Cricket World Cup 2015: How Technology Is Changing Our National Summer Sport

For many people, cricket evokes idyllic scenes of the sport being played on a village green by players dressed in white, stopping for a break to grab some tea and a sandwich, but such traditional scenes betray the game’s more recent relationship with technology both on and off the pitch.

Video replays have been used to help umpires decide on run outs for some time, but many broadcast technologies like hotspot, snicko and hawk-eye are now used in matches as part of the Decision Review System (DRS).

India has been a notable opponent of DRS, but most fans, players and observers accept that technology has changed the sport for the better. For the International Cricket Council (ICC), innovations mean that more correct decisions are being made than ever before. (more…)


Review: Stick Cricket Premier League (iPhone/Android)


Formats: iPhone (reviewed – version 1.0), Android

Developer: Stick Sports

Whatever your views on the rampant commercialism or Twenty20 format of the Indian Premier League, there is no denying the spectacle of witnessing the world’s best players playing in some of cricket’s most famous and atmospheric grounds.

Stick Cricket Premier League attempts to replicate this with a game that offers little in the way of gameplay improvements, but adds a new mode in which to play arguably the best cricket game for mobile devices.

You take control of a franchise based on one of the nine that compete in the actual IPL with the task of winning the league within five seasons. It doesn’t really matter which team you choose as you are given a set of default players, a bit like the Master League in Pro Evolution Soccer, so we chose the team with the nicest colour scheme, Pune.


Cricket Commentaries Show Importance Of BBC Local Radio

Kent Cricket St Lawrences Canterbury

Yesterday, BBC Sport announced that it had retained all of its live radio commentary rights to the Premier League for next three seasons. Holding onto its flagship commentaries would have been a priority for Radio 5 live, given that it has seen its stranglehold loosened in recent years by Talksport and Absolute Radio.

I have been critical of BBC Sports’ television strategy in recent years, especially with regards to its public service obligations, but the quality of its radio coverage is second to none in the UK. The Premier League does not need the exposure, but football fans deserve the quality programming that 5 live produces.

However equally important is the news that BBC Local Radio will broadcast every ball of every county cricket game played in England this season, with all commentaries available online and some transmitted nationally on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.

Promoting local sport

With no domestic free-to-air television coverage, cricket needs local radio to promote the country game, keeping fans informed and encouraging them to come along to matches. Without this network, the fortunes of the counties would suffer and this would ultimately undermine county cricket’s ultimate goal of supporting a competitive English national team.

It is unlikely that a commercial broadcaster would have the resources or the motive to do what the BBC is doing with its local radio stations. The benefits are so obvious that it begs the question as to why the corporation was so keen to slash budgets last year, much to the concern of sports like cricket and rugby league.

Lords Media Centre Cricket

The proposed cuts were universally unpopular among listeners and some were eventually scrapped, although there was still a reduction in sports programming and a knock-on effect on local sport. For example, the London Rugby League show was cancelled on BBC London 94.9 – something that will hamper the Rugby Football League’s attempts to spread the game in the capital.

Channel 6 the future?

The Non-League Football Show could have been another casualty, but was saved and is now broadcast nationally on BBC Radio 5 live – again, a perfect example of public service broadcasting.

Premier League football and Test Match Special are incredibly important programmes that the BBC should fight tooth and nail to keep, but its influence over local sport and less popular events should not be underestimated.

Hopefully Ofcom’s plans for a network of ‘channel 6’ stations on Freeview will eventually be able to provide a television outlet for local sports shows (although live sport is unlikely), but until then the BBC is a vital platform and its budget should be protected

The Cricket Paper: A Pleasant Anachronism

It seems almost every week that we’re told that print is a dying medium, that it struggles to keep up with the dynamic, real-time content served up by smartphones, tablets and PCs. On the fact of it then, it would appear to be a strange time to launch a niche sports title.

But that’s exactly what Greenways Publishing have done with The Cricket Paper, the latest addition to its portfolio of sporting titles that already includes The Non-League Paper, The Football League Paper and The Rugby Paper.

For a country that has no equivalent of L’Equipe, Gazetta Dello Sport or even Sports Illustrated, a weekly paper devoted to sport holds something of a novelty value as sports coverage in the UK tends to be in the back pages of the nationals, with the only real exception being The Racing Post.


Replayed: Brian Lara Cricket (PSone)

Platform: PSone

Publisher: Codemasters

Released: 1998

England may be the best test side in the world right now following their 4-0 series victory against India this summer, but back in 1998 they were utterly dreadful. Far from being at the summit of the world rankings, England ended the 20th century as the world’s worst team.

So it’s hardly surprising that Codemasters turned to legendary West Indian batsman Brian Lara to endorse their new cricket game rather than one of our underperforming heroes.

Brian Lara Cricket was a game worthy of bearing the great man’s name and introduced a number of gameplay mechanics that would lay the foundations for future cricket games. It was not only the best cricket simulation ever created at the time, but it wasn’t until Brian Lara Cricket International Cricket 2005 that a rival game managed to depose it from its throne.


Review: Stick Cricket (iPhone)

England take on Netherlands at the World Cup (sort of)

Format: iPhone

Version: 2.1.1

Since its inception, Stick Cricket has transformed from a simple desktop timewaster into arguably the best flash sports game of all time.

The game’s comparative simplicity and dedicated fanbase meant that it was surely the perfect candidate to make the transition to iPhone, but it wasn’t until December 2010 that such a version emerged.

Fortunately for stick fans everywhere, Stick Cricket on iPhone manages to retain all the qualities that made its bigger brother so addictive, even if it is not as complete.


