January 7, 2010 Issue #103
Hello and welcome to this edition of the I.E.C.C. Newsletter.
- Next decade – Bleak future for the Associates?
- The fine print
- Asia & EAP news –
- Indian Engineers’ Japan Cricket Rating – New results
- IECC poll results
- Reader’s corner
- Best of the web
- Snippet of the month
- Trivial facts from our Archives
Next decade – Bleak future for the Associates?
Cricinfo ran an article a few days ago under the headline “Big brothers’ indifference hurts the little guys” (http://www.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/441863.html), higlighting the bleak future ahead for the Associate countries. Reading that article, one cannot but agree with the writer, who pointed out specific instances where the Associates failed in sustaining the momentum they gained either due to internal squabbles within their respective Boards, or ICC’s and also the Full Members’ general lack of enthusiasm towards them due to monetary reasons. For e.g., the writer states an example where South Africa demnaded almost $100,000 from Kenya to even consider putting out a side against them(http://www.cricinfo.com/kenya/content/story/437848.html). On ICC’s part, it bypassed Namibia, the obvious candidate, and fast tracked USA to the World Cup Twenty20 Qualifiers to be held early this year, when they decided to add an extra team to the tournament, the article pointed out.
All these reflect one basic thing. The administration of Cricket has changed and it is after money. This is quite understandable in any sport but that leaves a question behind as far as the development of cricket is concerned – what is in it for the Associlates? If higher graded Associates like Namibia, Ireland, USA etc. are suffering, one can only feel for our local board, the Japan Cricket Association(JCA), which is graded lower in the Associate ranks. While it is no big secret that cricket has not progressed much in Japan in the past decade – not at least to the extend that it caught some media attention or produced some upsets on the field – due to various reasons, the most infamous of which was the high profle merger of the then Kano Cup (a competition by the foreigners, of the foreigners and for the foreigners) early in the decade and the JCA’s domestic competition, and the eventual split that followed a few years later, partly due to the JCA’s policies and partly due to some hot-headed individuals running the competition at that time.
cricket faces numerous hurdles in making any significant penetration into the mainstream sports culture in Japan. At the moment cricket is not even a sidestream sport in this country. According to JCA’s own estimate a few years ago, there might be about 1000 active cricket players in Japan – a combined figure of both Japanese and foreigners – more than half of which are Tokyo based. We do not know about the accuracy of this figure but we see nothing on the ground to suggest that this figure might have gone up dramatically since the last estimate made known to us. We do not know about the fan base either. It won’t be wrong to assume that the fan base is actually the active cricketers themselves and their family and friends. One might find some players and fans in some universities but that is more due to the Japanese culture itself – one MUST belong to some sports group, otherwise you will be considered an outcast. Hence the interest wanes after one is out of the university. Like in the USA, where cricket is struggling for some attention among other high profile and money spinning sports like Baseball, Football(which they play with hands!) and Basketball, Japan also suffers from very similar obstacles in advancing the game. In the case of the USA, however, the ICC pays top attention among the Associates and works harder and does the maximum of what it can to promote the sport in that country, the reason obviously being the dollars. USA also has an added advantage of being the land of migrants which means that they have an ample supply of talented cricketers from the Full Member countries and a huge fan base from the same source. Japan will be a different case though. It does not offer any money in the near foreseeable future, the fan base is abysmally low and hence sponsors are unlikely to stop by the JCA’s office.
A reader of Cricinfo pointed out in response to an article in early 2009, which we quote here because his opinion holds true for Japanese Cricket too – “Cricket will never be a success in the USA. Imagine a global sport like Football is less successful, this even after USA hosting a World cup and the USA team is among the top twenty teams of the World. The sports market is run by TV channels in the US and no Network would be willing to give up their prime time Baseball/Football/Basketball for a game that is a relative unknown. Most Americans cannot think cricket beyond ‘it’s like baseball except that they use a flat bat and the ball pitches before it reaches the batter’. ICC can instead pump in the dollars to improve cricket in countries like West Indies, New Zealand etc. where the game is losing its popularity and can help revive the fortunes of those teams. We don’t want China and America to help us with cricket.” Well put.
So where is Japan Cricket heading in the next decade? Where will they be at the end of the decade?
The answer to these questions lie in the way the JCA is planning to run cricket in Japan. With the ground realities being what they are, Japan is unlikely to achieve the ODI status by the end of this coming decade. Afghanistan, with much less cricket history than Japan has, achieved the coveted ODI status in 2009 primarily because the war ravaged country had practically no major sport and a vast number of returning refugees from Pakistan helped build the game in that country. Japan, again, will be a different case. They have to groom indigenous cricketers for which they will need money and support. True, ICC pays the JCA about US$200,000 a year as an Associate Member but that will only help Japan meet the basic needs. A fully paid CEO helps, as is the current case, but free money can only do limited things. The actual growth must come from the ground.
