On the Front Foot: More tinkering as ICC get in spin over ODIs (yet again)
It seems impossible for one-day cricket to be left alone simply to get on with its business. No sooner has one regulation been introduced than another follows.
Players, let alone spectators, can hardly know what's going on. The rules governing the Champions Trophy, which starts on Thursday, seem likely to have changed again by the time of the next World Cup, in early 2015. Word from the ICC's cricket committee last week was that more amendments will be made to the recent amendments.
In particular, there seems to be concern about the use of two new balls, one from each end. This replaced the old regulation under which the ball was replaced after 34 overs (for a combination of discoloration and going soft). As the cricket committee noted, the changes had produced a more attacking game, with more boundaries and more wickets. But they were concerned about the detrimental impact on spin bowling. The committee decided to leave any recommended alterations to later in the year. Presumably they want to see how it all pans out in the Champions Trophy.
In the past year, two of the three leading wicket-takers in ODIs, Sunil Narine and Saeed Ajmal, have been spinners, and they should have a significant holding role to play in the forthcoming tournament. ODIs need a period of calm, not a continuing quest for elusive and non-existent perfection.
New Test for Strauss
Perhaps the most important discussion at the ICC's cricket committee last week was about Test cricket. It is always the most important discussion. There has been alarm at the casual cancellation of planned Test series this year. West Indies and Sri Lanka have replaced their scheduled Tests with a tri-series, Sri Lanka and South Africa will play more one-dayers instead of Tests.
The committee therefore want a minimum number of Tests to be played each year by each country. This minimum is understood to be four, which is hardly overkill. The main worry continues to be that in almost every country but England Test-match cricket is hardly a spectator sport any longer, and the less it is played then the less skillful at it the players will become. Put simply, the ICC are not doing nearly enough. All being well, the newest member of the committee, Andrew Strauss, one of the former players' representatives, will bang the drum and a few heads together.
Sleaze was a safe bet
Anti-corruption units are questioning players about their involvement in the Bangladesh Premier League last February. The event seems to have been a hotbed of sleaze involving betting rackets. There is no suggestion that English county players or umpires were involved. But the Professional Cricketers' Association, as part of their duty of pastoral care, warned all players not go to the BPL. That advice went unheeded by many. Should anybody be surprised by the subsequent turn of events?
Will England go green?
England have a new one-day kit. It is a garish form of scarlet of the type perhaps worn by ladies of the night. For the last few years England have played in blue, though the recent version of that was also a trifle over the top.
This latest garb will presumably last only until the new team sponsors, Waitrose, take over next year. Their company livery is a rather tasteful light green. Alastair Cook, England's captain seems relaxed about it all. "I can't believe," he said, "that I'm here being asked a series of questions about the kit."
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