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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Recent cricket blunders #3: Lawson's outburst

I'd read about Geoff Lawson's media conference outburst on Cricinfo, but it wasn't until I saw footage of it on today's ABC TV Offsidersthat I realised how boorish and culturally insensitive it was.

Not surprisingly, the video has been posted on YouTube several times: eg here.

Lawson has subsequently apologised but the incident unfortunately will not be forgotten by many people for a long time.

Recent cricket blunders #2: retaining Zimbabwe as full ICC member

Zimbabwe has retained full membership of the ICC despite a palpably low playing standard, a lack of financial transparency and allegations of strong political interference (eg all players need to be members of the ZANU- PF party).

Cricinfo reports:

After weeks of backroom manoeuvring and two days of boardroom negotiations, the Zimbabwe issue was resolved with a compromise that sees them pulling out of the 2009 World Twenty20 in England yet retaining their Full Member status with access to full funding from the ICC.

Zimbabwe, whose decision to pull out from the World Twenty20 cleared the roadblock for the competition to be staged in England, will receive its full participation fee for the tournament. The scenario prompted Ray Mali, whose term as ICC president ended today, to call it a "win-win solution".

"We have decided to pull out in the larger interests of the game," Peter Chingoka, the chairman of Zimbabwe Cricket, told Cricinfo. "We have been informed that the British government may not grant visas to our players, and that situation may prevail during the Twenty20 World Cup. We don't want to be gatecrashers; we will attend only those weddings to which we are invited."


Martin Williamson of Cricinfo comments:

Anyone who believes that Zimbabwe Cricket withdrew from the World Twenty20 "in the interest of the game" probably believes in Santa Claus. Backed into a corner that even its protecting angels within the ICC could not get it out of, there was little choice. When Peter Chingoka, the man who has come to personify Zimbabwe Cricket said, "We don't want to gatecrash where we are not welcome," it was hard to keep a straight face.

Many argue the Zimbabwe Cricket board has never acted in the interests of cricket either inside or outside the country. Chingoka's bleating that the ICC could not expel Zimbabwe because it was against its own rules would have drawn more than a few wry smiles back home, coming from a man who utterly shredded his own board's constitution two years ago to ensure his own survival.

And that's what the decision today is all about - survival. The end result is a compromise that does little to help cricket inside Zimbabwe, and further tarnishes the already battered image of the ICC.

Ian Chappell, also on Cricinfo, concurs:

The ICC must believe it's possible to fool all of the people all of the time judging by their outlandish performance at the latest executive board meeting.

When Zimbabwe arrived for the ICC meeting, their two priorities would have been to retain their elite status vote and keep their full share of the ICC monies. Amazingly for a cricket body that has been under a cloud for the way it has administered the game and handled finances, Zimbabwe Cricket extracted exactly those promises from the meeting, and in addition they don't have to perform to get paid.

As does Malcolm Conn in The Weekend Australian :

The standard of cricket in Zimbabwe has fallen so badly that it was forced to withdraw from Test cricket three years ago, although Zimbabwe and the ICC still claim the exit was "voluntary".

Its one-day team is so bad it is ranked below Ireland in 11th place on the ICC's one-day table. New Zealand beat Ireland by a record 290 runs last Tuesday.

Despite this the ICC continues to pour millions of dollars into Zimbabwe.

There are serious questions about where the money ends up, with cricket at all levels in Zimbabwe destroyed and the administration closely aligned to dictator Robert Mugabe.

One frustrated member of the cricket establishment yesterday told The Australian: "The ICC should just write out a cheque for $10m to Mugabe."

Zimbabwe received about that amount for its feeble participation in last year's World Cup.

The millions Zimbabwe receives from the ICC is largely unaccounted for but two audits revealed damning accounting irregularities with the ZC finances.

The ICC suppressed the audits and dumped chief executive Malcolm Speed for attempting to bring Zimbabwe to account.

Australia opposed Zimbabwe continuing as a full ICC member and, according to sources in Dubai, was "very unhappy" with the ICC's unlawful decision to change Pakistan's 2006 forfeit against England to a draw.

Recent cricket blunders #1: changing Test result


The ICC has changed the result of a 2006 England - Pakistan Test match from an England win to a draw.

In my opinion, and that of several better qualified judges than me, eg Michael Holding this is a gross mistake. Not only does it further undermine the authority of match officials but it sets a very shaky
precedent for the future.

The scorecard, with the amended result, is here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

South Australian stalwart turns 80

Alan Shiell in The Independent Weekly pays tribute to a well known South Australian cricketer and administrator, Neil "Nodda" Dansie, who turns 80 tomorrow.

Shiell, who would have played in South Australian teams with Dansie in the 1960s,relates a couple of interesting anecdotes and is spot on in his description of the latter's batting style:

As a young batsman with Kensington in district (now grade) cricket, he played with Clarrie Grimmett and Don Bradman - and, indeed, was batting at the other end when Bradman played his final innings for Kensington, against Port Adelaide at Alberton Oval in January, 1949.

"I made 22 but I never faced a ball in the first six overs," Dansie recalled. "Bradman made 38. He was caught behind off Maurie Roberts, an off-spinner, off the first ball after a drinks break. The big crowd booed the umpire and promptly adjourned to the Alberton Hotel."

.....

Dansie's involvement with the SA Cricket Association spans 65 years, from his early days with Kensington to now as a selector for the SACA's under-age squads (13s, 15s, 17s and 19s) and the Scorpions (women).

He remains optimistic about the Redbacks' future because he says "we have some good young kids coming through". "These things go in cycles," he says. "When I first played for SA we used to field for two days and then have two hits."

Dansie was a state cricket selector for 30 years and was on the SACA board for 25 years. The SACA honoured "Nodda" and his late, great mate Les Favell with the naming of the Favell-Dansie Indoor Centre at the southern end of Adelaide Oval, behind the Sir Donald Bradman Stand.

It is as a player - a hard-hitting batsman with a liking for the pull, sweep and cut shots and a steady off-spin and leg-spin bowler - that he will be most remembered. He scored 7543 runs (average 34.44) and took 90 wickets (av. 33.31) in 124 first-class matches for SA from 1949 to 1967.

'Nodda" was always one of the great characters of the SA players' dressing room, apart from being the world's fastest eater. Batting at No. 5 or No. 6, he used to get under Ian Chappell's skin by putting on his thigh pad and protector while the opening batsmen and Chappell, to go in at No. 3, were putting on their pads and other gear. 'Nodda' simply wanted to be ready to go, but Chappell saw it as a lack of confidence in the top-order batsmen, especially himself.

Happy birthday, Nodder (which until now I'd always thought was the correct spelling of his soubriquet).