To move forward, JCA should include more foreigners in their administration as well as in the national team. With such limited talent, resources and too many hurdles, Japan cannot afford to have two different competitions that don’t talk to each other. JCA’s invitation to Tokyo Giants, a Kanto Cricket League team, to participate in a short tournament at the end of the season last year and its CEO’s appearance at the KCL’s prize distribution ceremony were indeed welcome gestures but these gestures should go beyond the personal rapport the Giants skipper and the JCA CEO enjoys. The JCA is recognised and supported by the ICC but the KCL has better talent and resources. We have seen what foreigners could do both in sports(Sumo’s highest rank is occupied by two foreigners, a number of foreigners playing in Baseball and Football in Japan) and corporate circles(Nissan and Sony are shining examples). A unified competition does not guarantee to bring the ODI status to Japan, but a divided community will only lead to a path of self-destruction. There is plenty of evidence available to prove that the JCA can not run cricket effectively without the help of foreigners and a lack of coordination only mutes the growth of the sport. At the moment, the Shizuoka Kytes does cricket coaching that is not supported by the JCA. We know other instances where foreign English teachers coach cricket in their schools which are uncoordinated too. Combine all these individual efforts under one banner and the results will be there for all of us to see. Working with foreigners will not be easy for the JCA and the Japanese idiom “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down” may not work well in a multi-cultural sport. Hence attitudes must be reset and adjustments will have to be made by both parties.
With due respect for all those who work hard for the advancement of the game, our prediction is that cricket in Japan is unlikely to make any waves in the sports pages of the Newspapers by the end this decade. We will, of course, be a happier lot if our prediction goes wrong and we do hope and pray that cricket becomes a recognised sport in this country.
Tokyo Wombats won the Pacific Friendship Cup 2009 by beating the YC&AC convincingly at Shizuoka in November. Batting first YC&AC scored 178, thanks to their import, Aamir Ali’s 54. The Wombats got home with the loss of 4 wickets.
YC&AC 177 (Aamir Ali 54, P Shackleford 4/22)
Tokyo Wombats 178/4 (N Goold 46, C Jones 48). Scorecard
PFC is a friendly 8 team tournament started in 2000 in which the founders – the Indian Engineers and Shizuoka Kytes – and Tokyo Wombats are permanent members. Five other teams are invited every year on a rotational basis. More details are available here.
Indian Engineers on Twitter
Well, the Engineers can’t be away from latest technology for too long. Follow the Engineers at http://twitter.com/ieccjapan/ for live match updates and other cricket updates.
The Fine Print
Pakistan cricketers Muhammad Aamer and Umar Gul were reportedly embroiled in a scuffle after their side’s 141-run victory over New Zealand in the second Test. The altercation reportedly took place after a minor matter but later developed into a serious issue.Two players were fined Rs 200,000 each for getting physical with each other in Wellington. This is not the first time that such incidents have been reported from a touring Pakistan squad abroad. In 2007, fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was sent back home from South Africa and banned for 13 matches after he hit teammate Mohammad Asif with a bat before the Twenty20 World Cup. In the 2003 World Cup, a fight broke out between the then captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan during a football game.
Shane Watson is not embarrassed by his on-field antics but Australian skipper Ricky Ponting is not happy about his players’ on-field behaviour. The third Test between Australia and the West Indies was marred by a few ugly incidents, involving players from both the sides. Watson was fined 15 per cent of his match fee for his wild celebration after dismissing rival captain Chris Gayle.
Former Australian coach John Buchanan believes it is time for Ricky Ponting’s team to revisit the Spirit of Cricket pledge that was signed during his tenure, and urged Shane Watson not to undo years of hard work and control his emotions. Buchanan was coach in 2003 when Steve Waugh pledged to improve standards of behaviour by signing the Spirit of Cricket document, and believes it needs to reflect a new team and a new culture following an ill-tempered series against the West Indies during which four Australian players were found guilty of bad behaviour.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has said that it will send a letter of protest to the International Cricket Council hefty suspension handed down to spinner Sulieman Benn, but will not appeal against the decision. Australians Brad Haddin and Mitchel Johnson pleaded guilty to an ugly mid-pitch confrontation incident and were handed lesser sanctions, losing 10 per cent and 25 per cent of their match fees respectively, despite match referee Chris Broad slamming Haddin for his role as an inflamer of the incident.
Asked what he thought of Watson’s histrionics when he bounded up and down and yelled in the personal space of Chris Gayle after taking his wicket for 21 during the 2nd Test, West Indies team manager Joel Garner said: “I am not even going to entertain the thought. The match referee is the man in charge and he will do whatever he feels is best. I go back to “Animal Farm” days, George Orwell, they say all animals are equal and later on in the same book they say some animals are more equal than others. Maybe that applies in some cases.”
West Indies captain Chris Gayle has labelled the Australian cricket team a pack of whingers and called all-rounder Shane Watson soft as the fallout from the recently completed three-Test series continues. Gayle, named man of the series despite Australia’s 2-0 triumph, claimed Ricky Ponting’s men were the masters of sledging but couldn’t handle the heat when a player returned serve. “When they sledge and if you give it back to them, they whinge a lot,” Gayle said in Perth. “‘They can’t handle it.”
