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ICC Chief calls for his own assassination

Well, not literally, but he might as well have done. The ICC president's, David Morgan, call for four-day test matches has provided further evidence of the incompetence of our sport's leading body.

This latest rant coming out of London has done much to make one believe that the loonies in the ICC need to be purged, and for the organisation to start from square one. If the issue here is that crowds aren't gathering to the five-day format currently in place, what does Morgan believe removing one day will change? He might as well remove all forms of the game barring T20s.

I can see evidence that could possibly support the ICC's case. Crowd statistics in several test series have been worth concern: England v/s West Indies, New Zealand v/s Anyone (except India). But the common denominator in these cases is that the cricket being played is boring. With New Zealand it is impossible to tell whether they will get past three days, as has been evident in recent series with Australia. As for the West Indies, well we all know what their captain's thoughts are regarding this format of the game. And we haven't even discussed the role the minnows will play if this idea were to become a reality. These issues only go further to highlight the fact that the problem isn't in the format, but the loss of inspiration and a certain level of incompetency of some nations when it comes to the purist form of cricket.

This problem doesn't exist when India, Australia, South Africa or Sri Lanka play. Why? I would suggest that it is a case of greater enjoyment and understanding of what the game has to offer. When one does watch one a test series involving these teams, at no stage does one get the feeling that the match let alone the series will peter out to a no result. That is why the people flock through the gates in their numbers to watch the spectacle they put on for the whole test match. It is this passion and conviction which has made test cricket so beautiful since the MCC has been the guardian of since 1787. If so-called professionalism requires the fundamental organ of our sport to be dismantled piece-by-piece, we have a serious problem. What has stood strong for this length period can surely not be subjugated to this type of measure to ensure the future of our sport. This is not the way.

The majority of stakeholders in cricket have opted to remain mostly silent on the matter, waiting for developments before making any substantive statements. The most public outcry has come from former Pakistani captain, Javed Miandad. Miandad believes "there will be no difference among mediocre (teams) and an experienced side if we see four-day test matches." Miandad's theory holds much truth. For instance, how many times have we seen Sehwag and Gambhir bat India through two full sessions, leaving the middle order to score a monumental total by the end of the a second day's play. Then how can Chief Morgan even envisage the possibility of obtaining a result from the match.

I will wait in hope that sanity prevails in this matter, and the real issues surrounding test cricket, some of which I have highlighted in this article, are solved. And on the matter of the ineptitude of the ICC, though assassination may not be the best policy, a clean slate with a fresh board is well overdue.


18 comments

Krish said...

4-day Tests would kill Test cricket faster than anything else. David Morgan is insane.

Ankit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ankit said...

I truly agree with you Krish and I appreciate the concern you share. You have voiced my exact sentiments quite succintly.

Avi Singh said...

How are you saving Test cricket by making it closer to Twenty20? The ICC are spineless, and like Richard Boock said, the game of cricket needs to be protected from those who are supposed to be protecting it- the ICC is a joke.

Ayush said...

Ankit - good post. Although I do hope your title doesn't incite some nut into actually committing the act :P

Avi - the joke of which you speak is a direct result of administrators having no cricketing experience whatsoever. Outputs will only ever be as good as the inputs.

Ankit said...

Yes I agree with both Ayush and Avi. That is the crux of the matter. The inability of cricket's administrators to relate with the issues surrounding cricket at this current time is the source of the sport's climate. There is little time to waste by attempting to fix the sorry state of the ICC, and I would recommend, as I have in the article, that a new board is required.

kebab said...

I want to say, before anyone gets the wrong message, that I wholly agree with your stance regarding the 4-day test match decision. However, to be honest, aren't we all getting a bit worked up? Sure, the ICC has made a fool of itself and it needs to be looked at, but we can't ignore the good things that they have done in the recent past.

I realised that several people would scoff and snort when they heard that the ICC had done some good things, so I decided to research and dig up some of their 'achievements'.

In a recent board meeting, the ICC agreed on the fact that though the IPL is a good concept, the introduction of privately-owned franchises was detrimental to cricket, and that nation-versus-nation is the life-blood of cricket. They introduced anti-doping and anti-corruption (yeah!) into the IPL and made no provision in the ICC Future Tours Programme for the IPL. I would like to know if anyone has a problem with the initiative and positive thinking that the ICC has. To add to this, they are going to implement further trialing of the use of technology in tests before they make the decision...they are thinking of cricket before anything else.

To finish, I want to let all of you know that I strongly dislike Malcolm Speed, and so does the ICC board, voting for Mr Imtiaz Patel of South Africa, a sports editor and a member of the board, to replace Speed as CEO.

Ankit said...

I appreciate your views Kebab. I won't so much scoff as maybe propose an alternative view to your research.

