## Slow and steady, ratings 27th February Russell Degnan

2nd TestSouth AfricavAustralia
Pre-rating1307.81255.8
Form+27.9+82.6
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 76 runs
Actual MarginSouth Africa by 231 runs
Post-rating1317.51249.3

It was inevitable that Australia's repeated batting collapses would catch up with them eventually; and perhaps too, that Johnson would find a pitch less to his liking, where batsmen had time to assess, and leave, his largely harmlessly directed deliveries.

The latter occurred first, but Elgar's 83, de Villier's 116 and Duminy's 123 were matched by Lyon's heroic 5/130 off 46 overs. From there, Australia could have drawn if they'd only batted 200 overs; which ought to have been straight-forward on a pitch offering little to either combatant.

A mere 57 overs later, with a series of angled bats and expansive missed drives Australia had rattled along to 246 all out. Time now in South Africa's favour, and the pace attack of Australia thoroughly exhausted, Amla's 127 not out took them to a declaration that even rain would struggle to thwart.

Warner and Rogers' opening stand was impressive, but once Steyn (4/55) got the reverse swing going the same flaws evident in the first innings became apparent. Haddin's middle stump cart-wheeling looks like brilliant bowling, but that is also what happens when you leave an almighty gap and go hard at the ball. Smith at least had his pad in the way.

To Cape Town then, with the series in the balance. The home side need no clearer indication of the type of pitch necessary to beat Australia; the batting is flaky in all conditions, but best with bounce and pace; the bowling - specifically Johnson - can be negated with both in absence. Whether that is what is provided remains to be seen. As fore-shadowed prior to the first test, this is a close series, but one where results may not be.

Rankings at 27th February 2014
1.South Africa1317.5
2.Australia1249.3
3.India1150.1
4.England1105.8
5.Pakistan1093.9
6.Sri Lanka1017.5
7.New Zealand923.5
8.West Indies894.7
12.Zimbabwe560.2

10.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4

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.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 27th February, 2014 19:26:30   [#] [0 comments]

## ACC Women's Premier and U/19 World Cup Review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast Russell Degnan

There is rarely a quiet week in associate and affiliate cricket. In this episode Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) look back at the ACC Women's Premier tournament played in and won by Thailand, the performances of the associates in the Under 19 World Cup in the UAE, and at Ireland's tour of the West Indies. We preview the forthcoming Asia Cup which will involve Afghanistan for the first time, and the preparations for World Cricket League Division 5, including Malaysia's tri-series against Singapore and the MCC. Finally, we discuss the implications of the request by the American Cricket Federation to review the status of USACA as the sole governing body of cricket in the United States.

Direct Download Running Time 26min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 26th February, 2014 21:23:10   [#] [0 comments]

## Irrepressible form, Ratings 19th February Russell Degnan

2nd TestNew ZealandvIndia
Pre-rating913.31151.6
Form+35.2+13.7
Expected MarginIndia by 69 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating923.51150.1
Series rating1050.41010.4

Seems hard to believe I referred to the first test scorecard as odd. For roughly two and a half days India completely bossed this game, with Sharma (6/51) and Mohammed Shami (4/70) rolling through New Zealand for 192 in 53 overs on day 1; and first Dhawan (98) then Rahane (118) and Dhoni (68) carving up the New Zealand bowling (at 4.26 rpo no less) to give them a lead of 246. It is hard to fathom there has ever been a more impressive comeback than the one McCullum (302) and Watling (124) produced from 5/94. By the time their 352 run record 6th wicket partnership of 352 ended on day 4 the match had tilted back in New Zealand's favour. Neesham (124*) took full advantage of the exhausted bowling, shepherding his captain to New Zealand's first triple ton, and a declaration - late, admittedly, but understandably with a series lead - that might have produced a win but for Kohli's 105 not out that steadied India's ship.

New Zealand come away as series victors, and their reputation as an emerging side further enhanced, though their rating only sees a marginal improvement because the matches were expected to be relatively close. India, now without an overseas win in three years, demonstrated here both the potential to be a very good side, and a chronic inability to seize the match when it has presented itself. Much of the criticism has been lain on Dhoni's captaincy - so refreshing when he took the reigns, and now so stale. McCullum, by contrast, is a natural, both on the field and with the bat, where his 535 runs over 887 balls shattered his previous reputation for poorly judged shot-selection.

