Sheffield Shield held back by Cricket Australia website

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Cricket

February 26, 2014

Last week I was following the Sheffield Shield competition via two websites, ESPN cricinfo and the Cricket Australia website, cricket.com.au.

ESPN cricinfo has always been a favourite site of mine.

With ESPN cricinfo, there is a link to espncricinfo.com/australia, which is all Australian cricket related news.

There’s updated scores, interesting stories, video analysis and player profiles with an endless statistics attached to every player.

The site is linked back to ESPN cricinfo where it shows a broadened view from the cricket world perspective and has links to other countries’ websites.

It is a great site for all cricket nerds.

With cricket.com.au, it is also a good site to follow, however, I will be critical in one key area. It revolves around the live streaming of the Shield matches.

In the latest round, three matches were played at the same time: Western Australia v New South Wales, South Australia v Victoria and Tasmania v Queensland.

There were inconsistencies with the coverage of all three matches.

With the SA v Victoria streaming, there was scoreboard graphics, one or two commentators commenting on the game, and a camera on one each end of the ground. The streaming quality and coverage was satisfactory.

However there were plenty of faults with the other two games. Quite often whenever you click to view the streaming of these matches, you were greeted with this message,

“The video you are trying to watch is currently unavailable. Please check back soon”.

On day three of those games, I couldn’t watch any stream of the WA v NSW game, while with the Tas v Queensland match, it either streamed for a few minutes, or it froze.

Is this a problem that occurs to other Roarers here, or is it my online streaming?

The next day, there was finally some consistent streaming. Although the streaming and coverage of both matches were inferior in quality compared to the South Australia v Vic game.

In those matches, there was no scoreboard graphics, no commentators, and there was only one camera broadcasting from only one end of the ground..

Why is it that one Shield match (South Australia v Vic) covers it very differently to the other two?

I would have thought that every Shield game be covered the same way, but sadly that’s not the case.

Here we are in 2014, the Sheffield Shield competition, a level below Test cricket is covered very similarly to ABC TV in the 1970s before World Series Cricket came on the scene.

In an era where we have a variety of gadgets like smart or iPhones, I would’ve thought that improving coverage and streaming of Sheffield Shield games be a top priority .

Last year in a Sports Business Insider article headlined “The future of digital media in the NRL” there was a story about how the NRL is trying to improve it’s structure and operations by establishing an NRL Digital Media.

It talks about how the NRL wants to provide expanded and editorial coverage to fans across all platforms.

Later in that article, it highlighted a table showing the domain rankings for all of our domestic competitions and comparing them with other domain names from other competitions around the world.

At the time of that article, on August 27th, 2013, the domain name of NRL.com was globally ranked 12,936, while in Australia, it ranked 163. It was behind the AFL domain name of AFL.com.au which ranked 5,663 globally, and 64th in Australia.

Cricket.com.au fell way short of the two football codes. It’s domain name was globally ranked 54, 787. In Australia, 2,195.

Judging by those numbers from last year, Cricket Australia has some work to do to improve the domains ranking. One way to improve it’s ranking is to improve the coverage of the Sheffield Shield.

Cricket Australia should never treat the Sheffield Shield competition with contempt. Not only is it an important pathway for a future Test cricketer, it is also a competition that is loved by many fans around Australia.

It is a competition that deserves better coverage in this day and age of modern technology.

It is a competition that deserves respect.

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Until it’s refined, All Stars game will play second fiddle to Nines

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Rugby League

February 11, 2014

Rugby league’s version of Twenty20 cricket, the Auckland Nines, kicks off this weekend with all 16 NRL teams competing.

The two day event will be played at Auckland’s iconic venue, Eden Park, where so far 92,000 tickets have been sold according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

It is also a lucrative tournament for all competing NRL clubs, with the prize pool totalling AUD$2.25 million.

The winner of the event pockets $370,000, more then what the NRL Minor Premiers receive after 26 rounds ($100,000), with the runners-up winning $240,000, semi-finalists $165,000 and quarter-finalists $130,000.

Teams that get bundled out in the group stages will receive $110,000 – not bad for simply turning up – while costs associated with travel, accommodation and meals have all been covered by the tournament organisers.

The format of the NRL Auckland Nines is that every match will have two nine-minute halves and will be contested by nine players a side on the field.

There are four groups of four, with each team playing three matches. The top two in each group progress to the knock-out stages, which is a progression of quarter-finals, followed by semi-finals and the final.

It all sounds very exciting – a perfect event to have in the NRL pre-season.

Auckland is also an ideal location. The climate will be tolerable compared to the harsh Australian summer, and it gives a great opportunity to promote the code in New Zealand.

The only sour note with this new event coming on board and taking up a weekend in pre-season is that the NRL were forced to scrap the NRL/Indigenous All Stars for one year.