The IPL franchises are privately-owned for several reasons, which other sporting codes have realized much earlier - Super 15, EPL, NFL (should I go on). The financial power and backing a concept like the IPL requires, cannot not be met by national cricket boards. What is there to gain by excluding the private sector? Firstly, without the big money, players will opt out of the tournament, because let us be realistic, they play for the money. Secondly,you will lose the capital that the team owners give to the BCCI and ICC and good will payment. The camaraderie and cricket is a sweet topping. The fact remains, the private sector will always do its best to reap the rewards as efficiently as possible; cricket boards cannot do that.

Anti-doping and anti-corruption measures, are standard protocol in modern-age professional sport; its not a matter to write home about. And as for no calendar dates being left vacant for the IPL, well I think it will be many second-rate sides playings cricket as players opt to play for the big money rather than wave their national flags. That's not an 'achievement', Kebab. That's gross short-sightedness.

On the issue of technology, I think the progress in this area is being led by private companies creating new innovations such as Hawk-Eye and Hot-Spot. Again the ICC is not required to do any heavy-lifting to implement these ideas.

And Kebab a small suggestion: it might be slightly less awkward to limit your research to current events. Malcolm Speed is gone. He went in July 2008. However, let's hope Morgan follows suit.

Ayush said...

Kebab - welcome back to civilisation. I trust that cave you were living in for the past 12 months was comfortable. :P

kebab said...

Thanks Ayush ;). I just want to apologise for my misled and expired comment in my earlier post regarding the ICC CEO; that was truly poor.

In response to Ankit's reply to my comment, I believe that my comment was misunderstood and your comment was the crux behind what it was I saying. The ICC has made some huge blunders and it seems to be heading in the wrong direction under the wrong guidance, but we can't completely rubbish some of its actions, like those I raised before.

Ankit, your eyes are clouded by narrow-mindedness and an apparent arrogance that you seem to possess where you think your word is gospel, but you fail to see around you.

In your examples of franchise-based leagues, we often see international games coincide with league ones and when the former is important, we see players play for their country over their franchise. These leagues, especially the IPL, are important because of money and entertainment, but like your article said, it is test matches and not T20 that are good for the sport and good for cricket. It would be Utopia if players didn’t have to make the choice between money and their nation, but the window is the wrong way of trying to achieve this.

Cricket is a sport that must be played in summer and so the ICC is constrained as to when tours can be programmed in different places. I think it is important for the test match tours to be programmed first to optimise the performance of the pitches, give enough time for players to rest in between and give us, the audience, many of great spectacles of 5-day cricket. I suggest that the IPL is timetabled in between these tours (perhaps making the IPL shorter), so players can choose between money and rest. This way we still get great test cricket, the players get paid for the IPL if they choose money over family time and the ICC receive the capital of which you spoke. A window would not allow for this as efficiently.

You also say that the ICC has to do no ‘heavy-lifting’ to implement technologies into the game. I assume you are for the idea as you gave no negative feedback, but there are many unlike you who detest the idea of non-human elements coming in to cricket. However, you, like me, see the benefits of the ICC taking this leap against many people’s wishes, for the greater good of cricket. Here again we see your conceited blindness.

Again I want to apologise for my CEO comment. :o

Avi said...

Kebab (I'm assuming this is Ashish),

Even if I accept your argument that the ICC has made some good decisions on certain issues (which I don't fully agree with), the fact is that on the really key important and urgent issues the ICC has adopted a laissez-faire leadership style, not because this is best for cricket but simply because it's easier to do nothing. The ICC on most occasions seem to follow the Homer Simpson philosophy of 'Trying is the first step towards failure, so never try'. How have they handled the Pakistani situation? Very poorly, to the extent that they are being sued by the PCB. What about Zimbabwe? Pathetic. What about chucking? Even worse, they legalised a form of bowling that has been recognised as cheating almost from the conception of cricket. And what about the latest WICB-WIPA standoff? Idiotic, they should have never allowed a Test match to go ahead when one side is knowingly putting out second-stringers. The ICC's failure to do anything in this instance simply further devalued the great game of Test cricket. This brings me back to my original point, one also made by Gideon Haigh and Ian Chappell on Cricinfo: The ICC, the body responsible for cricket's wellbeing, is itself actually the biggest threat to its credibility.

Ankit said...

I will try to keep my response to Kebab brief, in an attempt to keep dialogue on this reputable blog passive.

Just quickly, I think Avi has placed a commonly-held view on the table quite succintly, with which I whole-heartedly agree; just a undecided with the case of Murali, which can be discussed another day. Like Avi, I agree the ICC has made good decisions on occasion , but these can not be used as reasoning to explain the folly of the mistakes they have made, of which there are many (highlighted in Avi's comment).

The suggestions made by Kebab are great. They would keep test cricket at the forefront of the game and achieve the original goal posed in the article. But this isn't Utopia, an idea you have yourself raised. Many surveys have been conducted of professional cricketers playing County cricket, Pura Cup, and in New Zealand. And the overwhelming majority of players would for an IPL contract over a central contract with their national cricket board.

