Cricket and Social Media, Part 2

Here is part one.

Today: Clubs.


First a note about the “Tweets per Follower” (TPF) stat for those new to the blog: TPF is simply the number of Tweets divided by the number of Followers. The lower the number, the more effective one’s Tweets are…kind of…It’s not science by any means, and does not account for existing popularity (the BPL vs the IPL, for instance), but I think it gives us a general idea as to the effectiveness of each organization’s Social Media manager, surely.

For instance, the English Cricket Board’s TPF is .05, which means they earn 20 followers for each and every Tweet – while Pakistani Cricket Board’s is 5.32, which means they earn one follower every 5.32 Tweets.

Again: it’s not science. It’s just for fun.

All of this is just for fun: it does not factor in population or Internet access and, again, is not meant to be gospel.


I chose three leagues for this part of the exercise: The Big Bash League, the Indian Premiere League, and the 18 Major English Counties. I thought about adding the Australian or Indian first class teams, or maybe the Caribbean T20, but decided against it. I believe that the three leagues above are the three most popular, globally speaking.

I am going to explore each league individually, ranked by Facebook likes, Twitter Followers, and TFP, and then compare all leagues to each other in all three categories.

Then at the end I have a couple surprises for you.


The County Championship (or the CB40, or the Friends Life T20…your call):

Facebook Likes:

Picture 6Somerset is the clear winner of the Facebook like category, and you can see that they have a strong presence on Twitter, as well. The Leicestershire and Gloucestershire numbers are not typos. Also Lancashire CCC does not, as far as I can tell, have an official Facebook page – that is one of those placeholder Facebook “interest” pages.

Twitter Followers:

Picture 7Now Yorkshire and their 30 bazillion County Championships lead the pack – by a country  mile, too.

That is an official Lancashire Twitter feed – and Somerset despite falling to fourth in this category are still putting in a fine showing. Northamptonshire was not in the bottom three in the Facebook category which makes Gloucestershire the clear overall loser when it comes to Facebook likes and Twitter Followers.

Now, FPT:

Picture 8It looks like Somerset is the clear winner: most Facebook likes, fourth most Twitter followers, and the lowest FPT. Congrats to the intern running their Social Media campaign: you are doing a bang up job.

While no squads break the .2 barrier I invented as a benchmark in Cricket and Social Media, part 1, it is nice to see that Gloucestershire is running a very effective Social Media crusade with a FPT of .45 despite their lack of Followers and Likes.

Finally, Surrey: lay off the coffee. Nearly 30,00 Tweets is probably over doing it. No reason to Tweet every gosh darn ball in other words.


Big Bash League:

I am going to post these without much comment, simply because I am not all that familiar with this league (the matches are on in the middle of the night here in the states.) Just for a reference point however, Brisbane won the league this year, the Sydney Sixers won it last year, and here is a link a list of cities in Australia sorted by population. Those three factors probably explain the following two charts:

Facebook Likes:

Picture 10Twitter Followers:

Picture 11But now let’s take a look at FPT:

Picture 12I was hoping Hobart would pull a Gloucestershire, but not quite.

I see no clear winner here at the club level, but speaking generally, the Big Bash League is doing quite well, Social Media wise. They seem to be including it as part of their overall marketing strategy (they rank the teams on their homepage by number of Facebook likes and their Twitter handles are all standardized: @sixersbbl, @heatbbl…etc), something the County Championship clubs in England don’t appear to be doing (I cannot tell you how many Facebook “buttons” on County pages went straight to 404 town – but it was at least a half dozen.)

The Big Bash League does have the fact that it is truly an international league going for it, as well, however, something that not even the FLt20 has in its corner.

And, so, how does the BBL compare to the other big hitter on the block, the IPL? Let’s find out.

Indian Premiere League:

Facebook Likes:

Picture 13Mumbai, the clear winner. Thanks probably to the Tendulkar-effect, as well as to population – the latter factor probably explaining the chart overall.

The new team from Hyderabad is an outlier, of course, because they have yet to play a match – and as you can see the entire IPL is an outlier compared to the County Championship and the Big Bash League. Incomparable really. Though I will do it anyway. Later.

