Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Scrape Till You Can't Scrape No More

So four years after Lalit Modi and the BCCI gave us the IPL, Cricket Australia has decided the time is right to introduce its own franchised clone Big Bash League. It all sounded like a good idea, until they started telling us that the biggest crowd pullers they could attract to the competition were two 40 year olds. One is most recently known for giving up pizza in order to bed a former supermodel, while the other used to sell cookbooks and endorse oddly shaped cricket bats!

Has Cricket Australia seriously lost the plot in dusting off these "show stoppers" or is it merely a reflection of the sorry state of Australian cricket? It sounds ominously like the latter, for mine.

Take nothing away from the many exploits of Matthew Hayden and Shane Warne. Particularly, Shane Warne. Loyal readers of The Match Referee will attest to our unconditional adoration of the Great(est) Victorian (ever), over the years. The question is not of their greatness, but of their relevance to professional cricket in 2011/12. Frankly, for blokes who haven't bowled or hit a ball in anger since the inaugural IPL season, they are as good as irrelevant on a cricket field today.

The seeds of this sorry situation were sown all the way back on that Ashes tour when Andrew Symonds was sent packing, reportedly at the behest of one Michael Clarke. Cricket Australia lost Australia's best all-rounder in decades because of the personal peeves of an individual in whom they had invested all their eggs. You do not need a financial advisor to tell you why that was a disaster waiting to happen!

The result of all that pettiness is that Australian cricket has no bankable current player capable of drawing a crowd. Clarke's name is poison after THAT tawdry affair and other shenanigans, Shane Watson has proven himself to be a somewhat unbalanced simpleton, David Warner is a one hit wonder and Mitchell Johnson is best known these days for fighting with his mum in the Australian Women's Weekly. Hell, Mohammad Hafeez would have been a better face of the Big Bash League than these blokes!

This was the ideal time for CA to expend serious cash and bring in the big names of the sport globally. Instead, they've trotted down the County cricket route where geriatrics pose as cricketers. Such decision are only likely to increase the amount of money made by the sports betting types lurking in the midst!

Australian cricket needs more than just the Crawford Report. It needs an overhaul at the top, a large dollop of fresh ideas and someone prepared to make the tough decisions that will see the development of commercially bankable stars. Talent, personality and charisma get the turnstiles whirring, not corporate blandness and rigidity.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

In It To Win It

The Match Referee has been the staunchest supporter of Yuvraj Singh over the years. It doesn't take a genius to deduce that the kid has raw ability that many current international cricketers would kill for, however, like many of our loyal readers, we've often questioned whether he has the temperament and / or desire to fulfil his potential and deliver on the hopes and dreams of his many fans?

His past indiscretions / misdemeanours / lapses in judgement are well known to all and do not need to be trotted out here. However, I'm a student of a large school of thought that was hoping, praying and daring to believe that Yuvraj's performances in THAT tournament (yes, "the best world cup of all time"!!) was a turning point in Yuvraj's life. A turning point that would see him permanently ejected from the 'pretender' category and given his rightful dues in the 'genuine superstar' category.

Alas, thanks to a mysterious "lung infection" my fellow pupils and I have again been left scratching our heads as to whether this is yet again the corner that Yuvraj or his destiny steadfastly refuses to turn! After recently being dropped from the ODI team, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Yuvraj had realised that you've gotta be in it to win it. Clearly not!

In Yuvraj's place, Suresh Raina has shown that he may just have the gumption to turn himself into what Yuvraj has been promising all these years. Also, let's not forget that this tremendously unsuccessful series for Virat Kohli is probably the best thing that could've happened to the lad at this point in his career, for he has confronted every previous setback head-on and grasped his next opportunity with a vengeance and panache that belie age. There is no doubt that Kohli will be back in white very, very soon.

What about Yuvraj, you ask? I reckon weather forecasters have a better success rate than those predicting the outcome of Yuvraj's career, and we know how accurate our weather predictions are, right?


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