Home > Cricket Development > Opinion: Something to think about…

Opinion: Something to think about…

Between the years 1980 and 1991, Zimbabwe, a non test playing team, played on the average 9 one day games, and 6 first class games every year against touring opposition. The opposition was Australia A, South Africa, Glamorgan, Worcestershire, Pakistan A (known as Pak B at the time), England A, WI U23 (known as Young WI at the time), Lancashire, Sri lanka A, New South Wales, Aus U23, England Combined Counties XI, NZ U23, Sri lanka, PIA (Pakistan domestic team), Leicestershire and Middlesex.

I cannot help but think that it was the higher level of the opposition that helped Zimbabwe not only to improve their match experience, and playing ability, but also gave many of them the exposure to get recruited in the English counties and make a living for themselves. Hick, Kevin Curran, Duncan Fletcher are all examples of players who were products of the Zimbabwe cricket system and went ahead to get full county contracts.

Ireland and Scotland are in a way getting the 10 One day matches against county opposition, though, with the fact that Ireland finished last this year, I dont know how much ECB will tolerate their presence after 2007. Netherlands is missing out, but nothing stops them from organizing something of what Zimbabwe used to do. They make a trip to South Africa every year, what they perhaps need to do is to make sure that they play at least 3 FC matches and 5 one day games against SA domestic first sides during that trip. Before the county season in England, Netherlands can invite one of the counties to come and play the warm up tour over there instead of flying to SA, Ind, UAE or some other place where the conditions are not even remotely similar to that of Europe. They can ask them to play the same 3 FC matches and 5 OD matches.

Bermuda and Canada need to find a way to get integrated into the WI domestic circuit. Nepal/ Afghanistan need to get into the India/Pakistan domestic circuits respoectively, but additionally, perhaps both Pakistan and India can ‘hire’ the playing squad as paid professionals. Both the test countries CAN do it.

Namibia is already playing in SA provincial setup. That is good, although it would have been more exciting to see Namibia in the full SA domestic setup. I am only wondering, why AB Burger, who hit a marvelous century against England in 2003 WC, was not offered a pro contract to play for one of the SA domestic sides. Surely he had the talent, and the guy was only 21 years old in 2003, still only 24.

There are a lot of teams from test countries that can be invited and they would be good enough to raise standards for the associates. A team, U23 team, even U19 team in some cases (England U19 team thrashed a Malaysia Presidents XI earlier in the year), and the domestic teams. Perhaps the ICC needs to ensure that something like this is done on a regular basis so that the team’s standard gaps between test and elite associate is closed. To me, incorporating Zim and Bangladesh (and kicking out Namibia and UAE) in the intercontinental cup seemed like a decent idea, given that they are not getting a lot of cricket anyway. I understand that the associate opposition is not what these countries are looking for, but the associates are better than just sitting quietly.

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. October 6, 2006 at 5:46 am

    For once Nasir, I agree with everything you said!

  2. Ram
    October 6, 2006 at 7:16 am

    I think the best way the leading Associates are going to become competitive against the Test nations on a consistent basis is by making them play as many games against Test “A” teams, not only in the ODI format but more importantly in the multi-day version…If Ireland and Scotland enjoy a good season in 2007, one hopes that the ECB may consider putting them in the county Championship though I agree that such prospects are not very high….

    And….While it’s good that Namibia are involved in the SA provincial setup, it would’ve been great if Kenya were included in the SA domestic competition…Kenya have a professional team, so it’s no problem getting all their players to play multi-day cricket on a consistent basis…About Nepal/Afghanistan, I’m not sure how much India/Pakistan are interested…I don’t know if the ACC is even asking these 2 countries to consider such an idea……

  3. October 6, 2006 at 10:50 am

    For Nepal/Afghanistan, both these coutnries should be asking the test nations, and the test nations should be looking at the possibilities themselves. They can be ‘hired’ to play by paying them an initial payout of $150/y for every player (totalling $28,800 for each country for a squad of 16). Both India and Pakistan can do that, but the question is whether they will do it even if the cost was only $1.

    I wonder if Kenya could have been incorporated into SA domestic as well, while Uganda could have been incorporated into the new Zim domestic (which has Zim, Zim A, Zim Academy, Presidents XI etc and not regions).

