Posts tagged ‘Ian Chappell’

Memories that Last, Will the Cricket World Cup 2015 Deliver?

They say that age catches up with us all, and watching the Cricket World Cup labour its way through the group stage this writer realises that he yearns for yesteryear.

I am old enough to remember the first Cricket World Cup, although back then it was named The Prudential Cup, that was 40 years ago. I can remember India’s Madan Lal bowling the first ball and England’s Dennis Amiss scoring the first century, 137 runs off of 147 balls, a respectable strike rate even by today’s standards. It was one game that Sunil Gavaskar would have loved to forget in that opening match, he batted the full 60 overs for India for a score of 36 not out!

Maybe it was because I was younger then, but cricket back then was not just about a batsman smashing a ball into row “z.”. One of the most memorable moments was West Indian Roy Fredricks hooking the fearsome Dennis Lillee into the mound stand at Lords for six, something that was almost unheard of then, only to find he had trodden on his wicket.

The players seemed more real back then. They were not all clean shaven or sporting designer stubble. They were more earthy, more gritty more real. They showed emotions, frustration, as well as joy. they also intimidated, boy did they intimidate.

In 1975 the format was simple. There were 8 teams in two groups, the top two teams crossed over and met in the semi finals. The tournament back then lasted 14 days, and 18 matches were played. In 2015 there are 14 teams playing 49 matches and the tournament is lasting 43 days. It is almost impossible to keep people’s interest for such a long period of time. In 1975 teams had 3 days off between games. In 2015, Australia and Sri Lanka have had 7 days off from their first to second game. Why is there such a gap? Even in football 32 teams play at the World Cup yet the whole tournament is finished in a month.

In 1975 there were no restrictions on field placing, and there were no cricket helmets. Thigh pads were in fact a relatively new invention, replacing the folded towel tucked inside the jockstrap. The bowlers in 1975 were genuinely quick and menacing, and knew how to bowl, varying pace, bounce and the angle of attack. Maybe that was why I yearn for yesteryear. Just look at some of the names: Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, John Snow, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Andy Roberts, Keith Boyce and Bernard Julien, nearly all legends of the game.

There were batsman who could adapt to any form of cricket, not just specialists at smashing the ball when it doesn’t move on a dead track. The likes of Greg and Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, Glenn Turner, Majid Khan, Javed Miandad, Zaheer Abbas, Duleep Mendis, Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Roy Fredricks and Gordon Greenidge.

1975 was pre-Packer and World Series Cricket, and the players wore white, there were no numbers on their backs and no games were played under lights. The reason the World Cup was hosted by England was that daylight saving meant they could get 120 overs in one day. There is no doubt the coloured clothing and floodlights changed the game and that they have brought a bit of pizzaz to one day cricket, but something is missing in the World Cup; the same thing that to be honest has been missing in the last two World Cups.

Is it the calibre of the players? How many of today’s players will we remember in 40 years times as greats of the game? Is it the format, a long drawn out affair that needs to be trimmed back and finished a fortnight earlier? Or is it the lack of a contest between bat an ball? If we look at the games that have piqued the interest in 2015, they have been in the main the games played in New Zealand, where the ball has moved and the bowlers have had a chance of picking up wickets. The games in Australia have followed the modern day trend, teams wins the toss, bats first hits a big total, team batting second fails to reach it. ODI’s in the last ten years have more games with this scenario that the authorities wish to admit.

If the Cricket World Cup is to keep people interested, do away with the power play, do away with the field restrictions, and do away with the limit on the number of overs a bowler can bowl; Why should they be restricted when a batsman does not have to retire at 50? Let’s make this more about cricket, rather than a slogfest. Everyone who watched the New Zealand and Australia game will remember that for a very long time. It was a close affair as it was a game in which the bowlers were able to put the batsman under pressure, and the batsmen in both teams showed they were not up to the task. I hazard a guess that this game will this be remembered by more people than a David Warner 100 of 86 balls. Of course it will. People will remember the game as a whole, rather than just one batsman thumping the ball into the stands ball after ball.

In 1975 I remember those moments mentioned, as well as Gary Gilmour’s 6 for 14 at Headingley to bowl out England for 93, Glenn Turner ending up top run scorer after scoring two centuries in three games. (Believe it or not no New Zealander scored 100 in a World Cup after that until 1992 when Martin Crowe did!). Alvin Kallicharan taking on Dennis Lillee in full flight without a helmet; he hit 35 runs off the last ten balls he faced from Lillee. Lillee and Thomson batting and continuing to run as the crowd invaded the pitch thinking the game was all over. Then of course there was Viv Richards’ three run outs in the final. Special memories.

