Sachin A Billion Dreams film review

You could sit Sachin Tendulkar down at a desk in front of a single camera, get him to read from the telephone book for six hours and it would be a box-office smash. Thankfully director James Erskine and the producers of “Sachin: A Billion Dreams” have more respect for both their subject and the filmgoing public in this entertaining 139 minute documentary on India’s most loved sportsperson and greatest cricketer. Continue reading “Sachin A Billion Dreams film review”

Taking the game backwards

Recently an email arrived in my inbox from the World Baseball Softball Confederation. It was telling me all about a new logo for the Under-12 Baseball World Cup. They’re playing in Taiwan this July, twelve teams, every continent represented. It’s the fourth time the WBSC has staged this biennial global event for the world’s best 11 and 12 year-old baseball players.

Just over three months ago, Papua New Guinea played host to the FIFA Under-20 Womens World Cup. Sixteen nations competing over a fortnight in four stadia with a full house for the final.

Cricket, meanwhile?

No thought of international under-12 competition, let alone anything resembling a Little League World Series. Players in the last global under-15 tournament would be 32 this year. Age-group womens events are not even a blip on the horizon, and only in the past year has PNG had even one cricket arena of sufficient standard to host international games on home soil.

The World Cricket League has contracted from eight divisions to five. Global qualifying tournaments for the Under-19 World Cup have been dispensed with. The ICC’s flagship event – the men’s 50-over-per-side World Cup, has (after much resistance) been reduced to a ten-team round-robin in 2019 at the insistence of media rights holders, scared of letting lesser quality teams dilute their compelling TV content.

While baseball and softball went to enormous lengths to restructure their organisations to win re-entry to the Olympic Games, cricket still murmurs occasionally how nice it would be to take part, and then does nothing about it. Cricket appears set to be cut from the Asian Games in 2018 while the prospect of even a women’s event in the Commonwealth Games looks shaky with the axing of Durban as 2022 host city.

Since the International Cricket Council’s controversial revenue-sharing restructure in 2014, which essentially shared revenue back towards the three wealthiest members (India, England and Australia), international cricket competition has actually gone backwards on a global scale.

This year, the ICC was making serious noises about reversing that outrageous financial model skewed in favour of “The Big 3”. Those moves have been placed in jeopardy following the sudden resignation of ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar, who had been a fearless champion of ICC reform. Whatever the circumstances of Manohar’s departure – and the chronological order of events in the preceding days does raise some eyebrows – all will not be lost provided the ICC can find a strong independent chair to take Manohar’s place.

Outcry that the ICC is about to strip India dry of much-needed money is both wrong and laughable. What ever the revenue sharing model finally settled by the ICC, there is no doubt that India is entitled to the largest proportionate return, on the basis of its participant population (players and support volunteers of various nature) and on the size of its economic input to the sport.

The question, and perhaps haggling point, is how much that return should be. However, there can be no doubt that India will, and must, be a nett exporter of revenue to the ICC if the sport of cricket is to be a mature leader on the world stage. As a developing global sport it still has a long way to go.

The BCCI’s committee of administrators, now as much as ever, has a fiduciary duty to its board and its members to negotiate the fairest deal for itself with the ICC. But it also has the responsibility to accept its place in the world and get on with improving the productiveness of its own, often dysfunctional, organisation. Indian cricket won’t go broke unless its own administrators are so incompetent as to let that happen.

The streaker has struck and we return to the cricket

Michael Angelow achieved notoriety over forty years ago when he ran naked across Lord’s Cricket Ground, hurdling the stumps along the way, in the middle of an England versus Australia Test match in the glare of live television, er, exposure.

Angelow is often regarded as cricket’s first streaker, but there was at least one earlier televised instance of an unclad pitch invasion. I know this because I was watching at the time. To my knowledge there is no other record of this incident anywhere on the internet.

The date was Saturday February 1, 1975, the match between England’s touring team (called MCC as they actually organised all touring England teams in those days) and the Northern New South Wales XI, played at Newcastle’s poetically-named No.1 Sportsground. The local TV station NBN3 was broadcasting the entire game to its regional viewing area. To be honest there wouldn’t have been many people watching.

Mid-afternoon of that Saturday, the first day of a three-day match. Northern NSW was batting. I can recall no details of the play these days except for the sudden appearance of a naked backside on my black-and-white screen. (Colour TV being one month away from introduction in Australia.) The NBN camera stayed focused on No.1’s nude patron as he ran to the far side of the ground, jumped the fence, and disappeared up the hill.

NBN’s commentator, the legendary Noel Harrison, said nothing – lost for words maybe – but finally broke his silence in his inimitable deep laconic style (think Dennis Cometti at half speed): “The streaker has struck and we return to the cricket.”

As far as I am aware the streaker got away scot free. The MCC, captained by Tony Greig, won the game late on the third day.

Peter Handscomb after scoring his career-best 215 for Victoria

Peter Handscomb after completing 215 for Victoria against New South Wales. #SheffieldShield #NSWvVic #SCG

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Peter Handscomb leaving the field at the Sydney Cricket Ground on November 18 after completing his highest first-class score of 215 for Victoria against New South Wales. It was this innings that sealed his selection for Australia in the Adelaide Test team against South Africa. Photo: Rick Eyre

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2015: A year in cricket (or at least the start of it)

January 1, Kirribilli House, Sydney. Two of these three men still had their job at the end of the year:

Now we have the entire Australian eleven in shot. #AusvInd #Cricket

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While you sleep, I train. While you eat, I train. While you party, I train. February 21 is my goal!

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Clive Rice and the game when he was the best of the best

Clive Rice has died at the age of 66 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was one of cricket’s greatest all-rounders in an era – the mid-seventies to early-nineties – of truly great all-rounders. But unlike Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee, Rice’s achievements register barely a blip on the international cricket radar. Continue reading “Clive Rice and the game when he was the best of the best”

Cricket in the Olympics? (1996 edition)

Cricket has made just one appearance in Olympic competition, in the second games of the modern olympiad, held in Paris in 1900. Continue reading “Cricket in the Olympics? (1996 edition)”

Cricket in the Olympics? (1996 edition revisited)

Cricket has made just one appearance in Olympic competition, in the second games of the modern olympiad, held in Paris in 1900.

Continue reading “Cricket in the Olympics? (1996 edition revisited)”

Buck Rogers in the Seventh Half Century

When Chris Rogers was dismissed for 95 on Day Two of the Cardiff Test he achieved a new world record… the first player in the history of Test cricket for pass 50 in seven consecutive innings without converting for a 100.
Continue reading “Buck Rogers in the Seventh Half Century”