Is traditional Test Cricket under threat?

The Proteas have now completed the first two Test matches of the peak international season. The four-day, pink ball (day/night) Test against Zimbabwe finished within two days and the Indian Test at Newlands in reality finished within three days. Four days of Test cricket have been lost commercially for sponsors, advertisers and television. Zimbabwe is an ordinary Test team at best, but batting against the pink ball under lights at St. George’s Park was impossible. The night- time environment, together with lights, grass on the pitch and moisture, are a lethal cocktail and make batting impossible. The only thing learnt out of the Boxing Day Test at St. George’s Park is that day/night cricket is not an innovation; it will destroy Test cricket and its culture. The Newlands wicket had far too much movement and bounce to be conducive for competitive Test cricket. On the first day 13 wickets fell … Continue reading

The future of the overseas player in English club cricket

The overseas player has been as much part of club cricket in England (as well as other parts of the United Kingdom) as afternoon tea and sheep grazing on the outfield. Estimates vary of exactly how many overseas players, mainly from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India and Pakistan, converge on English shores from the start of April every year.  In the period more or less before 1975, it was only the really wealthy clubs, mostly in Lancashire and around London, which could afford the luxury of an overseas player.  The main growth spurt of the overseas player happened over the past 40 years.  In 2006 this number was said to be between 12,000 to 14,000 players; a decade later it had almost doubled to between 20,000 to 24,000 players. In the mid-1990’s the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) overhauled the English club cricket system and the Premier Leagues … Continue reading

South African T20 needs own identity

If Cricket South Africa (CSA) is to be successful in reviving the aborted T20 Global League (T20GL), they will need to put on their thinking caps and create a tournament with its own identity and feeling. They tried to copy the Indian Premier League (IPL) model and failed badly. CSA need to make it a continent tournament to ensure that SuperSport buys into it as the broadcast partner. Without a broadcaster paying the bills, any tournament will be stillborn like we have seen with the now defunct T20GL. SuperSport is the only broadcaster with the financial muscle to ensure that such a tournament is successful. Looking towards India is not an option as Indian players are only allowed to participate in the IPL and no other domestic T20 league. The name of the tournament should be the Africa Cup T20 to create its own identity and align it with the … Continue reading

Red cards and thinner bats

With very little fuss, the International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced new changes to the laws of cricket that came into full effect around the world on 1 October this year.  The changes cover all levels of the game. The new Code of Laws, issued by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) (amazing to think that after removing all vestiges of colonialism in cricket, the ICC still entrusts the laws of the game to the MCC), are the first major changes to the game’s laws  for almost two decades.  The 2017 Code is the sixth of its kind written by MCC since the first Code was drawn up in 1788.  The other four Codes were published in 1835, 1947, 1980 and 2000. The new Code followed a three-year project overseen by the MCC’s laws sub-committee, which involved numerous trials and widespread global consultation throughout the professional and amateur game. In total the … Continue reading

Did South Africa deserve to be awarded the 2023 Rugby World Cup?

After the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) technical committee announced that South Africa was the preferred candidate to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, there was a high expectation that the IRB World Council would just rubber-stamp South Africa’s nomination. However, when the 39 Members voted they decided that France be awarded the 2023 Rugby World Cup by 24 votes to 15. The other candidate, Ireland, was eliminated in the first round of voting. There was a massive outcry in South Africa because of the process. It was called undemocratic and the IRB was even accused of being an “Old Boys’ Club”. To call the process undemocratic is laughable, because it could not have been more democratic and transparent. A secret vote does not make a process undemocratic; if this were the case then all elections in democratic countries across the world need to be declared illegal. It was naïve of … Continue reading

Will Kohli eat his words..?

In the cricket world Virat Kohli (India), Joe Root (England), Steve Smith (Australia) and Kane Williamson (New Zealand) are known as the “Fab Four” – the quartet of the world’s best batsmen.  All four also captain their national sides. Kohli is arguably the leader of the Fab Four.  He is the only one who averages more than 50 in all three formats.  He has also lead India to the point where they are now ranked No.1 in the world in Test and ODI cricket.  When Kohli therefore expresses an opinion on the game, one should – on the face of it anyway – take it seriously. At a press conference on the eve of the second Test match between India and Sri Lanka starting in Nagpur on Friday, Kohli revealed that India had demanded fast, green-topped wickets for the Test series in order to prepare them for their tour of … Continue reading

A new cricketing format debuts

The world will see ten over cricket for the first time in a global tournament in the middle of December when the Dubai T10 takes place. This will be the fourth format of the game and the third shortened version since the introduction of fifty over cricket in the 1970’s. The concern for the game is that it is being allowed to fragment even further with this new format. Cricket already has an identity problem with the three formats and now this latest development compounds this problem even further. The main concern is that if a television network likes T10 cricket because it fits into their culture and scheduling then it can start becoming a threat to T20 cricket like we saw with the fifty over game. The International Cricket Council (ICC) and Member countries had to work hard to protect the fifty over game from the threats of T20 … Continue reading

Ready, set, ehhh… go!

The South African domestic season (sort of) kicks into gear again this weekend with the start of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge (or just Ram Slam for short). Two factors have fortuitously combined to rescue the first half of the South African domestic 2017/18 season:  Firstly, in an ironic twist to the demise of the T20 Global League, the country’s best players are all available to play in the Ram Slam.  Secondly, the event has found a title sponsor. With Cricket South Africa (CSA) still reeling from the resignation of former CEO Haroon Lorgat and the shocking announcement two weeks later that the inaugural T20 Global League (T20GL) had been indefinitely postponed, few would have believed CSA would still be able to deliver a domestic T20 competition to which all fans can look forward.  To their credit, they have. In the aftermath of the T20GL cancellation there was an international … Continue reading

South African cricket dumped into chaos

  The postponement of the Global T20 League at such a late stage has dumped South African cricket into chaos. The domestic fixtures that had been finalised during the winter months have now had to be rearranged to close down the six week gap left by the postponement of the Global T20 league. Cricket South Africa made the sensible decision to replace the Global T20 League with the South African version called the CSA T20 Challenge. With all the national players available this should enhance the public interest in this competition. The other problem that the postponement has created is that half the Sunfoil Series matches (Four Day) have been completed for the season. From a cricketing point of view this is not ideal for the preparation of players for international cricket, especially, that the Proteas are due to play eight Test matches this summer. Also, financially CSA are under … Continue reading

Time to redress the imbalance

“The focus on south Asian communities, the focus on women, building a new T20, making sure that the World Cup in 2019 is a fantastic platform for growth for cricket in this country, the investment in our teams to make sure that we’re always fighting at the top of the rankings for all three formats: these are all critical things for us to ensure that the next time we go to market we’re ensuring… cricket’s future.” Sounds like familiar rhetoric coming from Cricket South Africa (CSA).  Only this time the person speaking is the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison in a recent interview with the authoritative sports news website SportsPro Media.  In the interview Harrison goes on to outline in great detail how the ECB wants to grow the game in England until 2024 and beyond, especially the role television will play in this process. … Continue reading