Aplomb

So. Where were you when you heard the news? Me? I was outside the Shakespeare’s Head pub in Holborn and my good friend had shown up. He was on the phone when I saw the first blog message. Incredulity struck, but it was true. I reacted, then felt a little guilt. Should I be cheering a man’s sacking, when it meant bad news for someone else? I then had what little joy I might have had ebb away to anger. Anger that we’d had to put up with someone so out of his depth for so long. Anger that he’d had that attitude throughout of unchallenged intellectual superiority and his boderline patronising nature. Anger that he’d been seen through after five minutes by many on here. Anger that we’d been sold a pup by the ECB hierarchy and more importantly to me, by the print media. The print media which lambasts this site, and people like me for indulging in “guesswork”, of not being close to the team, of not following them around professionally. They took the you-know-what out of us. Damn them. Damn all those who looked down their noses at us. We were right. He was not up to it. We are right about Moores. We are right about Whitaker. Most importantly of all, we are right about Andy Flower. Yet there he resides.

Now what? The news appears to be that Downton is being moved on and his post has been removed from the ECB hierarchy to be replaced with something called the Director of Cricket. Lord alone knows what that means, but people seem to be indicating that Whitaker is for the chop tomorrow and a whole new structure will replace him. Shed no tears either for the speak your Gary Ballance machine if he goes, as he’s been a laff-a-lympics when he’s had to front up to anything resembling a sentient questioner. I’m not that impressed with this from Harrison if truth be told because the structure is being used as a fig leaf for two utter failures.

So what now? Downton gone leaves a huge hole for me to fill, but there’s plenty more where he came from. The replacement list is full of holes, but I think we need to know what the role is before people are put forward. I’ve not had time to read this exercise in shifting sands.

Here’s what I do know. We handed the keys to the kingdom to Paul Downton. His first major move was to speak to Andy Flower. Before we knew it, Flower had gone as coach and been shunted into a role he appeared to be lobbying for. Then he sacked Pietersen and entered into a ridiculous confidentiality clause, which he broke a few months later. He held a press conference where he came across to me as a buffoon, but to some of the agape media as a latter day seer. If the warning signs weren’t flashing then, they had to be after his Agnew interview. But no. After a period in hiding, he re-surfaced in a Sky hack-piece, and was then hidden under the stairs. We then had to endure his backing of a lame duck captain, especially in the ODI game, and his disastrous intervention in the ODI series in Sri Lanka was the crowning glory. Or so we thought. Because then came his post-World Cup media blitz, which was staggering. By then, most of the media had seen the light. I say most.

Because some still don’t. We know their names, we know why they don’t. Their enemy’s enemy has always been their friend. Pietersen was banished by this man. For many this seems enough. They get to keep stirring the pot, getting the clicks on their website, yet still get to be the offended patron at KP’s misdemeanours. If any of them actually think a man who didn’t have a clue what social media was when he took on the job (his words) is still a fit and proper man to be in charge of our team, well….

I hope Harrison undertakes a review of ALL his key decisions. The appointment of Moores actually being more of a priority than Pietersen. The maintenance of a role for Flower arguably being more than that. To sack a man after a year indicates you have no confidence in him at all. So look at his key decisions and act on them.

In tabloid style let me go through some of Downton’s best moments:

  • Sacking KP. Oh yes. For reasons unclear, but something to do with being disconnected. You make a big decision like that, you need to explain yourself. Constantly avoiding the question makes you look a fool.
  • Outside cricket. Given he used that phrase in a 1985 Q&A for Cricketer’s Who’s Who, it seemed to be something he would have said. Way to get a meme started.
  • Difficult Winter – Oh yes. Losing 12 out of 13 to your main foe is just “difficult”
  • The press conference – Alastair Cook being told that he wasn’t strong enough to captain KP seemed rather amusing. Of course that was our spin. Other saw aplomb.
  • The interview – SO good I got multiple posts out of it. Where do you start? Read this. The read this. Then read this. And then there is this. Once you’ve done that, read my conclusion.
  • Who can forget his interview round in Sri Lanka. Backing the captain, then presiding over his sacking a few days later, all the while refusing to answer any questions on KP. Good lord.
  • Then there was the side to be reckoned with going into the World Cup. That went well.
  • Then the media blitz post elimination which struck all the wrong notes, had him wondering how T20 cricket had impacted, and played “it weren’t my fault” cards all over the place.

There’s enough for this evening. No background research, no looking at other things, just an instant reaction. Have your say, read Maxie over at TFT, read the papers/online news columns, and we’ll reconvene.

Speak tomorrow.

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154 thoughts on “Aplomb

  1. SimonH April 8, 2015 / 10:01 pm

    George Dobell’s take:

    http://goo.gl/DV2EUh

    Some good news but one massively overwhelming piece of bad news in there.

    Like

    • ZeroBullshit April 8, 2015 / 10:13 pm

      Presumably you are referring to this Simon: “Nasser Hussain has ruled himself out.”

      Yes, I would want Nasser. But Dobell, Berry and Hoult all reckon that Vaughan will get it.

      Let us see what transpires.

      Like

      • SimonH April 8, 2015 / 10:29 pm

        No, not Nasser (I never thought he wanted the job and have doubts about his suitability. Also Sky commentary would be unbearable without him!).

        Like

      • ZeroBullshit April 8, 2015 / 10:38 pm

        I think I understand you. That 2/1 about Pietersen returning to the England side is horrible! Our dear friend John Etheridge regarded it as a 99/1 shot several days ago.

        But Mike Selvey might offer you a better price should you engage with him. He reckons that Pietersen’s chances of returning to the England side are remote and thinks that Colin Graves told Pietersen so.

