I was in good cheer when I read another tweet yesterday, and which I’ve seen in today’s amazing episode of The Cricketer Magazine.

I mean, seriously. I am getting to be seriously crotchety in my old age, but I hate this shit. I realise we live in a corporate world, where sport has to flog itself to maximise the revenues for its players and so forth. But Hardy’s doesn’t own the Ashes, and they aren’t some commodity that can be flogged to death to some corporate with ties to the sport as deep as a puddle. But no, let’s have it hawked out and retweeted by the players so they can earn a few more bucks. Let’s have all the interviews by England players sponsored so they can earn a few more quid. I even saw an advert on Twitter by Specsavers using the Ashes.

While I don’t doubt the sporting commitment of any of these players, there seems far too much of players hawking themselves to flog a bit of the sponsors wares and not enough actual proper engagement with the hoi polloi who follow them around. The team looks appallingly distant still. I get no more of a warm glow from Alastair Cook as I do from my neighbours on the other side of the estate I live on. I hate how sport has become a corporate vehicle, so it’s corporate first, second, third, fourth and so on, and the punter comes a distant last. The corporate pays and gets the finest seats, the best service, and fuck me blind, decent beer. We sit in the cheap seats, have to somehow manage to carry four beers in a paper/cardboard contraption that happens to break if it gets to wet to a crowded seat, with eff all leg room, to be bombarded by nonsense, have official rehydration breaks, have the most prestigious test series in the game paired with an investment bank every time it is mentioned over here (it was never the Cornhill Insurance Ashes, was it) and drink absolute piss masquerading as one of Paul Sheldon’s selection of “fine beers”.

Their priority is to make money – the players and the administrators. To soak the asset. If they see off some of the low earners or recalcitrant fans, well that’s just collateral damage. They probably wouldn’t drink Hardy’s wine, probably think Waitrose is a bit too pricy, wouldn’t have a scooby who Royal London are, think tap water is fine to drink, don’t use an investment bank and so on and so forth. Stuff ’em. After all, they are outside cricket.

Commercialisation is a growing annoyance, and don’t tell me the journos don’t think so. Agnew, for one, was livid he had to go through this “interview is brought to you by…” crap. The players seriously don’t help themselves when any interview they have is done under serious media management and only on the premise that they can hawk something for a few bob more. This tweet summed it up…

Which brings neatly on to Betway’s new “employee” in his Editor’s notes in The Cricketer…

“Alastair Cook has been called a weasel and a coward and other derogatory things. He does not deserve any of it.”

Ah. But calling someone who scored 8181 test runs a c–t is ok. Rah Rah. The article has decency all over it. Alastair is a thoroughly decent man. If you get a chance, read it. It’s like a bloody love letter. There seems no recognition that there is another interpretation of all this. That Cook has never truly explained the decision that he must have been party to to (a) exclude Pietersen and (b) as Dean Wilson reported, I believe, at the time, that he maintains a veto over his return. I call not explaining this as, yes, a form of cowardice. A form of weasel behaviour. He may have very good reasons, but I’ll bet he’s storing them up for a lovely autobiography somewhere down the line. Hughes, of course, conflates the cowardice line with actual facing up to quick bolwing in a marvellously ridiculous finale…

“He (Cook) is the antithesis of the men who say, “It’s the way I play.” He is constantly evolving as a player and as a leader and is about to confront the fastest attack and feistiest foe to visit these shores for many a year. So whatever you think of him, don’t call him a weasel or a coward.”

Bloody hell. Instead, we’ll just laugh at this piece of analysis (as previewed in comments below) in a tweet from Tickers.


I’m sorry, but Lovejoy, complete with stupid mug shot is at it again in The Cricketer…

“Obviously the above are moot points if England themselves have a divided camp and are still being forced to answer questions about the captain, opening batsman and other extraneous stories that refuse to die down. Alastair Cook must shrug off any worries about the hierarchy and apparent criticism from the media and get back to enjoying the role of prolific run scorer and team captain.”

Count the many ways this is laughable.


