I get pestered from our webmistress and others about how little I write for this section of the website. The answer I usually give is that the title says “President’s Rant” and there just isn’t anything to rant about. So when I write a rant without being asked to, you know that I have something to rant about! I attended the JCL (formerly J1C, cue smartarse comment from Axe) AGM Sunday afternoon hence my absence from training. Now before I get to my rant, let me give you a condensed minutes of the meeting (I have yet to receive the “official” minutes):
* No balls: Any ball (full toss) bowled above waist height will be deemed a no ball, regardless of the speed of the ball.
* Wide: Off Side = Guide line (Fuji #2) or width of the pitch (Fuji #1), Leg Side = Any ball that passes down the leg side.
* “No Ball Dead Ball”: Any ball bowled that hits the edge of the pitch shall be called a “no ball dead ball” immediately and count as one extra.
– Apart from the leg side wide, all those rules are the same as last year. The committee decided that the leg side wide should be any ball down leg side so as to make the job easier for the umpire. A bit tough in my book but I do understand where they are going with this and it will hopefully make leg side wides more consistent. If you’re a bowler, no need to whine. Just don’t bowl down leg side! You blokes are just there to start the game anyway. For those that umpire this year, please let me know if you want clarification.
Note: I spoke with Pat the other day and it seems the leg side wide rule may be amended because the committee mistakenly thought that this was the wide rule as per the laws of the game. Having discovered that its not, they are re-thinking the rule. I’ll keep you all posted.
Storage Shed & Key
As per last year, stored at Furuiya. Teams will be designated each week to handle the key.
Teams can buy their own balls (Red Kings) this year if they want or they can ask the JCA and have the balls delivered to the JCA office or Furuiya.
– I’ve decided that we’ll get the balls ourselves this year as we get the same discount that the JCA gets and its easier to have them delivered to my place rather than having to pick them up. Once I take delivery, I’ll give GT and Burkey a few each. With the strong yen, I’ll order a box and then we’ll have some for practice games and next season as well.
Umpires are asked to wear dark pants and shoes and a light shirt with a collar, preferably white.
Captains were asked to fill out an umpires report on one of the cards that will be placed in the shed at the Fuji grounds. Anton McCloy has kindly offered to erect a post box in the shed where all umpire report cards shall be posted at the completion of each game. He will collect them and use the data to improve the standards of umpiring in Japan.
– Both umpires and team captains were encouraged to report anything good or bad about the day, such as any disputes arising during the game, disputes regarding the eligibility of players, or any disputes that the JCL committee should rule on, gear missing from the shed, broken gear, or even golfers chipping on the grounds, to the JCL committee in writing as soon as possible.
This year the JCA has allowed teams to enter second 11s so the Predators and Sano (formerly Millennium) are entering second 11s. This is how the team list looks:
* British Embassy
* Sano Div. 1 (formerly Millenium)
* Predators Div. 1
* Fuji Far East (FFE)
* Paddy Foleys
* University XI
* Sano Div. 2
* Predators Div. 2
– The playoff system will still be in use, but Sano and Predators are exempt so their respective #1 sides cannot be demoted, and their respective #2 sides cannot be promoted. 2 teams will be promoted to Div. 1 this year and 1 will be demoted so that in 2010, Div. 1 will have 7 teams and Div. 2 will have 6 teams. For 2010 onwards, 1 team from Div. 2 will be demoted and 1 promoted so that it stays as 7/6.
The following is the promotion/relegation system:
* The highest ranked team in 2nd Grade which does not have a 1st XI in 1st Grade in will be promoted to 1st Grade for the 2010 Season.
* The highest ranked team shall be determined in the following order: Winner, Runner-up, highest ranked team in the regular season (which does not have a 1st XI in 1st Grade).
* The lowest ranked team in 1st Grade which does not have a 2nd XI in 2nd Grade will play-off with the 2nd highest ranked team in 2nd Grade which does not have a 1st XI in 1st Grade. The winner of this match will play in 1st Grade in 2010, and the loser will play in 2nd Grade.
