Secondly, there is an implied ownership of the local market, and for that matter the ICC, now being plucked like a plump turkey. Clearly the representatives of the BCCI are more marketable to the Indian public than other teams, but ICC events are organised and operated by ICC, the business. The money generated by that business is a payment from fans to the ICC, for providing a product. Moreover, the money the ICC generates out of the world cup is significantly higher than what India generates from a whole summer of matches. The world cup has cachet that a bilateral series does not; to claim money generated in a locale as otherwise belonging to that locale's cricket board is a nonsense. As a fan, I object in the strongest possible way to being considered a serf to Cricket Australia.
That money should be cross-subsidising development initiatives, smaller tournaments, administration and anything that grows cricket as an international sport. That should be the ICC's remit and their option as an independent entity. FIFA may be riddled with corruption, but it spends up big on development, and well it should. ICC revenue was already overly orientated towards funding members, and in turn, their professional programs, instead of grass-roots growth, infrastructure and development. The World Cricket League currently shuttles between a small handful of nations for lack of turf pitches and decent facilities. Whereas FIFA would go and build pitches, the full members of the ICC, and particularly now, the big three, are taking every last penny they can.
Thirdly, the accounting of the "distribution cost" is questionable in the same way Goldman Sachs bonuses are. The standard full member/development split is 75/25 per cent of the surplus. But as the table above shows, the surplus barely increases with revenue even though costs (and therefore the scope of services offered by the ICC) stay nearly the same. The difference is made up by accounting for payments made to full members (naturally not associate members), to cover the opportunity cost of participation instead of playing elsewhere. Instead of investing ICC revenues in the game, they are being paid out as a "cost" to nations for the right to have them turn up; a kind of corporate bonus from management to part-owner, that strips value from the firm.
And for associates and affiliates, these payments mean they get a double kicking. Not only is ICC development funding being reduced, but the 25 per cent surplus has now been redefined to exclude the "distribution cost" that makes up almost a third of revenue in most scenarios. As the "distribution cost" is larger than the projected surplus, this represents roughly a halving of the associate and affiliate development payment for most revenue projections. Add in the Test fund, also a cost, and the scrapping of subscriptions, which added to revenue, and the full members are getting an enormous increase in payments without giving anything back in return. Sometimes you just have to stand back and admire the sheer brazenness.
Last year I wrote that there is little market growth and development, but a lot of redistribution. The working paper proposal would serve only to exacerbate that problem. There is no development of cricket's products, though the most lucrative bi-laterals can now be played even more often. And there is a clear aim to reduce the scope of ICC operations under guise of cost-cutting; a lot of re-accounting to increase distributions to full members (but mostly the big-three) at the expense of ICC programs, and independence.
Is it disastrous? For test cricket, possibly, as the test fund doesn't kick in unless revenues are high, and even then teams have no significant incentive to play: neither monetary nor competition. But for the most part it leaves cricket exactly where it is now. And that is a very short-sighted solution to ver real problems. The ICC certainly needed reform, but it also needed to build on what was there. Limiting the only multi-lateral body capable of moving the game forward is a backwards step. This proposal is a power and money grab by bodies that believe in little else; with no demonstrated capacity for leadership or growth. Cricket will survive it, as it always will, but any notion of it growing into a global sport recedes. You can't grow a sport without investment, and that just isn't happening, in product development, in market development, or in administrative capacity. Even if we consider the ICC as nothing more than a business, and not a sport, those in charge should still be held accountable for investment decisions; when investment is foregone for asset stripping then it is time to sell your stock instead.
Matches Unseen, Ratings 16th January
|2nd Test||Pakistan||v||Sri Lanka|
|Expected Margin||Pakistan by 102 runs|
|Actual Margin||Sri Lanka by 9 wickets|
A test I saw almost nothing of, but will offer brief comments on the scorecard. Having battled their way to a draw in the first test Sri Lanka dominated the second from the first day when the took 9/108 after lunch, before responding with 388 on the back a series of partnerships build around JK Silva (95) and Jayawardene (129). Although Misbah, Younis and the tail offered resistance, the Sri Lankan bowlers worked Pakisan out for 359 and chased down the runs on with time to spare. The win ensures at leas a drawn series, and pushes them back over 1000 in the ratings, having dropped below it before the first test. It's a purely symbolic milestone, but it has of late marked the difference between weak and competitive sides, and the performance of some of the younger players indicates that Sri Lanka may be able to maintain the latter for at least a while longer.
|Only Women's Test||Australia||v||England|
|Actual Margin||England by 61 runs|
As per last year, there are no rankings for the women's tests as they play so few of them. It is an absence of longer cricket that told throughout an enthralling match, that was far closer than the margin might indicate. The undoubted star was Ellyse Perry, taking 3/41 and 5/38 and top-scoring in both Australia's innings with 71 and 31. Yet Australia lost, in large part because their top-order was unable or unwilling to leave balls that ought to be left, succumbing to edges, and leaving too much for the lower order to do. England, likewise had their issues, and the bowling from both sides exploited the bounce and weakness for loose shots, with Cross in particular impressing. Gunn's ability to halt the scoring, and her 44 in the second innings where she put on a decisive 88 run partnership with Edwards, tilted the game back to England when Australia seemed to be gaining control.