According to the NRL, the reason for the cancellation was due to the fact that NRL players were still involved in the Rugby League World Cup in late November last year, therefore giving the representative players a reprieve.

For the NRL/Indigenous All Stars concept to work, it needs the big name representative players to be made available. Hence the term “All Stars”.

There are critics out there who believe that the NRL/Indigenous All Stars was shafted in favour of the Auckland Nines tournament due to the prize money that is on offer to all NRL clubs.

You can’t fault the NRL clubs for supporting the Auckland Nines. The prize money available can help many a club’s bottom line.

The NRL/Indigenous All Stars concept first started in 2010 with the Indigenous All Stars team winning the inaugural match, and it does tick a lot of boxes.

It promotes awareness around indigenous issues and celebrates indigenous culture, while NRL players who have an indigenous heritage are proud to take part in the Indigenous All Stars side.

The majority of NRL fans, including this author, support this. This concept is more then just a game.

The only problem with the concept is the apparent lack of purpose and meaning for the NRL All Stars team.

Whenever you watch an NRL match or any other sporting contest, there must be an incentive and meaning for both sides. In this concept, the passion and meaning is there for only one side, the Indigenous team.

The NRL All Star players play and support the cause, but they would be nowhere near as passionate as the Indigenous side.

There’s also an overriding feeling that the majority of league fans really don’t care who wins the All Stars game. Therefore this concept does have the potential to lose interest over a period of time.

But maybe there needs to be a tweak in the concept by dumping the NRL All Stars side in favour of a Pacific Island All Stars team featuring players from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Cook Islands and Samoa who represented their respective countries at last year’s World Cup.

A match-up of Indigenous All Stars v Pacific Island All Stars is more worthwhile. At least you’ll see passion from both teams, and you could promote causes and issues surrounding the Pacific Island nations.

If I had to choose between the Nines and the All Stars, at this stage I would pick the Auckland Nines.

Chances are that every NRL fan would have a vested interest in it, whereas with the NRL/Indigenous All Stars game this may not be the case.

Both concepts can be fitted into the scheduling in the month of February, along with NRL trials and high profile pre-season matches like the World Club Challenge and Charity Shield.

The Indigenous All Stars match does have its place, but it needs some refinement. The Auckland Nines not only has potential to be a great concept, but it could also help the growth of rugby league.

And my tip for the Nines? New Zealand Warriors to make the most of their home ground advantage.

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Should one day internationals be reduced to 40 overs?

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Cricket

February 4, 2014

With the introduction of Twenty20 cricket, there has been debate about whether administrators can keep three forms of the game alive. The one form of the game that appears vulnerable is the 50-over one day game.

The one dayers have often been described as dour, long and boring compared to it’s younger trendier sibling, Twenty20.

However in recent times, it has enjoyed a renaissance, particularly in the 2013 one day series between India and Australia.

In the seven match series, only five matches were completed due to poor weather. In those completed matches, on nine occasions out of ten innings, 300 plus was scored, with five scores been over 350.

Indian captain MS Dhoni reacted to these high scores by stating that the fast bowlers need to adjust to the new rules, such as with four fielders, instead of five, outside of the 30 yard circle.

“With the extra fielder inside, if you are slightly off target, it goes for a boundary. A few of the bowlers are disappointed, they actually feel it will be better off to put a bowling machine there. It is a new challenge for the bowlers.”

Quite often these days, scores of over 300 have taken place.

Perhaps it is the influence of T20 along with the rule changes such as the introduction of batting power plays and with many grounds having smaller boundaries by simply bringing in the rope.

The first one day international was played on January 5, 1971. The match occurred when the third Test between Australia and England was abandoned after the first three days were washed out.

Australia and England played in a match that consisted of 40 overs per side (eight ball overs). Australia won the game by five wickets.

The first three world cups (1975, 1979 and 1983) were all held in England. In all three world cups, matches were contested of 60 overs a side.

But when India and Pakistan hosted the tournament in 1987, the overs were reduced from 60 to the current 50.

I remember following the one dayers in the early nineties. There were fielding restrictions where there were two men outside of the 30 yard circle in the first 15 overs. After 15 overs, the fielding side was allowed to have five fielders outside of the circle.

The one team that started playing with real flair in the first 15 overs was Sri Lankan opening pair Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana. Many teams during that era would start with caution and preserve their wickets.

However with Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana, they both had a licence to go after the bowling in the first 15 overs.

It was this key tactic that helped Sri Lanka win the 1996 world cup.

After ’96, many countries decided to adopt Sri Lanka’s strategy over going over the top in the first 15 overs. An example of that was Australia putting big hitting wicketkeeper batsman Adam Gilchrist in the opening position.

From there, many teams would start attacking in the first 15 overs.

