Category Archives: Cricket

‘The terrorist has got another wicket’

Dean Jones is one of those many former Australian cricketers who now earns big bucks as a commentator on the sport. Like many others, he has little of import to say, but takes up 700 or 800 words to do so.

Jones was sacked by Ten Sports in 2006 for making a racist comment about South Africa’s Hashim Amla. But he has slowly crept back, with the Melbourne newspaper The Age helping in his rehabilitation by giving him a weekly column.

One would think that a man who goes around referring to Muslim players as terrorists would be shunned by publications that claim to have standards.

But racism is part of the Australian national fabric and The Age is part of that fabric. Not the overt type of racism, no, the covert type that operates undercover and helps keep white people in positions of authority.

Jones most recent column is typical; he meanders all over the place. It looks like the whole piece is suffering from multiple attacks of schizophrenia. But he fills the space and The Age also gets a “name” to write. That he has nothing of any value to say does not seem to strike the owners of The Age, Fairfax Media. Perhaps this is one reason why The Age is rapidly going downhill.

Back in 2006, Jones was heard live on air calling South Africa’s Hashim Amla, one of the better batsmen in the world, a terrorist, during a Test between Sri Lanka and South Africa in Colombo. Amla took a catch to dismiss Kumar Sangakkara only to provoke this comment from Jones: “The terrorist has got another wicket.”

Jones was sacked by Ten Sports. But he has wheedled his way back.

This kind of racial vilification by Australian cricketers is not unusual. Darren Lehmann, now the coach of the national team, called the Sri Lankan team “Cunts, cunts, fucking black cunts,” when he was run out during a one-day match in Brisbane in 2003.

Exactly what Lehmann thinks of Sri Lankans these days is unknown.

And David Warner, now the vice-captain, played the colonial to the hilt in 2015 during a one-day match against India, when he confronted Rohit Sharma and demanded that the Indian batsman “speak English”.

Not that Warner’s English is top-grade. He is your average Bogan, who is crude, rude and lacks any refinement. But still he feels he can lay down the law to the non-whites.

Exactly why media organisations take in retired cricketers as commentators and writers is unknown. It is an entirely different skill to be able to write or talk in an intelligible and educative manner about any sport. But then many journalists, themselves, are fairly crippled in this regard.

Take the case of Aakash Chopra who was crapping on during the ongoing Test series between India and Australia. Chopra suffers from verbal diarrhoea. Yet, he is there to provide expert comment for Australian listeners. The Indian commentator Prakash Wakankar is, by contrast, very good at his job.

And then there is Simon Katich, a man who has a very limited vocabulary and seems stuck in cliches all the time.

Add to that Adam Collinson, who must surely be the most biased of callers, and Gerard Whateley, no slouch in the patriotism stakes, and you have all the makings of another Botany Bay invasion all over again.

Bangladesh should never have got Test status

After Monday’s loss to India in a one-off Test, Bangladesh has now played 98 Tests and won just eight, after being given full Test status in the year 2000.

That is a rather dismal record for any team. They have only beaten Zimbabwe (five times), the West Indies (twice) and England (once). You’d have to ask: why were they ever given Test status?

The answer is rather simple. At that time, the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, a Bengali (from the Indian state of West Bengal), was the chairman of the International Cricket Council. He was the man responsible for the current state of cricket, where meaningless matches are played month after month, ensuring that quantity triumphs over quality.

Dalmiya would never have had any chance of influencing the fortunes of the game had not India won the World Cup in 1983, beating the West Indies in the final. That gave one-day cricket a big fillip in the country, and the very next World Cup was held in the subcontinent, with India and Pakistan jointly hosting the tournament.

In terms of numbers, in terms of fanatical interest, in terms of ensuring crowds for even lowly games, no place is better than the Indian subcontinent. Dalmiya could only press for being given hosting rights after India’s win because with that he could boldly say that there was sufficient interest in the one-day game in his part of the world. Until then, India had rarely been given a chance in the shorter format; one of the more memorable innings by an Indian in one-day cricket was played by Sunil Gavaskar who batted through 60 overs to make 36 not out in a World Cup game.

But after 1983, you could not stop the rise of one-day cricket, with India and Pakistan being pitted against each other whenever possible. This rivalry draws on the historic enmity between the two countries after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. It is cynical to exploit such feelings, but then Dalmiya was only interested in money.

