Monday, February 27, 2006

Flintoff Given The Poisoned Chalice Of Captaincy

Flintoff has been awarded the captaincy following the absence of both Vaughan and Trescothick and he faces a real baptism of fire. Very few bowlers have made successful captains, as they find it impossible to decide when to bowl themselves.

For once England fans will be hoping that Flintoff fails to emulate Botham, who skippered England 12 times without ever leading them to victory. Botham faced back-to-back tests against the West Indies, whilst Flintoff faces a talented Indian team, in India, with an untested spin attack, a batting line-up missing its two most experienced players and to top it all his wife is about to give birth to their second child.

To make Flintoff captain was a mistake. A player's form inevitably declines when given the poisoned chalice of captaincy and the selectors should have realised that England are too reliant on Flintoff the player. They should never have contemplated Flintoff the captain.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Why Flintoff Should Not Be On The England Tour

Andrew Flintoff's second child is due at the same time as the third test and in my view it would better for Flintoff, his family and the England team if he is where any man should be in his circumstances, by his wife's side.

I wasn't much use at work before the birth of my first child and my wife was never more than a short journey away. Andrew Strauss has been a rock in the England side, round which many match winning England scores have been made. It is no coincidence that his form deserted him in Pakistan before the birth of his first child caused him to miss the third test. Robin Smith endured a tortuous tour of Australia when his wife expecting, more proof of the impossibility of putting in world-class performances as a touring cricketer and an expectant father.

Flintoff's pivotal position in the side and his living legend status has forced him to go on this tour, but the selectors should have looked in the mirror and realised that their panel and the commentary box is full of irreplaceable cricketers. I predict that Flintoff will have a poor two Tests before flying home, because in any man's mind the enormity of being a father will always triumph over the triviality of cricket.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Time To Fund Amateur Cricket

Jeremy Bentham stated that "the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation". Unfortunately it is not the foundation of cricket funding policy which dictates that the majority of resources are directed towards the 100 or so professional cricketers in England and Wales, whilst little is given to the thousands of amateurs who pay match fees and a yearly subscription to be able to play cricket every Saturday.

In his autobiography, Mike Atherton asserts that the comfortable living awarded to County cricketers harms the national cause, as players have less incentive to try and achieve the next level.

It is argued that the funding of the professional game leads to a successful national team, which generates interest at the grass roots. This belief is as flawed as the neo-liberal trickle-down economic theory: if the rich become richer everyone will benefit removing the need to direct resources towards the most disadvantaged.

No amount of funding can ensure a successful national team, but money can ensure better facilities for local teams, equipment for schools and the protection of playing fields from development. This in turn can guarantee that there is a larger group of players to fight for places in the professional ranks. Put simply, funding should benefit the many not the few, as it will give the greatest happiness to the greatest number.