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2017 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.

Previous Page  (The Plus Side of 2016)

Thinking of taking up bowling? - Why it's not a good idea...

Over the last several decades and with increasing intensity, life has become more difficult for bowlers.
1.   Most of you will not remember the use of uncovered wickets. In fact it would, today, seem like a pretty daft idea. The authorities, quite rightly in my view, decided that covered wickets allowed for more play and that’s what, rather obviously, both spectators and the players themselves would want.  But how did that affect the balance in the game between bat and ball? It’s a question I really don’t have to answer. When did you last hear the term “sticky dog” – indeed have you ever heard it? A very famous England batsman who made a few double centuries for his country once replied (so it's said) that his best innings was 13 at Melbourne following some rain. I doubt that was true, or even if the story is accurate, but it makes my point.
2.   More recently the Laws of the game allowed batsmen to walk to the wicket carrying a huge hunk of wood unrecognisable to those of a previous generation. We have all seen what these bats can do. Miss-hit 6s are now a common place in the men's game and while we all like to see 6s scored, should batsmen really be able to get away with claiming runs from a major error? Crowds want to see 6s we are told, and I am sure they do, at least as long as they are being scored by ‘their’ side.  I have yet to meet a supporter who relishes the thought of one of ‘their’ bowlers watching the ball sail over the third man boundary off a top edge which the batsman had intended to dispatch over mid-wicket. The bowlers stats will not distinguish between the perfectly middled shot and the top edge, now worth potentially two more runs than it used to be even when no third man was set.

[Emma Lamb] © Don Miles

Emma Lamb - notice the thickness of that bat!

3.   Recently boundaries have started to shrink. As a lad I watched county cricket often sitting by the boundary rope which would be only a few feet on from the edge of the grass. Now we have boundary boards covered with advertising and probably a row of other boards or electronic gismos inside that with the rope (or its modern equivalent) a few feet further in again in order to give fielders a ‘run off’ – one of the more sensible ‘Health & Safety’ measures at grounds today.  Boundaries have shrunk almost without anyone noticing.  But, hang on, boundary markers are still on the move! Now large areas of grass are visible between the ‘rope’ and the spectator to accommodate the rows of speakers and flame machines (or whatever the correct name for them may be).  Enough is enough you might think at this point but it seems it isn’t.  At Worcester recently summer 2016) the boundary had been moved in to the point that eyebrows were immediately raised. I heard a number of comments among watchers not familiar with the women’s game along the lines of “well, women obviously can’t hit a ball”. Fortunately the game itself showed them otherwise but many regular spectators felt uncomfortable at the spectacle. Quite a number of 6s were hit in this match – not surprisingly you might say with boundaries around the 50 yard mark* – but did that add to the match? Many would suggest it did I guess – “watchers want to see 6s” - but perhaps not the poor bowlers who suddenly found someone had moved the goal posts if you’ll forgive an expression from the less beautiful game. Was this new Kia Super League played on tiny pitches? Sadly occasionally 'yes' but many with more sensible dimensions. Surely the scores in excess of 300 by England in the recent series against Pakistan, not always made within very small boundaries, have shown it’s not necessary to reveal acres of grass been the crowd and the boundary rope to get ‘exciting’ scores.

* Boundary sizes of all sorts have been claimed recently and photographs I have taken at these venues
suggest it wiser to make your own judgement than rely on official numbers.*

[Anon Fielder]

No that's not the 12th. One Player fielding at Worcester - note the position of the boundary!

4.   And then there’s the wickets themselves. Groundsmen aim at producing pitches to produce plenty of runs because that’s what the public wants to see. Nothing wrong in that in itself. Indeed, cricket being a business like any other, giving the paying pundit what s/he wants is vital. But this isn’t going to make the life of the bowler any easier. There have been comments for some time now among the commentators on this sport – just tune in to Sky’s team or the TMS bunch – that wickets need to be cared for to produce a better balance between bat and ball. I cannot argue with that - I would favour bowlers getting a better crack of the whip.
5.   You have no doubt heard of a "Mankad". If not, then this involves the bowler running out a batsman who is trying to cheat by starting out on a run before the bowler has let go of the ball. Under the current Laws the bowler is not allowed to whip off the bails once they have entered their delivery stride.  While it's true there are rumours a change is being considered by the Laws' Committee, there's no guarantee anything will happen, giving the backing-up batsman a huge advantage. Once again it's the bowler who is penalised. My advice (and that of a former Indian player in an article recently) is run them out. I see no reason in fact to give them a warning. They know the Laws (or they should). You don't give a batsman at the other end a warning you might stump them if they drag their foot out again so why should you at the bowler's end?
6.   Should you reach a high level in the game, your own support staff will then do their best to add another hindrance. They will stick a box between your shoulder blades which is guaranteed to irritate. It is said this box will provide them with information to aid your recovery for the following day or match. Now in the women's game it is unlikely you'll be playing on the following day (how many Tests are there these days?). If anyone wants to know how much effort you have made in any match can I suggest they watch the game and look at the scorecard?  It's not exactly "rocket salad" as a favourite comedy act of mine would say. One of the finest bowlers in the game recently treated this 'box' idea with derision, saying a pineapple pizza and a couple of drinks always got him through the following day. If you ever manage figures anywhere near his you'll be a Wisden Cricketer of the Year and probably in the ICC Hall of Fame as well eventually.

