ICC bow to Nepal stone-throwers
THE stone-throwing Nepal public, not the cricketers, helped their team to promotion from Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five in February, and the ICC have concluded they is nothing they can do until they amend the rules.
The ICC have published their report into the day when the unruliness of the 12,000 crowd affected the match between Nepal and United States in Kathmandu. The suspension of play at Tribhuvan University for 48 minutes and recalculation of the run target led directly to Nepal pipping Singapore to promotion that day by 0.004 on run-rate.
The Singapore Cricket Association complained immediately after they realised there had been an unfair influence in the round-robin tournament, but the ICC investigation panel said they found no reason to change the final placings or impose sanctions. There was no remedy for retrospective justice within the rules.
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said the decision was a "most unfortunate outcome" for Singapore and added: "While everyone agrees that this was a regrettable incident and one which we do not want to see repeated, there is no justifiable basis to promote Singapore, and such temptation would create a dangerous precedent to the integrity of competition and the playing regulations."
Really? Brick, rock and stone throwing by a hostile Nepal crowd turned the competition on its head. Singapore would have been home and dry without the shortening of the match due to action beyond the boundary. Unfortunately for Singapore the panel found no way of administering natural justice. Suspending Nepal from the next Division Four tournament and allowing Singapore to fill the gap might have been one way, but this did not form part of the investigation remit.
Players could have been killed, according to the tournament referee, and they had to shelter in the pavilion. So why would it be a "dangerous precedent" to prevent a crowd from influencing the outcome of a competition? In fact the ICC panel did indeed consider the crowd action to be a dangerous precedent because their report made recommendations that sanctions be introduced in the future.
The panel members were David Richardson (ICC general manager of cricket), David Becker (ICC head of legal) and Ravi Sawani (general manager of the Anti Corruption and Security Unit). The ICC said that the scope of the investigation, based on the complaints and concerns raised initially by the Singapore Cricket Association, included:
(a) Conduct of the match officials during the match;
(b) Conduct of the event technical committee;
(c) Computation of the net run rate and the argument of ‘unfair advantage’ lodged by SCA;
(d) Alleged breaches of security policy on the part of Cricket Association of Nepal ;
(e) Allegations of possible corruption in the match
Only the argument of unfair advantage was really relevant. Apart from crowd control, the match day was run faultlessly, and the ICC said in a press release: "The inquiry found no evidence to support the claims of the Singapore Cricket Association, but made recommendations that the proposed Mandatory Safety Standards, being introduced by the ICC Security Task Force, considers including sanctions against the home board when the home crowd interrupts a match or a home crowd interrupts a match such that the home team benefits."
After the crowd incidents the Cricket Association of Nepal agreed to hold no further international cricket at the university venue until certain remedial measures were carried out. These measures included reconstruction of the boundary wall that supplied the stones thrown by members of the crowd.
The match on Feb 26 went badly for Nepal, who could afford to lose -- but not too badly. The Americans were cruising at 150-5 off 32 overs in pursuit of the home total of 162-9 when the trouble erupted. Play did not restart for 48 minutes and, as per the playing regulations, the United States target was recalculated according to the Duckworth-Lewis Method to 157 off 46 overs. Nepal knew that delaying an inevitable defeat by one or two balls would be enough to protect their run-rate. The United States duly won to become champions and Nepal grabbed second place ahead of Singapore, who won easily elsewhere on the same day.
Full ICC report:
Scroll down to 'Americans caught in Nepal riot scare'
Posted by Charlie Randall
Here comes another annoying moth
MOTHS are back in the cricket news as a bigger threat than David Gower after the disclosure that chemicals will have to be used at Ahmedabad to rid Indian Premier League night matches of an annoying pest.
The city's first IPL game on March 15 -- Rajasthan Royal's six-wicket defeat by Delhi Daredevils -- was spoilt by clouds of moths attracted to the floodlights at the lofty Motera stadium, and the Gujarat Cricket Association announced they would be using fogging machines to improve conditions for players, spectators and commentators alike.
Gower caused a stir by 'harassing' an England warm-up match in Queensland from a low-flying Tiger Moth during the 1991 Ashes tour. As Gower and fellow passenger John Morris were playing in the match at the time and had not told the management, they were in trouble, but real moths are proving much more irritating in the IPL.
The presence of insects can be clearly seen on television during matches at other venues, with Motera probably the worst affected due its riverside location. Players complained moths were finding their way inside batting helmets, and there seemed a constant danger of taking one in the open mouth. Shane Warne, the Rajasthan captain, said he was hit in the eye by a couple of moths while in the slips as Shaun Tait was bowling. It might be only a matter of time before a serious incident happens.
