KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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The MCC World Cricket committee met in Auckland on the 25th and 26th February. The following statements were released at the conclusion of the meeting.
Corruption in cricket: more to be done
The MCC World committee is happy that the ICC has done much to protect the game from corruption. The committee commends the education programme for players, the preventative work being done by ICC’s Anti Corruption and
Security Unit (ACSU), and is pleased to learn that for the most part international cricket seems to be clean, and is almost certainly cleaner than it was.
The committee is also satisfied that ICC recognises that constant vigilance is essential, and is making efforts to encourage member boards to institute and strengthen ACSUs of their own. ICC is also holding a meeting of these domestic ACSUs in Dubai in March 2013. This is important for growing trust and sharing methods and information.
The committee feels that more needs to be done. There has no doubt been a displacement of effort by corruptors from international to domestic matches, including games played in Twenty20 leagues. The committee encourages the ACSU and tournament organisers to make a concerted effort to scrutinise owners, selectors and administrators, and subject them to due diligence and – if necessary – investigation.
Intelligence from Indian bookmakers and punters needs to be harnessed, as does information from Betfair and other legal betting outlets. In addition, software should be developed which monitors and assesses probabilities of certain outcomes in the four areas of the game that attract betting from illegal bookmakers – results, lunch and tea scores, brackets (specified periods of play) and end-of-innings scores. The players must be fully included in these efforts, through the domestic and international players’ associations, and must feel committed to reporting (with confidentiality assured) any irregularities and rumours. Captains are particularly vital in the fight against corruption; care should be taken to protect players from the attentions of dubious individuals at post-match parties; and education efforts must be redoubled, especially in local languages.
Committee strongly supports the Decision Review System
Warren Brennan, Managing Director of BBG Sports (Hotspot), and Ian Taylor, CEO of Animation Research Ltd (Virtual Eye) presented to the committee on their respective technologies and how these are used in cricket.
The committee noted the remarkable speed of technological development in the game, with greatly-improved cameras now in evidence, and the way their application has evolved since the inception of the Decision Review System.
The committee no longer thinks of the DRS in terms of eradicating the ‘howlers’ only; technology used in today’s game often reveals things which the human eye cannot pick up on the field.
The committee feels that the DRS is good for protecting the integrity of the game, as it is statistically proven to increase the percentage of correct decisions in international cricket. Furthermore, it notes that the game as a whole is worse off when available technology is not used and calls for the universal application of ball tracking, hotspot and – subject to satisfactory trials – snickometer technologies.
The committee also believes that more training is required for third umpires, possibly to the extent whereby the ICC should consider the introduction of a cadre of third umpires who specialise in television decision reviews only.
Committee initiates research into the size of bat edges
Following a request from ICC’s Cricket Committee to report formally to them with opinions from MCC and its World Cricket committee, the group discussed a number of issues relating to the Laws of Cricket.
The World Cricket committee discussed the balance of the game between bat and ball and feels that the size of bats – and particularly the thickness of the edges – needs to be investigated. MCC will therefore research this matter over the coming months.
The committee strongly supports the decision taken last week by MCC which will lead to the creation of a new Law, making it a No ball when the bowler breaks the wicket whilst delivering the ball. It believes this is a sensible solution to a situation that currently causes confusion.
The committee reaffirms its support of the switch-hit, on the back of considerable research by MCC into the shot and its potential repercussions. The difficulty and the high risk of playing the shot outweigh the need to legislate against it, either through banning it or amending the LBW Law when the shot is attempted.
In relation to the ICC’s ban on runners, the committee feels that there is a risk of a player aggravating an injury by having to bat without a runner.
When looking at substitute fielders, it is felt that this Law is still widely abused at international level. A Law change is not necessary, as the problem does not exist in the amateur game, but the committee feels that an ICC playing condition should be written stating that a substitute fielder should only be allowed in cases of serious injury or illness.
WTC required for three formats of the game to co-exist
The MCC World Cricket committee believes there is a place for Twenty20, One Day International and Test cricket in the world game, but reaffirms in particular its support of the World Test Championship (WTC), planned to be introduced by the ICC in 2017 and to be held every four years.
Other ideas were mentioned – for example, holding a Test tournament every two years – but overall the committee is anxious in the first place to ensure that the WTC gets off the ground, and is well marketed to cricket enthusiasts around the world.
The committee heard from David White, CEO of New Zealand Cricket, who talked about the co-existence of the three forms of the game. He advocated the “3/3/3” model of playing three matches of each format on each tour – as currently being witnessed with England’s visit to New Zealand. In discussing the marketing of Test cricket, he added that a two-tier Test match championship – an idea involving promotion and relegation which has been raised in some parts – would be catastrophic for the long-form of the game in the nations outside the top four in the world.
Women’s cricket part of the fabric of the world game
Charlotte Edwards provided an update on the women’s game, with specific feedback on the recent ICC Women’s World Cup held in India. The committee heard how the tournament was in the main a great success and an increase in standards was in evidence throughout the competition. The committee is heartened to learn of the great increase in TV viewers when comparing the 2013 tournament to its 2009 predecessor. The committee believes that, where once the international women’s game sat apart from the rest of the game, it is now firmly integrated within the sport around the world.
Twenty20 Cricket in the Olympics
The MCC World Cricket committee appreciates that a great deal of effort may be needed to lobby for the inclusion of cricket in the Olympic Games of 2024. The committee accepts that, were cricket to be played in the Olympics, there would be a short-term loss in income for the ICC, and therefore for dispersion to its members, but is impressed with the potential boost for the game worldwide if cricket were to be included. Furthermore, the committee advocates Twenty20 cricket as the format to be played at the Olympics, thereby providing the ‘pinnacle’ of that form of the sport.
Martin Crowe to stand down from the Committee
Mike Brearley thanked Martin Crowe for his huge contribution to the MCC World Cricket committee since its inception in 2006. The committee chairman noted Martin’s passionate opinions, his enthusiasm and clear love of the game, and that as an idealist, Martin wants the very best possible outcomes for the sport. The chairman greatly valued his considerable input into the affairs of the committee over the years and, on behalf of everyone at MCC, thanked him for all his efforts in hosting a very successful meeting in Auckland. The committee wished him well both now and in the future.