A hundred

The Hundred is a camel designed by a Horse Committee. A Horse Committee specially convened despite all the perfectly fine thoroughbreds grazing the paddock. 

A contrivance, built on the run by an organisation that got it right sixteen years ago, with what we now call the T20 Blast, but decided they wanted more. And a contrivance that had to be different for the necessity of it being different if it was going to exist. 

A development process that looks from the outside like it was written for a Project Management How Not-To Manual. A program in which participation by female cricketers seems to have been an afterthought which still hasn’t been fully fleshed out. 

There are many reasons why I believe The Hundred should never have happened. But it is happening. The teams are created, the coaching staff hired, many of the players drafted. The sponsors – all brand names of one “snack food” manufacturer – have been announced, as have the team kits which look deliberately like said snack food wrappers.  

The rules of The Hundred may or may not be so simple that “mums and kids” (shorthand, presumably, for “Grocery Shopper With Child”) can understand them. I am sceptical that they will be. Every aspect of The Hundred can almost be visualised by the scribble on the whiteboard upon which they surely were invented. 

I am sceptical about The Hundred’s entire Reason For Being. But now it’s time to move forward. The ECB has staked so heavily on The Hundred that it is entering the Too Big To Fail category. But even if this brave new Cricket-As-Game-Show is a success, and by whichever metric is convenient on the day it surely will be, will the rest of English cricket flourish along with it? 

What of the eighteen-team major county system? What of equal playing opportunity for women at county level and above? What of the T20 Blast? What of England’s competitiveness in fifty and twenty-over World Cups? What of the kids? 

I look forward in the coming years to new and exciting creations from the ECB’s Horse Committee. 

The Seventh Test Sydney 1971

On Wednesday August 1 2018 at Edgbaston an England team walks on the field to begin a Test match for the 1000th time.

Among the reflections, the listicles and the shallow on-line polls, people have been choosing their greatest and/or favourite Test matches of the previous 999 (actually 1004 if you count washouts and cancellations). Headingley 1981 and Edgbaston 2005 are both, quite rightly, very popular selections. Lack of television footage and eyewitness recollections from The Oval 1882 have prevented it from polling as high.

I’ve chosen a different Test as a personal favourite, an eventful match that occupies a seminal place in England’s Test cricket history. I give you 1970-71’s Seventh Test against Australia.

Continue reading “The Seventh Test Sydney 1971”

The grim trial of strength that went mainstream: women’s Test cricket

Before the Australian women’s cricket team played their touring England counterparts in Brisbane in December 1934, the following directive appeared in the Courier Mail:

Excerpt Courier Mail 28 Dec 1934
“The word “test” must not be applied to any of these games, for both the Australian council and the English team refuse to associate with the games any suggestion of the grim trial of strength which the term applies.”

 

No one in the press or elsewhere paid any attention to this instruction, and the first women’s Test match concluded at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground on New Year’s Eve 1934, the visiting English winning by nine wickets.

It’s taken 83 years for Australia and England to come together for their 49th women’s Test (plus one washed out), and their four-day meeting at North Sydney Oval beginning on Thursday 9 November 2017 was a special occasion as the first to be played as a day-night fixture. Continue reading “The grim trial of strength that went mainstream: women’s Test cricket”

A bit of light reading about the 1999-2000 England womens tour

England’s women’s cricket team headed to the Antipodes in January 2000 to play one-day internationals in Australia and New Zealand. By the time they were ready to head east across the Tasman, England had lost the ODI series to Australia 0-4 and Karen Smithies had resigned as captain.

Working for Cricinfo at the time I covered every ODI of the Australian leg of the tour, and I believe I have the only comprehensive documentation of these games. Continue reading “A bit of light reading about the 1999-2000 England womens tour”

Today In Cricket History July 31

July 31, 2017: Moeen Ali takes a hat-trick with the final three deliveries of The Oval Test to give England victory by 239 runs. Here’s the hat-trick ball:

ICC Womens Cricket World Cup Final 2017, England v India

Highlights from the final of the eleventh Womens Cricket World Cup

Continue reading “ICC Womens Cricket World Cup Final 2017, England v India”

Trevor Bayliss, head coach of England

Trevor Bayliss is one of those rare breed of New South Wales cricketers – one who never seriously threatened for Australian selection! A consistent batsman in Sheffield Shield cricket over a number of years while the Waughs, Taylors and Bevans were spending much of their time away on Test or one-day duty.

Continue reading “Trevor Bayliss, head coach of England”

Eng-ger-land…. sigh

“The performance in the Ashes series has been a great disappointment and a number of lessons must be learned. This review will be comprehensive and broad ranging with the clear objective of regaining the Ashes in 2009 and significantly improving England’s results in one-day international cricket in the next four year cycle.”

– ECB chief executive David Collier, 5.1.07

So there you have it. The England and Wales Cricket Board announced yesterday that they will arrange a board meeting to discuss the process for forming the composition of a review team to examine England’s performances over the last few years and [complete this sentence in 25 words or more]. Continue reading “Eng-ger-land…. sigh”

A great English victory beckons

Something I thought I would never see, well not in this decade anyway, appears to be unfolding at New Road, Worcester, today.

It’s lunch on Day Three of the Second Women’s Test between England and Australia. The visitors made 131 in their first innings. England, after being 227 for 9 at the close of the second day, advanced to 289 all out. Australia faced sixteen overs before lunch. They are currently 13 for 3. Continue reading “A great English victory beckons”

Worcester Test Day One

Nothing will stop me from cursing the England and Wales Cricket Board for their counterproductive policy of scheduling women’s tours simultaneously with the men. There’s an important, indeed, sudden-death women’s Test match going on at New Road, Worcester which is being totally eclipsed for media attention by the most riveting men’s Ashes series in almost a quarter of a century. Continue reading “Worcester Test Day One”