        Like

      • Vian April 8, 2015 / 11:16 pm

        Interesting how Selvey knows what Graves told Pietersen but was entirely unaware of Graves (and Harrison) planning to sack his mate Downton.

        Anyone would think he’s just bullshitting…

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH April 8, 2015 / 11:17 pm

        Blimey, I wasn’t trying to be particularly cryptic. I meant:

        “It could be that Andy Flower, in something of a nebulous role at present and apparently heading for the exit only days ago, is given more responsibility under the rebranded Director of England Cricket”.

        I suppose having Flower’s role more defined and out in the open might be some sort of progress – but not as much as ‘Thank you Andy and goodbye’.

        Like

    • ZeroBullshit April 8, 2015 / 11:20 pm

      Ah! I must confess that I have had quite a few beers since the news broke. 🙂

      Like

    • OscarDaBosca April 9, 2015 / 6:05 am

      I read it as Flower working under the ‘Director of Cricket’ rather than in the running for… I hope that is true

      Like

      • SimonH April 9, 2015 / 9:57 am

        Flower’s ability to subvert a chain of command (call it “up-managing” or whatever) means that him nominally working “under” anyone isn’t particularly reassuring.

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 11:40 am

        I couldn’t see a Michael Vaughan standing for that.

        Like

  2. hatmallet April 8, 2015 / 10:19 pm

    It’s both sad and laughable that Newman, Selvey and Hughes only have praise for a man who was so incompetent he had to be removed from his job after only 14 months.

    To quote Nick Hoult, it isn’t just the ECB who can’t see which way the wind is blowing.

    To answer the question posed at the beginning, I was at my desk about to leave work. Noticed my cricinfo extension on Chrome had a notification, so checked it as I started closing down Outlook, Excel etc. Que a massive smile on my face.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark April 8, 2015 / 10:25 pm

    Can I take this opportunity to congratulate you Dmitri, and point out that you were one of the first to go really hard on the totally unsuitability of Downton. I never believed for one moment it was his idea to sack KP. He carried out the dasterly deed, but the idea came form some one else. We all know who.

    I must admit I thought he was a bit of patsy. I didn’t really pay much attention to the cack handed way he was doing things. Not so you. I remember one particular piece you wrote early on where I thought, blimey this guy really is useless. You pointed this out before others did. You stuck your neck out, and said he was not up to the job while the usual suspects were telling us how wonderful he was. You were right. I salute you sir!

    Perhaps Downton will now write a book. And Newman/Selvey can then complain ” why is he so angry? Why doesn’t he just talk anout the cricket.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SimonH April 8, 2015 / 10:35 pm

    Scyld Berry is excellent on Downton’s failings but less so with his conclusion:

    “The overall picture is that the excellent men who took England to No 1 in the world Test rankings in 2011 were replaced by men who appeared similar but proved to be of lesser calibre: Andrew Strauss by Alastair Cook as Test captain, Geoff Miller as chairman of selectors by Whitaker, Hugh Morris by Downton as managing director, and Flower by Moores as head coach. But there is a chance to return to one of those figures who led England to the top. Strauss has to be the front-runner for the new role”.

    Agreed with some of those men of lesser calibre – but, Jeez, how does Flower get in there? England’s problems started after Flower went (as if he really went anyway)? That’s some rewriting of history there. A pretty doubtful claim about Morris as well.

    And backing Strauss? Please!

    Liked by 2 people

    • hatmallet April 8, 2015 / 10:47 pm

      Flower did a lot right and deserves praise for what the team achieved from 2009 up to the UAE series. Unfortunately things went tits up after that, and of course those failings shouldn’t be ignored.

      Like

      • Vian April 8, 2015 / 10:54 pm

        He stayed on too long. So did Saker. I do find it disappointingly ironic that the ECB fired Fletcher completely for effectively one bad series against a truly great team, yet retained Flower when it had been apparent for some time he had (sadly) become part of the problem.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Arron Wright April 8, 2015 / 10:58 pm

        But they are ignored. Routinely, by almost everyone who follows the team around professionally. And if you try to engage them in dialogue on this particular subject, they call you impertinent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vian April 8, 2015 / 11:08 pm

        Just because some of the press are one eyed idiots with an agenda and a refusal to be fair doesn’t mean we should follow suit Arron….

        (Ha ha, I’m aware of how pompous and lecturing that sounds, but it amused me to have written something that looks like I believe you’re utterly thick, so I’ll leave it!).

        Like

      • PaulE April 9, 2015 / 8:15 am

        He inherited a good team, made it better then ruined them having consistently failed the sternest of tests. What’s more he singularly failed to replace those players he inherited. The County circuit is strewn with Flower’s discards: the victims of war.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Annie Weatherly-Barton April 9, 2015 / 4:19 pm

      I’d love to give you a like but I’m not allowed to, but I do like it. The ‘C’ man is all over this and wants a “political role?” What the hell is that? No please no, no no. Vaughan and/or Alec Stewart – both know how to handle players. Selvey, Newman & Pringle will go spare as such an appointment would mean the door is wide open for KP. I love it when a plan comes together. Well done me Lord. You saw it all coming. Me of little faith thought Downton would be there forever, like the proverbial boil on the bum! Please someone get rid of Flower. The man’s a menace and caused enough trouble. And please get rid of all those infantile and stupid Selectors who couldn’t select a jelly dummy let alone a winning team. Will they bring in Gillespie to be coach or will the new supremo do it all? Anyone got any ideas.

      Like

  5. MM April 8, 2015 / 10:45 pm

    “Shed no tears either for the speak your Gary Ballance machine if he goes, as he’s been a laff-a-lympics when he’s had to front up to anything resembling a sentient questioner”

    Nice one, sir! Must admit I will miss him when he gets the Spanish archer – I was looking forward to his next inadequate interview.

