2019 Cricket World Cup

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I’ve thrown my e-mail address into the ticket ballot for the 2019 One-Day Cricket World Cup that is scheduled to take place in England next summer. Quite what this means I’m not sure. Could I end up with tickets to see Papua New Guinea vs. Bangladesh in Cardiff? I should probably point out that I’m a Yorkshire based England fan! Here’s the link to the ICC’s ticket page:

https://www.icc-cricket.com/media-releases/595204

The tournament qualifiers are currently taking place in Zimbabwe with two teams from ten progressing to the World Cup. Can you call it a World Cup when there’ll only be ten countries taking part? It’s a bit of a lottery as to which matches count as ODIs and which ones count as List A only. It’s pretty crucial stuff when a player registers a hundred or claims a five-for!

Many of the associate nations taking part at the qualifiers are missing key players because they’ve jumped ship and joined Test nations (Mark Chapman, Hong Kong to New Zealand) or because they’re working on doing the same (Michael Rippon, Netherlands to New Zealand). They’re also missing players because they can’t afford to play and need to work, e.g.: Preston Mommsen (Scotland) and Jamie Atkinson (Hong Kong).

Cricket needs to spread and develop the game globally. It could be that Test cricket will be saved by the associate nations. As players abandon the longest format for the T20 dollars and Test cricket becomes less competitive then the likes of Kenya and Nepal may join Afghanistan and Ireland in dining at the main table. Having said that, Rashid Khan and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichane have already had a taste of the global T20 league so already even the second tier teams are potentially losing players from competing internationally to the domestic dollar competitions.

Back to the qualifiers, Scotland have already upset Afghanistan who were captained by nineteen-year-old Khan, whilst Zimbabwe posted nearly 400 in imposing defeat against Lamichane’s Nepal. You can keep up to date with proceedings here:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/_/id/8038/season/2018/icc-world-cup-qualifiers/

Hopefully next year’s World Cup will catch the fans’ attention like last year’s Champions Trophy did. Here’s to some fine English weather come 2019!

World Cup Equality

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You’ll have to forgive me for committing the ultimate sin on a cricket blog but I’m about to ramble on (For quite some time!) about football. This is of course my blog so I can do what I want!

Qualification for the 2018 football World Cup in Russia has well and truly reached the business end. All that remains are the heartbreaking play-off matches to determine which counters join the likes of Panama, Iceland and Iran in Russia next year. I’ll hazard a guess that Iceland will find acclimatising to the Russian climate just a bit easier than Panama. It’s also safe to say that none of the three nations mentioned above will be qualifying for the cricket World Cup anytime soon.

Back to the footy, here’s a breakdown of the percentage of teams from each continental region that will qualify for the football World Cup:

South America: 4 out of 10 teams = 40%

Europe: 13 out of 54 teams = 24%

The Americas: 4 out of 35 teams = 11%

Africa: 5 out of 54 teams = 9%

Asia: 4 out of 46 teams = 9%

Oceania: 1 (And maybe not even that) out of 11 teams = 1%

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the above calculations are based on a couple of assumptions regarding who qualifies via the intercontinental play-offs. Oceania are not guaranteed a World Cup representative and for the record, Australia qualify through the Asian pathway because they got bored of thrashing Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa time and time again.

Referring to the percentages above, the tournament title of World Cup starts to lose some of its credibility. There’s clearly a disproportionate amount of teams that qualify from the historical footballing hotbeds of Europe and South America. That historical bias is of course something that is extremely prevalent on the international cricket stage too.

