Bruised

Evening all.

Personally it has been a tough week for me. Nothing that ends the world, but the sort of week that knocks the confidence, hits the self-belief and makes you question what you think you should do. I did, at one point, think that I might give the blog up for a while, at least until the Ashes, but that was but a fleeting thought. There’s the brilliance of thelegglance to support on here, and there’s also lots more I want to say. So, while bored out of my mind on a training course this week, I jotted down some ideas for future posts and direction. thelegglance and I will get together to discuss some changes to the blog, and perhaps some of the ideas I have and he has. We will let you know what is decided.

The one thing with this blog that amazes me, still, is how from small incidents, major stuff happens, if only at the blogging level. Without the throwaway two press men reviews in the post last week, one of our number would not have tweeted the link to the top five mentioned, and then we would not have had Pringle calling me irrelevant. I’m not one to ever let a snippy comment go unblogged, so off I went, then followed by thelegglance last weekend, and now by Maxie’s opus on The Full Toss, which it goes without saying, I recommend to this house.

From little acorns do these blogging oaks grow, but what’s the relevance? I had a discussion on Twitter DM with a well-known (I think on here) figure in the reporting game who said he wished I dealt more with the actual cricket than journalists who no-one really gives a shit about. Like all constructive comment aimed my way I considered it. A lot. Then came being told I wasn’t strategic enough to build a brand identity and push a plan through cost me a promotion (how I laugh inside at that, not) and I begin to question myself. Am I aiming in the wrong place? Am I just becoming a stuck record? Have we peaked (hits are noticeable on this blog when the news is bad) and could we sustain this blog through “good times”? Is it worth sustaining? How do we do it?

I’m not satisfied. I used to be easily satisfied, but not now. This is too precious to me to give up.

I wandered around for a long time in the wilderness until I got noticed. I then set about keeping the limited audience I had in a flurry of furious posts, each one dripping with anger at the press, the ECB and yes, Alastair Cook. I’m over none of that. Not one bit. Without that anger the well runs dry. I now almost hate the game I love for the fact that nearly every facet of it brings me to rage. The lack of terrestrial coverage, the patronising of New Zealand as if awarding them just two test two years after awarding them just two tests is somehow ordered by some Cricketing authority on high rather than the ECB’s actual choice of oppenents. The victories in the ODIs, and the manner of the defeats, are laudatory, but for the love of all that’s holy, it’s 2-2 and there has been enough dumb nonsense in this series that we now seem to think it is OK to overlook because we are playing positively (and the bowling looks absolutely clueless). There is the very good point thelegglance made about how this rush to gush is now overtaking the inquest that should have taken place about how the team played in the World Cup. Instead we’ll have it all laid on Moores’s door for the failure (Farbrace was in that dressing room, so don’t give me all that) and no doubt the C–tmaster General’s door for the brave decisions. One of our scribes rightly said that we don’t look to the players for the successes, but at the coach, or someone who puts in place strategies. I’ve always said with strategies, that when they are successful they have many parents, but when they fail, they are orphans.

I’ve just read Steve James’s “The Plan”. I might do a review of it when I calm down. It has some interesting nuggets, especially in his willingness to blame anyone but his Zimbabwean colleagues, and some insider stuff that if true, casts an interesting shadow over some of the decisions taken after the book. But it was a throwaway line on Moneyball that got me.

I’m a massive baseball fan, and both the book and the movie of Moneyball omit one incredibly salient fact that is missed about those Oakland A teams. It wasn’t about value for money and all that, but it was about the fact they had a brilliant pitching rotation. They had great pitchers in their midst to start games. The Red Sox this year have, on paper, a really good hitting team. They absolutely stink this season because their starting pitching is atrocious. I go on a blog where they ask you to predict the record of the team for the season. I was the only one who didn’t have them down as having a winning season. It is, in baseball, a lot about getting bang for your buck. It is also about your scouts, your player development, your drafting ability to get good players of your own.

