‘The biggest crisis since the Packer era’

A BBC reporter on News24 said the situation at The Oval could boil into the most ‘the biggest crisis since the Packer era’.

The one-day series might be cancelled too. Just getting my head around what has been going on, thanks to Scott for filling in. He’ll have more when more happens.

Mike Proctor’s hard call

Mike Proctor has to make a decision to over-rule his umpires so that the match is not forfeit.

There is a huge amount of discussions going on, but basically, it is a simple call, and it is up to Mike Proctor, as the match referee, to call it.

It’s all happening at The Oval

England have batted well, and Pakistan dropped some pretty easy chances, but there has been an incident where the umpires changed the ball, with something to do with ball-tampering. Play went on, until tea, where there was discussions between umpires, coaches, match-referee Mike Proctor.

The English batsman are all waiting to go out but Pakistan are holed up in their dressing room in protest. They are not happy campers.

It’s all happening…

UPDATE- The Pakistani players have still not come out, and the English batsman have gone off.

A ground announcer has just asked the crowd to be patient while match officials continue with discussions.

UPDATE II – Pakistan are, after nearly an hour, resuming the field, to much jeering and catcalling from the crowd, who don’t have a clue what is going on.

UPDATE III – And now they are going off again. It appears that umpire Darryl Hair might be going on strike now.

UPDATE IV – It would appear that both umpires are on strike.

UPDATE V – The Pakistan Chairman says that they are willing to play, and are just waiting for the umpires. However, it seems that bad light will put a kybosh on any more play today. It will be interesting to see what the conclusion of all this is.

Geoff Boycott is scathing on Darryl Hair at the moment for his lack of sensitivity. He says that strictly speaking, the umpires were quite right to act the way that they did, but in the ‘spirit of cricket’ sense, the umpires are wrong to go on strike in the way that they have.

I personally will wait to hear from everyone involved before I come to any conclusion. Seems there’s enough blame to go round from what little I know.

The big winner out of all this are England, who have got themselves into a position where they might save the game tomorrow. That is, if they even play tomorrow!

UPDATE VI – ECB Vice Chairman Mike Soaper is ‘not optimisitic’, and he has been in the meetings.

A farce waiting to happen

Just a quick post from the Antipodes to put in my two cents on the Great Australian Ticketing Fiasco. Needless to say, Cricket Australia won’t accept a bar of responsibility for this; just as needless to say that they won’t learn from this if it happens in the future.

What I would have done is copied the system used by England; for all the faults of the ballot system, the UK ground authorities are well experienced in dealing with demand for tickets that well outweighs capacity. Cricket Australia has this ‘we know better’ notion when it comes to England and English cricket, which may have had some relevance in the 1990′s but certainly isn’t the right mindset in 2006.
I’m not concerned in the slightest that Australian grounds will be full of visiting Englishmen this summer; the tourist boom to the economy will be well worth it, and it will teach the good for nothing, fat, lazy, whining Australian public to appreciate Test cricket more. I’m fed up to the back teeth of going to half-empty Test grounds. And, yes, I do have my tickets, if not for my home Adelaide Test, but I did get tickets for Boxing Day. 100,000 fans on the MCG for an Ashes Test; a dream come true for someone like me that cares far more for Test Cricket, and Ashes Cricket as the pinnacle of Australian Test Cricket.

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.

Disaster turns to farce

England’s disasterous preparations for the first Test is rapidly turning into a farce. First it was Michael Vaughan’s knee. Then Baroda-belly hit the spinners. Then Simon Jones had a wobbly stomach. Then Marcus Trescothick flew home. Now Simon Jones has recovered from his gut-ache and has twisted his knee. No, not his dodgy right knee (which he injured/snapped in Australia a few years ago) – his left knee! It’s all going horribly wrong.

The good news, though, is Andrew Flintoff has decided not to go home on or around the second Test, if / when his wife goes into labour for their second child. Flintoff is England’s captain for the remainder of the tour. (thoughts on this yesterday)

It’s almost funny…

Common Sense

So England stumbled to 248 for 6 when bad light brought a halt to proceedings. It seems to me that this is the custom in Pakistan. Given slow over rates, there is always the demand for the ‘extra’ half hour to get the regulation 90 overs in, so the chances of this happening in Lahore at this time of year are possibly nil.

In fact, Pakistan managed to bowl 77 overs today.

This situation is farcical. Between slow over-rates and bad light, 78 overs were lost during the Second Test, which almost certainly cost Pakistan the game. The solution of course is to schedule Test matches in Pakistan to go for six days of five hours, rather then the traditional five days of six hours.

That way, cricket would be conforming with the natural geography of Pakistan, rather then trying to force the natural geography of Pakistan to conform with cricket. It is just common sense.

Zimbabwe scrap for a defeat

For some time, I’ve watched Zimbabwean cricket teams either become decimated when batting, or demoralised when bowling. Today, it was neither, as they nearly put up a genuine fight against New Zealand – but they ran out of overs, losing by 27 runs. What is to be done about them? It is a complete farce and, in my opinion, is diluting the intensity required and expected at International level. Full report at Cricinfo.

Bangladesh batsman makes 50

Something for Bangladesh to cheer about today, as Javed Omer makes a 50. Pretty good one too. Harmison seems to be injured, and Hoggard’s all over the place. Oh – and Gareth Batty is bowling

Debacle allows Trescothick into form

What a debacle. Bowled out for 104, in 48 overs, then concede 269 and take only 3 wickets. It’s hard to see how it could have gone any worse for Bangladesh. The promise Mortaza showed early on was eclipsed by Vaughan – his little gem of 40-odd was just the tonic Trescothick needed to kick start his innings. Once he’d reached 100, he went beserk – hardly scoring a single in-between making 100 and, another, 150.

In the last game (“Test”), I wondered what England could take out of this game. And I’m still wondering. The only things I can think of is, perhaps – just perhaps – the top 3 or 4 batsmen’s feet might be moving a bit better by the time Australia arrive. And for Steve Harmison to pick up a few wickets will have done his confidence some good.

All in all, it’s an embarassing situation and Bangladeshi cricket must be wondering why on earth the ICC ever allowed them to play this level of cricket. It’s doing them so much harm, I can’t imagine them ever beating a quality cricket side. The youngsters, in particular, will feel scarred and worthless – what sort of education is this for them?

I hope England declare overnight and spare the ‘deshis no more than one more day of this.