After Australia hosted the Cup in 1992, the subcontinent got the tournament again in 1996, with Sri Lanka joining to make up a third host. It was after this that the ICC decided that Test teams would play each other in order to be able to declare one team or the other as the top playing nation. Dalmiya was able to push his idea through because with two successful World Cups behind him, he had shown the rest how to really capitalise on the game.

And he could also get a few items on his own agenda through. Bangladesh is East Bengal; it formerly was a part of Pakistan when partition took place. In 1971, Bangladesh became a separate country after a war of liberation. The country has no cricket culture; the game that people there are crazy is about is football.

Bangladeshi cricket officials had good connections to Dalmiya. Hence when it was decided to expand the number of cricket-playing nations with Test status to 10, Bangladesh got the nod ahead of Kenya.

The African nation at that time had a much better team than Bangladesh. And if it had been promoted, many players from South Africa who did not make it to the top would, no doubt, have come over, qualified and played for the country as has happened with Zimbabwe. There are plenty of expatriate Indians in Kenya too.

But ethnic connections take precedence in cricket which had the stink of colonialism for a long, long time. And so Bangladesh made the grade and began to lose Test matches.

To get an idea of the relative merits of teams, look at Sri Lanka. The country was given Test status in 1981. By 1996, it had won the World Cup. That’s because it has a cricketing history, even though it was only a junior member of the cricketing nations. People there are crazy about the game and it is the country’s national sport.

Zimbabwe has fared worse than Bangladesh since it was given Test status in 1992 but then it has suffered badly due to the political instability caused by the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe. In 101 Tests, Zimbabwe has 11 wins and 64 losses; in 98 Tests, Bangladesh has won eight and lost 74.

Cronyism produces mediocrity. The case of Bangladesh is a very good case in point.

Does Steve Smith believe that spin can win matches?

As Australia mentally prepares for a gruelling tour of India, one curious characteristic of captain Stephen Smith is being ignored. This is Smith’s attitude towards spin and spinners when it comes to any form of cricket.

In India, any international team that wants to win a Test series must have a decent spin attack. This has become the case in recent years; the last time a team won in India was when England did so in 2012. They had Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann in their ranks.

During the three-Test series against Pakistan that concluded recently, Smith showed a curious reluctance to give the side’s only spinner, Nathan Lyon, a lengthy stint. He mostly depended on the medium-pacers and since Australia won all three Tests there were no questions raised.

His attitude towards spin was underlined in the second one-day game against Pakistan — in which the visitors registered a win at the MCG after 32 years — where he allowed Travis Head, one of two players who was expected to comprise the spin contingent, just three overs, one of them being the last of the match.

Pakistan bowled first, and 24 of the 50 overs were sent down by spinners. Some of these spin bowlers were part-timers: Mohammad Hafeez, the captain, is also the opening batsman, and Shoaib Malik bats at number five. They managed to contain Australia to 220, on a wicket that had uncertain bounce, but no great degree of turn.

Thus, Smith’s refusal to use spin is rather perplexing, even more so when one considers the fact that Head had bowled 10 overs against Pakistan in the first one-day game and given away just 28 runs.

Head’s first over went for 11 and after that he was kept away from the bowling crease until the 46th over, when it was all over bar the shouting. Pakistan’s winning run came from a wide bowled by Head.

So how will Smith adjust to the reality of spin in India? The Australian squad named for the tour has four spinners in its ranks: Lyon, Steve O’Keefe, Mitchell Swepson and Ashton Agar. How will Smith utilise these resources? He has only three recognised medium-pacers in the team: Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird.

The last time Australia toured India in 2013, it was an unmitigated disaster ending in a 4-0 brownwash. But Lyon did take seven wickets in the final Test in Delhi in a relatively low-scoring game. Glenn Maxwell had 4-127 in the second Test which Australia lost by an innings. Xavier Doherty, the other spinner in the ranks, did nothing to set the Yarra on fire.

Will Smith treat the spinners the same way that he has so far in his career? Will he display the same reluctance to bowl Lyon and the others? This is his first tour of India as captain and while he did play in two Tests on the losing 2013 tour, his experience of the country is very limited.

One aspect of the squad which defies explanation is the selection of a leg-spinner. No leggie, not even Shane Warne, has done well in Indian conditions. (Indeed, Warne has never done well against Indian batsmen, no matter the venue.) Then why take a leggie along, especially an uncapped one? Will he be thrown into the cauldron (and in India the use of the word cauldron is apt) and asked to take five wickets in order to keep his place in the side? Will it be another case of a youngster going along for one tour and then being discarded?