Twitter Followers:

Picture 14Kolkata, the 2012 champions, shoot to the top, as do the Super Kings.

And who is the most effective?


Picture 16Kolkata, again, in a tie with the outliers, Hyderabad – but all the teams are running highly effective campaigns on Twitter. Only one team is higher than the .2 threshold.

Also, unlike the BBL, we have a clear winner: Kolkata Knight Riders. The 2nd most Facebook likes, the most Twitter Followers, and the lowest TPF.


As mentioned above, comparing the IPL to the BBL or to the English Counties is folly. It is comparing apples to oranges. Actually, comparing the BBL to the English Counties is apples to oranges; comparing the IPL to the English counties is comparing apples to hand grenades.

Therefore, charts comparing all of the clubs from all three leagues are a little pointless, but let’s do it anyway. At the very least, the FPT stat puts the three leagues on equal standing (only doing the top 20, no reason to embarrass anybody):

Facebook Likes:

Picture 17Twitter Followers:

Picture 19As you can see, when it comes to Twitter, the Counties are holding their own, relatively speaking. And I will say that I really do enjoy the Twitter accounts of the Counties – they are quietly enjoyable and not entirely annoying.

And, finally, FPT:

Picture 20Congrats to Kolkata Knight Riders: they are running the most effective Social Media campaign in the world of International Club Cricket.


Note: I hope to do a redux of this post in the future that compares all of the first class leagues (Ranji Trophy, Sheffield Shield, County Championship…etc) to each other and all of the International T20 leagues to each other (BBL, SLPL, IPL…etc) – apples to apples in other words.

This was just for fun, however, and to give my reader a decent idea as to what our favorite clubs are up to in the crazy, mixed up madness of World Cricket and Social Media.

That said, I do stand by the point I made earlier that these are the three most popular cricket leagues – so it is at least apples to apples in that regard.


Surprise #1:

My personal TPF is 9.95. In other words, I am gaining a follower once ever 10 Tweets. If I want to get to 1,000 Followers, I will need to Tweet a jaw-dropping 8,000 more times.


Surprise #2:

I ranked each tournament’s sponsor by Facebook Likes:

Picture 23I could not find a Facebook page for Friends Life.

The fact that nearly 10,000,000 people “like” Pepsi on Facebook is disconcerting, but the fact that over 5,000,000 “like” KFC makes me seriously question humanity’s future.



As I mentioned a couple days ago, I found myself on the Cricket Ireland Facebook page. I had “liked” their update in my newsfeed about the upcoming Ireland v Pakistan ODIs this summer and also made a snide comment about rain and wanted to go see if anyone had, officially or unofficially, replied.

That is when I noticed that they had less than 9,000 Facebook likes and the rest was history.

But I also noticed that Cricket Ireland, officially, replied to my snark with an upbeat and jokey comment about the forecast for this summer, and then further down I noticed a couple people complaining about the as yet to be determined location of the two matches.

One commenter in particular was hoping that both matches would not be at Stormont in Belfast because the ground was “unwelcoming” – he was then accused of bringing politics into sport, and round and round they went.

An example, from Facebook user Jeremy Martin:

“Owen Stornmont is no more unwelcoming thatn Clontarf ? Yer just a sectarian and bised prcik who wants eevry game played in Dublin it’s an all Ireland team and there are more players form the North in it that the South !”

(Too many sics to mention. Trust me it’s verbatim.)

It is sad that after all these years of peace, something as trivial as the location of a cricket match can still unearth the sectarian issues that killed 3,500 people between 1969 and 2001. Or, more correctly, unearth the post-sectarian issues of constantly accusing others of being sectarian.

But, then again, to say that the Troubles are over is folly. Just this last November, for instance, a Northern Ireland prison guard, and a member of the Orange Order, was killed in a drive-by shooting by members of an IRA splinter group.

And just last week there were violent protests in Belfast over the Stormont government’s decision to no longer fly the union flag.

I guess I should really not be surprised that it is going to matter to people where cricket matches are played.


