The MCC World Cricket Committee met in Perth on 14 & 15 December, where issues including the subject of corruption in the game were on the agenda.
Established in 2006, it was the Committee’s tenth meeting in total and its first in Australia.
Corruption | Low Catches | Test Championship | Pink Ball | Split Innings Cricket | WCC in Cricket | WCC Success
Corruption: Potential Law Changes
The MCC World Cricket Committee has recommended that the Laws of Cricket be amended - through the Spirit of Cricket Preamble - specifically to forbid the corruption or attempted corruption of any aspect of a match.
The MCC Laws sub-committee will be asked to consider this recommendation at their next meeting in February.
The MCC World Cricket Committee has also set up a working party, led by Steve Waugh and including Courtney Walsh, Keith Bradshaw and Barry Richards, to investigate ways of removing corruption from the game.
A wide range of proposals was discussed at the meeting including:
the legalising and regulating of betting markets in India as proposed by the Delhi Court;
the length of bans;
non-selection of tainted players;
the possible use of lie detector tests;
the provision of integrity officers; and
the inclusion of anti-corruption clauses in all professional playing contracts in all countries.
The Committee felt more deliberation was required before a recommendation could be put forward to ICC.
The Committee is concerned at the scale of the problem, and the detrimental effect it has placed on the integrity of the game. The Committee also complimented the ICC and its Anti-Corruption & Security Unit (ACSU) for the work it has undertaken to date.
However, the Committee feels more resources - and increased powers - are required to help the attempt to eradicate this issue from the game. The education of players should not be a meaningless formality; the message should be pressed home with regularity by figures known and respected by the players.
Furthermore, the Committee believes that team captains - as enshrined in the Laws and Spirit of Cricket - should accept greater responsibility for the conduct of their players.
No television replays for low catches
The MCC World Cricket Committee believes that current technology used by third umpires does not provide definitive proof of low catches, and recommends that the on-field umpires must be asked to make an initial decision using the naked eye.
In games utilising the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), if the batsman or fielding captain wishes to review the decision, he may do so at this point - provided that he still has a review in hand.
In assessing whether or not the ball carried, the third umpire should uphold the original decision unless there is overwhelming proof that the decision was incorrect.
With so many examples proving inconclusive on television, the Committee feels that the benefit of the doubt too often goes to the batsmen, who often now stand their ground for most low catches.
The Committee saw merit in Ricky Ponting’s recent assertion that captains should all agree to take the fielder’s word on low catches. However, it felt that such an agreement would be difficult to implement and consequently urges the ICC to direct the on-field umpires to make the decision.
Having been an early advocate for the UDRS, the Committee has been pleased to see the success of its implementation to date.
In using the system, the ICC wants TV to aid umpires to make more correct decisions. In the case of low catches, inconclusive technology runs counter to this principle; trust must therefore be put in the on-field umpires to make the correct call.
Introduction of ICC World Test Championship
After making sustained calls for the introduction of a World Test Championship (WTC), to provide greater context for each Test match, the MCC World Cricket Committee is delighted that the ICC will be introducing such a competition.
The four-year cycle proposed by ICC differs from the biennial blueprint put forward by MCC in November 2009; an outcome the Committee accepts is due to the complicated nature of the Future Tours Programme.
Furthermore, the Committee was heartened to hear that a greatly simplified rankings system based on points is likely to be introduced from 2013 onwards. It is important the points system rewards teams who play positive cricket and win.
The potential also exists to enforce penalty points for slow over rates and poor pitches. The Committee’s fundamental principle that "Every Test Counts" would ensure the cricketing public could readily identify with the WTC and fully understand the qualification requirements.
The Committee hopes that the WTC will see an increased effort from worldwide governing bodies to market the Test game better and to produce pitches that offer a fair balance between bat and ball.
The Committee is optimistic that through its introduction, the WTC will give Test cricket the spotlight it deserves and the re-invigoration it requires to ensure the supreme format of the game can thrive worldwide.
Pink ball/white clothing trials continue
The MCC World Cricket Committee continues to endorse research into the pink ball for potential use in day/night Test cricket.
After a successful trial in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, the Committee believes that this is a viable option now.
MCC will return to Abu Dhabi to use a pink cricket ball, in day/night conditions, for the English domestic season-opening fixture in March 2011, this time with a white rather than a green seam, following extensive feedback from players.
The Committee heard in particular from Shaun Pollock, who had tested a variety of pink balls with members of the South Africa team, and it was felt that a white seam provided the clearest contrast to the pink ball.
MCC encouraged by split-innings trials
The Committee heard detailed feedback from Tony Dodemaide on the current trials of split-innings cricket in the Australian one day domestic competition.
While the tournament has not yet concluded, early reports suggest that the trial has been a success and worthy of continued investigation.
MCC’s own trials of the more radical 5IVES concept, in September, were not sufficient to judge its merits.
MCC will therefore use its Young Cricketers and MCC University players to trial further matches, where the innings are split, throughout the 2011 season.
The Committee believes that split-innings cricket may address the concerns of the sometimes predictable middle overs of the limited overs game, and may help to increase attendances in the ground and viewing figures on television.
MCC World Cricket Committee's position in the game
The Committee received a detailed presentation from Malcolm Speed, former ICC Chief Executive, on the governance of the worldwide game.
After repeated calls for more former players to move into administrative roles in cricket, the Committee is delighted that one of its own members, Anil Kumble, was recently elected President of the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
The Committee feels that the game needs more former players involved in making decisions that shape the sport’s future.
The MCC World Cricket Committee’s Terms of Reference were established at its first gathering in 2006 and reaffirmed at the Perth meeting.
Primarily, the Committee exists to debate the current issues facing the game today; its subsequent decisions are made solely for the good of the game and its players.
Every member of the Committee - a voluntary, unpaid position - has up-to-date experience of cricket currently played at the professional level.
The Committee is specifically empowered to conduct research, particularly into technological advances and bio-mechanical elements of the game, which MCC funds as part of its commitment to develop cricket worldwide.
The MCC World Cricket Committee influence:
Following the alteration of the 2006 Oval Test result from an English victory to a draw, the Committee issued a strong statement highlighting that this was contrary to the Laws of Cricket and recommended that the original result be reinstated. Shortly afterwards, the result was changed.
In September 2007, the Committee called for the introduction of technology to assist umpires with certain decisions. MCC has worked closely with ICC on aspects of the Umpire Decision Review System’s subsequent implementation.
For a few years, the Committee has called for a greater context to Test and ODI cricket and, in November 2009, it produced its own blueprint for a World Test Championship. The proposal was presented to ICC who subsequently decided to introduce such a championship, albeit in a different format to the one proposed by MCC.
The Committee suggested the need for day/night tests, conducting market research to prove that it is wanted by fans in some countries. This year’s MCC v Champion County fixture in Abu Dhabi proved that the concept is workable. Several countries are now trialling pink ball cricket and ICC still sees day/night Tests as an option.
The Committee said that the decision to leave the field in bad light should be left to the umpires, not offered to the batsmen. In this and other areas, many of the Committee’s recommendations have since been included in the Laws of Cricket.