* The lowest ranked team shall be determined in the following order: Loser of 5th vs. 6th playoff, lowest ranked team in the regular season (which does not have a 2nd XI in 2nd Grade).
* The 2nd highest ranked team shall be determined in the following order: Runner-up, highest ranked team in the regular season (which does not have a 1st XI in 1st Grade).
* If a match is rained out and reserve days exhausted in the semi finals, final, playoff etc., the winner will be determined by the position they finished the round-robin. [(e.g.) 1st will have an advantage over 4th in the 1st vs. 4th match.]
So what does this mean? Simply put, it means a situation may arise where the 5th and 6th teams are Sano and Predators, yet it will be the team that finished 4th that will have to go into a play-off with the second highest ranking side in Div. 2 to see which team is promoted/relegated. Considering that Sano have been cellar-dwellers for a few seasons now, and the Predators are newly promoted after struggling to be promoted from Div. 2 (who can forget them being bowled out for 50 inside 20 overs and the game being over before lunch in the final 2 seasons ago), its a very real possibility. We could also have a situation where the 3rd placed Div. 2 team is promoted. So games could be extremely lopsided, which isn’t good for either team. It seems to me that the JCA is encouraging mediocrity. When challenged on that point, the JCA CEO, Alex Miyaji, disagreed saying what they were in fact doing was encouraging clubs that are actively building their player base. So if a club has lots of players, even if they are rubbish, they stay in Div. 1. In my opinion, that’s encouraging mediocrity.
The JCA’s goal is for each club to have a second 11 and until every team has a second 11, we are left with a situation whereby clubs with 2 teams aren’t subject to regulation/promotion. When I suggested that the JCA have it ass-backwards and should be finding grounds before expanding player base, I was told that we haven’t got to the point where there are too many teams for the current number of grounds yet and that when it comes to grounds, there were things in the works and I should “trust” them. Considering the possibility of a Fuji #3 has been bandied around for 5 years with no results to speak of, its hard to follow that advice. Furthermore, the lack of transparency is a real concern as is the planning philosophy; you don’t build a league of 20-odd teams and then find the grounds. Even though cricket is still a minor sport with very few people playing it, its still easier to get people to play the game than it is to find grounds. It seems to me that they are expanding for expansions sake.
Now I am aware of a ground at Sano that will be used in the JCL this year – that is indeed a reality as I have played on it – but there are 2 issues with it: It will be a flicx and not a concrete pitch (I’d imagine that the JCA plan to put down a concrete pitch there at some stage if they can but certainly for at least the near future, it’ll be a flicx), and its extremely small, far smaller than Fuji. Its certainly not up to scratch for Div. 1 teams, and arguably not up to scratch for Div. 2 teams either. Perhaps the J2C can play up there, alleviating pressure on the Fuji grounds, but that in itself creates its own problems as the JCA’s biggest supporter, the hotel association in Fuji, gets their business from players staying overnight to play 2 day games.
Another concern is the fact that Sano played with less than 11 players for most of last year so where are they getting their players from? I’ve heard that Gunma university and a lot of the kids that play cricket up there will form their player base. The Predators ability to put 2 teams on the park is also a real concern. I’ve heard that they have a very large player base but the logistics of getting 2 sides to Fuji is nothing to be sneezed at. A number of comments from the Predators representatives attending the meeting also made me wonder if they could pull it off. I’m sure both teams will make sure they have 11 for their Div. 1 sides (although there is no incentive to do so) but teams in Div. 2 could suffer through forfeights or facing less than full strength teams.
I made my feelings loud and clear at the AGM and I clearly stated that the Wombat’s members wouldn’t buy this in its current form. But I will say this. I’m prepared to give the JCA this year to see if it works. If it works, it might even be good for cricket in Japan, and if they do happen to have some more grounds up their sleeves, then maybe other teams can tie up with uni teams and create second 11s. Exapnsion is good for cricket in Japan, but not like this. There are bigger fish to fry at the moment, such as maintaining the grounds that we have now!