Here’s the thing: There are two ODI grounds in Ireland: one in Belfast, and one in Dublin. The former holds 6,000, the latter 3,200. Neither has floodlights. They are a little over 100 miles apart – about a two hour drive. Logistically, and just speaking geographically, and not being at all sectarian, it would make sense to have one match at Stormont and one match at Clontarf – one in the north and one in the south – to ensure that fans throughout the country who want to attend at least one match can do so without driving 100 miles.

Though from what I have read, cricket is mildly more popular in Northern Ireland than in Ireland proper, and Stormont has double the capacity, and so in the interest of simple dollars and sense, it might make sense for Cricket Ireland to play both matches in Belfast.

Then again, there are 5,700 Pakistanis in Ireland – and giving them easy access to both matches has to be a priority, as well.


It’s a complicated issue, surely, one that involves not just age old sectarian divides but the age old problem of money as well: Cricket Ireland is struggling for legitimacy and they need to fill their coffers just as much as they need to field a competitive team if they want to eventually be promoted to full Test status.

At the end of the day, they need to put one match in Dublin and one match in Belfast. It’s the right thing to do. Putting both matches in Belfast, though maybe the financially viable decision, might unintentionally and unnecessarily deepen the divide between Southern fans and Northern fans, which would not serve Cricket Ireland’s attempts at legitimacy, nor would it serve the ongoing peace process.

My two cents on a complicated issue.


I realize I am making a big deal out of a couple of comments on Facebook, and I realize that the violence in Northern Ireland pales in comparison to the violence seen in other cricket playing nations, but I still find it fascinating how cricket and history march alongside each other, as they do in this case, and it is something I will continue to write about.


The Takedown

Okay so a bit about the DMCA Takedown Notice I received a couple of days ago and mentioned on Twitter.

First of all, if you are unsure what I mean by “DMCA Takedown Notice”, or even if you think you are sure what I mean by “DMCA Takedown Notice”, I urge you to read Devanshu’s overview of it on It is succinct and clear, even if it is in specific reference to the BCCI and Twitter and not, in my case, and WordPress.


Here is the text of the e-mail I received from a “Ryan M.” at WordPress:

“Hi there,

We have received a DMCA Takedown Notice ( for the following material published on your site:

As such, we were legally required to remove the material from our servers.

If you wish to challenge this notice we will be happy to provide you with all of the appropriate details.

Thank you.

Ryan M. | Automattic (sic)”


As you can see from the file name above, the picture was of the island of St.Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, the home of the Test ground, Warner Park.

After doing some digging, I found the post that included the offending picture. It’s of a beach, not the slightest bit cricket related, and it was lifted from a travel site called, as I mentioned above,

I am not going to link the post, because it was from a million years ago and reading it made me cringe. Finding it should not be difficult, but I am not going to make it any easier for you.

It’s utterly random, however, a picture of a beach on a cricket blog from a two year old post finally ending up the radar screen of a lawyer somewhere who sets the wheels of the DMCA into motion. It all seems like such a waste of time and money.

The time and money of WordPress, and the time and money of

All of that said: I should not have used the picture.

Again, from Devanshu’s post:

“DMCA is bad law. It’s been bad for 14 years. But your public link to pirated content? Let’s not pretend that was a great idea either.

Cricket rights around the world are a complicated matter. Being smart about what you post on the Internet is not complicated at all.”

Like I said: I should not have used the picture.

Unfortunately, it was not the only time I have violated copyright with an image. I do it more often than I care to admit. Sometimes, quite simply, a story is better told when there is a photo included – and sometimes there just isn’t an image in the Public Domain that tells the part of the story that I need it to.

I don’t feel great about it. And that’s why I am going to stop doing it.

I will not be taking down old images, but from here on out, I will not be using pirated photos. That is my pledge to you, dear reader. And it is one that I feel pretty good about.