We should have answers to these questions by the end of March.

Big Bash League set for expansion and mediocrity

Cricket Australia is all set to expand the number of Big Bash teams next year – and in the process slowly begin killing the goose that has so far laid many 22-carat eggs.

In its sixth year, the BBL has been an overwhelming success until last year but there are signs that people would prefer that things remain as they are.

For example, the biggest crowd last year was for the clash between the two Melbourne teams, the Renegades and the Stars. A total of 80,883 turned up for the first clash between these two teams in 2015-16.

This year, 2016-17, the crowd for the corresponding game was nearly 10,000 less. Should Cricket Australia not take a hint from occurrences like this? Crowds in 2016-17 have, on the whole, been less than in 2015-16.

As of today, 22 matches have been played; there are another 10 to go before the semi-finals and final. Only in two games, have teams been asked to chase 200 or over. That means only two teams, the Brisbane Heat and the Melbourne Stars, have managed to make 200 or over.

Most of the games have been one-sided. Just two games have gone down to the last ball. Not a single century has been scored.

Overall many of the players seem to be jaded. That is not surprising for there are now so many Twenty20 leagues around the world — Pakistan (played in the UAE), the West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh all have their own leagues — that many players who are now literally T20 mercenaries come to the BBL after having played in at least a few of these competitions.

If they are mentally tired at the end of the year, who can blame them? They are playing as much as they can for it is their livelihood. They have only a few years in which they can earn money from this form of the game.

The TV commentators make the game unwatchable. There are a host of former Australian players who form the commentary team and to say they are mediocre would be paying them a compliment. T20 cricket itself sees heightened action but these ex-players keep trying to hype up everything. They have limited vocabularies and dumb down things to an incredible level.

Damien Fleming and Adam Gilchrist are horrible at the mike and it is clear that they are there for the money. They were both competent cricketers but have reached their level of incompetence as commentators. Gilchrist makes one cringe, he cannot speak a sentence without acting as an arse-licker of a very high order.

Some of the other commentators have clear conflicts of interest: Mark Waugh is a national selector and it is unethical for him to sit in the commentary box making comments about players whose futures he could well decide. But then one would recall that he is the same person who took money from a bookmaker when he was a player. The same goes for Ricky Ponting who is now an assistant coach for the national T20 team.

But hey, who gives a flying f*** these days? There’s good money available to these poor-quality commentators so they take it and run. Not that they need it. They lack the integrity to act in an ethical way.

Back to Cricket Australia and its expansion plans. One doubts that its chief executive James Sutherland will bother much about whether crowds grow or whether people watch; after all, CA will make its money before a single ball is bowled. The TV contract will increase, the TV channel in question, Channel 10, will welcome the additional games, and all will be right with the world.

This year there are 32 games; each team will play the others and the two Melbourne teams, the two Sydney teams, Adelaide and Hobart, and Brisbane and Perth, will play each other twice. Once the expansion is complete, that number of games will increase. Do people want to see more and more ordinary games that are won by big margins or do they want to see better games that go down to the wire?

Kohli wants the captaincy, of that there’s no doubt

When India won the fifth one-day international against Australia on January 23, the first man to run out on to the field and congratulate the two batsmen at the crease — Manish Pandey and Gurkeerat Singh Mann crease — was Virat Kohli. One would have expected the Indian captain, M.S. Dhoni, to be doing this.

This is but the latest bit of gamesmanship by Kohli to indicate to Dhoni that his time is up and that he (Kohli) should be leading India instead.

Earlier in the same game, one could see Kohli often going up to the bowlers and offering advice as though he was in charge. And there were other occasions when he spoke to Dhoni, clearly suggesting a field change, which, in most cases, was made.

Dhoni is only a shadow of his former self and this was evident in the painful innings he played on the night. The man who is often touted as the best one-day finished in world cricket did not stay for the finish, holing out after making 34 off 42 balls. At that stage India still needed six runs off four balls.

By contrast, young Pandey made 104 off 81 balls. He put Dhoni to shame, as did Rohit Sharma (99 off 108) and Shikhar Dhawan (78 off 56).

Dhoni has always been conservative out on the field. He never tries to make things go his way, he always waits for them to take their course. To be a little more succinct, he tends to dawdle. What he does, he does four or five overs too late.

