No, this is not a posting about the European Central Bank. ECB, in Brian Micklethwait World, stands for E(ngland and Wales) C(ricket) B(oard). And IPL stands for Indian Premier League, the twenty overs each way cricket tournament, the 2013 version of which has just got under way in India and which will end near the end of May. I’m watching it now on my television, and very entertaining it is.
What this posting is about, besides cricket, is the rise of India and the necessity for people in England who have dealings with India to acknowledge that India has risen.
From Cricinfo earlier this week:
David Collier, the ECB chief executive, has urged the BCCI …
BCCI is B(oard of) C(ontrol for) C(ricket in) India, i.e. India’s cricket bosses.
… to reschedule future IPL seasons to dovetail more successfully with the England first-class season in response to pressure from England players who are clamouring to participate in the event.
I told you so. That earlier posting, about how England star batsman Kevin Pietersen wants to play both for England and in the IPL, still holds up very well.
It isn’t just English players who are losing out here. Insofar as England’s own county cricket season involves, like the IPL, cricketers from around the world, the England season not clashing with the IPL would also make it easier for top overseas players to play in England over the summer. Playing in England is nothing like the financial windfall that an IPL contract is, but it can be a nice little earner, to say nothing of a nice little learner about the different playing conditions of England. Ricky Ponting, the former Australian captain, is now playing in the IPL, captaining one of the teams. Later this year, Ponting will be playing some English county cricket, for Surrey.
England’s cricket bosses still have a way to go. They appear to have at last realised that they do indeed have a problem, and that this problem is not adequately described by being labelled “Kevin Pietersen”. This is progress. But, this Collier man is still going on about what he and his mates would like.
“We have had very fruitful talks with India,” Collier said. “In an ideal world, we would like the IPL to be concluded by April 30, which is the cooler season for India. We have put that to them, they are doing their best, but they realise there are some limitations.
“It would make things a lot easier for us. …”
Yes, it would. But the IPL is now an established success. It has done wonders for Indian cricket, and for the comfort and excellence of India’s cricket grounds. It gives young Indian cricketers a marvellous stage to impress. It has transformed Indian fielding, once notoriously sluggish. Because twenty-twenty cricket only obliges bowlers to bowl four overs, it has also encouraged Indian fast bowling, which also was once upon a time a joke. (Fast bowlers from everywhere, come to that.) Whereas the typical Indian international cricketer used to a little man in the Sachin Tendulkar mould, of the sort who would have been a bank clerk had he not had the trick of playing cricket, the new Indian cricketer is more likely to be a towering alpha male with the physique of a super-hero, who either bowls like the wind or who hits the ball deep into the crowd with ease.
When Indians think about the IPL now, that is the stuff they are thinking about, not the fact that all the IPL clashes with the frigid beginnings of the English season.
Why on earth would India now rearrange the entire IPL timetable, just to suit the English? Would it not make more sense for the English to rearrange their season by starting that later? Like, after the increasingly cold and prolonged English winter has ended? (I would love to know what Britain’s Meteorological Office has been telling England’s cricket bosses about how the weather in April was going to get more cricket-friendly.) Why cannot the English season start in mid-May rather than mid-April, like it used to? (I can recall when a batsman getting a thousand runs in May in England was a huge deal, because he only had the fag end of May to do this in.) If England’s cricket season must start in the rain, wind and snow of April, then can it really not do without a few increasingly rebellious star players? It can, and it will, because it will have to.
All the English cricket bosses have to do is acknowledge reality. All the Indian cricket bosses have to do is … nothing. If the Indians do decide to shorten the IPL season, this will be entirely for their own reasons, mostly to do with television. Happening to oblige the damn English would probably, for many of them, be a bug rather than a feature.
