The Monday Mushroom

First of all we should congratulate Hants on their splendid win in the Royal London Cup Final at Lord’s. It was a pretty comfortable win in the end. Hants started the game strongly with the bat, and Kent never really looked like chasing the runs.

Rilee Rossouw made a fantastic century, with key contributions from young Tom Alsop and not-to-young Sam Northeast, and although Daniel Bell Drummond made 86, and Sam Billings a defiant 75, the writing was always on the wall. Hants just had too much firepower in the end. Those runs from Northeast must have particularly stung Kent supporters. C’est la vie I guess.

The story that really caught my eye over the weekend, however, was the ICC’s apparent determination to crack down on burgeoning domestic T20 competitions. They’re quite righty concerned that these leagues are undermining international cricket, so they want to take action to curtail the rise of T20 freelance globetrotters.

The latest we’re hearing is that individual players will only be able to participate in three domestic T20 tournaments per year. I still think that three sounds like plenty, and I’d consider making it just two (or cancelling all of them, wink wink) but it’s worth noting that similar precedents already exist.

For example, the BCCI already prevents its players from participating in any domestic T20 contests other than the IPL. This obviously helps to maintain the IPL’s preeminence. Pakistan’s board has done similar by preventing its players from taking part in more than two T20 competitions (one of which is Pakistan’s own tournament).

However, as is often the way with world cricket, there’s seemingly no perfect solution to this problem. For starters the Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) are obviously concerned that placing limits on cricketers in this fashion is restraint of trade. One can understand where they’re coming from too.

What’s more, if the development of T20 leagues around the world is curtailed, there must be a concern that the existing T20 tournaments that currently attract the big names will thrive, whereas other fledgling leagues in countries that desperately need the revenue generated from T20 will struggle. Consequently, the rich will get richer while the poor wither and possibly die.

Whilst I would personally like to cut down the amount of T20 worldwide, I can’t deny that T20 is a vital tool to grow the game worldwide. It’s interesting that full ICC members can start their own short form competitions without permission but associate members cannot. If the authorities start to crack down on T20 competitions in places like Canada, because they’re worried about international players turning their backs on their country, then it’s obviously going to be much harder to grow the game in developing cricketing nations.

Although we generally give the authorities a lot of stick on this site – especially when they deserve it! – it’s impossible to ignore the fact that governing international cricket is bloody hard sometimes. The ICC probably doesn’t have as much power as many assume it does, and the politics are soooo complicated.

There are so many conflicting interests to consider these days that cricket is often governed (quite literally) by a committee. The problem, of course, is that there’s truth in the old adage that a camel is a horse designed by committee. It’s the reason why we end up with test championships with an uneven number of games, a points structure that’s yet to be decided, and a plethora of two-test series even though everyone agrees they’re rubbish. No wonder our heads hurt most of the time.

Finally, it was interesting to see an article on Cricinfo that lists the best individual bowling performances of all time. This piece particularly piqued my interest because Stuart Broad’s 8-15 against Australia is rated second, and Jim Lakers 10-53 back in 1956 is sixth. Meanwhile, Bob Willis’s 8-42 in the famous 1981 Headlingley test is seventh, and Matthew Hoggard’s admirable 7-61 in South Africa in early 2005 is ranked twelfth. Another notable performance to appear is Devon Malcolm’s 9-57 at The Oval in 1994 which is ranked sixteenth.

Obviously it’s extremely difficult to compare brilliant performances from different eras, which is partly why fascinating discussions like this can go on and on when you’re down the pub. However, I do think that Broad’s performance has been slightly overrated here. He obviously bowled incredibly well but I I recall that the pitch did most of the work that day. It was moving sideways.

In my admittedly subjective opinion, I’d possibly rank the top England performances in the opposite order. Devon Malcolm was absolutely devastating on that famous day in 1994. The pitch was good, and the opposition was strong. He made all the wickets himself by bowling with incredible hostility.