The downside of the format is that the test being worth so many points, it is nearly impossible for Australia to regain the Ashes, as they need to win five of the six ODI/T20 matches. A test to end the tour would have all but guaranteed that both sides could win the series; and allowed any momentum from the limited overs matches to carry into what ought to have been the show-piece. Nevertheless, those who did catch this match will remember it.
|Rankings at 16th January 2014|
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
2014 starts with a rush with the World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) preview each of the ten teams involved, as well as the women's tri-series in Qatar. We look back at the ACC U-19 tournament and the EAP's ongoing efforts at the Australian Country Championships. And we break down some of the news coming out of the ICC and ACC: the report into Olympic involvement, changes in funding and match status, decisions (or not) on future tournaments, and more matches for Afghanistan, including the Asia Cup.
Direct Download Running Time 56min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"
The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.
211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
(Corner Gertrude and Gore Street)
Few pubs represent the change in the Fitzroy pub scene like the Builders Arms. The last time I was there the cigarette smoke rested like a grey cloth across your shoulders in the unventilated room; while your feet squelched through several decades of stale spilt Carlton. Now it is an bright and airy but slightly expensive gastro-pub with up-market craft beers on tap. The bulk of the bar is given to the bistro, leaving only a small front-bar, some street tables and a few high tables if you want a drink. But it is pleasant enough.
The counter meal menu is a little limited, being mostly snacks, but there are a few offerings worth checking out for a light meal at a decent price. I chose the burger; tasty but slightly too much pickle, which overwhelmed the rest of the meal, including the otherwise decent chips. In general though, I've heard nothing but good things about the meals here, even if the prices border on steep.
The Short: For foodies and Sunday afternoon drinks.
|Expected Margin||Australia by 81 runs|
|Actual Margin||Australia by 281 runs|
There can't really be a huge amount to say about this series. Each match has followed a familiar pattern. Early trouble from Australia against middling bowling; a rescue act from Haddin with some support (this time from Smith); a miserable English collapse; some breezy pressure-less batting from Australia, though Rogers always looks to be doing it harder than Warner; and an English batting performance that seems to lack fight and ends far too quickly. Harris was deservedly man of the match for taking 8/61; his pitch-map an object lesson in the value of constant pressure; his seam position impeccable throughout.
England's inability to change the pattern of the series ought to be the major story. It is still unfathomable though, how far they fell since the previous series, and how quickly. The graph below is both illuminating and odd.
It shows for five (or more) test series the correlation between the number of matches a team wins a series by (the x-axis) and the ratio of runs/wickets for the two sides (the y-axis). The home side being positive on both axis. Unsurprisingly, it is a strong correlation; perhaps equally unsurprisingly, the 2013 Ashes saw an unlikely 3-0 result given how narrow the margin between the sides. In the return series is would have been reasonable to expect Australia to improve by 25%, given home conditions, translating to a one or two test victory.
The improvement though, was 100%. Despite the top-order batting continuing to fail - with almost no runs of consequence from Bailey, Watson or Warner in the first innings - the bowling was so dominant, and England so incapable of combating it that a 5-0 result began to look inevitable from as early as the second test. As confidence ebbed, the false shots of the first two matches, a correctable fault, gave way to nervous prods and slower scoring. Their inability to attack any weak links - and here Lyon deserves praise - nor to bat long enough to tire and injure the Australian bowling exaggerated the final margin. But at the same time, the stats from the 2013 series were (Bell and the tail aside) not markedly better.
The difference - though perhaps the lesser of the worries for England - comes from the bowling. Whereas Swann took 26 wickets in England an off-spinner in Australia is rarely anything other than a liability. Broad bowled well, but his workload and injuries seem to have sapped the energy he brought to his match-winning spell at Chester-le-Street. Anderson has never been as effective where the ball won't swing; and couldn't possibly carry the load expected of him. In this respect, the one shining light for England is Stokes, who alone cannot be said to have dropped his head; by the end, the best batsman and bowler in his side. Australia's batting ought to remain a huge concern, but it did just enough to find the weak links in England's chain and exploit them mercilessly.
The tendency of teams to be white-washed once things start going wrong is a very recent one. In the past, with a longer tour, England might have found some form or selectoral certainty in state games, rested their key players and their minds, and found ways to take advantage of Australia's own weaknesses. But the modern tour brings in players with no cricket behind them, or leaves those already broken tied to the Catherine Wheel for more punishment. With time to prepare, more favourable conditions and a more favourable opposition the next series ought to be straight forward, even if the current side was kept.