1st TestSouth AfricavAustralia
Pre-rating1327.21224.0
Form+14.2+76.1
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 102 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by 281 runs
Post-rating1307.81255.8

As numerous commentators noted: we've seen this script before. Put in, the pitch green and lively, and already showing signs of playing up and down, Australia collapsed to 4/98, the eternally frustrated talent of Sean Marsh and the emerging grit of Steve Smith the last of the recognised batsmen. Both scored tons; Mitchell Johnson made a little hay; and the score reached 397.

The second ball Mitchell Johnson bowled to Graeme Smith rose sharply; his hands protected his face but not his wicket; and it was all down-hill from there. AB de Villiers sparkling 91 aside, the South African batsmen looked like sitting ducks; even Amla and Duminy, who got in, were found out by Siddle and Lyon - there being no respite. The follow-on was passed, but that was irrelevant; that Warner would score a ton was not inevitable - he was dropped three time after all - but we've seen this all summer, the failure of the batting and the inherent tiredness that comes from such short turn-arounds crushing any chance of a comeback. Doolan, as he did in both innings, looked composed in making 89, and the declaration came quickly and aggressively.

The pitch was, by this stage, not one you'd want to face Johnson on, but Smith's decision to bowl wasn't a factor in the loss: being bowled out for just over 200 twice made the defeat inevitable. Australia had everything fall their way, from Doolan's brilliant catches, to the chaos of Morkel's runout when he was outfoxed by Lyon in the manner of a schoolboy. Except for de Villiers, and perhaps Amla, South Africa's batting looked uncertain and panicked against Johnson; if his form continues, it will take a monumental effort for Steyn, Philander and Morkel to make sufficient in-roads to make a contest of this series. They can, because Australia's batting remains questionable, but they'll need support, in the field, and on the scoreboard; that didn't materialise at all in Centurion.

Australia's form right now is so strong they can retake the number one rating with a decent victory in Port Elizabeth. After the result in the first test, you'd not deny them either.

Rankings at 19th February 2014
1.South Africa1307.8
2.Australia1255.8
3.India1150.1
4.England1105.8
5.Pakistan1093.9
6.Sri Lanka1017.5
7.New Zealand923.5
8.West Indies894.7
12.Zimbabwe560.2

10.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4

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.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 18th February, 2014 23:53:52   [#] [0 comments]

## Collapse and colossal. Ratings 12th February Russell Degnan

Pre-rating597.01020.3
Form-22.5+23.1
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 162 runs
Actual MarginMatch Drawn
Post-rating600.61017.5
Series rating563.61061.6

I noted previously that Bangladesh had made a habit of drawing at home; this match fit the template of recent results as Bangladesh managed to get a draw despite being largely outplayed. The first innings belonged to Sangakarra's 319 with only Shakib's 5/148 and Jayawardene's 72 contributing anything substantial to the scorecard. Shamsur Rahman 106 and Imrul Kayes 115 put on 232 for the second wicket, though the follow-on wasn't avoided until Bangladesh were 6 down. Mendis's took 6/99 as the tail folded, and the fast scoring throughout meant another Sangakarra hundred and 100 not out from Chandimal left Bangladesh needing 467 or (as it happened) to bat slightly more than a day to draw. Perhaps surprisingly they succeeded without major dramas: Momimul Haque making 100 not out and the match being called thereafter. With only 27 wickets to fall, it was not much of a match, and Bangladesh must decide whether flat bounceless pitches they can draw on are actually better for their cricket than a higher risk of a loss. At least in terms of wins, they are no closer than they were with a much weaker side a decade ago.

2 TestsNew ZealandvIndia
Pre-rating900.21156.8
Form+34.3+32.2
Expected MarginIndia by 78 runs
Actual MarginNew Zealand by 40 runs
Post-rating913.31151.6

One of the more bizarre scorecards in cricket history. After a bright start India looked completely bereft of ideas as McCullum 224 and Williamson 113 piled on the runs. The rapidity of scoring seemingly necessary to produce a result on a good pitch. "Seemingly", but apparently not as first India collapsed for 202, then New Zealand for 105, throwing away an advantage two days in the making with a mixture of soft dismissals and athletic fielding from the Indian side - a huge turn-around from the first innings.