Virender Sehwag, the Delhi captain, said moths were distracting for batsmen. "It is difficult to focus on the ball when you are running, and it is scary when some moth comes and hits you in the eye," he said. The India opener wore night glasses in South Africa after an insect flew into his eye during the 2009 IPL tournament.
Another Delhi player, Amit Mishra, commented on the moths in the Hindustan Times. "It was difficult to keep the eyes open," he said. "But I doubt anything could have been done to avoid it. The situation got worse after the match got underway, but it was not possible to use insecticides. Such insects are common in February-Marc. It happens more so because the Sabarmati river is close by. There is a lot of greenery along the river and insects breed there."
While moths were besieging the Motera stadium, a political rally in Lucknow was spoilt on the same day by a swarm of bees - a familiar occasional daytime hazard for cricketers. Players had to lie flat on the grass to avoid danger at Kandy during a Test between Sri Lanka and England in 2007. England again had problems at Cuttack in 2008, and the following year two nests had to be removed from the Barabati stadium before an India versus Sri Lanka one-dayer. India and Australia were similarly inconvenienced at Delhi in 2008, and England A had to get down during a match against Zimbabwe A at Harare in 1990, knowing that an attack by African killer bees could result in very serious injury.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Clarke's standing hit by Bingle saga
APART from a possible court appearance as witnesses over the theft of an Aston Martin, Michael Clarke has managed to disengage with the Lara Bingle media circus and return to cricket to represent Australia against New Zealand in the first Test at Wellington, starting on Friday.
Clarke suddenly quit the tour on March 8 and missed three one-day internationals against New Zealand after flying to Sydney to comfort his then fiancee Lara... and then break off their engagement that had lasted two years. They became a celebrity couple when Clarke popped the question to bikina model Lara, 20, with a 4.7 carat diamond ring allegedly worth about £100,000 while on holiday together in New York.
This week before Clarke returned to cricket still as Australia's vice-captain, he spoke to Lara on the phone after it had been reported that her agent Max Markson had offered her exclusive 'story' to a television channel for about £500,000. This followed an earlier plea to the media by Markson to respect the couple's privacy with an oily hypocrisy that surprised even the Aussie newspapers.
Clarke returned to a media scrum at Wellington airport this week, and Australia's coach Tim Nielsen said he had the team's support while he dealt with the sort of personal issue that anyone might have. "It's just that we happen to do it in a public forum, pretty much," Nielsen said.
The theft of Bingle's Aston Martin, after a third party had illegally obtained the keys, resulted in a police charge and a likely court appearance for the two celebrities as witnesses. The Bingle saga continued to fizz when a report claimed that plumbers had been called in to rescue a precious item from the foul water drains at her Bondi apartment amid speculation that she had thrown her engagement ring away, though this was denied by her father and her agent.
Clarke's original reason for leaving the tour was to support an upset Bingle after a magazine published an old topless photograph, a shower room picture that had been circulated by her previous boyfriend, an Australia Rules footballer not worth dignifying by reporting his name. His claim that he was not involved in the magazine access hardly let him off the hook as an outright cad.
Sportingly, one might think, the New Zealand fast bower Chris Martin said he and his team-mates would not be 'sledging' Clarke about the Bingle embarrassment. One of Clarke's team-mates, Mike Hussey, had appealed to his opponents not to attempt to upset the batsman in this way, a plea that drew angry response from members of the public in newspaper comment strings.
Bearing in mind that Australians had been the world's keenest sledgers since the foul-mouthed days of Ian Chappell in the 1970s, there was little sympathy for Clarke. There was a time when the Aussies had been accused of making 'choo choo' noises when Chris Cairns arrived at the crease after his sister had been killed in a railway crash, but this dreadful personal insult had almost certainly been barracking from the crowd and not from the players.
Nevertheless, that notion that choo choo from the Australian players was a credible possibility stood as the legacy of a dirty past that was not exorcised, as many hoped, by the revolting flare-up between Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan in Antigua in May 2003. Loutish Australian behaviour surfaced again at Sydney during their home series against India in January 2008. After Martin had given his informal non-sledging assurance in Wellington, he added: "The fans will probably have a ball, but that's nothing to do with us."
Clarke proposed on bended knee under a full moon at the Rockefeller Centre skating rink in March 2008, and within a year there were reports that Bingle was feeling lonely while her future husband was away playing cricket. Many would think she should have twigged this eventuality before accepting his romantic marriage proposal.