“The falcon cannot hear the falconer”

One major difference between the last County Championship season before World War Two (1939) and the last County Championship season before Word War One (1914) was that in 1939 the winds of War were already swirling across Europe and the Channel, while in 1914 the majority of people did not see war coming until as late as July of that year. There was no talk of war in the pubs or in the streets or in the House of Commons – war instead fell like a hammer from the sky.

As the season started, surely the majority of the players, and the fans, expected the County Championship to play out through September where a winner would be crowned – just as it had for the previous 24 seasons in its current incarnation, and for 20 seasons before that in different incarnations.

And even after the final two matches of the 1914 season had been cancelled, the players and their brothers in arms who marched off to war expected to be home by Christmas – and be ready for the 1915 season.

How wrong they were.

Surrey won the war shortened Championship that year. And as nearly as I can tell, their entire squad survived the war.

But they were the lucky ones.

Colin Blythe, of Kent, who took the most wickets that season, 159, who joined the army in 1914 despite his Epilepsy, was killed by random shell fire in Belgium in November of 1917. He is interned at the Oxford Road Cemetery in Belgium.

In 2009, the English cricket team visited the cemetery and laid a stone cricket ball at the foot of Blythe’s grave – the visit is summed up in this BBC article:

‘”It was a deeply moving and humbling experience,” said Andrew Strauss.

The skipper added: “It’s important to take a step back from cricket at times.

“We learned a great deal about the sacrifices made by a previous generation of England cricketers, and I would like to thank the people of Ieper for making us so welcome.”‘

Major Booth, who I have written about before, also played County Cricket in that fateful summer of ’14. He was in fact one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year. Here’s a link to the commendation.

I will quote the Wiki article on Booth’s death:

“On 1 July 1916 he went “over the top” near La Cigny on the Somme while serving with the 15th (Service) Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), also known as “The Leeds Pals”. He was followed a short while later by another wave of soldiers among whom was Abe Waddington (later also Yorkshire and England). Waddington was hit and found himself in a shell hole with Booth and held him until he died. Booth’s body then remained there until the spring, when he was buried at Serre Road No 1 Cemetery.”

From his brilliance on the cricket field in 1914, to leaving his trench and attacking out across an open foreign field in 1916, to dying in a friend’s arms – his body left moldering in the mud and the blood until spring.

Only 30 years old.

The things we do to our young men.


Cricket and Social Media, Part 1

The structure for this post comes from an article written for the website I work at ( by the incomparable David Brauer (on Twitter at @brauer) that ranks all of the local Twin Cities media members and organizations by number of Twitter followers – but the inspiration came from the Cricket Ireland Facebook page and the jaw-droppingly low number of “likes” it has (less than 9,000), despite the fact that Jarrod Kimber urged all his readers to go like it a few months back.

So I decided to take David’s idea and move it into the world of Cricket, but include Facebook and the number of overall Tweets – plus a new stat (hey this is cricket) that I “invented” (maybe) called “Tweets per follower” (TPF) – which is simply the number of followers divided by the number of Tweets. The lower the number, the more effective one’s Tweets are…kind of…It’s not science by any means, and does not account for existing popularity (the BPL vs the IPL, for instance), but I think it gives us a general idea as to the effectiveness of each organization’s Social Media manager, surely.

For instance, the English Cricket Board’s TPF is .05 – which means they earn 20 followers for each and every Tweet.


Tonight I am doing national boards for Test nations (with the exception of Zimbabwe, as they do not seem to have an official social media presence and I get a malware warning when I try to go to their official site – I also added Ireland since they were the impetus for this project) – in a later posts I will do the same thing for clubs, leagues, media organizations, associate nation boards, cricketers past and present, journalists, bloggers…etc. It should be fun.

Tonight, though: national test boards.

Facebook Likes:

Picture 2

India is the winner by a million miles. Of course, cricket is wildly popular there, more so than any other sport, and they do have 1.2 billion people, so that’s not too much of a surprise. The only real surprise here is Australia and South Africa ahead of England – in fact Australia has nearly three times that of England – everything else is down to population and popularity of the sport; as well as, quite simply, access to the Internet.

Twitter Followers:

Picture 4Again, India takes it, with Australia a close second. England and South Africa have flip flopped. Meanwhile Bangladesh and Pakistan have fallen off the map, while Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and the West Indies move up.

