Wednesday, 17 July 2019


At the very moment of England's victory I had considered that maybe, just maybe, there are those sporting moments when the spoils really do deserve to be shared. But, of course, the game was over and, as the rules stood and were understood by both teams, the victors had been decided, every last ball played in the true spirit of the game. It's sport and sport needs rules, but it is still only sport, a game, it's hardly a matter of life and death! 

Then Simon James Arthur Taufel, formerly of the ICC Elite Umpiring Panel, elected to chip in. Was he perhaps dissatisfied with the decisions of the two on-field and two off-field umpires, the playing ethos of either team; did he believe that he could have presided better? Maybe he had fully digested the whole match and thought that the result should have been reversed? Or maybe his reasoning was otherwise motivated? 

Either way, what he did was unhelpful, it has brought out the worst in some of those who watched and hopefully otherwise enjoyed the marvel that is international cricket. If Simon cares to reflect he will no doubt recall that perhaps the most significant 'recent' change to the rules of cricket- because on the surface this presents as being about the rules- was actually caused by one of his fellow countrymen, then Australian captain Greg Chappell, when on the 1st Feb 1981 he instructed his own brother to bowl the final ball of the Third Final of the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup underarm, in order to prevent New Zealander Brian McKechnie from possibly striking a six to tie the game. This incident was the third in a series of highly questionable on-field incidents during that one game, that resulted in neither of the officiating Australian umpires ever appearing in this capacity again, and the aforementioned rules change being implemented.

Maybe it shouldn't have done so but Simon's Taufel's more recent decision to 'comment' upon the outcome of the Cricket World Cup Final, amongst other things, will have caused some to consider whether perhaps some of his own umpiring decisions, back in the day, were not 'now' motivated by considerations other than achieving a fair and just result. Simon may have kicked the hornets' nest, but he cannot now control where those disturbed and angry creatures may choose to venture. I have neither the patience nor the depth of malice to investigate further.  

More significantly, and more insidiously, what Simon has done is to create unhelpful noise across quite a wide spectrum. That which deflects from England's victory- here referred to as 'low pitched'- is just petty and ultimately it reflects poorly upon himself. Where his decision may be judged to be far more calculated- the 'higher pitched' noise- is that Simon's comment also deflects from a far more serious and justifiable uprising- higher pitched and upon a higher moral ground! 

Simon Taufel, as did many of his countrymen, benefited from the convenience of 'free to air' transmission of the whole tournament and, thus, will have gleaned a greater insight into the World Cup. Unlike the majority of the hosting Brits, Simon will have been able to watch every single ball of England's 'home' semi-final, the one in which they defeated Australia by eight wickets, with 17.5 overs to spare. Further, England achieved this feat having batted second, the position from which victory was throughout the tournament made approximately 30% less likely. No amount of close call decisions could have reversed this one! In Australia, he'd have been able to watch every ball of every game on 'free to air TV,' and why not, it's a World Cup for Heaven's sake!

In celebrating England's tight victory there should, quite rightly, be an element of noise, we have waited long enough! Much of this noise should reflect the wonderful culmination of an often truly spectacular tournament. It should also reflect the great spirit in which the whole event has been played, hopefully also inspiring a new generation of eager participants to the game, rewarding several generations of dedicated, often hardened, fans and players, current, past and future!

But, of course, it wasn't able to do any of those things, not to the full, not in any truly national celebratory manner. Because of Sky TV, and because of the English Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council, and because of the dealings of successive British Governments. Maybe in Australia, maybe in New Zealand, maybe in India and Pakistan, maybe in South Africa and the West Indies, maybe in Bangladesh, maybe in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, maybe in all of these places it was... but not in the UK where the event was being hosted! Because all that the hosting nation of the 2019 Cricket World Cup were afforded was one solitary complete advert-blitzed game! It was reluctantly conceded and in the face of much fierce and justified criticism!

So no, without a doubt we shouldn't be thanking Sky TV, who are looking belatedly to boost subscribers for the upcoming Ashes Series, no doubt, hoping maybe also to deflect from the greed which has already seen far too much of the UK's National Lottery bolstered sport being snaffled by subscription TV. We should instead be making noise- plenty of it and loudly, and publicly - such that this sort of commercial greed should not be permitted to smother this wonderful international event. Otherwise those disingenuous bods at the ICC, the ECB and those currently propping up the UK's government will tinker and otherwise alter the beloved game of cricket, such that it might soon be reduced to nothing more than a glorified game of rounders, beholden always to the mightiest of the gambling cartels, rarely so much as glimpsed upon by those who cannot or will not subscribe to the likes of Sky.

The car boot sell off of the UK may be traceable back to Thatcher- currently residing in a special place in Hell- but since her thankful demise the carpet baggers have become more deft, less brazen, more covert (still hateful!) in their dealings. We may cite Blair's 'closed doors' meeting with Murdoch in '97. Maybe then it was more the Private Financing to death of our precious NHS? Or Hunt's- alarmingly still the lesser of two absolute evils- secret dealings with (again) Murdoch's News Corporation take-over bid for BSkyB in 2012? Quite how did that man avoid a stretch inside- 'insider trading' by any other name- and now possibly 'our' next Prime Minister? Or will it instead be the Mini-Trump, currently residing in the home of one (again) Sky chief executive? But I digress...

In a Commons debate of 11th July 2018, the Government said that it did not plan to reopen the list of events (qualifying for recognition as an 'A listed' sporting event) and that the system was "delivering the best outcomes for the viewing public." Less than a week has passed since England's hard-fought victory in the Cricket World Cup and already, on 'free to air TV' it is as if the event never happened, even the meagre highlights have been wiped! Give it another couple of days and also the 'Test Match Special' evidence will have disappeared from the BBC."I don't believe you, Granddad! Which World Cup is that? It never happened!"

'The sky's the limit!' 'Aim for the sky!' It's a very poor limit, and really we should be aiming far higher than this.

Currently there is much noise, objecting to this state of affairs. Currently Simon's noise is deflecting from this.


  1. I can only agree 100% with everything you've written above….

  2. 'Twas but a dandelion seed upon a stiff breeze, already it's as if it never happened.