Outbreak of new controversies continues to plague international cricket

Outbreak of new controversies continues to plague international cricket
Australia’s captain Matthew Wade plays a Twenty20 international match against India in Bengaluru on Dec. 3, 2023. Australian cricket fans will need to have a Prime Video subscription if they wish to watch Australia’s men’s and women’s teams playing in ICC competitions. (AFP)
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Updated 07 December 2023
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Outbreak of new controversies continues to plague international cricket

Outbreak of new controversies continues to plague international cricket
  • Two recent controversial developments have done little to improve the image of the game in Australia and Pakistan

All of a sudden cricket has been impacted by an outbreak of controversies. Amongst them have been a fierce dispute between former colleagues in the Australian men’s team, the loss of free-to-air viewing rights in Australia and the appointment of a disgraced Pakistani cricketer as an advisor on national selection.

On Dec. 4, the International Cricket Council announced that Amazon Prime had been awarded the broadcast rights in Australia for all ICC tournaments for the next four years, starting on Jan. 1, 2024.

This means that Australian cricket fans will need to have a Prime Video subscription if they wish to watch Australia’s men’s and women’s teams playing in ICC competitions, including Under-19 World Cup events. There are 11 of them up to the end of 2027. None of the tournaments will be held in Australia. This has provided an opportunity for the ICC and Amazon Prime to avoid so-called Australian anti-siphoning rules.

Unsurprisingly, the establishment of a paywall has been greeted with outrage. The CEO of Free TV Australia, the industry body which represents all free-to-air Australian TV networks, condemned the move, saying that “all Australians deserve the right to share our great sporting moments for free, and that right is in serious jeopardy.”

That view seems to be shared by the federal communications minister, Michelle Rowland, who has recently introduced a bill to parliament that updates anti-siphoning laws. Once in law, free-to-air services must be offered first refusal for important sporting events.

This measure may not go far enough. The Broadcasting Services (Events) Notice, as the anti-siphoning legislation is known, was first introduced in 1992 when the concern was related to subscription TV securing sports rights. The protective provisions apply to senior Australian cricket teams playing in Test, one day and T20 matches in Australia, New Zealand and the UK between Australia and England. Discussion has been reawakened as to whether this geographical coverage should or can be expanded.

It is too late for the timescale of the ICC/Prime deal. Social media comments have been quick to blame the minister and Cricket Australia for this to happen. Neither has any involvement or power in the broadcast deals which the ICC arranges. However, the introduction of Prime, as the fourth major broadcaster of cricket in Australia and the first which is entirely on-line, has added to the melange of cricket viewing options for Australian audiences.

They have been used to a 15-year long joint venture for ICC tournaments between Foxtel and Channel Nine, which ended with this years ODI Final. Cricket Australia’s domestic broadcast rights have been held by a partnership between free-to-air broadcaster Seven and pay TV channel Foxtel since 2018, when Channel Nine lost out after forty years of dominance. A new seven-year domestic rights deal was signed in January 2023 by Seven and Foxtel.

They, along with Foxtel’s video streaming subscription service, Kayo, will broadcast Australian men’s Tests and all women’s internationals on home soil. They will also show both the men’s and women’s Big Bash. Fox Cricket and Kayo broadcast Australian men’s limited-overs internationals on home soil, non-Ashes Australian men’s internationals and women’s outside of Australia.

The once dominant Channel Nine has the rights to broadcast the England v Australia Ashes series scheduled to played in England in 2027 and 2031. Domestic men’s and women’s competitions are broadcast by Cricket Australia’s Live app and cricket.com.au, with selected matches shown on Fox and Kayo. At least for the next four years, the broadcasting landscape for Australian audiences looks stable if not wholly acceptable, given the new loss of free-to-air.

This means that audiences will have to pay for all international limited-overs cricket played by Australia’s men’s and women’s teams. The next ICC event scheduled to be hosted in Australia is the T20 World Cup in 2028, after the timeframe of the Amazon deal. The battle is on to preserve an Australian way of life — the opportunity for all to enjoy free TV coverage of iconic sporting events,

Alongside this development, two former colleagues in the Australian men’s team have locked horns. Mitchell Johnson, who retired in November 2015, has criticized the decision of opening batter David Warner to choreograph his retirement. Warner announced his plans on June 3, 2022, targeting the third test against Pakistan in Sydney in January as his Test swansong.