[Heather Knight] © Don Miles

Note the offending item

7.    Also at this point it's quite possible you will be ushered off the pitch into a container, possibly a wheelie bin, containing ice. This is supposed to aid the recovery of your muscles, removing waste products such as lactic acid from your system. Recent research has shown you may as well have a warm bath to serve exactly the same purpose but this news hasn't reached all support staff yet. I did once see Claire Taylor revelling in some ice but she had just made a century in temperatures of 100°F (in the shade) but you won't be doing that every day, making a hundred that is let alone in those temperatures.
So, if you take my advice, put that ball down, pick up a bat, and cash in on the changes to this game that seem to be only moving  in one direction.

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Double Headers - Are they a good idea?

 

Once in a while, and only once in a while, comes an article on the 'Net that says exactly what it needs to say, and says it clearly, succinctly and to the point. It also argues a case that's hard to dispute in any of its detail.

 

Such an article is this by Raf Nicholson : "Double-headers don't help women's cricket anymore".

 

While there may be some that will think differently, I cannot see how any one of her points or her conclusion can be disputed. Email me if you feel otherwise.

 

Raf argues that a number of features of this set-up don't help its cause, including, to take just one instance, the huge gap between the women's game (sometimes 10:45 in the morning) and the guy's perhaps two hours after the women have concluded theirs. This is an example of the lack of thought sometimes associated with these events. It says a number of things which could be summed up by saying this is a "B movie - don't worry if you can't make it - the main fixture is on at <insert your own time here but leave much more than adequate time between games>". I once argued with someone (an official of the club) at a ground that has a nursery ground literally 50 yards away from the main boundary, that there was no reason why the men couldn't walk on to the pitch as the women were leaving it. He told me, rightly, that they need to warm up. I pointed to the nursery ground only to be told, "No - they must warm up on the actual pitch". I asked why but the only answer I got was "they had to". Now I know that's crazy, you know it's crazy, and I suspect he did too, but it is symptomatic of the attitude that the women's game doesn't really matter. We have to humour them but there's no need to make any real effort. Certain concessions must be made to the TV company it's true, but do they really need two hours before a men's game. There are times in their commentary when you get the impression they are struggling to fill more than 30 minutes.

 

In the end though the real killer of this arrangement is that the public, those that care enough about cricket to pay for a seat to come and watch, actually don't like double-headers any more than Raf or I do. How do I know? They simply don't come - in any numbers anyway. The WBBL in Australia has shown there's a TV audience for women's stand alone games and maybe Sky will have the confidence to do so for women's domestic fixtures in the future. They already have for international cricket and have had for quite a number of years. Far better for the visibility of the sport and its future to fill Chelmsford or Hove. These are the spectators who'll spread the word, sign up to the TV broadcasts of matches too far away to attend, and, hopefully, encourage their daughters to pick up a bat or a ball.

 

By continuing with an idea past its sell-by date the organisers show a lack of confidence in the women's game that is disappointing.

 

From a Correspondent
Put the women’s match before the men’s and...
(a) It’s just a curiosity for those turning up early for the men’s
(b) It’s a ticketing pain for those who are only interested in the women’s
Put the men’s before the women’s and...
(a) It’s a parking nightmare for those who are only interested in the women’s
(b) 90% of the crowd will stay for the 1st innings and then half of them will drift away
I can understand why they are tried and there are some points in favour but these diminish to about zero with some of the KSL proposed double headers.  If they want growth they should have followed the lead of Cricket Australia and ensured every team played each other team home and away. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain on Loughborough’s one home match !
I’ve always thought it would be interesting to see a mixed match, played by the men’s and women’s team of two sides, for example England v Australia.
Match part 1 : England Women bat against Australia Women (20 overs)
Match part 2 : England Men bat against Australia Men (20 overs)
Match part 3 : Australia Women bat against England Women (20 overs)
Match part 4 : Australia Men bat against England Men (20 overs)
The result is based on the combined scores so in the 4th part Australia men are chasing a score that is based on England Women plus England Man minus Australia Women.
To mix things up a bit you could allow, say, 3 women fielders in the men’s match and 3 men fielders in the women’s match (not least because you might actually end up the best fielders on the park without having to hide the worst of them). Lydia Greenway wouldn’t have disgraced any male match with her fielding.
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