NEWS: England Get Sciver Valentine Boost

All-rounder Nat Sciver has been passed fit to return to England duty in time for the T20 series in South Africa later this month.

Sciver is missing the ongoing ODI series after picking up an ankle injury; but will now rejoin the squad ready for the T20s which begin next Thursday.

Sciver is set to fly out to South Africa on Valentine’s Day… and with the World T20s just around the corner, her return is perhaps the ultimate Valentine’s present for new coach Mark Robinson and the team.

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NEWS: 2017 World Cup Venues Announced

The ECB has today announced the five venues where the 2017 World Cup will take place: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Lords.

The tournament will begin on June 26 and, as in 1993 – the last time the tournament was staged in England – the final will take place at Lords.

Of the five venues selected, all have previously hosted women’s internationals, with Grace Road the site of the first India-England Test in the 2006 series; they are also scheduled to host Pakistan this summer. Both Somerset and Gloucestershire staged successful televised one-day games last summer as part of the women’s Ashes series, each attracting several thousand spectators.

It is all in marked contrast to the 1993 tournament, when none of the matches bar the final were staged at county grounds, with players at times forced to roll the wickets themselves.

NEWS: ECB Confirm Anti-Betting Regs & How They Will Apply To Super League

In a statement to CRICKETher, an ECB spokesperson has confirmed the situation regarding the board’s Anti-Corruption Code, which (among much else) prohibits top players from betting on cricket, akin to the regulations under which two Australian domestic players have been sanctioned this season for placing wagers on men’s matches.

Last week, CRICKETher examined the relevant clauses of the code and suggested that it appeared that:

  1. Most county players were not subject to the code because women’s county cricket is not classified as First Class or List A.
  2. Some individual players may be subject to the code if they have “day-jobs” working for First Class counties*.

The ECB has now confirmed the situation on both of these points, stating that the code “does not extend to all female county cricketers” but regarding those who work for First Class counties: “it would entirely depend on the role that the county is employing them to perform [and] each role would have to be considered against the rules contained within the ECB Anti-Corruption Code for participants.”

The ECB has also explicitly stated that the code will apply to all participants in this summer’s Super League, though this will apparently be by contract, rather than by extending the definition of “Domestic Matches”.

“The WCSL players will be registered with the ECB, will be bound by the code, and will receive the necessary anti-corruption education.”

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* The application of the code to non-playing employees of First Class counties makes a lot of sense. For example, coaches discussing tactics in the locker room, or ground staff preparing nets or pitches, may well have access to information which would allow them to make “insider” bets; so to avoid all suspicion of impropriety, the code should and does apply.

QUESTION: Do Anti-Betting Regulations Apply to Domestic Women’s Cricket in England?

Following on from yesterday’s news that a second Australian domestic player has been sanctioned for betting on The Other Game* the question was raised as to whether similar regulations actually applied to domestic players in the women’s game in England.

Before I get into it, I feel compelled to state that I am not a lawyer. (I’ve never even played one on TV!) So what follows does not in any way constitute legal advice.

The code itself is pretty clear about betting itself. The following are offences under the code:

2.2.1 Placing, accepting, laying or otherwise entering into any Bet with any other party (whether individual, company or otherwise) in relation to the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any Match.

2.2.2 Directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging, intentionally facilitating or authorising any other party to enter into a Bet in relation to the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any Match.

The question is… who does this code apply to? Does it apply to women’s county players? This is where it gets a bit more tangled!

Although a “Match” is defined as any cricket match… from village to Test; there is another term which comes into play here: “Domestic Match” which means any First Class or List A match – i.e.  not women’s county matches.

This is important because the code applies firstly to “any ECB-registered cricketer… who… is selected… to participate in a Domestic Match”. This therefore would appear to explicitly exclude all women, other than those who have played international cricket who are definitely covered under other clauses.

So, if your only involvement is as a county player, it seems clear that you are not subject to the code of conduct.

However, there is an additional, secondary clause, which states that the code also applies to: “any other person who… is employed by, [or] represents… [a] team… [that] that participates in Domestic Matches.”

This suggests that if you are employed by or “represent” a First Class county then the code applies – something which may well cover several prominent county players via their day jobs or even voluntary activities.

Of course, there has to be some elasticity here – for example as written, the code would appear to apply to a lab tech on work experience in the physics department at Oxford University, because their cricket team have First Class status… but not the coach of the Berkshire men’s team, because they are not “First Class”.

So the answer is… it’s complicated.

The bottom line here is that the ECB probably need to clarify exactly what the situation here is for women’s domestic players, particularly with the introduction of the Super League, which as things currently stand would not appear to be covered; and provide appropriate advice and training to players. Because as answers go… we’ll be the first to acknowledge that “it’s complicated” really isn’t a very good one!

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* Yes… we are going to keep calling it that!!

NEWS: Second Aussie Sanctioned For Betting On “The Other Game”

Perth Scorchers Piepa Cleary has become the second Australian domestic player in recent months to be sanctioned for betting on a men’s cricket match – the recent “day-night” Test between Australia and New Zealand.

Betting on any cricket match is prohibited by the code of conduct which all top-level players in Australia are required to adhere to.

Late last year, Sydney Sixers Angela Reakes was handed a 2-year ban for placing bets of less than $10 on the men’s World Cup final; but this ban was “suspended” – meaning that in practice she is able to continue training and playing as normal.

Cleary has also been banned for 2 years, but in her case only the last 18 months are “suspended”, so she is actually banned for 6 months – a considerably harsher punishment than Reakes, justified by the fact that Cleary had attended face-to-face “anti-corruption” training earlier in the season.

Although the term of the actual ban is off-season and is unlikely to effect her participation in next season’s WNCL/ WBBL, it does mean that Cleary won’t be able to train or play with the Australian development squad – the Shooting Stars – of which she has recently been a part, including playing against England Academy in last year’s tour to Dubai.

This news is further evidence of Cricket Australia’s determination to hold top-level women’s domestic players to the same standards as their male counterparts – something that is perhaps a little easier in Australia than it would be in England because of the clearer distinction between what is (and is not) “top level”.

Middlesex captain Izzy Westbury – who has previously openly discussed betting on men’s cricket – gave her response on Twitter:

It is obviously a nuanced question, but one that should still give any English domestic player pause for thought. Betting on The Other Game might not be technically illegal for non-centrally-contracted players in England right now; but to be on the safe side, perhaps it might just be better to err on the side of caution?