So far Trent Boult’s five wickets v Australia along with Mitchell Starc’s six wickets in the same match stand out, as well as Tim Southee’s seven against England. AB de Villiers 162 v the West Indies was memorable, as was Chris Gayle’s 215. However in an era where bat dominates ball so often one feels that memories of these two innings will fade with time.

The game has changed and not more so than in the rewards, in 1975 the prize money for the winning team was GBP4,000 and the West Indies players received GBP100 each for the whole tournament! This year the winning team will take home $4.3million!

Prize money GBP4,000

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March 4, 2015 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

No To Big Boy’s Toys. Is There Another Option?

” A big boy needs a big bat” says West Indies opener Chris Gayle in response to the International Cricket Council’s proposed crackdown on the size of bats ahead of the World Cup.

He has received strong support from former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee, “I think that if players like Gayle and Warner are strong enough to lift a bat that heavy at that speed, then good for them, it makes the game a hell of a lot more exciting.” He is quoted as saying.

However not everyone agrees. After all the modern game of cricket, especially in Australia has become a game totally dominated by batsman as the wickets already give the bowlers little help. Many remember how tennis has changed dramatically and become all about power rather than finesse since wooden racquets became a thing of the past. Has the power really made Tennis a better game to watch?

Former Australian Test Captain Ian Chappell is one man who backs the ICC in this move. He has said that the increase in the thickness of the willow put the umpires and bowlers at risk of injuries. Not a reason many expected. Chappell however saved his main criticism of the ICC claiming that they had woken up too late and being behind on so many issues affecting the game, including the size of bats.

“At long last the ICC has decided there’s a problem with the bats. They are being hailed as too good and disturbing the balance between bat and ball. This combined with the fact that the ICC also recently decreed that shorter boundaries are contributing to the problem, is a classic case of being way behind the game.” He said.

One has to agree, and if the ICC does not soon start monitoring the state of the wickets prepared and ensuring that there is something in them for the bowlers we are likely to see the standard of bowling dip even further than it already has at international level in the past ten years. What incentive is there for a bowler to toil so hard when the odds are stacked so heavily against them.

Another change we have discussed on the show on many occasions is that the ICC should take away the restriction on the number of overs bowled. Batsmen do not have to retire at 50, so why should a bowler have to stop after 10 overs. People want to see a battle between bat and ball, and if a team has a bowler like Glenn McGrath who is hard to get away, or a Shane Warne pinning down one end why should they be prevented from using them? If the game is going to become more of an even contest then something has to start going in favour of the bowler.

As for the size of the bat, it has impacted the game. Has it had a positive impact? Some will say yes, as has been shown, but for everyone who says yes, there will be another who says no.

February 10, 2015 at 1:38 am Leave a comment

The Blame Game

For many becoming an ex-player in any sport is a very hard thing to come to terms with. Former Olympic swimming Gold medallist Neil Brooks wrote an excellent piece on this subject that was published on the WA Today website, entitled “Keeping Sports stars off the scrapheap of Life.”

The warning signs have been there for a long time. David Frith wrote a fascinating book, “Silence of the Heart” trying to explain why cricket has in every country where Test cricket is played, a higher suicide rate amongst ex players than the national average.

Brooks raises some very pertinent points, and shows how sport has changed dramatically. “I think most of us realise that professional sport is big business and if we are truly honest, the players and competitors, for the better part, are nothing more than interchangeable replaceable components of a machine driven by ratings points, sponsorship dollars and power brokers who in many cases have never swum a stroke, laced up a boot, swung a bat or made a free throw,” he wrote.

Never was a truer word written, but one has to question whether clubs have a duty of care to their players and how long that duty of care lasts. In the USA and Canada there is a duty of care when it comes to injuries, and some players have successfully sued clubs for financial compensation for their careers being shortened by a club rushing them back into a team before an injury has healed properly; the reason being they needed that player out there to make a final, or win a crucial game to keep the finances clicking in.

We talk of how our servicemen are broken down and re-built into skilled men and women who can react and defend our nation and its people, yet when they leave the forces they are not, for want of a better a word, “re-programmed” to enter the civilian world; some, as has been very clear, struggle to make that adjustment, especially those who have been forced out of the services due to injury.