The fact that Ireland has more Twitter followers than Bangladesh and Pakistan combined is an interesting fact, though again probably easily explained away with a discussion of Internet access.

Interestingly enough, the list does not simply follow GDP ranking – Sri Lanka is ahead of New Zealand for instance. So while Internet access is a qualifier, it is not THE qualifier.

Tweets and Tweets per Follower:

Picture 5England have a very effective Twitter campaign…seemingly…

Since this a newly invented stat, it is tough to tell what is good and what is not. For the purposes of this exercise, I am going to say that anything under .2 is good.

As you can see, the West Indies Tweet A LOT, but it takes more than a Tweet and a half for them to gain a follower – meanwhile England is racking up followers at the rate of 20 per Tweet.

England, India, Australia, and New Zealand all seem to be maintaining effective Twitter campaigns – but despite England’s phenomenal FPT of .05, I think the winner here has to go to India – almost 200,000 followers and an FPT of .08.

And considering their immense following on Facebook, I would have to say that despite their sizable population (not to mention their growing and thriving diaspora), and the immense popularity of the sport in their country, India is the clear winner overall in this exercise.


On a side note, the generic Facebook page for cricket has 15,823,390 likes. I am going to go ahead and surmise that that is about the number of active cricket fans alive in the world today.

Edit: this was meant as a joke, but it got some play on Twitter, so I am going to provide a better stat: there are supposedly 1 billion Facebook users among the nearly seven billion people on planet earth. So the number of Facebook likes above represents roughly 1/7 of the world’s cricket fans – putting the revised guesstimate at around 105,000,000 active cricket fans.


I mentioned it in passing above, but none of this takes into account Internet access, economic stability…etc. And for the most part, I am going to have to leave that out of consideration. I am not a global economist; nor am I an expert on international Internet access or censorship.

I will point to this wiki page for information on that subject, and leave you with this thought: this is supposed to be for fun.

Where possible however, I will use percentages and per capita stats in order to level the playing field.


Lots brewing here at Limited Overs. Keep an eye out for more posts in the social media series, some more stuff about World War One, a post about Cricket Ireland and the Irish Troubles, and finally, a bit about the DMCA removal notice I received this afternoon.

Cecil Abercrombie, 12 April 1886 – 31 May 1916

Cecil Abercrombie was born in 1886 in India. A capped rugby player for Scotland, he played one year (1913) in the County Cricket Championship for Hampshire. 13 total matches. That year he scored three hundreds including a high of 165 against Essex. In those thirteen first class matches, at the age of 28, he scored 936 runs. He also played three first class matches for the Royal Navy.

In 1914, he shipped off to War.

In May of 1916, not two years removed from his accomplishments on the cricket field, he was killed while serving aboard the HMS Defence – along with every other man on board.

His remains, and the remains of nearly 900 of his brothers in arms, still sit at the bottom of the North Sea.


The HMS Defence, a Minotaur class armored cruiser, was commissioned in 1909 and transferred to the Grand Fleet in January of 1915.

Image in public domain
Image in public domain

In May of 1916, the Defence, serving in the Grand Fleet as part of the Battle of Jutland in the North Sea, was struck by German artillery. One salvo caused an explosion in her rear armory, and the ensuing fire sunk the vessel to the bottom of the sea.

As mentioned earlier, none of the nearly 900 crew survived.


The Battle of Jutland was fought over naval control of the North Sea over two days in 1916. The battle is named after Jutland, Denmark, which is near where the majority of the fighting took place, and it was largest naval battle during the war.

It involved 250 ships (151 from the United Kingdom including Australia and Canada, and 99 from Germany). There were more than 6,000 killed on the Allied side, and more than 2500 on the German side. Most of them are buried in watery graves. The UK lost 14 vessels, the Germans 12.

175,600 in total tonnage and 8,500 souls sent to the bottom of the North Sea over two days in the spring of 1916.

The result of the battle was “tactically inconclusive.”


