Sunday, 29 November 2009

Topsy turvy is the new normal for England

What a strange series England are having with South Africa. One side dominates completely then the other only for it to switch again. I would say it was extraordinary except it isn’t: it matches the pattern of the Ashes series almost to a tee. We have had three thrashings with England currently leading 2:1.

England has shown some promise with the batting have an uncharacteristic solidity. Strauss continues to lead well, Trott and Morgan are cementing the places and Collingwood is back in form. Bowling was always going to be difficult on flat South African pitches but at least England managed to seize the opportunity today when it appeared.

South Africa has been pretty poor. They have had one good performance and although England did bowl poorly at Cape Town the statistics were against them batting second under lights. Smith was delighted when he won the toss and batted. Their batting looks fragile and their bowling almost non-existent. I expected South Africa to beat England easily, especially in the test matches. However South Africa are struggling to find a second opening bowler and if Stein isn’t fully fit they are in real trouble.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Crown Jewels get played with

Television in the UK is bit odd. For a start, you need a licence to own a TV. No, seriously – a licence. The licence largely pays for the BBC. In addition there are a set of sporting events that have to be shown on free-to-air television. This is called the 'Crown Jewels' sporting list. No cricket matches are currently on the list and so, predictably, there is no live cricket on free-to-air television in the UK. Sky has it all and it costs about £36 a month to watch it. It seems that this is to change in the future and that the Ashes (in England) series will be shown on free-to-air television – not until 2017 though.

The ECB are against this. They clearly do not want the general UK population watching cricket. After all, why would you want the grass roots of your sport being able to watch it? The ECB clearly puts it coffers above the populous. Of course we knew that anyway otherwise Sky wouldn’t have the current deal in the first place – but do they have to make it so obvious by complaining about a single series in six years time?

A few immediate thoughts:
  1. Sky could do free-to-air TV if they wanted too. It would make them look like heroes
  2. The ECB have shown themselves to be only concerned about money – so come on Sky screw them right down – you can clearly own them for much less money.
  3. Expect lots of Sky people to hate the idea and say so publicly (Atherton, Warne, Hussain, Lloyd, Botham, Knight , Ward etc)
Personally I think the free-to-air list is a bit weird. Do we have a free market or not? I suppose the UK government supporting banks and train companies would suggest ‘not’.