20 thoughts on “Hardly

  1. Sean B Jul 2, 2015 / 8:14 pm

    I’ve never forgiven Hughes for his remark about Trott’s depression – showed what a thoughtless oaf he really is. Shame as I liked him on C4 during the 2005 and his first book was decent, but he now just spouts pro-ECB dribble…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. keyserchris Jul 2, 2015 / 8:19 pm

    The scribes still don’t think the “outside cricket” jibe was that offensive, or that it upset a lot of people. Sums it up, but especially sad the editor of Wisden doesn’t think any great shakes of it. Cricket needs more people involved (and Wisden has struggled to sell copies in times gone past itself) – people in the media not being bothered about “outside cricket” yet not seeing the wider connection between decreasing involvement in village cricket and the attitude that comment espoused is laughable. They are supposed to know which way the wind is blowing….

    For the record (again) – I found the outside cricket comment highly offensive, the ECB should apologise. I play cricket for my village. I help the club do its business. I pay for Sky to watch on telly.I buy tickets for Tests, ODIs, T20s. I thought Cook & the ECB blatantly scapegoated KP post-Ashes & don’t think it unreasonable for them to back up that decision. For that, I am “Outside Cricket”. Well, as well as the ECB, FUCK YOU cricket journos.


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 2, 2015 / 8:23 pm

      I’m going to defend Lawrence here, because he gets the anger. He’s told me that many times. It’s just that some just sit there and think “it was meant for Piers Morgan, can’t you see that?” Then they should have named him, shouldn’t they?

      I’m sure LB can talk for himself, if he wants. Others just think we are being a precious little bunch and they give that game away far too much.


      • keyserchris Jul 2, 2015 / 8:41 pm

        I think you’re right, Lawrence does seem to understand it more than most. My issue is that he has a way of taking the ECB to task over it (in Wisden) and he hasn’t taken it. Personally, I don’t think you can take on falling participation levels without taking on the attitude behind the “outside cricket” comment. And it’s worse if you already agree that the comment is crass.


    • metatone Jul 2, 2015 / 8:27 pm

      What’s desperately sad is they can’t see how much this makes them look like a self-congratulatory circle “inside cricket.” All those protesting so loudly are on the inside…


  3. Arron Wright Jul 2, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    “Lovejoy, complete with stupid mug shot is at it again in The Cricketer…”

    What fresh hell is this? Selvey, Henderson, Hughes and Lovejoy frere not enough, we now have Lovejoy himself????

    For goodness sake, I might be a glutton for punishment still reading the Guardian cricket blogs, but I draw the line at a rag with that galaxy of stars.


  4. Lawrence Booth Jul 2, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    I don’t think the two things are mutually exclusive: the comment WAS aimed at one person, AND it was crass. I make that point a few times in the ensuing Twitter exchange.

    KeyserChris: I’m happy to send you the Notes in this year’s Wisden in which I lead on the fact that the ECB lost touch with the ‘basic idea that the national game belongs to us all’. I do know which way the wind can blow and I reflected that. It doesn’t mean we all have to agree on every last detail, of which the ‘outside cricket’ quote is the best example. I get that people feel outside cricket. I’m not sure Wisden could have made the point any more clearly this year.


    • Sean B Jul 2, 2015 / 8:45 pm

      Yes I did read your comments in Wisden and thought they were balanced and fair. The fact that Giles Clarke took you to task at a dinner event confirmed that fact (though what I feel about the arrogance of the man to do so, when he is quite clearly putting commercial gain ahead of the wider good of the sport, is another matter).


      • keyserchris Jul 2, 2015 / 8:55 pm

        Did Giles Clarke really do that? Even thinner-skined than I thought then


    • keyserchris Jul 2, 2015 / 8:53 pm

      Hello Lawrence, good of you to respond & so swiftly!

      I think directly using the “outside cricket” comment in the notes would have been a clear example of the ECB trying to close down one person gobbing off on twitter & managing to alienate a LOT of people via the law of unintended consequences – something the ECB are highly skilled at. I think it should have been tackled head-on.