For Australia the next series is South Africa. Their record there is decent, even in recent years, conditions are favourable, but the opposition is formidable. The bowling just needs to stay fit. They'll need much more with the bat.
|1st Test||Pakistan||v||Sri Lanka|
|Expected Margin||Pakistan by 107 runs|
|Actual Margin||Match Drawn|
If I described this match as Angelo Mathews against Pakistan I'd not be too far wrong. He was last out in the first innings, for a relatively quick 91 of Sri Lanka's paltry 204; then he opened the bowling; then, needing to bat long for a draw after conceding a 179 run lead, he built on the start provided by Silva and Sangakarra to nurse his side to 5/480, making 157 off 343 balls himself.
The flattening pitch, a feature of cricket in the UAE, thus prevented a result. Junaid Khan took advantage of the early conditions that prevail to take 5/58 in the first, and worked hard for 3/93 in the second. But there was little for Saeed Ajmal and it is him who they expect to take second innings wickets. Pakistan's own batting card was a bit lop-sided, with Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan providing a 218 run partnership on their way to 136 and 135 respectively. But it wasn't built on, nor did they score quickly, and both those worked against them once Sri Lanka settled in.
Hopefully the second test will have a pitch that offers turn, as neither side has the pure pace needed to take wickets on roads with no swing.
|Rankings at 7th January 2014|
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Bereft of present ideas for certain family members I went on a minor chocolate spree just before Christmas, generously gifted a string of 20 degree days by the Melbourne weather, Those curious about temperature and chocolate should watch the video below, where it is magnificently explained from the 50th minute (the entire series of lectures is brilliant, if you have a spare 80 hours or so).
Five flavours were chosen. Because they are basically the same I'll run through them quickly.
Pistachio, Cranberry and Brandy Truffles
Pecan, Ginger and Rum Truffles
450g Dark chocolate
60g Glucose syrup
20g Butter (softened)
Sufficient dry Ingredients and 30ml liqueur
1. Combine cream and glucose syrup and bring to boil.
2. Pour over chocolate in heat proof bowl, let sit for a few minutes then stir from inside out to create ganache.
3. Split into two parts, adding dry ingredients, butter and liqueur to each and mix in without over-agitating.
4. Pour mixtures onto plastic wrap enclose and leave for several hours.
5. When cool, disgorge from wrap and agitate (briefly) until firm enough to roll.
6. Using hands, roll into small balls and leave overnight.
7. Dip in dark chocolate (for the pistachio and cranberry truffles, grate some nutmeg onto top.
Simple, fast. Truffles aren't complicated nor terribly time consuming, and it is nice to be able to do several flavours more or less simultaneously.
White Chocolate Coffee Truffles
250g White chocolate
20g Glucose syrup
15g Cocoa Butter
5g Butter (softened)
10ml Black coffee, reduced to syrup.
Follow recipe as above, cocoa butter combined with white chocolate, dipping in milk chocolate.
The hard part of this recipe is that white chocolate is hard to work with, melts at different temperatures, ends up thicker, and the ganache needs a lot more agitation before it can be rolled. The thicker the coffee is the better because it needs to overcome the otherwise sickly sweetness of the white chocolate. Feedback was positive though.
The lack of molasses changed the flavour but not to its detriment. It still doesn't have a strong tomato flavour, for good or ill (probably good), with most people likening it to a very odd turkish delight.
Banana and Mango Fondant Chocolates
For the fondant
100g Glucose syrup
1. Combine the ingredients in saucepan and bring to boil, stirring. Continue cooking to 117 degrees.
2. Pour onto marble slab (lightly splashed with cold water), sprinkle more water on the top, then leave to cool to 50 degrees.
3. Agitate until it turns into a short-textured mass. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave.
For the jam
1/2 Banana (large)
10ml Lemon juice
1. Put banana, mango, water and sugar in saucepan and cook to 106 degrees, stirring occasionally. Lower heat and reduce water as much as possible.
2. Add Kirsch, lemon juice and cinnamon and put aside.
For the chocolates
1. Melt fondant in heat-proof bowl over water bath to 70 degrees.
2. Mix in jam thoroughly, and set in moulds.
3. Set in fridge - several hours.
4. Dislodge fondant centres, cut to size and dip in dark chocolate.
Far and away the most complex, not least because I was: a) making it up somewhat, though the basics for the fondant and jam were taken from Chocolate and Confections and Mes Confitures; and b) because I'd not made a fondant before, and the sugar kept creeping down the uneven slope of my benchtop and off my under-sized marble board. The fruit puree is added later, because the acid can prevent crystalisation, but I had no issue getting thick centres, and might have easily used the fondant immediately rather than leaving overnight to ripen. The taste was good, without being anything special. But several hours of dipping - nay tempering for dipping - and having a house smell like the 4kg of chocolate I went through for a week might have jaded me to the taste somewhat.
The main trouble for me remains the process of dipping, which takes forever and requires constant concerns over tempering and thickness. If I could fashion a faster and more consistent method of dipping in large quantities it would halve the time to make them. Something to ponder in the new year.