And that’s thing about World War One. There are no Trafalgars, no Waterloos, no Gettysburgs, no Battle of Midways…the decisive victories were few and far between. So many lives were lost – entire generations – and yet so often the lines held, and held, and held.

I hate to say those brave young men and women died in vain – but it is hard not to.

One of those young men was Cecil Abercrombie, cricketer. Hopefully by writing about him today, in 2013, 97 years after his death, I have given his legacy a little bit of an extension into our century, thereby keeping his name and his accomplishments alive.

Men and women might die in vain in war, but that does not mean they should be forgotten.

And so in that spirit: Cheers to Cecil Abercrombie: first class rugby player, first class cricketer, and sailor aboard the HMS Defence.

The Voice of God

“The silence of the guns was like the voice of God.” – my friend Chris Santiago paraphrasing Kurt Vonnegut’s thoughts on Armistice Day.


The actual quote is more powerful, yet not quite as lyrical:

“It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.”

The silence was not like the voice of God…

…it was the voice of God.


It is strange to me that World War One is the 20th century’s forgotten war. Do they even teach it in schools at all anymore? They barely touched on it when I was in school. It’s almost as if we have already decided as a species that it is better off unremembered – though I respectfully disagree with that decision.


Winston Churchill on the “butchery” mentioned above: “All the horrors of the ages were brought together, and not only armies but whole populations were thrust into the midst of them…The wounded died between the lines: The dead mouldered into the soil. Merchant ships and neutral ships and hospital ships were sunk on the seas…Every effort was made to starve whole nations into submission…When all was over, torture and cannibalism were the only two expedients that the civilised, scientific Christian states had been able to deny themselves, and they were of doubtful utility.”


The fact that the “civilised, scientific Christian state” that I call home nowadays regularly uses torture as a battle tactic confirms the fact that we have decided to forget the lessons our grandfather’s fathers tried to teach us


The last cricket match to take place before Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo took place in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, from 27 February through 3 March 1914 at St George’s Park – the same ground where 99 years later we all saw South Africa defeat Sri Lanka earlier today….

In 1914 the South Africa’s competition was not Sri Lanka, but England – and the visitors crushed their hosts by ten wickets thanks to a century for Phil Mead and devastating bowling from the whole of England’s bowlers: five South Africans got out in the single digits in their first innings; and eight fell for single digits in their second. If not for a 129 run opening partnership from South Africa’s Herbie Taylor and Billy Zulch in the second innings, the result would have been far more lopsided.

After Sir Jack Hobbs scored the 11 runs needed for the victory that Southern Hemisphere summer afternoon, there was no more cricket until long after the guns had fallen silent – December 1920 at the Sydney Cricket Ground to be exact.

In between Port Elizabeth and Sydney, there would be 9.7 million military deaths and 5.8 million civilian deaths (either directly or indirectly): nearly two percent of the world’s population.


Among the dead were some of the cricketers who played in the Test match that Summer in Port Elizabeth:

Major Booth (England) scored 32 and took five wickets, including a 4-fer in the second innings, killed on 1 July 1916 in France – the opening day of the Somme offensive.

Reginald Hands (South Africa) scored seven total runs (0,7) in what would prove to be his one and only Test match, killed on the Western Front 20 April 1918.

Bill Lundie (South Africa) only scored one run in what would also be his one and only Test, but he did take 4-106 in the first innings while bowling into a strong wind, killed in Belgium 12 September 1917.

Claude Newberry (South Africa) scored 11 in the first innings and only one in the second, but he did take a wicket, breaking up the dangerous Mead-Woolley first innings partnership – killed 1 August 1916 in France.


And that doesn’t begin to discuss those cricketers that played in that match, fought in the war, but were lucky enough to make it out alive – though very few of them would surely consider themselves “lucky” to have seen the horrors on the Western Front. Nor does it include the coaches and supporters and the ticket takers at the ground that day who fought and died in some foreign field nearly 6,000 miles from their homes.


World War One has a lot to teach us – I am going to use cricket as a backdrop and try to learn as much as I can.


