Sri Lanak are better than this, but not much better; ratings 26th May
Russell Degnan

1st TestEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1117.1969.4
Form+13.8-14.7
Expected MarginEngland by 124 runs
Actual MarginEngland by an innings and 88 runs
Post-rating1129.7952.6

Even after a first day where England tottered to 5/171 this was never an even contest. Sri Lanka, as expected, are poorly equipped for these conditions, and the help their bowlers - particularly Shanaka - received was far more-so for Anderson (10/45 for the match). Hales ground out 86 in the sort of determined innings he needs to prove he is more than a limited overs players, but it was Bairstow - 140, carrying on from his county form - who proved again the depth in this lineup. It was further underlined by the abject batting that followed as Bairstow added nine catches to his match tally and Sri Lanka folded twice for 210. Only 164 overs were played in the match - only rain preventing the mismatched being underscored by a two-day outcome.

England's victory didn't greatly improve their rating, but it was enough to slip above South Africa, and they could easily move into second place with a few good results. Sri Lanka's form (-37) indicates that they have a way to fall yet.

Rankings at 26th May 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.India1160.9
3.Pakistan1142.9
4.England1129.7
5.South Africa1121.5
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka952.6
8.West Indies848.1
10.Bangladesh613.3
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland637.1
11.Afghanistan606.0
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia306.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.221.0
17.Papua New Guinea228.1
18.Netherlands189.0
19.Hong Kong183.6
20.Canada147.9

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 28th May, 2016 14:36:54   [#] [0 comments] 

ICC governance with Tim Anderson; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

In this episode, Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) interviews Tim Anderson, Head of Global Development at the ICC, on a range of topics: reform of the WT20 qualifying process and affiliate cricket (11:10), the changes to World Cricket League, and restructure of regional pathways (24:02), the ascension of Ireland and Afghanistan and present focus on greater context for full member cricket (29:06), global tournaments, opportunity and status (35:00), changes to the funding scorecard (41:29), women's cricket (44:12), member suspensions and governance (47:32), changes to regional development programs (53:29), streaming and promotion of associate cricket (55:37), match fixing (58:58), Tim's legacy, USA, China and the Olympics (1:01:12). As always, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) is along to discuss news from Germany, Hong Kong, Rwanda, and the ICC (0:06), and to preview World Cricket League division five (1:13:48) and PNG vs Kenya (1:16:49)

Direct Download Running Time 79min. 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 20th May, 2016 01:13:50   [#] [0 comments] 

The new guard; ratings 18th May
Russell Degnan

3 TestsEnglandvSri Lanka
Pre-rating1117.1969.4
Form+13.8-14.7
Expected MarginEngland by 124 runs

Two years ago, a disheveled England lost to a Sri Lankan side, failing to press home an advantage in the first test, and squandering another in the second. This time around, with England finding their groove with a young and dynamic side, and Sri Lanka continuing to drift backwards, a comprehensive loss is much more likely. Whereas in 2014 Mathews was able to feed off Sangakarra to punch an advantage, now he looks more isolated, and carries a greater burden. With Root, Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Stokes all capable of taking a game away quickly, England have a deep and powerful batting lineup to set up matches for their bowlers. Uncertainty still exists at the top, and in the spot Taylor had occupied, but the depth of all-rounders gives them flexibility to work around those positions.

Sri Lanka's World T20 performance was that of a fairly poor side, and while Herath will, for a little while longer, keep them semi-competitive at home, the yawning hole left by Jayawardene and Sangakarra will not easily be met. They face some worrying tours if the young batsmen in their side cannot improve quickly.


2 TestsNew ZealandvAustralia
Pre-rating1048.51210.7
Form+24.9-3.3
Expected MarginAustralia by 31 runs
Actual MarginAustralia by an innings and 152 runs
Australia by 7 wickets
Post-rating1230.41024.9
Series rating1409.1848.0

Somewhere along the way I neglected to conclude on this series, won with the right amount of superiority at the right times by Australia. McCullum's brutal century, brilliant as it was, was an epic roll of the dice for a side that felt it needed to do so to have a chance. Ultimately, Australia passed their total four-down, with three days remaining to force a result. Conversely, with better catching, some better luck with the umpiring and fewer loose drives outside off they might have ground their way to a result. Australia were flattered by the scoreline, even if the bowling was very good, the fielding excellent, and the batting effective. The collapses of previous tours didn't appear against a side (and on pitches) that ought to have produced them, though it would be brave (and wrong) to suggest they've been solved.

Australia's rating is low by modern number ones, but still significantly superior to India in second place. New Zealand, despite the hiccup here, remain close to the top-five. Had they performed better against Australia this summer they might have found themselves near the top, but they lack something the better sides have, even if it isn't always clear what that is. Perhaps the next era, sans McCullum but with many of the side at their peak, will reach the heights they've promised but missed for some time.

