Nanny state seeps into cricket grounds

And I thought Tony’s Britain was bad. John’s Australia is worse than Tony’s United State of Europe and George’s USA combined and the effects of the 21st century phenomenon, the nanny state, is seeping into cricket grounds at a rate of knots.

Last year the ICC began to ban people bringing in alcohol into grounds. I saw it first hand at The Oval last summer.

A fan is forced to consume the contents of his highly dangerous aluminium can of coke

The ICC’s problem, so we are told, is the highly dangerous aluminium and glass bottle containers the evil public bring in. In theory, this could cause a disturbance (or, presumably, death). The real reason, I fear, has more to do with driving the public into the bars to spend more money.

Also, beach balls – those venomous, violently coloured plastic balls of carbon dioxide otherwise known as Balls of Doom – are often confiscated by the fun police in Australia, and England. And now the Mexican Wave has been banned. Quite how you enforce this latest one is beyond me, short of super gluing everyone to their seats. But the best example of this disgusting infringement of our freedom comes from Rod, out in Australia at the moment, who tells us:

A friend was told to lift off his sunglasses from one barman yesterday so he could examine his eyes: if they looked drunk he was told to return to his seat.

What’s next? Will bats come under the spotlight? Balls? What about that most venerable of snacks, the pork pie? You’re not even allowed to sneeze at Brisbane: The Telegraph’s Martin Johnson reported in the first Test that one spectator was asked to vacate his seat until his sneezing fit had finished. It is an unbelievable farce that ground authorities have the power to treat the paying public in this manner and, before long, it will backfire.

Strictly for our amusement?

So Ramps is going dancing. I had a chat with him the other day which you can read at Cricinfo. Should be fun to watch; he’s pretty down-to-earth about the whole thing. I wonder if Gough will be watching…

Meanwhile, I’m in Devon – but it’s been a day to forget….
Contine reading

Howard feeds his addiction

Ah, John Howard. Rarely does a week go by, seemingly, in which “cricket” isn’t uttered by the self-confessed addict. And yesterday it was revealed he spent AUD$90,000 during his time in London last year to go to the cricket. Now, Australian readers will grab the Corridor shaped voodoo doll when I say this, but sod it: it must be brilliant to have a PM that loves cricket.

John Howard and Steve Waugh

Ours – for all his good points – doesn’t like the game. Ha! Actually, he does like it, but the New Labour dictatorship, brewed in 1997 and currently resting in a Tuppawear container in Gordon Brown’s apartment above Number 10, decided football was far too cool to ignore. And so it was that our Tony chose the “beautiful” game over the five-day drinkathon, otherwise known as cricket.

I thought I’d mentioned this before, that Tony was a closet-cricket fan, but alas couldn’t find it.

Anyway, have a look at Johnnie Howard’s expenses:

JOHN Howard and his entourage spent more than $90,000 on accommodation and meals in a four-night stay at one of London’s most exclusive hotels.

The visit last July, which included two visits to Lord’s for the Ashes Test cricket series, was part of a 10-day trip in which the Prime Minister visited his fellow Iraq war leaders, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the US President, George W.Bush.Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show the trip cost taxpayers $613,947.57, or $61,314 a day.

Scotland’s poor smokers

Yes it kills you. Yep, it’s bloody expensive and lulls you into a fall sense of unbridled satisfaction. It smells, it lingers, it stains. But it’s our/their/your right. Pity Scotland and her happy smokers, for today marks the beginning of the end.

I know it’s wrong. In fact, me and a mate were accosted by an elderly drunked in the pub the on Friday who had, after 50 years of puffing, finally given up. Well done that man. I usually resent the preaching of recently-quit smokers, but his insistence was too pressing. Much of his ramblings were incomprehensible, no doubt fuelled by another equally wonderful poison, but he did make one useful observation: smoking is the biggest con around. It is. And we’re all the more pathetic for it. However ridiculous as it sounds – and I tell my brother this on an almost weekly basis – we enjoy it!

As I lit up another one, and supped on my beer in a remarkably cheap pub which does beer for £2.80, it got me thinking. 2006 will be the year I quit – it will – but nevertheless, I despise the nanny state and dictatorship we live in. Maybe the government are covering their arses for the eventual influx of law suits (“no one told me it would kill me!”) from society’s gluttonous creatures. Nevertheless, it makes me angry that someone in government can tell us – law-abiding, polite, hard-working tax-payers – not to smoke.

Oh, and by the way, the bars housed on the Thames in Parliament are exempt from the upcoming ban on smoking; those very same minions will happily puff on their cigarettes while the rest of us suffer in the stupifaction of better health and a nicotineless existence.

Yes it’s bad, but it’s also our choice. Meanwhile, Jacques Kallis has just hit his 24th hundred (vain attempt to make this rant related to cricket, which it clearly aint)

Apologies, shan’t rant about non-cricket matters here again.

Grass roots funding

I confess to being mildly ignorant to the figures afforded (if that’s the appropriate word) to English cricket, and sport’s governing bodies worldwide, so these published from the government made interesting reading.

