Friday 6 November 2009

Fit for purpose

Mike Selvey wrote an excellent piece for the Guardian on the concept and future of the benefit year. It's another of those anachronistic things which are good and worthy in principal and increasingly unworkable in practice.

Selvey reveals that Andrew Flintoff 'is reported to have pocketed several million pounds' during his benefit year, which included events in the well-known Lancashire town of er, Australia.

The deficiencies of a system like that hardly need pointing out, and will probably hasten the end of the idea. Selvey also highlights via his own benefit year how the less thick-skinned player feels too: 'I found it an embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning experience, tantamount to the begging bowl, and incredibly time-consuming, I'm sure to the detriment of my game'.

Yet there is flipside. Benefits inevitably encourage the county side into fixtures with club teams, for whom such afternoons are a tremendous pleasure, and a boost to membership. As a kid, one of my greatest days was the one on which Barry Richards came to town. It would be a shame to lose such closeness. 

NB: Flintoff revealed the other day that he'd signed a new deal with Lancashire. And then today said that his stated aim for a comeback against Bangladesh was 'optimistic'. Yeah Freddie, we'd worked out what kind of optimism that was. Now the bid to become the world's best one day cricketer will begin at... you guessed it, the IPL. 

NNB: On the subject of money, I've no idea how much adidas paid Sachin Tendulkar to use their bats, but I suspect after yesterday, they've already made that money back...

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