Rankings at 18th May 2016
1.Australia1230.4
2.India1160.9
3.Pakistan1142.9
4.South Africa1121.5
5.England1117.1
6.New Zealand1024.9
7.Sri Lanka969.4
8.West Indies848.1
10.Bangladesh613.3
12.Zimbabwe559.8

9.Ireland640.3
11.Afghanistan591.5
13.Scotland408.0
14.Namibia337.5
15.Kenya276.4
16.U.A.E.235.9
17.Papua New Guinea217.6
18.Hong Kong183.6
19.Netherlands174.8
20.Canada147.9

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 May, 2016 16:04:43   [#] [0 comments] 

Africe Div 2, women's qualifier and ICC meeting; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

Africa played host to two tournaments this month, with the men's division two (8:01) and the women's T20 and/or World Cup qualifier (10:49) being played. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss them. Namibia played both Afghanistan (0:30), in the I-Cup, and Nepal (3:40) in the WCLC. In news, we mark the passing of the inspirational Tony Munro, editor of Beyond the Test World (16:29) before moving on to development matters. Amongst several issues covered are: women's development, particularly in Afghanistan (13:40); match-fixing at associate level (18:20); Nepal's suspension by the ICC (21:00); the complexities of having an independent chairman (24:10); ongoing discussions about context and structure (25:30); the ODI fund for Ireland and Afghanistan (28:50); and the Hong Kong blitz and their new sources of funding (39:35). And as usual there is bits of news from Italy, Germany, UAE, Kenya, Afghanistan, the Americas and Asia.

Direct Download Running Time 45min. 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 4th May, 2016 23:28:17   [#] [0 comments] 

Survey into a Test Championship and Bilateral Structures
Russell Degnan

I am pleased to announce, that after several months of research, survey construction, collection, promotion, and finally writing, the Survey into a Test Championship and Bilateral Structures has been completed and submitted to the ICC for this weekend's meeting.

In total, 1,070 people responded to the survey, expressing their views not only on the aims and their myriad of a Test championship, but also T20 cricket, status, and a wide variety of topics via the comments. Thank you to each and every respondent for your considered opinions, and to the various people who have helped promote, edit or shape the content within. I hope I have adequately captured the variety of ideas.

The key findings in relation to aims are captured in this graph.

Opportunity for teams to compete was considered the most important of the aims, but most had a large following. The ICC has been urged to adopt a balanced approach to a Test championship, taking into account the importance of opportunity and competitiveness, preserving the traditions that make Test cricket great, and the financial imperatives.

The full 68 page document can be downloaded below, along with the extensive Appendix B containing public comments.


Download Report Download Comments


Cricket - Manifesto 21st April, 2016 23:51:12   [#] [0 comments] 

WT20 review; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

As the World T20 winds down, Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss how each of the associate teams performed, opportunities taken and missed, men (0:23) and women (16:14). There is news from Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan (21:30). A preview of Afghanistan vs Namibia in the I-Cup (25:50), a summary of the mess that is Nepal cricket and preview of their matches against Namibia (29:40), and previews of the Africa Div2 T20 (33:30), and tournaments in Belize and North West Africa.

Direct Download Running Time 37min. 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 30th March, 2016 14:51:21   [#] [1 comment] 

WT20 preview, Vanuatu with Mark Stafford; Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast
Russell Degnan

We are gearing up for a big couple of weeks of cricket. Andrew Nixon (@andrewnixon79) joins Russell Degnan (@idlesummers) to discuss second half of the under 19 World cup (0:30), world T20 qualifier preview of the men (9:30) and women (16:09), and the Stan Nagaiah trophy (18:44). In news, the ICC has announced that Suriname has withdrawn from WCL5 after an eligibility investigation, and we chat to Mark Stafford from the Vanuatu Cricket Association about their promotion (20:48). We review the ICC board meeting and proposals for Test championship and bilateral structures (28:09). Russell is currently conducting a survey to submit to the ICC on these issues. Please contribute your say to the future of the Test cricket here. US cricket is seeing some investment from the CPL and Times oF India, and is potentially in line to host for WCL4 (35:30). And in regional cricket, East Asian cricket will have amen's and women's tournaments on a biannual cycle, starting in Japan in 2016. (39:30)

Direct Download Running Time 42min. 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 6th March, 2016 21:49:21   [#] [0 comments] 

Financing a test championship
Russell Degnan

As the ICC moves towards a test championship it is worth reflecting on the most significant barrier to potential reform: the financial impact of scheduling changes on the members involved.

The existing financial structure of bilateral cricket

At present, excepting some tour payments that cover costs, full members sell their tv rights, and take the full amount of local revenues whenever a team tours. They sell those rights globally, meaning that for many members in small markets, the bulk of their income from test cricket comes not from their local market, but by selling their local content to overseas television. Moreover, because those stations are primarily interested in their own local team, only three tours are worth significant amounts of money (if not profit): India (by some margin), England and Australia. A fuller explanation of these values is outlined in this post.