Back to the three nations mentioned earlier. Iran qualified for the football World Cup as far back as 1978 but for Panama and Iceland, 2018 will be their first time at the tournament. That variety of nations on the big stage and the novelty of seeing virgin World Cup competitors is part of what makes the tournament so special. USA beating England in 1950, North Korea beating Italy in 1966 and Senegal beating France in 2002. Without these results the football World Cup just wouldn’t be what it is. Admittedly there have been a few thrashings as the likes of Saudi Arabia (8-0 against Germany in 2002) and Zaire (9-0 against Yugoslavia in 1974) will attest too.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is unlikely to see such a variety of international representatives or virgin teams as Russia will next year. There will only be ten teams, yes just ten teams at the ‘World’ Cup. Eight of these teams will have qualified as the highest ranked ODI nations. It’s great that the ODI rankings comprise more nations than just Test teams but no promotion/relegation profile is in existence at the upper echelons of international cricket. Referring to the historical bias detailed in football earlier, little scope is left for a changing of the guard as the years go by. The head honchos eat at the main table with one or two varying visitors from time to time.

I’ll be honest, every time I try to get my head around the meritocracy of lower division international cricket and World Cup qualification, I end up closing the page out of sheer bewilderment. From what I can gather, it’s possible that teams in ICC World Cricket League Division Two can qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup but some teams from Division One may not. Don’t quote me on that though! In all likelihood none of them will anyway, such is the convoluted qualification process.

Feel free to put me to shame and figure the whole thing our for yourself…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Cricket_World_Cup_Qualifier

Teams such as Papua New Guinea and Ireland could be there though the likes of West Indies and possibly Afghanistan will be favoured to qualify for the ten team tournament. Surely a straight forward main tournament of sixteen teams comprised of four groups of four followed by quarter-finals etc would be logical. Yes there have been some horribly one-sided encounters at cricket World Cups, think Namibia at the hands of Australia in 1970 and one or two Canadian performances (36 & 45 all out in 2003 and 1979) but there has also been Zimbabwe beating Australia in 1983, Kenya beating West Indies in 1996 and Ireland beating Pakistan in 2007.

There are so few teams at the Cricket World Cup that a comparison with football for regional disproportionateness is completely irrelevant. In fact to be fair, there isn’t really a geographic disproportion, just a lack of global representatives in general.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of sport, a World Cup should be exactly that, a tournament that has a fair and even distribution of teams from across the globe. The football World Cup isn’t perfect but hopefully in the future cricket will allow for the Senegals and North Koreas of the footballing world to have the opportunity at least to produce some shocks that will reverberate around the cricket world.

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Don Bradman Cricket 17: West Indies v England Test Match in L.A.

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Hi, my name is Stereo Mike.

Yeah, we got three tickets to the Bran Van concert…

After putting in a vastly improved performance against Kenya, the team headed to Los Angeles full of hope to take on West Indies. Ben Stokes and Mark Footitt were recalled at the expense of Ollie Rayner and James Anderson. Ben Duckett was provided one last chance to prove himself as a Test cricketer.

… happening this monday night at the Pacific Palisades.

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Despite the early losses of opening batsmen Haseeb Hameed (2) and Keaton Jennings (9), Duckett (40) and captain Joe Root (27) resisted. Duckett finally displayed the temperament required for Test match cricket but like James Hildreth (33) he could only assist a delivery from spinner Nikita Miller onto his stumps. Our total of 249 summed up the fact that nearly all our batsmen got starts but nobody reached 50. Sam Curran (Pictured above left) was frustratingly left 34 not out after Jack Leach (Pictured above right) was run out.

Give us a ring-ding-ding. It’s a beautiful day.

Needing to make inroads into the West Indies batting line-up late on day one, Sam Curran took a caught and bowled chance off debutant Kyle Hope after the ball ballooned into the air off the face of the bat. Outrageously, the decision was not given by the umpire and Hope refused to walk. He promptly went on to make 172 on Test debut and put on a double century stand for the opening wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite (143). Only an obsession with nightwatchman helped us claim four wickets as the Windies declared on exactly 500. Of the ten bowlers that we used, just Stuart Broad (2-107) and Mark Footitt (2-111) were able to claim any wickets.