Peter Moores loves this book. According to Steve James, he passed a copy to Flower who also liked it. It’s a good book, tells an interesting story, and pretends that Billy Beane is some sort of out-there genius. It tells the story of running a sporting franchise where the As didn’t have the most money (far from it), didn’t have the best stadium (very far from it) and didn’t play in the best city (I can’t comment on that, but no-one really mentions Oakland in the tourist guides). So he had to look beyond the athleticism and at the numbers to see if he could get value. Beane got older players with a couple of good years left (stop laughing at the back) who may have been looking for one last hurrah. Beane got players who didn’t necessarily have the best physical condition, or who had individual styles that the trainers and physiologists would have kittens over (Samit Patel……any England fast bowler that goes to Loughborough) or develop his own players quickly and get them in the team to trade them for other pieces – which is what a club team does, but not an international one. The thing I believe Moores would probably have taken out of this is the data. The numbers. Not the traditional ones, but the things like WAR or OPS+ that the statsguru’s of baseball love. But that doesn’t really translate to cricket. Take KP, who is berated for having an average of just 47. He has precious few not outs as he’s a risk taker. In my view. How is that translated to the press? “It’s the way he plays….” “A player of great innings not a great player” or the best of all “inconsistent”. I didn’t see anyone try to get behind those numbers too hard.

Moneyball is about running a business, that is why it’s written by a prolific business writer. England are if not the wealthiest team in cricket, than they are second. And they just lost a test in May to a team without a pot to piss in. I hope the new man has nothing to do with such trite twaddle. Sadly, I think Strauss would probably melt into a warm puddle at the very mention of it.

I have rambled off, which is usual, but the point I’m trying to make is that this journalist probably thought Moneyball was some wonderful text because Flower liked it. It needed investigating. I read this stuff. I’ve read virtually every self-congratulatory tome about the Red Sox winning it all in 2004 due to these techniques (of course, buying up one of the best pitchers on the market and having the second highest payroll in the game had sweet FA to do with it). I’m a sports nut who laps this stuff up. But not with an uncritical eye. When someone tells me a book like that helped shape a couple of England coaches’ philosophies, I want to know why.

I’ll never be able to scratch that itch completely. I’ll always be searching for the right point, even if I find out it is wrong. I want to know. The pieces recently by much more precise, beautifully crafting authors like Maxie and TLG than I, hone in on their targets like laser guided missiles, and we are all the better for it. I’m far less accurate, but hope I make up for it in my desire to find out. I’m still not satisfied that I’ve found out what I want.

So it gets to the point, where, yes, I confess, I hope Alastair Cook fails as a batsman, because he’s a wretched leader of men. I get to the point, where, yes, I confess, I see England wins as something to dread for the stupidity of the reaction they garner from people who should know better. I hope Strauss falls on his arse for backing a Giles Clarke line on KP (for that is what I think it is) and he leaves that post with the ridicule his predecessor garnered. I will not forgive those who branded the likes of me as “outside cricket” for turning me off an England cricket team. Even one with players like this.

I’m not falling in love with them. Not one iota. Until that whole top edifice is cleared, Clarke has absolutely nothing to do with the ECB, that there’s an apology to those they insulted, I’ll despise them with every f–king fibre of my being.

When I was a child, I played cricket in the street. I played with 10 other kids on a council estate in Deptford. I watched Botham’s Ashes. I watched the great 1980s West Indies teams. People talked about cricket all the time. Going to my first test match was a thing I will always treasure (1997, Oval, Day 2). I have this game in my soul. I come from an era where it mattered to kids of all social classes. Now?

Yeah. I’ve no right to be angry at all. No I’ll carry on with all of them. And now I don’t have to play the good little foot soldier role in the office, I’m ready to up the ante.

Night.

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24 thoughts on “Bruised

  1. hatmallet Jun 19, 2015 / 7:03 pm

    “I didn’t see anyone try to get behind those numbers too hard.”

    I have. Earlier this year I did some work to see the % of times KP and other good/great players of his era passed milestones, be it 10, 20, 50 or 100, and the state are clear – he is just as consistently good as other greats of his era. Of course the players vary from milestone to milestone, so it is difficult to rank players via this method alone.

    (Though I don’t believe he can be placed on the same level as the likes of Tendulkar, Lara, Pointing, Kallis, Sangakkara, Dravid etc)

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jun 19, 2015 / 7:06 pm

      Of course, I meant those meant to be better informed than us mere bilious inadequates, Mister Hat.

      Like

      • hatmallet Jun 19, 2015 / 8:55 pm

        I know 😉

        I posted those state on response to someone at the telegraph who was insisting that KP was inconsistent and rarely showed up. Surprisingly, he didn’t reply to me…

        Like

  2. Arron Wright Jun 19, 2015 / 7:09 pm

    Good evening.