Chasing 407 with two days to do so, India played in the manner of a side that believed they could; and with Dhawan 115 and Kohli 67 at the crease with only 185 to get, the balance was tilting in their favour. Kohli though, continues to frustrate for a player of his extreme quality. His average reflects the loose shot that led to his dismissal here, and when Dhawan fell shortly after, also to Wagner, New Zealand had both a new ball and new batsmen whereon Rahane was absolutely torched by the umpire. A thrilling counter-attack from Jadeja and Dhoni followed, and had they been slightly more circumspect about their choice of shot, they'd have run this closer than they did. In the end, it was a deserved 40 run victory for New Zealand, but a performance from both sides that could be easily improved upon.

3 TestsSouth AfricavAustralia
Pre-rating1327.21224.0
Form+14.2+76.1
Expected MarginSouth Africa by 102 runs

Surprisingly little has been written about this test being the first of the post-Kallis era for South Africa. The world's best side has never seemed dependent on the solidity of their former number 4 and his tight seam bowling, because their trump cards are Steyn, Philander, Morkel, de Villiers and Amla. But he did give them balance, and that extra option with the ball allowed them to play an extra batsman - adding effectively 60 runs per match. Take that out and this is a close series; add in Mitchell Johnson taking wickets like a reincarnated Charlie Turner, a fit Harris, and the improving Lyon, and it might go either way. Australia's batting was not strong against England, most of the runs from the order coming when setting targets in the second innings. With Doolan and Marsh locked in to the top-four we might see - as we have seen in South Africa in the recent past - some very topsy-turvy batting efforts from both sides. Hopefully translate to close matches at the end, and not a series of routs from one side then the other.

Rankings at 12th February 2014
1.South Africa1327.2
2.Australia1224.0
3.India1151.6
4.England1105.8
5.Pakistan1093.9
6.Sri Lanka1017.5
7.New Zealand913.3
8.West Indies894.7
12.Zimbabwe560.2

10.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4

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.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 14th February, 2014 20:47:39   [#] [0 comments]

## World Cup Qualifiers Review and the ICC Position Paper; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast Russell Degnan

After a big couple of weeks in cricket, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) and Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) review the World Cup Qualifiers, breaking down who performed, who didn't, and the funding and playing implications. We also take a look at the ICC Position Paper, which could have big implications for the future of associate and affiliate cricket, and the ICC development programs. Finally, Ireland's men's and women's teams have been touring Qatar and the West Indies respectively.

Direct Download Running Time 44min. Music from Martin Solveig, "Big in Japan"

The associate and affiliate cricket podcast is an attempt to expand coverage of associate tournaments by obtaining local knowledge of the relevant nations. If you have or intend to go to a tournament at associate level - men's women's, ICC, unaffiliated - then please get in touch in the comments or by email.

Cricket - Associate - Podcast 8th February, 2014 15:10:02   [#] [0 comments]

## Spin and Spineless, Ratings 4th February Russell Degnan

3rd TestPakistanvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1087.31016.1
Form-39.3+21.4
Expected MarginPakistan by 86 runs
Actual MarginPakistan by 5 wickets
Post-rating1088.61014.6
Series rating1022.71083.3

A match that exploded into life after looking dead for the first four days, and even as Sri Lanka tried (and failed) to kill it for good. With the umpires sensibly telling them to play on - even more sensibly threatening them with a run penalty - and Pakistan thrillingly chasing down 195 runs in 34 overs after tea, it became a tense and exciting match.

While the first three days were played out slowly, with 90s from Mathews and Perara matched by 147 by Ahmed Shezhad, no observer of the last day and a half could come away with any other impression than that Sri Lanka conspired to lose a match that a little aggression might have made their own. Their run-rate of just 2.1 when they ought to have been setting a target, and slow motion collapse to Saeed Ajmal and abdur Rehman opened the door to Pakistan chasing and levelling the series. Yet even then, a target of 302 was steep, even insurmountable in the time remaining; and the opportunity to take wickets and force a result was their for Mathews. Instead, with the field spread to all corners, and first Sarfraz Ahmed (48 off 46) then Azhar Ali (103 off 137) and Misbah ul Haq (68* off 72), controlled and ultimately coasted home in the gloom.

A drawn series then, but one the Sri Lankans had the better of, and ought to have won. That is a good sign for them, after a long period of poor cricket, but they'll not win many games if they can't take their chances, and this was pretty ugly to watch.

