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not the best of times for English cricket

England Cricket is going full-throttle through the rollercoaster at the moment. After securing the no.1 Test ranking then not losing a Test during the summer, the England team were flying. A few months later, consider these contrasts in fortunes:

1. A huge new contract from Sky Sports to cover England home games until 2017, yet ECB Chairman makes himself sound a right tool by declaring 'pirate' websites live streaming games as the anti-Christ and the biggest problem the game has. GREED is the biggest problem cricket has. Remember when Australia had to name their first Ashes Test team 10 days before the match just for a stupid bloody marketing photo-shoot? It all went downhill from there. Greed is the problem from administrators selling their soul by taking televised cricket from the masses on terrestrial TV into the clutches of phone-hacking media supremo Rupert Murdoch, for every penny they can get. Grandma got pensioned off to the retirement home so the ECB could put a jacuzzi in the spare room. By all means protect your commercial partners, but don't declare streaming the biggest threat to the game when you seek to restrict viewership to only those who can afford it.

2. Possibly the ECB's most embarrassing deal is in the media at the moment as sleazebag ponzi-scheme conman Allen Stanford stands trial for financial fraud only matched by the NYSE's former golden child Bernard Madoff. Landing a helicopter on the sacred lawns of Lord's, using his slimy personality to get players' wives to sit on his knee while their husbands were at work out on his private oval... and yet the ECB were mortified that this bloke turned out to be a sham. A father would do more to check out his teenage daughter's new boyfriend but all the ECB could see was the pound signs...

3. The Mervyn Westfield case shows it's not just Pakistan cricketers who have gotten mixed up in spot-fixing. Westfield admitted taking £6000 to concede 12 runs off his first over in a Pro40 match in September 2009, a match which had no bearing on the competition as both sides were already out of contention. He had received 'numerous' approaches to concede runs for money, although it's not sure whether that was before or after the aforementioned game. Not a particularly bright lad, he boasted to a teammate about the money he was earning on the side. His teammate did the right thing and dobbed him in. He will be sentenced on February 10, when the name of the 'well-known cricket identity' who made the approach will be named. The ECB has declared an amnesty until April 30 for any players who have not reported any approaches for corrupt activity, an offence under the ECB regulations which have become much tighter since the time of Westfield's breach. Player education has also come a long way since Sep 2009.

4. The number one Test team in the world looks a long way short of that ranking based on their performances in Abu Dhabi against Pakistan. Two embarrassing defeats after several months break show that their stranglehold on the top ranking isn't a tight one. Being whitewashed in the ODI series in India didn't do much for their confidence either. Mind you, when the likes of India can't win a game let alone a series abroad, who's going to knock them off their perch? It won't be the Aussies for a while yet, they have to do more than beat an insipid India at home. Not sure the South Africans deserve it at the moment either after the home series against Australia and South Africa.

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