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