Kate Hoey questioned Richard Caborn:

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much each sports national governing body (NGB) has received from the community club development programme in each of the last three years; and how much NGBs have allocated to
grass-roots sports development under the terms of the compact with her
Department on income from broadcasting in each year.

And he replied:

There is a "community club development programme" which provides funding for sport in Britain, and here are the figures since 2003:

£
NGB Year 1 (2003–04) Year 2 (2004–05) Year 3
(to date) (2005–06)
All England Netball Association 436,500 222,665 781,547
Amateur Rowing Association 1,657,056 199,445 436,510
Amateur Swimming Association 0 6,720 763,502
Badminton England 134,227 666,644 448,389
British Canoe Union 519,500 635,431 645,985
British Cycling 588,136 216,389 598,630
British Gymnastics Association 60,076 690,000 645,110
British Judo Association 45,625 329,694 1,236,712
England Basketball 205,809 110,000 597,442
English Cricket Board 2,996,330 1,592,513 2,233,388
England Hockey 185,000 248,800 623,308
English Table Tennis Association 14,777 31,485 1,446,738
Football Association 6,706,197 2,236,017 678,816
Lawn Tennis Association 4,413,234 2,394,918 1,610,800
Rugby Football League 38,188 260,591 994,598
Rugby Football Union 7,442,027 1,772,009 1,141,316

I don’t quite understand why or how the figures plummet for some sports, notably the Football Association (FA). Over £6m in year one, down to £678,816 in the third year. If anyone can offer an explanation, please do…

MOD defend mass widescreen TV purchases

The Ministry of Defence have defended the mass purchase of widescreen TVs in recent years, after claims they were used for viewing Test match cricket. Norman Lamb, Lib Dem MP for Norfolk, got things going on November 21:

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many widescreen televisions have been purchased by his Department for use in Whitehall Headquarters in each of the last five years; and at what cost in each year. [21097]

Adam Ingram (Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence) responded:

Mr. Ingram: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, as part of the Ministry of Defence Head Office building refurbishment, five widescreen televisions were purchased in financial year 2001–02 at a total cost of £12,500, and 134 at a total cost of £348,000 in financial year 2003–04.

£348,000 for a bunch of massive TVs in which to watch 11 England cricketers muck around on a pitch for a few days? Brilliant – at least it’s not football…good to see our taxes are being well spent. The BBC has more on this:

Mr Lamb told the BBC: “I was attending a meeting at the Ministry of Defence and I was walking through their open plan offices.

“I was completely gobsmacked by the number of televisions all around, in every work space.

“And they weren’t modest little things like we have here in the Houses of Parliament, with small screens. They were whopping great flat screen, wide screen sets.

Tony Blair – opening bowler, or middle-order batsman?

Indymedia

Tony Blair could be playing a cricket match in Parliament Square. Well, not likely, but you never know. A website by the name of UK Indymedia have challenged MPs in the Houses of Parliament to a game. They describe themselves as:

” Indymedia UK is a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues. ”

And their letter to the government follows:

Dear

As a part of the government, and an elected representative of the people of this country we employ you to manage the affairs of our country in an honourable and respectable fashion. To uphold our rights and the rights of people the world over, to act as an ambassador for the people of this country in your dealings with other nations and to place the well being of the people and our surroundings above financial or any other concerns.

As a conscientious member of the public, it is my role to monitor the movements and interactions of the people who represent my fellow citizens and I within government. We are growing alarmed at the manner in which our government is handling our affairs. Time and time again we hear of corporate relationships coming before human or environmental concerns. We hear that our armies are being sent out to protect us from evil, only to later find that we are an occupying army looking out for western oil interests, and the weapons we were told to be afraid of were a figment of the imagination. Next we are told that the original mission was to remove a corrupt dictator, later we find out that we are the ones being dictated to. We hear that we are going to rebuild Iraq after the devastation caused by our forces, only to fund out that this is simply a thin cover to exploit an occupied nations resources for our financial gain. We hear that terrorists are due to strike as they are jealous of our democratic system, only to wake up with draconian laws enforcing us to carry ID cards and banning protest against government anywhere that they may hear it.

This will not do, you are not acting in an honourable fashion.

We the Space Hijackers, hereby challenge you and your fellow Members of Parliament to a game of cricket. We challenge you to show us that your morals and behaviour are fit to govern this country. Prove to us that your support of the Olympic bid was not just more hot air. Prove to us and the rest of the country that you are what you claim to be. Prove it to us on the batting crease.

We look forward to receiving your acceptance or decline of the challenge in the very near future.

A decline of our challenge will be seen by us and the entire British Public as acceptance that you are the morally and honourably corrupt government that we suspect. We shall see you at the pitch.

Yours Sincerely,

On behalf of the Space Hijackers and the greater British Public.

Fantastic – well done them, even if it comes to nothing, bloody good on them. Big question is, though….what will Tony Blair do, where will he bat, and how can the Space Hijackers beamer him and make it appear accidental?