Monday, 14 July 2008

A silly con on the paying public

Whilst I've been working the past few days I have been listening to the cricket on Test Match Special. Today, disappointingly but predictably, the match has petered out into a draw thanks to the flat pitch. But what has just happened has made me extremely disappointed and will no doubt have frustrated the paying spectators even more.

At ten to five, South Africa declared their second innings having done a deal with England to call the match off as a draw. Paying punters were therefore robbed of over an hour of play because the players could not be bothered.

What was most scandalous is that, whilst playing conditions allow for a match to be called off as a draw at 5pm, the captains colluded to avoid another 10 minutes of play through the declaration.

Any fan reading the scorecard in future years would be amazed to find that, with the potential for an hour's play in the test and South Africa only 47 ahead, the England captain should concede a draw. Now I know full well that Graeme Smith would not have declared if there were any danger that England would play on, but I still feel that fans have been cheated of play - even of only 10 minutes worth.

So I would like the cricket law makers to introduce a rule that no captain may refuse to chase a potentially winnable position.

The MCC should also hang their heads in shame. The play this afternoon has been desultory with England failing to make much effort to chase an improbable win. The nadir came with the decision not to have Anderson or Sidebottom bowl with the second new ball but to give it to Collingwood and Panesar instead. According to the commentary, this is most probably due to the immediacy of the second test which starts at Headingly at the end of this week.

If back to back tests are going to result in the first of these being such a non-event then it is a policy that should be abandoned immediately. I can't see why we have such a timetable in any case. When England won the Ashes, they did so in a final test which ended in mid September. This year, we will have had 7 test matches which will finish by mid August. Why on earth finish so early when it will clearly result in some matches not being played out properly.


Julian H said...

Hmm, I disagree; this is simply the nature of any non-time-specific sport. For example, how is this any different from a snooker player conceding a frame?

There was virtually no chance of England taking seven wickets, darting to the pavilion, getting changed, coming back out, then making enough runs to win – with only 20-something overs to play.

Spectator sport is about entertainment, sure, but the competitive element is a large part (if not all) of the root of the entertainment. I don’t expect Theo Walcott to do a little dance on the sidelines for me, I expect him to focus entirely on getting us three points. This is my entertainment. If we’re 5-0 up at half time, I’m more than happy to have a boring second half and just win 5-0. I don’t care about the ‘value’ I’m getting from the second 45 minutes, I just want the win.

Furthermore, anyone buying tickets for a fourth or fifth day of a Test knows they’re risking a shortened day. I have often wondered why, however, there can’t be some kind of ‘filler’ entertainment for when this happens. For example, if a Test ends at 2pm, can’t some local teams and / or retired players / ‘celebrity’ teams be on hand to play an exhibition match? Maybe that sounds lame (and yes, I’m aware it’s not competitive), but surely they could at least do something to ameliorate days on which it ends especially early.

Hywel said...

"So I would like the cricket law makers to introduce a rule that no captain may refuse to chase a potentially winnable position."

All that would happen then is that South Africa would bat on for another 10 minutes/half hour/hour until the call off point is reached.

Anyone who bought a ticket to get in this morning would have known there was a chance that by 3:30/4pm the game was petering out into a fairly tame draw