      I agree with the thinking & your notes reflecting that the ECB have lost touch. I disagree with how direct they were made. Sports administrators aren’t sexy, but they are the people who decide how much it costs us to go and see the the game, where & when, or on what channel, or even how much village cricket gets in grants (clue: in the Oxfordshire village leagues I play in it’s nowt. But they’ll kindly point us at funds they have setup to LEND us cash…). It’s not sexy, but they affect every facet of cricket I am involved in – and the poor management of the England team & the old boys network the ECB seems to be is reflected in the attitudes to the wider game in this country.

      The game IS ours, the powers that be need more reminding of it, not less.

      If I had control of Wisden, I would be banging on about it until the cows come home (and it would soon go bust…!), but there is a balance to be struck. Look at the Insight team at the ST and their slow-burn take-down of FIFA. It can be done.

      (I already have the latest Wisden, but thank you for the offer of the notes, very kind of you)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. jennyah46 Jul 2, 2015 / 8:43 pm

    Agreed with every word you had to say about the sponsorship, but Cooky – never!


  6. John Etheridge Jul 2, 2015 / 8:48 pm

    You should also remember the ‘outside cricket’ press release was jointly issued by the ECB and PCA.

    It was co-written by Paul Downton and Angus Porter, chief exec of the PCA. It was meant to refer only to Piers Morgan. I know that because I have asked Downton and Porter.

    It was a clumsily-worded statement. It was issued in a rush on a Sunday, when some of the people who would normally sign-off such a release were not contactable.

    At the time, Porter’s role as boss of the players’ union was to assist Kevin Pietersen in his severance negotiations with the ECB. So it is perhaps a little ironic that the ‘outside cricket’ line was half-penned and fully endorsed by the man representing Pietersen.


    • Zephirine Jul 3, 2015 / 7:04 pm

      ‘Outside cricket’ was more than clumsily worded, it was a Freudian slip of a phrase.

      It would have been fine if Piers Morgan was a journalist whose hobbies were snooker and ice-skating and he knew nothing about the sport beyond being friends with Pietersen.
      But, regardless of being rushed and under pressure, the people involved in writing that statement knew perfectly well that Morgan is a genuinely enthusiastic follower of cricket, that he plays club cricket, that he goes to Test matches. Like thousands of others. But not like those who run the game and think they own it.

      It wasn’t what they meant to say, but it gave away what they meant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BoerInAustria Jul 3, 2015 / 8:55 pm

        So let us re-imagine the entire piece, posted on the ECB website as a joint statement by the ECB and the PCA :

        “..However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen

        Following the announcement of that decision, allegations have been made, some from PIERS MORGAN, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England’s players…”

        Really improves it a lot. Eh … ???



    • escort Jul 3, 2015 / 10:25 pm

      It was a clumsily-worded statement. It was issued in a rush on a Sunday, when some of the people who would normally sign-off such a release were not contactable.

      I thought the sunday rest day in cricket was abandoned years ago. That is absolutely no defence for such a crass statement from our games governing body. It’s embarrassing that you offer it up as one John to be honest


  7. Mark Jul 2, 2015 / 8:52 pm

    Newman rewriting history again. No surprise there then.

    The cricketer magazine giving yet another literary blow job to its favourite cricketer. I wonder if Hughes will get the contract of writing the biggest cricket Turkey of all time. Namely, Cooks autobiography.. What a piece of shit that will be. Hughes can’t really do any more in the cringing, grovelling stakes, bar going down on all fours and having Alastair shove a bottle of Hardys finest up his arse.

    ““He (Cook) is the antithesis of the men who say, “It’s the way I play.”

    Why don’t you have the courage to name the player who this refers to Mr Hughes? We all know who you are talking about, but why be such a snivelling coward and refuse to name him?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Jul 3, 2015 / 7:27 pm

      From Andrew Miller’s article:

      “I’d love to score as quickly as Ben but the bottom line is that I can’t,” said Cook after the Lord’s win.

      It’s the way he plays…


      • escort Jul 3, 2015 / 10:33 pm

        Or can’t play.


    • MM Jul 3, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      I was gonna pick out “another literary blow job to its favourite cricketer” as my fave line of the month but I’ll give two thumbs up to that whole reply, Mark.

      Just to clarify my position on the outside of cricket: I bloody love that KP bloke. I’d pay to watch him again, live. You’d have to pay me to watch Cook live.


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