Johnson thinks it wrong that a player can attempt to influence team selectors in this way. He argues that Warner’s recent performances do not justify his selection. Furthermore, Johnson has rekindled the tensions over Warner’s involvement in a ball-tampering incident in South Africa in 2018 over which Johnson feels that Warner displayed insufficient contrition.

Current colleagues have come to Warner’s defense and former players have commented that the affair paints a bad image for Australian cricket. Johnson also criticized the chair of selectors for being too close to the players, implying that this is a contributory factor to Warner’s continuing presence in the team. When Warner made his original announcement, it did appear to be rather presumptuous. Johnson has a point, but he could have expressed it in a less vituperative manner. It seems that he may have been prompted into action by a text which he received from Warner on another issue.

In Pakistan, those who replaced the leaders of the men’s team in the 2023 World Cup caused an embarrassment by appointing a former captain, Salman Butt, as a selection consultant. Butt received a five-year ban from cricket and served a seven-month prison sentence for spot-fixing in Test in 2010. A wave of criticism from commentators, journalists and ex-players, caused the chief selector to reverse his poorly judged appointment after one day.

Two of the three controversies are not good for the image of two countries — Australia and Pakistan. Whether the ICC’s broadcasting rights deal will damage its image will take longer to be emerge. No doubt, the ICC will be happy with the undisclosed funds it has generated, but incurring the wrath of Australians, seemingly without consultation, may have unintended consequences.


Shadab leads Islamabad to 29-run Pakistan Super League win over Peshawar

Shadab leads Islamabad to 29-run Pakistan Super League win over Peshawar
Updated 05 March 2024
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Shadab leads Islamabad to 29-run Pakistan Super League win over Peshawar

Shadab leads Islamabad to 29-run Pakistan Super League win over Peshawar
  • Shadab Khan scored 80 runs from 51 balls and then dismissed three Peshawar batsman
  • Peshawar faltered at 167 in their 197-run chase, despite an 87-run knock by Aamir Jamal

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad United defeated Peshawar Zalmi by 29 runs in their Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9th edition match at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Monday.

Peshawar won the toss and sent Islamabad in to bat in the game. Shadab Khan top-scored with 80 runs from 51 deliveries as Islamabad dominated the game.

Salman Ali Agha 37 runs and Azam Khan 29 runs to take their side to 196 at a loss of four wickets. In the second innings, Peshawar batting was rattled by Khan and the Babar Azam-led side was restricted to 167 runs.

"Dominant at home," PSL commented on X after the match. "Islamabad United get valuable two points on the board with a 29-run triumph!"

 

 

Saim Ayub returned two Islamabad batsmen to pavilion for 15 runs, while Luke Wood and Salman Irshad took one wicket each.

Peshawar did not begin their 197-run chase well, losing their skipper for a duck. Aamir Jamal put up a brilliant resistance as he scored 87 runs from 49 deliveries, but that was not enough.

Paul Walter hit 33 and Tom Kohler-Cadmore scored 12 as Peshawar ended the innings at 167 at a loss of nine wickets.

Shadab Khan dismissed three for 41 runs, while Hunain Shah and Rumman Raees took two wickets each.

Both Islamabad and Peshawar now have three wins from their seven matches played this season.


NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals

NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals
Updated 04 March 2024
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NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals

NEOM announces principal partnership with T20 cricket giants Rajasthan Royals
  • Under agreement terms, team will sport NEOM’s corporate brand logo during India Premier League in 2024 and 2025

NEOM: NEOM, the sustainable development taking shape in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, announced it has been appointed as principal partner of Rajasthan Royals, one of India’s leading T20 cricket league teams.

Under the terms of the agreement, Rajasthan Royals will sport NEOM’s corporate brand logo on the chest of all official team clothing during the India Premier League in 2024 and 2025.

“We are delighted to welcome NEOM on board as our principal partner. This landmark deal, emblematic of our global reach, national appeal as a franchise and cricketing expertise, signifies a shared commitment towards creating a positive societal impact,” Manoj Badale, lead owner of Rajasthan Royals, said.

