Time for Cricket Controversies 2021.
Hi y’all, it’s been a while. Last time we checked in, Australia were the T20 world champions and the hectic T20 season was finally coming to an end.
So did we miss anything?
For starters, Rahul Dravid is now Team India’s new head coach, Mahmudullah has retired from Test cricket, Ryan Ten Doeschate has taken coaching duties for Netherlands, IPL now has 2 more teams which means retentions and a major auction, Perth Scorchers lifted the WBBL trophy, Harmanpreet Kaur became the first Indian to win WBBL’s player of the tournament, and the great AB De Villiers has hung up his boots for good.
So far, so good. Emotional, overwhelming, but good.
So Much Cricket, So Little Time
In terms of the cricket itself though…we missed a LOT. Three days after New Zealand played the T20 World Cup Final, they flew over to India for a bilateral T20 series….that had absolutely no context.
With so much cricket on the cards, it has been difficult to keep up–World Test Championship matches (3 Ongoing Test Series), T20 World Cup, the Women’s Big Bash League, bilateral T20s, Women’s ODI World Cup qualifier, T10 UAE League, World Cricket League Division 2, Men’s Big Bash, and the Ashes to name a few.
Sooner rather than later, cricket will adopt the European football model. It is only time that cricket will become the IPL (and other leagues) and IPL will become cricket (of course women’s IPL will be postponed indefinitely).
Mental Health and Bio Bubbles
Surely ICC has it all figured out, right? Not too long ago, we finally praised ICC for doing things right – Cricket’s bid in the Olympics, future T20 World Cups staged in emerging cricketing nations like the USA & Scotland, creating context for ODI & Test cricket, and reducing Big Three’s power. What could possibly go wrong.
Well first, the obvious. Bio-bubbles have been fairly successful in keeping the cricket fraternity safe. However, the impact on the players continues to grow.
Tom Banton, Jos Buttler (IPL), and Ben Stokes were the early casualties of the bio-bubble. Post the T20 World Cup, Trent Boult has taken the entire India trip off and at least 5 Indian players were rested from the 1st Test – Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant, Mohammad Shami.
Not to mention KL Rahul’s injury (to add to Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, etc. due to overkill of cricket) and Hanuma Vihari’s exclusion due to India A’s ongoing tour of South Africa A.
What message does this sent? Skipping Test cricket against a non-Big 3 nation while playing nonstop Test cricket against Australia, England (twice), the IPL (in India & UAE), and T20 World Cup.
The players deserve a rest. The fault lies in the jam packed scheduling. If rational thinking and rules are not implemented, we will see more players taking time off or retiring early.
Drama, Sex, and Racism
We have only scratched the surface so far. The real drama was about to come.
Azeem Rafiq 1
The first big bombshell was the Azeem Rafiq racism controversy. His trial revelations rocked Yorkshire and English cricket. The names of Gary Ballance, Michael Vaughan, Bumble, and even Joe Root were taken. Watch the clip below for the emotional truths (viewer discretion advised).
Azeem Rafiq 2
After two days of jumping on the Rafiq train, Rafiq’s old conversations about antisemitic past were revealed. The enthusiasm dropped and the trial itself was questioned. There was a sense of betrayal and confusion as to which side to support.
It is the sad truth that both parties have issues to deal BUT they cannot be used to cancel each other out. Conversations need to happen in order for our society to progress further.
Anyway…. just when the Rafiq trials were dialing down….a new scandal came to the fore.
A Rather Paineful Scandal
Tim Paine was caught in a sexting (or harassment) scandal from way back in 2018. Cricket Australia had deemed back then that Paine’s revelation did not go against CA policies.
Since this had not come out, Paine had a “clean” image. Hence, he was chosen to take over from Smith-Warner and ensure Australia’s reputation improves. I mean the entire Ashes documentary was created to improve Australia’s dented image. These revelations show that Cricket Australia were hiding this, which is even worse than a fake clean image.
Pat Cummins is now the new Australia Test captain (God bless his soul – he already plays too much cricket and the added burden might be injurious to his health). The breaking news here is Steve Smith is back as the vice-captain, his first leadership role since the ball tampering scandal.
Just a couple of days after their resurgent image from the World T20 win, they are back to square one.
After the social scandal days, cricket was back on….until a new variant emerged.
Since it was found in South Africa, Netherlands tour of SA, Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe, and World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia were promptly cancelled (Of course, India A in SA A continued and major bio bubble protocols are being prepared so India can make it to the shores of Africa).
New World Cup Structure
Before the scandals began, the ICC unveiled the plans for the next 10 years. 5 T20 World Cups, couple of Champions Trophies, and a couple of ODI World Cups.
The good news here is that Big 3 are no longer the predominant hosts compared to the last decade (ODI WCs: India 2011, Australia/NZ 2015, England 2019, India 2023, CTs: England 2013/17, T20 WCs: India 2016/2021).
West Indies & USA are co-hosting the 2024 T20 World Cup and Ireland/Scotland will be staging some games with England in 2030. South Africa will have Namibia & Zimbabwe as co-hosts while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be hosts in conjunction with India.
Now here are the bad news – First, The 2027 ODI World Cup is back to 14 teams. However, the ODI Super League has been disbanded.
Second, in the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers, not all matches were given ODI status. This meant teams like USA & Thailand would only receive List A credit for the matches they played in.
Thailand, Netherlands & Associates Suffer
This is a huge blow to the Netherlands, currently ranked #13 in the ODI rankings. They were guaranteed 24 ODI matches in between World Cups regardless of qualification status and that is now out of play after the 2023 World Cup.
The Omicron variant robbed them of a complete series against South Africa as well. After a poor T20 World Cup, they would have wanted more game time, but future looks bleak for the Netherlands and the rest of the Associates. Ryan Campbell summed it up perfectly, “Every Associate nation is wondering what next?”
Due to the abrupt cancellation of the World Cup Qualifiers, Thailand now have to wait four years for the next cycle. Now here is the catch – They were ranked #1 in their group, winning 3 out of the 4 games. AND since their games were not given ODI status, they are not in the Women’s ODI ranking system. Hence they failed to qualify for the ODI World Cup or the ICC Women’s Championship.
Talk about archaic rules. Here is the heartbreaking picture by Thailand’s iconic player.
Meanwhile, the ICC is charging for Ashes broadcast for Associate nations. If the goal is to spread the game, ICC’s priorities do not look that great…the ICC has robbed Thailand of a World Cup spot. These changes have robbed Netherlands of certainty in their cricket. The relationship of Associate nations & the ICC in one phrase – 1 Step Forward, 4 Steps Back.
Is this the Breaking Point?
To summarize, Australia have re-integrated Steve Smith in a leadership role, the gentleman’s game now has a sexting scandal, English’s colonial racist past have come back to haunt them, players have no time and an all-time low mental health status, the Omicron variant has hit the world, more IPL teams and IPL to come, and nobody cares about Associate cricket and emerging nations, do they?
Anything that could have wrong, has gone wrong. Cricket, it’s administrators, and the players need to take some time off and reflect what is happening.
Cricket controversies – can’t live with them, can definitely live without them.
© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 11/30/2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).