Kohli, on the other hand, is an aggressive person by nature, always looking to engineer a dismissal and taking the fight to the opposition. No better illustration was given than in the third one-day match when James Faulkner attempted to rile up Kohli. What Faulkner said was not picked up by the stump microphone, but Kohli’s reply was heard clearly: “You’re wasting your energy. There’s no point, I’ve smashed you enough in my life. Just go and bowl.”

Dhoni would probably have looked the other way if Faulkner had tried to get under his skin.

Two positives for India in final one-day match

There were two positives for India to take away from the final one-day international against Australia, apart from the unexpected win: the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah and the batting of Manish Pandey.

Pandey will probably figure in more media reports as he was the man of the match for making an unbeaten 104 off 81 balls to see the tourists home. But Bumrah’s performance is more significant for India, given that its bowling stocks are not upto the mark.

Bumrah is not unduly tall but he seems to follow the traditional approach of the fast bowler of yore. He has an unusual action, with his right arm coming down from its maximum height just before delivery. He also is not afraid to attack the stumps and slip in the occasional yorker and does not look to merely contain the batsman.

Bumrah also seems to use the bouncer more intelligently than most of the others in the Indian team, occasionally getting the ball to rear up to an uncomfortable height.

Indeed so good was Bumrah’s debut performance that he was called on bowl overs 45 and 49; in the latter, he bowled James Faulkner with the first ball and conceded only three runs in toto. He ended with the excellent analysis of 2 for 40, the other wicket being that of Australian skipper Steve Smith whom he had caught at mid-wicket by Rohit Sharma.

Pandey’s batting can best be described as being uncomplicated. His hitting was clean and calculated. He did not seem unduly ruffled by the situation as his captain, M.S. Dhoni, dawdled at the other end, letting the run-rate climb. India needed 35 in the last three overs, before getting 13 in the 48th and nine in the 49th.

The final over bowled by Mitchell Marsh began with a wide before Dhoni clouted a six off the first legal delivery. The Indian captain was caught off the second but Pandey edged the third ball down to third man for a boundary and then lofted the fourth over the infield to take India home. Dhoni’s innings was painful, with his 34 coming off 42 balls. He is clearly only a shadow of the player he once was and the sooner he hands over the captaincy to Virat Kohli, the better.

Australia fell a little short of a better total than the 330 they put up as they got just seven runs in the last two overs. Mitch Marsh was on 98 at the end of over 48. Bumrah conceded three runs in over 49 and with Marsh intent on his hundred, runs were not the priority. The fact that Ishant Sharma hit Marsh a glancing blow in the groin region in the last over did not help Australia’s cause either.

India has given hints that it is more focused on the T20 games that follow by bringing in Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh into the squad.

Dhoni, don’t outstay your welcome, please go

India’s shock loss in the fourth one-day match against Australia was one way that the players had of sending a message: members of the team don’t want Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain because he has lost that magic touch he once had.

Dhoni is more of a zombie and several members of the team are loath to play to their full potential and win games anymore because the captain will be able to bask in reflected glory.

The series against South Africa last year gave an indication of this: the one-day series and the Twenty20 series were both won by South Africa. Dhoni captained India in both these series. But when it came to the Test matches under Virat Kohli, India thrashed South Africa 3-0 and would have won the one drawn Test too had it not been for rain washing out most of the game.

Dhoni quit Test cricket when the Indian team was in Australia in 2014-15. He did not play in the first Test due to an injury and India lost this under Kohli but they went down fighting. Dhoni captained in the second Test which was lost rather badly and he quit Test cricket after that. Kohli took over and both the remaining Tests were drawn.

The fourth one-day match of the current seris, played on January 20, saw India lose from a winning position; chasing 349, they were 1-277 with both Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli having reached three figures. Dhawan then fell to a lazy stroke. Dhoni came in and was out for a duck; soon after, Kohli gave a catch to mid-off similar to those one gives during net practice.

Towards the latter part of the Indian innings, Ravindra Jadeja, an extremely competent batsman, was around but strangely refused to take a leadership role.

Jadeja came in at number six in the 40th over, with India needing 71 to win. He did not make any attempt to farm the strike, did not speak to the batsmen at the other end, and kept taking singles and exposing players much less able than him to face up.

