Australia should leave the ICC

In the wake of the latest mess with the issue of Australia touring Zimbabwe, I’ve written a post calling for Australia to leave ICC.

It is not a step to be taken lightly, and there are many permutations to be reckoned with. But now is as good as any time to reckon with them. It is clear that ICC can not give cricket the clear and decisive leadership that it needs. Cricket is NOT about dollars and deals, but about cover-drives, spectators, and playing the game. ICC fails to recognise this, and therefor it is up to Australia to help put things right.

What about England? Should Australia go it alone or should England and Australia set up on their own again like in 1877 (or to be fair 1912 when the then Imperial Cricket Conference was founded.)

Cricket videos on Youtube

As has been well discussed, Youtube is the tardis of online video, and there is an awful lot of tripe there as a result. But in between the mundane crap there are some priceless and rare gems, and one particular user was a guaranteed supplier of the better material. Cougarcricket was his name. He is now in the past, either missing in action or dead. Or, more likely, banned by Percy and pals in their blind and insatiable corporate greed to run the planet their own way. Soon, we’ll all have golf courses under the sea (or whatever Ian Chappell’s recent brilliant quote was). What the ICC have failed to realise is the internet is not a Zimbabwe, or any other cricket board; with it being essentially an ungovernable medium, people are continuing to upload whatever they like, as they should do.

So we need a replacement to Mr Cougar, and / or a list of the latest and greatest cricket clips. Your nominations, please.

That was the World Cup that wasn’t

You can come out now, it’s safe. The interminable has finally been put back into hybernation for another blissful four years, while the ICC scratch their chins and wonder how they can make it even worse. They really will struggle to produce anything quite so flawed and farcical as the 2007 World Cup which has been strung out over the past 47 days, like a terminal patient on a life support machine.

I’m so glad it ended as it did, too. There was a hope (or fear, depending on the levels of cynicism germinating inside you) that the final would sweep all the controversy of the tournament under one, big, happy carpet. But it didn’t. It ended in complete, incomparable farce. No one person was at fault for the last rites, when Australia’s celebrations were cut short – forcing them back into the dark of night to bowl another few overs. True, Aleem Dar ought not to have officiated in such a rigid manner and shown some semblance of logic – Sri Lanka were not going to win the game. Everyone knew that. But that is Dar’s way, and it is uncomfortable criticising umpires’ roles. They have a thankless task at the best of times and are first in the firing line.

Who’s fault was it, then? Anyone watching from afar – even if knowledgeable of cricket eccentricities – would have found it quite astonishingly bizarre that a side could be allowed off for bad light, seemingly handing the win to the opposition, only for both sides to be forced back onto the field. In pitch blackness. Cricket simply does not help itself half the time. Today should have showcased the best players in the world, demonstrating what a remarkable sport cricket is. Instead, the sport was reduced to an embarrassing pantomime.

Was the Cup doomed from the start? Is it the flawed idea of cricket having a World Cup, full stop? After all, one-day cricket remains the cheap, frilly cousin of Tests, so how can it be described by some as the sport’s greatest event? It palpably is not. It is a frenetic exercise to embezzle as much money into the pockets of the ICC and the organisers as is feasibly possible, at the expense of everyone – especially the developing countries and the locals hosting the tournament.

Call me cynical, and you will, but covering a tournament so closely has inevitable consequences. Australia are the best one-day side in the world, and probably the best in history too. But we have learned little else from this drab event other than the ICC are even more greedy than we first suspected, and Australia’s opponents – Sri Lanka apart – aren’t even close to chasing their coat tails.

Ireland beat Bangladesh

With all the moaning about how the 2007 World Cup is a bit of a farce, it has to be said that it’s greatest defenders are the actual players. There’s been some great cricket played, and not least by those of whom the least have been expected. Bangladesh have had some great moments but it was their turn to be the shock losers as Ireland dominated last night for another upset victory.

It is hard to remember now, but no one except Bob Simpson gave Sri Lanka much of a chance in 1996, Kenya surprised everyone by making the semi-finals in 2003 and in 2007 we’ve had the rise of Ireland and Bangladesh. The World Cup is becoming a platform for new nations to make their mark on the cricketing world.

And while the ICC gets a justified bucketing for its blunders, it must be given credit also for the way that it has given new nations the opportunity to show us what they have got. Hopefully, looking forward to the 2011 tournament, Ireland and Bangladesh will be able to consolidate their progress, and maybe a new nation will come on board and dazzle us from no-where.

ICC cops it again

The ICC cops another serve, this time from Ian Chappell. When everyone except people on your payroll are telling you that you are doing a lousy job, then you are doing a lousy job.

Speed is always at great pains to spread the gospel that cricket is in good shape. However, you start to wonder if working in Dubai, where a ski resort is plonked in the middle of the desert and a hotel built in the ocean, hasn’t affected his grip on reality.

As if the litany of disasters at the World Cup isn’t evidence enough of a game in need of a re-think, there have been numerous other warning signals in the lead up to the tournament.

In the recent past there was the appalling handling of Zimbabwe’s predicament, the first ever forfeit of a Test match and the two prestigious one-day tournaments have been played within six months of each other.

Then there is the preposterous dilution of standards that has occurred under this regime. To have a match anointed as “official” appears to require nothing more than an assurance there are more than eleven registered cricketers in both countries participating in the match. This has led to a plethora of one-sided matches in both forms of the game.

And we haven’t even mentioned corruption, which the England captain thinks is still prevalent in the game or the mind numbing mess that now constitutes the laws of cricket.

Thank goodness Ian Chappell never tells ME what sort of job I am doing!

Travelling in style with the ICC

What does the hard-working ICC official travel in from game to game? A brand spanking new BMW of course. Here’s one of nineteen, imported specially for the World Cup (spotted on Flickr).