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I got the fever for the flavour…

In our second innings we soon found ourselves in trouble at 27-3 but a stoic Keaton Jennings (Pictured above right) and a positive but not reckless James Hildreth (Pictured above left) put on 50 and battled through to lunch on day three.

… the payback will be later, still I need a fix.

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With my mind on my money…

For the second time in the match however our batsmen failed to build on solid starts. Jennings top scored with 44 after Hildreth (41) had fallen when sweeping for the second time in the match.

… and my money on my… beer, beer!

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In the end we went down by an innings and 47 runs. Hope got his comeuppance when, despite his epic innings, he missed out on the Man of the Match award to teammate Miguel Cummins (Cummins hit an undefeated half-century as well as recording match figures of 7-139).

The application of our batsmen in occupying the crease for excess of 60 overs in our first innings and the fact that we actually managed to take a game well into day three should at least bode well for the future. Though it may be hard to believe, there were signs of improvement in the bowling department too!

What the hell am I doing drinking in L.A?

Don Bradman Cricket 17: England v Kenya Test Match

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After the Ireland and Hong Kong results the boys and myself had some pretty intense discussions about where we want to be as a cricketing nation. I’m proud to say that the team really stepped up in this match and displayed the sort of qualities that we hope will keep our supporters believing that the England cricket team can summit some huge peaks in the future.

Under pressure batsman Ben Duckett was retained, as was spin bowler Ollie Rayner after an impressive debut against Hong Kong. The Old Trafford pitch caught us by surprise so unfortunately for left-arm seamer Mark Footitt, he missed out and a debut was given to another spinner, Somerset’s Jack Leach. From the Hong Kong match, Mason Crane also missed out.

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Our first innings followed a familiar pattern as wickets tumbled all around. Opening batsman Keaton Jennings batted defiantly until the very end when after debutant Jack Leach managed to eek out a single to get off strike, Jennings, rather than selfishly take an easy single to reach his half-century, was dismissed for 49 as he tried to clear the ropes, therefore narrowly missing out on carrying his bat through the entire innings.

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Positive contributions from lower order batsman Ollie Rayner (28) and an in-form Stuart Broad (34) helped us stumble to a disappointing 141 all out.

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Broad (2-106) then put in a much improved showing with the ball and debutant Jack Leach looked right at home in the Test arena, claiming figures of 3-81. Kenya declared on 394-6, rather cruelly leaving their not out batsman stranded on 93 and 82 with plenty of time still left in the game and little threat of rain.

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In our second innings we lost early wickets again, including that of Duckett for 3. His Test future will have to come under great scrutiny ahead of our next match. Our batsman committed to a positive brand of cricket however and despite an almighty close LBW call whilst in the 90s, captain Joe Root produced a magnificent 132 to lead us to a second innings total of 422.

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Haseed Hameed (75), Jonny Bairstow (61) and James Hildreth (54) also made half-centuries.

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That left Kenya with a target of 170 for victory. All our bowlers bowled well, particularly young Sam Curran who went at just 3.88 an over but ultimately our limp first innings effort cost us.

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Kenya sealed a seven-wicket victory but for the third match in a row we improved and if we can bat as we did in our second innings of this match twice in our next match then we will finally provide ourselves with a real chance of tasting success.

A Complete Restructure of International Cricket

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Some teams play each other twice, some three, four or even five times. The team with the most points isn’t top of the table and the team at the bottom doesn’t get relegated. Well that makes a lot of sense! I could go on but I’m going to assume that if you’ve come this far and you plan on going any further that you share my opinion and what appears to be the general consensus that international cricket requires a complete overhaul or as the players themselves call it: context. Here are my plans:

International Championship

10 teams

Test, ODI and T20I status

Australia

Bangladesh

England

India

New Zealand

Pakistan

South Africa

Sri Lanka

West Indies

Zimbabwe

 

International Division One

10 teams

First Class, List A and T20 status

Afghanistan

Hong Kong

Ireland

Kenya

Namibia

Nepal

Netherlands

Papua New Guinea

Scotland

United Arab Emirates

 

International Division Two

10 teams

First Class, List A and T20 status

Bermuda

Canada

Denmark

Italy

Jersey

Malaysia

Oman

Singapore

Uganda

Unites States of America

 

Please note that the selected countries are based on various status and rankings not all of which seem in sync thus highlighting the need for such drastic restructure in the global game. Whether or not further divisions would merit First Class, List A or T20 status would require additional research and consideration.