Cricket World Cup 2011: The Revival Of The 50 Over Format?

Two weeks ago, 50 over cricket was supposedly on its death bed and the 2011 Cricket World Cup was to be one last hurrah for a format that was soon to be superseded by Twenty20 as the dominant form of limited overs cricket.

Obituaries were freely written for a version of the game regarded as increasingly outdated and irrelevant while the ICC decided to exclude associate members from future World Cups in favour of expanding the fledgling ICC World Twenty20.

Previous Disappointments

Although the opening rounds of this World Cup have had their fair share of whitewashes, they have also produced enough surprises and epic sto suggest that there is life yet for this form of the game, while the performances of associate nations such as Ireland and the Netherlands have put pressure onthe ICC to reconsider its decision to contract the size of the competition.

The cause of the 50 over game had not been helped by the last two World Cups in South Africa and the West Indies, which were lacklustre, poorly organised and seemingly never-ending. Political issues plagued the 2003 event as England and New Zealand pulled out of games in Zimbabwe and Kenya respectively on security fears and forfeited points that could have permitted them to advance in the tournament, which lasted for a staggering six weeks.

The 2007 World Cup promised a carnival of Caribbean cricket yet is widely regarded as the worst organised in history as low attendances, high ticket prices and restrictions on what could be brought into the ground stifled the atmosphere. An unprecedented 16 teams entered which resulted in many one-sided contests and the early exits of India and Pakistan from another lengthy tournament.

The farcical nature of the competition was epitomised by the final itself after Sri Lanka were forced to bat the final three overs of the game in virtual darkness, having already conceded defeat in their run chase and the PA announcer declaring Australia the champions. Combined with the tragic death of Bob Woolmer, the tournament took its toll on players and fans alike who became disinterested and fatigued long before its conclusion.

Rise of Twenty20

Since the last World Cup final, Twenty20 cricket has witnessed a significant increase in popularity with three editions of the ICC World Twenty20 being held and the formation of the Indian Premier League. Indeed the 2009 and 2010 World Twenty20s were more entertaining than the previous two World Cups with the 2010 tournament in the West Indies providing a far more authentic Caribbean atmosphere than the 2007 World Cup.

It was in this climate of disillusionment that the 2011 World Cup began. After an average opening game between co-hosts India and Bangladesh, the tournament sparked to life in the clash between England and the Netherlands. The Netherlands famously beat England in the opening game of the 2009 WorldTwenty20 at Lords and the Dutch came mightily close to repeating the trick in 2011 as a Ryan ten Doeschate inspired side narrowly lost to England after posting an impressive 292.

More exciting contests were to follow as Bangladesh, a test-playing nation, were pushed all the way in their victory over associate member Ireland, while Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by just 11 runs. However, thebest was yet to come as two games both involving England would really set the tournament alight over the space of four days.

Billed as the biggest game of the tournament so far, England and India arrived in Banglore for a match that would reveal much about both teams’ tournament aspirations. Talismanic batsman Sachin Tendulkar scored his47th ODI century and his fifth in World Cups as India set England a daunting run chase of 339, the fourth highest in history.

With India firmly on top, England’s steady start gave the team belief and Andrew Strauss’ superbly crafted century undermined the Indian’sconfidence while the crowd became deathly silent.  England looked as though they were cruising tovictory, but India took vital wickets that thrust them firmly back into the ascendancy. As England looked as though they were about to throw the game away, Graeme Swann and Ajmal Shahzad recovered to put England in a position to win off the final ball. Requiring two runs to win, England scored just one to tie the game.

In an exhilarating game which saw the initiative pass backand forth between both sides, England and India produced a perfect advertisement for the 50 over game. The match witnessed most runs ever scored in an ODI and the spectacular centuries from Tendulkar and Strauss would not have been possible in the frantic and impatient world of Twenty20.

Case for the Associates

After the drama against India, England remained in Bangalore to face Ireland in another contest that would not only demonstrate the merits of 50 over cricket, but also argue the case for associate members’ inclusion in future World Cups.

Ireland slumped to 111/5 during their chase of England’s 327, but Kevin O’Brien’s stunning century, the fastest ever in World Cup history, led the Irish to victory. The match demonstrated how 50 over games can be turned around in the middle overs with victory snatched from the jaws of defeat as Ireland secured a famous win which cast doubt over the wisdom of the ICC’s decision to reduce the number of teams in Cricket World Cups .

Perhaps responding to criticisms regarding the competitiveness of certain matches and the lengths of World Cups, the ICC decided before the 2011 tournament that only ten teams would compete in the 2015 World Cup. Critics of the decision argue that it removes the chance for associate members to participate in tournaments with the biggest teams and that it removes any opportunity for the game to expand beyond being a post-colonial legacy.

The ICC have countered this claim by promising to expand the World Twenty20 as they feel the format is the best vehicle for expanding the game to new countries. While this may be true, much of the cricket played in associate nations is 50 over and the set up of their national team is geared towards potential qualification for the World Cup.
Unless the ICC provide associate nations with an opportunity to qualify for future World Cups and regular matches against the full members, nations such as Ireland and the Netherlands will have no platform to prove themselves in what still remains the dominant one day format and there will be no method of evaluating nations for potential accession to the realms of test match cricket.

Twenty20 may yet surpass it in terms of popularity, but the opening two weeks of the 2011 Cricket World Cup have proved that there is life in the 50 over game and that there is no need to abandon it just yet. However if it is to continue to thrive, then associate nations need a chance to compete unless it is to become the preserve an elite few.