What’s more, although I’d probably rate Bob Willis’s heroics slightly higher than Hoggard’s if I’m being honest, I do remember being incredibly impressed by the latter (especially as it was away from home outside Hoggy’s supposed comfort zone). As for Jim Laker I’m afraid I find it impossible to judge. His iconic 10-fer happened twenty years before I was born! I’m sure it was a pretty useful effort though 🙂

James Morgan

2018-07-02T10:55:50+00:00July 2nd, 2018|County Cricket, Nostalgia, Talking Points|21 Comments


  1. Doug M July 2, 2018 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Interesting that a domestic cup final attracts 21,000 spectators, as according to the ECB no one watches domestic county cricket anymore! I’ve just got back from yet another Surrey win at Scarborough, a delightful old fashioned county ground that I hadn’t visited before. The attendance on the first day was over 5000, with approx 12,000 over the 3 and half days I reckon. But if course no one watches County cricket…..
    As for the T20 well not my thing, but like anything too much of something dilutes the product, in this case it seems into loads of meaningless 150 plays 150 games. Who really cares? Although it may be interesting to see how our “top ODI” team does against India.

  2. James July 2, 2018 at 11:19 am - Reply

    Couple of points. On the T20 limit, I suspect that might be restraint of trade. There seems to me to be a difference between (say) a Kevin Pietersen (who won’t play for England again) and a Ben Stokes (who I suspect will). How do you distinguish?

    On the bowling performances, the list seems odd. I think the list is single innings, rather than tests. One notable omission (to my mind) is Michael Holding’s iconic 14/149 at the Oval in 1976, on what was basically a fast bowlers’ graveyard.

    • Marc Evans July 2, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      A thing that is rarely mentioned when analysing bowling stats is how many wickets go cheaply to one bowler because there’s a niggardly fellow on at the other end making runs hard to come by. Bowlers like Cartwright and Underwood got a lot of wickets for the chaps at the other end, as they tried to force the pace, but get little credit for this. I suppose the Lock / Laker test epitomises the injustice of just concentration on the stats.
      Another thing is how many dropped chances were there when fielders were less mobile and today how many brilliant catches are taken off mediocre bowling.
      Also, the changes in the laws, especially LBW, which has certainly affected the effectiveness of some bowling styles.
      There are all sorts of things that can be used to detract from stats, it’s just a question of how far do you want to go in order to try and give a fair comparison between performances.
      I was there when Botham took his 5 for 1 at Edgbaston and the sheer force of his personality was what I remember. The Aussie batsmen were like rabbits in the headlights as this force of nature descended on them. You look at the wicket taking deliveries and most are unremarkable. You had to be there.

  3. AB July 2, 2018 at 11:42 am - Reply

    “against a very strong Australian batting line-up”.

    must have been watching a different 2015 Ashes to the one I watched

    • Simon H July 2, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Warner, Rogers, Smith, Clarke and Voges all had Test career averages over 40 so that would be the statistical basis for such a claim. In contrast, for example, only two of the Austarlians who played in Willis’s 8/43 averaged over 40 (and one of them, Allan Border, was dismissed by Chris Old, not Willis).

      I’d still favour the Willis peformance over Broad’s though.

  4. Jacqueline July 2, 2018 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Will the WTF100 count as a domestic T20 competition? Maybe there is method in the madness (but I doubt it!)

  5. Marc Evans July 2, 2018 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    If people are going to compare historic sporting achievements over the ages there are ways of narrowing the obvious disparities. A bit like Lord Ted’s De Loitus (can’t remember how you spell it) rating idea of having standardized conditions that can be employed to study these. However, as yet there is no general agreement about how to judge standards and conditions and until recently very little written on the game or provided as background, so data to draw firm conclusions from is limited. It would be an interesting challenge on this blog to attempt to come up with a format for realistic league tables of achievement.
    What we need is a kind of archived library of cricket history, similar to folk music’s Cecil Sharp house, where all the game’s writings could be collated to provide some sort of realistic historical perspective on modern day
    Stats obsessed ratings. Then the Lord Ted’s of this world could beaver way to find a formula for greatness.
    The old cliche of greats would have been great in any era is too wish washy to be satisfying in itself.

  6. John July 2, 2018 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    As ever, an interesting piece. I think my vote would go for Devon, Although Rhodes was effectively out of it, that was a decent SA batting line up and although some of the South Africans got out to bad shots, most were induced by the speed and quality of the bowling. How often do you see recognised Test batsmen stepping back towards square because of pace, as happened that day: That’s what caused them to play away from their body outside of off – apart from that immaculate forward defensive completed, alas, just after the ball hit the stumps !

