Is the ICC serious about the World Cup?

Four weeks ago, just before the start of the Cricket World Cup (CWC), I expressed my excitement at looking forward to seven weeks of cricket enjoyment.  It wasn’t said tongue in cheek or facetiously; I meant it. However, three weeks into the tournament, a few nasty things have reared their heads making me wonder if the International Cricket Council (ICC) is serious about the future of the CWC.  It may not seem so to the average fan or casual observer, but the signs are there. Firstly, the CWC is scheduled to favour India because to the ICC money – that is Indian money – talks.  The CWC is a round robin format, with all ten teams playing each other before the four top teams progress to the semi-finals.  If India doesn’t qualify for the semi-finals, a lot of money will be lost (as it happened in 2007 when India exited … Continue reading

Spin bowling reborn in modern day cricket

There was a time during the decades from the 60’s to the 80’s when it was believed that spin bowling had no future in cricket. The game was based around fast and medium pace bowlers, with spinners only being used occasionally for a change of pace or to bowl while the fast bowlers were being rested. This all changed with the arrival of Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, who between them took 2,348 international wickets. They were strike bowlers and won matches for their countries. They were the best spin bowlers in the history of international cricket. They not only saved the art of spin bowling, but showed what a force quality spin could be in world cricket in all forms of the game. The arrival of T20 cricket further enhanced spin bowling as almost all teams play with at least two spinners. The same policy now applies to ODIs … Continue reading

What now, Proteas?

Played three, lost three.  It is officially South Africa’s worst start ever to a Cricket World Cup (CWC). The Proteas were comprehensively swept aside by England and India in matches one and three respectively.  They put up a better fight against Bangladesh, but were ultimately still easily beaten by 21 runs.  (Perhaps the most telling statistic from that match:  The Tigers’ 330/6 was their highest total ever in the 363 ODI’s they have played to date, including matches against minnows like Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong and Kenya!) Six matches remain for South Africa in the preliminary rounds. Mathematically they can still reach the semi-finals, but to do that they need an unlikely six wins out of six.  Maybe a team can sneak into the play-offs with five wins.  But how plausible are even five wins from their remaining six fixtures: West Indies, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia? … Continue reading

Cricket World Cup XII underway

By the time this column is posted, the 12th Cricket World Cup (CWC) will have started when the hosts, England, play South Africa at the Oval in the opening match. Since the first CWC in England in 1975, only five countries have ever won the CWC: Australia (5), India (2), West Indies (2), and Pakistan and Sri Lanka once each. The opening match will be crucial for both England and South Africa for different reasons. England is the hot favourites to win their first CWC and will want to start well to justify the pole position they enjoy. South Africa on the other hand is starting the tournament with no expectations on them to win it. They will want to show that they are capable of competing and upsetting the old foe. For the first time since 1992 the Proteas start the CWC as just another team compared to their … Continue reading

Let the games begin!

There is always something special about cricket in England.  It’s the birthplace of the world’s second most popular team sport and despite what whoever thinks, Lord’s in London in still the game’s spiritual home.  Whether it’s village cricket, county cricket, the Ashes or a day at Lord’s, cricket, summer and England are synonyms. A week from now the biggest spectacle in cricket, the four-yearly Cricket World Cup, returns to its birthplace.  Millions of tourists will flock to England to attend the 48 matches played at eleven different venues.  Many of them will no doubt make use of the opportunity to also do some sightseeing. I recently discovered an England travel guidebook from 1955, “Here’s England” written by Ruth McKenney and Richard Bransten.  It’s a sort of Lonely Planet guide 1950’s style.  To my surprise and delight, the book had an entire chapter devoted to cricket!  Although the book is firmly … Continue reading

Indian Premier League world class tournament

The Indian Premier League (IPL) rates with all the great tournaments in the world of sport, like the English Premiership and EUFA Champions League. It is without doubt the biggest event in the cricketing world, bigger than the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes. The IPL has taken the profile of cricket to a new level and made it a truly global game. The 2019 IPL was a fantastic tournament with great matches, sold out stadiums and a dream final. The two teams that played in the final, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, provided one of the great IPL finals with Mumbai Indians winning by 1 run. These two teams have dominated the IPL in its twelve years’ existence and have collectively won the tournament on seven occasions. Mumbai Indians have won four IPL’s and Chennai Super Kings three. Kolkata Knight Riders have won the IPL on two occasions. … Continue reading

The duty of the player towards his agent

In all sports, the relationship between a player (or athlete) and his agent is more often than not only viewed from one angle:  What can the agent do for the player?  This outlook negates the fact that a player also has certain duties towards his agent. The legal relationship between a player and his agent is that of a principal (i.e. the player) and agent.  In essence it is the same legal relationship that exists between for example someone who wishes to sell his house (i.e. the principal) and an estate agent (i.e. the agent), or an investor (i.e. the prinicipal) and a stockbroker (i.e. the agent). In South Africa, as in most countries, the principles governing the law of principal and agent are well established.  The principal and agent both have certain unchangeable duties towards the other. The scope of an agent’s duties is much wider than that of … Continue reading

South African Cricket World Cup squad

The selectors have announced their fifteen man squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC) that takes place in England and Wales from 30 May to 16 July. The Proteas play the opening match against the hosts at the Oval. There were no surprises when the squad was announced based on what the selectors had picked during the ODI series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. There are three world-class players in the squad in Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and Imran Tahir. The competitiveness of the Proteas will depend heavily on what sort of CWC these three players have, especially De Kock, because batting holds the key to ODI victories. But there has to be certain concerns around the squad with regard to age, quality and injuries. The Proteas have a few players that are on the old side for a CWC: Hashim Amla (36), Imran Tahir (40), Dale Steyn … Continue reading

A contract not worth the paper

One World of Sport has been representing professional cricketers since September 2006.  Many things have since changed in the world of professional cricket.  In 2006 there was no Indian Premier League, the Knights were still called the Eagles and Vernon Philander was yet to make his Test debut. But many things have also stayed the same.  The one thing that amazes me year after year is the scant respect shown across the board in this country for professional cricketers’ contracts – from administrators in the highest positions in the game to the coaches (especially) and even the players themselves. Any contract starts with a negotiation process.  But let me rather not go there.  Like the late Mark McCormack, I could write a book about it.  Everything McCormack said about negotiations in “What They Didn’t Teach Me at Yale Law School” is true. The negotiations are done and the player’s remuneration … Continue reading

South African domestic cricket in a crisis

I have followed, supported and professionally administrated domestic cricket for more than fifty years and can quite honestly say I have never seen the standard or following as bad as it has been during the current season. The public support for the domestic game is literally non-existent. Years ago on the return to international cricket, it was accepted that the first-class game was a method of development for international cricket. The support had dwindled then already but the following through the media was still healthy. The standard of cricket was excellent and the first-class system developed many very good players for South Africa. Today the standard of first-class cricket is no better than Premier League cricket in years gone by. The poor standard must be a threat to South African cricket’s international sustainability. With regard to the white-ball competitions, they have deteriorated beyond recognition; there is literally no support in … Continue reading