Thanks for thelegglance for filling in the match report duties last night. I got home quite late (this work stuff is getting a pain) and by the time I did, the match was all over. Quite good to have a couple of other cricket lovers around me in the office following the scores surreptitiously on cricinfo and passing updates. Think it might be a bit blatant to lop out the old Tablet and watch SkyGo in the office!
I saw the highlights and caught some of the reaction. It was a brilliant performance. Absolutely no doubt about it, but it should be noted that the new breed went 3 for 4 in terms of “failure”. Roy, who I have a real sneaking suspicion is not going to cut it at the top level (I think when you saw him face Steven Finn in the T20 last year gave you a clue), obviously copped a first baller. Hales also hasn’t delivered in the top spot, and must do so soon, while Sam Billings, who I think should play so that we have a ready-made replacement if Buttler gets injured if he proves himself, also didn’t do well. The most experienced of the new breed, Adil Rashid, of course had an absolute blinder. I’m sure all those who slagged him off for a performance in the nets in the WIndies are saying sorry now…… [sound of crickets]
The established players, Root, Buttler and Morgan were magnificent, and yes, as Vian says, it’s that attitude and approach we want to see. I don’t buy the “no fear” codswallop, actually. It’s rather easy when you’ve been given a clean slate to create a new “brand” (and hell do I hate that phrase) to play without fear. I don’t doubt Buttler plays pretty much without it, but let’s see Joe Root make a ton chasing a big total, rather than setting one. Let’s see how we react chasing 300. Let’s see how we react chasing 250 and losing three wickets for 50. I’m interested to see how we do in those scenarios. But yes, yesterday was a remarkable day. To go from 200 for 6 to 408 for 9 was amazing. Absolutely amazing.
I now know how far I am behind on century watch. Ben Stokes (Lord’s), Adam Lyth (Headingley), BJ Watling (Headingley), Adam Voges (Dominica) and today Shikar Dhawan (Fatullah) need to be documented. No promises when. but I’ll catch up (another early start tomorrow means I’m off to bed soon).
I’m sort of reading two books at the same time – one an old paperback picked up in Hay-on-Wye and the other on the Kindle. I’ll do a book review of both when I’ve finished them, but there’s something remarkable about both. Put To The Test, by Geoffrey Boycott, is a frank view of the Ashes tour of 1978-9 – the Packer-decimated Australian team – when Boycs himself had a pretty poor tour. The frankness is in his comments on his teammates. He praises, and he criticises when he sees fit. It’s the sort of book we would never ever see now.
The other is The Plan, by Steve James. What is remarkable is the thing that seems to be lacking throughout this book is, well, a plan. It’s a series of anecdotes and events bundled together to tell the reader what, I don’t know. There are interesting bits, of course, but I’m befuddled by it, to be honest. I’ve actually no idea what it is trying to achieve. It’s all over the place.
I know I’ve promised, and the Bogfather reminds me, a press hall of shame piece. The fact is, I’ve really cooled on the idea for now. I wrote numbers 1 and 2 on holiday and then just lost the will, to be honest. I’m thinking of putting it to bed now until the annual readers awards at the end of the season, when you lot get to contribute to the voting. I don’t know why I can’t be arsed, but it just happens. For the record, though, my top five were:
1. Mike Selfey
2. Paul Newman
3. Derek Pringle (yes, old habits die hard)
4. Simon Hughes
5. Stephen Brenkley
Jim Holden had an Andy Ganteaume effort to pierce the top 5 on the back of one putrid article but would have been number 6. Henderson was in the running, thanks to detritus in the WCM. Ed Smith was also a live one, as FICJAM angered in his own patronising way. You know it is a tough field when John Etheridge is falling down the rankings, and the tenth was a pick from Chris Stocks, who I think may not really qualify for this, Malcolm Conn (for future crimes) and Aggers himself. Have I left anyone out.
Here is the citation, as written for number 1, back in May.
1. Mike Selvey – This has been a close fought battle, with at times Pringle and Newman edging ahead. But Selfey’s twitter contributions just about nail it, and he sealed the deal with the tweet that anything he said on there wasn’t an invitation for a conversation etc. In other words, unless I “respect” you, sod off. He’s not exactly got social media to a tee.
It’s the arrogance I can’t stand. The “I’ve been there, I know what’s going on and you don’t” approach. You are a journalist for crying out loud. You should be duty bound to tell us. I’m not a journalist, don’t want to be one, and therefore if someone tells me something in confidence then it remains that way because I have no responsibility to anyone other than myself. You have a responsibility to the people you report to.
