KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Following their eleventh meeting the MCC World Cricket Committee has issued a number of statements on topics ranging from the future of Test cricket, through corruption in the sport, to the Umpire Decision Review System.
The MCC World Cricket Committee met at Lord’s on the 18th and 19th July. Established in 2006, it was the Committee’s eleventh and final meeting chaired by Tony Lewis. Mike Brearley will take over as Chairman from Tony Lewis on the 1st October.
The future of Test cricket
As the game celebrates its 2000th Test match, the MCC World Cricket Committee remains deeply concerned about the future of Test cricket across the globe.
The Committee heard reports and testimonies from players involved in the MCC Champion County match in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, including Rahul Dravid. This match featured a refined pink ball, with a white seam, and black sightscreens, which was felt to be an improvement on previous trials.
The Committee therefore reaffirmed its call to introduce day/night Test cricket, immediately, where conditions allow and in countries where a stimulation of attendances is required.
MCC will continue to use its annual Champion County fixture to highlight the viability of using a pink ball in day/night first-class cricket.
Governance of the game
The MCC World Cricket Committee praised ICC’s decision to insist that individual member boards must become free of political interference.
The Committee feels that it is a step in the right direction, through its Governance Review Committee, to look into the possibility of appointing independent directors.
Furthermore, it is the Committee’s view that the ICC President, preferably a former cricketer, should be chosen on merit rather than on a rotation policy.
The Committee also believes that cricketing decisions made by the ICC Executive Board should be based solely on recommendations from the ICC Cricket Committee.
Corruption in Cricket
The MCC World Cricket Committee has endorsed six wide-ranging conclusions and recommendations made by its Anti-Corruption Working Party:
Umpire Decision Review System
The MCC World Cricket Committee, in partnership with its research partner, Imperial College London, have offered their services to the ICC to become the independent body that tests ball-tracking technology.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has recently asked the ICC to carry out such tests, related to its implementation in the Umpire Decision Review System. The ICC has yet to fully scope this project and send out to tender.
Changes to the ICC Cricket World Cup
The MCC World Cricket Committee supports ICC’s decision to allow Associate Nations to qualify for the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
However, the Committee believes that the proposed tournament is still too long and it should therefore be reduced in length by involving twelve teams, with the possibility of two games being played on one day.
Laws of Cricket
1. ICC’s decision to ban runners
MCC’s World Cricket Committee discussed the ICC’s decision to ban runners and felt that it was a disappointing reflection on the Spirit of Cricket at international level that the ICC had felt forced into making this change.
There was strong feeling that a batsman with a genuine injury will now be penalised because some players have recently been seeking to exploit the Law by requesting a runner when they are not injured.
ICC’s previous decision that cramp should be considered an injury or illness has also made it easier for a batsman to have a runner.
A batsman who tears a hamstring will now have to continue batting and try to run, thereby risking aggravating the injury, or retire hurt, which could be akin to the loss of a wicket.
The Committee heard one example of a lower-order batsman using a runner, claiming a hamstring strain, who then came out and opened the bowling.
The Committee felt that stronger umpiring should be sufficient to solve such problems, with suspected breaches being reported. Law 42.18 (Players’ conduct) and The Spirit of Cricket Preamble, together with ICC’s code of conduct, provide ample ammunition against anyone seeking to unfairly stretch the runner Law.
The Committee felt that, if runners were not allowed, then substitute fielders should not be allowed either, as this too was an area that is often abused.
2. Obstructing the field
MCC’s World Cricket Committee supported ICC’s decision for its umpires to uphold appeals for Obstructing the field when a batsman has deliberately changed his running path in order to prevent a throw from hitting the stumps.
MCC and ICC have worked closely on this area, including looking at some recent examples of this tactic. The Law has not changed in any way – rather, ICC and MCC felt that a reminder was needed to inform players of what the Law says.
Steve Bucknor hoped that umpires would more closely monitor batsmen who run across the pitch while attempting to block a throw, as that in itself is a breach of Law 42.14 (Batsman damaging the pitch).
3. Running out the non-striker
MCC’s World Cricket committee discussed the ICC’s suggestion that Law 42.15 (Bowler attempting to run out non-striker before delivery) be amended.
It could understand the reasoning behind the proposed change, which would allow the bowler to run out the non-striker slightly later in his delivery stride than is currently allowed.
The committee referred the decision to MCC’s Laws sub-committee, who it felt would be better placed to judge whether a change in Law was needed. This will be discussed at their next meeting in September.
4. Quality of pitches
The MCC World Cricket Committee believes that pitches used around the world should provide a fair balance between bat and ball.
Recognising that cricket, perhaps more than any sport, is a game where conditions can dictate proceedings, the Committee proposes that best practice is shared amongst Test grounds, and that the ICC oversee this process.