From: John Kingsmill
Don’t want to be a sourpuss but 36 quick responses to your grumpy rave doesn’t suggest a disconnect at all between cricket fans and the CA product. It suggests the complete opposite. Disconnect is not caring at all.
Second point. Real cricket people. I have some difficulty with that concept. It reeks of ageism. I watched an amateur game last weekend at the Clapham Primary School Oval… these adults (from 16-60) were real cricket people in a mixture of creams and short pants and they were intensely involved in their game and they probably went home that night and wanted to watch a T20 or a Test somewhere else in the world on cable, digital or the web.
Real cricket people (i.e., anyone who enjoys the game at any level) now have more exposure to world cricket than ever before and, you suspect, but I don’t know, more opportunities to play it at any level in cities towns and the bush than any other time in history.
More people are watching cricket right now than at any time in the history of the world… and, quite possibly, more people are playing cricket at all levels, amateur and professionally than ever before.
That CA is in the grips of managerialism is true. That’s the zietgeist as I think you said – that’s the position of elite sport in the world economy right now. Sport has to pay its own way these days. It is no longer a heavily subsidised cultural thing, like opera. Or a heavily subsidised nationalistic thing like countries out of favour with the world, attempting to score political points by spending an awful amount of money to win gold medals at Olympic games. And the problem with that is? Sorry, John… please tell me the problem with that.
And if India has found a way to call the commercial shots at the moment, rather than England and Australia, John please spell out your problem with that.
But, all that aside, I reject your primary thesis that true cricket people are disconnecting with elite Australian cricket right now. True Australian cricket people disconnected with last year’s season because Australia went through the entire 2010 summer without losing a match. It was dropdead boring after a while… after a decade. And threatened to kill off ODIs.
Sustained success killed the interest. Losing the Ashes at home in 2011, and then winning back the ODI series against England with an unestablished and peculiar squad has re-invigorated the contest for that form of the game… and has kept the World Cup alive.
Ageing purists think that cricket is in some form of crisis but that’s only because ageing purists hate losing Test series. The rest of think that it’s perfectly fine that every now and again Australia has to learn how to win again.
Meanwhile, at grass roots level, Superturd missed out on his hat-trick and dropped a catch but he hit a sparking 68 in the second innings which won the match at Clapham last Saturday and he went home with the meat tray.
PS I’m ageing too, faster than you. I’m more sensitive to abuse than you. Be careful how you respond.
The Harms Response
I’m sorry, John K, but I just cannot agree with some of this. Some I disagree with on the basis of assertion, some on the basis of logic. And some on tone: the suggestion that my argument is elitism and snobbery and undemocratic is a sort of shock-jock approach which discredits those trying to observe and think their way through what is a serious issue.
Taking it point by point, the logic of the first point doesn’t work for me. I think people are speaking out, because they are concerned. I detected a disquiet a long time ago (IPL was a catalyst, and the changes that has brought, not this Test series), such that the direction of Australian cricket has been a talking point for a couple of years, and was certainly a talking point at the Test matches BEFORE the result was known.
I think the discussion has been brought about by the preoccupation with growing the market and bottom-line considerations generally.
The evidence is that there is more T20 cricket, and more cricketers who are specifically T20 cricketers. There is also evidence to be found in looking at the balance of staff at Cricket Australia, and by looking at the nature of some of the decisions. You can look at the parading of the 17 for example – that was a marketing decision. You can look at the elevation-of-cricketers-as-celebrities approach. Etc.
I am surprised you would argue for market forces. But you have.
Here is a scenario: if you play bowls, and you play because you love the game, and someone comes in and and says we’re going to make a few changes – introduce a ramp over a water-course in the middle of the green, and you will now deliver by use of a cannon, not a standard action, so that you have to direct the cannon towrds the ramp, the bowl lands and then rolls over the ramp and over the other side towards the jack. And we won’t have bowls with bias anymore. We’ll make all these changes because this is what they’re doing in England. And if we don’t go with the flow then we’ll be left behind.
I think that people trying to make your argument don’t give enough weight to the elemental difference between T20 and other cricket. There are ESSENTIAL differences – that is, difference in its essence and meaning. There is enough in that to write a book.
I also don’t see sustained success as killing the interest.
Things like the Granny cricket ad are indicative of a mindset, and I think there are plenty of fans who feel disconnected from that.
The managerialism of rationalising with shameless spin what had transpired over the summer didn’t sit well with people either.
I agree sport does have to pay its own way which is what this is all about. But does it pay its own way to satisfy those who play and watch and love the game – its own tribe – or does it pay its own way to satisfy the bottom line and its own commercial position, and does that mean it is swept along in the current created by associations (entwining itself) with commerce.
There is nothing wrong with India calling the shots.
There is nothing wrong with not having government subsidise cricket.
There is a problem with changing the essence of the game to suit stakeholders.
There is a problem with treating the faithful with disdain at times.
The faithful – what I have labeled ‘true cricket people’ I suppose (should have used a different term, perhaps, those who have had a life-time in the game) – did support their beloved Test cricket last eyar (although attendances were propped up by international visitors).
Ageing purists don’t want the innings opened by sloggers, and while they enjoy the aesthetic of Brendan Macallum flicking over his own head while doing a safety roll towards point, we also love the aesthetic of a glorious cover drive, and the contest of a batsman desperately trying to get established against top-class bowling.
Regarding the watching and playing statistics you assert, you might talk to some of the volunteers who run clubs and get their perspective, And while doing that you might ask about the level of support from Cricket Australia.
There is much to ponder.
I hope those charged with the responsibility of reviewing the admin of the game, think through the issue using the variety of paradigms which the review deserves. If cricket is reviewed based on observations taken through a commercial lens alone, the report won’t be worth much at all.