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HYPE IS JUST NOT CRICKET Dilemma over the shape of the sport's future; Sean McGuire's SSuunnddaayy SSeerrmmoonnBecause sport's a religion round here Dilemma over the shape of the sport's future.

Byline: Sean McGuire's

THE recent lamentable performances of the England cricket team have reached a new low with defeat to that powerhouse of global cricket - The Netherlands.

Having been knocked all over the park by the Aussies in the Test matches, the one day matches and the T20 games, a clash against The Netherlands must have looked like a gold plated chance at redemption - and they blew it - so now the predictable inquest begins, with the great and good of cricket all having their say (mainly in the posh papers and on Radio 4) about what needs to be done to put things right.

This debate has illustrated the awful dilemma that faces cricket.

Someone said to me recently that cricket''s greatest virtue is that it is not football - i.e. it is free of much of the over-hyped nonsense that has made so much of football less about sport and more about sports industry soap opera.

Sadly, there are some people in cricket who hanker for the kind of saturation coverage and global presence that football has, and who foolishly believe that can be achieved by adopting some of football''s standard operating procedures, one of which is the perennial debate about the role of the coach, or manager.

Allan Lamb, the former England batsman, believes that England should break the bank to attract a new, overseas coach who can instil a winning mentality into the players and restore the team to their rightful place at the top of world cricket. Two things struck me about this: one, does anyone really care, and two, there is no raging debate about who should play for England, so why pay over the odds for a coach when the usual vexed questions of selection do not exist? Imagine Roy Hodgson being able to select from a small group of players who, by and large, select themselves to play for England - happy days!

Cricket is much-loved, even by those of us who are hardly able to name more than a handful of players, because of what it is perceived to represent - civilised behaviour, gentlemanly standards of conduct, sportsmanship and, although it sounds odd, good manners. The long term future of the game will be secured not by becoming more like every other sport and obsessing about coaches and managers, but rather by focusing on all those features of cricket that enjoy public approval, because they are so distinctly wrapped in the essence of the game. To do otherwise would just not be cricket.


DUTCH COURAGE: Stuart Broad's England side were humbled by the Netherlands
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 6, 2014
Previous Article:Jim backs Moores; CRICKET.
Next Article:Blow to Barca image; Sean McGuire's SSuunnddaayy SSeerrmmoonnBecause sport's a religion round here.

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