2014 Diary

A Ramble on Women's Cricket
 - with diversions -

This diary will be updated erratically throughout the year.

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<July>
And what of the WICL?
At first glance, and even after some consideration, the idea of taking the world's top players and producing a tournament not dissimilar to the IPL in the men's game sounds like a complete winner. In addition it would provide money in the players' pockets. It sounds better and better.
However, and you knew there would be one, an "however" that is, the reaction of the ECB and the silence (as far as I know) of the ICC has shown that this exercise would not just be difficult to put on without considerable levels of sponsorship, but also requires the co-operation of the various cricket boards. I have no knowledge of the finances of this idea but it would seem the co-operation of the powers that be seems unlikely.
I have yet to grips with the new bi-lateral series proposal that will determine who takes part in the next World Cup.  It seems on the face of it an excellent idea in that it may provide the faithful like me the chance to see some of the sides that rarely visit these shores.  I was especially looking forward to watching the Sri Lankans and was somewhat surprised to hear the tour was cancelled because of the operational requirements on the Sri Lankan navy. Are they about to invade someone?
And here comes another 'however' - it is not a substitute for a 'women's IPL'.
The logical conclusion, if raising the profile of the women's game still further is a desirable end, should not the ICC , or some body with their blessing, run a similar tournament?
It seems a regular email contact of mine feels much the same - here's his comment left on another women's cricket 'blog'
“Merely to add substance to the debate .....
The ECB may feel that, having ploughed loads of money into a loss-making women's cricket infrastructure, it is a bit rich (pardon the pun) for a private organisation to exploit the fruits of the ECB's work for financial gain. Put another way, is it fair for a private organisation to take the cream without investing in the grass roots ?
As I say, just to add to the debate. I'm not taking sides”  
I think that pretty well sums it up!
Regular readers will have noted that this 'blog' has been described for some time as a 'Ramble with Diversions'. Well it seems to me quite a while since we've had a diversion and since something has been bugging me for some time I thought why not put electronic pen to electronic paper on the matter. I have actually written on this before, but matters are becoming rather clearer so it seemed a chance to 'divert' again.
To continue with cricket and skip this diversion - click here.
First let me set you a problem. Your country has a very major decision to make - and yes, I mean major. Could it be the election of a new leader, Prime Minister or President? Well, no; it's much more important than that. They have only a short shelf life, maybe 5 or 10 years at the most. This will have ramifications for decades or centuries.
Perhaps it's joining a major trading block like the European Union? No, it's more serious and with greater implications than that.
Are we expecting something akin to the Black Death to strike our shores? Not as far as I know and I certainly hope not, over-populated as our island is.
What we are actually considering is tearing the country into two! An odd thing to do you might think when the last 300 years since we joined these two parts of it together have been the most successful period in our history both in terms of prosperity and in the defence of this land against foreign invaders.
But it seems there are those around who would like to do this and a sufficient number to mean we have to decide on a way in which this decision should be taken. Well, that's obvious surely. Parliament should decide. After all they make all the major decisions from whether or not to take us to war, to the rather more trivial of how much tax to charge us. Just occasionally they ask our opinion on a specific matter, like joining the EU, so if not parliament maybe that's the way.
Democracy is a great idea. It's strange so few countries chose to use it. And there's another ramble subject there as my vote to elect my member of parliament has been meaningless all my adult 52 years. But how about a referendum then; now that would make my vote count? Well, 'they've' decided that would be a bit too much like democracy so 'they', in keeping with the voting system in the UK, have decided it's probably best to continue with the undemocratic way of doing things and ask 8½% of the electorate. The other 91½% will just have to lump it.
As you'll have long guessed by now I'm talking about the idea of 'Scottish Independence', a vote on which is due in September by the 8½% the government have decided to ask for their opinion.
If you're Scots you may feel that you're the only ones entitled to vote on this matter. Well, I don't! It's my country you are considering tearing in two, not just yours. And in any case it's not the Scots that the Government are asking anyway. Now that may have you puzzled - surely, if 91½% of the country are to be ignored at least you can ask those people who consider themselves 'Scots'. No, you ask everyone resident in Scotland, whether they hold a United Kingdom passport or a Zimbabwe one (or so a recent TV programme claimed). Furthermore, the thousands of Scots who live and work in England but who were born and brought up in Scotland will also be excluded from the vote.
As they say... you couldn't make it up! Well only a politician could make it up.
Polls from Scotland alone show that the current inhabitants will most likely vote to stay in the UK, whereas if the referendum was nationwide then the vote would almost certainly mean the breakup of the UK.
I would much prefer the UK to remain just that, but it is more important to me that democracy might have decided the issue even if it produced, to me, the least desired result.
We have only a month or two to wait now to find out if the Scots (or at least the voters in this referendum) believe that the rapidly diminishing oil revenues (expected to halve in the next 20 years, and already well down from the peak value) are worth more than 300 years of working together, and whether the United Kingdom will have to alter its flag, a rather easier job than Scotland trying to install a new currency. It won't happen if Scotland goes its own way? It had better, for the history of currency unions is a poor one as examples in East Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere show. In fact I can find only one successful example and that's the currency union of Belgium and Luxembourg prior to their adopting the Euro. The history of that currency (the Euro) to date should show the UK it would be a big mistake to share a currency union with Scotland. With only 8½% of the population, the idea that it's 'their pound' as well as the rest of the UK's, an argument that is mooted by the Scottish Nationalists, is about as perverse and undemocratic as any statement Westminster could dream up.
Let's hope all ends happily in September and we remain a truly 'United Kingdom'. We could also hope that if any such drastic changes are anticipated in the future, the government might actually try a democratic method to decide the outcome. Breath holding is not recommended.
I am somewhat disappointed today.  It's true I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jimmy Anderson surprise us all (and possibly himself) with a fine knock of 81 in the Trent Bridge Test, but I had hoped to watch another overseas women's team play on these shores. Now you'd better admit, you didn't know the Luxembourg women were playing here. At least a fixture was shown to be played at Aldershot against the Army. Try as I could, even the might of Twitter couldn't help with the time of this game. Should I have driven there for 11:00 and waited possibly until 15:00 for a game to start, or maybe it could have been called off at the last moment as these fixtures sometimes are? Maybe; anyway I chose the men's Test and was well rewarded but I still have a hankering to photograph another international side I haven't seen before. [It turned out later the fixture had been cancelled].
I have to confess to being saddened with recent news from Sri Lanka. Now, as you will know I rarely comment on the men's game but I have to mark the retirement from Test cricket of the batsman I have most liked to watch in the men's game for a number of years now. This man is a complete artist with the bat and to watch him is, as one high profile commentator and former player remarked watching him is "like cricket ought to be played".