Pre-rating611.71014.6
Form+9.7+13.0
Expected MarginSri Lanka by 151 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by an innings and 248 runs
Post-rating597.01027.7

Bangladesh have gradually improved in recent years, with just enough batting to make a draw a reasonable prospect at home, where the pitches are flat and slow. Whether to prove something, or because of their ability to play local conditions, Sri Lanka have had a habit of smashing their nearest Asian rival; they did so again. An innings and 248 runs victory; with a declaration at 6 down, three centuries - Jayawardene's a double; Bangladesh making only three fifties and lasting only 116 overs. There isn't much else to be said about this game.

Bangladesh's game rating of 315 and high run-rate reflects a team still failing to adapt to test cricket. The ICC's reform/takeover process briefly raised the possibility they'd play more matches against teams they cold beat, and therefore learn the art of when to attack and when to defend. The rush of their board to defend their priviliges over improving competition at test level will hinder them in the long-term; and we'll continue to see results like this.

2 TestsNew ZealandvIndia
Pre-rating900.21156.8
Form+34.3+32.2
Expected MarginIndia by 78 runs

An intriguing series. New Zealand normally manages to close the gap with India at home, where seaming wickets and low scoring can overcome Indian batting and an absence of quality pace bowling. On paper, New Zealand's seam attack, middle order, and recent good form ought to do the same. But India are not without some ability, as they showed in South Africa. Kohli and Pujara, in particular, are capable of scoring enough runs for their bowling to prevail. The ratings back India, but a drawn series - whether form split games, rain, high scores, or a combination - is probably more likely.

Rankings at 4th February 2014
1.South Africa1327.2
2.Australia1224.0
3.India1156.8
4.England1105.8
5.Pakistan1088.6
6.Sri Lanka1027.7
7.New Zealand900.2
8.West Indies894.7
12.Zimbabwe560.2

10.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4

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.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 4th February, 2014 16:47:56   [#] [0 comments]

## The F&CA working paper: cashing out the future of the sport Russell Degnan

In many ways I'm surprised by the angst generated by the ICC's F&CA working group paper. It does after all, propose things that have been proposed by many people many times: the removal of underperforming Bangladesh and Zimbabwe from test cricket; tiered test leagues with theoretical promotion for associates and no less than four tests against the lowest ranked top-8 side; a significant reduction in the vote-for-tour-trading that plagues the ICC Executive Board; and the marginalisation of several full members up to their arm-pits in corruption and mismanagement. There are also many people who genuinely believe in cricket as a global game, and in better governance from the ICC, but I think it would flatter them to say they are in the majority, particularly amongst ex-players whose influence runs deepest in the generation of policy.

That the decisions being proposed by the leading ICC members are based purely on promoting their own financial benefit oughtn't be a surprise either. The FTP was birthed to give financial security to the full members, and it has declined as cartels inevitably do, as those same members realised more profitable opportunities on their own. Even there though, the draft carefully threads together enough clauses to maintain the full members outside the big-three in their current states, at least in the medium term. The real losers are the ICC administrative arm, castigated for waste and mismanagement, and the dozens of smaller members whose tournaments have been cancelled without anyone outside the tiny development community even noticing.

Taking the long view of ICC history this is perhaps no more than we ought to expect from those who have controlled it. Much is said, in praise, about the revolution of 1996 that saw the veto pass into history, but not enough is said, in condemnation of what replaced it. As Rod Lyall's history of ICC development makes clear, the growth in associate numbers (even with each vote counting for half a full member) had already brought forward a restrictive clause on their influence: that a two-thirds majority of full members be required to pass a binding resolution. Post-1997, under the reforms proposed by NZ's John Anderson, no associate vote mattered; they could no longer influence decisions because they were but three of them on a twelve (then thirteen) member board.

It was those reforms that laid the foundation of the venal and incompetent ICC Executive Board that is sorely in need of reform, even if these are not necessarily the right type, or direction. The combination of a vast increase in ICC revenue, the significant structural limitations most boards face in generating revenue of their own; and the subsequent creation of the FTP to protect revenue streams from the hosting of tours; has been immensely damaging to cricket. Test cricket has stagnated at ten (realistically eight) nations, with no context worthy of the name and the gradual erosion of smaller tours. A tragedy of the commons has played out amongst the smaller members, each fighting for their piece of a large Indian pie, while neglecting to build the multi-lateral institution and robust competition that might have acted as a counter-weight to alternative ambitions. That is, in the main, on their heads.