All teams in any one division play each other in either one or two Super Series (explained later) consisting of the following:

Three Tests (The middle one is always a day/night match)

Three ODIs

Three T20Is

All tours are structured in the order listed above.

Points are awarded as follows:

Test match win: 5pts

Test match draw: 2pts

Test match loss: 0pts

Test series win: 10pts (On top of match points)

Test series draw: 5pts (On top of match points)

Test series loss: 0pts (On top of match points)

ODI match win: 3pts

ODI match draw: 1pts

ODI match loss: 0pts

ODI series win: 5pts (On top of match points)

ODI series draw: 2pts (On top of match points)

ODI series loss: 0pts (On top of match points)

T20I match win: 2pts

T20I match draw: 1pts

T20I match loss: 0pts

T20I series win: 3pts (On top of match points)

T20I series draw: 1pts (On top of match points)

T20I series loss: 0pts (On top of match points)

If each team were to play each other home and away they would each be required to play 54 matches in each format meaning a five or six year cycle. At a stretch four years may be achievable but would not help guard against injury and in-turn product quality. Alternatively teams could play five home series and five away series providing a total of 27 matches in each format. This would mean that a three-year cycle is achievable. This shorter cycle would help maintain the interest of players below International Test Championship. Please consider hemispheres when entertaining the idea of teams playing more regularly. I would also like to make clear that I’m completely opposed to the notion of some journalists in world media that have suggested the possibility of teams playing just one match against each other. I think that this is unethical and that international cricket would be a stain (literally!) on the global environment if this were the case. Squad members would also soon lose interest and head for the T20 leagues.

At the end of the cycle the team in tenth place in each division would be relegated and the team in first place of the division below be promoted. Obviously for teams moving between International Championship and International Division One this means the gaining of or losing of Test, ODI and T20I status. To prevent mid to latter cycle stagnation it could be that two teams are promoted / relegated or even that a play-off between teams placed in positions IC9 and IDO2, consisting of one match in each format is put in place.

One Day and T20I World Cups could each be held once every three years. The ten teams (incl. relegated team) in International Championship would automatically qualify. From International Division One the six teams with the most points in the respective format at the end of the cycle would also qualify for the respective tournament. Each tournament would consist of a straightforward four groups of four with each team playing each other once and gaining football style points (as per ODI series points proposal). The top two teams from each group would progress to the quarter-finals and the rest of the tournament would follow a self-explanatory format. The winner would host the following tournament. A measure would need to be put in place for a team winning a major tournament and subsequently finishing in for example eighth place in International Division One at the end of the following cycle. Also if a smaller nation won it may not be practical for them to host a whole, or even part of a tournament.

Long term these changes to world cricket would provide players, support staff, fans and media etc. the opportunity to experience parts of the world and cultures that previously cricket wouldn’t have allowed. It would also be a structure that provides consistency, equilibrium, meritocracy and a necessity for equal importance to be placed on each format of the game. Ultimately it would also make cricket a truly global game complete with the current buzz word… context!

Believe it or not this was supposed to be a trimmed down version of a previous attempt at writing this post. I could go on (No really I could!) and detail who would play who home and away (Odds and evens) in the 27 match cycle etc. etc. but I’ll stop there and will attempt to answer any questions if any uncertainty is identified… or take this post down if someone explains that it just wouldn’t work!

Many, many thanks if you made it this far!