    I fear The Flower Factor. If Downton was a patsy, what’s happening now? Andy Flower to be parachuted in as Director of Laptop Theory!!! (or whatever the new post is called).

    Like

  6. Vian April 8, 2015 / 10:46 pm

    First thing on this one is not to activate comment notification given how busy it will likely be. My inbox has been flooded today…

    The Newman and Selvey articles have been genuinely enjoyable. To see them flailing around and lashing out is just funny.

    I have wondered whether Pietersen had been given an inkling that something like this was possible. I was puzzled at how quickly he piled into county cricket on such thin evidence. If he’d been told that such major changes were afoot, it would explain a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • THA April 9, 2015 / 2:10 am

      I don’t think Graves would have been daft enough to tell Pietersen anything, nor promise him anything beyond a very basic commitment to merit-based selection without caveats. I think Pietersen could just see what we all could; Downton, Moores, Whittaker, Cook, are/were all hanging on by a thread and this summer will likely be the end of all of them.

      Pietersen’s a man who writes his own narrative and believes in the impossible. I think he looks at it like this:

      Barring injury, there is a remote – very remote – chance circumstances may converge with public opinion to get him back in the side at some time this summer.

      On the other hand, if he piles on runs for Surrey and they still don’t even consider him when the middle-order gets destroyed at some time this year, he will have made his point and will be able to walk away head held high.

      The alternative was not to even try, and to allow people to say he was never really serious, more interesting in T20 cash than playing for England. Pietersen doesn’t strike me as a man who will die wondering.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Pontiac April 9, 2015 / 2:16 am

      I am thinking that Surrey are hoping to sell plenty of tickets. KP’s certainly moved all his chips to the middle of the table.

      Like

    • Vian April 9, 2015 / 9:23 am

      Well I don’t think for a second he would have told him any detail, that would be mad. But he must have given a fairly strong hint that things were going to change. A commitment to merit based selection would have been met with the question what about Paul Downton, given his insistence he’d never be picked no matter what.

      Like

  7. hatmallet April 8, 2015 / 10:53 pm

    It is rather tiring hearing people tell us what a good person Downton is. As if having good personal qualities was abnormal. There are lots of fine, upstanding people in this world – but if they repeatedly make bad decisions and fail to back them up, then you have to call a spade a spade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MM April 8, 2015 / 11:04 pm

      Cooky’s great, too. They keep telling us. Surely you can’t tire of heating that?

      I heard Pringle on 5Live just before 2300hrs. He had to have a crack at KP, coming back to Surrey because his IPL price had dropped. Now that’s a spin. Pringle – what a tube.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MM April 8, 2015 / 11:05 pm

        I meant ‘hearing’ – what a tube.

        Like

      • Vian April 8, 2015 / 11:13 pm

        You’d have thought that journalists with such great connections as Selvey and Pringle would have been first with this news – or maybe even have hinted at it at some point recently wouldn’t you?

        After all, it’s what makes a good journalist don’t you know.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pontiac April 9, 2015 / 2:18 am

        & donating his salary to charity too. Some of these guys are going to Fox News levels of respect for defensible interpretation within consensus reality…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Arron Wright April 8, 2015 / 11:00 pm

    Tickner is pissing himself stupid at Newman.

    Golden days…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Simon K April 8, 2015 / 11:04 pm

    Great piece. The key point being that you could learn more about Downtown’s unsuitability for the job here and other ‘outside cricket’ locations than you could through the collected reporting of the embedded press.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vian April 8, 2015 / 11:11 pm

      With all due respect to our host, you didn’t need to come here to find that out, you only had to listen to what Downton came out with. The press simply tried to pretend the Emperor really was wearing the finest possible apparel.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Annie Weatherly Barton April 8, 2015 / 11:31 pm

    Hi boys and girls.

    There was I in the bar of a very swanky hotel (BUSINESS CLASS! WE GOT A DEAL!) having a free drink, with an old mate of 35 years.in Durham, Sitting on a high stall – how the hell I got on it in the first place I don’t know — message from my old man: “Downton’s been sacked!” I shouted out: “YES. RESULT!” My friend laughed and I was in a heartily good mood, went off had a wonderful Italian then off to see lifelong music hero and leg-end, Jimmy Webb — he being song writer extraordinaire! Came out back in the bar for a nightcap. What a wonderful end to fantabulous day!

    I listened to George and pleased about Michael Vaughan, cheered that Whittaker might get boot, but crushed by news that Strauss might be in the mix. Will he continued to call all the players the “C” word. He couldn’t coach anyone out of paper bag!!!

    Still, one down, 3 to go and Vaughny in charge will be brilliant.
    So now I’m off to bed with a grin but no gin! using my friends laptop.

    Love and kisses to you all. Downtown’s gone and the rest can wait.

    Annie

    Liked by 3 people

    • emasl April 9, 2015 / 6:45 am

      Thought of you Annie when the news broke!

      Like

    • Vian April 9, 2015 / 9:31 am

      Ah, Annie, that made me smile. Glad you had a fun night

      Like

    • Annie Weatherly Barton April 9, 2015 / 6:48 am

      Yay! Got all his stuff, including vinyls!!! Last night with so much joy at first bit of good news since Ashes I was up up and away!

      Now what about rumour of Strauss and Vaughan? Who will do what. I’ve seen two lots now. Surely Vaughan will get a nod. Yorkshire man appoints Yorkshireman? Strauss will be calling everyone the C word. Can’t cope with that.

      Like

  11. dlpthomas April 9, 2015 / 2:44 am

    Does anyone else have concerns about Vaughan getting the job – he always struck me as a bit of a bullshit artist (though that may actually be a prerequisite for the job)

    Like

    • Zephirine April 9, 2015 / 10:40 am

      Concerns about Vaughan, yes – on past evidence he can be manipulative and quite tricky, and George Dobell seemed to sum it up when he said ‘Michael Vaughan does what’s best for Michael Vaughan’.