The basic problem is that the English have for too long treated the IPL as just another foreign tournament, instead of what it clearly has been from the moment it started, namely the premier franchise cricket tournament in the world, based in the premier cricket-supporting nation in the world. Only now, prodded by England players who are becoming ever more desperate not to miss the IPL bus, are the England cricket hierarchy beginning to grasp this obvious fact. Even Wisden, in among having another moan about Kevin Pietersen, realises that the ECB has badly mishandled this issue.
Now, about that European Central Bank, and its need to adjust to reality …
But with the greatest respect, West Ham aren’t my football club. So why am paying to give them a brand new football stadium? OK, £25 million may not even add up to the GDP of Cyprus in this crazy world. But that’s still a fair chunk of change. And what are we getting for it? Some people are arguing that this is an important part of securing the fabled “Olympic Legacy”. But is this really what the late Baron de Coubertin had in mind? Half a dozen long balls aimed at Andy Carroll, and some lusty renditions of ”Oh Christian Dailly, You are the love of my life, Oh Christian Dailly, I’ll let you s**g my wife”.
- Dan Hodges.
Samizdata quote of the day has already been taken but I couldn’t not share this one.
There is more:
Or, if the crude economics are too unpalatable, look at the whole thing through a footballing prism. If I was Peter Hill-Wood I’d be spitting blood. A club like Arsenal risks its entire future on moving to a state-of-the-art new stadium, pays the price on the pitch, and then watches as one of its local rivals walks into England’s second stadium for the princely cost of £15 million, plus £2 million rent a year.
The state has played an indirect role in the footballing world – such as policing, although the cost of policing grounds is shared by the clubs – and football has, mostly, been out of the state’s hands. The only time that its regulatory influence really tightened was after the various disasters, such as Heysel and Hillsborough, in which large numbers of fans were killed and regulations were changed to make grounds all-seater.
One commentator on the Hodges posting says this, though: ….” it is worth pointing out that West Ham will be paying £2m per year rent on the 99 year lease (not sure if that is inflation linked) and that there is a considerable cost in maintaining an empty stadium”.
Well quite. West Ham is going to have to pay a fair amount to use this ground, so it is not getting the site for free, which at times is the impression gained by the original article. Even so, given that compulsory purchase laws were used originally to clear the Olympic site – and some businesses never recovered – it is worth pointing out that one beneficiary is a privately owned football club which already has a ground of its own. It amounts to a transfer of valuable land and resources to a group of businessmen.
“Sports is remarkably cognitive. I think it’s underrated just how smart it is. Actually, if I had more time, I would spend more time with sports. Watching it, reading about it, I think it’s oddly underrated.”
- Tyler Cowen, being interviewed about himself and his interest in things such as where and how to find good, tasty food. As to his remark on sports, I guess that one of the benefits of watching it – say if you are into baseball or cricket – is improving your basic maths. It does not surprise me that Samizdata’s Michael Jennings is a PhD in maths and a cricket fanatic.
One of my favourite books is this one, Creative Destruction, which Cowen published a few years ago now.
Last night, before going to sleep, I switched on the radio commentary for the India England cricket match now in progress in Kolkata, so that, in the event that I did the opposite of dozing off (dozing on?) I would keep up with England’s currrently very satisfactory progress in that game. With luck, tonight and tomorrow night, England will bowl out India cheaply in their second innings and England will go 2-1 up in the four game series. Find out if that happens by looking, e.g., here.
So far so sporty. But this morning, waking up at tea time, so to speak, I found myself listening, not to England’s batsmen batting and India’s bowlers bowling, but to this broadcast (that link switches it on straight away which you might not like – maybe going here would be more convenient – details down a bit on the left) done by the BBC’s long-time cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew. This broadcast was about a charitable enterprise in Kolkata which rescues street children, gives them somewhere unscary and unprecarious and unchanging to live, and which then educates them.
This broadcast lasts a mere fifteen minutes, otherwise it would have gone on longer than the tea interval. The enterprise it reports on is called Future Hope.