    I often wonder what became of Tony Risveglia. whose joy at having his letter published in The Times on the morning of that performance must have been tempered by a certain embarrassment later. He wrote “Will our cricket selectors ever learn? Let me tell them loud and clear – Devon Malcolm (average 37.50 per wicket) is not Test class.”

    • AndyB July 2, 2018 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      If legend is to be believed, many of those earlier Devon Malcolm FC wickets were taken before someone thought to test his eyesight and realised he could not see the batsman’s stumps. That must have added a few to his average if true.

  7. AndyB July 2, 2018 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Bizarre list of bowling performances, obviously using recency as one factor in the weighting (even if sub-conciously). How any list can ignore the Barnes first morning destruction of Australia at Melbourne at the end of 1911 is beyond me. He came off his sickbed to bowl in Australia against one of their strongest batting line ups (Bardsley, Armstrong, Trumper etc), and had 5 for 6 before they knew where they were (that he then finished with 5-44 is irrelevant as he had destroyed the top order and effectively won the test). And Massie at #15? I saw that performance. He gave a swing bowling masterclass, on his debut, to England bowlers in England …….. and he had already taken another 8 in England’s first innings! He was unplayable in a way I have not seen since.

  8. Nick July 2, 2018 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    The problem with all these T20 competitions the lack of depth in the audience base they can’t clash with one another because of the damage to the international viewing figures. Restricting entry would at least prevent it being the same 2/4 Overseas playing in every comp.

    Personally I am not in favor of a limit on the number each player can play, why should someone who isn’t an international be held back from earning a living and for those playing Int Cricket if more than three competitions can outbid the top 10 Cricketing ‘nations’ that says a lot about the revenue share doesn’t it.

    • d'Arthez July 2, 2018 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      The problem is that as an international cricketer, if you’re English, Australian or Indian, you are making 6-20 times as much than if you are from say South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies or Pakistan (Steven Finn gets paid more for not playing international cricket than Kane Williamson does for playing international cricket). Not sure how well Bangladeshis are paid. I am fairly certain that Zimbabweans don’t even get paid..

      But again the problem is, that the English / Australian and Indian players would have more marketing appeal, than people from say Zimbabwe, or West Indies. Never mind the likes of Chile or Hong Kong (certainly for competitions outside of their home nations). One of the reasons CSA’s Global T20 competition collapsed was that they banked on getting Indian players (which would massively help to get a bit of money for the broadcasting rights in India). So it is already a factor.

      Are we’re forgetting that international players already get poached left right and centre to play domestic cricket in England. Rossouw a case in point (as is Abbott, also on the books of Hampshire) Why? Because domestic cricket in England is paying better than playing international cricket for all but 3 teams. The same three: India, England and Australia. So perversely Sky is paying money to the ECB (and indirectly to the counties) to weaken opposition teams when they play England.

      Restricting players to pick just 2 or 3 leagues, simply means that the best will opt for IPL, BBL, and Blast. Again, the players from the Big 3 nations have the advantage that they will count as domestic players in at least one of those competitions. And the lesser / less marketable players will have to do with the Caribbean Premier League, the South African competition and the Bangladeshi Premier League, and may also opt for the Pakistani T20 competition.

      That will do nothing to balance the gross inequalities in international cricket – spare a thought for someone like Kraigg Brathwaite.

      But rest assured, this problem will persist as long as international cricket is organized on a bilateral basis. And anyone who bothered to check the new FTP will know that that is not likely to change. Anyone who will check the schedule in 2022 (the pre-World Cup year), can rest assured that there will be many India-Australia-England ODIs.

  9. Comte July 2, 2018 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    One day final. As a neutral I rather enjoyed it. Hants deserved to win. For Kent a lesson – moronic booing of former players can bite you on the bum.
    T20 – probably a good thing to restrict participation but if I were a player I might well think otherwise.

    Best bowling. I saw Willis’s performance in person. I turned up at Headingley expecting an easy passage for Oz. Willis was in the zone. Although the Oz team included Hughes, Border, Marsh and Lillee it wasn’t the greatest.The only Chappell was Trevor. As the wickets fell panic set in among the Aussies.I’ll never forget Marsh’s haunted look as he came into bat. Lillee threatened at the end but it all happened so quickly. I seem to recall some controversy about bets placed by the Aussies. Given the small total defended I’d rate this better than Broad’s.
    Bailey’s feat was remarkable in that he opened the bowling with Trueman and then the batting with Hutton. The Windies had a decent line-up and the feat being achieved away from home counts for a lot with me so I’d also put that above Broad’s.