    Ten years ago today, Pietersen v Australia at Bristol.

    It’s been a long decade, eh? Is it wrong to prefer 1995-2005, even though the first half of that period was largely shit? I guess your answer to that sort of dictates how much you value this blog.

    In my case, a great deal.

    So thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. metatone Jun 19, 2015 / 7:26 pm

    Lots of good points, esp. about Moneyball and the A’s and the Red Sox. I’m particularly drawn to the point about quality pitching.

    I still haven’t had the time, but I’ve been meaning for a while to write a short (blog-style) history of the Ashes in my lifetime as the general failure of England to get a fit and in-form bowling attack on the field. The times we have been competitive, it seems to have been much less about improving our batting and more about the bowling.

    (I say competitive, because I think the sample size of wins is too small (for England in my lifetime) to be the right analysis.)

    Like

  4. jomesy Jun 19, 2015 / 8:17 pm

    LCL – pls don’t ever stop. You’ve a great thing going here and it’s clearly the future…give it time.

    Also, pls don’t think me presumptuous, but manage that anger carefully – it’s scarily easy to hard wire the brain to anger (and I agree with all your emotions above and am trying to manage my, rightful!, anger appropritately).

    I wouldn’t normally share this but I admire your honesty in how your are feeling and that’s why I love it here – it’s real, intelligent, nothing dressed up, emotion and thought.. If it helps I’ve had the hardest two yrs of my life – one yr down to real illness (I’d always been healthy and out of the blue I had 9 ops in 12 months each time being given “the all clear” only to have to go back under the knife – frankly fucking scary when I’m the breadwinner for my family with 3 young kids ). This last yr with a challenging promotion. What I found was I really need cricket to get thru the winter. I hate winter, but a large green canvass of grass on TV and an overseas tour helped me through, whether we lost or won.

    This blog helped me in dire times both personally (health and work) and privately my need for a “winter drug” (cricket). Shit analogy but you are the methadone during this terrible period…

    Anyway, in your own words, I’ve probably gone on too long but wanted to share. My message: we all have our foibles and challenges but you should be damn, damn proud of your work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Jun 19, 2015 / 8:25 pm

      Squire, many thanks. Hope things turn around well for you. I really don’t know what to say about the travails of the last two years for you.

      I will always owe the 2005 Ashes team a debt of gratitude, and to my friend who got me tickets to Days 1 and 3, he will never ever know what that truly meant for me. My mum died shortly before it, my Dad a few months after. Cricket helped me so much. So much. It’s why I react like I do now.

      Keep the comments coming, and all the very best to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. dvyk Jun 19, 2015 / 8:30 pm

    It’s about who “owns” cricket. The difficulty in promoting a sport for profit is that it’s not good enough just to have famous players; it needs a context to engage people emotionally. And in the “national” team, the ECB has inherited an automatic emotional attachment, but are trying to run it as a franchise for profit. Then they get miffed when the fans don’t do automatically sign on, or if they criticise the way things are run. Fans of the Bangalore Blasters or whatever don’t get so worked up about this or that, but the ECB doesn’t understand that the national team does actually belong to the nation and it’s not a franchise.

    You can’t treat fans of the national team like that. You can’t appeal to patriotism and yet use the team as your own private franchise and the whole support structure as your own private gravy-train for your cronies.

    Another point, what I noticed about the stats business was that Moores & co don’t understand how to use stats. After one T20 game a while ago one of the players was asked why they keep losing and the answer was “We don’t hit enough 4s. The team that hits the most 4s wins 82% of games.” Well try this — “The team that wins has scored the most runs, and 82% of the time they’ve also hit the most 4s.”

    I’m happy to read anyone taking a dump on the English yellow press. And I’ve already had fantasies of cloning Jeff Thompson and getting him to bowl to Cook. (Only Cook. The others don’t deserve it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jun 19, 2015 / 8:45 pm

      On the private franchise point, I think Lawrence Booth rather over-reaches here:

      When Trevor Bayliss arrives from Australia on Thursday to take over from Farbrace, he will find a nation reinvigorated and a team raring to go. The summer has barely started, and most cricket fans are already wishing it never ends.