      On the other hand, Vaughan clearly understands how to manage talent and what a game of cricket should actually be like in 2015. So he would represent a major advance on what we’ve had lately.

      My main fear is still Flower getting himself into the new job. That would be a massive, massive error and any other departures would be effectively nullified, as the misjudgements and bad appointments over the last 18 months have all ultimately come from safeguarding Flower and his ‘legacy’.

      Liked by 1 person

      • PaulE April 9, 2015 / 11:13 am

        Well it would make a change from doing what’s best for Alastair Cook or Andy Flower…….

        Like

  12. Clivejw April 9, 2015 / 3:17 am

    I remember my first post below the line after Clownton’s first major public pronouncement — at the press conference where he introduced Moores-the-Pity as the “outstanding coach of his generation”, let the cat out of the bag that there was no smoking gun re the Pietersen sacking, and indirectly and inadvertently revealed that he thought Cook, who he had just been trying to big up, was a weak captain who couldn’t handle his best player. On this basis, I remarked, Paul Downton was likely only to open his mouth to change feet.

    And so it has proved. However, I also said at that time or a little later that I thought that Downton’s inability to talk without giving the game away would be our best weapon, our best chance of seeing him hoist on his own petard and hopefully taking a few more of the ECB clowns with him.

    What a pleasure it was, then, to find out (from the faeces-throwing Paul Newman, no less) that Clownton was sacked by a unanimous vote of all 14 members of the board and the clueless Twitacker is to follow, perhaps even later on today.

    Meanwhile, Selfie’s pathological inability to admit he, and by extension, any of his pals, was wrong about anything, ever has now reached ludicrous proportions. Even the faeces-throwing Newman can admit that KP’s return is now “possible”, but Selfie is still desperately trying to convince himself that it’s out of the question and even imagines that Colin Graves has told Pietersen so himself.

    Hello? Earth to Selfie: no one believes your claims to inside information any more. In particular, no one believes that you have an inside track to Graves after you badmouthed him in print only the other day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vian April 9, 2015 / 8:48 am

      I’ve always thought Clive that your word substitution settings must by now be quite extensive. 🙂

      Like

    • thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 8:53 am

      Hi Clive, hope you don’t mind me pasting this here from btl G

      clivejw 48m ago

      3
      4
      Can’t resist quoting one more gem from faeces-throwing Paul Newman, the gift to unintentional hilarity that keeps on giving:

      The decision to ditch Pietersen was, as far as I am concerned, absolutely right while Moores may yet prove to be the coach Downton and others believe him to be.

      Reply Report

      TheSlogfather clivejw 13m ago

      0
      1
      presumably just as LightningRodders will at some point in the future, become the classy, intuitive, imaginative, dynamic captain that we’ve all been promised he’ll be (once he’s learned the job, after all, he only had 80 tests before becoming captain to take in what is required, and he’s only had nearly 30 tests to learn on his ‘not-moving much’ feet…

      Like

  13. emasl April 9, 2015 / 6:47 am

    After my recent twit exchange with Messrs Primgle and Selvey when they responded in a lordly and disdainful manner, could bot resist sending another asking who is ouyside cricket now? I have had no response……

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annie Weatherly Barton April 9, 2015 / 1:50 pm

      I see that Mr Pringle didn’t come back but Selvey talked about blocking people. Some chap chimed in and said: why is okay for you to say what you want and then not allow someone to do likewise? Not sure there has been an answer to that one.

      I think Vaughan would do a good job. Let’s face it, it couldn’t possible be any worse. My other candidate would be Alec Stewart.

      Like

  14. Simon K April 9, 2015 / 7:15 am

    Check out this guy’s twitter account: http://www.twitter.com/jfmjm an ex colleague of Downton, disputing the assertion of Selvey and others that he had any management experience.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus April 9, 2015 / 7:19 am

      Giles Clarke not happy with Lawrence Booth judging by the unimpeachable source that is twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @pktroll April 9, 2015 / 8:03 am

        The heart truly bleeds!

        If we’re not hacked off with the “big 3” enough the English and Indian incumbents within the ICC hierarchy have managed to make even bigger idiots of themselves in the last few months. What we now need is some Aussie stupidity in the next few months and we will have had a full set!

        Like

      • Mark April 9, 2015 / 9:03 am

        I quite liked this piece by Jonathan Liew in the telegraph about Wisden.

        “There was a time long ago when the Almanack, and particularly the Notes from the Editor that prefaced it, was conservative in character, tone and outlook. It sneered at one-day cricket when it was first introduced, as well the beery, shirtless fans it attracted. It failed to recognise the moral menace of apartheid South Africa, describing the Basil d’Oliveira affair as a “petty squabble” and condemning planned anti-apartheid demonstrations as “mob violence”. A concerted process of reinvention in the 1990s and 2000s has seen it ripen and enlighten in equal measure. But for those who do not read it – which one suspects includes a decent proportion of the people who buy it –

        Wisden’s reputation for innate conservatism clings to it still. But after railing against the “self-interest” of India and the “economic exploitation” of the Big Three cricketing nations in recent editions, Booth’s latest notes affirm confirm what has long been suspected: that never in its history has Wisden been more comfortable speaking uncomfortable truths to power.”

        Clarke probably would prefer a 1960s/70s version of Wisden, when it talked down to the masses.

        Liked by 1 person

      • @pktroll April 9, 2015 / 10:19 am

        I have actually heard first hand from someone who was at the launch last night. Apparently he (Clarke) was really quite nasty. Eshan Mani gave a speech slagging off the big 3 (Clarke essentially being a key player) and he then had a go at Booth big style. I guess the final truth of the last 18 months has now hit the fan with Clarke’s place in the scheme of things looking ever more putrid.

