We have received a lot of criticism, mainly from Afghanistan supporters, for our lack of ball-by-ball coverage of the current Intercontinental Cup match between Zimbabwe and their team, currently taking place in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
The short answer is simply that we cannot afford to cover it. We do not have anyone based in Zimbabwe to provide the coverage and, as an organisation that currently runs at an annual loss, we cannot afford the travel and accommodation costs of sending someone to Zimbabwe, meeting the internet connectivity costs and then paying him to do the job!
However, a more detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding our non-coverage (and we are not alone as the ICC and CricInfo sites, at the time of writing, have yet to report any score after a day and a half of play) may provide some further illumination for those who feel we should be covering the match.
In May we were invited by ICC to make a proposal to them for coverage of the 28 or so games in the 2009-2010 ICC Intercontinental Cup and Shield. We believed that the pricing we offered excellent value for money - being as low as £200 per day for those matches we had already decided we could cover. Although we responded within a couple of days of being asked to make the proposal, it was turned down as ICC had already agreed a deal with CricInfo which "works much better for the ICC".
We were taken aback by this response as we believed we had been the website which had best promoted and supported the Intercontinental Cup over its lifetime, having from time to time provided ball-by-ball and photographic coverage of various games which no other website had done. Moreover, if we had received ICC support then we would have intended to arrange coverage of every match.
Despite this refusal, we have continued with ball-by-ball coverage of all the 2009-2010 matches up to the Zimbabwe v Afghanistan fixture. We are the only website that has done so. Some matches have not been covered at all on the ICC site (Canada v Scotland, Ireland v Kenya and Zimbabwe v Afghanistan); some have not appeared on CricInfo (we had to complain to ICC in order to stop them copying our coverage of Ireland v Kenya); and we will let the cricketing public decide on the merits of our ball-by-ball commentary of other matches compared to that provided elsewhere. Unfortunately, it now looks likely that we will only be able to afford to cover matches taking place in Europe and Canada.
We were led to believe that ICC was intending to enhance the profile of the Intercontinental Cup and Shield. Unfortunately, this is hardly the situation so far as the world struggles to get information about matches in play. Even trying to obtain the fixture schedule has been like trying to break into Fort Knox.
The complete lack of coverage of the Zimbabwe v Afghanistan fixture is in stark contrast with the coverage of Afghanistan's participation in the various World Cricket League tournaments since May 2008 when every ICC media release and report seemed to focus on the Afghanistan team and its exploits. I think we can all understand why there are now so many frustrated Afghan fans wondering why their team seems to have slipped into a news black hole!