  4. Ram
    October 6, 2006 at 11:35 am

    The problem with the current Indian board is that it’s too money-driven, with the result it’ll operate in either of the two modes: either you’re an in-demand team in which case you’ll be dished out millions as participating fees in a triseries and your players will be actively hired by domestic teams for huge sums to popularize the domestic scene or you’ll not get anything….Consequently, I don’t see Nepalese or Afghan cricketers being hired UNLESS they become in-demand teams with popular cricketers, which is not going to happen atleast in the next 5-10 years….However, if they can now suddenly express their intentions to host the 2013 20/20 WC after being vocal disapprovers of the same format till about 6 months back, you never know what they’re upto next…

    Actually, I thought of Uganda in Zim domestic setup but I don’t think that would happen given the internal turmoil in Zim….Thanks to internal wranglings (or financial constraints?), ZCU had to cancel a domestic competition, a season or two back….With political intervention being so powerful there, I’m not sure if Uganda would be welcome…

  5. October 6, 2006 at 11:43 am

    Zim’s provincial setup was cancelled because they didnt want to have anything to do with the regional associations…….. Now they they have the 5-6 teams they need, and it is probably going to be a league format, perhaps even double league, Uganda can very easily be incorporated.

    Being money driven is fine…… but the point is that almost all boards are also a little childish in this regard…….. How many Aus-Ind games will people watch before they start losing interest?? It will become stupid after a while….. I think there is a bit of a problem in that mode, I have already mentioned how it has started to effect the India/Pakistan series. Now if there is no alternative good team, then at least an effort should be made to nurture some for the 10 year future…… its all quite logical actually, and I dont understand why the top 4-5 teams dont think about it……

  6. Cuen Lucas
    October 6, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    The problem with incorporating Namibia and Kenya in the 3 S.A. franchise series is that a lot of people say that there will be too many games, now with the 45 over series going from start to finish in a mere 6 weeks, I’m not buying that argument at all.
    The franchise system was created to concentrate the talent, NOT because there were too many games, so having Kenya and/or Namibia shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, even if it only is for the 45 and 20 over competitions.
    Another bonus with having those two teams is that some of the grounds that lost out in the franchise setup could “adopt” either Namibia or Kenya and get themselves back on the scene.

    Every single associate that made it to the World Cup has a test nation nearby, and even if they can’t guarentee themselves a heap of games vs. the test side in question, they should at least be incorporated into the test nations domestic scene for 4 years.

  7. October 6, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    I can’t see India having non test teams involved with their domestic set-up any time soon, but Pakistan is a different matter. They have already had Afghanistan involved at lower levels, and in the past had Malaysia and the UAE involved.

  8. Ram
    October 6, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Well….it remains to be seen whether Zim is interested in Ugandan cricket by including them in their domestic setup…

    The point is: the major players namely ICC, BCCI, ECB and CA, inarguably the richest cricket boards in the world, are all insanely money driven and short-term thinkers…The ICC isn’t bothered about slaying the golden goose by going ahead with a global tournament every year when the fact is there are only 8 attractive teams while these 3 countries are even reluctant to play lesser countries like NZ and SL regularly, leave alone looking at expanding the game’s horizons…These 3 countries, if they really cared, can exploit their huge cricketing economies to develop cricket in not only their region’s Associate countries but also in other countries…For example, why can’t the BCCI look to play a 3-ODI series in one of Scotland/Ireland/Netherlands given that they are touring England next year?….If Ind, Eng, Aus tour these 3 Associates on a cyclic basis so that each of these 3 Associates gets a high-profile ODI series every year, I’m sure they wouldn’t be facing any financial constraints a couple of years or so from now….Why can’t the ICC make it mandatory for each Test board to have atleast 1 player from a developing country in each of its domestic teams if it’s not possible to incorporate the region’s developing team in its domestic setup?….Remember that the Test boards apart from India and Aus (since Eng anyway do it) cannot object given that they’re financially dependent on the ICC…The ICC should look to actively involve its Test members in its development program rather than try to do all by themselves which is difficult…

  9. October 6, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    SA, Pak, NZ and Bang are not dependent on ICC either for funds……

    ICC can go ahead and ask that the big 8 play at least 3 ODIs against an associate every year…… more if they want to ……. in addition to that ICC can mandate that the elite associates play at least 3 ODIs a year against either Zim or Ban………… that would be 6 ODIs in the year against test teams for every associate…… and I think it would be a doable calender…… Ban and Zim would be playing 9 games a year against the elite associates….. they should be ok with that…… Bang has already played 7 ODIs against Kenya this year, and will end up playing 9 by the end of the year with the Scotland tour….. its not like Ban is complaining…..

