Search This Blog

Monday, 30 August 2010

Things we have learned from the Spot Fixing episode....

That none of the Pakistan team, if the One Day and T20 matches do happen, will walk out to the middle to the strains of "Fix You" by Coldplay.

On a serious note, I don't think anyone has yet come to terms with quite what has transpired in the Test match against Pakistan at Lords. However the real thing that is certain is that Stuart Broad, Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann and James Anderson have had excellent games that no-one will remember. Pakistan's demise will be attributed to their role in this scandal and not down to the brilliant batting and bowling that took place. For once, a story published in the News of the World actually looks fairly genuine. Maybe Freddie Starr really did eat the hamster after all.

Anyway, things we have learned from today:

1. That Afridi is honest. If all the rumours are true about events prior to today, then two months ago Afridi warned the Pakistan team management here that the Majeed brothers had links to match fixing, and with allegedly 7 of the tour party in their pocket, Afridi was marginalised and forced to retire. Presumably Afridi only believes in honest forms of cheating such as dancing on a length to rough up the pitch, or biting the ball to make it swing. These were freebies.

2. That the cheats have won. Presumably, because these were only allegations of spot fixing and corrruption, the test match carried on  to its inevitable conclusion. I gave Pakistan until 12 but they managed a few minutes more largely thanks to some inconsequential belligerence from Umer Akmal. If the test carried on as normal, then why was the post match ceremony moved indoors? The media were still there, so what did it achieve? For me it meant that England could not celebrate a series win and their individual achievements in this game in front of their fans. Those responsible for sullying the image of a still largely honest sport should have been made to go out and face up to the cricketing public and take in the crowd's reaction. How typical and spineless of the games powers that be to do this. To me it feels that they have acknowledged the problem but swerved the issue. Typical. Apparently the published reasons were those of security. Hmmm.

3. That sport is all about the little details. This is not just 3 No-Balls. What if Pietersen had chosen to have a wipe at the no-ball, and edged behind and was reprieved, rather than a legitimate ball? He may have gone on to hit a hundred, hit himself  into form, won England the test and gone to Australia with his Mojo re-discovered. Sport is all about the marginal decisions, the small incidents and the discussions and "what if" 's that happen afterwards. Of course this matters. Its test cricket between two countries for christ sakes. And anyone who interferes with its sanctity doesn't deserve to be anywhere near it.

4. That cricketers operate in a bubble. On Sunday morning KP hadn't even heard anything by 9a.m. Seriously, does he go and sleep on Mars? The travelling may explain some of his shitty batting form at the moment. Likewise, for a cricketer, aged 18 as he apparently is, for Mohammed Amir to believe that no-one would notice him bowl massive no-balls to make sure the umpire saw them is crazy. How many cameras are at the average test match these days? 

5. That everybody knows that the dice are loaded, everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. If I walked into Ladbrokes and asked to place a bet on the third ball of the day to be a wide, they wouldn't take the bet. Instead I would be reported to the authorities. If some positives can be taken from this whole sorry episode, its that people have been reduced to trying to influence small trivial details rather than whole games. What I can't believe is that knowing this kind of thing has happened previously, people were still willing to bet on these small details, knowing that fixing and corruption were rife. if they didn't they do know and hopefully this sort of thing will diminish.

6. That we have a new phrase for Chocolate Fire-guard. From now on when I want to describe something as useless and ineffective I shall say "You're about as much use as the ICC's Anti Corruption and Security Unit". We learn here that several players from Pakistan have been under a cloud for sometime and have been on a watch list, yet nothing had been done. It takes a tabloid newspaper to launch a sting-type investigation to bring to light what had been going on, despite warnings and rumours. As I have said before, test cricket is in a parlous position and I would have thought the ICC would have taken action to investigate these rumours and take appropriate action and further protect what is widely agreed to be the premier form of the game.

To conclude, I'm sure that there are more revelations to come in the ensuing investigation. Thank goodness it has become a matter for the police and not just the cricketing authorities who have proved inept and unwilling to act effectively to eradicate corruption in cricket. Any player alleged of spot-fixing or having any kind of involvement must be immediately suspended pending investigation. Only then can we be sure that what we are watching is honest sporting endeavour and not some choreographed event to rival the WWE.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Who writes the Schedules?

I note with interest, in an ever changing cricketing landscape, the scheduling for next year for England's forthcoming games and I find it amazing yet again, the lack of insight and consideration given to Cricket by its own administrators.

