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July 31, 2008


Mark Harrison

I had understood that much of the rationale for high pay for CEOs was that it enhanced a desire to become CEO in the next layer down... and that you had to couple it with objective promotion standards (like, whoever improves their department most, gets to be the next CEO.)

If we believe the above (which, to be fair, does seem to have been taken far to far in many companies), we can see the need for objective assessment criteria in ranking potential England team members.

That having been said, I personally don't understand the point of 20:20 - isn't it sort of taking cricket and taking out the good parts (ie - the excuse to spend a week in the sun with friends) :-)

Will Davies

I'm not the economist here, but surely there is an equally significant issue concerning competition, which relates to Schumpeter.

In the 1990s, the county championship effectively determined the make-up of the England team. If you scored a bag of runs, you would get into the England team; if you failed to recreate that for England, you would soon be dropped (Graeme Hick was a notable exception, but that was because he scored several bags of runs at county level). The result was a huge churn of players, as domestic and international form peaked and dipped. I remember an Ashes series (1993?) in which England picked around 25 players over 6 tests.

In the last 6 or 7 years, the selectors have reached a Schumpeterian view that the optimal level of competition is less than the maximum level of competition. Central contracts and consistent selection have become the equivalent of patents - tools to reduce competition, in the interests of aggregate output. The selection mechanisms of the market and the county championship need to be suspended in the short/medium term, in the interests of long-term gain.

The problem arises when you have a Paul Collingwood figure, and you realise that the level of competition has slipped below the optimal level. Not sure what the equivalent is - term extension on copyright perhaps. So there you have - Paul Collingwood is the Cliff Richard of English cricket...

Larry Teabag

Highly unlikely that Freddie's annoyance with Monty's run out was anything to with the 20/20 team (which he's a dead cert for anyway).

And this argument doesn't work: "Weaker team spirit might directly reduce performance, if players are less inclined to try hard for people they no longer regard as friends" - as players who don't try hard won't be picked 20/20 selectors. Similarly "Geoff Boycotts minus the talent" won't be getting picked.

But I agree with your arguments that high incentives may cause problems for team-spirit and - indirectly - adversely affect performance.

But it's only fair to mention that there are other specific issues around - a habitually underperforming batting line-up, a captain in atrocious form, and selectors who seem to have lost the plot altogether...


So, when a bowler sees a fielder do badly, or a batsman sees his innings end because his partner is run out, he’s minded to think: “that idiot is costing me a fortune by jeopardizing my chances of getting into the 20/20 side.” So team spirit suffers.

Exactly - incentives become disincentives.


I know very little about economics, but I do know a bit about cricket, and this all seems pretty inaccurate. In the first place, 20/20 is nothing like Test cricket, and the selctors choose very different sides for the two formats. They will definitely not make any decisions for the 20/20 based on this Test match. Secondly, Panesar definitely won't appear in the 20/20, while Flintoff definitely will, so there's no incentive difference there. Economics can't explain everything - sometimes frustration is just frustration, and people who know all too well the economic value of appearing and behaving as a team (both in results and in the endless money they have made from sponsorhsip) act irrationally because they're competitive sportsmen.


"So, when a bowler sees a fielder do badly, or a batsman sees his innings end because his partner is run out, he’s minded to think: “that idiot is costing me a fortune by jeopardizing my chances of getting into the 20/20 side.”

Or he might be minded to think: "that idiot is is not going to get into the 20/20 team, thereby increasing my chances".

And maybe the team that can cope with a bit of pressure is just the team we would want in a 20/20 game.

Virendra Merchent

Any explanation for comments of Mr Geoffry Boycott about the fabulous four. Who should be first to leave in fab 4

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