Clarke arguably should not have quit the tour, leaving the team hotel in Hamilton without warning on the eve of a one-day international, his absence reducing Australia to 12 fit men. Major family events such as illness, bereavement or birth have caused such disruption in the past -- and one could add personal mental state, as with Marcus Trescothick -- but an upset fiancee could hardly be deemed so serious, not for a man due to captain Australia at the World Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies in May.
Clarke's sudden departure was a mystery at the time, and it was assumed his father, a cancer sufferer, had been taken ill. Clarke had declined a slot in the Indian Premier League in 2008 to spend time with him.
CHARLIE SAYS: While Bingle deserved sympathy for the photo scandal, her hurt was a relatively minor matter. Such tumult should not have been set in motion to envelop Australia's likely successor to Ricky Ponting. Naturally Clarke was upset and could not have been in a good frame of mind for cricket. Nevertheless the show had to go on, for Clarke and for everyone else. Marriage must have already slipped off Lara's priorities by the time Clarke joined her from New Zealand. Clarke's standing has been reduced by his hapless action; Bingle's consolation will be publicity likely to earn her hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Aston Rowant penalised for fight
THE mid-pitch fight that shocked the Home Counties Premier League in August has cost Aston Rowant promotion to Division One after a disciplinary panel confirmed the deduction of 25 points from the Division Two West champions.
The Aston Rowant seam-bowler Tim Miles was sent packing by his club to Western Australia and told not to come back, but it was not enough to save the season. Reading were promoted instead, bouncing back at the first attempt.
Miles, 19, finished with six victims, all bowled, to set up a seven-wicket home victory over Basingstoke, but Rowant's reputation was ruined when he became involved in a brawl with batsman Dean Nurse in a revolting incident that did neither player any credit.
Nurse remonstrated angrily with Miles after receiving what he regarded as a deliberate beamer. The two players came to blows in mid-pitch and ended up scuffling on the ground as team-mates rushed up to separate them. This astonishing incident at Butts Way was captured by Oxford Mail photographer George Reszeter and his pictures were published on www.thisisoxfordshire.co.uk.
Rowant's captain Wesley Morrick said in the week after the match that the incident was unexpected. He said: "The two of them had been having a bit of banter, and Nurse had been shouting from the sidelines. Tim was bowling a lot of yorkers. He got one wrong and it went through as a full toss.
"Nurse thought it was deliberate and threw his bat down and ran up to Tim. Tim then tackled him. Tim is a 19-year-old and if someone is running at you, what do you do? We are not going to say it isn’t wrong, but are not going to take full responsibility for it. It spoiled a good game. Afterwards everyone stayed behind for beers." After these comments, it was not surprising that the league issued a reprimand for his attitude on the day of the match.
Aston Rowant issued a statement at the time: "ARCC condemns without qualification the actions of those involved and wish to make it very clear that what happened in no way reflects the attitude or beliefs of Aston Rowant Cricket Club. ARCC and Timothy Miles sincerely apologise to the HCPL, Basingstoke & North Hants and all other relevant parties for his involvement in this incident."
The Home Counties League disciplinary panel initially banned Miles for five years and deducted 25 points, while hitting relegated Basingstoke for five points, but they had to rescind the decision due to procedural irregularities. This week a hearing was held and both players were found guilty of a Level 4 breach of discipline involving an assault of another player. Both were banned for one year, with another year suspended, and both clubs had 25 points deducted.
The panel placed a reprimand on the record of both captains, Morrick and Russell Droy, of Basingstoke.
CHARLIE SAYS: It is difficult to believe that this really happened -- a fully fledged fight between two club cricketers in the middle of the pitch. One wonders how did the umpires allowed matters to get this far.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Umpires let Cardiff clock tick
ENGLAND'S time-wasting during the last hour of the drawn Test at Cardiff proved to be a talking point rather than a genuine controversy. As the Laws stood, the umpires were powerless to intervene -- and that was the bottom line.
The Law 42 on unfair play covered time-wasting by batsmen in section 10, but umpires Aleem Dar and Billy Doctrove could only make matters worse. They would have eaten up more time to the fury of the Australians if they had followed the laid-down procedure. Firstly an umpire has to give a single, final warning to the batsman and then inform his umpiring colleague, inform the other batsman and inform the fielding captain.
If time-wasting happens again, the umpire has to go through the same series of consultations and signal to the scorers five penalty runs, eating up a further minute or two. And the batting captain must be informed when practicable, so Andrew Strauss would have been justified in approaching the field of play to inquire what was happening. More time lost, especially if the captain pretends not to fully understand the situation. Ponting would have been jumping up and down with annoyance.
