Cricket World Cup 2019: Week 0, update #1—No, I’m not excited about the World Cup

The first of an informal weekly (if all goes to plan) (p)review of the 2019 Cricket World Cup – or, as I like to call it, the #Champ10nsTrophy.

I have a confession to make. The World Cup starts tomorrow. England have a more than decent chance of winning. Yet I’m not excited.

Maybe it’s the ridiculous round-robin format that will ensure games are still going on not just next month, but the month after next. Maybe it’s the appalling 10-team restriction that ensures that there are no genuine surprise packages, no out-and-out underdogs to root for. After all, the weakest team is probably Sri Lanka – and they’re one of five teams to have won the whole shebang in its history.

Perhaps my ennui is founded in more selfish reasons. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve only managed to obtain tickets for one game. Maybe it’s the fact that the games have been overpriced, at least compared to the 2015 World Cup. Maybe it’s the fact that maximum purchase quantities have been too high, allowing too many people to hoover up, for example, six tickets for each semi-final.

Maybe it’s the geographical isolation from the cricketing centre that does it. Down in darkest Herefordshire, it feels as if the benefits have a long way to trickle down. While the cities have their jamborees, cricket stumbles on here – often only just.

I went to New Road yesterday and it, in some ways, summed up everything that was good about professional English cricket. Tim Murtagh was Murtaghing away to such an extent that you wondered whether the laws of mathematics would bend and let him register more maidens than overs. Tom Helm was showing off the fluidity of action and sharp bounce that reveals why he’s tipped for greater honours.

As Malan and Gubbins (one Test player, one future Test player, surely) rescued Middlesex from 20-2, a German Shepherd at the base of the D’Oliviera Stand (presumably a Worcestershire supporter) couldn’t bear to watch, lying down and panting. Off the field, the queues for tea and cake (£2.50 for a mug and a slice) in the Ladies’ Pavilion signalled their quality and value. The thought of paying, by contrast, upwards of £10 for a World Cup-branded sandwich isn’t exactly filling me with pleasant anticipation.

I’m sure this too will pass. I only hope it passes in time for (my) World Cup Game Day. At least the official song isn’t a total write-off; perhaps I need to heed its advice and just Stand By.

Square leg scorer

3.1 Appointment of scorers

Two scorers shall be appointed to record all runs scored, all wickets taken and, where appropriate, number of overs bowled.

3.2 Correctness of scores

The scorers shall frequently check to ensure that their records agree.  They shall agree with the umpires, at least at every interval, other than drinks intervals, and at the conclusion of the match, the runs scored, the wickets that have fallen and, where appropriate, the number of overs bowled.  See Law 2.15 (Correctness of scores).

[…]


Marylebone Cricket Club, 2017, Law 3 – The Scorers

Law 3 is not a controversial Law. It makes sense. Two scorers are better than one: they can check with each other, watch out for each other, and even cover for each other (in extremis).

Law 3 is also, probably, the most flouted law in the book, particularly in the recreational game. How often do captains agree to “just copy the book” at the end of the game and get away with one scorer, drawn from whoever isn’t batting at the time? Chances are that scorer hasn’t had official training, either. It’s not in the least surprising that scoring errors plague lower (and sometimes the not such lower) levels of cricket.

One of the more unexpected discoveries from my excursion to play cricket in Quebec (more on that another time) was the system that a social cricket club had developed to address the frequent scoring discrepancies that threatened to derail games. They had, in effect, re-invented linear scoring. The umpire was given a clipboard and blank bowling record. Provided he/she filled it in, the teams would then have two records – one by the umpire, one by the book scorer, and errors could be detected. Most importantly, the final score could be agreed without undue wrangling.

It’s such a simple idea that it must already be in use elsewhere. Nevertheless, I liked this idea so much that I’ve adapted the core idea for use in my club, Haymakers CC, during its social fixtures. As a strategy in casual cricket, it has a lot going for it. Appoint one bowler’s end umpire (i.e. somebody who knows the LBW law), and one striker’s end umpire. Give the latter the job of maintaining this A6 size bowling record. The advantages are myriad:

  • It allows every over, and indeed the entire innings, more or less, to be reconstructed.
  • It gives the fielding side access to the score on the field when the scoreboard inevitably falls behind.
  • It makes the role of the striker’s end umpire a bit more interesting.
  • It means the striker’s end umpire can’t avoid keeping count of the number of balls in the over.
  • It starts to introduce players who fulfill this role to the scoring symbols.
  • It finally satisfies Law 3.1 (two scorers are thereby appointed) and Law 3.2 (runs, wickets and overs are recorded and can be meaningfully cross-checked).
  • It relieves the bowler’s end umpire from keeping score (some do, some don’t).

The downside is, of course, that it does make the job of striker’s end umpire more involved. Yet it will be worth it for the time and aggravation it’ll save down the line. Whole overs won’t go missing (not that that’s ever happened – ahem).

Here is version 1 of my Square Leg Scoring record. It includes:

  • A row for each over (maximum of 30)
  • A box for each delivery
  • A space to record an identifier for the bowler (whether name, number, initials, hairstyle, or something else)
  • Columns for the over total and the running total
  • Two features for those new to the job:
    • A quick reference guide to scoring symbols
    • A couple of example overs

The underlying format is an Excel spreadsheet. Each page covers 30 overs. You can print it at A4 if you wish, but my strategy is to print 4 to the page, as shown in the PDF version. This can then be folded twice to leave an A6 size sheet. Add pencil and backing board (time to source an A6 clipboard), and your Square Leg Scrumpire / Striker’s End Umporer is ready to sally forth and tally.

I intend to hone this in light of user feedback, and to that end I’d be interested to hear from anyone who uses this, or a similar system, as to how it might be improved.

Special thanks to Angus Bell of the Pirates of the St Lawrence CC for the inspiration, and the welcome to cricket in Montreal.