  10. Ram
    October 6, 2006 at 10:15 pm

    By dependent, what I mean is these countries earn substantial revenue only when the big 3 visit them…I don’t think either of these countries makes huge sums when they play among themselves…As a result, over the 5 year touring cycle, they have crests and troughs in their financial situation which leaves them with little money to carry out additional developmental activities in the neighboring countries…In other words, they are dependent on the ICC funding for their financial well-being, something the ICC themselves acknowledged recently….

    About ICC asking the top 8 to play the leading Associates every year, I think it depends on whether the primary aim of such ventures is to generate money or provide matches against quality opposition….If it’s the latter, what you say is fine but if it’s the former, then I doubt how much money a NZ or SL can generate by playing a 3-ODI series in an Associate country….Maybe Scotland and Ireland can make money but I don’t think Netherlands, Namibia, Kenya or Canada are going to make much by playing anyone other than the big 3….Also, countries like Bermuda, Afghanistan and Nepal that can really cash in on such ODIs don’t have the facilities and are more likely to get thrashed resulting in not much interest in the Test countries….

  11. October 6, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    I think it depends on whether the primary aim of such ventures is to generate money or provide matches against quality opposition

    A bit of both actually……. obviously NZ and SL cannot generate the kind of money that India/Aus/Eng can, but they can definitely do better than what another associate can

    Once again, it all comes down to being competitive…….

  12. October 8, 2006 at 2:54 am

    the major players namely ICC, BCCI, ECB and CA, inarguably the richest cricket boards in the world, are all insanely money driven and short-term thinkers…

    Ram, the question here is why this is the case? Short term thinking is fine, it keeps the next paycheck coming etc, and it is only good that countries are making money….. but for any business, it is imperative that the decision making process has at least 10% of long term planning…….. India’s long term planning can include a number of things, they can take the step up and try to promote the game in Japan, China, USA, Canada etc (properly that is)……. this can be done even if they are not interested in Scotland, Ireland or Kenya, though Netherlands and Denmark are also huge economies and can bring a lot of extra revenue for the richest boards in the future…… its just common sense for any business to take this into account….. unless the thinking is that followers will insansely keep on following the same teams and the same match ups only for entertainment value………… it just doesnt happen like that, and recent commercial returns have also gone ahead to show that sponsors are already taking a back step for a barrage of similar games………

  13. October 9, 2006 at 3:33 am

    Cuen, about the following statement of yours:

    The franchise system was created to concentrate the talent, NOT because there were too many games

    Does this mean that the SAA provincial sides do NOT have any of the best 60-80 players in the country? Since they are all playing for the franchises? If that is the case, then why even have the provincial setup? Is it now only an amateur setup used for drafting into the franchises?

  14. October 10, 2006 at 6:52 am

    Ram,

    You said:

    while these 3 countries are even reluctant to play lesser countries like NZ and SL regularly

    this is correct, but I wonder why? why is SL, depite having a strong team, and also having been past world champions not an IN DEMAND team……

  15. Cuen Lucas
    October 10, 2006 at 8:10 am

    Nasir, in general the best players on the S.A. scene are in the franchises (although there are still some sharp players in provincial cricket), the provincial competitions are a feeder for the franchise system, basically a player will go

    club -> provincial -> franchise -> national team.

    Whether or not the provincial system is amateur or not I’m not sure.