Every column Selfey writes is met with increasing howls of indignation. It’s not so much now that we are banging on about KP, but it’s the closeness he appears to have to the hierarchy in charge. Selfey was on Moores before anyone else when it came to the selection of the new coach – many might interpret that as a scoop, most of us interpreted it as a Flower/Downton plant. If Selfey has criticised Cook at any length, I’ve missed it. If Selfey has criticised any of his favourites, then, again, I’ve missed it. His writing on international cricket is driving much of his audience mad. It’s made worse when we see the start that Ali Martin, fresh from The Sun, has made, and we can see the potential.
However, what clinches it is the way the negative views of Selfey below the line are moderated. There’s clearly difficulty in accepting that the people you write for are turning on you, and I am sure that’s tough to accept. Instead of listening to some of the more well-meaning stuff, Selfey has seen this as an excuse/reason to become more indignant, more churlish and even more set in his ways. I think he’s past the point of giving a hoot about who he writes for.
It’s funny, because Selfey’s writing has little impact on me any more. He doesn’t raise the levels of anger that Newman or Pringle, or to a lesser extent Brenkley do. But it’s the sneering contempt he appears to have to people who love the game and are incredibly frustrated by his reporting that clinches it. The suspicion is that Newman is doing much of what he does because of who he works for. Selfey doesn’t have that excuse. That’s why he’s numero uno.
Oh go on, I wrote Newman’s one as well….
Paul Newman – It would be tempting to rank Newman number 1, but I won’t. He still has a way to go to match the champion’s sneering contempt for those he is informing. What Newman does worse (or better depending on how you see it) is to provide copy that is so skewed, and at times so batshit insane, that you sit there and think “someone’s telling him to write this, they must be”.
Newman’s 2015 hasn’t been that bad, to be honest. But he wins his place this high because of the occasional lunacy that he concocts and the historically awful stuff he wrote about Pietersen and the book, which even some of his travelling colleagues thought a little bit odd. There is a constant dig on here that we see everything through a KP lens, as if all that I write is predicated on the “KP should be returned to the England fold” line to take. I’d suggest that Newman is much, much worse in this regard. Just look at what he wrote at the end of the Barbados test re Moores. That Moores should get the Ashes gig because he was stopped before by another KP-induced controversy. What the hell has KP got to do with the loss in Barbados and the World Cup except the morons in charge explicitly excluded him?
Newman can’t let Pietersen go. There are constant assertions of “fact”… that KP’s sacking was wholly justified, without ever detailing why. When challenged on Twitter, he resorts to attacking the questioner with “if you don’t know why, you’ll never know” type comments. It’s another example of contempt for the readership. It does create a question in my mind, and I’ve discussed this with Maxie, as to whether this is an editorial line and Newman is working it to the hilt. It would make sense, although I have no doubt there is massive personal antipathy there towards Pietersen, and he appears the journalist that most gets under KP’s skin.
Of course, working for the Mail renders him at a disadvantage from the get go. Blocking me on Twitter when I’ve never tweeted him abuse, or much of a comment, is just childish. Supporting Jim Holden’s article was an act of such expected density that it didn’t shock. Having a little dig at your’s truly for being “nothing important” in a Twitter exchange with Simon Hughes was lovely, actually.
However, it is the bending of the message to suit the prevailing anti-KP rage that is hilarious. Before and after the World Cup, Newman was all for burying Moores. According to Newman, dropping Cook on the eve of the World Cup would result in a make-or-break competition for the unprove new regime. In the same article he then says they have 12 months to prove themselves, but also that a failure in the World Cup followed by stuttering form in the Caribbean and beyond would claim more victims due to the rancour that envelops them. Yesterday despite a World Cup that didn’t even reach “mediocre” on the Newman scale, he’s backing him to continue.
Because, the suspicion is that despite his clear disregard for Moores over the last few months, and the laughs at us for being obsessed with KP, Newman is close to Cook and much is written through that lens. That’s not on. It really isn’t.
I picked up some old Wisden Cricket Monthlys a while back, when Newman had the County beat for the SE of England. He was good. People tell me he’s a really good bloke. But this current stuff is wretched, easily fiskable, and lacking in critical thought, and driven by ant-KP dogma, inserted at every opportunity, relevant or not. But he’s not number 1…..
Until the next time. Hope everyone is well, and let’s see the ODI team keep the show on the road.