Home > Cricket Development > Opinion: Difficult to comprehend……

Opinion: Difficult to comprehend……

Today I came across an australian news article that described the Irish Cricket team in the following manner:

“…. Ireland, a team made up of a handful of Australian tourists, a South African and some local tradesmen and office workers….”

Perhaps the objective is to show the amateur state of the team, but heard these constant comments consistently throughout the world cup as well once Ireland beat Pakistan and went through to super 8s.

There has been constant criticism about Ireland and Bangladesh making it through to the super 8s, and hence making the world cup ‘boring’. There has been talk that perhaps the format needs to be such that the better teams dont slip!.

I am quite confused about the line of thinking carried out by minnow bashers. This actually includes Bangladesh for the sake of this article because Bangladesh beating India has also been seen as something that should not be repeated!.

In my opinion, Bangldesh beating India is totally different from Ireland beating Pakistan. In one case, you had a country, that despite being weak, has 120 million crazy cricket fans, cricket is their number 1 sport, and they celebrated all night when their team went through. The other case was a little different, with the craze not being remotely close, but the interest certainly was there, a lot more than what Netherlands, Canada or perhaps even Kenya could have generated.

Now, what is problem in the first case?? Is Bangladesh not really a country? Is it not really a cricket mad country? Did they not play better cricket to beat India? Did they not beat SA (and nearly Eng) in the super 8s?

All this talk about the stands being empty, or about the world cup being a financial disaster, would probably not have been there had India made it through to the super 8s. The US based Indians, for whom the ticket prices had been kept high, would have shown up to back their team, and the stadiums would have been full, and if India had gotten to the final, that would have been the ultimate dream of the ICC come true. But how is it the ICC’s fault that India could not beat Bangladesh?

Until before the world cup, the talk was about why the minnows are playing in the first place when the matches against them are pointless and predictable. When that did not happen, and 4 upsets took place, now there is talk of the format being very bad.

What is difficult to understand is what exactly is wanted by the big 8? It seems that they would rather have a world cup with only 8 teams, i.e. themselves. So the only way for the ICC to ENSURE that would be to have a double league first round. What if Ireland were to beat Pakistan in the return game as well? Pakistan would have been knocked out in that case as well… and I am sure that neither India nor Pakistan would have been happy at that either.

Did people stop watching the FIFA WC Final in 2006 because Brazil was not there? Or did they not consider the second round as a valid one because the number 2 ranked team in the world, Czech Republic was not there? France beat Brazil in the semi final of that world cup, but Brazil was a stronger team, and if 10 matches were to be played, Brazil would have probably beaten France 7 times.

But that is not the point of the world cup, or any other tournament. If you want to watch Pakistan v India come what may, or Pakistan v Australia come what may, then the products that you are looking for are their bilateral series, not the world cup. World Cup may also provide you with match ups like these, but it is never gauranteed, and to me it is silly that you would want to gaurantee it.

A world cup is basically about big matches. The high pressure do or die games. I would probably like to see a world cup that has the first round, and then the quarters, semis and the final. That way, your team will end up playing at least 4 tough matches to win the world cup, and the duration would be much shorter as well. But when this formula was tried in 1996, it became quite farcical, not to mention that it doesnt get rid of the ‘problem’ that a good team may get knocked out early in the tournament.

I was reading on Cricinfo, one of the Pakistani bloggers, mentioning that the format needs to be such that minnows cannot ‘hijack’ a big 8 position easily. This is silly stuff. Pakistan had the easiest pool, and the super 8s proved it. WI came in 6th, and Ireland came in 8th. Pakistan had the weakest opposition in the world cup, and if they couldnt get their act together in either of these games, then tough for them.

In the 1983 WC, India won the final, but WI was the much much stronger team. Should there have been a best of 3 finals? No, it was a final, and the WI could not deliver; thats that. In the 1992 WC, both England and SA were stronger than Pakistan, and England was probably the more deserving team, but Pakistan was the champion. You can talk about the washed out game or whatever, the point remains that in the game that mattered, the final, England came up short.