        We have already had Srini , and essentially highly discredited figure in cricket, and we now have Clarke off to the ICC nigh on similarly so. As I said in my earlier post, we only need to have an Aussie administrator show some idiocy rather soon (they’ve been less silly since ‘homework gate two years ago) and then the full set will have been complete.

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 11:42 am

        I’ve had it confirmed first hand too. It appears to be a true story.

        Like

      • @pktroll April 9, 2015 / 12:15 pm

        Vian, perhaps this is the closest that we’ll get to being “inside cricket”!

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:57 pm

        One of the delights of the high handed dismissal of all of us by the mighty is that they don’t realise that a fair number on these boards have first hand knowledge of a few things. It’s partly why they get caught out.

        I could break up the marriage of an (possibly present, possibly past -not going to give any encouragement to speculate) England cricketer if I was a complete arsehole.

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:58 pm

        Incidentally Mark, Jonathan Liew has replied in the comments with some interesting observations.

        Like

      • Arron Wright April 9, 2015 / 1:10 pm

        The Clarke meltdown has heartened me just as much as the Downton sacking. I’m not joking. Look forward to how it’s reported on by the MSM.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus April 9, 2015 / 1:33 pm

          The one where he calls Newman an excellent, excellent bloke?

          Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 1:35 pm

        Yes, but that wasn’t especially the bit I meant. He’s allowed to like him as a person.

        Like

    • PaulE April 9, 2015 / 8:17 am

      It would explain his not understanding what a Confidentiality Agreement entails……(despite legal training and the words confidentiality and agreement meaning what they say).

      Like

    • SimonH April 9, 2015 / 8:28 am

      Simon K, thanks for the link and your replies to him are spot on.

      He had an exchange with Lizzy Ammon not long ago where he expressed surprise that Downton had sacked Pietersen because Downton believed in consensus-building. It isn’t surprising at all. Downton must have believed what Clarke and Flower were telling him and that there was a consensus to sack Pietersen. That was the world they lived in. No dissenting voices could get in. Sack your leading run-scorer and box-office draw and all they thought they’d hear was a chorus of “well done, thank god he’s gone”.

      He also expressed surprise Downton rushed into the decision. The contrast with Tom Harrison is a stark one. Harrison gave himself some time to reflect and presumably gather opinions.

      The most likely scenario is that Clarke and Flower wanted Strauss and had no Plan B when he turned it down. They couldn’t find a strong alternative. They then convinced themselves and Downton that the test team was running itself and Downton would have little to do with it. Downton would be a pliable stopgap to keep the seat warm for Strauss. Then the team disintegrated…..

      Like

  15. thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 8:08 am

    Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’re still feeling down at the loss of our beloved Townclown, may I suggest a peek at swanningabout.wordpress.com – full of amusing pics to bring a smile back to your faces – I’ve just found it myself and it’s well worth a browse in these difficult times… 😉

    Like

    • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 8:58 am

      Walters, as so often, gets it right. If only he was writing for the Guardian instead of Mike Selvey.

      Like

      • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 9:04 am

        You are right Simon. I think that Downton’s sacking will enable some journalists to be more truthful.

        Like

      • thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 9:11 am

        Actually a good piece from Wilson…after the horse has bolted of course!

        Like

      • LordCanisLupus April 9, 2015 / 10:56 am

        Wilson had sneaked into my provisional top ten. Has he sneaked back out again?

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      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 1:31 pm

        It seems to be becoming a bit like the Premier League – a small number are in an entirely different world to the rest.

        Like

  16. Nick April 9, 2015 / 9:12 am

    I also wonder whether, with some of the press, their involvement has been much closer than they are letting on, and there is a certain amount of guilt involved in their continued support of Downton. It’s clear that he’s a decent, well-liked man, but a bit of an idiot who had a fairly low-level job in the City, no in-depth knowledge of the modern game, and was always going to need a lot of “guidance” in reaching major decisions.

    I would have thought that the first people he reached out to on being given the job would be old friends and colleagues from his days on the county circuit, who were well-respected in the game and had closely observed the current England team as journalists – and that their opinions would carry at least as much weight with him as those of Flower. If he did canvas opinion from Selvey, Simon Hughes, Pringle et al, their advice will have been both influential and appalling, and Downton’s failure is to a large extent their fault. And while they will never say so in public, they know it.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 9:51 am

    So, back to the more important matters of our last day of preparation for the test series…

    Like

  18. Andy April 9, 2015 / 9:54 am

    Does anyone know what downtons ‘other’ roles were beyond the main Eng team? I’ve read little bits and pieces, but nothing that actual seems to say what he has done.

    Selfie said he had spent ‘a lot of time re-organising loughborough’ but does anyone know what he actually did? What about overseeing the game as a whole, does a decline in participation count to that?

    How about the womens game – I know less about that than I did last year!

    There does seem to have been a big change of tone from certain MSM people who are all of a sudden saying Downton has had a dreadful year – why the hell did you not say so at the time then!!

    Like

  19. Mark April 9, 2015 / 10:01 am

    “a bit of an idiot who had a fairly low-level job in the City, no in-depth knowledge of the modern game, and was always going to need a lot of “guidance” in reaching major decisions.”

    What is depressing is this is exactly the kind of person English sporting and non sporting governing bodies seem to think are the right type of people to appoint and run things.

    I don’t think the likes of Selvey do know they are at fault. If left to them, Downron would still be in a job.

    Like

  20. SimonH April 9, 2015 / 10:03 am

    Couple of pearlers on Whitaker while waiting to see if he survives the day:

    Wonder who that player was? And I thought it was Kevin Pietersen who kept not selecting James Taylor……

    Like

    • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:47 pm

      Although the selectors didn’t rate Taylor long before Whitaker was there. Selvey (yes I know) made the point that it was felt by the selectors he had a technical flaw that would be found out at Test level. Of course, that’s pretty similar to what Pietersen said behind closed doors that then became public.

