He was once the most passionate player for India, always giving his all for the cause. In my opinion he is egoistic, when he was first dropped he did alot of TV work, this is probably his new career. 

My gripe about the squad is the dropping of Yuvraj. He has been one of a bad bunch of batsmen. By far not the worst of them either, it seems that the selectors have singled out one of the batsmen to drum home their message. It really could have been any of the batsmen to get the chop apart from Pujara. 

It is now really clear that the more Sachin plays, the more his reputation will be tarnished. Dhoni seems to be playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders, maybe a change of captaincy could help. All I know is that something is wrong, Gambhir quite easily could have been the man instead of Yuvraj. 

Ashwin showed some late fight on the last two days, a brilliant 91* as well as two wickets on the last day. If it wasn’t for this I believe his position in the team could have also been under threat. He probably will get a promotion in the batting, possibly moving above Dhoni in Yuvraj’s place allowing an extra bowler in the team. 

The selection committee have no authority to change the coach, if they did I would suggest that they would Fletcher. He has been an absolute disaster, especially as he came with a big reputation. It seems that Gary Kirsten had the right idea leaving India when he did, at number 1 in test cricket as well as world cup winners. He probably foresaw the upcoming problems. 

Whatever happens in the next test, India need a change. People like Ganguly need to be more involved in the selection/coaching process. Pressure needs to be taken off Dhoni, it is not clear what Fletcher does for him. India have made some small changes but surely there is much more to come. 

Do you agree with Day/Night tests?

It seems to me that cricket is a sport which is very adaptable to new ideas. We have seen many changes in cricket over the years, the main being the rise of the two other formats of the game. It is a sport which embraces technology, and seems way advanced of sports such as football which allow controversy to take place despite calls for help.

The ICC added rules such as power play, free hit for no balls and even toyed with the super sub rule over the last ten years. This all shows that they embrace change. This is one area where the ICC should be credited for keeping the sport fresh. The sport in general seems to promote innovation, and the players have also shown this ability. Over the last few years we have seen changes to batting play (switch hit, dil scoop) and new innovative ways of fielding and bowling have also been implemented. 

Despite all these changes the ICC have never really changed much about test cricket. They have in a way provided the purists to keep their form of the game whilst changing the other formats keeping people who embrace change rather happy also. It is unknown if many of these purists will dislike the idea of day/night test cricket, only time will tell on this. This could be as simple as people not liking change. Things such as lunch probably would be scrapped in this new type of test cricket, this is something that not everyone will like. 

I for one agree with the new idea in principle for day/night test cricket, but believe it has to be done rightly. Is the pink ball the right ball to play with? According to Samit Patel who has played in the trial of day/night test cricket it isn’t the right ball. He states that the pink ball does nothing in the day, but as soon as the lights came on the ball did too much. If this is true this could give a team an unfair advantage. 
Another disadvantage of this is the due factor, especially in Asia. The team bowling under lights may struggle to field properly and the ball could slip from their hands. In particular if you watch Dhoni, when playing a day/night ODI in Asia he will always bowl first if he wins the toss. This could mean that a team bats terribly in the evening and improve because of due in the night, only because of the due factor.  

The advantage of having day/night tests could mean more great test cricket. Can you imagine the first test at Sofia Gardens where Monty Panesar and James Anderson blocked out the match versus Australia under lights? The atmosphere was already very good, it would have been even better. Another advantage of having this is that a whole new audience will watch test cricket. The kids who may not be into test cricket may actually sit and watch because their dad is home from work and watching. 

I am pretty sure that advertisers and players would prefer the new timings as well, giving them more tv time. In my opinion it could work, and the benefits definitely out way the negatives of this, but they ICC should work on finding the right ball and a proper solution to the due factor. Why not try having the red ball during the day part of the game and use the white ball in the night? This probably would mess up a teams bowling plan as many teams believe that certain players bowl better with the white ball and not the red. 

I wonder if anyone is really in favour of day/night tests or really against, I would love to know in the comments section. 

Will the USA be good for Cricket?