      If there is a summer when we want cricket all done and dusted, then there’s something wrong with the sport. It should always leave you wanting more. It also needs to be couched in the context of the numbers actually seeing this “revival” – the odd few at the games, and a diminishing number via satellite TV. No-one seems to be worried.

      I also noted the “most cricket fans” poke, LB……

      Liked by 1 person

  6. jomesy Jun 19, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    My luck has turned – thankfully – and HDWLIA and here have been my outlet.

    I’ve been reading long enough (but rarely post – that anger management again!) to know of your own challenges which is why I shared. Family, friends and somehow (I don’t know why – maybe it’s the leveller) cricket are the great things in life.

    Thanks for all your hard work….I’ll keep reading.

    Like

    • Zephirine Jun 19, 2015 / 9:23 pm

      Good to know things are getting better for you, Jomesy.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark Jun 19, 2015 / 9:12 pm

    The problem with not talking about the journalists is they are the people I hate more than most. Or rather a certain’ arrogant bunch of them who have acted as Pretorian guard for the ECB. (That alone is a hanging offence for me) Im sure the journalist class would love for you to stop talking about them. If they had apologised for their behaviour,and lies for the last 2 years maybe. But they have become more arrogant, and more pompous.

    The problem is there is a cabal of insiders now running England. Flower, Strauss, Cook, and their chums in the media. The worst aspect of the last couple of weeks is how cricket is virtually invisible to most people in this country. Even the highlights on Channel 5 went out at midnight. Cricket is now just a snooty Pall Mall club. If you haven’t got the right sort of tie you can’t come in. But if you would like a shit sandwich go round the back and the cook will hand one over for about £100. If you are stupid enough to buy one then more fool you. That’s pretty much where English cricket is right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Zephirine Jun 19, 2015 / 9:18 pm

    being told I wasn’t strategic enough to build a brand identity Those people are presumably unaware (and long may they remain so) of the remarkable ‘brand’ you’ve built here. A ‘brand’ with such a clear identity that when you changed all the ‘branding’ and re-launched under a new name it was instantly recognised by your ‘customers’ as soon as they walked through its virtual door. Not strategic enough, pshaw and forsooth.

    This is one of those raw Dmitri posts that distinguishes this blog from any other I can think of. Fantastic stuff, thank you. (Jomesy is right though, watch the rage)

    Personally I’m managing a split cricket mind at the moment. Like one of those medieval Heaven and Hell pictures, part is still seething with contempt and bitterness towards the appalling G Clarke and his minions and the other is a newly opened nice fenced-off happy section where I’m really pleased for people like Morgan, Buttler, Stokes. I find I can do this, though it feels odd at times.

    But I completely appreciate your determination not to be distracted, moved on or mollified:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Jun 19, 2015 / 9:20 pm

      Dang and tarnation, that was the wrong link, completely spoiling the effect. Should have been this one:

      Liked by 1 person

      • jomesy Jun 19, 2015 / 9:45 pm

        Or “chin up, keep boxing” as my dad used to say (albeit shit advice for boxing).

        And thanks Zeph – I read your words of sense too.

        Like

    • thebogfather Jun 20, 2015 / 7:31 am

      Oh I don’t know Zeph…. the deleted scenes could represent the MSM white-wash of the white-wash (and KP/injury management/ICC3/outside etc), and the subtitles the transcript of an ECB press conference (or Cookie team talk) 🙂

      Like

  9. SimonH Jun 19, 2015 / 10:46 pm

    FFS, the Guardian and the Independent both have articles reckoning this is the, or one of the, greatest ODI series ever. Both have reached that conclusion at the same time – a suspicious type might think they had been fed a line. They might even have waited for the series to be over before writing such conclusions.

    Greatest ODI series ever? Well, there have been some very good things – the batting and the spirit between the two teams principally. But the bowling? The fielding? The variety? Do these have a place in the game any more? Four roads and four run gluts. I was so fed up I missed the second and third matches to watch the Test from West Indies to enjoy some quality bowling.

    It reminds of the marketing of football and the attitude to goals. Lots of goals = it must be great! Excitement! Drama! Action! Just don’t ask about the quality of the defending…… No wonder British kids don’t want to be the next Baresi or Maldini – and no wonder that when it comes to the next international tournament England get nowhere as the defenders can’t defend and the strikers up against proper defenders suddenly discover they aren’t quite as good as they thought they were. Defending is part of the game too – as is bowling.