Following the World Cup's 6 weeks of 50 Overs cricket in February to April, the England team will be playing another 10 ODI's in the English season, 2 less than this year but with only 2 T20 internationals, at Bristol and Manchester - one against Sril Lanka and India.

I never thought I would say this but with England being T20 champions and all that, and both Sri Lanka and India having a big T20 following and some talented players in that format, are the ECB not missing a big opportunity? After all, T20 games are a guaranteed packed house and can be scheduled to start at 5pm to catch post-work or corporate business. One singular game does not mean very much against either opponent and gives a mixed message considering the English domestic season now has eight weeks of T20 cricket, it seems scantily represented internationally.

This is especially true when you consider that the 50 over format has been killed domestically.

The bidding process and feeding frenzy between the counties to stage Tests is distasteful and doesn't benefit the England team or indeed the spectators – remember them? We now have a seven-test summer and nine grounds that could, or have staged test matches with the addition of the Rose Bowl. 7 into 9 doesn’t go, so the highest bidders will always win.

Next year Old Trafford only gets an ODI and T20I and Headingley only gets a solitary ODI. The North-West and Yorkshire is a cricketing hotbed, especially amongst the Asian community who show great interest in Asian teams playing (I'm not doing a Tebbit here, just stating facts.). Traditionally, Headingley and Old Trafford are also good grounds for England's seam and swing bowlers - are the ECB valuing money over using the home conditions? Could you ever see a situation where Australia don't stage a test at the MCG because Hobart or even the bloody Ballarat Oval have outbid them? Me neither.

This morning, the Chief Exec of MCC was on TMS (198LW, not this one and bemoaned the fact that Lords have "only" been awarded one test match for 2012 as opposed to two. Well, as per the maths above 7 into 9 doesn't go. This year and next there are three test matches in London and yet next year only one north of the Midlands, and that is in Chester-le-Street. Even with me living about as far south as you can get in the UK without getting wet, this seems unduly London-centric.

As the MCC guy stated, the bidding process has also meant that there is huge financial pressure on the counties to break even, and he was quoting ticket prices this morning of £60 upwards for a day of test match cricket and yet they were "disappointed" to still have 1500 seats available for today’s game against Pakistan and more seats across the weekend if you turn up. These are prices far out of reach of the casual viewer especially if you factor in travel, accommodation (if you are coming from Yorkshire to actually see some bloody test cricket) and food. With three tests to choose from in the capital, and potentially 15 days cricket starting at £60 each day is it any wonder they have spare seats? Test Match ticket pricing needs to reflect the times in which we live and simple supply and demand. There used to be waiting list for test tickets, and guaranteed full houses. When you have 1500 seats left unsold I say you have missed an opportunity.

 Of course, Lords and the MCC are missing the revenue they used to get each year from two packed houses witnessing the domestic knockout trophy finals. Remember them? They used to be the pinnacle of a county cricketer’s career. Can you imagine the FA ditching the FA cup and a Wembley final in favour of a 5-a-side tourney? Thought not. However, the removal of the knockout trophies and the complete car-wreck that the domestic schedule has become is another can of worms.

What the authorities fail to realise is the precarious position in which cricket, and specifically Test cricket sits. The ECB are doing everything they can I feel to make money in the short term and accelerate the decline. Cricket needs to grab the casual fan and make test matches accessible and affordable, not price them out of the market and extort more from the dying breed of fanatics reared on free-to-air TV coverage like myself.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

England's Selection "Dilemma"

I have been musing over England's selections for the First Test against Bangladesh starting this Thursday.

Again, the International cricket schedule isn't doing these guys any favours - these tests come swiftly on the back of the tests in Bangladesh, and the balance between the two sides wont have changed greatly in three months. England were made to work as much by the lifeless pitches in Bangladesh as they were by their batsmen, so I would predict that England's incisive seam bowling will be altogether too good for them in England in May. England then wont see Bangladesh for four years I suspect, so it just seems a bit odd to have the home and away series crammed within months of each other. 

Anyway, for what its worth I think it is an OK selection but England could have gone a lot further with finding out a little bit more about the likely runners and riders for the trip down under. So...

Where I think they have got it right..

1. Resting Paul Collingwood. If Colly is carrying an injury then so be it. But I also think it makes sense because we know all about Collingwood's batting, and I doubt if we are going to need a grafting, stubborn knock to get us out of the shit against Bangladesh. But I also think it makes sense for Strauss. He has been out of the side for a few months, watching Cook and then Colly take charge of the nucleus of the England team. It was hard for Hussain to lead England after Vaughan had the reins in the ODI's, maybe this avoids the situation, although I suspect Strauss is a little less of a control freak than Hussain. (!)