My point is, that a window must be opened for the IPL, otherwise player revolt will cause a domino effect, whose result I would rather not know. The window would open the calendar dates for the IPL to be staged, however disallow the IPL to run outside these dates; hence a compromise would be made. A shorter IPL would be difficult to run by a figure like Lalit Modi, who has been planning to add two more teams in 2011 - a disaster waiting to happen.

I may be 'narrow-minded', 'arrogant,' and 'conceited' in my 'blindness', Kebab, but there is a serious issue we face with the ICC, and so far, I don't believe your suggestions are workable options.

Ayush said...

Kebab, where art thou?

In all honesty, ICC-bashing is very easy and I am the first to admit that I indulge in it all too often. However, could it not simply be true and good for the game that by throwing up ideas, however ludicrous they may initially seem, the ICC is promoting debate, which is a far more effective proposition than their usually preferred course of action - namely, burying their heads in the sand?

Ankit said...

I would suggest that changing one bad habit to another, doesn't constitute good results. I may be wrong. I hope, Ayush, something, does come of all this.

Also, I have found three interesting articles, quite appropriate to this debate. The first is Steve Waugh's stance on four-day tests, which he made in response to Geoffrey Boycott's original proposition in 2007. The second is Steve Waugh again, but this time his wariness of technology being added to the game, back in 2004. The article is Steve Waugh's position on technology in 2008. Any views, Kebab?

http://www.cricinfo.com/australia/content/story/323107.html

http://www.cricinfo.com/ci/content/story/142975.html

http://sify.com/sports/fullstory.php?id=14587723

Ayush said...

Ankit, I'm not convinced that stimulating debate is a bad habit. After all, it can't be all bad news if it leads to a practical affirmation of the primacy Test cricket, right?

X Factor said...

"Ankit, your eyes are clouded by narrow-mindedness and an apparent arrogance that you seem to possess where you think your word is gospel, but you fail to see around you." Kebab 2009

Ouch :P

KitKat your response to such an insult was piss poor and I expect a better response in the future.

However, after sparing a few minutes in my busy schedule, I was able to read some of the rabble, and in some cases rubbish, that has been written above. I certainly don't think the game will move forward if the ICC was made up of you lot! I can't believe you have missed the most obvious point! What is wrong with everyone! Especially you kebab!

The problem with test cricket is that its boring. One may ask why its boring? Has anyone thought about the pitches? Everyone says the batsmen of today are such good players, but know one mentions the roads they are playing on. Although its good to see a high scoring match once in a while, it can also get boring once its repeated day in day out. There is no proper battle between bat and ball. One of the best games I saw was the last test India played in Pakistan, when Pathan got his hatrick. The pitch was a green top, there was a hatrick, and a century and it was a close game which had you biting your toe nails off, that is exactly what test cricket needs to be more exciting, a better battle between bat and ball.

In respect to this post, everyone is blinded by their own ignorance, arrogance and ineptitude, but the fact of the matter is I don't think any of you would make the ICC a better place.

Ankit said...

I agree Ayush. But the manner in which this debate has been raised is of concern. A press release in which the ICC publicises its intentions to seriously consider four-day test cricket as an option is unprofessional.
X Factor, welcome. By “busy schedule”, are you referring to the strenuous thumb exercise in holding a PS2 controller, whilst practising FIFA08?
I agree test cricket is boring when played by the majority of nations, in some specific location, namely the West Indies and the dried dirt in the Sub-Continent. But that too has its environmental limitations. But if you were to have spared an extra 30 seconds and read the article, you would see that your issues with test cricket have been raised there. Also you would have noticed, if you weren’t celebrating an animated-Messi scoring a goal, that the article mentions some nations who are still making test cricket a great spectacle. Which would mean that they have the formula right, and that other nations should follow suit; another reason not to change the format of test cricket. Pitches are a concern, but not the central issue to this issue.
X Factor, I think you have lost the essence of this debate. No one who has contributed on this page has nominated themselves as potential candidates. But we, as fans, are stakeholders in the game and have an interest in the development and future of cricket, especially lifting the profile of test cricket are key areas. The mismanagement by the ICC in these areas, with the proposal of four-day test cricket the latest concern, means change is necessary. And a clean slate, by starting again with a new board, meaning we remove the old politics, is a start.
When your thumbs get sore on the controller or you get tired of losing on FIFA08, let me know what you think, ok?

X Factor said...

ahhhh kitkat
you oooozee the exuberance of youth and unfortunately naivety, however with time you shall also understand.

However, when one writes a comment, it should not be so vague as in to encapsulate everything which once can possibly think of. The crux of the piece was about the incompetence of the ICC, however the debate then flowed on to test cricket. I simply gave dicter about an option to reviving test cricket to its former glory.

As one matures in life Kitkat they realise, that tunnel vision will get one know where nor will conceptual vision, it is all about finding the balance between the two, identifying the issues, picking the issues to pieces and then formulating a decent response, which is exactly what I have done.

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