Hong Kong Phooey

And if you don't say we want,
And if you don’t say we want, “Hi-yaaaaaa”

UPDATE – David Hopps has commented on the matter at hand in the original post (Click).

It has been an interesting last 24 hours. David Hopps kicked off the fun with a scathing article on England’s fixture with Hong Kong. All the details of what followed are contained in the Someway, Somehow post below.

Today we were told that the CEO of Hong Kong cricket, Tim Cutler, had written a statement on their website to clear up some misunderstandings. This has been retweeted by Lawrence Booth, John Etheridge and England Cricket on my timeline. I’m sorry chaps, but I don’t believe this as the whole story. I’ve worked in a press office and this looks like a statement that’s been worked on a while. There is also the really important issue here, and one, that I am afraid goes back all the way to the beginning of 2014. Andrew Strauss mentioned the word. Trust.

We do not trust the ECB. Hong Kong cricket, even if it wanted to, could not kick up over this without making an implacable enemy of one of the big three, and in the current ICC environment, who’d want to do that? Andrew Nixon, who reports on the Associate nations with a passion to be admired, is adamant that, yes, of course Hong Kong wanted an ODI against England. I’d see it as a non-league football club getting drawn out in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup away at Manchester United. It sort of defies belief that they wouldn’t want that with the commercial exposure that might bring, and the chance for other local cricketers to aspire to the same. They have ODI status so why waste that opportunity?

Now, the line to take is that an ODI was never an option. You can rearrange a test match due to a terrible event (see Brisbane last year, and the extra day in the Emirates), you can rapidly schedule an entire series (Sri Lanka ODI to replace West Indies tests), but you can’t organise an ODI in a month? Hong Kong cricket seemed to indicate that they sought the possibility of an ODI while also claiming that a one day practice match with a white ball and coloured clothing was better preparation for the Intercontinental Cup (a four day match). There’s also the mentions of money, which of course governs all, and yet from the start the best practice was most important.

Read the statement. David Hopps remains somewhat sceptical.

And while David continues to beat this path, we can’t be dismissed as conspiracy theory nutters.

So it comes to trust. This is what you damaged, chaps, when you allowed yourselves to be used as an ECB conduit. When you failed to stick up for us as being “outside cricket” right from the outset because you needed access. When you failed to acknowledge the leaking, left, right and centre (one even saying they were anal about leaks) in the last embers of the Ashes series, and let personal emnity to an arrogant cricketer get in the way of exposing what went on. Instead we were asked to take you on trust, and we had no desire to. In my view it reached the bottom with the Ian Bell awayday leak – that was poor. I’ve no doubt the media were scurrying around looking into it yesterday, but it’s amazing how they’ve done so when it is to protect the ECB’s reputation. Hong Kong are a bunch of amateurs compared to this machine. Once that press release praised Tom Harrison for working “behind the scenes” (he’s the CEO of England Cricket for crying out loud, why does he have to work behind the scenes to persuade his own body, he’s the bloody leader) to help associates and Olympic cricket, I had my tin hat on, turned the heat up in my mum’s basement and started salivating. Oh yes. Good old Tom. Well, I don’t trust him for starters. In ECB circles, trust is all. We know that.

So all we saw yesterday was a minor schmozzle where the ECB (who else would be affronted by Hopps initial report) wanted the record put straight (Ireland in April chaps? Let’s encourage those associate nations) and the journalists were prepared to act as Sir Walter Raleigh. I don’t expect them to like (or care) what I think, but that’s what happens when you have an arrogant, ignorant cricket board, a media who whistled their tune when the going got hot, and a load of angry cricket fans.

That’s the bed and we are all lying in it.

And, of course, it didn’t take long.

I’ll let the statement stand.


45 thoughts on “Hong Kong Phooey

  1. Topshelf Nov 9, 2015 / 1:54 pm

    While I agree entirely with the trust issues that you raise, I think that Tim Cutler is a bit slicker than it might first appear.

    He manages to say all that ECB might want him to about the lack of ODI status, while nonetheless slipping in “However frustrating it may seem.”

