The vexed question of ICC governance
Russell Degnan

Cricket governance is all the rage right now. Cricket Australia just completed a review, the ICC are in the process, and recently asked for public submissions on the matter. A first, asking the public, but one that ought to occur more often.

At heart, each of these reviews is trying to get at a central problem in the structure of cricket: boards are part of a pyramid structure where power derives from the states/counties/nations below. Power derives from those entitities and those entities are self-interested, and sometimes downright incompetent. The ICC, and Cricket Australia, would prefer a direct, independent role, afforded to other sporting organisations. The advantages: coherence and fairness of structures and schedules, and a better management to fulfil the entrepreneurial role of a modern sports administrator.

The downside: letting go of political control at the national level in favour of a global organisation means beign told what to do by the ICC. Jarrod offered a useful guide for exactly why the boards in question oughtn't to have any say. And in many ways those are cricket's more competent boards. At the level below, for every Ireland there is a USA, Kenya or Nepal. Fortunately they are already controlled by the ICC via their purse-strings.

But governance encompasses other aspects as well. The ICC is not always the producer of great ideas. Their management of the process to introduce the DRS, of global tournaments (they were behind the push for a 10 team world cup amongst other sins), and the tinkering with the rules is indicative of a body that needs better feedback. If they are not getting it from the boards, then processes need to be put in place to get it from the general public, players and other engaged and interested parties.

It was with those issues in mind, that, in collaboration with Samir Chopra of The Pitch I wrote our submission to the governance review. The recommendations were as follows:

  • The granting of voting power to the administrative arm of the ICC on the executive board.
  • Official recognition of players associations in negotiations over playing schedules and tournaments, with a preference for voting power on the executive board.
  • The establishment of a larger base of ICC tournaments to promote greater financial parity, meaning and context for cricket, and allow the ICC administration to promote and grow the sport beyond its current limitations.
  • The greater regulation of players and domestic T20 tournaments to encourage the sort of club and player devotion that other sports enjoy.
  • The disclosure of ICC Executive minutes and voting to make member boards accountable to their own membership (cricket clubs, players and spectators).
  • To establish a deliberative democracy approach to expand the scope of opinions and knowledge available to the ICC beyond the current mix of former international players.

The full submission (pdf)

Idle Summers 22nd December, 2011 16:06:56   [#] [2 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCXLV, December 2011
Russell Degnan

London Bridge. Taken December 2011

Melbourne Town 22nd December, 2011 06:29:45   [#] [0 comments] 

Random thoughts on the Big Bash League
Russell Degnan

  • Warne remains a drawcard; the crowd cheered his every move all night. It might seem a gimmick to have old players, but sports league thrive on stars, and having players who are known and will be playing (which won't apply to most of the national team) is vital. In later seasons the crowds will have their own heroes.

  • Wright and Dernbach are decent cricketers, but they are boring rather than charismatic, and an overseas signing ought to be a crowd-puller. This is such a roundabout way of mentioning that I don't understand why no team picked up head-band-wearing quick Hamid Hassan, burly world cup hero Kevin O'Brien, or all-round superstar Ryan ten Doeschate. All that marketing, and they don't sign marketable players.

  • The MCG significantly over-catered for the game; the third tier food outlet was closed within an hour. While disappointing on the surface, the crowd was decent. CA must act as an entrepreneur and maintain that the BBL matters; as long as they do, it will, just as long as they haven't the Shield hasn't.

  • Ultimately what the BBL needs are great games: the Vic-NSW match that got 28k was followed by a dud Vic-Tas that got 43k, then 29k, 17k and 13k the next season. 23k is a big turnaround given the previous decline. A few close games will lift the atmosphere and generate a word-of-mouth attendance lift.

  • Warner has gears other players can only wish they have. A few half-chances aside, he easily kept the chase in hand despite limited support from the other end. Not to say he is "the best player in the world", but he ought not be under-rated.

  • Wickets remain under-valued in limited-overs cricket. Even when it was clear the Stars couldn't win without dismissing Warner (or everyone else) the field remained spread and the Thunder coasted home.