When the fan fare died down after the first 15 overs, teams would slowly go about their business by picking up one’s and two’s from overs 15 to 40 and going about at five an over with out minimal risk.

You also had the fifth and/or sixth bowlers been used during this period after the four main bowlers ( five bowlers can only bowl 10 overs each at a maximum ) were used earlier.

Those bowlers would either be allrounders or part timers. It was during this period where it became dour and boring.

To offset this, new rules came into play in 2005. In the first 10 overs, only two fielders were allowed outside the circle. There was an introduction of the two five over powerplays.

One powerplay for the bowling side to use at it’s discretion, while the other powerplay was used by the batting side. The powerplays meant, only three fieldsmen were allowed outside the circle.

Today, the bowling powerplay has been shelved, but the batting powerplay still remains.

One key rule change in todays game, is that outside of the first 10 overs and the batting powerplay, for the other remaining 35 overs, the fielding side is only allowed four fielders outside the 30 yard circle, instead of the five  which is a massive change.

It gives the batting side in the last ten overs in particular, to aim for the space outside of the circle where normally the fifth fielder would be.

It is all well and good to make these rule changes to help improve the spectacle of one day cricket. However, I somehow think that these rule changes have favoured the batsman.

Therefore the contest between bat and ball becomes non existent. Hence, regular scores of over 300.

One change the ICC could bring in my opinion is to reduced the amount of overs from 50 to 40.

Even if it’s 40 overs a side, you would still term it a one day international. Also as I mentioned earlier, the very first ODI was a 40 over a side game. Back to the future perhaps?

In a 40 over innings, here are some of my rule changes.

Have the first 15 overs with two men outside of the circle, just like it was in the past, and for the remaining 25 overs, have five fielders outside of the 30 yard circle.

Also have your four main bowlers bowl 10 overs a piece at a maximum if required to make up the 40 overs, rather then go with five bowlers at eight overs each with the fifth bowler been an “allrounder” or “part timer”.

The only time a part timer be required to bowl, is when the main bowlers become expensive.

The point I’m making is, I don’t like seeing part timers been the fifth bowler, and that between them, they may have to bowl ten overs.

I’m not suggesting that every team should pick four main/specialist bowlers. A team could be picked where every player can bat or bowl if possible.

But traditionally, in one day cricket, the bowling attack would have a pattern of two fast bowlers bowling in the first 8 to 10 overs.

Then at first change, a main seamer or a fast bowling allrounder comes on to bowl.

While in the middle overs, the main spin bowler and a part timer would come into the attack. While in the latter overs, the captain brings back his fast bowlers.

Twenty/20 has been noted for been the “Big Bash”, full of ‘fours” and ”sixers”, while with one dayers, teams have to be methodical in the middle overs before attacking in the last 10 to 15 overs.

With 40 over cricket, you could have the right balance. Teams go hard in the first 15 overs, consolidate in the next 10 to 15, then start an assault towards the last 10 or so overs.

The game wouldn’t drift, and if you had your four main bowlers, rather then part timers, it then allows a good contest between bat and ball.

Hypothetically, if the ICC came up with the move of reducing to 40 overs in one dayers more then ten years ago, then maybe there wouldn’t be the introduction of Twenty20.

In the last few years, in English county cricket, they have had the Pro40 and today the ECB 40 competitions.

Interestingly, this year they are reverting back to 50 overs. Could it be due to the fact that England is ranked fourth in the 50 over format?

However, the question remains, how long will 50 over ODIs last?

Will it be around in 20 years time?

If the answer is no, then will ODIs be reduced to 40 overs, or will cricket only have the Tests and Twenty20?

Time will tell.

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Should one day internationals be reduced to 40 overs?

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Cricket

February 4, 2014

With the introduction of Twenty20 cricket, there has been debate about whether administrators can keep three forms of the game alive. The one form of the game that appears vulnerable is the 50-over one day game.

The one dayers have often been described as dour, long and boring compared to it’s younger trendier sibling, Twenty20.

However in recent times, it has enjoyed a renaissance, particularly in the 2013 one day series between India and Australia.

In the seven match series, only five matches were completed due to poor weather. In those completed matches, on nine occasions out of ten innings, 300 plus was scored, with five scores been over 350.

Indian captain MS Dhoni reacted to these high scores by stating that the fast bowlers need to adjust to the new rules, such as with four fielders, instead of five, outside of the 30 yard circle.

“With the extra fielder inside, if you are slightly off target, it goes for a boundary. A few of the bowlers are disappointed, they actually feel it will be better off to put a bowling machine there. It is a new challenge for the bowlers.”

Quite often these days, scores of over 300 have taken place.

Perhaps it is the influence of T20 along with the rule changes such as the introduction of batting power plays and with many grounds having smaller boundaries by simply bringing in the rope.