      Like

  21. Clivejw April 9, 2015 / 10:25 am

    There was an interesting post in yesterday’s Guardian by a poster named nagababa about the other side of Paul Downton — I thought I might reproduce it here for those who missed it. I’m sure that, unlike the Selfies and Newmans of this world, we don’t have to see everyone in Manichean terms (as pure good or pure evil):

    I think Paul Downton is a good man.

    I say from personal experience when a 14 year old boy was seeking autographs from the English players during 1987 Reliance World Cup when a wanna be cricketer brushed this boy aside saying something to the effect of ” I do not give autographs to Indians”.

    This was noticed by Paul Downton who was standing near by. He walked over to the boy and took him to the dressing room to ensure that everyone (Graham Gooch, Pringle, Gatting, Robinson, Embury etc.) signs his autograph book. And when they came around to this gentleman who had refused to give an autograph earlier, guess what the young boy did !!!

    I do not think Mr. Downton would remember this incident when respect for him in my eyes grew many fold.

    Nagababa, obviously a gentleman, would not be drawn on the name of the player who refused him his autograph in such rude and racist terms, but quebecer provided this list of England players in that world cup:

    Mike Gatting (c)
    Bill Athey
    Chris Broad
    Phillip DeFreitas
    Paul Downton (wk)
    John Emburey
    Neil Foster
    Graham Gooch
    Eddie Hemmings
    Allan Lamb
    Derek Pringle
    Tim Robinson
    Gladstone Small

    Anyway, Paul Downton, at least you have one admirer for life after such a kindly action!

    .

    Liked by 1 person

    • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 10:32 am

      Chris Broad would be my guess.

      Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 11:49 am

        A little unfair to just randomly speculate.

        Like

      • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 11:53 am

        It is neither unfair nor random Vian. Chris Broad has been accused of prejudice by subcontinent teams in his role as an ICC referee.

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:04 pm

        Certain personnel accuse everyone who gives a decision against them as being prejudiced.

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:14 pm

        I’m not saying it can’t be him. I’m just saying it’s not very fair to randomly speculate.

        Like

        • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 12:20 pm

          I think it is fair. Besides it is nagababa’s story and he says: “Take a guess !!!”

          Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:35 pm

        We’ll agree to differ then.

        Like

        • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 12:38 pm

          Of course Vian. 🙂

          Like

      • dvyk April 9, 2015 / 6:12 pm

        That would have been my guess too!

        Like

    • Vian April 9, 2015 / 11:46 am

      That’s a lovely story and good on him, that’s exceptionally classy.

      I would suspect he is indeed a lovely bloke. But we all know lovely blokes who are terrible at their jobs and cause uproar precisely because of that. He was a disaster as MD, but things like this reflect very well on him as a man.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. SimonH April 9, 2015 / 11:23 am

    Are we on the path back to the future and the revival of the cricket supremo? This Director of Cricket to combine the MD’s England role with the Chairman of Selectors and the team picked by him with the coach and captain? It worked well last time!

    One idea floating about is for a specialist one-day selector. That could be worth trying. Downton was dismissed largely for one-day failures and the list of potential replacements (Vaughan, Strauss, Stewart, Hussain, Atherton) all seem to me up to their necks in England’s two decades of one-day woefulness.

    Like

    • @pktroll April 9, 2015 / 11:33 am

      In fairness 3 of them were mediocre one day players (exempting Strauss and Stewart from that) and all of them will have played in highly unsuccessful England sides, Stewart apart. I’d be surprised if at least one of that crowd couldn’t have the insight to understand what is needed to bring up the standard of the current team and at least some understanding of how modern cricket has developed. It is not as though they don’t watch plenty of cricket.

      Like

  23. SimonH April 9, 2015 / 12:05 pm

    Brenkley’s at it again:

    “as soon as [Downton] had left the building the Pietersen question was again raising its rancorous little head. The sooner somebody says, “Yes, Kevin has a chance of playing again” or “No, he will not play in a thousand million light years”, the better it will be for all”.

    Which option does Bunkers want? Given that they have said the first and that Brenkley uses the phrase “the curse of Pietersen” it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work it out. I make this the fourth, possibly fifth, time Brenkley has pitched his “go on, say you’re never selecting Pietersen ever again” masterplan.

    Unlike Collomosse, Brenkley also reckons “for now, Moores is safe”. This is the same Brenkley who on March 10th wrote, “Downton is supported by his own bosses at the England and Wales Cricket Board, and all the indications suggest he has their faith that corners will be turned”. I’d be worried if I was Moores……

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/paul-downton-sacked-the-curse-of-kevin-pietersen-led-to-his-downfall-10163661.html

    Like

    • PaulE April 9, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      The use of ‘rancorous’ gives the game away. Didn’t Selvey or Newman start the ‘rancour’ meme yesterday. Risible stuff once again.

      Like

    • dvyk April 9, 2015 / 6:16 pm

      “rancorous little head” — yes, the “rancor” is obviously the accepted ECB terminology, and “little head” is Brenley’s own hate-filled embellishment. As the sea is to a fish, so is contempt to the contemptible –Wm Blake.

      Like

  24. Mark April 9, 2015 / 12:23 pm

    Can I ask a rather basic question. I seem to have missed something. Graves does not officially take over until May. So why are all these decisions being taken now? Who is making them? I take it Graves is calling the shots, but why is Clarke just carrying them out. He is effectively removing the person he appointed. That must rankle.

    And knowing how stubon Clarke is I am surprised he didn’t tell Graves to wait until he is running things next month before he starts making changes.