  16. Ram
    October 10, 2006 at 11:21 am

    I think the major reason why the ICC is short-sighted is because it wants as much money for its development program as soon as possible…The BCCI is plain irresponsible as a senior member of the ICC family and is only interested in minting money from wherever it can….As far as CA or ECB go, I don’t think they are that bad…They host all countries over the 4 or 5 year cycle as per the ICC schedule except that they allot more matches when one of the big 3/4 countries visits them…Obviously, if given a choice, CA or ECB would love to play more matches between themselves and with India….However, what these boards don’t realize is that cricket matches between the big countries are popular only because they happen once in a while…

    About NZ or SL not being popular, I think that’s got to do with their cricketing histories…Atleast NZ enjoy a decent rivalry with Australia that ensures some interest…About SL, they don’t have much of a cricketing history…I think history (and in turn rivalry) matters the most in Eng/Aus while a combination of star value and cricketing rivalry/history influence a visting team’s popularity in India…But, as far as the respective boards are concerned, I think it’s mainly to do with the fact that overseas rights are hardly worth anything when they host NZ or SL that makes them hesitate…

    About India’s contribution to the game’s development, I think if the BCCI really wanted, we could easily be looking at 20 good countries capable of taking on each other in the 2019 WC, which is precisely what the game needs….Afterall, the BCCI is worth a billion dollars…even if they can spare 5% of their money for development activities, that would still be a whopping $50 million spread over 4 years, much more than what the ICC has spent in the last 8 years!!…

  17. October 10, 2006 at 11:38 am

    I think SL is also a docile team…… a team of ‘nice guys’…… which is why at least from Pakistan’s perspective, nobody really cares if SL beats them or they win against them……. SL has never knocked Pakistan out of a World Cup, or there has never been any arrogance shown by their players etc……. or there has not been total domination either from their side…….

    Basically, all the things that go into making a cricket rivalry, are missing in SLs case.

    The Uganda/Kenya/Tanzania bilateral series program is a decent idea I think in this regard. All these countries already have all sorts of links with each other, and it would help them in fostering traditional rivalries through cricket.

  18. Ram
    October 30, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Just a few thoughts/doubts here, not quite related to this topic though….Soccer, despite its claims of being such a popular sport world wide, has produced just 7 different World Champions from 2 continents…Cricket, comparatively is doing much better at producing 5 Champions from 3 continents…Also, remember that the soccer World Cup has a much longer history compared to cricket’s and has many more teams involved in it….Weighing all these factors in, I think cricket with just 8 competitive teams (it was even less till the 1992 edition!) has actually done much better than soccer in being competitive and raising public interest every 4 years the premier tournament comes about…

    I fail to understand why the average sport follower in a Test nation doesn’t mind watching a France v Senegal WC soccer game but is hardly interested in following his/her team play one of the Associates in a cricket World Cup game!…Why is it that nobody believes NZ can win a cricket World Cup (and so don’t pay much attention to them) when the fact is many such countries in soccer get as much attention as past champions?….Why is it that nobody complains of ‘overkill’ about watching the same Manchester United, Newcastle, Chelsea or Arsenal play each other in the EPL every year but easily get tired after a few Indo-Pak ODIs?

    The answer to all these questions can be attributed to this stereotyping of cricket as a long, boring game with too few competitive teams….I do think this has to change if the ICC’s Development program has to take off in a big way….

  19. October 30, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    Cricket has the problem of predictability……. in an Ind-Netherlands match, if India bat first and make 400 runs, and then get Netherlands down to 10/3 in the first 5 overs, you can pretty much bet your house on the fact that, barring a ‘once in 20 year’ miracle, the game is over…….. the remaining 45 overs, which roughly transalte to 3 hours of cricket, is just about going thoough the motions…….

    In Football you can have no contests as well….. who was it that Argentina beat 6-0 in the WC this year? but the basic point is that whatever happens, it happens in a total of 90 minsutes, and even if they are 2-0 down, a team still has a chance……. so the overall ‘pointless’ part of the match is not going to generally exceed 45 mins……..

    I liked a comment that one of the Scottish Newspapers made once…. it said that Scotland is ranked 12th in the world in cricket, yet it has an absolute zero chance of winning the world cup…… it does not have a 1 in a million chance, but an absolute zero chance……..

    this point of view is somewhat correct, and it goes to explain why the world does not care about associate matches, because to them ….. whats the point?