This morning I woke up and my dad was asking me about my opinions on cricket moving to the USA. This was because of a piece done on Bloomberg about the idea of a new T20 league in the US. I decided to read this article to find out what it all was about (click here). 

To my surprise the idea was alot more than a pipe dream, it has been planned to launch in summer 2013. The league has been planned to be similar to the IPL. This means lots of money, star names and Hollywood actors as owners. 

T20 seems to be a perfect fit for America, as it only lasts 3 hours, quite easy to follow has cheer leaders and big shots into the crowd. The only problem is that there are many sports that Americans love, this means cricket will struggle to make a big impact. For example it has taken a long time for football (soccer) to be considered as a sport that is not just for kids and woman. 

Generally it has been hard to establish other sports into the USA. This is probably due to the fact that the existing sports have established a large following which has been passed down the generations. It could also be down to a lack of knowledge of the new sports or thinking that the other sports are kinda pointless. 

The biggest challenge to cricket will be from baseball, a sport many people consider similar. In my eyes T20 cricket beats baseball hands down in terms of excitement, this obviously would be disputed by baseball fans. For me there are way to many baseball games on, devaluing the sport. Another reason being that T20 cricket is actually heralded around the world, where as baseball is only popular in USA and Japan. Ice Hockey in the US is really being challenged by football (the Beckham affect), but all the other sports are are pretty settled. Football has finally made an impact and in a recent ESPN poll it was voted the second most popular sport for people aged between 12-24 in the US. So if football can have such a big impact so can cricket, one day. 

The idea of getting celebrates involved in this new league is good as it will get people talking about cricket. The only thing which worries me is that non immigrant Americans will not understand the sport and therefore not watch. Another issue will be that if it does take off in the USA, there will be more pressure put onto test cricket. This being that more top players will forget about the longer formats of the game and join another money spinning league. It seems to me that eventually there could be two different sports as there are so many T20 leagues some players may solely play T20 whilst others might only play test cricket. 

A question has to be asked if to suit the local audience they may change some of the laws. This is something that happened in the early stages of the MLS, this is something which would worry me. Another factor to consider is if the league will actually help young American cricketers. In my opinion to get the best viewing figures they may actually resort to having whole teams made up of world stars, meaning that it does nothing for American cricket. The fact that league is to launch through the Ashes series is another worry. This means that England now have to contest a loosing battle to the IPL for the first series and now the second series of a summer could be hit by this tournament. Another dilema for Pietersen, who would definitely be offered a contract here.  Only time will tell if the UST20 will be a success for cricket or not. 

Taufel’s retirement leaves a dearth of umpiring talent

Come the end of the World T20, a great career will also end. This being Simon Taufel’s career as an umpire. He now moves into a new role for the ICC titled ‘Umpire Performance and Training Manager’. 

It is hard to believe he is only 41 years of age, as he has been umpiring for many years already. He is way ahead of umpires his own age. In fact the man who replaces him in the elite umpire panel (Bruce Oxenford) is 11 years his senior. 

Simon Taufel started out as a bowler playing with the likes of Adam Gilchrist and Michael Slater. But injury ended his playing days, this resulted in him changing from playing to umpiring. If he looks back he may actually believe that he has done a lot better than he would have playing. 

As an umpire he has been immense, I cant remember any notable mistakes from him. This being rather unlike Daryl Harper and Darrell Hair before him, who had their careers tarnished by costly mistakes and accusations. He has also not ruined his legacy by continuing until his eyes had gone, like Steve Bucknor. 

Having umpired in a boxing day test, before the neutral umpires rule had been implemented and one world cup final he has pretty much done it all. He would have had more than one final, had Australia not been so dominating by constantly qualifying for the final. 

Without Taufel there is definitely a dearth in talent. I believe Billy Bowden to be a really good umpire and in my opinion the next best after Taufel. He also brings his own style to the job. Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf are also very experienced, but the rest have not been around for as long. It is now Taufel’s job to develop these umpires and make them to his own standard. 

Let me know who has been the best umpires over the years in the comments section much appreciated.