    Clarke seems to have been given the matches to start burning down his own home.

    Like

    • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 12:28 pm

      A very good question. Something strange is going on. But I like it. 🙂

      Like

    • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:33 pm

      Tom Harrison is in situ and has been for a while. His call.

      Like

      • ZeroBullshit April 9, 2015 / 12:37 pm

        Most interesting. Perhaps there will be sweeping changes soon.

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:43 pm

        If Tom Collomosse’s piece is any way correct, then quite possibly.

        Like

      • Mark April 9, 2015 / 12:54 pm

        “Tom Harrison is in situ and has been for a while. His call.”

        Right! So Clarke has effectively left the building , in thought , if not in body!

        Thanks.

        Like

      • SimonH April 9, 2015 / 1:04 pm

        Clarke chairs his last ECB board meeting today.

        Is that why Downton’s dismissal was announced yesterday in this rather odd way of ringing round all the board members? To circumvent Clarke’s chairmanship?

        Like

      • Vian April 9, 2015 / 1:08 pm

        He seems to have been overruled, that’s for sure. I thought it quite possible nothing would happen until he does go, but it seems the Harrison/Graves axis carried the day. Logically, it would make sense for other board members to get behind the coming (and come) men rather than the here today, gone tomorrow one.

        Like

      • hatmallet April 9, 2015 / 1:39 pm

        I saw somewhere that Downton was due to fly out to the Windies today, hence the need to announce it yesterday rather than after the meeting.

        And it was apparently agreed unanimously by the board.

        Like

      • Simon K April 9, 2015 / 1:43 pm

        I suspect Harrison had a conversation with Clarke along the lines of, “this is what’s happening, the rest of the board supports me but I see it as an operational decision so I don’t need their formal approval, you can try to stop me if you want but Colin is behind me and so it’ll be happening on 15 May in any event”. How the mighty are fallen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rohan April 9, 2015 / 4:31 pm

        I read somewhere, but can’t remember where (one of the broadsheets), that as Harrison is officially in post and has been for a few months now, Graves and he agreed that the decision to keep Downton or not was Harrison’s.

        The good thing seems to be that Harrison has taken time to consider the facts, weigh up the pros and cons and then reach this decision (I would imagine he ran it past Graves first, or at least let him know what he had decided).Let us hope this continues, in that he takes due care and attention when appointing for the new role and does not rush into it as Downton did with sacking KP and then appointing Moores (a fait accompli).

        Interesting times ahead, how long before Selfey, Newman, Brenkley and Pringle fall on their swords? Or will they continue ploughing an increasingly lonely furrow…

        Like

      • Simon K April 9, 2015 / 4:50 pm

        Agreed, Rohan. This appears to have been an actual comprehensive review of the structure, unlike the fake post-Ashes “review” which was briefed as a “review” to journalists and then just turned out to be a cover for Flower to arrange the removal of KP while he was on his way out of the door.

        Like

      • Rohan April 9, 2015 / 5:55 pm

        Yes let us hope appearances are true Simon and it is not a false dawn, or something even worse; Flower pulling strings like a puppet master behind the scenes. I think and hope it is the former…..😀

        Like

  25. SimonH April 9, 2015 / 12:43 pm

    A trip down Selvey lane:

    6/1/14
    ” The new managing director of England cricket, Paul Downton, an inspired appointment following the retirement of Hugh Morris, will conduct a searching debrief”.

    2/2/14
    ” Downton has shown himself to be a patient judge of a situation in his brief period in office”.

    5/2/14
    “Those who know Downton will recognise not only a high achieving cricketer, but an unflappable individual with proven high-level management skills”.

    31/3/14
    “England are fortunate that Downton, who did not take up his position officially until the start of February, comes to the post with a largely uncluttered mind. He will certainly assess things dispassionately”.

    1/5/14
    “The recruitment of Paul Downton as Morris’s replacement was an excellent move”.

    Like

    • Vian April 9, 2015 / 12:53 pm

      The “proven high-level management skills” bit seems to have turned out to be a blatant lie.

      Like

    • hatmallet April 9, 2015 / 2:10 pm

      Patient judge? The KP decision was hardly patient, he made his mind up after watching 1 day of a (in theory!) 25 day series.

      Like

    • PaulE April 9, 2015 / 1:13 pm

      The words ‘rats’ and ‘ship’ spring to mind.

      Like

  26. thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    Like

  27. hatmallet April 9, 2015 / 2:38 pm

    Surprising that Pietersen has said nothing about this, other than a tweet reply about getting his head down and scoring runs.

    What does that mean? Perhaps part of the deal with Graves is that he doesn’t publicly celebrate the job losses?

    Like

    • thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 2:46 pm

      Until he lays bat on ball, then he’s sensible to keep the peace, particularly when Alec could be in the running for the ‘new’ post

      Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart April 9, 2015 / 4:24 pm

      Smart move. I believe they agreed a truce.

      Like

    • Simon K April 9, 2015 / 4:52 pm

      What it means is that KP has received some – very sensible – advice to the effect that he should be as diplomatic as possible in this period. I have no doubt he had a quiet celebration, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. SimonH April 9, 2015 / 3:49 pm

    Like

    • paulewart April 9, 2015 / 4:29 pm

      He really is thick isn’t he? Does he think David Lloyd could have have achieved the same level of performance as Duncan Fletcher with the same players?
      If this is the case, why sack your best player? Oh.

      Like

    • Arron Wright April 9, 2015 / 4:31 pm

      Yet they all understand the appetite for praising them to the heavens when results go well.

      This really is too easy.

      Like

    • Simon K April 9, 2015 / 4:51 pm

      He has a point though, I mean no one could have made an adequate test player of Derek Pringle.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart April 9, 2015 / 6:01 pm

        He was awful wasn’t he? Wasn’t he the first new Botham?