  10. Northern Light July 2, 2018 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    For Kent a lesson – trying to win anything these days without a rich CEO and the ability to buy up talent from all over the place is a fool’s errand.
    The booing was by a tiny minority of fans – and there were already far far more Kent fans at Lord’s than Hampshire ones to start with – and reflected the disappointment that you feel when your poorly resourced team finds that player loyalty is a one-way street and you see your sport becoming more like the awful Football Premier League every day.
    Still, once there are 6 or 8 super-county-franchise teams playing each other seventeen times a summer in T100 matches that nobody remembers, we’ll look back with nostalgic fondness on the idea that you might boo a player for moving teams. It’ll just be the norm by then. Happy days.

  11. Mike Kemp July 2, 2018 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    I agree with Northern Light – but having said that we can all dream! Booing at Lords was awful, Sam Northeast was a great player for Kent over the last few years, and we should all be big enough to wish him good luck with Hampshire and hopefully with England in the future. As regards comparison of performances, cricket is very context sensitive – the state of the pitch, the position in the game. Impossible to make sensible comparisons.

    • Marc Evans July 3, 2018 at 10:32 am - Reply

      The audience for limited over cricket has always had a significant proportion of footie fans. The idea that one of your own defects to a rival team has always been the cue for abuse in footie, so it was inevitable that this would happen. I’m not condoning it, but it has become an unwritten law for people that call themselves hard core fans. There’s precious little generosity in most supporters for their opponents. If you can help your team by unsettling them that’s seen as a legitimate tactic and always has been in my memory.
      As a Blue Nose I remember Ron Saunders leaving Villa just after their European Cup win and joining Blues. He even received death threats from disgruntled Villa fans who felt betrayed. This mentality is still very much alive in footie, so fans will drag it kicking and screaming into cricket as a matter of course. I was aware of this at Edgbaston from the 70’s when Worcester snapped up Steve Perryman, a mainstay for us for many years, and he was booed and jeered by a section of fans on his return. Ironically he later became our 2nd team coach.

  12. Simon H July 3, 2018 at 8:35 am - Reply

    “The story that really caught my eye over the weekend, however, was the ICC’s apparent determination to crack down on burgeoning domestic T20 competitions. They’re quite righty concerned that these leagues are undermining international cricket”.

    International cricket BETWEEN FULL MEMBERS. This really hasn’t got anything to do with safeguarding international cricket or saving players from burn-out (neither of which the ICC have previously given a stuff about so why are they starting now?). It’s yet again about preserving the dominance of Full Members. They didn’t give a damn about T20 leagues expanding across Full Members but a tournament in Canada and talk of one in Hong Kong just suddenly happens to coincide with this announcement.

    It just goes to show what a lie it was that associates should concentrate on T20 because that was how to expand the game. It also maybe explains why the ECB went for this T16.66 invention which will presumably not be covered by this restriction.

    • d'Arthez July 5, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      To add to that, I don’t think a single T20I has been played or even announced by non-Full Members, since the ICC “generously” gave T20I rights to all member nations.

      But then again, knowing the ICC they would probably not even have bothered to increase the number of qualified umpires to stand in these T20Is, so why should Associate boards even bother?

  13. Simon H July 4, 2018 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Fantasically generous 5 minutes and 15 seconds of highlights from yesterday on Youtube from the ECB.


    • Glenn July 4, 2018 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      It’s stupid when you consider all the free to air sport on tv at the moment – especially the World Cup. I suppose ECB would say they are bunging some live cricket on free to air in a few years, but it only a few 12 over games or whatever it is. Also the cricket World Cup is on Sky too so no one will notice it.

    • d'Arthez July 5, 2018 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Is that including or excluding the 5 minutes spent mentioning all the corporate stakeholders who have generously funded the ECB to make the 15 seconds of actual highlights possible?

      But in all seriousness, how will that help? It is not like YouTube and such do not use algorithms to determine what to suggest to a user. How long would it take to go from say a Jay Zee music video to those highlights, without using searches to find cricketing stuff?

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