The first one day international was played on January 5, 1971. The match occurred when the third Test between Australia and England was abandoned after the first three days were washed out.

Australia and England played in a match that consisted of 40 overs per side (eight ball overs). Australia won the game by five wickets.

The first three world cups (1975, 1979 and 1983) were all held in England. In all three world cups, matches were contested of 60 overs a side.

But when India and Pakistan hosted the tournament in 1987, the overs were reduced from 60 to the current 50.

I remember following the one dayers in the early nineties. There were fielding restrictions where there were two men outside of the 30 yard circle in the first 15 overs. After 15 overs, the fielding side was allowed to have five fielders outside of the circle.

The one team that started playing with real flair in the first 15 overs was Sri Lankan opening pair Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana. Many teams during that era would start with caution and preserve their wickets.

However with Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana, they both had a licence to go after the bowling in the first 15 overs.

It was this key tactic that helped Sri Lanka win the 1996 world cup.

After ’96, many countries decided to adopt Sri Lanka’s strategy over going over the top in the first 15 overs. An example of that was Australia putting big hitting wicketkeeper batsman Adam Gilchrist in the opening position.

From there, many teams would start attacking in the first 15 overs.

When the fan fare died down after the first 15 overs, teams would slowly go about their business by picking up one’s and two’s from overs 15 to 40 and going about at five an over with out minimal risk.

You also had the fifth and/or sixth bowlers been used during this period after the four main bowlers ( five bowlers can only bowl 10 overs each at a maximum ) were used earlier.

Those bowlers would either be allrounders or part timers. It was during this period where it became dour and boring.

To offset this, new rules came into play in 2005. In the first 10 overs, only two fielders were allowed outside the circle. There was an introduction of the two five over powerplays.

One powerplay for the bowling side to use at it’s discretion, while the other powerplay was used by the batting side. The powerplays meant, only three fieldsmen were allowed outside the circle.

Today, the bowling powerplay has been shelved, but the batting powerplay still remains.

One key rule change in todays game, is that outside of the first 10 overs and the batting powerplay, for the other remaining 35 overs, the fielding side is only allowed four fielders outside the 30 yard circle, instead of the five  which is a massive change.

It gives the batting side in the last ten overs in particular, to aim for the space outside of the circle where normally the fifth fielder would be.

It is all well and good to make these rule changes to help improve the spectacle of one day cricket. However, I somehow think that these rule changes have favoured the batsman.

Therefore the contest between bat and ball becomes non existent. Hence, regular scores of over 300.

One change the ICC could bring in my opinion is to reduced the amount of overs from 50 to 40.

Even if it’s 40 overs a side, you would still term it a one day international. Also as I mentioned earlier, the very first ODI was a 40 over a side game. Back to the future perhaps?

In a 40 over innings, here are some of my rule changes.

Have the first 15 overs with two men outside of the circle, just like it was in the past, and for the remaining 25 overs, have five fielders outside of the 30 yard circle.

Also have your four main bowlers bowl 10 overs a piece at a maximum if required to make up the 40 overs, rather then go with five bowlers at eight overs each with the fifth bowler been an “allrounder” or “part timer”.

The only time a part timer be required to bowl, is when the main bowlers become expensive.

The point I’m making is, I don’t like seeing part timers been the fifth bowler, and that between them, they may have to bowl ten overs.

I’m not suggesting that every team should pick four main/specialist bowlers. A team could be picked where every player can bat or bowl if possible.

But traditionally, in one day cricket, the bowling attack would have a pattern of two fast bowlers bowling in the first 8 to 10 overs.

Then at first change, a main seamer or a fast bowling allrounder comes on to bowl.

While in the middle overs, the main spin bowler and a part timer would come into the attack. While in the latter overs, the captain brings back his fast bowlers.

Twenty/20 has been noted for been the “Big Bash”, full of ‘fours” and ”sixers”, while with one dayers, teams have to be methodical in the middle overs before attacking in the last 10 to 15 overs.

With 40 over cricket, you could have the right balance. Teams go hard in the first 15 overs, consolidate in the next 10 to 15, then start an assault towards the last 10 or so overs.

The game wouldn’t drift, and if you had your four main bowlers, rather then part timers, it then allows a good contest between bat and ball.

Hypothetically, if the ICC came up with the move of reducing to 40 overs in one dayers more then ten years ago, then maybe there wouldn’t be the introduction of Twenty20.

In the last few years, in English county cricket, they have had the Pro40 and today the ECB 40 competitions.

Interestingly, this year they are reverting back to 50 overs. Could it be due to the fact that England is ranked fourth in the 50 over format?

However, the question remains, how long will 50 over ODIs last?

Will it be around in 20 years time?

If the answer is no, then will ODIs be reduced to 40 overs, or will cricket only have the Tests and Twenty20?

Time will tell.

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