Springboks on top of the world for a third time

The Springboks won the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) in Japan and have now equalled the All Blacks record of having won the RWC three times. However, what makes the Springbok victory more special is that they have played in two less RWCs than the All Blacks, having missed the first two tournaments in 1987 and 1991. Two years ago nobody would have given the Springboks any chance of winning the 2019 RWC. The country united behind the Springboks like never before and testimony to this was the emotional support along the streets in all the centres for the bus top tour. It certainly showed that South Africans are desperate for success and international recognition. What is does for a nation that is living through a difficult period only time will tell. Once the euphoria of winning the RWC is over reality will once again set in for all South … Continue reading

Time, gentlemen

Last Sunday a T20I match between India and Bangladesh was nearly called off because of pollution.  Delhi was choking to death in the aftermath of all the Diwali fireworks.  Eventually the smog lifted and a full game was possible. In the history of cricket there have been a plethora of reasons for halting play – sometimes serious (like death, the outbreak of war, bomb threats and earthquakes) and at other times just plain extraordinary.  Remember the oil on the pitch at the Headingley Ashes Test match in 1975, or the disorientated man who this week two years ago drove his car onto the pitch in a Ranji Trophy match in New Delhi? But what are some of the more quirky reasons for holding up play? Cricket is a game dictated by the weather.  So it’s not surprising for play to be halted by snow, fog, gale force winds, excessive heat, … Continue reading

New leadership required by the Proteas?

After a poor 2019 Cricket World in England and a disastrous tour of India there is mounting pressure to replace Faf du Plessis as the Proteas captain. There is speculation that Temba Bavuma will be the Test captain, Aiden Markram the One Day International captain and Quinton de Kock the T20 captain. If this happens, it will fragment the leadership of the Proteas team resulting in a situation that the team will have three leaders. There will be no Graeme Smith or Hansie Cronje who takes control of the team with its performances and is the leadership face of South African cricket. It is important to have one captain for both the Test and ODI squads as basically the same personnel are used with the exception of the odd change here and there. Twenty over cricket is different and can have its own captain as this format has very different … Continue reading

Ever heard of New Field, Sedbergh?

(Prologue:  The doom and gloom that has enveloped South African cricket this week has prompted me to write something about the beauty of cricket.  Football is called “the beautiful game”; I believe it is a more fitting description of cricket.) When England’s leading Test wicket-taker, James Anderson, bowled only four overs in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston in August, I first read about a cricket ground in Sedbergh.  Anderson had apparently picked up a calf injury playing for Lancashire in a County Championship match in Sedbergh a month earlier and was always a doubtful starter for the first Test.  Anderson never recovered from the injury and didn’t play again in the series.  It was to have a significant impact on the outcome of the Ashes. So where is this cricket ground in Sedbergh that played such a huge part in the destiny of that little urn?  It turns out … Continue reading

South African cricket needs a new start

South African cricket needs a new start after a disastrous 2019 to date, having lost the two-Test series against Sri Lanka, the worst Cricket World Cup in history and now a loss to India without really competing. The signs of the demise of the Proteas have been evident for a while and now the national team has imploded. This will probably not be the end of the pain as they still need to play England and Australia later this summer. The solution to the problems is lifting the standard of domestic cricket as it is the feeder to the national team. Faf du Plessis in his post-match interview after the second Test in India alluded to the fact that the domestic system is not producing the quality and depth that is required to keep the Proteas competitive internationally. The implementation of the new provincial system from the 2020/21 season provides … Continue reading

Of points and pitches

The new World Test Championship (WTC) is now well under way.  The current Test match between South Africa in Pune (the second in a series of three) is already the eleventh in the first cycle of the WTC.  The WTC is one of the best things to have happened in Test cricket in a long time.  It gives Test cricket a context and meaning. Unfortunately the first ten matches of the WTC have also brought to light a glaring shortcoming – the points system. In the first cycle, each team will play six series.  Each series counts 120 points, with the points distributed equally over the number of matches in a series.  The points allocation is therefore as follows: 2 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – 60/30/20 3 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – 40/20/13 4 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – 30/15/10 5 matches in series – Win/Tie/Draw – … Continue reading

Does English and World Cricket need The Hundred?

The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced that they will be holding a draft for foreign players on 20 October for The Hundred, a 100-ball competition that debuts in 2020. There are eight franchise teams that are city based, and they are each allowed to draft and play three foreign players. This means that only 24 foreign players will be drafted for the tournament; these will be the top 24 players in the world. They have also announced the coaches for each franchise. All are high profile former cricketers and T20 coaches like Stephen Fleming (Nottinghamshire), Gary Kirsten (Cardiff) and Shane Warne (North London – Lord’s). The ECB are launching a new product with the best foreign players the world has and big name coaches with very little respect for cricket ethics. But does world and English cricket need this tournament? The ECB have just announced record attendances … Continue reading

Meet the Barmy Army

Like many other cricket fans, I’ve always viewed the Barmy Army as a group of beer guzzling lads that have to be tolerated every four years or so when the English cricket team visits our shores.  I was amazed to discover that there is a lot more to the Barmies than drinking. The Barmy Army was formed by three Englishmen, Paul Burnham, David Peacock and Gareth Evans, during the 1994/95 Ashes tour of Australia.  The trio went backpacking around Australia and attended every Test match of the series.  They supported their team loudly, singing songs and trying to keep up with the Aussies in the beer drinking stakes – in which they failed horribly, just like their compatriots on the field! By the time of the fourth Test in Adelaide, the trio had established quite a reputation and sizable following.  In previewing the Test match, a local newspaper referred to … Continue reading

ICC World Test Championship creates context

For years the International Cricket Council (ICC) said that Test cricket is their main product, but did nothing to market the oldest form of the game or give it context. However, they have now implemented the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) to give Test cricket a whole new dimension. The WTC started on 1 August 2019 in the first Test of the Ashes series at Edgbaston and will culminate at Lord’s in June 2021 when the two top teams on the log play the final. During this period Test teams will earn points from the Tests they play and there will be a WTC log. The ICC will hope that this initiative will be a new lease on life for all bilateral Test series. The health of Test cricket around the world varies from country to country and depends on the dynamics that drive cricket in each country. The recent … Continue reading

CSA have become power crazy

Last month Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced the creation of a new management structure for the Proteas with a lot of fanfare. In essence the two people in charge would be the cricket director (overseeing all national teams and ensuring everything is geared towards the Proteas performing at its optimal level) and the team director (the former head coach with a new title).  We were further told that the team director’s position was modelled on that of the team manager you find in the professional football leagues in Europe. A team manager in professional football a) assembles his own coaching team around him (i.e. people he personally trusts), b) ultimately makes all team decisions (as in the words of former American president Harry Truman “the buck stops here”) and c) accepts that he would be the fall-guy if the team does not perform satisfactorily. CSA would have us believe the … Continue reading