England win a one-day international

How dastardly rude of them. It’s just not the done thing in England circles, ending tours on a high. How dare they? Did anyone else laugh at the fireworks at the end? How inappropriate can you get?

Nice to see them win though. Me and my editor have been musing on them all day, almost praying they’d lose just to ease our final pieces. Mine’s here and his is there.

Also…why have I not written more about Michael Yardy? I’m sure he’s a terrific bloke but I’m unconvinced he should be playing cricket (for England). As for Chris Read, well…say goodbye to Brisbane I’m afraid. Geraint Jones was like a pig in proverbial at Sky…

Time for wine.

Live discussion: England v West Indies, Champions Trophy

At last England have been put out of their misery, and today’s match is pleasingly meaningless. Therefore, they’ll probably win. If you’re watching, leave a comment.

ICC innovations structure isn’t very appealing

It has been reported in today’s paper that the ICC are considering a trial where players can appeal against the umpires decision. They are talking about using the Champions Trophy as a test bed for the idea. I noted the other day that the players don’t take the Champions Trophy very seriously, and it appears that the ICC does not either.

The ICC cricket committee, chaired by Indian great Sunil Gavaskar and including former Australian captain Allan Border, will debate whether players should be allowed to appeal against a certain number of decisions per innings if they feel they have been wronged by umpires.

An appeals system has been used in the National Football League for years, and the ICC denied such a process in cricket could undermine the authority of the standing umpires.

“What we are looking to do is increase the already high numbers of correct decisions made by our on-field umpires without diminishing their role and this approach has the potential to do just that,” said Dave Richardson, ICC’s general manager of cricket.

Presumably, a captain could appeal, say, two contentious decisions per innings and ask that they be referred to the third umpire. The standard of international umpiring has been a big issue recently.

The standard of international umpiring is in fact fine, if you ask me. Australia toured South Africa and Bangladesh and played 5 tests and 8 odi games and I don’t remember a single contentious decision.

While I am a crusty old curmudgeon, I do not in fact have a problem with new ideas in cricket. However, I do have notions about the proper place to test new ideas, and the ICC Champions Trophy, whatever its merits, or otherwise, is not in fact one of those places. If the ICC had asked a member country to test its ‘supersub’ rule in a domestic competition, the flaws in the idea, which were manifest at the time anyway, could have been demonstrated in a slightly less public manner.

Brett Lee’s burnout tale is starting to wear thin

I noticed another story in the Australian media about how Australian cricketers are highlighting the danger of ‘burnout’, this time it is Brett Lee doing the talking. Interestingly, he is in India doing promotional work. He may be burnt out, but clearly not so much that international travel is beyond him.

Local authorities are nervous about Australia’s commitment to the Champions Trophy after suggestions from Adam Gilchrist that some Aussies may need to rest from the event which ends a week before the Ashes series begins.

England coach Duncan Fletcher has suggested that players such as Andrew Flintoff may also need to be given a break during the one-day series.

According to local reports Lee was less than convincing when asked if he would return for the tournament.

“I would love to play it because that’s the only trophy we haven’t won. But, then, I will play if I am fit enough to play at that time. Frankly, I love coming to the subcontinent,” Lee said.

“To us the Ashes is more important than anything else. We had the hold over it for 18 long years. We are very keen to win it back.”

To be fair to Brett, I’m sure that he IS very tired right now, and promoting watches is not the most difficult of tasks. However, the Champions Trophy is not now, it is in October. The Australian players will be coming into the tournament after a five month break.

I think there is a hidden agenda here. I think that the Australians are planning to tank the tournament so that they can come home and play a couple of domestic first class games to prepare for the Ashes.

That is a big claim to make, and one that Australian players will, I am sure, deny with shocked expressions if you were put it to them. However, given the demands of the fixtures list in the 2006/07 seasons, it is in fact the only sensible thing to do. The Australian team has four different contests on its plate next summer.

  • The Champions Trophy
  • The Ashes
  • The domestic ODI triangular
  • The World Cup

Now, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand which two of those four contests are going to be a high priority for the players. If the domestic ODI triangular was axed, the Ashes could be spread out into January, and the players from both England and Australia could have a decent preparation. But it isn’t so they won’t get that preparation, UNLESS they take a dive in the Champions Trophy.

Of course it is not acceptable to say that in public, so they are coming out with this nonsense about ‘burnout’.

That dillema is actually made explicit in this story about Glenn McGrath’s preparation for his comeback next season.

McGrath, 36, wants to begin his comeback in earnest in the Champions Trophy limited-overs tournament in India in October, then return home for a couple of Pura Cup matches for New South Wales.

But if Australia reaches at least the semi-final stage of the Champions Trophy – a tournament it has never won – he won’t feature in the Pura Cup.

The Blues have matches between October 27 and 30 at the Gabba and November 3 to 6 in Adelaide, with their next from November 24 to 27 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The first Ashes Test begins at the Gabba on November 23.

Selection chairman Andrew Hilditch said this week McGrath was “gearing himself up” to be ready for the tournament, but captain Ricky Ponting has advised him to bypass the Indian trip and prepare via a stint in English county cricket.This would enable him to deliver some long and repeated spells and regain match fitness. McGrath traditionally takes times to find his rhythm, and Australia cannot afford to ease him into the Ashes.

“Personally, I feel that it would be perfect for me to (play in the Champions Trophy) and have a couple of games in the Pura Cup,” McGrath said.

“That’s my plan. But if they would prefer me to look at county cricket, I would look at that.”

So you can see where the priority of the cricketers lies. And I do not blame them one bit. It is the administrators that force this on players with ridiculous ODI tournaments. The Champions Trophy has no credibility because it is forced into odd places in the international calendar by the likes of Australia’s triangulars, a tournament that lost its credibility a long time ago anyway.

And these considerations apply just as much to the English who by coming off a busy domestic season have a much more valid claim to cite burnout.