My Name’s Ned Seagoon, Sorry, David Morgan

The news that David Morgan’s review into the county season is to be accepted by the ECB comes as no real surprise.  Coming on the back of England’s number 1 test side status, this effort by Morgan seems a bit odd to say the least.  Yes, we’re the best test side in the world so let’s cut the first class cricket that made us so and bend over for the Champions League.

Currently we have two Championship divisions of nine teams.  16 games is the sensible, logical and balanced approach to have – each team plays the others in its division home and away.  How is a cut to 14 games per season going to work? Which teams miss out on playing each other, why and under what process is this determined?  The idea is fundamentally flawed.

40 over cricket is to be  replaced with 50 over cricket.  Claiming standardisation with one day internationals so England can win the 50 over World Cup isn’t really that strong an argument within a limited overs context.  The execution of skills and thought processes – surely the important thing here – is the same whatever the over limit.

T20 is still seen as the money spinning golden egg.  As Yates has said previously, it might generate more money if it was held over a longer period as part of a season routine everyone can get used to.  Aiming the limited overs formats at families is a great way to get wider awareness of the game and getting children wanting to go to games.  Ergo having later finishes won’t be looked on as lightly by parents with children to get home, especially when schooldays follow the games.

Mention is being made of the fact that David Morgan “consulted widely” on the issue.  In the interests of transparency Yates would like to know with whom and where did these consultations take place?  No doubt Mr Morgan feels he consulted widely but how many county members, people who pay membership fees and at the gates, did he discuss this with?  Yates was at the Surrey v Glamorgan game mentioned on Twitter as when Mr Morgan put in an appearance – in the Members’ seating and bar areas – and didn’t see any sign of him.

As a fan of The Goon Show it didn’t take long for the Yates brain to see similarities between David “Dai Bach” Morgan and Harry Secombe’s Ned Seagoon character.  Welsh, slightly overweight, means well but is ultimately flawed.  As Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says of Ned, “I’ve always thought of you as a Charlie”.  There may well be potential for a Goon Show comprised purely of people from the ECB.  I’ve got Giles Clarke down as Grytpype-Thynne.

The comments from the counties make very interesting reading.  Nothing in outright praise of Morgan’s recommendations at all.  As a former Essex supporter I am extremely disappointed that Essex didn’t bother to respond to ESPN Cricinfo’s contact.  Very poor form.  Kent’s Jamie Clifford is spot on with his view that the Champions League should not be seen as part of the English season.  If you’re ever at the Kia Oval Mr Clifford, come and find me (Yates, number 69 on my Surrey shirt) because Yates would like to buy you a drink.  Northants’ David Smith is another whose opinon is worth heeding.  There needs to be better consultation (clue: do it online as well) and more open, informed discussion.

More expressing concerns than overall support, although Colin Povey tows the pro-Morgan line like a puppet MP (of whichever political persuasion, they all seem to be puppets) quite beautifully.  Mr Povey might think a commendable job has been done by Morgan – Yates begs to differ.  Also of interest was Worcestershire’s refusal to comment at the advice of the ECB.  So what was going on there?  Folk at New Road got a few things to say but been gagged?

So the inevitable question comes to mind: if there is concern out there about the Morgan Review, why will the counties not stop the ECB from accepting it?  ECB politics coming into play?

The ECB has every right to make whatever decisions it wishes.  Cricket watchers, writers and county club members equally have every right to call things the way they see them.  Yates calls this at best a fudge, at worst a balls-up of potentially immense implications.

The excellent George Dobell, newly installed at ESPNCricinfo (congrats on that George, very well deserved) describes this decision as “A bad decision for English cricket”.  Please go and read George’s thoughts, it’s excellent and memorable stuff (love the comments about the Champions League in particular).  The last paragraph is prophecy that will surely come true unless, as David Smith argues, there is more discussion and changes made to this review.

Credit to the MCC World Cricket Committee for its statement and recommendations on match fixing.  Especially its stance on covert operations, something Paul Condon seems to have been reluctant to undertake.  It’s a real shame that Lord Condon didn’t have the balls to say these things and put them in place when the ACSU was formed, under his supervision.

If the need is for players to be seen to be clean then Yates would go so far as to say as with drugs testing, 100% liability (in this case for finance record keeping) should lie fairly and squarely with players.  If players can’t account satisfactorily for money or medium to high value possessions then there should be a suspension pending further investigation.

The need for players to be seen to be clean must be backed up by the ICC being seen to be far more proactive and involved in education and monitoring of players and games.  Having a former top policeman in charge of the ACSU doesn’t do much – since when do top coppers actually know what is happening on the front line?  For whatever reason, Condon failed to get decent front line knowledge in his ACSU.  The result? News of the World 3 (all doing time), Indian police 1 (Marlon Samuels, served suspension and now back playing), ACSU 0.

The MCC World Cricket Committee is to be lauded for its stance on this issue.  It is to be hoped the ICC takes these recommendations with the seriousness they deserve.

43 all out? Are you serious?

Er, yes.  Oh dear, what a hammering.