Although ICC revenue makes up a significant proportion of overall revenue for smaller members, there is none forthcoming from test cricket. As there is no ICC run and owner test championship (except for negligible prize-money), the ICC owns no rights. In the past decade, the big-3 has consolidated their financial positions by increasing the amount of tours they make to each other. Those marquee tours to each other are longer, and more sought after by local fans (particularly the Ashes which is worth upwards of 50% over a normal tour). It is difficult to calculate the exact value of tv rights for test cricket, as they are sold as a package of formats. But, based on projections of audience, across the number of matches played, a rough guide to test cricket revenue sources for the big-3 versus the other seven full members is as follows:


Figure 1. Existing test cricket revenue sources

The disparity between the value of these popular tours and everything else is so great that my estimate puts the value of marquee tours at something like half of all test revenue. And the value of a big-3 tour to anywhere at 65% of all test revenue. The significance on this on governance can also not be over-stated. As the vast majority of touring revenue comes from hosting the Indian test team, this dynamic allowed the BCCI to rake in power to itself by trading tours for votes, and the threat of no tour for compliance, prior to the reforms (after which they no longer needed to manhandle the other board members).


Financial hurdles to reform

As we shift towards a test championship and more sensible structure, the existing revenue distribution suggests several barriers to any proposal being approved.

As the big-3 make a significant proportion of revenue from their incestuous touring schedule. The more evenly the schedules are created, the more money floats out of that bubble and into the general pool. Under reasonable assumptions, a seven team division with an even number of matches would shift around $10m in revenue per year from the Big-3 (mostly Australia and England) to some of the other full members. In the context of their billion dollar incomes over each cycle, that isn't a huge amount. But that figure hides a more serious problem at the other end of the table.


Figure 2. Test cricket revenue sources under an even tour distribution

Every one of the other full member nations depends on those periodic tours from the big-3 to top up their revenue. By creating an exclusive top division, and removing them from that revenue source the West Indies and those below them will find their own $40m hole in already teetering budgets. The broader the base of nations that need to be sustained, the larger the revenue drop for the big-3 will be.

As marquee series are also more popular amongst local fans, there is no guarantee the drop off in overall revenue from reducing them will be regained from the context of a test championship, nor where that money will end up. Uncertainty will push administrators away from any proposals. With one or two exceptions, they are inherently risk-averse, and focused primarily on what their board will receive, rather than the potential growth of overall revenues.

Around an impasse - schedule splitting and collective bargaining

If fear of uncertainty - and potential losses - will kill any proposals, then that suggests two measures by which a future test championship could incorporate features of the existing distribution into future programs.

Firstly, as noted above, the touring calendar of the Big-3 is roughly evenly split between their marquee series and everyone else. Although survey responses to date indicate a strong preference for a championship to be an all-inclusive part of the FTP over a short tournament, there was a split response over whether series should be of even length, and the maintenance of marquee series ranked highly among the presented aims and concerns. At least amongst the fans I have had respond, the maintenance of series like the Ashes ranks as important as creating a working championship format.

One possibility is to split the four year cycle, between bilateral fixtures in two years, and a test championship in the others. The existing marquee structure would remain in place, and the big-3 would suffer no potential revenue or fixture losses, as those tours would continue as they do now. However, the institutionalisation of marquee fixtures would fill the calendar in the space reserved for bilateral tours; removing the ability of the other full members to attract the big-3 for tours of their own. To circumvent that, they need a source of revenue from the test championship.

The second reform to achieve financial stability is for the other members to collectively bargain their home touring rights. At present, there is a zero-sum game in attracting tours from the big-3. Relegation presents itself as a removal of lucrative tours and financial armaggedon for members who drop out of the top tier.

By pooling their individual home rights in test championship years, and selling them via the ICC as a packaged tournament, it would no longer matter who the big-3 tour in that part of the cycle. All money would be collected and distributed amongst the members involved: partly by need, partly by performance, partly by value foregone from signing away their collective rights. (The big-3 signing on is optional, but preferable from a commercial perspective.) As each member is also now invested in a test championship, it is in their interest to create a format that maximises revenue: by competitiveness and meaningful matches.


Figure 3. Test cricket revenue sources under a shared tournament revenue model

The exact nature of that format is outside the scope of this article. It is possible to have strict tiers over a cycle, and fluid ones, that move from qualification stage to qualification stage. Each has their merits and followers.

Without financial reform though, in which the ICC must take a central role, there are too many reasons for members to opt out of a system that, broken as it is, provides low risk grease for the financial wheels of smaller members. A more robust system, via collective agreement is possible, and even necessary if scheduling reforms are to be achieved.


If you missed it, I am conducting a survey on test championship aims:


Take the survey now!


Cricket - Manifesto 27th February, 2016 12:27:02   [#] [2 comments]