Asking the wrong question will always lead to a wrong answer. Why was this world cup, or even the previous one, not as charming as the ones that used to take place before? One of the reasons is that there is so much cricket being played these days that people have seen it all before… very recently. For example, in the 1 year prior to the WC, India probably played every opposition. So what was the excitement in seeing it all over again? the second thing was that the Champions Trophy took place 6 months back in which you had the big 8 participating.

The main factor that will increase the appeal of the next world cup, if the format is the same, is how strong the 3rd teams are in the pool. Bangladesh we all know is going to be very strong in the 2011 edition. That leaves 3 other teams. Zimbabwe is probably not going anywhere, their exodus seems to be too much of a problem, and now they are in this limbo with the Australian govt as well. So the 3 teams that you can expect to improve and be seriously competitive are Ireland, Scotland and Kenya. I personally think that if the ICC were to work hard on these teams, then 4 years is a long enough time for these countries to improve dramatically. That would add not only a lot more excitement to the first round, but also reduce the possibility of a mismatch in the super 8s. That would then mean that a team would have to win 5 tough games to win a world cup with the quarter final format as well, which is quite a lot of games to win on a trot.

The minnow bashing is not coherent though. What exactly is the problem? The bigger problem, both in terms of following, attendence, and money was that India got knocked out, not Pakistan. Why was this event criticised? The winning country was not one where they thought cricket was an insect. I asked this question in one of the comments as well…. what if Netherlands, Canada were replaced by Afghanistan and Nepal? Then the question would have been that the standard is too low. Ireland showed that they have some following, and that they could also get into the official rankings, and now the problem is that they had Australian tourists playing in the team?!?! Passion for cricket does not grow on a tree, and even if it did (!?!), it doesnt do so overnight. It looks to me that we are not giving a country the oppurtunity to develop (or capitalize on) any passion, and then criticising them for the lack of it.

Strange. It looks to me that the old guard doesnt want anything to change. But as we can see from the Zim situation and also a bit from the WI situation, you cannot force someone to play or watch cricket. If people in WI are getting more attracted towards other sports, if people in Zim would not like to play a ‘colonial relic’, then why force them. Its just how history is, diffierent teams get interested, or disinterested in different sports over a course of history. Uruguay were soccer world champions in the 50s; Pakistan football team used to beat Japan 3-1 in the 60s 🙂

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. May 5, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Article written by Malcolm Conn in the Australian newspaper I read it myself today and had very similar thoughts to yourself Nasir. Unfortunately the Australian media, and Australians in general, show a lack of knowledge of the outside world when it comes to anything that doesn’t involve themselves. Minnow bashing from Australians will therefore continue until they (the minnows) have well and truly satisfied the high criterion of beating Australia consistently. Sri Lanka only attained any respect from the Aussies by defeating them in the 1996 World Cup, they still have little respect here as a Test nation, because they have yet to beat Australia in a series on our turf (hard to do when offered only two match series!). None of this is right, it is ignorance and arrogance combined but I don’t think it will change, I am often exasperated, as an Australian myself, at the attitude displayed, particularly with the associate nations and Bangladesh. The story does have a certain ironic turn though, Australians love the underdog and have been very proactive in helping Bangladeshi development. Strange mix us Aussies certainly hard to fathom!

  2. May 5, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    “…have been very proactive in helping Bangladeshi development…”

    huh?

  3. fred
    May 5, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    the article was not knocking the irish; it was illustrating how badly the standard of Zim cricket has fallen.
    Ireland and bangladesh’s success was one of the few interesting points in this WC. Indian and Pakistan didnt deserve to be there.
    the problem lies not in Ireland and bangladesh being in the super 8s stage, but the protracted nature of the super 8s stage. If it had been a knockout/Quarter final format and Sth Africa had been knocked out by ‘minnow’ Bangladesh, well too bad Sth Africa: if you want to be world champion you cant lose those games. (just ask India.)