“Over the past year, our collaboration has not only elevated cricket within NEOM through the strategic implementation of our workforce cricket program but has also contributed significantly to their mission of fostering a physically active and inclusive society.

“We are excited to be the flag bearers of cricket in NEOM, with the potential to contribute to the overall growth of the sport across the Kingdom, which is being driven by the Saudi Arabian government and the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation,” he added.

“This partnership also provides us with the opportunity to work as a conduit for fostering connections between NEOM and our passionate Indian supporters.”

The partnership builds on the success of a 2023 pilot program, with this year’s initiative marking another step forward in NEOM’s commitment to nurturing a physically active and healthy society.

Its work with both Rajasthan Royals and the SACF will enable NEOM to provide cricket opportunities for men and women, supporting young Saudi talent to excel in the sport.

Prince Saud bin Mishal Al-Saud, chairman of the SACF, said: “We are thrilled to see the formalization of NEOM’s cricket partnership with Rajasthan Royals, which holds great promise for the growth of the sport across Saudi Arabia. It’s important that we continue to develop a vibrant cricket community that can be enjoyed by all.”

Jan Paterson, managing director of NEOM Sport, said: “Following a successful pilot program last year, we are excited to take our partnership with the Royals to the next level as a principal partner and continue growing cricket as a tool for social growth. Working with the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation and Rajasthan Royals will enable us to provide cricket for men, women, girls and boys alike, across NEOM. This will pave the way for development at an individual level and contribute to the growth of the sport across the Kingdom while amplifying the NEOM brand globally.”


Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash

Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash
Updated 03 March 2024
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Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash

Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeat Karachi Kings by 20 runs in PSL clash
  • Usman Khan played a brilliant innings of 106 runs not out to build momentum for Multan
  • Chasing 190 runs to win, Karachi Kings could barely reach 169 runs at the end of 20th over

ISLAMABAD: Table-toppers Multan Sultans defeated Karachi Kings by 20 runs in their Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9th edition match at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Multan decided to bat first after they won the toss. Usman Khan played a brilliant innings of 106 runs not out to build momentum for his side.

Along with Khan, Mohammad Rizwan scored a half century to power Multan to 189 runs. In response, Karachi could only score 169 runs from their 20 overs.

“Sultans Supremacy in Karachi,” the PSL commented on X after the match. “Multan keep their place at the top of the standings after achieving a commanding win over Karachi.”

Blessing Muzarabani took two wickets for 32 runs, while Hasan Ali dismissed one for 34 runs.

Chasing 190 runs to win, Shoaib Malik and Shan Masood scored 38 (28) and 36 (29) respectively. Mohammad Nawaz chipped in with 27 runs not out as Karachi reached 169 at the end of 20th over.

Usama Mir dismissed two for 29, while Khushdil Shah and David Willey took one wicket each.

This was Multan’s sixth win from their seven matches, while Karachi have won only two of their six games this season.


Hong Kong beat Saudi Arabia to end Greens’ U19 Cricket World Cup dream

Hong Kong beat Saudi Arabia to end Greens’ U19 Cricket World Cup dream
Updated 01 March 2024
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Hong Kong beat Saudi Arabia to end Greens’ U19 Cricket World Cup dream

Hong Kong beat Saudi Arabia to end Greens’ U19 Cricket World Cup dream
  • The young Greens scratched their way to 133 all out thanks to a last wicket partnership of 52
  • Hong Kong chased down their target with ease in 25.4 overs with only three wickets down

BANGKOK: Saudi Arabia’s young cricketers lost their do-or-die ICC U19 Cricket World Cup clash with Hong Kong on Friday as their campaign to progress to the next stage ended in heartbreak.

The young Greens scratched their way to 133 all out thanks to a last wicket partnership of 52, but Hong Kong chased down their target with ease in 25.4 overs with only three wickets down.

Saudi Arabia had won the toss and elected to bat first at Terdthai Cricket Ground in the winner-takes-all contest after both sides had beaten Bhutan and lost to Oman earlier in Group B.

Captain Rayyan Khan started confidently with two cover drives for four off Daniel Mapp to begin the innings, but the Saudis never settled and found themselves on 50 for the loss of four wickets within 20 overs.