In theory they remain full members, but while the working paper argues that "no member will lose any of their current voting powers", having the four person Executive Committee act as the "sole recommendation committee" means they are a rubber-stamp, significant beneficiaries of ICC largesse and little else. If reform comes, we oughtn't lament the demise of a body that has been dysfunctional, self-serving, and myopic in its vision. The new prince(s) might become tyrant(s), but the old aristocracy was an oligarchy too.

But any improvement in governance from the proposed reforms would wrest on whether big-three govern sensibly and with some imagination for the development of the game. There is precious little evidence in the draft document to suggest they will. The lack of transparency and wider consultation that leads to paucity of ideas will remain. The chasing of short term financial wealth over development will worsen. The ideas put forth in the working paper are doomed to fail, slowly perhaps, but eventually.

The biggest proposed change to the cricket landscape is the removal of the FTP in favour of bilateral agreements (with an implied guarantee from ECB and CA, though notably not the BCCI), and the introduction of a tiered system of test cricket.

Tiers I have covered at length. They are A solution. They are not a good solution. The working paper manages to recognise this when it states that the big-three cannot be relegated. Finance, much as we'd like it not to be the only thing considered, is important. If India was relegated or the Ashes ceased to be played for a period, the flow-on effects would be monumental. The costs (both financially and in match status) of relegation, even with the protections imposed, are enormous for any member subject to it. Any half-way sensible body would put out a working paper that discusses alternatives, looks across different sports, and analyses the implications. Cricket, with its asinine obsession with maintaining status gaps, presses on, creating, in effect, a four game play-off, and the reasonable probability that their inept rating system will raise some interest in a few matches leading up to it.

There is a vastly superior alternative for full members concerned that their bilateral matches aren't profitable: cede the bilateral rights to non-inter-big-3 bi-laterals to the ICC, share the revenue and create a 2-3 year tournament that integrates a large number of nations into a profitable and marketable entity. That, in essence, is what the world cup is: a massively profitable tournament despite India only playing in but ten or fewer of the matches. Instead we have uncertainty and high risk. And still no test championship.

The details pertaining to relegation may overstate the risks in any case. Firstly, a side must lose a four match playoff, against a side with little cricket against strong teams behind them, and if an associate, a significant spending gap. Secondly, even when relegated, a nation will maintain their previous bilateral agreements and lose only 10 per cent of their dividend payments in the following rights cycle. Meanwhile, a promoted team is guaranteed no matches at all, and must find space within the existing (maintained) bilateral agreements for tests of their own, with only that 10 per cent ICC funding increase and whatever hosting rights they can sell to sustain a professional structure.

In essence, this is little more than a convenient way to remove any obligation to play Bangladesh and Zimbabwe by relegating them to the I-Cup. That may not be a bad thing, as it will certainly improve the quality and value of that competition. Similarly, it will be no bad thing if the powers that be have abandoned the whiggish concept of progress amongst cricketing nations. Relegation at least recognises that teams can improve, and decline, that there are (possibly permanent) differences in the quality of sides, and that a structure must accommodate that. It isn't a terribly good structure, but it is something.

At the top-end, the dropping of the FTP merely reflects the unstated status quo. Australia's main summer opponents from 2010/11 until 2014/15 were England, India, South Africa, England, India. Four year cycles good, three year cycles better; except now the ICC lacks even the moral authority to argue for a more even distribution. This is a process, needless to say, defined entirely by finance, though there is nothing new in that. The saddest aspect of the working paper is to read through looking for something other than finances to justify the decisions. There isn't. Defining and structuring a competition, even if one does that for financial reasons, is the providence of other sports.

In that, the ICC ought to have a role; indeed, it is hard to see what the point of the ICC is if not to structure and define competitions. The MCC control the laws, noone seems to collect statistics or define what constitutes an official match between the majority of their members; and the ICC rankings are a joke, mathematically flawed and excluding 90 per cent of the membership. Yet, the ICC has done good work in its development offices; work I don't always agree with, but with some reasonable progress, and after some mistakes, they have created a structure that incentivises grass-roots growth and player development.

The working paper absolutely trashes the work being done in the ICC. There are complaints about admin costs, though how they might be saved is not clear; of tournaments being run "without approval", presumably the division three regional ones now scrapped; and of the costs of minor cricket, even though it represents only $20-30 million on$1.5 billion in revenue. The cost of associate and affiliate cricket is inflated by including everything development related, such as the women's world cup, reserves and development funds. Any independence the development committee had is proposed to be reduced, and subject to the F&CA committee.

