Mickey Arthur: Best international coach in the world

The growth of T20 cricket around the world has resulted in two distinct types of coaches emerging in the modern era. The T20 game uses mainly high profile, recently retired players with very little experience of coaching, like Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting. International cricket makes much higher demands on coaches with regard to experience, time, management, and building and sustaining teams than it is for T20 coaches. Mickey Arthur has emerged as arguably the best international coach in the world today. To achieve this profile and level of competency has taken him the better part of twenty years of coaching at the international level. He has a unique record of having coached three major teams successfully in his career: South Africa, Australia and Pakistan. During his tenure with South Africa Arthur was the first South African coach ever to win a series in Australia, and also the first to … Continue reading

‘The Hundred’ might just work… for sponsors

Earlier this year the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced plans for a brand new short format of the game – 100 balls per innings.  The media instantly dubbed it ‘The Hundred’. Recent media reports out of England are suggesting that the idea is gaining traction among potential sponsors.  There is apparently a growing belief in England that ‘The Hundred’ represents a fresh opportunity for sponsors in cricket:  It will be unencumbered by any previous sponsor baggage or any negative news headlines.  It offers something different and thus has a unique selling proposition.  As one report put it “for marketers it will be less about associating with a new format, and more about an original brand proposition”. The trump card of ‘The Hundred’ is the ECB’s broadcast platform.  They recently signed a monster broadcast deal with the BBC (terrestrial) and Sky (satellite), reportedly worth just over £1 billion over … Continue reading

Zimbabwe Cricket lacks governance

Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) and certain of its players are once again involved in a stand-off over money. The nationally contracted players have not been paid since the end of February and certain of them decided to declare themselves unavailable for the T20 Triangular with Australia and Pakistan until they have been paid. These included some of their top players like Brendon Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sean Williams, Graeme Cremer and Sikandar Raza. Zimbabwe failed to win a game in the triangular but with a weakened side they acquitted themselves well by pushing both Australia and Pakistan to last-over victories in some matches. If they were at full strength and without the injury to their best bowler, Kyle Jarvis, they easily could have produced an upset or two against the world’s two best white- ball teams. There is no doubt that Zimbabwe has the talent and cricket culture to be a success … Continue reading

Ball-tampering to the fore again

To the uninitiated, cricket and ball-tampering must appear to be synonyms.  The sport is apparently just incapable of ridding itself of this scourge. In the wake of the very high profile Australian ball-tampering scandal at Newlands in March, one would’ve thought international cricketers would refrain from such conduct. But no. During the second Test in St Lucia of the recently completed series between the West Indies and Sri Lanka, the visiting captain, Dinesh Chandimal, used saliva from his mouth, containing a sweet, to polish the ball in clear contravention of the laws of the game. Chandimal was banned for the third Test after losing his appeal on ball-tempering charges. On Monday this week, South Africa arrived in Sri Lanka for a six weeks tour. No doubt expecting he would be tested on the Chandimal incident at his arrival press conference, captain Faf du Plessis used the occasion for one-upmanship over … Continue reading

Global challenges faced by T20 Cricket

The modern day T20 game is starting to face certain challenges from different sources and for a variety of reasons. It was always going to happen with the ambitions of certain nations and the prestige of private ownership. Cricket South Africa (CSA) recently made a media announcement that they have partnered with SuperSport to form a company that will own and operate the South African T20 tournament. This has led to a reaction from the owners who bought the rights to a team for the cancelled T20 Global League tournament. CSA has paid back these owners their deposits of $250,000 and the costs incurred. The team owners have refused the reimbursement because they are not satisfied with this arrangement. They have threatened CSA with legal action and are demanding that the teams they bought participate in the scheduled tournament in 2018. If this does not happen, they have threatened to … Continue reading

ICC World Test Championship becomes a reality

Earlier this week the International Cricket Council (ICC) released the first ever international programme featuring a World Test Championship. The nine top-ranked Test nations will slug it out for the Test Championship over two two-year cycles.   The inaugural cycle will run from 15 July 2019 to 30 April 2021. The sides will play six series in a two-year cycle on a home and away basis against opponents they have “mutually selected”.  The series can consist of anywhere between two and five matches’ duration.  Points will be awarded for individual Test match wins, with matches in shorter series worth more.  The two top-ranked sides will then progress to the June 2021 final to decide the first World Test Champions. The ICC has been debating a Test Championship for many years.  The general consensus was that Test cricket (apart from the Ashes) lacked context – there was nothing meaningful to play for … Continue reading

Cricket South Africa and SuperSport T20 partnership

Cricket South Africa (CSA) and SuperSport released a media statement that they have agreed to enter into a joint venture partnership that will own and operate the South African T20 league. This company will replace the aborted Global League T20 private ownership concept. A new company will be registered with CSA being the major shareholder with 51% and SuperSport 49% of the shares. Both parties will invest R150 million as venture capital to ensure that the company has the liquidity to launch and operate successfully. It has also been agreed that SuperSport will purchase the television rights for Africa at R120 million. They will also look to market the television rights across the cricketing globe and provide the international feed. CSA have entered into a joint venture with a very good South African and global company in SuperSport. With the profile, network and finances of SuperSport there can be little … Continue reading

1968 – A vintage year

The year 2018 is important in the history of the overseas professional in English county cricket:  It is 50 years since the England County Cricket Board (ECCB, predecessor of the current ECB – England & Wales Cricket Board) decided to relax the rules on residential qualification for professional players and heralded in the era of the overseas pro. Up to 1968 overseas players were not completely unknown in county cricket. But the intrepid souls who ventured into the pre-1968, stiff upper-lip world of county cricket had to negotiate complex rules regarding residential qualification.  It was easier to get into club cricket and at the time an equally reliable source of income. But in 1968 Nottinghamshire wanted the world’s premier cricket, Garry Sobers, to play for them – and Sobers dearly wanted to come.  It was an opportunity not even the conservative ECCB could let go.  They agreed to Nottinghamshire’s proposal … Continue reading

AB’s retirement a blow for the Proteas

The unexpected retirement from all forms of international cricket by AB de Villiers has come as a surprise and shock to the cricketing world. There have been signs that AB’s retirement was imminent when he missed recent series but it was only expected after the 2019 Cricket World Cup (CWC). He always said that he wanted to win a World Cup for South Africa. He has been one of the great cricketers of a generation having played in 420 international matches for South Africa with 114 Tests, 228 ODI’s and 78 T20 Internationals. He scored 19,489 international runs with 47 centuries and 109 half centuries. He retires with a Test average of 50.66, an ODI average of 53.50 and a T20I average of 26.12. In a South African context he is one of the top five best batsmen the country has produced alongside Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Jacques Kallis and … Continue reading

Changes on the cards in England

More than 20 years after Lord MacLaurin’s drastic shake up, English county cricket appears to be set for another major overhaul. When Lord MacLaurin, at the time the chairman and CEO of one of Britain’s most successful supermarket chains, Tesco, was appointed chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 1997 English domestic cricket was in a shambles and it showed in the performances of the national side.  By the time that he announced he would step down in 2002, the County Championship and the one-day league had been divided into two divisions, an effective central contracts system was in place for the international players and the ECB Academy had put in place the foundations of a competitive and successful national side.  As a result, Lord MacLaurin had overseen a rise in board income of almost £30million, with £7million a year being pumped into grassroots development. Now the … Continue reading