  4. May 6, 2007 at 4:55 am

    Nasir

    Australia have been hosting a number of Bangladeshis in the Australian Academy and have been doing so for a number of years. Also the Australian domestic system has been the model that Bangladesh have followed in setting up their administration, first class structure and development systems including an academy, Australia has helped them meet their targeted goals with ongoing support. They have (or had) an Australian coach Dav Whatmore and continue to have an Australian junior development coach in Alistair deWinter. On the surface Australia appear ignorant and arrogant as I said and sometimes are, deservedly, castigated for it but the idea of helping the underdog is always alive with Australians and they demonstrate that behind the scenes, these things may not get much public exposure as the media do not sell many stories by reporting on something the general public have little or no interest in. So before you huh? too many times look into the background work done on the fundamental levels by some more established nations rather than just look on the surface of public criticism served up by the media and some naive and ill informed commentators, of which I too disagree with and think they should refrain from in the best interests of global cricket expansion.

  5. Frank Farchione, Melbourne, Australia
    May 6, 2007 at 5:33 am

    Here, here Martin. I don’t think India on the other hand has ever hosted Bangladesh for a Test series.

  6. May 6, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I think it is very naive to suggest that Australia has been helping bangladesh develop their cricket, just because the coach is an Australian. It would be similar to stating that Australia helped Srilanka win the 1996 WC!.

    When we say Australia, we mean the Australian Cricket board, and the Australian team……. Ricky Ponting was quite vociforous in stating that Bangladesh should not be playing ODIs and Test last year, until they nearly lost a test to them in Dhaka…….. Its not like the Australian board has released Whatmore for a stint in Bangladesh…… When Bangladesh toured Australia, almost every ex Aussie player came out saying that this was a joke, with one saying that it is likely that the whole test is going to finish in a day………

    I dont know about Alister de Winter, but the modelling of first class structure has nothing to do with australia…… it is an ICC model, required for test countries…… it is published by the ICC on their website as well I think, the requirement for an Academy, A team, junior teams etc…………….

    As far as Bangladeshis being hosted are concerned in Australian academies….. is the cost borne by bangladesh? or ACB? I believe it is the former, and that is just a capitalism model (nothing wrong with it)…. there is no special help coming from the ACB in that regard.

  7. Frank Farchione, Melbourne, Australia
    May 6, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Nasir,

    With regards to Ponting you are on the money.

    He is/has been the biggest Bangladesh basher in the world.

    Interesting that he somehow found Ireland’s presence at the World Cup fair enough.

    I think this says a lot about Ponting’s actual limited knowledge of the World & its people.

  8. neel
    May 7, 2007 at 7:33 am

    Nasir, I dont blame the Australian board or media at all. As written in one of my comments ( I am attaching it at the end of my comments) it is the fault of ICC since they have no powers and cannot control the game. Instead all the Powers seem to be with some strong Boards who are reluctant to include new Teams since they fear it may further Jeopardise their position. (Imagine India and pakistan having to qualify and not clearing the Qualifiers).

    It is this fear that is stopping Development since the ICC has created lots of Divisions, one like the Masters (Tests nations) and other the slaves (Associates). Unless the ICC treats all nations at par, how would you expect the Arrogant Aussies TO DO SO? I dont know why we cant have a Australia- Fiji or a Australia- Nepal Test. They might be thrashed initially but will only learn and be a better team nextime.

    Also for Development all grants should be only to Associates since The Test Nations already have a well defined structure and could well do without any funding for atleast 5 years. This was by comment on 23rd.

    The ICC 10 year Program should be scrapped immediately. It gives the Associates no chance since the Senior Teams have already arranged their schedules and are reluctant to accomodate Associate Teams. This is causing a SENIOR MAFIA where the seniors will never allow other teams to come ahead and improve.

