It has been a busy period for the MCC World Cricket committee in recent months.
Firstly, we have been watching with great interest the use of the pink cricket ball in Australia’s Sheffield Shield competition and the reports we have received back have been mostly encouraging.
There have obviously been some doubters, but that’s to be expected and the scores have been good with runs being scored at different times of day, which shows the versatility of the ball.
Cricket Australia have been so positive about the use of the pink ball
I understand they had a bit of difficulty scoring in Queensland, but I think but that’s because it was cloudy and damp and they used quite a green wicket – conditions that would make batting difficult whatever ball was being used.
We have seen many teams make big scores and the bowlers have benefited from it too, which has resulted in some excellent games of cricket. As far as the World Cricket committee is concerned, this can only bode well for the future.
I was also encouraged to see that Cricket Australia have been so positive about the use of the pink ball, and we very much hope that this will lead to its use in one or more Test matches between Australia and New Zealand next year.
It’s also worth mentioning that a day/night, four-day game between the Leeward Islands and Jamaica concluded this week in St Kitts where a pink ball was used with great success.
It was a very exciting game with Jamaica winning by three-wickets on the final day. It’s testament to the improvements made to the pink ball that games as exciting as this can come from using it, and I’m sure we’ll see many more in the future.
Support for the initiative has grown since its inception – at which point it was almost there to be ridiculed.
There were plenty of sniggers about the prospect of Test cricket being played with a pink ball but, as the quality of the cricket balls has got better, that prospect is becoming more real and better supported than ever.
This is due, for the most part, to the fact that they are lasting well and their visibility for players and spectators has been good both under lights and in daylight.
This augurs well ahead of their potential Test match use next year, and I believe it would be quite an achievement for the MCC World Cricket committee to see an ambitious proposal that it supported from day one come to fruition on the biggest stage.
MCC’s input into this initiative has been substantial both financially and practically through the ongoing trial of the pink ball. Over the past four years the MCC v Champion County matches have been day/night affairs played with a pink ball.
I would also like to mention the input of John Stephenson, MCC’s Head of Cricket, who has been instrumental in moving forward the use of the pink ball. He is very knowledgeable about where it will be a success and will continue to provide advice on this so that when it is used in a Test, there is the best chance of it succeeding.
Away from the pink cricket ball trials, many recent headlines have been stolen by corruption allegations in the IPL. Whether these allegations prove to be founded or unfounded, the fact remains there is still a lot of work to be done to combat corruption.
The committee is dedicated to maintaining and increasing its input into this fight and continues to back the increase in funds for ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit.
Last year the ICC held a meeting of all the world’s anti-corruption units to try and pool resources and ideas, and there is also an increase planned in the anti-corruption programme in domestic Twenty20 competitions.
To the committee and me, this seems very much like a step in the right direction and we will continue to give it our full support.
Umpire review system
Another area of the committee’s influence has been in the ever-improving umpire review system. We have long been supporters of it, and I’m delighted to see that it is now very reliable and players and umpires alike seem to understand and trust it so much more.
The technical equipment has developed too and in our view we’ve seen a definite improvement in the percentage of correct decisions made.
These improvements tie in nicely with the MCC Spirit of Cricket campaign, as players’ honesty is more under scrutiny and there is less chance of them 'pulling a fast one' on umpires. There is also the satisfaction at the chance to overturn wrong decisions.
Though we are aware that the issues involved do go beyond our particular area of expertise, the World Cricket committee have been concerned about recent developments in governance at the ICC.
These matters will affect the playing of cricket at an international level and I feel it is imperative that we, as an independent body both funded by and part of MCC, come to a view on this issue.
The committee and I have been doing as much as we can to find out what has been going on and to question it. We have invited Giles Clarke to come and speak to us at our July meeting. I am grateful that Giles has accepted this invitation and look forward to the committee's dialogue with him.
It would of course be wrong for us to forward an opinion on matters before this meeting, but we will hope to take a public stance on the issue after our meeting in July.