  • T20 would be more interesting with a 10-over split: Stars 2/72, Thunder 3/77. Almost all the action happens as the requirement to lift the run-rate increases: Stars 5/81, Thunder 2/77. As long as the required run-rate in in hand, teams don't lose wickets and the game is predictable.

  • There was at least the pretense that Melbourne was the home team last night: no fireworks for Sydney boundaries and wickets. The crowd is dead silent, until the music plays and wrecks the mood.

  • Playing T20 in the school holidays is massively over-rated. The real benefit of the format is that it can be played around work and school. I'd much rather see tests/shield games front-ended to finish in late-January, and the BBL run from there.

  • This is not exclusive to T20, but the single biggest reason for me not attending more domestic cricket is that the seats provide a good view but are uncomfortable, the food on offer is rubbish (at any price), and the coffee worse. T20 mitigates this by being short, but every other weekend entertainment option available slaughters cricket on these factors (and they matter a lot to my cricket-agnostic partner).

Idle Summers 18th December, 2011 20:48:13   [#] [3 comments] 

Ratings - 16th December 2011
Russell Degnan

Recent Results

2nd TestAustraliavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1128.15869.25
Form-6.98-21.40
Expected MarginAustralia by 175 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 7 runs
Post-rating1120.75879.42
Series Rating1099.18901.63

The post mortem on a home series draw with the Kiwis is perhaps more complicated for Australia than it first appears. Mitigating factors include a New Zealand batting lineup as strong as any they've produced, competent bowling in conditions closer to that found on the other side of the Tasman, than the Australian mainland, and a narrow loss and big win that is not that far from expectations.

Nevertheless, their batting is a shambles. Warner succeeded beyond all expectations - the third highest percentage of a completed fourth innings - but it is hard to see a significant future for four of the top seven, and Khawaja is far from safe either. Selectors are conservative, and the changes will probably be minimal, notwithstanding continuing injuries to the bowling stocks.

For New Zealand, the win came against the opponent they most like to beat. Australia has rarely taken them seriously, which is a pity because it is always enjoyable cricket, even when mismatched. This win ought to be savoured particularly because it came on the back of young kids: Brownlie and Bracewell. There is potential in the team. If their batting continues to develop, and if they can unearth one genuine quick, the next few years could see some excellent cricket between the two rivals. Unfotunately, pecuniary considerations are likely to keep the series rare and short.


1st TestBangladeshvPakistan
Pre-rating615.481051.47
Form-3.84+20.91
Expected MarginPakistan by 168 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by an innings and 184 runs
Post-rating600.311064.36

A game that largely passed me by, dominated from the off by a Pakistan side playing its best cricket in years. Bangladesh have struggled badly in recent times, with the faltering form of Tamin Iqbal largely to blame. Against England and India Bangladesh earnt a certain respectability for grinding out totals even if they were still peppered with collapses and inevitable losses. Their last few games have been merely inadequate, and Younis Khan is not one to let up with the bat. Nor Saeed Ajmal in helpful conditions with the ball.

There isn't anything Bangladesh can do, at least in the short term. They are almost certainly playing their best side, and while they are let down by both poor discipline and fielding - both fixable - they will lose most games regardless. Cricket's rigid class structure and the decreasing value put in playing them has made test status a form of curse (albeit a lucrative one).

Pakistan are putting together a decent run of results against weaker opposition, raising the possibility of a more keenly contested series against England than would have been the case two years ago. The main point of interest in the game to follow is whether the level of domination they showed in the first test can be maintained.

Forthcoming Series

3 TestsSouth AfricavSri Lanka
Pre-rating1179.411036.58
Form-4.24-20.26
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 121 runs

If any further evidence was needed of the importance of Muralitharan to Sri Lanka the last year has been salutary. No wins in fourteen games - albeit with only four losses, and a number of rain affected results - they've not looked capable of taking enough wickets to win games. That may change in South Africa where the pitches have recently produced plenty of wickets, but their losses have indicated a different problem. While Sangakkara has continued to score heavy runs, Jayawardene's form has dropped and the runs have not been picked up elsewhere in the order. With a long tail and the menace of Steyn and co. even draws look an unlikely prospect.