    I don’t mind a couple of roads in a five ODI series – but four out of four? Coincidence – or pitches made to order? If the latter, made to order because it was thought lots of runs is what the public wants – or they give the home team their best chance? Also why don’t these balls seem to swing at least for a while? Our intrepid press pack were all over the Duke balls used in West Indies but don’t seem to have noticed the almost complete absence of conventional or reverse swing in this series.

    Rant over. I must conform. Feel the weight of those runs. It’s all that matters.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mark Jun 20, 2015 / 6:47 am

      Yes Simon it’s funny how they come up with the exact same idea that it is the greatest ever ODI series. (Perhaps the journos spend too much time together in the cosy club) Such lazy journalism, and so typical of the modern media. Everything is either the greatest ever or the worst. ZZZZzzzz

      It would appear they have not an original thought in their head. Perhaps they might like to comment, (as this) according to them is the greatest ever ODI series ever, that hardly anybody is watching it.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Jun 20, 2015 / 6:58 am

        I think the absence of really close games rather puts the claim of the greatest series ever into context.

        Put it this way, again using a baseball analogy, if a series of 5 games is 2-2 and the scores have been 12-2, 8-10 (with 4 of those 8 tapped on in the 8th innings), 7-10 and 8-13, then no-one would be calling it the greatest ever series. They’d be saying the pitching sucked and the game had turned into a Home Run Derby.

        It’s been entertaining to see our batting turn around. That is great. But if we can’t see the flaws, then I’m worried.

        I do also agree about the tendency of the modern media to anoint something “the greatest ever”. My nadir on this came on a January evening in around 2008 or 2009, when Manchester United played Portsmouth in a Premier League fixture. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a free-kick with his version of a toe-punt. By half-time, that jibbering idiot Jamie Redknapp had it down as the greatest free-kick of all time. Why? Why? Why?

        The BBC sport website does it all the time. It’s blatant click-bait. Context is a sham. It’s all about one-upmanship on the stupidity stakes.

        This has been an entertaining ODI series. Can we just leave it there, or am I being too grumpy?

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Jun 20, 2015 / 8:42 am

        No you are not too grumpy Dmitri. Just outside the club. Like all of us.

        Don’t get me started on the way football is covered. There was no football until Sky took it over in the early 1990s according to them. The great Premiership,that was going to usher in English dominance in international football. How did that work out?

        Like

  10. waikatoguy Jun 19, 2015 / 11:09 pm

    Sometimes its interesting reading about the journalists you have a go at, but sometimes it does seem a bit tedious. A lot of us don’t read the newspapers so don’t care so much what it is they are on about, and certainly have very little invested in what they say . The various journalists you write about I would never have even heard of if you didn’t mention them from time to time. And its not because I’m from NZ. I don’t really know my own country’s print journalists either. Twenty years ago I discovered cricinfo and then stopped buying newspapers to get the cricket scores. I suspect a lot of the people here who go to the Guardian and Telegraph websites read and write BTL without ever even reading the journalists articles too.

    Like

  11. emasl Jun 20, 2015 / 8:31 am

    It has been fun but, ok traitor alert,I still want NZ to win. Of course that may be because I fancyBrendonMcCullum (my younger daughter was slightly taken aback at this comment. The the the thought of her mum fancyning anyone at my age was obviously not on) but also because I LOATHE and DESPISE the entire cricketing press with the kind of relentless fury that has hitherto been aimed at politicians no matter which party. You want to get angry Dimitri- well I am amember of your club

    Like

  12. thebogfather Jun 20, 2015 / 1:55 pm

    Dmitri, this post, another of your wonderful, insightful, fully belligerent and deliciously so full of truth rants… has been lost amidst the ODI today, your ton-up reviews, baseball/cricket books reviews etc etc… you should have left this til tomorrow (my opinion) as it deserves top-table discussion, inside and outside

    p.s. I’ve got all of Boycs books and hundreds of others – let me know if there is something you’d like to read

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Jun 20, 2015 / 2:06 pm

      If I were a commercial entity you’d be right. But I’m not. I made my “rep” on content and churning out articles when I had the enthusiasm to do so.

      Bruised was left as a sticky until the ODI preview this morning. That meant it had top billing.

      Thanks for the offer on the books. I’m so far behind on my reading at the moment that new additions are mere temptations!

      Liked by 1 person

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