    A good example is Kenya’s downfall after the 2003 WC. None of the major teams came ahead and supported them. Instead they were not given any matches and they slumped. The ICC is really not interested in Development and should realise that Development has to happen quickly or cricket may loose out to other lucrative sports. This is the reason FIFA has more than 180 full memebers and ICC just 10.

    The best way is to make it compulsory for Senior Teams to have one associate in any triangular or quadrangular series. Associates should be given atleast 36 ODI’s and 12 Tests against the top teams every year. Any team refusing to encourage Associate Teams should be penalised heavily.

    Please wake up ICC before it is too late.

  9. neel
    May 7, 2007 at 9:17 am

    And just to add Nasir regarding forcing Zim and WI, the ICC is not FIFA and has just 10 members so it cannot afford to loose any of them. In FIFA’S case even if 10 memebers loose interest, the game would not be affected much. Again, the price ICC is paying for Underdevelopment.

  10. Frank Farchione, Melbourne, Australia
    May 8, 2007 at 5:53 am

    neel,

    When are you going to accept and understand that many of us do want associates to develop & achieve against the best. This process takes a long time however.

    I take your point, eventually I would love to see Australia vs. Afghanistan or Nepal but it will not happen overnight, it takes time.

    Against Fiji or Portugal or Uzbekistan or Vietnam or whoever as you suggest )- NO (you noted in a previous post that you want 128 Test nations in 5 years – this is absurd).

    It is sad to say but while cricket was once quite popular in Fiji, (suprisingly, particluarly amongst locals not Indian immigrants), it has waned over the years & is now not popular at all. I believe a cricket culture no longer exists in Fiji.

    Future Test nations need a cricket culture. I’ve already pointed out that many associates & affiliates do not have a cricket culture generally and this will not change regardless of how much money is poured into the sport. I’ve already cited Italy as a perfect example – a relatively highly rated cricket nation yet most people in Italy do not even know what cricket is. France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Chile, Argentina etc. are the same. Historically Football (soccer) & Cricket were both introduced to mainland Europe & South America & Asia by the British but the locals did not take to cricket – why? As I’ve already pointed out, cricket is too esoteric. You & I may agree that it is the best game in the world but to the non-accustomed it is strange & somewhat boring. Neel, we must therefore move on & promote the game where it is popular or at least in some cases relatively popular (i.e. Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan, UAE, Uganda, Namibia, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Denmark, Kenya, Tanzania, PNG, Malaysia & maybe Canada/USA & maybe further down the track China & Japan).

    Cricket is not underdeveloped as you suggest, it is being spread across the globe albeit slowly because realistic development of this great game is slow.

  11. Bruce Gaskell
    May 8, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    “Asking the wrong question will always lead to a wrong answer. Why was this world cup, or even the previous one, not as charming as the ones that used to take place before?”

    You hit the nail on the head here. Basically, even cricket nuts like us were really underwhelmed by the WC, and people are looking for the easiest scapegoat.

    What’s wrong with the game that there hasnt been a real vintage world cup since say 1996? (which itself was hardly perfect)
    Its easy to understand why Test series veer from unmissable to unwatchable, but an ODI tournament with 8-10 competitive teams in should deliver the goods. I really cant see past the problem of Australia’s domination, this, and not the minnows, is holding back cricket. There’s no way we should blame the Aussies though.

  12. neel
    May 10, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Bruce, I think Aus and SA will always dominate until the Subcontinent Boards implement the following

    I know we have heard this before but there is only one solution to the Subcontinent Team’s problems “ Prepare Fast Bouncy Tracks”. All the pitches in the Subcontinent should be atleast 10 Times faster than the WACA pitch in Perth.