    He then pins Tom Harrison as the driver of change over support for Olympic cricket – the unsaid contrast to dear old Giles. He goes on to link that to “An expanded World Cup and World Twenty20 tournament” and points out that this farce “highlights a need for an expanded fund / mechanism to support ODI / T20i matches between FMs and all High Performance Associate Members to underpin the bridging of the gaps between cricket emerging and the developed world.”

    I’m sure the ECB – or the Giles Clarke faction – will be well pleased by the first section of party-line excuses. I’m not so convinced that they will be that happy that Cutler has quietly stirred not only the expanded World Cups pot but also the question of all ODI’s between Full Members and Associates.

    It will be much harder for England or any other FM to duck a one-off ODI against an associate after this without looking even more churlish than usual. So it might be that HK cricket and Tim Cutler have played a decent hand in the end.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 9, 2015 / 2:01 pm

      Do not get me wrong, Topshelf (and thanks for the comment). I’m not painting Tim as a patsy with no gumption. Far from it. It’s an interesting press release and quite well crafted.

      Thanks for the response. I think Tregaskis said it best on his Twitter feed.

      I am glad the main thrust of the piece, the breakdown of trust between the ECB and people like me, was acknowledged. The press facilitated that breakdown. I’m not about to take a single thing the ECB say on face value. There’s the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Nov 9, 2015 / 2:06 pm

    Too funny!

    The ECB should go into poultry farming because they always end up with great dollops of egg all down their faces.

    Trust is a meaningless concept. Trust is a word that is elastic. It can be stretched, moulded to whatever the powers that be want it to mean. It is, in the hands of administrators a pointless commodity.

    As for the cricket media, they jumped the trust shark years ago.


  3. thebogfather Nov 9, 2015 / 2:07 pm

    When we consider all of the failings of cricket administrators over the past couple of years in particular, whether it be the ECB and the many oft-discussed shameful episodes, or the myopia of the ICC, it amazes me that with all the events that some of our MSM could but haven’t got their teeth into, this one is growing legs out of all proportion.


    • LordCanisLupus Nov 9, 2015 / 2:12 pm

      Still the old “anonymous” blogger canard, eh?

      If people don’t trust me to write what I think, then you can choose not to read me. Simple as. I’m in no position of power, I have no access. I’m just an “anonymous blogger”. I’m not sure I’ve ever pretended I know how the media works, I’m just guessing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Nov 9, 2015 / 2:52 pm

        You are not, of course, anonymous. None of us are (unless WordPress accidentally ignores our names).

        You use pseudonyms, noms de plume, always the same ones. Anything with those names attached is written by you and you consistently use the same platforms to publish them. That’s a literary tradition that goes back to Classical times.

        As for spouting nonsense, it’s still just about a free country. Even if what you write were to be nonsense, you would still be entitled to spout it as long as you didn’t frighten the horses.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Nov 9, 2015 / 3:07 pm

        ” You have no idea how cricket media works. I’ve offered to meet to explain but you prefer to spout nonsense from anonymous blog.”

        I suspect cricket media works like all other modern media works. With way too much emphasis placed on “access.” Or if you are a bit more cynical…….spoonfed.

        We are back to the battle of the “a” words. Access vs Anonymous.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Nov 9, 2015 / 3:41 pm

          I thought the key point here was trust. As you said it is an elastic concept. But the one thing “the cricket media” need to understand is that they sacrificed what trust there was. Some have sought to get it back, and are succeeding. Some are not. Some think we are know-nothings. OK. Fine. I can live with that.

          The anonymous thing is a smokescreen. A total smokescreen. It’s become laughable. Because he (and others) hates it so much, make me less inclined to give it.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Nov 9, 2015 / 3:54 pm

        Also their criticsm of the anonymous concept is very hypocritical because their access to powerful people is often granted only on the condition of anonymity.

        “A spokesman said…..” ..”And insider revealed….”

