Vote early, vote often

I guess like many I was initially intrigued at the furore surrounding the recent USA Presidential elections and the voting. However as the days wore on without any definitive result I found my attention span becoming less and less as the accusations and recriminations reverberated.

It got me thinking about a vote we had here at CricketEurope for our international player of the year in 2010. There were six candidates in our online vote and readers were asked to vote for their choice.

It quickly became a two-horse race with Ireland skipper William Porterfield up against Afghanistan speedster Hamid Hassan with the lead changing hands as we entered the final straight.

Anyway, the final day dawned with the duo neck and neck and the word went out to the Afghan supporters to get mobilized and vote for Hamid to ensure victory.

This meant the men of one remote village getting up at the crack of dawn, piling into the back of a lorry, and making a two-hour journey to the nearest town where there was a little internet style café which had two old computers and a few chairs.

All went well as the first two of the group logged on and registered their vote for their hero. However, it all went downhill from there as the next pair weren’t able to vote and their frustrations soon boiled over.

The problem was that the voting system had been set up so that you could only vote once from any computer, preventing people from just sitting and hitting the vote button repeatedly.

However, our Afghan friends weren’t familiar a decade ago with cookies, IP addresses and voting irregularities. They took their ire out on the poor beleaguered shop owner, who had to be rescued from serious injury by the townsfolk.

There was something of a happy ending as Hamid did win the vote, and was presented with the trophy by John Elder and Rod Lyall during the World Cricket League Division One tournament in The Netherlands.

Hamid Hassan receives the 2010 Cricketurope Player of the Year award from John Elder (left) and Rod Lyall

Prophets not accepted in their own home

Ireland this week announced Stuart Barnes as assistant to Graham Ford, plus putting him in charge of the bowlers. Barnes comes with an impressive pedigree, working with Surrey, Somerset and England at various levels.

It brings to an end the saga following the unfortunate departure of Rob Cassell, but I found myself a little sad at the thought of another English coach in the Irish set-up.

We got our fingers burned when Toby Radford and Chris Adams performed the quickest of u-turns. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde in the Importance of Being Earnest: “To lose one may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

There’s no doubt that Ireland is an attractive location for English coaches and administrators, given the geographical proximity, no language barriers, plus the cricketing journey of the side.

This isn’t a xenophobic, or anti-English rant, but I just wonder when we will get to the point where we feel confident and start showing more faith in the Irish coaches.

Game on?

Stuart Barnes and co will be in action next month, but at the time of writing exactly where is still under debate. The latest word on the street is that the initial quadrangular competition, which was then reduced to a three-team event, will now be just a head-to-head between Ireland and Scotland in South Africa.

No doubt this may change again if UAE can be convinced to alter their proposed schedule.

Whatever the case I doubt the Irish and Scots will be taking anywhere near the contingent that Pakistan or India are taking on their tours to New Zealand and Australia. Pakistan have 35 players and 20 support staff on the plane for three T20Is and two Tests, while India are also taking 20 support staff and 30 players to Australia .I’m not quite sure what they all will be doing but it seems like a serious case of overkill.

I was reminded during an ODI in England where I was sat behind the ECB Digital Media team. There was no fewer than six of them alone in that part of their media operation, never mind the others employed in various tasks.

I once was given an assistant for a week during the 2011 World Cup after we beat England thanks to Kevin O’Brien and that hundred. Team sponsor RSA arranged for Ger Siggins to help me out as the calls poured in from all over the globe. It was without a doubt the busiest period in my life – as up next was a clash against India.

There was no inbetween with Ireland and the media. When we won the phone would be red-hot, but after losses it would be tumbleweed. Everybody likes a winner, and the Irish certainly love a bandwagon to jump upon.

North West isolation

The North West have been engaged in various meetings this past few weeks as they look to arrest the decline in the standard and number of those playing the game. Their efforts are laudable, and while I have serious doubts about the effectiveness and efficacy of some of their proposals, good luck to them.

What is concerning though are reports that there is a possibility that the region will cease to be a cricketing hub for Ireland. Unconfirmed at this stage, it has to be said, but there could be a move away from Bready, and Irish players in the NW will have to travel to Belfast for specialist coaching.

Let us hope that this isn’t the case, but as I stated in previous columns, economics may be the decisive factor.

Lexie Miller

There was sad news this week with the death of Lexie Miller. He gave 56 years of his life to the Derry Midweek League, a remarkable feat and one worthy of the honours that came his way.

The tributes that poured in were heartfelt, with the term ‘gentleman’ being the most prevalent. Always impeccably dressed, his genuine devotion and passion for the game shone through.

Nobody had a bad word about Lexie. In complete contrast to the popularity of Lexie, I was reminded of the story of a funeral when the priest asked if any of the congregation would like to say a few words praising the recently departed, who it has to be said wasn’t a very popular figure.

Complete silence.
“Come on, some of you must have something positive to say?”
Still, an awkward silence hung over the gathered congregation.
Eventually a hand was raised.
“His brother was worse…”