Full refund within 30 days if you're not completely satisfied.
NOTES BY THE EDITOR
Let’s start by celebrating. In many respects, 2003 was a brilliant year for cricket. It began with a World Cup won by the team that was not merely the best but, quite conceivably, the best there has ever been. It went on to produce a couple of Test series – England v South Africa and Australia v India – that in their different ways might stand comparison with any in history.
Some of cricket’s most resonant records were smashed. There was the first official 100mph ball, bowled by Shoaib Akhtar in Cape Town. Then West Indies, cricket’s fallen giants, rose from the canvas to pull off Test cricket’s biggest-ever successful run-chase and beat mighty Australia. In Perth, Matthew Hayden took perhaps the game’s most magical number – the highest individual Test score – to a new peak of 380. Even the poor sad whipping boys from Bangladesh took part in a fantastic Test match, when they came within one wicket of beating Pakistan in remote Multan.
Cricket’s development strategy is showing gains and, in places far more improbable than Multan, the game appears to be taking a grip. Some of the gains might be overhyped, but the reality is impressive enough. Our Round the World section reports how an Afghan warrior laid down his arms to join in a match. In the United States, the shimmering fairytale castle (so impregnable! But, oh, so full of treasure!) which cricket’s rulers keep glimpsing through the mist, Asian migrants are giving cricket a currency it has not had there since the mid 19th-century. More enticing yet, the Chinese government are said to be keen on encouraging this mysterious sport, believing it will teach their people useful virtues. Think of that. Notes CAMERA 24/02/2004 1:51 PM Page 16
Australia scored their Test runs in 2003 at a phenomenal rate of 4.08 per over. Everywhere, the pace of batting, and the dominance of bat over ball, seemed rather like global warming: terrifying when you contemplate what it means for the fragile ecology of cricket, with bowlers potentially being driven to the edge of extinction, but thoroughly pleasant when contemplated from a deckchair on a summer’s afternoon.
In England, the sun really did blaze down, and the much-derided England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) produced a new tournament – the Twenty20 Cup – that struck the motherlode of public affection for cricket that runs just below the surface crust of apparent indifference.
Arguably, the game has been better run for the past few years than at any time in history. The ECB has been thinking hard and, I believe, creatively about the problems it faces. At the international level, match-fixing has almost certainly not been eradicated from the game, any more than chucking and dissent have. But at least corruption is handled with a sense of urgency and vigour unthinkable less than a decade ago, when the crisis first emerged and the International Cricket Council (ICC) pretended it was not their problem. And with what was either astonishing acuity or luck, the ICC managed to secure a TV deal for the 2003 and 2007 World Cups at the very top of the TV rights market, which was a remarkable piece of business.
All rights reserved. You may not copy, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this content in any form or by any means. Notes by the Editor
For those of us who already love the game, the year’s events provided regular infusions of delight, reinforcing our romance with this strangely bewitching, ineffably complex and maddeningly beautiful pastime. Maddening? Oh, yes. Definitely maddening.
September song Consider for a moment Britain, and its ambitions to host the great sporting events of the planet. The Olympic Games might come to London in 2012; they might come sometime never. As things stand, England cannot bid for the football World Cup, never mind get it, until 2018 or 2022 at the earliest. Even rugby, with a nuclear family smaller than cricket, is not expected to stage a World Cup final in the British Isles until 2015. And cricket’s own World Cup is not expected back until at least 2019.
But wait a minute. Here is – or was – something: a one-day tournament involving the 12 best cricketing nations planned for England this very year: a World Cup in all but name, but shorter and sharper. Surely given all those other schedules, this could be one of the nation’s sporting events of the decade?
So what was offered instead? The fixture list at the back of this book may be a guide to a real live event or a historical curiosity; as I write, we don’t know. But it’s curious enough either way. No games were scheduled for Lord’s; the final was sent to The Oval instead. But even The Oval was offering only a tatty old drugget rather than the red carpet; the place is being rebuilt – not for this year, but for the 2005 Ashes Test. England would not even rate the building site short of being in the final: their biggest scheduled fixture, against Sri Lanka, is at the Rose Bowl in Southampton, which cannot cram in as many as the main Test grounds. Notes CAMERA 24/02/2004 1:51 PM Page 17
Well, by the time you read this, it is possible the Champions Trophy will have been shifted or cancelled – a protest by the rest of the cricketing world against England’s refusal to go to Zimbabwe. We await developments.
But think about it anyway. There are two ways of regarding this tournament, devised by the ICC in 1998 as a biennial event to raise funds for cricket’s development. Either it is a mini-World Cup, a showcase for the game and a wonderful opportunity for the host country, especially one that cannot expect to hold the real World Cup for a generation and is widely thought to have botched their last one. Or it is an abscess – yet another build-up of stinking pus on the fixture list, which should be lanced immediately: the last one, in 2002, ended in farce, and actually failed to attract crowds in Sri Lanka, where people will normally watch grass grow if you sell it to them as a 50-over grass-grow.
Both these views are perfectly tenable. But you cannot hold them simultaneously. Either the tournament is worth staging properly or it is not worth staging at all. In my view, with a little imagination, effort and cooperation, England could have made the Champions Trophy something sensational: a two-week, sell-out showpiece culminating in a cracking final at Lord’s.
All rights reserved. You may not copy, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this content in any form or by any means.