2. Picking Eoin. So what if he has a fc average of 36? He has shown that he can be relied upon in pressure situations and has a "big match" temperament. Trescothick would be an obvious parallel, his career average was pretty low when Fletcher first picked him. Statistics don't really tell the true story of a player's worth anyway: Ian Bell averages 42, Mike Atherton 37 - who would you rather have bat for your life?

3. Resting Broad. He's played in every England game....still think he could do with some practice at pitching the ball up though. Finn has also been in great form and I think he'll be a handful on his home ground.

...And the Wrongs.....

1. Swann. OK, he's a spinner, but again he plays in every format of the game and would it not be worth keeping the wear and tear on him down? He has already had an Elbow op since playing for England, so why not keep his workload down?

2. Rashid. I just think he has been utterly messed around by England in the last year or so. Why Treadwell went to Bangladesh, although good player he may be, I'll never know. England had a golden opportunity to blood a new player and find out about them in a test match situation in advance of the big series coming up at the end of the year. And again now, I'd be resting Swann and giving Rashid a go. Again why Panesar, who looks pretty ordinary played in the Lions game is anyone's guess. Unless there is a major discovery in the spinning ranks this summer (Dawson? Wainwright? Yardy(!)), Rashid is the most likely second spinner to tour down under and we should have had a look at him, rather than god forbid, Swann get injured and he's chucked in at the deep end of the MCG or SCG.

That said, I think England will have a pretty easy time against Bangladesh, and I would expect two thumping wins.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The World T20 in Numbers......

Consider these statistics.

Best Bowling....4-18 vs Bang by "Dirty" Dirk Nannes (Aus)

Most Runs....302 by Mahela Jayawardene (SL)

Highest Score 101 by Suresh Raina (IND)

Most Wickets....14 Dirty Dirk again

Best Bowling Average...7.83 D Hussey (AUS)

Best Batting Average...94.00 M Hussey (AUS)

Most Sixes.....12...Cameron "Dont call me Craig" White (AUS)

Best Batting Strike Rate (Min 50 Runs)....188 @ 175 runs per hundred balls.. M Hussey

Best Econ Bowling (min 8 overs) G Dockrell (IRE) 8 overs @ 4.37 rpo.

So You can see, without one name amongst the leading performers, England were completely terrible in yet another world tournament.


Sunday, 16 May 2010

How England won the World T20 The recipe for success.

Well Well Well.

A month or so ago, I looked at the England side due to go and play in the West Indies in the Third ICC T20 world cup. For the record, I questioned the logic behind this tournament taking place with the international schedule so packed, and just ten months after the last tournament in England.

However, I stand corrected, and not just because England won. The cricket played was exciting, high quality and showed up the IPL as a low rent imitation. International T20 cricket has come of age in this tournament. Whilst this probably means there were no upsets, the cricket has largely been excellent. Well, except for some of the fielding.

I thought England's selection to be bold, with Flower taking note of the England Lions who had impressed and adding them to his names he already had pencilled in. I thought the team had huge potential but I couldn't bring myself to say that England could win. Somewhere the talent would not shine through, they would crumble chasing scores, or they would be undone by a mystery spinner. But win they did, and here, whilst no doubt the team are still drinking into the night, are my thoughts on they key elements.

1. The First Six Overs.

Quite simply England took full advantage, and, other than a weak showing against Ireland, they were usually in a dominant position by the time the field went back. Kieswetter and Lumb didnt make big runs (Until Kieswetter made 50 in the final), but they took the pressure off Pietersen and the middle order. Likewise, England's seamers were never built up to the same degree as Australia's much vaunted trio, yet were usually effective at keeping the opposition behind the rate in the first six.

2. Spin Spin Sugar.

Before the tournament, if you had asked who the leading spinners would be, you would have looked at the mystery spinners like Mendis, or indeed Harby, or in fact anywhere but Hove, Sussex. The combination of Michael Yardy's near-medium paced left arm, and Swann's flighted and intelligent off-spin was excellent, keeping it tight, and taking key wickets. An inspired selection from left field, and a quality bowler in all formats of the game.

