Friday, October 29, 2010

A trans-Tasman T20 domestic tournament

The recent four-nil drubbing of the Black Caps by an improving Bangladesh, while good for cricket generally, must shine a spotlight on where New Zealand are heading with their domestic game.

The simple fact is that New Zealand is not a large country and cricket is not its national sport. In the hearts of most New Zealanders, cricket will always come a distant second to the All Blacks rugby team. With just over four million people, New Zealand has a smaller population than three of the six Australian states. Therefore, the task in running a quality domestic competition is so much harder for New Zealanders than it is for their Trans-Tasman neighbours.

In other sports, like netball, rugby, soccer and basketball, New Zealand has solved this problem by joining an Australasian competition. This could well be the future of Antipodean domestic limited-overs cricket too.

The main argument for such a move is an improved competitiveness for player development. During the 2010 Champions League Twenty20 tournament, the Central Districts hardly set the world on fire. They were easily a class below South Australia and Victoria . In a joint competition, two New Zealand teams (rather than six), possibly representing either of the two islands, would face the six current Australian states.

The other sports have shown that crowds will come to watch a local team play an Australian one, especially if they can reasonably be expected to see their side win. Home matches scheduled in a number of venues on both islands would help strengthen the local spectator base.

That is not to say that one would want to see the end of the Plunket Shield. There is no great merit in joint first-class arrangements, but one would hope that an increased exposure to tougher competition in the shorter versions would feed back into the Plunket Shield and, therefore, into the Test team. Playing under diverse Australian conditions will do up-and-coming New Zealand cricketers no harm at all. Neither will it harm Australian cricket, for the benefits flow both ways. Scheduling would become tighter, yet there is so much to gain that it must, at some point, be considered.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sacred Cash Cow

HERE's a sobering fact - of every dollar raised in world cricket, 81 cents is generated by India .

Here's another one - whatever money Australia makes out of this summer's Ashes series it will budget to make four times as much when India tours here again.

India is the home not just of the sacred cow but the cash cow as well. The secret for other nations is to learn how to milk the cow not to run scared into the next paddock when they hear a stray "moo''. You cannot fight India 's influence in cricket. That battle has been long lost.

Australia should not be scared of Indian money propping up its own domestic scene. If anyone can profit out of owning an Australian interstate cricket team they should be immediately recruited for more important challenges such as finding a cure for breast cancer or tracking down Osama bin Laden.
Even the Indian Premier League teams - with all their giant television rights and fabulous crowds - averaged $7 million losses in their opening year. If Cricket Australia officials want to have a whinge about India let them do so about how a bus full of Australian players have spent the last three years in the Indian Premier League and Australian cricket has barely got a round of drinks out of it.

Here's a chance for payback.

Domestic cricket is Australia is in a parlous state. The new 45 over competition has been totally underwhelming, regularly attracting crowds of fewer than 1000 people. The Sheffield Shield attracts even less and it is not even on television. A survey done by Cricket Australia showed that cricket has dropped off the radar of Australians under 30 where dancing, walking and tennis were rated above it in favorite past-times.

The game needs a pep pill and it needs it fast.
The new city based Twenty20 competition is a gamble Australia must take but it needs private investment badly because it is almost certain teams will make substantial losses. With two domestic competitions already making multi-million dollar losses the thought of a third ball and chain competition would be too much to bear unless there is someone to share the financial load.
The new concept is not flawless. There is a chance the Australian public will find it all a bit superficial Australian officials should have nothing to fear from Indian ownership of Australian teams.
As a wise man once said, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

India looking to Australia

The fiercest of rivals on the pitch in all formats of game, has seen India and Australia play some classic matches. Yet it seems an Indian consortium is looking to move in on the possible franchise structure of a new 20Twenty competition. A creation of the Australian version of the franchise IPL would be bigger than Kerry Packers World Series Cricket, CA board members will meet in Melbourne in the next two days to decide whether to accept private equity from India , and other overseas investors, as part of the ownership structure for franchises, potentially valued at $80 million each.

On further research by the Cricket Observer it seems that NSW Cricket has set up a separate business name of to run its 20Twenty franchise, there is talk that the 20twenty Franchises have the ability to have a net worth of $80 million, more than any of the top football codes. An Australian tournament would involve eight teams - two from Sydney and Melbourne, and one from each of the other states. It will feature all Australia 's stars and retired champions, including Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Overseas stars from India , England , the West Indies and South Africa will be offered mega contracts to play in a tournament that will replace traditional one-day cricket in January and February.

This space is worth watching with the Big Bash is on the agenda for this board meeting and it seems that Australia is again at the forefront of big change in cricket. With Test matches only mattering it seems to purists and those series involving Eng/Aus or Aus/India we could see the disappearance of one-day cricket all together as T20 starts to grip the world, but as it previous posts here on the Cricket Observer we must trend carefully and think this type of out and develop leagues and not a foreign legion of hired guns travelling the world for the biggest cash bonus.

Murali you can't be serious.

Murali on the week of his farewell tour of Australia has produced a Top 10 list of best batsman he has ever had the pleasure of bowling out. But not an Australian amongst them.

This has caused much a do about nothing really, maybe this is Murali’s little underhanded dig at the Aussies on his way out or this is a master piece of spin from the master himself to garner a few extra bum’s on seats heading into the series. Murali has always had a love hate relationship with Australians, mainly due to ‘that’ arm action and Daryl Hairs reaction to it in the summer of 1992. With Australia and Sri Lanka both playing for the Warne/ Murali trophy it seems this is a bitter pill to swallow not just for Australians but also for Sri Lankans.

For Murali to dismiss all Australian batsman from his Top 10 makes him look silly in my eyes and shows a lack of disrespect for a period of complete dominance by Steve Waugh’s men as they amassed a unbeatable mentality towards all sides home and away. I’m sure Murali would like to forget the belting of the double century he got from Michael Clarke in the summer of 1995 in Perth or that fact that despite always taking on average 4 wickets a game, he was costly at 36 runs a piece.

More recently in 2006 Ricky Ponting [124] and Andrew Symonds [151] between them batted Australia to victory while Murali could only watch bowling 10 over’s for 99runs in the ODI in Sydney . Lastly the memorable ‘lights out’ match in the World Cup at Bridgetown when Adam Gilchrist a player who on 6 occasions scored a 100 or more against Sri Lanka in the new millennium, went on to smash Sri Lanka to all parts of the ground to score 149 to help Australia deliver the One Day World Cup trophy in farcical circumstances, with his country in need of his doosra Murali was only able to throw down 7 over’s for 44 runs and 0 wickets.

As much as I want to believe that Murali sat down and went though his vast memory of thousand deliveries and countless days of cricket to come up with his masterful top ten batsman to face the record wicket holder, some how I can’t believe it was all done on his own and maybe a certain advisor gave him a friendly nudge to give one last slap in the face to Aussies before its too late. Despite the action I have stated on here before that Murali is and will be known as a fine cricketer and one who changed the game in more ways than one.


1. Brian Lara (WI)

2. Mohammad Azharuddin ( India )

3. Sachin Tendulkar ( India )

4. Navjot Sidhu ( India )

5. Salim Malik ( Pakistan )

6. Inzamam-ul-Haq ( Pakistan )

7. Andy Flower ( Zimbabwe )

8. Graham Thorpe ( England )

9. Jon Crawley ( England )

10. Hansie Cronje ( South Africa )