Jadeja’s behaviour was passing strange, more so in the context of the Indian team manager Ravi Shastri having said on the eve of the fourth game: “Jaddu showed in the Test series (against South Africa) that he has matured a lot.

“Whenever he batted he played crucial innings. Why not in Australia? When he gets the opportunity… you have to get the opportunity first. We have batted so well at the top that the opportunity hasn’t been there. If and when there is a situation, like Australia were (in Melbourne, where the third one-day game was played), six down or seven down with another 60 to get. That will be his test.”

Yet Jadeja was placed in precisely this situation in Canberra and chose to protect his wicket and not bother about the team’s fate. What other reason could one apportion than his desire to see the team lose so that Dhoni would not be able to take the credit?

Dhoni must quit at the end of this tour, if not earlier, else India will be disgraced in the upcoming World Twenty20 tournament as well.

Why India will not win a single match in Australia

Indian supporters who have been barracking for their country in the five-match one-day series against Australia assume that their team wants to win.

In that they are sadly mistaken.

The series was effectively over yesterday with Australia’s third straight win; the remaining games in Canberra and Sydney are now meaningless. For India, this is all part of a financial arrangement between the cricket boards of the two countries, and the players are not really interested. Their one interest is money.

The five one-day matches and the three Twenty20 games will bring in more money for the Australian board than the six Tests of the summer, three between Australia and New Zealand and three between Australia and the West Indies. And that is what matters.

After the advent of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament in 2008, Indian players, no matter whether they are in the national teams or not, have been playing solely for themselves. Their only concern is to keep themselves fit enough and perform so that they can earn another contract with one of the teams in the IPL and continue earning stupendous sums of money.

Though India is said to be a poor country, the IPL has no shortage of funds because the black money in India – and for every legit rupee there are 100 in the black economy — is being brought out by businessmen to fund the tournament. Else, there is no way such huge sums would be available to pay players and to stage the spectacle. The government is happy to stay quiet because more and more black money is becoming legal tender.

You can see the lack of motivation in the manner the Indian team plays. In both games one and two, India could easily have scored more than the 309 and 308 they did, after winning the toss in both cases and batting. But they fiddled around, and ended up at least 20 or 30 runs short of a competitive total.

Their tactics are old world; while the rest of the world shows a sense of urgency from the word go, India likes to dawdle, play beautiful cricket shots that go to a fielder nine times out of 10, and make a big rush at the end to try and boost the total.

A total of 300 was some years ago psychologically important in one-day cricket; it theoretically meant that one’s opponent would have to score at a run a ball in order to win. But after Twenty20 came into vogue, the rate of scoring has grown by leaps and bounds. These days, anything short of 350 will not bother even the weakest of teams.

Australia always hurries up at the start because the fielding restrictions are more and the team that is batting is at an advantage. Players use their heads a lot more than the Indians do.

Nobody would call Steve Smith’s batting an aesthetically pleasing spectacle but the man knows how to beat the field even with awkward strokes. He gets on with the job and scores fast. Rarely does he fail. On the other hand, Virat Kohli would delight the purist with his style. But he takes many more strokes to get the same score as Smith.

For Smith, the fact that he is the captain means something.

His Indian counterpart, M.S. Dhoni, stands like a cow behind the wickets and, even at a stage of his cricket career when he should be wiser, often makes the most elementary tactical mistakes. Dhoni retired from Tests last year but is still sticking around for the money that is available to those who are part of the national one-day and Twenty20 teams.

But then he is not alone. Every Indian player is driven by that one motive.

In the third game, the Indian opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan consumed 91 balls — nearly a third of the total overs available to the team — to make 68. It was looking a bit embarrassing for him after two bad failures in the first two games. So he stuck around and scored; the team’s interests would have been better served had he gone for the runs and even got out.

But Dhawan’s sole interest is to keep his place in the team.

Expect more of the same in games four and five and three T20 matches that follow.

T20 takes pride of place in Australian summer

The Australian cricket season has just started flourishing with its Twenty20 tournament getting underway. Crowds are there, so too television audiences.

This year the Big Bash League is the main story, not the Test cricket that has traditionally been the centrepiece.

Two nondescript teams have been booked for the summer, with neither New Zealand nor the West Indies the kind that would challenge Australia.

And the better team of the two was booked for the earlier part of the summer. New Zealand lost two of three Tests and drew one. The West Indies have lost one and nobody gives them a chance in hell of even making a contest of the remaining two Tests.

