Thursday, May 24, 2007

Running the game

The MCC World Cricket Committee’s meeting on May 14, 2007 seems to have touched on some of cricket’s most common themes of recent years.

International schedules and how hectic they are came up invariably for discussion. While the committee sounds noble when it “recommends a review of the international playing calendar, with the aim of striking a balance between financial gain, player welfare and audience satisfaction”, it is easier said than done. Balancing the needs of stakeholders something corporate organisations strive for all the time. May be we need to find avenues through which boards can make money on non-play days? May be the sponsorship models need to be reexamined? May be the definition of seasons should be more strictly adhered to and optimised? Basketball in the U.S. and football in Europe operate with hectic schedules in their seasons as well. Are there any lessons to be learnt from there?

The committee recommends “regular monitoring of bowling actions under match conditions.” This is a valid point because under test conditions, bowlers of dubious arm angles tend to be extra cautious with their actions. But there needs to be a clear process for and way of doing this, without disrupting the game. Can some technology akin to the hawk-eye be used to enable this?

The committee has also commented on a few other things – shortening of boundaries, gluing of pitches and the length of the World Cup. Nothing original in any of these recommendations either.

But to me, the key is really the composition of the Committee itself. It comprises 14 members, led by Chairman Tony Lewis. It is an interesting mix of players from most of the test cricket playing nations (except New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) and one umpire – David Shepherd. Another aspect of the committee’s composition is that there are only two bowlers – Courtney Walsh and Tony Dodemaide. Considering the kind of issues that have come up, the committee perhaps needs a rethink its composition.

Running the game is not just about managing the on-field action – it is akin to running a corporate organization. So they may do well to consider people from different specialisations as part of the management, like the board of a company. Here’s my mix.

  1. Former and current cricketers – one batsman, one fast bowler, one spinner and the odd wicketkeeper (at least two of them should have captained their national side for a considerable duration).
  2. An umpire
  3. A match referee
  4. A groundsman
  5. A coach
  6. A sports doctor
  7. A couple of senior corporate executives
  8. A couple of computer technologists
  9. A couple of administrators – one from European football and one from the NBA

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