The sanction that umpires do not have is the power to stop the clock. So nothing could effectively prevent England messing about -- the team physiotherapist and 12th man twice ran on to tend the batsmen. In one case they needed to convey a message that time, and not overs, was the essence of the game.
Though Ricky Ponting and his Australia side were frustrated, they knew they did not dominate the moral high ground. At the last pair they bowled almost 12 overs in 37 minutes, despite the apparent time-wasting. This was a much much higher rate than normal simply because it suited them. Usually the rate is less 'honest' and more sluggardly to ensure that the bowlers send down no more than the day's proscribed minimum of 90 overs.
I mentioned these points in the BBC Television 24 Hours news studio on Monday after the excitement at Cardiff had died down, recalling a lovely example of time-wasting at Trent Bridge in 1976. The West Indies were racing towards a declaration to get England back to the crease in the evening, but at one end the batsman was frequently distracted by a flock of gulls from the nearby river feeding on the outfield in his sight line.
The time taken repeatedly shooing these birds away took many minutes off playing time, which was fine for England. It was only afterwards that it emerged that fast bowler John Snow had taken some cake crumbs in his pocket after tea and scattered them surreptitiously near his bowling mark. All very subtle and imaginative.
Posted by Charlie Randall
ECB ban Lungley and Birch
PRO cricketers can become poisonous when they drop down below first-team level. Their behaviour in club cricket can sometimes be revolting -- they know who they are -- and it seems that county 2nd XI can bring out the worst too, as evidenced by the trouble caused of two Derbyshire players this week.
Tom Lungley and Dan Birch were suspended by the ECB on totting up after incidents in a Second XI Championship match between Leicestershire and Derbyshire on July 1-3. That followed hard on this week's suspension of Omari Banks at Somerset after he was caught tampering with the ball because he felt bored.
Lungley, a fast bowler, was reported by umpires Ismail Dawood and Dean Johnson for showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action, and in a separate incident he was reported by the umpires for a similar offence, this time intimidating an umpire.
In the same match Birch, a batsman, was reported by the umpires for serious dissent and later with another breach of the code -- threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator. Both players received a automatic suspension for a period covering Derbyshire’s next two competitive Second XI matches.
Derbyshire County Cricket Club investigated these incidents. In addition to the suspension above, a further one-match suspension was imposed on each player with immediate effect along with a fine of £1,000 suspended for 12 months.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Boredom sets Banks a'tampering
THE West Indies off-spinner Omari Banks has been suspended for 11 days by the ECB for a "blatant" case of ball tampering while playing for Somerset second team.
Banks admitted at a Cricket Disciplinary Commission in Bristol today that he used his thumb and fingernails to tamper with the ball and claimed it was through boredom. The umpire observed him when the ball was thrown to him three times in an over at midwicket during a championship game against Essex at Taunton Vale on July 1. Suspicions were raised when the ball began to swing unexpectedly. Five penalty runs were awarded to Essex, and the player was told he would be reported.
Banks said at the time that it was an isolated incident, that Somerset did not condone and that he deeply regretted his actions. He explained during the panel hearing that he did it out of boredom, he knew he should not do it, it was the first time he had done it and that he would not do it again. He did not think the rest of the team noticed.
Brian Rose, Somerset’s director of cricket, who attended the hearing, told the panel that he spoke to Banks and the other players in the club to emphasise that this was a serious matter. He made it very clear that it should not happen again in any form of the club’s cricket. Directive 3.7 of the ECB makes it plain that ball tampering should be regarded as unfair and improper conduct which is prejudicial to the interests of cricket and likely to bring the game into disrepute.
Having considered the evidence and submissions, and having regard to the blatant nature of the offence, the panel concluded that the cricketer should be suspended from all games within the jurisdiction of ECB from today until the July 20, which is likely to be three games.
In addition Somerset CCC were fined £500, and the points gained in the match were ordered to be deducted. These penalties reflected the panel’s view that the club had not taken adequate measures to prevent the offence occurring.
The panel also expressed the view that they would expect the club to write to all the players, strongly reminding them of the law and the seriousness with which any breach is regarded. They would further expect the Commission to be provided with a copy of that document.
The panel added that if they had been satisfied that other members of the team were aware of, or were complicit in, what occurred, then the penalty imposed upon the club would have been substantially greater. The club was ordered to pay costs of £500.