South Africa had the best of the series against Australia and no concerns with the ball - arguably Steyn, Philander, Tahir, Morkel and Kallis is the world's leading attack - but have their own batting issues: a longish tail and a struggling opening pair. They ought to have enough to win at least two matches against Sri Lanka however.


Rankings at 16th December 2011
1.England1333.15
2.South Africa1179.41
3.Australia1120.75
4.India1093.74
5.Pakistan1064.36
6.Sri Lanka1036.58
7.West Indies923.80
8.New Zealand879.42
9.Bangladesh600.31
10.Zimbabwe556.62

11.Ireland559.06
12.Afghanistan514.53
13.Scotland437.45
14.Namibia407.53
15.Kenya338.92
16.U.S.A.296.99
17.Uganda268.44
18.U.A.E.219.51
19.Netherlands202.55
20.Nepal196.51
21.Canada154.58
22.Hong Kong148.65
23.Cayman Is134.24
24.Malaysia123.90
25.Bermuda105.40

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.

Idle Summers 17th December, 2011 22:22:51   [#] [0 comments] 

Monday Melbourne: CCXLIV, December 2011
Russell Degnan

Cape Schanck. Taken December 2011

Melbourne Town 13th December, 2011 22:44:17   [#] [0 comments] 

Ratings - 6th December 2011
Russell Degnan

Recent Results

1st TestAustraliavNew Zealand
Pre-rating1127.29876.93
Form-11.61-24.18
Expected MarginAustralia by 175 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 9 wickets
Post-rating1128.15869.25

A result reflective of the rankings, but not a performance from Australia that ought to have produced the result. Australia's bowling on the opening day was poor, New Zealand's stroke selection worse. Only Williamson was worked out, with Lyon producing another fine performance. McCullum, Ryder and Taylor merely gave their wicket away. Vettori and Brownlie's excellent partnership, cut short by another daft dismissal, still left them 150 runs short of what they ought to have achieved. Missing runouts and dropping catches in the Australian innings cost them another 150 or more runs, although Australia were themselves culpable of some poor stroke-play.

Pattinson's burst on the fourth morning was dramatic, but he was helped by wafting outside off stump from batsmen who are undoubtedly talented, but are wasting it if they don't work harder to protect their wicket. Ryder's lazy chip to Lyon was typical of a batsman who frustrates by being merely a fine cricketer, when he could be Jacques Kallis. New Zealand's collapse left little time to properly assess Australia, except Hughes, who could be replaced by a video of him being squared up and edging to slip, such is its frequency. Their catching was poor, the bowling of Siddle and Starc uninspired and their batting sloppy. If New Zealand get it together they could beat Australia; if Australia do too the margin will remain the same.


Forthcoming Series

2 TestsBangladeshvPakistan
Pre-rating615.481051.47
Form-3.84+20.91
Expected MarginPakistan by 168 runs

Almost an identical expected margin to the above. Bangladesh are a little stronger at home and might trouble Pakistan if they can score runs. Unfortunately of late that hasn't seemed the case. Pakistan have looked a better side under Misbah ul Haq, combining, in the tradition of great Pakistan sides, sensible batting and exhilarating bowling. Saeed Ajmal has been dominant recently and on turning Bangladeshi pitches he might be unplayable. Two years ago Bangladesh served up some roads to post respectable results against India and England. If they do the same they might be able to draw, or provide a base for their bowlers. Most likely though, Pakistan will be too strong.

Rankings at 6th December 2011
1.England1333.15
2.South Africa1179.41
3.Australia1128.15
4.India1093.74
5.Pakistan1051.47
6.Sri Lanka1036.58
7.West Indies923.80
8.New Zealand869.25
9.Bangladesh622.73
10.Zimbabwe556.62

11.Ireland559.06
12.Afghanistan514.53
13.Scotland437.45
14.Namibia407.53
15.Kenya338.92
16.U.S.A.296.99
17.Uganda268.44
18.U.A.E.219.51
19.Netherlands202.55
20.Nepal196.51
21.Canada154.58
22.Hong Kong148.65
23.Cayman Is134.24
24.Malaysia123.90
25.Bermuda105.40

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.

Idle Summers 5th December, 2011 23:30:15   [#] [0 comments]