3. Plan A.

England played their cricket with a clear plan in place, which, was based on their strengths as a team, rather than worrying about the threat posed by their opponents. The basics of this plan were so good, that very rarely did England have to resort to Plan B. Collingwood only needed to bowl himself for one over during the whole competition. Likewise, when Yardy finally took some tap in the final, Collingwood called up Luke Wright for his only over in two weeks. It went for just 5 runs, and included the wicket of the dangerous Cameron White.

4. Strength in Depth

Many of the teams that fell by the wayside were guilty of only being successful if their gun players fired. For Sri Lanka, this meant Jayawardena had to get runs, likewise Chris Gayle for the West Indies. Although England had their stars, they also had players capable of filling the breach. As mentioned above, England hardly bowled Collingwodd or Wright, and found useful late order runs from Wright and Bresnan when required.

This was in essence the difference between the two teams that contested the final. Whilst Australia arguably had a stronger late middle order, England played five specialist bowlers, and had two more good options should they be needed. Australia had basically three bowlers, some part timers, and Shane Watson, who bowled dross throughout. (went at 10 an over during the competition). Australia's powerful batting got them out of jail against the lesser teams, but England, for once did not take their foot off once they had got their noses in front.

5. Form is Temporary.

Lucky for England then, that their star batsman, KP, was consistently on form in virtually every game. KP usually has an off game, or a scratchy start somewhere, but I felt he could be relied on for runs, and, with Eoin Morgan, formed a destructive pair with very contrasting styles that made them difficult to bowl to.

Overall England were the side with the superior tactics and players and deservedly ran out winners. Andy Flower must be given the utmost credit. What will now be interesting is to see what happens when sides are picked for 50 overs cricket. The winning spirit from this side is something I am sure they would like to bottle, but, and here's the thing..who will be dropped to make way for Andrew Strauss, the England Captain?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Things we have learned from the T20 so far.

We have another international T20 tournament to decide the world's finest teams, just ten months after the last one, and hot on the heels of the IPL, which was, even to the die-hard cricket fan like me, too bloody long.

Anyway, I have been following most of the games with interest, via online highlights, radio (when in car), cricinfo and via the guys and gals at

This is what I think we have learned so far from this tournament.

1. That 10 months is a long time in T20 Cricket

A period of dominance in test cricket, like the Windies in the late 70's and 80's, usually lasts for about 10-15 years. (most of England's periods like this, sadly, pre-date me) Well, T20 is, to say the least, a bit more fluid. In the tournament in England last year, Pakistan won, yet this time round, unsurprisingly, given their recent turmoil, they have been poor so far. They were joined in the Semi finals in 2009 by Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa. As the Super 8 tables sit at the moment, there will be at least two of these four teams missing out on the semi's.

Oh, and 10 months ago, Dirk Nannes was still a Dutchman.

2. That the IPL counts for very little.

India came into this tournament as one of the favourites, on the basis of the experience that their team has had in playing T20 cricket (for forever it seems) in the IPL. But it is encouraging to see that the gap between international and club cricket still exists even in the shortest form of the game. In the IPL, the "gun" fast bowler could be seen off or was ineffective due to the placid nature of the pitch, whereas India have had little answer to either the pace attacks of Australia or the relatively more modest bowlers of the West Indies.

That India were therefore favoured for this tournament is like saying with 40,000+ first class runs Graeme Hick's experience would be ideal for Test Matches.

Likewise, too many of the IPL games showed up a lack of depth in the teams. Games were over for the chasing team once the fifth wicket (usually when the overseas batsmen) were dismissed, and then the last 5 overs were painful to watch. Australia yesterday dug themselves deep into the shit at 67/5 after 11 overs, and with 3 still to be bowled by Malinga. Cameron White's knock was brutal, and doubly effective as Sri Lanka didn't see it coming. Hardly the ideal mindset to go out and bat against Nannes, Tait and Johnson. It is this depth of talent in the lower order (England have it, SA have it, and the West Indies think they have it with Pollard) that widens the gap.

3. That Catches win matches

Its no coincidence that the sides in the ascendancy at this competition are those who have shown the greatest skill with their ground fielding and catching. SA, Aus and England have taken some blinding catches, but some teams have been bloody awful, to be frank. None more so than Saeed Ajmal, who dropped three easy catches against England within the first five overs. The West Indies have also been shambolic at times.

