Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Marjorie! Fetch my shotgun! I'm going to bag me a golden goose

Shane Warne

Barely a day goes by without a new innovation being suggested in cricket these days. It sometimes makes me wonder whether there is a large section of administrators who don't actually get Twenty20 on any level, they just see it as a barmy innovation dreamed up over a lengthy working lunch, but one that was actually passed.

Don't get me wrong, I think its a bit gimmicky, I find it fairly hard to engage with in that I can drift off, go and make a cup of coffee, forget it's on ITV4 and come back to it an hour later safe in the knowledge I haven't really missed much. In many way the IPL in particular is like Hollyoaks. You don't really need to pay attention, you can miss big chunks of it, but you can always pick up the thread and the same old familiar characters, that you thought were long gone are still knocking around. For Tony, the floppy haired guy who runs the cafe, read Shane Warne.

I wonder if this hypothetical administrators' view is what drives ideas like two innings Twenty20 and bright pink cricket balls. They are so excited that one idea got passed and went onto be a success that they are flinging out ideas all over the place to see if one of them will stick.

Musings aside The Guardian today reports that David Collier is assessing whether to cut the championship down to fewer matches in a season. This would obviously either need to be facilitated by cutting the number of teams in each division, most sensibly by introducing 3 divisions, or by just randomly jumbling up the fixtures so that some teams are played at home and away and some just once. The problem is that with 3 regional conferences there would need to be semi-finals and a final, not only would this prove a bit unsatisfactory in terms of deciding the winner, but Durham would have played 14 matches to win the championship instead of 16. Is it really worth the hassle for 8 extra rest days?

A reorganisation in itself though isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I would argue that in any system review the most wasteful and superfluous parts should be cut first. Namely the One Day formats. I've said before, although it might draw in a few hundred more spectators than a CC day there is too much meaningless one day county cricket and it is frankly a match fixing disaster waiting to happen. I hate to besmirch the honest county professionals, but I would be staggered if no-one had taken a bung to send down a few extra wide deliveries, or no-balls for a spreadbet on a pointless one day county match.

Ultimately spectators and fans want the maximum amount of meaningful, absorbing, exciting cricket I just hope the administrators want the same thing.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

First Friendly of the season abandoned

Warwickshire's first domestic friendly of the season, a two day match against Oxford UCCE was abandoned this morning after heavy overnight rain. The pictures on the website from yesterday seem to show conditions that weren't exactly conducive to cricket anyway with a saturated outfield.

The Bears had a bat and reached 195-4 yesterday before play was called off for rain. The batsmen who played were:
Westwood 37
Chopra 21
Troughton 10
Clarke 74
Ambrose 38*
Ord 0*

DNB: Botha, Woakes, Carter, Tahir, Miller.

So we haven't learnt too much more about the players, but it's probably done them good to have a bit of time in the middle. The next friendly is against Leicestershire on Thursday, again a 2 day match, and should prove to be more of a test. The Foxes have new boys Matthew Hoggard and Will Jefferson in the team, and should strengthen what has been in all honesty a perennially crap side.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A lengthy hiatus

I must apologise for the extended and prolonged absence of the Raggy Bear last season. I tend to steer clear of any personal accounts in the blog, on account of it being first and foremost about Warwickshire, not me. However I feel an explanation is in order given that I have missed blogging an entire season.

Last September (2008) I started a masters course in River Environmental Management at the University of Birmingham, in order to escape from the drudgery of financial services and get a foot in the door of environmental science and research. I left my job at Barclays Bank in May 2008, and spent that summer largely working in North Yorkshire where I managed to keep the Raggy Bear going and even catch the odd match. However the MSc programme had exams in May and then a dissertation from June through to September, leaving little time for watching cricket. I knew this would be the case in advance and with the increase in membership prices (and the fact as a 29yo mature student I didn't qualify for student membership), meant I reluctantly had to forego renewing my membership.

I always intended on keeping the blog going throughout the season, but sadly it quickly became obvious that it was not going to be possible.

Thankfully the MSc went well and I am now undertaking research for a PhD. The bad news is that it is at the University of Southampton! This means that it is highly unlikely that I will get to see Warwickshire more than a handful of times this season. It will certainly mean that it is at least 3 more seasons before I am in a position to renew my membership, and it may be that I never do so.

Ultimately it is a great thing I am doing at the moment and I am much more happy doing it. However it is sad that I won't be able to follow Warwickshire as closely as I would like. I remember taking out my membership when I was 27, and thinking at the time that it might be something that I was signing up for every year for the rest of my life, sadly it only ended up being 2 seasons.

The good news, depending on your point of view, is that I am going to try and keep up to speed with this season, although I think it unlikely that you will see much more than a regular news update, and occasionally my ill conceived opinions, as well as the odd article to make you chuckle.

Besides I'm sure that not going to games and being on the other side of the country will have no impact on my ability to annoy just about anyone associated with WCCC who comes across the blog!!

Here's to the upcoming season!