I suppose they’ve struck a sponsorship deal with them or something. Not a bad way to travel around the islands if you’re into luxurious German vehicles, dripping with leder. Incidentally the photographer has a few other photos worth looking at. It’s always much more interesting seeing photos from the fans themselves, inside the grounds. It gives a more human perspective to what’s actually going on, and they’re not bound by the laws of commercial interest, worrying what their photo editors will want etc.

Calypso cacophony will out

Happy Easter all, if that’s your bag – and what an Easter it has been so far, with Bangladesh tripping up South Africa and the very welcome news that the World Cup’s Local Organising Committee (loc) have retracted their ruling to ban trumpets and drums from the grounds.

Here’s what everyone’s favourite ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Chris Dehring, humbly admitted (that is his full title by the way):

“The world has already seen the spectacle of fans from all over the world
dancing and savouring the unique environment in which this event is
being held and CWC is just seeking to enhance that even further for
the remaining matches,” Dehring added. “It’s amazing the things that
people can creatively make music from and we want to encourage that.”

How gracious of them to u-turn so spectacularly, with just three weeks to go. From what little coverage I followed of Bangladesh’s match against South Africa, the turnaround does seem to have had an effect on attracting the locals, instruments and all. But it’s too little, too late. And as for their moral u-turn – after all, these drums and trumpets were, until yesterday, dangerous and anti-social instruments of death – it’s another example of the hypocrisy and ignorance which has tainted this tournament.

Photo courtesy of Ryan

What troubles you about the ICC’s running of the game?

I was chatting to someone tonight about the ICC and their hopelessness. He, a cricket supporter of some 30+ years, told me that the ICC have ruined the game he once loved. I’m not quite there yet, but I have certainly fallen out of love with it and, moreover, I am worried for its future. Cricket is less about the players, less about the theatre on the field, and much, much more about money. The ICC’s greed is the game’s principle problem and it shows no sign of abating whatsoever.

What saddens me most is their stance that everything they do is for the greater good of the sport. And those who disagree are not only wrong, but idiotic (and need silencing). This is a billion-dollar organisation who hand out peanuts to the likes of Ireland and Kenya, and millions ($9m this year) to Zimbabwe. A company who steadfastly deny accusations of ambush marketing, yet continue to ban non-ICC-affiliated merchandise, drinks and so on from the grounds. Salesmen (peanuts, drinks, gimmicks – whatever) in the Caribbean are being charged obscene amounts for entry into the grounds and can hardly break even. When did all this happen, and who the hell is going to stop it? Using this farcical World Cup as a perfect example, surely it would have been in the ICC’s interest to make it a success, and not for its accountants but for enhancing their own image. Instead, they have ruined a tournament; ignored a prime opportunity to regenerate interest in one of cricket’s oldest, most passionate territories; left a vast public questioning their every move – and will leave with egg on their faces.

What troubles you about the ICC? Are you as enchanted with this sport as you once were as a kid? Are you (perish the thought) in support of what they do? Do you even care? I’d be fascinated to hear your opinion.

Ruining it for the locals

What a World Cup is has been so far, a tournament memorable for all the wrong reasons. The gestapo-like restrictions have been mentioned before, but such incredulity needs regular airing.

Vaneisa Baksh writes:

On my bookshelf there are three or four unused tickets that will serve as my pretty World Cup souvenirs. As much as I love the game and want to support it, I couldn’t subject myself to absurd restrictions that tried to masquerade under a security umbrella.

West Indians sensed early that this World Cup cared little for their company, their culture, and ignored the realities of life in this part of the world. So they are staying away from all the grand stadia their governments have spent so much of their money to prepare. It just hasn’t been enough about West Indians; can you blame them?

It is, very nearly, a complete disaster. The only hope for the locals is if, by some strange twist of fate, West Indies make the final. They won’t, though, and the public will stay at home. That feeling of revitalisation – a spring hope that the region would be injected with cricket fever – a few weeks ago has dribbled away. This is largely due to, but not solely restricted to, the ICC’s blind greed, their suffocating marketing tactics and a complete lack of interest, or knowledge, of Caribbean culture. They have distanced the very people that should be instrumental (in every sense of the word) to the tournament’s success. That is quite some feat.

Mike King says:

Locals, alienated by the prices and culture of this global event with its Alcatraz-like policies, have stayed away from even those games featuring the home side.

Long queues for tickets and expensive food have resulted in short tempers, paltry crowds and complaints at every turn.

Prior to the tournament, organisers were boasting of sell-out grounds and marketed the event as the best World Cup ever. To say they got it wrong is an under-statement of gigantic proportions.

The ICC cannot be blamed for the cricket on show – and perhaps that, more than the event’s planning, has affected the region’s apathy. West Indies have, as we all suspected but wished wouldn’t happen, been caught short and exposed. But this tournament has been in planning for over five years. Why, then, has it been such a shambles and who will be called to account?

Wither, World Cup

Superb rant from Patrick Kidd

Is anyone else as angry as I am about the World Cup? It has been building for a while but spilt over this evening while watching West Indies make a pig’s ear of their run chase against Sri Lanka, who were watched by hardly any spectators in a brand new but not fully complete stadium that is covered with more sponsors’ logos than a Formula One car, commentated on by the biggest collection of vapid “talent” since Celebrity Big Brother, and yet again a World Cup match, the 30th of this unending tournament, is heading for a dull finish. I make it 27 dull games out of 30 and coming after the least competitive Ashes series for 80-odd years, it is capping off a thoroughly miserable winter.

Couldn’t agree more with it all. Cricket is more a business than a game these days, and it’s the ICC’s insufferable greed which is killing it.