4. Duckworth Lewis doesn't work in T20 cricket

It doesnt matter that Duckworth has slated Colly about whinging and defended his system, anyone who has a feel for cricket and a feel for numbers will tell you that the 50 over rain rules can not be applied to T20. The progress of Windies in chasing their total was assessed after just a few balls of their reply. This is clearly not a good guide, otherwise if the first ball of a T20 game goes for six then we are saying that the side will finish on 720/0. So far the highest scores have been 200 and something. So this is clearly nonsense.

With ten or even nine wickets in hand the chasing team can bat risk free towards whatever target is set based upon the run rate and the position after only one or two overs of their reply.
We risk games being won on the toss of a coin should it look a bit grim over Bill's Mothers'.

5. That England have found a winning formula

The rain debacle with WI and slight wobble against Ireland aside, England have so far suprised many people, including myself. After switching around so much between their usual nucleus of players, and the bits and pieces dobbers, England seem to have recognised T20 as a valid form of the game and have gone about constructing a stable side to met the requirements.

One could argue that the IPL did do us a favour in highlighting the talent of Michael Lumb. I'm not sure he was on the radar before then. Although Lumb and Kieswetter have not made big scores their impact in the first six overs has been tangible. The differences between the side 10 months ago and now are subtle but significant. Luke Wright has been given a role of late order hitter which is much better suited to him, Morgan and Pietersen have been excellent, and the star bowler for me has been.....Sussex's opening batsman Michael Yardy. (No Really).

The difference to me is also in the planning - I looked at the scorecards from the last T20 WC and couldnt believe England had Rob Key coming in at 7. Why? At long last England have found some consistency in the shorter form of the game, lets hope they stick with it.

6. Finally if aliens landed...

When the little green men are having their tour of earth, shortly before making us their slaves, and they want to know what is meant by "shadow of your former self", I'll sit them down to watch the start of Sri Lanka's innings against Australia last night or more specifically, that of Sanath Jayasuriya.

The 1996 World Cup and ODI cricket thereafter was transformed by this wiry, balding guy with shot-putter's forearms and an unerring ability to put the ball out of the park over point or deep midwicket seemingly at will. How sad it was to see him scratch around against Australia's pacemen, gamely trying to have the same impact, but probably even knowing himself that this was a tournament too far.

Sanath needs to take note from his contemporaries, like Matty Hayden. Old destructive opening bats don't retire. They go to Chennai, and whack it around with a cross between a cricket bat and a billy club.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Broadly Speaking......

...or One Spell does not a Cricketing Career make..

Following the cricket from Bangladesh recently, I have started to get a little tired of some of Stuart Broad's antics and mannerisms. Firstly when he got a wicket in the first test, to not appeal to the umpire, (even though it was stone dead plumb) was in itself discourteous but is also characteristic of how Broad generally carries himself at present. I just don't think that the level of arrogance and petulance at times is worthy of his level of performance.

Although the pitches are admittedly not conducive to fast bowling, Broad is averaging 51 runs per Bangladeshi wicket so far in this series. Bresnan, the inexperienced test cricketer is averaging 32 and Finn 52. Broad has been smirking and staring at the batsmen as if it is all coming a bit too easy for England. The current parlous state in which England find themselves begs to differ.

Personally, I don't feel he has any reason to feel superior to any of the Bangladeshi batsmen, who have taken so far 400+ runs off the attack of which he is the most senior bowler. In this game the pitch has been unhelpful but he has been very inconsistent in line and length. He also seems to be bowling bouncers, attempted yorkers and slower balls in every over. And these are interspersed with long hops outside off and leg-stump half volleys which have been summarily despatched. And all followed with a look from Broad as if its some sort of fluke.

I'd like nothing more than for Broad to convert his obvious promise with the ball into consistent performances for England. Were it not for the fact that for some reason the England management think they have unearthed a Test Match no.7 then I think he would have spent a few less games in the side, like Jimmy Anderson in his early career. However, I think in order to become a consistent performer for England, Broad will need to stop thinking that he is the finished article thanks to one good spell of bowling in the Ashes last summer.

Maybe the tap he is getting from the Bangladeshi batsmen will help Broad come to his senses and realise that Glenn McGrath got most of his wickets caught behind or at slip, by bowling at the "fourth stump" at around 80-82mph and not giving the batsmen anything to hit. When Broad averages 21 instead of 35 and has an economy rate of below 3 runs an over I think he can probably start to justify the odd chirp here and there.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Road Survey

The main roundabout in town today made me think.

I drove the children to school, came home, did the return journey later and then drove our other car over to the garage we use for its service/MoT/Brakes etc.