Costs are to be cut, administration shaved. And the beneficiaries of all these savings?

Far and away the most ethically questionable element in the working paper is the concept of "distribution cost". As I outlined last year, the BCCI receives a much smaller proportion of the money generated in India than comparable nations do from their local markets. This is, in part, because ODI cricket is popular there, and the World Cup is far and away the most popular tournament of that type. The implications of the working paper are that the BCCI has made their future (lucrative) involvement in the tournament that props up the ICC, and by extension, most of its members, on more of that revenue going to them. There are several points to be made on this:

Firstly, deceptively, the working paper doesn't specify amounts, but percentages of total revenue. The table below helps fill some of them in, because actual amounts are much easier to understand and compare. In its last cycle the ICC reported $1,564 million in revenue. If revenue stayed roughly the same, the cost saving outlined above would find their way into the big-3's pockets, the BCCI taking some$63 million. In other words, the likes of Estonia and Peru will not play any international cricket, so the world's richest cricket board will have an extra $63 million to pay some of the world's richest athletes. If revenue increases to$2 billion, the big-3 will take 108 per cent of that increase. That's not just wrong, that's a disgrace.

ICC Revenue:15002000225025002750300032503500
BCCI (Dist Cost. %)4.217.419.720.320.721.921.921.9
ECB (Dist Cost. %)0.93.84.34.44.54.74.84.8
CA (Dist Cost. %)0.62.32.62.72.82.92.92.9

Full Member Surplus payment52.555.559.6256370.573.3578.9885.13
BCCI Dist. Cost63348443.25507.5569.25657711.75766.5
ECB Dist. Cost13.57696.75110123.75141156168
CA Dist. Cost94658.567.5778794.25101.5
Distribution Cost (big-3)85.5470598.56857708859621036

Secondly, there is an implied ownership of the local market, and for that matter the ICC, now being plucked like a plump turkey. Clearly the representatives of the BCCI are more marketable to the Indian public than other teams, but ICC events are organised and operated by ICC, the business. The money generated by that business is a payment from fans to the ICC, for providing a product. Moreover, the money the ICC generates out of the world cup is significantly higher than what India generates from a whole summer of matches. The world cup has cachet that a bilateral series does not; to claim money generated in a locale as otherwise belonging to that locale's cricket board is a nonsense. As a fan, I object in the strongest possible way to being considered a serf to Cricket Australia.

That money should be cross-subsidising development initiatives, smaller tournaments, administration and anything that grows cricket as an international sport. That should be the ICC's remit and their option as an independent entity. FIFA may be riddled with corruption, but it spends up big on development, and well it should. ICC revenue was already overly orientated towards funding members, and in turn, their professional programs, instead of grass-roots growth, infrastructure and development. The World Cricket League currently shuttles between a small handful of nations for lack of turf pitches and decent facilities. Whereas FIFA would go and build pitches, the full members of the ICC, and particularly now, the big three, are taking every last penny they can.

Thirdly, the accounting of the "distribution cost" is questionable in the same way Goldman Sachs bonuses are. The standard full member/development split is 75/25 per cent of the surplus. But as the table above shows, the surplus barely increases with revenue even though costs (and therefore the scope of services offered by the ICC) stay nearly the same. The difference is made up by accounting for payments made to full members (naturally not associate members), to cover the opportunity cost of participation instead of playing elsewhere. Instead of investing ICC revenues in the game, they are being paid out as a "cost" to nations for the right to have them turn up; a kind of corporate bonus from management to part-owner, that strips value from the firm.

And for associates and affiliates, these payments mean they get a double kicking. Not only is ICC development funding being reduced, but the 25 per cent surplus has now been redefined to exclude the "distribution cost" that makes up almost a third of revenue in most scenarios. As the "distribution cost" is larger than the projected surplus, this represents roughly a halving of the associate and affiliate development payment for most revenue projections. Add in the Test fund, also a cost, and the scrapping of subscriptions, which added to revenue, and the full members are getting an enormous increase in payments without giving anything back in return. Sometimes you just have to stand back and admire the sheer brazenness.