[Mahela Jayawardena © Don Miles]
Mahela in action at Bristol in 2011 © Don Miles
Slideshow of that match

Not only was he among the most elegant of batsmen but he seemed to have an inordinate amount of time to chose his shots, time not given to mere mortals. I am pleased he remains available for one-day cricket and I guess the decision has been taken at least partly due to a recent run of poor form. Do not let that take away from the huge contribution he has made to Sri Lankan and world cricket and the professional and elegant way in which he has done it.
While Cricket Archives photo hardly does him justice, take a look at these stats! They tell a huge story, but, unless you have seen him at his best, they do not tell you the manner in which they were made and which I particularly admire.

<July 19>

There are worrying  articles in the newspapers in Pakistan recently. Obviously I can't vouch for much of the content but the use of stats to illustrate the selection problems the writer highlights suggests there's at least some merit in his arguments. Shah, the leading run scorer in the recent domestic series, and who is still the youngest player world-wide to ever play the sport, is omitted and Pakistan will not progress internationally if 'politics' is in the minds of the selectors rather than cricket!
This story follows the very disturbing news of a Pakistan cricketer who is alleged to have committed suicide as the result of sexual harassment by cricket officials. Her parents have not wished for a post-mortem but the story in the Pakistan press suggests that the police have applied to the courts to request one. It is to be hoped that this is a pre-cursor to a thorough investigation both of her death but the allegations of why it came about.
Pakistan papers are suggesting the whole selection process is corrupt. I cannot vouch for this view either way but it makes concerning reading.
To be a woman cricketer in Pakistan has never been an easy task. The virtual founders of the sport in that country, Shaiza Khan and her sister Sharmeen can attest to the huge problems they had getting things off the ground. I am a huge admirer of their persistence and their courage. I hope their efforts are not to be wasted.
And here's a comment from Pakistan by a leading feminist.
[This story sadly continues]

<July 23>
Yesterday evening I was honoured to be invited to a meeting of a most august body. The title of this group was briefly discussed and (in the words of one of BBC Radio 4's finest, and sadly late, contributors*) we "reached no very serious conclusion". The "Twitterati" was one suggestion, but a decision has been postponed to a later meeting. There was, in the words of the diplomats and politicians "a full and frank exchange of ideas", except that it was a much friendlier meeting than that; food was consumed, wine, beer and fizzy water drunk, and every conceivable aspect of women's cricket discussed. Agreement was reached on almost all aspects of the sport, in particular the important appointment of who should be the designated driver at future meetings.
My thanks to those present for a most enjoyable evening. In the view of this contributor, the next meeting cannot come too soon.
If you are 'on Twitter' why not follow the independent, and occasionally irreverent, thoughts of...
@Rafnicholson, @FairgroundTown, @wmnscricketblog, @DonMiles13
... all staunch supporters of women playing cricket, You can follow as well those of the ECB and members within its ranks concerned with the women's game.
[*Unless you were a listener to BBC Radio 4 several decades ago, or been a visitor to the London Planetarium during the same period, you will probably never have heard of John Ebdon. He had the perfect radio voice and gave short (15 minute?) talks on almost any subject you could think of in a most amusing and whimsical style which put a permanent smile on the listeners' face throughout his monologue, once for instance spending his time wondering if he should start his programme with "Hello" or perhaps "How do you do?" or some other form of address. Not very promising material you would think but his skill was in making anything amusing. He was always introduced by the continuity announcer as "Mr. Ebdon, who, once again, comes to no very serious conclusion", and indeed he didn't. Speakers and writers with skills such as his are sadly extinct.]

The ECB have replied in some style to an advert by "Always".
Take a look at these...
Always Ad:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs&feature=youtube_gdata_player
ECB response:
This is how you...
HIT #LikeAGirl
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oJHo86yKgc&feature=youtube_gdata_player
RUN #LikeAGirl
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFYaWXGYJc4&feature=youtube_gdata_player
THROW #LikeAGirl
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBTqizSAA1E&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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