It seems that my most dire predictions on the state of the English One Day game have come to pass with the revealations that two Essex players under investigation by police for "match irregularities".
It's sad and it gives me no satisfaction to see my concerns about a glut of meaningless cricket realised. Andrew McGlashan on Cricinfo reports that the allegations against the un-named players relate to the practise of "spot fixing", which is basically taking bungs to bowl a specified number of no-balls, wides, etc. As McGlashan rightly says this can be seen as something which can be done without materially affecting the outcome of the match. The allegations relate to a televised Pro40 match that was available in the sub-continent. The rumours are that Danish Kaneria and Mervyn Westfield are the two players concerned.
I first raised concerns that the ECB's management of the English domestic game was exacerbating the potential for exactly this sort of thing to happen back in September 2007
Both these changes [to the one day league and the expansion of Twenty20 Cup] raise the possibility of playing the same sides throughout the season and risking spectator apathy.... I am also concerned that with every competition being a league there is a chance that many of these games could be "dead games", and that is where the possibility of match-fixing rears its head. The ECB will need to be very careful that with so many meaningless repeat matches, and the low rewards on offer, that we don't get our own domestic Cronje, or Azharuddin."
Again in May 2008
Where you have so many games, and with leagues there will inevitably be meaningless games, with largely non-existent "local" rivalries (compared to Warwicks v Worcester or the Roses match) the spectre of match fixing would be ever present."
And lastly, just last week in my thoughts on the latest round of domestic reorganisation I predicted that the exact scenario we are seeing played out had almost certainly already occurred somewhere in the county game:
"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."
No doubt out of this investigation there will be calls for greater regulation, greater scrutiny of matches and results. Possibly there will be a new or revamped body formed to be on the look out for "match irregularities", perhaps even a new or revamped 3rd umpire role. All of these things would no doubt be welcome, but surely the most important thing to do is to reorganise the domestic game so that there is less meaningless one day cricket, which encourages exactly the sort of actions alleged against these Essex players.
Clearly it's time for the ECB to read start reading this blog and then take things from there. My consultancy rates are very reasonable, my half-baked opinions and reactionary nonsense is as free to them as it is to the rest of you.
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