    Manchester United plays 2 games against another club once a year…… and thats being part of a league……… India – Pak matches are just for entertainment purposes usually, unless they are in a WC or champions trophy…….. and in any case, 10 matches a year between them is more of an overkill than manchester united………

    of course, test cricket complicates the situation a lot more………… an extremely weak team, perhaps like the current zim team, would make a mockery of a test match against, say , australia………

  20. Art Needham
    October 30, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    A number of very good points have been raised here. From the point of view of a cricket purist and an umpire I have until very recently disliked the idea of 20/20 cricket. However on recent reflections I see that form of the game as the first step in the promotion of the game in developing and not yet developed cricketing countries.

    The game does require some technique, it is fast and can be hyped for the crowd if indications on what has happened recently in Australia are to be used as a guide.

    So instead of running through the system of one day cricket and then the traditional long game perhaps it should be looked upon as a 20/20 introduction to international cricket then the one day game etc.

    There was a comment somewhere here i think that suggested that ‘new’ countries perhaps don’t have the traditions of the game and perhaps will change it forever. Well the game is changing now at all levels. There always has been a ‘desperation’ to win but in more recent time (yes it can be said that this perhaps does come and go a little) there is an apparent lack of respect for the opposition the officials and even some team members at all levels of the sport.

    Perhaps the injection of new blood with the correct appreciation of what the sport is truly about might just have a positive effect on the game in total.

  21. Bruce Gaskell
    October 30, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    “Cricket, comparatively is doing much better at producing 5 Champions from 3 continents”

    In addition to this the cultural diversity of Cricket world cup winners is much greater.

    On a related point I used to think that part of the reason Cricket had a problem spreading was because the stronger team nearly always won, so there was nothing in it for the underdog.
    On reflection I’ve come to the conclusion that ODI cricket is no less predictable than football. (Tests are a differant matter).
    This leads one to the conclusion that it is worth persevering with associates, if they get a sufficient player base and infrastructure, they will be competitive.

    And what if we get say, five more associates that are the level of Bangladesh? That’s still five teams that will beat anyone on their day. And in the football world cup what are all the teams outside the top 7-8 if not footballing Bangladeshis?

  22. October 30, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    I like the term “footballing Bangladeshis”…….

    I think Bangladesh are a little lower than ‘on their day can beat anyone’…… the pre exodus Zim was in that category……. so to me, what you need are a 5-6 teams apart from the test teams at the pre-exodus zim standard….

    so I guess we come back to the Ram’s question….. why are people ok with following a Ukraine (footballing Bangaldeshi) v Brazil (footballing Australia) match, while a Bangladesh v Australia match ends up with everyone throwing the book at the ICC…….

    I think its because of the time factor, but I would like to know other opinions…..

  23. Cuen Lucas
    October 30, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    The time factor is one reason, another reason is this ridiculous obsession that cricket following people have with statistics and records, where they are complaining that having the top nations playing teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe etc. will skew the records, basically they’d rather protect cricket’s past than it’s future.

    Another reason is “old guard” rumbling where people keep hankering for “their day” when there were only 5 – 8 teast teams involved, the English commentators (David Lloyd in particular) are the main culprits of this, but there are others and they need to realise what the way forward.

  24. Bruce Gaskell
    October 31, 2006 at 4:09 am

    At present the Cricket world cup doesnt have quite the same box office appeal as football WC, but that’s hardly breaking news.

    People are only interested in games like Brazil-Ukraine in the context of the World cup. People like seeing differant footballing styles and cultures but if it was a friendly there would be no interest whatsoever.

    In the UK at least, any Test series not involving the two minnows would get more media coverage than foreign football outside the World cup.

  25. October 31, 2006 at 4:10 am

    obsession with stats is good actually….. but i dont think that is a major problem……. a lot of stats are being skewed not because of weaker teams, but bad pitches, dramatic change in laws in favor of batsmen etc……. imagine 20 years ago in even 60 overs a team scoring 425 runs!………..

    for a good part of 10 years at the turn of the 20th century, most of the records were against SA…… there was an English player who took 8 wickets for 7 runs in a test match…. so as far as I am concerned, the records were skewed to start off with………….

    old gaurd is also there…… for all England and Australia could care, everything would be fine if there was an Ashes every year and they dont have to play anyone else …….

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