The MCC World Cricket committee met at Lord’s on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th August.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, ICC General Manager – Strategic Communications Claire Furlong, ICC Head of Global Development William Glenwright, FICA Chief Operating Officer Tom Moffat and ECB Chief Commercial Officer Sanjay Patel were present for certain parts of the meeting, having been invited to address the committee.
:It’s been a very constructive two days, not least because the relationship between MCC and ICC has been strengthened as a result"
Chairman Mike Gatting said, “It’s been a very constructive two days, not least because the relationship between MCC and ICC has been strengthened as a result.
"The presentations we received, together with David Richardson’s 2018 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture, emphasised the opportunities that exist for our two organisations to work together and I look forward to developing that relationship further.
“The input from FICA provided useful insights into the current perspectives of professional players globally and the committee was reassured to hear from ECB about the current plans for its new tournament.
“The meeting was also notable as it was the last for Rod Marsh, who is retiring after six years on the committee, during which time he’s given us many a good steer.”
The main outcomes of the meeting are as follows:
After hearing reports from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, and Vintcent van der Bijl (MCC World Cricket committee member and a consultant to Zimbabwe Cricket), the World Cricket committee agreed that the measures put in place by ICC had created a more positive environment for Zimbabwe Cricket and that there was cause for optimism for the future. It was also noted that the World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, which included Scotland and Ireland, was completed successfully.
MCC has observed the outcome of recent elections and has taken advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and ECB regarding the possibility of touring Zimbabwe. No objections have been received.
The committee was in agreement that MCC should continue to monitor the situation and should consider sending a team to tour Zimbabwe once conditions were right. The strength of the team should be decided in consultation with Zimbabwe Cricket so as to provide the most helpful opposition to create opportunities for the appropriate level of cricketers.
Global Cricket Strategy
The World Cricket committee welcomed the opportunity to hear from ICC Chief Executive David Richardson and General Manager – Strategic Communications Claire Furlong about the Global Cricket Strategy, and to be one of the stakeholders which is invested in the progress of the plan.
The committee was interested to hear some of the statistics which have emerged from ICC’s recent global market research project, which indicate that 64% of cricket fans continue to be supportive of all three formats of the sport (Test, ODIs and T20).
The committee particularly welcomed the news that 87% of respondents to ICC’s recent survey supported cricket in the Olympics, and that it was a goal for ICC to have T20 included in the 2028 Olympic Games. The World Cricket committee has indicated its support in the past for the inclusion of cricket for both men and women in the Olympics, and will do whatever it can to assist ICC in its endeavours, especially in regards to staging compelling cricket matches and supporting the spirit of the game.
The committee also noted that women’s cricket hopes to be included in the programme for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which it views as a very positive step.
The World Cricket committee debated the future of cricket’s culture in the light of the ball tampering incident during the South Africa v Australia series in March and escalating misconduct on the field which has sparked the recent scrutiny of what is meant by the “Spirit of Cricket”.
The committee believes that a holistic approach is required, starting with international boards taking responsibility for the conduct of their teams, as well as the scheduling of touring programmes to ensure that visiting teams are adequately prepared. This extends to pitch preparation, provision of net bowlers and player socialising.
The committee heard from New Zealand captain (and committee member) Suzie Bates, as well as from the ICC about the inclusion of women’s cricket in the Global Cricket Strategy. The news was universally welcomed that an ICC Women’s cricket committee, to be responsible for all playing conditions and cricket playing activity, would be set up.
The committee recognised the need to continue to grow the base below international cricket, to prevent the widening of the gap between the nations which can afford to pay its players, and those that currently can’t.
Pace of play
The World Cricket committee thanked ICC for sharing its statistical trends data, which is an invaluable tool to help, amongst other things, to track the balance between bat and ball, the volume of cricket and pace of play.
After reviewing the trends for the past twelve months, the committee expressed concern that over rates in Test and T20 formats had slowed down (Test over rates are the lowest for 11 years and T20 have fallen to their lowest ever level).
The committee discussed various possible measures to improve the pace of play, including adopting a “shot clock” from the moment a bowler reached the top of his mark to the moment the over was completed as well as captains taking greater responsibility.
The committee was encouraged by indications that ICC will be reviewing measures to improve the pace of play across the board and will continue to monitor the trend.
Laws of Cricket
The committee discussed feedback received about Law 41.7 concerning above waist-high full tosses. This amendment to the Laws, which was incorporated in October 2017 and which sees a bowler removed from the attack after two such deliveries, has been poorly received at various levels of the game; in many cases, it is being ignored or overwritten by playing conditions.
The committee supported the recommendation from the Laws sub-committee that the Club should review this Law at the earliest opportunity.
Protection for bowlers (and all players)
The committee viewed footage of recent accidents involving bowlers who had been hit immediately after completing their delivery by powerful straight drives, especially in T20 cricket. The incidents, including one involving Nottinghamshire’s Luke Fletcher last year, gave serious cause for concern.
ECB and MCC have been in discussions to launch a design project for manufacturers to develop head protection for bowlers and the committee is supportive of this move.
It was also felt that a review of existing protection for batsmen and fielders should be conducted to ensure that current models are providing the best possible protection.
ICC Global Development Strategy
The committee considered the insights shared by ICC Head of Global Development William Glenwright.
In support of the strategy, MCC will work with ICC to identify countries that would benefit from its touring programme and other meaningful interventions such as coaching, pitch preparation and umpire tuition. The Club is also very willing to share its resources, for example its e-learning platform for umpires.
Sanjay Patel, Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director, New Competition of ECB, addressed the committee to share the concept of The Hundred, ECB’s proposed new competition which is due to launch in 2020.
The committee was reassured that the new competition would still be a recognisable form of cricket and commended ECB for its desire to seek new audiences for the sport.
Thoughts from departing committee member, Rod Marsh
Rod Marsh stated that it had been an honour and a privilege to serve on the committee over the past six years and listed some of the key topics covered during that time, which include:
Day/night Test cricket
Corruption in cricket, which seems to be less of an issue now than it was when he first joined the committee
Universal adoption of DRS
Limiting the size of bats to help the balance between bat and ball
Details of the next World Cricket committee meeting will be advised in due course.