Learning about Future Hope is the sort of process that causes people with opinions about how the world should be organised to say: “and this just goes to show how right I have always been about …”. To me, what comes through is how morally uncorrupted these children were when first rescued, it having been precisely their moral excellence that got the attention of the man, a chap called Tim Grandage, who started Future Hope, in order to rescue some of these children from their terrible physical deprivations and torments. The children who have grown up in the care of Future Hope sound, in this broadcast anyway, like the very definition of the “deserving poor”.
This being a Test Match Special broadcast, you would expect cricket to figure in the story, and it does, although for a long time rugger seems to have been a bigger deal than cricket for Future Hope. Is Grandage a rugger enthusiast, I wonder? Indeed he is. Ever since it started, Future Hope has used sport to physically improve, to socialise and to excite its charges, and generally to give them positive and amusing things to think, and thereby helping to take their minds off past miseries. But India being India, Future Hope also wants to develop its cricket. The England Cricket Team have got involved, and they recently spent a day at Future Hope, as the broadcast describes. England’s formidable new captain, Alastair Cook, opened their new cricket coaching operation for them. Good for him.
This is the first time I have ever heard about Future Hope, and I have no idea if it really is as good a thing as Jonathan Agnew and the Future Hope people he talked to made it sound. These days, you can’t help but be slightly concerned about such a phenomenon. But it did sound like a very good thing indeed. And I want to believe that if there were any doubts about its excellence, the England cricket team would not have gone anywhere near it.
So to summarise the case for the prosecution: Chelsea’s allegation was not credible; it was not supported by credible evidence; the sole piece of evidence provided was directly contradicted by numerous other credible sources; no attempt was made to resolve the issues informally; the allegations were briefed to the press before they were formally submitted to the FA; one allegation briefed to the press was withdrawn before even being submitted to the FA; the referee who was the subjected of the complaint had allegedly been insulted, abused and threatened by the complainant before the charge was submitted to the FA; he had been the subject of allegations by the club that he had been responsible for them losing the match and that club has a recent record of making unfounded allegations against match officials. Mark Clattenburg had his entire livelihood – indeed his liberty – put at risk. Chelsea on the other hand will suffer no points deduction or fine or any other sanction. In fact, they are not even prepared to part with so much as any apology. The law, Chelsea football club and English football are an ass.
- Dan Hodges. (This in the Daily Telegraph so some non-UK residents might not be able to read the whole piece.) Essentially, what happened was that after a match between Chelsea and Manchester Utd, Chelsea players alleged – on the basis of what appears to be weak hearsay evidence – that the ref had used racist abuse. At the very start, I find it astonishing that hearsay evidence could be even considered grounds for a complaint. (As hardline defender of free speech I regard “hate-speech” laws as a joke anyway.)
Here is the thing.
15 years works fine for the politicians. In 15 years time, they will have either been voted out of office, or they will be Robert Menzies, Franklin D Roosevelt or Otto von Bismarck. Either way, it will not matter.
Consider, though, the situation of the regular, young ambitious bureaucrat. The London 2012 Olympics came along. It was a short term assignment, but if you were 22 in 2008 that did not matter that much as you had few long term commitments. So, you decided to do stuff for the London 2012 Olympics.
If you were really smart, or really avaricious (or both), you figured out that there is a permanent, extremely well paid career (with virtually no accountability) running the Summer Olympics (wherever it is that they are held) for the next several decades, and went for that. If you were not quite so smart (or if you had delusions of patriotism) you decided on a British public service career instead. The time at which you may be reaching the peak of your career (department head, or possibly the place a little below that where you do the actual work) will be in about 15 to 20 years. This is the moment at which you will not want the facts about the sheer level of waste and excess that went on at the London 2012 Olympics to become clear.
So, my guess. In 15 years, it is still going to be very hard to find out what the 2012 Olympics cost, and who exactly spent the money, and what it was spent on.
