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Wednesday July 30 2008

The cricket today was disastrous.  Collingwood will be dropped, again, and Vaughan’s days are also numbered if he doesn’t start making runs.  Strauss doesn’t look too solid either.  Cook and Bell both played well, but then got out for non-huge scores, as is their habit.  Only Flintoff made runs and didn’t get out, on account of running out of partners.

So who will come in?  The two names I hear are Shah of Middlesex, already a one day England regular, and Key of Kent.  Interestingly, these were the guys who played the two best innings in the Twenty20 final, as already noted here, which does rather throw doubt on the idea that Twenty20 and test cricket are two completely different games.  As does the fact that Vaughan’s form is also now consistent across all forms of the game.

Surrey, fresh from Kenny Kennington’s triumph in the Twenty20 Finals Day county mascot race, came down back to earth with their now customary crashRamprakash, still seeking his hundredth first class hundred, was out for 6.  Can’t take the pressure is what all the commentators are saying.  Same as he couldn’t take the pressure of test cricket.  Unkind, but, you suspect, true.

Even more – no, far more - depressing is the current shambles in the relationship between India and England in the matter of cricket administration.  I don’t claim to understand the finer points of it all, but basically, both England and India seem to want to be the boss of the Twenty20 world championship.  And a further refinement of chaos is added that in India there is one of those fights-to-the-death (think bitter custody battle – DVD versus Blu-ray) going on between two different Indian versions of such a championship.  The IPL is now winning, and is trying to hunt down and kill all who have signed up for the hated ICL, which includes people now playing for English counties.  Ergo, no English county with ICL players can take part in IPL events.  Kent would have been invited to the IPL show in the autumn, but have not been, because they have ICL people in their squad.  Middlesex have been invited, because they don’t, but maybe forbidden to go, on account of Kent not having been invited.  What a mess.

Still, the good news is that Twenty20 has finally made it possible to have an annual international tournament not only between countries but also between clubs.  Think: soccer World Cup, and soccer (okay only European) Champions League.  It is because this is the prize that is (these are the prizes that are) being fought over that it is all getting so nasty.  You can’t reasonably have two, or three, or four, “World Cups”.

Except that actually, you can.  Speaking as someone who has been involved in one of these fights to the death, I can tell you that sometimes they never actually result in a death and a winner.  The fight can go on for ever.  It may turn out that the only way these fights will be settled is if the entire nation of India refuses to support any tournament until they are joined together into one.  But even that might not work.  Even then, they might still each persist, and cricket, in the words of the cliché, would be the loser.  Horribly.

An extra drop of poison is added to the mix in that England is used to running world cricket, alongside other white men.  But India is now where most of the spectator power suddenly is, and the Indians have a great chance to get back at England for all the grovelling they’ve had to do in the past.

Michael J, is all that about right, or is there more involved, or maybe different things involved?