Sport is never going to be the same as a military situation, but there are comparisons. Sportsmen live a very different life in many cases to the rest of us. Their careers are short so, in many cases the rewards are high. Sometimes the price paid physically for those rewards is equally high, with innumerable operations at an age twenty or thirty years before most non-athletes, as well as a life on painkillers to combat arthritis.

Coupled with that is dealing with the fact that in many cases they have to find a new career, and that the spotlight has shifted and they are no longer a star. As Brooks highlights, this is a major problem to many. “I have seen first hand when you have a certain skill set that is considered to be rare, speed that is not deemed to be normal for the species and are able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, then more often than not indiscretions off the field, in the pool or on the court are often have a blind eye turned to them and there is no shame in covering things up if it means keeping the talent on the paddock, playing the game and securing the points and lifting the silverware.” For many athletes that lack of protection post career leaves them extremely vulnerable and exposed, yet had they been punished for their indiscretions like a normal citizen, or told that they were not acceptable, that transition to a normal life would have been made easier.

Jobs for ex sports stars are not easy to come by. There are only so many coaching opportunities at the highest level, and not all are cut out for that. There are more at a lower level but the pay and the profile you have is a long way down from where these players have been used to, many feel it is beneath them. As for the media, some are fortunate to pick up media work; some get work even though they lack the skills set. It was the late George Gruljusich who bemoaned the fact that many an ex player was thrown on television and radio without serving an apprenticeship, and learning their trade. In sport it would never happen so why does it in the media?

In fact Ian Chappell who uses his knowledge of the game to predict what will happen rather than telling viewers what has happened, is frank and honest when he says in his book Chappelli:Life Larrikins & Cricket, “the only way to be any good and have a long career as a commentator is to treat it as a real job.” He continues by saying “Being an ex captain gives you some leeway. People like to hear what the past captain thinks and also to gain some insights into the team. For the ex-captain, this is a handy period. It gives you time to grow into the job, but once the honeymoon is over you then survive purely on ability.” How true this is, listen to the English Premier League experts and very few are the big name players. The best are the players who were never in the limelight, often players who worked hard to keep their place at the top and were students of the game. The truly gifted players rarely make the transition from player to commentator.

The question is should clubs and managers do more for their players? If they step out of line should they take the appropriate action and not cover up the misdemeanour? Should they help players obtain a skill and teach them how to manage their inflated incomes so that they have some money left over when they are finally discarded? It all comes down to that issue of a duty of care.

Ultimately clubs cannot be responsible for the actions of individuals, but if they are going to select young players and bring them into their club as teenagers then they should take on some responsibility in their grooming and education, its called in loco parentis.

A literal translation is “in the place of a parent” and this is a legal term that refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. One area that it applies is in allowing institutions such as colleges and schools to act in the best interests of the students as they see fit, although not allowing what would be considered violations of the students’ civil liberties. There is no reason why a sporting organisation should not be held responsible in the same way as a school or college.

As Brooks continued in his article when talking about indiscretions off the field, “The problem is, this kind of behaviour becomes the norm to a young athlete and they develop a mentality that as long as they race well, play well and win at all costs then what happens off the field doesn’t really matter because someone will be there to pick up the pieces, sweep it under the carpet and make things right – but of course it does matter.”

It is definitely a two-edged sword. Young athletes have to realise that their time at the top is fleeting, and that one day it will come to an end. They also have to realise that that fame and recognition will diminish as the years go by. The game does not owe them a thing, as the game has rewarded them with the trappings that go with being a sports star for however long they managed to stay in the limelight. However the clubs can help their cause with a little more honesty, a little more governance and a little more responsibility. After all these are people that you are dealing with, not commodities. Far too many big sporting organisations have forgotten that fact. These people hurt, bleed and cry like the rest of us.

Hopefully with athletes like Neil Brooks, who have been at the top and fallen from that great height, speaking out, people will realise that some onus must be placed on those who earn off the back of these athletes, their managers and the clubs they serve. These people need to ensure that when the athlete can no longer run, and has to retire, they have prepared them for rejoining normal society as best they can. Rather than what is happening now the door closes behind them and the clubs and managers forget all about them as the next generations are coming through, and leave them to fend for themselves. Sadly some teenage prodigies struggle to cope in a world that is totally alien to them.

November 18, 2014 at 11:56 am Leave a comment


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