(Try finding out what the Sydney 2000 Olympics actually cost. As the years have gone by, the reluctance of the people involved to give out actual information has got stronger rather than weaker).
I’m glad people are getting so much pleasure out of the Paralympics and I don’t wish to knock either the competitors or disabled people generally. But there’s a bubble of sanctimoniousness surrounding the event and its media coverage which definitely needed popping – and I salute Frankie Boyle for being fearless enough to do it. Brave outspoken souls like him are our final bulwark against the kind of cant and sanctimoniousness and sentimentality which first began to rot our national character in those grisly days after the death of Diana.
- James Delingpole
I seem to recall someone (one of our commenters here?) saying that George Soros is the nearest thing in reality to a James Bond villain.
So I guess we now know which football team we here do not now support.
Well played Everton.
I’m at least a week late with this picture (illness blah blah), but it remains one of my favourite Olympics images, snapped by one of my favourite bloggers, Mick Hartley:
Suddenly I heard myself asking: Yes, why couldn’t those damn rioters have waited until the Olympics? Not really, but I did think it. (What I really think is that rioters shouldn’t. And before anyone says, it’s different if all you do is call yourselves a Riot and play noisy tunes.)
But to take my question seriously, I suppose rioters can tell when they’ll be allowed to run riot for a little while, and when they absolutely will not. Had they tried anything seriously wicked during the Olympics, they would have been crushed without mercy, the crushing egged on by the very people who, during and after the actual riots, were most sympathetic towards the rioters.
Interestingly, a little two-part BBC2 TV show about the riots was billed in the Radio Times to be shown just before the Olympics. But then it was postponed.
I am now recovering from an illness. While ill, the only thing I could manage to pay much attention to, other than the various pains in my head, was the Kevin Pietersen Affair, the contemplation of which, to an England cricket fan like me, is a not dissimilar experience to that of being ill.
Today at Lord’s, the sacred home of cricket, England are embarking on the third and final game in their five day test cricket series against South Africa, but without Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen scored a brilliant century in the previous game. But no, he is not injured. He has been dropped.
Pietersen sent out disloyal tweets about the England captain and coach, for which transgression he did apologise, but too late. You can read the details, in the unlikely event that you want to, in media reports like this one, where phrases like “underlying issues on trust and respect” appear.
Where my interest in all this (I could write about it for ever) and the interest of Samizdata readers (who would presumably prefer me to keep a lid on it) may overlap, or so I hope, is in the big picture background to all this. Which is, in a word: India.
From time to time, usually, as now, from a writer trying to use such circumstances as a metaphor, you read about planetary objects being subjected by much heavier objects in their vicinity to gravitational forces so severe that different parts of the smaller planetary object start to be pulled in different directions, perhaps so severely that the smaller object threatens to fly into pieces. This is what is now happening to cricket in England, under the influence of that much larger cricketing object, cricket in India. Cricket is now like a solar system, and the quite big planet that is England cricket is being yanked about by the gravitational forces being exerted upon it by the Sun. And that Sun is: India.
The background to the argument between Kevin Pietersen and the E(ngland and Wales) C(ricket) B(oard), the people who run the Engand cricket team, is that Kevin Pietersen desires to be both an England international cricketer, and also to maximise his income (and also enjoyment and ego-massage) from cricket by all other available means, while nevertheless contriving somehow not to drop dead from physical and mental exhaustion. In particular, Pietersen yearns to be both an England cricketer and a fully paid up (very well paid up indeed) player in the Indian Premier League, the Indian twenty overs tournament that takes place in April and May of each year.
The ECB treats the IPL as just another foreign cricket league, concerning which they need to care very little. It’s a nuisance to their arrangements, but no more. They do not – or such seems their attitude – need to contrive any “window” to allow England cricketers to neglect their early season England cricket in order to cash in from a meaningless foreign slogfest, and then allow them time off from England games, or preparations for England games, so that they can avoid becoming completely exhausted. They pay England players well, and that should be quite enough, is their attitude.