Every time the retired army of fluorescent jackets sat in deck chairs all day would have clicked or noted a button or something.

Which tells us what? That at 8-9am, and from 3-30 until 5 the main roundabout next to the hospital in Eastbourne, which is pretty unavoidable, is really really busy.

This made me think of two things. What are they going to do with this data? Yes its really really busy, but there isn't room for an alternative stretch of road to take the burden off this area. Oh, and please tell me we are not going to have to put traffic lights on a roundabout. That will really sort it out. Just give way to the right, how hard can it be?

But, here is the real point. When I retire, I will have spent forty years fighting through the traffic every morning and evening. If anyone catches my in a fluorescent jacket counting the miserable fuckers who still have to do it every day, with my Thermos and deck chair, then please take me outside and put me out of my misery. At least do it as revenge for all of the traffic lights that my data will have caused you to endure.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

IPL for the purist...surely not?

Hi. This is my first Blog. A little nervous ridiculous. Anyway, thought I'd start a blog to muse about Cricket, Music, modern life and whatever I see and hear whilst I moto around the South Eastern corner of our green and pleasant land.

This year, thanks to ITV4, is the first year I have watched any of the brand of Cricket served up by the IPL. And to be fair, I have seen a lot of negatives written about the tournament and its rather overt commercialism. But I have seen quite a few encouraging positives too.

First things first. I consider myself a knowledgeable and committed cricket fan. I have played to a decent club standard in my time (and once sledged Marcus Trescothick....!) and have followed cricket since the mid 1980's - the Ashes in '87 aside, a pretty grim time for England it was too.

All this means my first love is test match cricket, and always will be. Very few ODI's stick in the memory, and I'd take one ashes series over a dozen world cups. But generally I love the game in all its forms.

Therefore I am presented with some FREE cricket on my television courtesy of the IPL. I dont have Sky Sports, I dont follow any other sports so I can't justify the monthly cost from our family budget. Anyway, I find TMS on Radio 4 immensely enjoyable and if I am honest, there is something that appeals to me in that I listen to a LW radio station that breaks for Prayers, Parliament and the Shipping Forecast in the age of the Internet.

So ITV4 are broadcasting this glitzy tournament and for me to have some free-to-air cricket is a massive plus. And to be fair, what I have seen so far has been pretty good. Well aside from the excruciating links. Poor Graeme Hick and Embers. The criciticism I have seen is that the tournament is a slog fest and is overly commercial - the renaming of sixes as a "DLF Maximum" and so on.

Well, despite my position as a test match purist of sorts, I beg to differ. I think we can look past some of these obvious commercialisms to see some pretty good cricket. Aside from Yusuf Pathan whacking a 37-ball hundred, the leading batsmen so far in this tournament have been Ravi Bopara and Jacques Kallis. Fair enough we are only two games in, but these are not sloggers. Bopara has played attractive wristy, but orthodox shots and Kallis has seemingly shaken his stodgy reputation and has looked to find the gaps. Neither of them has been seen playing the Switch Hit or the Scoop. The bowling too has been interesting, with swing and seam movement, and a number of leggies and offies on show.

The other major plus for me is seeing the major stars of world cricket, and some of the up and coming players especially Eoin Morgan, who has had a fantastic start to his international career.

I think the IPL is of benefit to world cricket, and may in fact help preserve test cricket for the fans like me who cherish the form of the game still played in whites. By grabbing the casual fan, hopefully there will be a greater fan base and finances to allow test cricket to continue.

Take Rugby. I'm a casual rugby fan, I like watching the game when I can. But I only played a little and I don't fully understand every technical nuance. So when its a backs-dominated, attritional game then I get a little disinterested that I cant see the ball, and there's no running or passing.

Now think about England against Bangladesh in this week's test match. Starting at 3:30am for English fans, this was a one-sided affair on a flat pitch, which, once England had scored 374/3 at the end of the first day, was pretty much an assured win for England. The fifth day saw a morning session with 80 runs from 30 overs, and no wickets. Still fascinating for the enthusiast, but not the greatest spectacle for the casual sports fan who is likely to want to see wickets tumbling and some boundaries.

So, fair play to ITV for giving cricket some vital free-to-air exposure. Had the BBC not shown cricket in the 80's I would never have been hooked in. And just maybe, the IPL and 20/20 cricket in general can have a role in preserving the game I love and not endangering its existence as the naysayers have stated previously. I for one will watch with interest.