Other issues pertaining to global growth could go either way. The accounting of events as event costs, rather than under development might be an improvement; but the subjugation of development to the F&CA committee means it comes under the control of full member representatives who've repeatedly demonstrated little to no knowledge of development issues, and even less care; and who, via their dividend payments have a vested interest in cutting as many programs as possible. The increase in funding to the top-6 associates is likely to backfire too. We have already seen in the recent past that high performance program grants are mostly used to pay professional players to train, which adds nothing to long-term development. The scorecard system in place provides a much more nuanced assessment of needs and value-added, and while it will no doubt remain, increases in funding to teams without increasing playing opportunities is a waste of time.

Last year I wrote that there is little market growth and development, but a lot of redistribution. The working paper proposal would serve only to exacerbate that problem. There is no development of cricket's products, though the most lucrative bi-laterals can now be played even more often. And there is a clear aim to reduce the scope of ICC operations under guise of cost-cutting; a lot of re-accounting to increase distributions to full members (but mostly the big-three) at the expense of ICC programs, and independence.

Is it disastrous? For test cricket, possibly, as the test fund doesn't kick in unless revenues are high, and even then teams have no significant incentive to play: neither monetary nor competition. But for the most part it leaves cricket exactly where it is now. And that is a very short-sighted solution to ver real problems. The ICC certainly needed reform, but it also needed to build on what was there. Limiting the only multi-lateral body capable of moving the game forward is a backwards step. This proposal is a power and money grab by bodies that believe in little else; with no demonstrated capacity for leadership or growth. Cricket will survive it, as it always will, but any notion of it growing into a global sport recedes. You can't grow a sport without investment, and that just isn't happening, in product development, in market development, or in administrative capacity. Even if we consider the ICC as nothing more than a business, and not a sport, those in charge should still be held accountable for investment decisions; when investment is foregone for asset stripping then it is time to sell your stock instead.

Cricket - Articles 21st January, 2014 01:43:06   [#] [1 comment]

## Matches Unseen, Ratings 16th January Russell Degnan

2nd TestPakistanvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1104.91000.8
Form-16.4-12.1
Expected MarginPakistan by 102 runs
Actual MarginSri Lanka by 9 wickets
Post-rating1087.31016.1

A test I saw almost nothing of, but will offer brief comments on the scorecard. Having battled their way to a draw in the first test Sri Lanka dominated the second from the first day when the took 9/108 after lunch, before responding with 388 on the back a series of partnerships build around JK Silva (95) and Jayawardene (129). Although Misbah, Younis and the tail offered resistance, the Sri Lankan bowlers worked Pakisan out for 359 and chased down the runs on with time to spare. The win ensures at leas a drawn series, and pushes them back over 1000 in the ratings, having dropped below it before the first test. It's a purely symbolic milestone, but it has of late marked the difference between weak and competitive sides, and the performance of some of the younger players indicates that Sri Lanka may be able to maintain the latter for at least a while longer.

Only Women's TestAustraliavEngland
Actual MarginEngland by 61 runs

As per last year, there are no rankings for the women's tests as they play so few of them. It is an absence of longer cricket that told throughout an enthralling match, that was far closer than the margin might indicate. The undoubted star was Ellyse Perry, taking 3/41 and 5/38 and top-scoring in both Australia's innings with 71 and 31. Yet Australia lost, in large part because their top-order was unable or unwilling to leave balls that ought to be left, succumbing to edges, and leaving too much for the lower order to do. England, likewise had their issues, and the bowling from both sides exploited the bounce and weakness for loose shots, with Cross in particular impressing. Gunn's ability to halt the scoring, and her 44 in the second innings where she put on a decisive 88 run partnership with Edwards, tilted the game back to England when Australia seemed to be gaining control.

The downside of the format is that the test being worth so many points, it is nearly impossible for Australia to regain the Ashes, as they need to win five of the six ODI/T20 matches. A test to end the tour would have all but guaranteed that both sides could win the series; and allowed any momentum from the limited overs matches to carry into what ought to have been the show-piece. Nevertheless, those who did catch this match will remember it.

Rankings at 16th January 2014
1.South Africa1327.2
2.Australia1224.0
3.India1156.8
4.England1105.8
5.Pakistan1087.3
6.Sri Lanka1016.1
7.New Zealand900.0
8.West Indies894.7
12.Zimbabwe560.2

10.Ireland594.8
11.Afghanistan587.6
13.Scotland430.3
14.Namibia383.4
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.257.3
17.Netherlands182.4

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.

Cricket - Ratings - Test 18th January, 2014 08:02:17   [#] [0 comments]