But for any cricketer good enough or lucky enough to get a contract to be part of it, the IPL can be the difference between an anxious transition, when the time comes, from professional sport to the rigours of real life, and being financially secure for life, especially if he does well in it and gets asked back several times. During the limited time when Pietersen was able to play in this year’s IPL (he had to leave before the tournament ended), he did very well, scoring another brilliant century, for the
Deccan Chargers Delhi Daredevils.
The over-arching fact about cricket now is that the IPL is not just another tournament in a faraway country. It is the first great assertion in the cricket world – the cricket world – of the massive economic power of Indian cricket fandom. As I never tire of saying in my various cricket blog postings, there are more cricket fans in India than there are people in Europe. I remember when the millions of India were famous only for starving. Now, these same millions are striding towards twenty first century affluence. And they are taking cricket with them.
If India really, really wants to watch you play twenty twenty cricket for a month and a half, at a time when cricket in England is only getting started in weather that is often vile (despite anything the Met Office may have told cricket people about such months getting warmer), then if you are a cricketer, you really, really want to say yes. → Continue reading: Kevin Pietersen and the rise of India
Now that the likes of yours truly are back from holiday to a post-Olympic London, I have been reading about the number of people who noted how quiet London (outside the Games areas) has been. Tranquil streets, empty restaurants, that sort of thing. It appears that the authorities, such as Transport For London, did a “good” job, in a way, in putting the fear of God into the domestic populace. Janet Daley writes:
“What I had not anticipated was that the spectacularly effective campaign of advance warnings and threats to London’s travelling public would cause so much of its working population to abandon the capital. Thus the evacuation of traditionally depressive, harassed, exhausted Londoners made way for the arrival of a lot of rather sweet, smiley people who turned the city into a very jolly and, momentarily, carefree place.”
I am very pleased the event has gone off well. Not least because there were not (unless it has been kept secret) any major security problems at the Games. Lots of sportsmen and women had a grand old time, the capital looked pretty good to outsiders, etc.
The last two weeks does certainly prove that if certain organisations want to convince Londoners that they should get out, they will. Holding the Games in August also helped. And the terrible summer weather leading up to the Games also encouraged a lot of us to hit the airports and railway stations. I may have missed some of the buzz of Olympic London, but the lovely countryside and weather in Southwestern France more than compensated for it.
There is, of course, the matter of the cost of all this. To borrow from Frederic Bastiat, the French economics and legal writer, we can all see the benefits of shiny new stadiums, swimming pools and cycle tracks. That is seen. What is not seen are the things and services that will not be supplied or made due to the taxes and other charges imposed to make the Olympics happen. There are no photos of entrepreneurs whose business plans might be stillborn from such costs, for example. I doubt whether Lord Coe or other Olympic grandees gave much thought to the opportunity costs of such events, or cared. And the insights of Bastiat apply to other “eye-catching” projects: space flights, high speed rail, big aircraft carriers, etc.
Anyway, I am not going to rain on the parade of what appears to have been a successful event. But being the Adam Smith libertarian that I am, it would be remiss not to remind fans of big sporting jamborees that these things have a cost, and the costs will be borne by those quite different, sometimes, from the beneficiaries.
The state funded Great Britain team has (by perception) done extremely well at the London 2012 Olympics. As a consequence (?) there are calls amongst politicians and sports bureaucrats to make competitive sport compulsory for children.
The state funded Australia team has (by perception) done extremely badly at the London 2012 Olympics. As a consequence (?) there are calls amongst politicians and sports bureaucrats to make competitive sport compulsory for children.
I have a standing personal rule that whenever someone proposes compulsory activities for children that are implied to be wholesome – particularly if they involve going outdoors and running around in some way – I should immediately compare them to the Hitler Youth, on the basis that the comparison is always fair. So consider it compared.