    Some might say it is natural to have slow wickets and they have an advantage while playing at home. However the CRUCIAL POINT IS “ IT IS VERY EASY TO ADJUST FROM PLAYING ON BOUNCY PITCHES TO PLAYING ON SLOW WICKETS BUT VERY DIFFICULT TO ADJUST FROM PLAYING ON SLOW TRACKS TO FAST TRACKS”. It is for this reason that when Aus and SA play in the subcontinent the matches are interesting but when the Subcontinent teams tour the result is a forgone conclusion.

    The Boards have been talking about it yet nothing has been done about it. Subcontinent Boards Please Wake up or face a long time of Australian and SA Dominance in World Cricket.

  13. Bruce Gaskell
    May 10, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Agreed Neel. It’s not as if the subcontinent has to switch to bouncy tracks on all of their pitches though… just make say 40% of their pitches quick, this way their domestic players can learn to bat properly on them, with out surrendering the natural advantage their slow bowlers get completely. Not knowing much about groundskeeping I dont know if this would be simple to achieve or not?

    On a separate tack I take issue with the claim that SA are close to Australia. I wouldnt rate them much ahead of the rest in any form of the game.

  14. Frank Farchione, Melbourne, Australia
    May 12, 2007 at 6:44 am

    Saturday 12/05/2007: Before the AFL game my wife & I drank some nice Italian beer, espresso, centerba and grappa at ‘Il Tempo bar’ in Degraves street, Melbourne CBD.

    Then we watched Collingwood murder Carlton at the MCG (24 point win, go ‘woods’ – my wife barracks for Carlton but I’m a Collingwood fan).

    During the game we drank Carlton Draught & ate four and twenty meat pies.

    After the game we drank some more nice beer in Federation Square (Chocolate Buddha & Lower House) while we watched a cool jazz band as part of Melbourne’s International Jazz festival.

    This was all after a twilight ride on the ferris wheel by the Yarra.

    We then had some great tapas, paella & monastrell wine at Mo Vida for dinner + some Spanish beer (Alhambra).

    Right now it’s almost midnight & I’m at my computer in suburban Thomastwon in Melbourne.

    Through all of this, one thought is with me constantly. That is, morally & justly…

    AUSTRALIA SHOULD NOT TOUR ZIMBABWE.

    I feel for Zimbabwe’s players but Mugabe, Chingoka & Bvute must go. I cannot believe that the ICC will impose fines on Australia for a correct decision. What is this world coming to. They have lost their best players & their captain because of a despotic, tyrannical & intimidating regime, yet the ICC acts like everything is fine. Zimbabwe has talent but these young players will retire before they are old enough to capitalise on their talent & potential because of the corrupt politics in their homeland. ICC please do something … before it’s too late.

    BTW why were Kenneth Kamyuka, Hamza Saleh, Fred Nsubuga, & Joel Olweny (Ugandans) + Gerrie Snyman, Burton Van Rooi, Jan-Berrie Burger, Riaan Walters, Sarel Burger & Deon Kotze(Namibians) not considered for Africa XI seletion vs. Asia XI in June?

  15. Frank Farchione, Melbourne, Australia
    May 12, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Plus, why were Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan) & Ali Asad (UAE) not considered for the Asia XI team?

    P.S. before Thomastwon should have been spelt Thomastown.

    Oops I think I’ve had one glass of Monastrell too many.

  16. Nathan Webb
    May 13, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Nasir,

    Cricket Australia has been very much a part of the rise of Bangladeshi cricket standards, as Martin said. It’s not just because Dav Whatmore is Australian, but because of a specific contractual arrangement with Cricket Australia.

    The arrangement started with a 5 year deal in 2000, whereby CA trained Bangladeshi coaches and players in Australia. This deal has now been extended.

    Here’s a news story that briefly goes into the deal:
    http://content-www.cricinfo.com/bangladesh/content/story/289985.html

    -Nathan

  17. May 14, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Thankyou Nathan, Australia has played a significant part in Bangladeshi improvement. Ther are a number of sources around the web confirming this. I do not agree with what some of our more high profile cricketing identities have said regarding the lesser teams, it is wrong and counter productive, but I do know that underneath all the posturing there has been a desire by the ACB to help improve cricketing standards where possible.