        Like

      • Silk April 9, 2015 / 6:07 pm

        Capel was the first, I think. Did Cow precede Prince? Cow was really awful.

        Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart April 9, 2015 / 6:50 pm

        No, Pringle predated Capel. If memory serves he replaced Beefy when he was banned. We were then subjected to that abject parade, Capel, Ian Greig, Chris Lewis (who did show potential), Cow et al.

        Like

    • Andy April 9, 2015 / 6:15 pm

      Basically pingle has just said that it’s the players who should perform and it is them who should pay the price for not performing.

      How does that square away with Cook not getting the chop earlier/at all (odi / test)

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart April 9, 2015 / 6:47 pm

        Like I said, he’s a bit thick, despite his college.

        Like

      • Rav Roberts April 9, 2015 / 11:12 pm

        I would like to remind everyone that you are criticising Pringle, who went to Cambridge. Like Selvey. Just in case they had kept it a secret.

        Like

  29. thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 5:12 pm

    Cheer up peeps, Cookie is 23* off 92 balls as ECBXIIII try to beat StKitts/Nevis/ECBXXXXX, Plunkett and Wood too scared to get his wicket, Trott out for 0 and 2 (even the ECB weren’t sure which side he is playing for) and QH Boatswain has 2-21, S Berridge 7 overs 5 maidens 0 for 5….

    Like

    • Boz April 9, 2015 / 5:57 pm

      Cook obviousfor the draw then :0)

      Like

    • Arron Wright April 9, 2015 / 8:16 pm

      A “typically defiant” innings according to Chris Stocks. It was Bridgetown ’81 out there, man. You just don’t understand, man. You weren’t there.

      Like

  30. chateleine April 9, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    Brilliant news about Downton!

    Re Strauss, a friend of mine was at a dinner last summer at Lords, and Strauss could not stop bitching about KP. My friend, who has no cricket sympathies either anti or pro KP, said it was like listening to a spoiled, petulant child. Strauss came across as very immature – hard to imagine him running anything in a mature, thoughtful way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright April 9, 2015 / 6:04 pm

      Whereas, for some people, listening to that petulance would have been a highlight of the cricketing year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chateleine April 9, 2015 / 7:02 pm

        Too true!

        Like

  31. thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    Sorry peeps, I may have raised your hopes – Cookie only 22* off 92…

    Like

    • Rav Roberts April 9, 2015 / 5:32 pm

      He must be 23 now as it’s been over an hour..?

      Like

  32. thebogfather April 9, 2015 / 5:29 pm

    All…I resign…I’ve just been followed by @KiKKACRICKET on twitter (hangs head in shame…)

    Like

    • Boz April 9, 2015 / 5:59 pm

      obviously from the right sort of family

      Like

  33. Silk April 9, 2015 / 6:10 pm

    Odd. Martin in Guardian seems to be suggesting role is like football manager. So what role, if any,for coach?

    Keep Fabrace as test coach and have odi and t20 coaches?

    Like

    • paulewart April 9, 2015 / 6:53 pm

      Or bring Duncan back, Vaughan to deal with media duties.

      Like

  34. Zephirine April 9, 2015 / 7:44 pm

    This must have been a fun moment:

    “The board members are also understood to have joked about Clarke’s behaviour at the Wisden dinner the previous night, at which the outgoing ECB chairman became enraged by the guest speaker and former ICC president Ehsan Mani, who claimed more should be done to protect Test cricket.

    Clarke, who was central to last year’s restructure at the ICC that saw India, England and Australia take control, angrily remonstrated with Mani after the dinner in the Long Room at Lord’s, with the Wisden editor, Lawrence Booth, telling him to calm down and behave.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/apr/09/kevin-pietersen-michael-vaughan-england-director-cricket

    Like

    • SimonH April 9, 2015 / 8:18 pm

      Even by the recent miserable standards of the Guardian that is absolutely reprehensible reporting. Tuck it away, misrepresent what appears from other sources to have happened, present it all as some sort of jolly jape and not allow any comments. They should have emphasised again that Clarke draws no salary and gone for a full house.

      Here’s the link again to an alternative view:

      http://www.wisdenindia.com/cricket-news/cricket-strong-west-indies-team-mani/158892

      Like

      • SimonH April 9, 2015 / 9:21 pm

        George Dobell’s latest is mainly about Downton’s replacement:

        http://goo.gl/97V6v1

        He also has this to say about Giles Clarke at the Wisden dinner:

        “On Wednesday, Clarke provided a reminder of his abrasive nature by storming out of the dinner to celebrate the launch of the 2015 Wisden Almanack. Clarke took exception to a speech by former ICC president, Ehsan Mani and then became embroiled in a robust exchange of views with Wisden’s editor, Lawrence Booth, after onlookers suggested Clarke’s behaviour fell somewhat below the standards expected of a guest at such an event. Yet the ECB continues to view Clarke as an asset”.

        Like

  35. escort April 9, 2015 / 8:17 pm

    Have not heard if its actually happened but it has been reported that it might happen today but it Whitaker also goes then surely it has to follow that Flower goes? All of their hands were on the tiller so to speak.

    Like

  36. dvyk April 9, 2015 / 9:02 pm

    From that Stocks character at the Gu:
    “Cook made a typically defiant, dogged and sometimes hard to watch 22 from 88 balls before retiring at lunch.”

    As KP reported in his book, the ECB has been exercising an unusually high amount of pressure on journalists and editors to push a certain. No one in the MSM has challenged him on this quite serious accusation, and a surprising number of cricket writers have submitted themselves accordingly. The above piece of drivel is of course one of a thousand that proves KP’s accusation.

    If it was Cook who’d broken his wrist on a locker, they’d have called it a sign of aggression from the man of steel.

    Like

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