The Sunday Leader

Cricket Committee Proves More Inept Than Toothless ICC

By The Scorer

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has often been derided as ‘toothless” and “spineless” for its inability to provide the strong leadership and guidance necessary in the administration of world cricket and therefore it should be no surprise that its cricket committee operates in the same inept manner.

The ICC Cricket Committee

At their recent meeting, one of the key recommendations of the cricket committee was the suggestion to make it mandatory for all full member nations to play a minimum number of tests per year. This was an extremely welcome decision and one that was necessary to restore the primacy of test cricket which has gradually lost out big time to all the shorter slam-bang versions of the game.

However, in a most disappointing and paradoxical act they undermined their own laudable intention by setting a very low minimum number of just FOUR tests per year for all countries to play. What on earth were they thinking? Didn’t they do at least a little homework prior to arriving at this number? Had they done so they would have noted that all full member countries played a minimum number of EIGHT tests over the last few years and yet that was clearly not enough!

If their desire was intended to restore test cricket to its rightful place at the pinnacle of the sport then they should have set their sights on a far higher and yet practical level. A minimum of NINE tests should have been the basis of any discussion on the issue. This would allow for at least three three-test series.

The cricket committee should have also looked into other allied issues with test cricket and test series between countries and taken steps to ban all ‘two-test series’ and insist that any series should consist of a minimum of three tests.
South Africa’s star fast bowler Dale Steyn once spoke of his disappointment that Australia and South Africa – the top two teams in test cricket – figured in only a two-test contest. The bowler was quoted as saying his family went on vacation for longer periods than the test series was going to last.

Traditional iconic series like the ’Ashes’ could continue to be five-test contests but not at the expense of other countries getting shortchanged into two-test series. Similarly there are some four-test series also in vogue and these too should be permitted provided these countries honour their commitment of playing three-tests series against all other countries including the minnows.

Strong punitive action should be taken against any country reneging on previously agreed and committed tests series. The ICC should also ensure that it is in control all the time and any bilateral negotiations between countries on test matches should not be allowed. If any rescheduling of the Future Tours Programme (FTP) needs to be done owing to exceptional circumstances, then those negotiations must take place only through ICC mediation.

Sri Lanka was one of the biggest culprits when earlier this year they literally cashed in a three-test series against the West Indies and opted for a more lucrative one-day triangular series with India as the third team. The cash-strapped Sri Lanka Cricket board also preferred to give up the chance of hosting a three-test series against the number one test team South Africa and threw away a golden opportunity to really prove our worth in test cricket. The South Africans will now travel to Sri Lanka in July to play a meaningless one-day series – a few weeks after the conclusion of the ICC Champions Trophy one-day series.

Rugby Referee Banned – No Further Action?

Schools rugby has hit a new low this year with the wide prevalence of thuggery at quite a few of the games. Most of the physical attacks have been directed at those officiating at matches involving certain schools who play with a “win at any cost” attitude.

The Referees Society has had its hands full trying to cope with all the off-field incidents and has on several occasions decided to refuse to assign referees and other officials to some school matches unless it has a guarantee from the host school on their safety.

What is even more disappointing is the overall standard of refereeing at some of these matches and one wonders whether there are other issues at stake and whether some of the officials are now pawns in the hands of people with powerful connections.

The Royal – Isipathana match is a classic example of this scenario where the Royal team staged a walk out in protest at Isipathana’s tactics of going for the man and not the ball.

The Royalists were at the receiving end of a litany of dirty tactics from their opponents which included eye-gouging – an offence that could result in a minimum ban of one year according to IRB regulations.

The restraint shown by the Royalists has been applauded – although the reason for it could be that they feared that any retaliation would have been spotted by the referee (who failed to see any Isipathana offence) and any red card would have meant being banned for the next game which is every Royalists greatest dream – to play in the Bradby.

On top of not noticing any of the rough play, the referee had disallowed two perfectly legitimate tries scored by Royal which would have changed the complexion of the entire game.

Fortunately for Royal and school rugby, they had the courage to back their actions with videotaped evidence of the entire match and upon examination of the evidence the referee Pradeep Fernando was reprimanded and handed a one-year ban from refereeing by the Referees Society.

However, the matter should not end there. It is clear that the referee’s actions during the game were not due to incompetency but he was clearly biased towards one side. Incompetency would have affected both teams equally but that was clearly not the case.

It is therefore absolutely necessary that the authorities conduct further inquiries into this issue and ascertain what motivated the referee to act in this manner. Who instructed him to do so? What rewards did he receive for his effort? What was the ultimate object of the person/s pulling the strings? We could all well be sitting on a time bomb here.

The Bradby Shield – A Breath Of Fresh Air

All is not lost for Schools rugby in the country – the first leg of the Bradby Shield played last week in Kandy was like a breath of fresh air amongst all the foul odor of the season.

Royal College and their arch rivals Trinity College engaged in a wonderful display of rugby in the 69thBradby Shield encounter. The players from both sides played hard and yet clean rugby in the best spirit of the game. A superb second half rally enabled Trinity to overhaul a 10-point deficit at half time to emerge winners by 37-25 but the result seemed less important than the camaraderie between the two sides at the post-match ceremony.
By The Scorer


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