  18. Frank Farchione, Melbourne, Australia
    May 14, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    Further proof that Australia wants to develop the game globally is the fact that they still want to play Zimbabwe but in a neutral venue thereby not depriving Zim’s young team of an invaluable experience and at the same time preventing a Mugabe propaganda victory.

    I agree with Nathan & Martin, whilst at times Pontring is a minnow basher, behind the scenes, Aus administrators do a lot to develop the game in the developing cricket world.

    Further evidnence of this is the fact that last summer cages were set up otside the MCG (I think this happened at SCG, Gabba, WACA, Belelrive, Adelaide Oval also). These cages were set up for people to donate unused cricket equipment. For example, I donated 2 sets of pads, some gloves etc, 2 kit bags… This equipment is being donated to developing nations such as Afghanistan, Uganda & Tanzania.

    As well as being a great idea & a wonderful & kind gesture it is a further testament that Cricket Australia is doing as much as it can to promote the game in the developing cricket world – morseso than many of its contemporaries.

    Again, I beg the question, when was the last time India hosted Bangladesh in a Test series?

    Also, why is is it India who always puls out of te Asia cup forcing it to be perpetually postponed & thereby denyin the two non-Test qualifiers top level experience?

  19. neel
    May 15, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    The Aussies have done nothing for the Development of the game. They just keep minnow bashing rather than encouraging the Associates. If they were really interested they would be touring one of the Associates and promoting the game being the World Champions.

    The Indian board is far better and has organized 25 ODI’s in the neext 5 years in offshore countries to promote the game. The Revenue generated through the Telecast rights would be put back into the development of the game in these Associates. A good example is the upcoming Irish Series which would be a big boost for Irish Cricket. The Aussie and English Board are not interested in development at all and should not be given any credit for it.

  20. Art
    May 16, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    I was somewhat saddened to read the criticism levelled at the World Cup by our newspapers, some current players and many past players. We are certainly on somewhat of a high with cricket talent here although those who know the game know how that can change.

    I enjoyed the World Cup immensely just as I enjoy umpiring both close games and lopsided games. Upsets can and sometimes do occur but in the end you expect the top ranked teams to be in the finals.

    Some Australian cricketers, including the captain, need some readjusting in their thought processes. Winning in almost unpresendented percentages means a lot to the supporters but playing the game without arrogance also means a lot and unfortunately we have failed to play without arrogance in more than one occasion recently.

    I hope times will change, a few years of losses might just do wonders for humility.

    Australia does help cricket enormously, don’t underplay their role and don’t over play India’s role, perhaps one day it might spend some real money on facilities for the fans.

    And oh yes, I am sick and tired at listening to well paid professional cricketers saying how tough it is, they should try a job in business where they earn as much money as the millionaires are paid, try it for a while and tell me which is tougher. Give me a cricket any day.

  21. Ashik
    May 23, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Alister de Winter is the Head Coach of National Cricket Academy of bangladesh. This is the man who chose Sakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim for Under 19 WC 2006. In that tournament bangladesh one of the favourite. They beat Pakistan, Sri lanka, Newzealand, West Indies, may be Scotland.But lost the only one match against England and back home from super sixs. That was the same england team which team beat by Bangladeesh 11 times in a row just 10 days ago. But i think other int. cricket country did not know about these very talented players except nasir Bhai and we bangladeshi. And about Pakistan they are totally unlucky in WC. I think they missed their Two bestbowlers. Pidi Express and Asif.

  22. Ashik
    May 23, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Australia and Pakistan are the only country who alwys supports bangladesh in International Cricket after Bangladesh’s poor world cup in 2003. Other country questioned abuout Tset status even indian media. Now look at the Indian Team. They have the team with tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid and back home from WC-2007 from first round. Bangladeshi players like to play like OZ. But the problem is mentally. In coming future that will correct itself.

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