“There doesn’t seem to be any punishment forthcoming for someone who provokes and that to me is against the principles of natural justice,” former India captain Anil Kumble wrote in his syndicated column about the ugly incident during the recently concluded Test between the West Indies and Australia. “The Australians always seem to get away. Whatever their transgressions on the field, invariably it is their opponents who end up paying a price. Kumble cited the example of the Delhi Test in 2008, during which Gautam Gambhir was banned for a Test by match referee Chris Broad because he elbowed Shane Watson. “In the Delhi Test against us, my last, the one that earned Gautam Gambhir a ban for having a go at Watson, the same umpire and the match referee were officiating,” Kumble wrote. “At that time, the umpire Billy Bowden didn’t see it fit to report Simon Katich who had later obstructed Gautam and the match referee Chris Broad too didn’t bother to act on his own or follow it up with the on-field umpires even though it was very much evident on TV. And as on that occasion, the provocateurs got away in Perth too, with Haddin and Johnson receiving minor reprimands.”
Controversial Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has lambasted reports about him having a liposuction surgery. Akhtar said it was a knee- surgery and not any fat removing surgery because of which he is out of competitive cricket. “Everybody is talking about it, but this is the first time I’ve spoken on this. I don’t need liposuction. I’m not fat. I’m a fit guy, I can reduce my weight by running”. Akhtar also blasted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for releasing a statement saying he had ‘genital warts’, due to which he was axed from the T20 World Cup. “The PCB’s findings are a load of crap. The truth is I had skin tags. A doctor who treated me wrote this in his report and I gave this report to the PCB. It was high up on my thighs and from the running and training I developed a rash,” Akhtar said.
Comment: Sometimes too much information is not good.
Source: Various web and print media
Asia & EAP News
EAP records historic victory
East Asia Pacific (EAP) team, a team composed of best cricketers of the EAP countries, recorded its largest victory in its seven-year history with a 66-run win over South Australia on the second day of the Australian Country Cricket Championships in Albury. Winning the toss, EAP elected to bat, losing two early wickets before Chris Amini (51) and Assad Vala (50) put on an 86-run partnership to lift EAP to 187 all out.
In reply, the side then fielded well to defend its total which included two run-outs. South Australia was dismissed for 121 all out with Andrew Mansale and Loa Nou taking three-wickets apiece.
Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5
Following the Pepsi World Cricket League Division 6 in Singapore last September, the next phase of qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 takes place in February with six teams competing in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 (WCL Div. 5) in Nepal. The top two sides at this event, which will be played from 20 to 27 February in Kathmandu, will win promotion to the WCL Div. 4 to be played in Italy in August. This is the third step on the road to ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2013 to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
Indian Engineers’ Japan Cricket Rating – New results
Results as of December 31:
Here is the list of the top 10 teams(last month’s ranking in brackets):
1 Tokyo Giants (1)
2 Tokyo Wombats (2)
3 Nagoya (4)
4 Wyverns (5)
5 Serendib (6)
6 Lalazar (3)
7 YC&AC (7)
8 Indian Engineers (10)
9 MAX (8)
10 Adore (10)
10 Kansai Lions (9)
10 Al karam (9)
We encourage all teams to send us your result statistics regularly so that your team’s rankings remain as accurate as possible. We are in a position to obtain the results of the official tournament matches on our own but we are looking for the results of the friendly matches.
Thanks for your continuing good work with the Newsletter. Like it a lot.
Tokyo Predators C.C.
Editor** We encourage our readers to write back to us with your articles, opinion, feedback and criticism. Feel free to write about anything related to cricket, in Japan or outside.
IECC Poll results
Do agree with the suggestion of lifting the quota for the bowlers in ODI to make it more interesting?
Here is the last poll result:
Do you think India can sustain the No.1 rank in the Tests ?
India doesn’t deserve it 17%
Take the new poll:
Do you think Japan will achieve the ODI status in the next 10 years?
Best of the Web
Snippets of the Month
Note: Beginning the Issue #39 (May 6, ’04), we bring you some interesting snippets from the cricket world, to celebrate the fourth anniversary this Newsletter and first anniversary of our popular “Trivial Facts” series. The same will be published on the front page of our website too.
I go back to Animal Farm days by George Orwell, they say all animals are equal and later on in the same book they say some animals are more equal than others. Maybe that applies in some cases.” – Joel Garner on harsher punishment meted out to the WI players than the Australians during an on-field incident recently.
Trivial facts (from our Archives)
India’s M L Jaisimha, England’s Geoff Boycott, Allan Lamb and Andrew Flintoff, Australia’s Kim Hughes, India’s Ravi Shastri and West Indies’ Adrian Griffith have all batted on each day of a five-day Test.
That’s all in this edition!