Only India or England would pull the crowds: England because the traditional rivalry with Australia goes back more than a century and India because the team is a feisty lot who will nowadays give as good as they get. Last time out, they drew two of the four Tests and gave up winning positions in the two they lost.

South Africa will not visit at this time of the year any more; they have their own season to look after and it is the biggest time of the cricketing year for them too. They are slated to play England in a Test series that starts on Boxing Day.

So is the T20 the new medicine for Australian cricket? It depends a lot on who is here to play Test cricket.

These are the kind of questions the International Cricket Conference should be considering. But it appears it has more important things to do than nurturing the game from which it earns its daily bread.

One-sided cricket matches are here to stay. Why would you attend?

World cricket is in a parlous state, not in terms of the money it makes, but in terms of the contests it provides. The games are one-sided to the extent that patrons at the grounds are few and far-between.

There is no better illustration of this than in the ongoing Australian games, where the home team is playing New Zealand and the West Indies in three Tests apiece. The first Test against New Zealand was won convincingly, and the second looks like going the same route. As to the West Indies, they are not expected to last beyond four days in each of the three Tests.

The man who is responsible for this farcical outcome, where Tests are mostly one-sided, died recently. Jagmohan Dalmiya was the one who set in motion these unending Test matches, where cricket goes on round the year, and the same bunch of players have to play, and play and play. Dalmiya’s so-called Test championship was set in motion after he became head of the ICC with the help of Australia and England. His first attempt to become the chief of the ICC in 1996 failed, thwarted by England and Australia with support from New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies. England and Australia insisted that candidates needed the support of at least two thirds of the ICC’s full members, the nine Test-playing countries. Dalmiya was backed by Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, and also 19 of the 22 associate members. Test-playing countries have two votes against one for associate members.

In the 1996 poll, Dalmiya obtained 25 votes against 13 for Australia’s Malcolm Grey in the first ballot. A third candidate Krish Mackerdhuj from South Africa withdrew. But at the second ballot, five of the Test-playing nations supported Grey and with South Africa abstaining, Dalmiya was shut out. The ICC then decided that incumbent chairman Sir Clyde Walcott would continue for another year until July 1997.

But in 1997, Dalmiya cut a deal with Grey that he would be the next ICC head if Dalmiya was given the reins, and he ascended to the throne. Dalmiya is from the Marwari community which is known for its business acumen. He is also a Bengali.

Thus it was not surprising that he managed to give Bangladesh full Test status soon after he became ICC chief. At that time, Kenya had a much better team. Bangladesh is the eastern part of the Indian state of West Bengal, which became a part of Pakistan at partition in 1947 due to its majority Muslim population, and finally a separate nation in 1971 after a war.

Dalmiya’s other interest was to make money for the ICC. Hence the future Test tours programme where every nation had to play every other nation at least once in a certain cycle. Points were awarded and rankings created.

But the standard of the game, apart from contests between a few countries, dropped like a stone. Players are human beings and get tired, in body, mind and spirit by playing too often. Apart from the Tests there have been countless one-day series and also Twenty20 games. Each country has been interested in organising games that result in more income; India and Pakistan, for example, still capitalise on the age-old enmity between their countries and try to play whenever possible. Due to political tensions, that has not been possible in recent times.

Dalmiya was later embroiled in a TV rights controversy and had to leave his ICC post in 2000. But he has hovered around, being in the Indian cricket board or the Calcutta cricket board and was head of the Indian board when he died.

Nobody has done a thing to try and rectify the abnormal amount of cricket being played. Money is the sole criterion and while countries have to adhere to the ICC-mandated timetable, they organise other games which will bring in money as and when they like. The players could complain, but the money keeps them from doing so. But then they cannot perform like trained monkeys and the quality of the games is very low.

Australians normally turn out in large numbers for cricket in summer. This year, the crowds are poor, very poor. New Zealand played before 1373 spectators on the final day of the first Test and 6608 on day four, when the contest was still open, though the target set favoured Australia. It does not look very good at the second Test either with 13,593 attending on day one and 10,047 on day two.

Let’s be clear about one thing: national cricket bodies do not need crowds to make money. That is already done through TV deals. Not a single spectator needs to come through the gates for the books to be in the black.

But is that all the game is about? It is on life support now, with few, if any, Tests going to the fifth day, and big wins for one team all the time. People are losing interest and that is a dangerous sign.