The panel was convened on July 9 with Chris Tickle as chairman. The other members were Mike Smith and Alan Moss.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Players punished for Oval clash
THE England and Wales Cricket Board have confirmed that two cricketers received penalties under the discipline code after an incident in the exciting LV= County Championship draw between Surrey and Middlesex at the Brit Oval on May 6-9.
Unusually a bowler was not involved, so Scott Newman and Billy Godleman can claim a certain status after being named on a report by umpires Jeff Evans and David Millns. Newman was cited for "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players in the course of play", and Godleman for "using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting and/or making an obscene gesture", both Level Two breaches of the code.
Newman received three penalty points and Godleman was given a reprimand, due to remain on their records for a period of two years. The accumulation of nine or more penalty points in any two-year period results in an automatic suspension. Godleman's reprimand turns into three points in the event of further transgression.
Tempers boiled over when Phil Hughes upset the volatile South African pace bowler Andre Nel by cutting him for successive boundaries to reach his century. By coincidence or not Nel then sent down a high full toss which Hughes did well to parry and avoid injurty. The Australian immediately protested to Nel, who then apologised.
Posted by Charlie Randall
Herschelle Gibbs in drink clinic
THE life of the South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs has hit a crisis before his expected arrival to play for Glamorgan next summer with the news that he is to spend a month of rehabilitation for alcohol abuse at a clinic.
His agent Donne Commins confirmed in the Cape Times newspaper that Gibbs was going to take "some time out" before his trial in March for alleged drunk driving in Cape Town.
Gibbs, 34, was recently divorced from his wife, with alcohol abuse cited in the case, and he was dismissed from South Africa's national squad in November for breaking a team curfew before a 20-overs one-day international against Bangladesh. Cricket South Africa said he would be having treatment for alcohol abuse.
Gibbs, a brilliant Western Province batsman and general sportsman, has been regarded as an amiable character easily led, a flaw that has landed him in trouble. He was found guilty of smoking marijuana with team-mates while on tour in the West Indies in 2001, and his name was dragged into the mud by the Hansie Cronje match-fixing revelations in 2001.
During the 2007 World Cup unnamed South African players were accused of drinking too much in Grenada after a defeat by New Zealand in a leaked fitness report by trainer Adrian le Roux. Cricket South Africa confirmed that they had held an official inquiry into drinking, and the chief executive Gerald Majola said it had been viewed “in a serious light”.
Majola added: “The inquiry, our findings and recommendations took place well before Adrian submitted his routine report after the World Cup. The players concerned know they let themselves and the team down on that occasion, and are now fully aware of what is expected of them at all times as professional cricketers representing their country.”
Gibbs is set to return to Glamorgan after a successful Twenty20 Cup stint last season. The club said he would bring to the club a "wealth of experience and expertise".
Posted by Charlie
Double-ton Gambhir banned
THE India opener Gautam Gambhir has received a one-match suspension after being found guilty of breaching the ICC Code of Conduct during his double-hundred in the third Test against Australia in New Delhi. He is to appeal against the decisiion.
The sentence meant Gambhir would miss the final Test in Nagpur, which starts on Nov 6. The Australian seam-bowler Shane Watson had already been fined for verbal abuse that preceded a shoulder-nudging incident with the batsman, but Gambhir's hearing was postponed to allow the match referee Chris Broad to review the evidence.
The player had pleaded guilty to a charge under Rule C1 of the Code (Level 2) which states that players shall at all times conduct play within the spirit of the game. Explaining the suspension decision, Broad said: "The decision to find Gambhir guilty of a level 2 offence is indicative of the fact that any degree of physical contact is unacceptable.
"Had Gambhir been charged with and found guilty of a charge under 2.4, due to his previous offence, I would have been obliged to impose a minimum penalty of a two-Test match ban. In the view of the umpires, the facts of this case - the lightness of the physical conduct and the element of provocation - would not justify such a penalty.
"The umpires accordingly had regard to the notes of the ICC Code of Conduct which provides for a player to be charged under Rule C1 if the circumstances of the alleged incident are not adequately covered by the listed offences.
"Whilst I concur with this view, the ICC has repeatedly told the players that deliberate physical contact between players will not be tolerated. I have also taken into account the previous offences of Gambhir and therefore, I am satisfied that the penalty imposed is an appropriate outcome in the circumstances of this matter. I hope Mr Gambhir will learn from this," Broad said.
CHARLIE SAYS: Australian abuse could reach its climax in England next summer when they see the Ashes slipping away from their grasp.
Posted by Charlie