Unusable Signal

Yesterday, Internet hero, Aaron Swartz, committed suicide in his NYC apartment. He was 26 years old.

As I was reading Cory Doctorow’s obituary of Aaron in my kitchen, the local indie rock station here in Minneapolis started playing Elliot Smith’s “Miss Misery“.

It is one of my favorite songs of all time, despite its unfortunate connection with Good Will Hunting.

You had plans for both of us
That involved a trip out of town
To a place I’ve seen in a magazine
That you left lying around

Elliot Smith, of course, committed suicide himself in 2003 when he was only 34 years old.

It was serendipity at its worst.


I have never lost anyone close to me to suicide. A friend of a friend here, an acquaintance of an in-law there. But I find the news of someone’s suicide positively chilling. Whether they are an athlete, or a distant acquaintance, or a celebrity.

Local journalist, Larry Oaks, shot himself in the head few weeks ago. 52 years old, accomplished, a loving family – and yet things were so dark in his world that he saw no way out.

And that’s what I find chilling.

I have had hard times. I have gone weeks when I didn’t think I would ever see the sun again. Most of these days were before I met my wife, who pulled me out of all it 13 years ago; but in the last 18 months I have felt this awful tug of depression pulling at my sleeve. Like nighttime being dumped out of a sack onto a summer’s day.

But despite all of that, I have never even contemplated suicide. Ever. It has never really been an option. Not even close.

And so to even begin to imagine the level of darkness and misery a suicidal person needs to be experiencing in order to follow through with the act chills me to the bone. It’s incomprehensibly horrible what must exist in their minds.


Cricket has a relationship with suicide. With depression. Though I think it is more tenuous than people think. Depression and suicide are epidemics in modern society – and they pervade all professions, not just cricket, but law and medicine and sales and everything else.

But the numbers do not lie. Over 150 professional cricketers have committed suicide. And ten times that number have been diagnosed with Depression or Anxiety. And ten times that number have probably suffered with undiagnosed versions of both afflictions.

Some say it is the nature of the game. That you only get so many chances. That you could wait for hours, days, to get into the crease and then fall to the first delivery you see. You could wait hours, days, in the field, for an opportunity for a catch, only to let the ball slip through your fingers.

But all sports have their pressures. And all sports have their suicide victims. But in cricket, players have fewer chances at redemption…maybe.

But it goes much deeper than the game they play. To think otherwise is to demean their deaths and the deaths of all the other suicide victims who didn’t play professional cricket.

Victims of suicide experience a darkness that none of us can possibly understand – and hopefully never will. It has nothing to do with getting out for a duck or a dropped catch – it is a disease that infects to the deepest core of its victims. And it is chilling and awful and tragic.

The only connection that exists in reality and in fact, is the connection between depression and retirement, forced or otherwise. When players leave a game that has been their entire life for 30 years, a very large part of them dies. Forever. Sometimes, athletes overcome that loss. Sometimes they do not.


I had more I wanted to write here about cricket and Depression and suicide. But I think I said that all that needed to be said above: a darkness we will never understand.

Get help if you need it, everyone. Please.

A football match in Lahore

I had been working on a long, statistically based, post on New Zealand’s Test batting history, but I came across a rather fundamental flaw in my data and was forced to scrap the entire project. Alas, I am now watching the Caribbean T20 and trying to think about something to write about.

This story regarding Pakistan jumped out at me. To sum it up, the ICC has left the future of international home matches up to the PCB and its relationship with other cricketing boards.

In other words, Pakistan has the very difficult task of convincing nations like England, Australia, and South Africa that their country is safe enough for their cricketers.

And while I feel for young Pakistani cricketers and for the whole of Pakistan’s fans, I understand the position of the ICC. I might not agree with it, but I get it: They cannot force other boards to send their cricketers to a country that cannot provide adequate assurances of their safety – it has to be done via individual negotiations with individual countries.

Interestingly, while Pakistan has not hosted a major international hockey tournament since 2004 (they were regular hosts beforehand), they have hosted an international football match: Bangladesh played a 2014 World Cup qualifying match in Lahore in July of 2011.