Four overs later, they were 60 for seven and were staring down the barrel of a thrashing when they lost their penultimate wicket with just 81 runs on the board.

Fahad Munir, who came in at number seven, had got underway with a four and a six and was looking to hit out with nine wickets down. He managed to strike a second six and two more fours to bring up the Saudi Arabia 100 in the 32nd over.

He became a menace for Hong Kong as he hit two more boundaries and got five runs after four overthrows. Another big hit took him to 48 before a straight drive for four brought up his half-century from 35 deliveries.

Munir was finally dismissed on 59 from 42 balls, as the Saudis set Hong Kong 134 to win, and he looked to do some damage with the ball after the changeover.

But Hong Kong had little to worry about as they reached 108 for the loss of three after 20 overs and number three batter Shiv Mathur reached his 50 from 49 balls, to put his side only 21 runs from victory, and ended up carrying his bat with 63 runs off as many balls.

Hong Kong reached their target to win by seven wickets and will face Malaysia in the first semi-final on Sunday at the TCG.

Also on Friday, Oman held off Bhutan to win by three wickets and they will face Kuwait for a place in the next stage of qualification.


Pollard could be key to Mumbai Indians’ IPL success, says head coach Boucher

Pollard could be key to Mumbai Indians’ IPL success, says head coach Boucher
Updated 01 March 2024
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Pollard could be key to Mumbai Indians’ IPL success, says head coach Boucher

Pollard could be key to Mumbai Indians’ IPL success, says head coach Boucher
  • Experience and inspirational qualities come to the fore as MI players chase club’s first IPL title since 2020

LONDON: West Indies legend Kieron Pollard can play a big role in ensuring Mumbai Indians win the Indian Premier League this year, according to head coach Mark Boucher.

Pollard, who is now batting coach at the IPL giants, had a glittering career as a player with the franchise, winning five titles over eight seasons, including four as captain.

His experience and nous will be crucial in helping the current crop of MI players win the club’s first IPL title since 2020, said South African Boucher, who has been head coach since last season.

“(Pollard) is fantastic. He’s got so much character in the changing room; he’s a strong person and a lot of the players trust him and look up to him,” Boucher told sport news website SportsBoom.com.

“Whenever Polly opens his mouth in the dressing room, people listen. Not because he is going to hold them up against the side of the wall, but because they know what he’s done.

“Having him in the dressing room has a calming effect on the batting. You have a look at our stats in the batting, the aggressive nature we went about things (last year), the calmness in the dugouts, all that type of stuff. I think a lot of that can be attributed to Polly as well because of his way that he is and his whole demeanour and understanding that he’s got.

“He’s still playing in franchises around the world he’s in the know about who’s playing good crickets and we feed off that,” he added.

Boucher said the team had high expectations for the coming season, which starts on March 22 and will end, if successful in the grand final, on May 26.

“I think anytime you join Mumbai Indians, there’s a lot of expectation and the expectation is to win at all times. We have won the championship quite a few times. Once the owners and the fans get a sniff of that, then they want to do it every time,” he said.

He particularly praised the team’s batting display and its positive style of cricket last season, acknowledging the challenges faced in the bowling unit as a result of injuries. Although the Indians finished third, falling short of the intended win, Boucher said he viewed it as a commendable effort given the situation.

“Our bowling was a little bit shy because of the injuries that we picked up. The third position is not what we wanted; we wanted to win, but third was not a bad effort, judging what we had to go through last season. But a catch maybe taken here or there could have  put ourselves into a final and then who knows what happens in the final,” he said.

“We do believe in the spinners that we have in the side already. Piyush (Chawla) had a fantastic season last time around. No one really thought that he would probably have that kind of impact that he had. We are backing him to do something similar,” he added.

Boucher also played up the importance of getting results at the team’s home stadium at Wankhede, but also the ability of his team to adapt to different conditions at away grounds.

“In our home games at Wankhede spin doesn’t play a major part in the game. So our side is very much sort of geared toward our home conditions, but we do feel that we’ve got enough cover if we do go into a different venue and the ball is turning and gripping; we do feel that we do have the guys to sort of consolidate those conditions,” he said.