Of course, football is simply not the same marquee event in Pakistan as cricket is (only 3,500 attended the match), but it still is an international sporting match. In Pakistan. And yet somehow it seems Pakistan is a decade away from hosting international cricket matches again.

And that’s a shame. Because they are exciting and they are fun to watch and they are winning. It’s a shame that an entire generation of young cricketers are not able to watch their heroes play on their home soil against the best in the world. And it’s a shame that PCB is completely on its own in trying to rectify the situation. Why in the world would the ECB send its cricketers to Pakistan when Qatar is an option? No reason whatsoever. In fact, I see no reason why they would even sit down at the table to negotiate.

A commenter on the article gives the conspiracy theory that the boards of South and Australia…etc are avoiding going back to Pakistan for cricketing reasons. Simply put: they don’t want to play on the subcontinent. And while that might seem mildly fantastical, there is a lot of money to be made in winning cricket matches – sponsorships, attendance at home matches – and so it would hold that international boards would want to play as few matches under alien and difficult conditions as possible.

I’ll ask the question again: why in the world would South Africa play in Lahore when they could play in Dubai?

No reason whatsoever.

And that’s too bad.

Now, I was not on the Sri Lankan team bus that came under fire in 2009, and I was not in Mumbai in November 2008, and I am aware that it truly is dangerous for westerners in Pakistan right now (the US State Department’s Travel Warning reads like a horror novel), but if Bangladesh’s footballers can be safe, and if the PCB can provide safety assurances to the satisfaction of an international and independent board appointed by the ICC, then Pakistan should be allowed to host international matches, and the ICC should require all teams to play their series in Pakistan and not in the UAE.

As long as it is safe, the upsides are enormous. International matches in Pakistan are not just good for the sport in Pakistan, they are good for cricket the world over. And even more than that, they are good for Pakistan the country and Pakistan’s citizens.

It can’t be left to individual negotiations with individual states. The ICC needs to do more than guide the process. They need to direct it.


Local Hero

This is the last in the informal series that has been: the Future of Test Cricket, but first of all, there was some great feedback on yesterday’s post from Russ at Idle Summers in the comments and from @paperstargirl on Twitter. Cheers.

Please know that these recent posts are not well researched and are not meant to be taken as gospel (not that anyone thought that, just hedging my bets here). I am more free associating than anything; just kind of seeing where the words take me, to see if I can come up with a conclusion to an incredibly complex problem.

That problem being: Test cricket.

To sum up: it’s dead, it’s alive, it’s different.

Now, finally: it’s local.

The one flaw in my “dream of the 1890s” post was that people who consider themselves part of that culture of chicken coops and home cured meats, also prefer locally owned business, and frown at global corporations. They want their cities to be walkable, and their sport to be regional at best.

They would be disgusted at 18 cricketers plus coaches and staff and fans flying thousands and thousands of miles in a carbon producing, energy wasting, all around filthy jumbo jet – all for a sporting event.

And while, again, Test cricket’s time may have come, Test cricket again is not ready.

In order for it to be ready, it needs to do what other businesses the world over have done: become hyper-local, as best as it can.

And this reason alone is why I feel that while Test cricket and first class cricket are here to stay and can reap the benefits of the cultural movement that wants to slow everything down, it cannot do so in its current incarnation. It needs to be broken apart like Ma Bell in the 50s in America. It needs to be regionalized. It needs to be franchised.

And it is already happening.

For example, Minneapolis has a thriving one day league that exists solely at the grass roots level. And while the league is mostly made up of ex-pats, I think that will change as more and more people become interested in the slow burn that is first class cricket.

And so now the future of first class cricket looks to me like the bastard love child of the County Championship, the Indian Premiere League, and the Minnesota Cricket Association.


In fact, in a lot of ways, that looks like the future of sport overall.

And by “future” I don’t mean tomorrow, next week, or next year. I mean a generation from now.

People are longing for community and for local connectivity, despite our global village. And I think sport is going to respond to that desire – and cricket will be along for the ride.

Because I still believe Test cricket’s time has come.