        They are quite happy with anonymous when it suits their needs. Who leaked the outcome of the Andrew Strauss KP meeting to Aggers? We don’t know because He’s anonymous. Maybe that is the way all journalism has to work. But then don’t criticise others who remain anonymous.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Nov 9, 2015 / 4:04 pm

          It’s a red herring. A total red herring on their behalf. Some have no interest in the little people. There are plenty of useful idots who also play that card as if putting their real name on line makes the difference. Like they’d take me “more seriously” if I used a name (they couldn’t verify as real anyway)

          Take you, Mark, as an example. I have an e-mail address which is required when you log in to posts, and that is it. I’m not asking you to ID yourself. Even if you gave me a surname, what am I going to do with it? How could I possibly know you are called Mark in real life anyway?

          It’s a stick to beat with me. I don’t give a stuff.


      • paulewart Nov 11, 2015 / 12:42 pm

        Is David Hopps an ‘anonymous blogger’ who doesn’t understand how the cricket media works? Oh. The tide is turning Dmitri, a little late but its turning.


  4. thebogfather Nov 9, 2015 / 4:12 pm

    Trust,,,,, trussed up like a chicken or canard of their own making…. quack hacks and elastic bands…. ping….time up for the cozy cabals


  5. Topshelf Nov 9, 2015 / 4:17 pm

    Part of the problem with the “trust” issue is that (let’s be kind) it’s some journos that are too “trusting”…

    Etheridge is, or certainly was, a decent journalist. He occasionally makes the effort to engage. But he seems to swallow whatever nonsense he is fed far too often – viz the ludicrous 50-point dossier and the 100th Test gifts debacle.

    Are we supposed to believe that because John was there he investigated fully and asked the difficult questions? Or do we suspect that he just regurgitated the party line again? What would history suggest?

    Being kind again, it must be difficult for him – he has mouths to feed after all. Maybe he takes the view that spouting nonsense now and then is the price he has to pay for the times he is fed something useful and true. But he shouldn’t get precious about it when he is called on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Nov 9, 2015 / 5:44 pm

      In fairness to John Etheridge he does engage on here from time to time. And as far as I can tell he hasn’t blocked Dmitri from Twitter which certain other journos have done.

      To be honest though I find it difficult to take seriously any journalist who wrorks for Murdoch because his organisation bankrolls English cricket through Sky. Now John would claim he works for The Sun and its all different. But there is a massive conflict of interest in all of Murdochs media. They bankroll both English cricket and English Premiership football.

      Do you ever see a bad film review for a Fox movie in a Murdoch publication? It’s mostly non stop cross promotion of News International products. I guess it’s just the way it is. But people who work at the top of SKY under the umbrella of NI write the checks for The ECB. And Sky’s coverage did take on a very anti KP tinge. So pardon by scepticism.

      Liked by 1 person

      • escort Nov 9, 2015 / 8:00 pm

        Can the same be said of Jonathan Agnew?
        He was one of the biggest patsies of Strauss when he failed to answer back to his (Strauss’s response to the so called trust issues with Pietersen by saying ” i don’t have to explain them to you Aggers do I?”
        Unless what i heard on BBC Radio was edited this has to be a massive moment when the BBC, through its freelance cricket mouthpiece and prominent commentator jumped into the sack with the ECB as well doesn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • John Etheridge Nov 10, 2015 / 4:08 am

        This must be tiresome for you all but, as you keep mentioning me (and keep getting virtually everything about me wrong!), I will again try to clarify some of your points.

        My tweet to Dmitri was to convey my surprise that he keeps writing stuff about the cricket media that is just plain wrong. I offered to meet him to try to explain some of what goes on. He declined. I found that surprising – he writes so many thousands of words about the media that I thought he might want to know at least some of the truth.

        I never have and never will feel any obligation to write positive stuff about England or the ECB. If England play well, I tend to praise them. If they play badly, criticism is normally forthcoming. That’s obvious. I have been writing about cricket for the biggest-selling, most aggressive newspaper for much of my life. The idea that I am some sort of pro-ECB patsy is laughable. Myself and other journalists face a daily battle for access, information, interviews, the truth.

        Likewise, I would be very surprised if the copy of anybody from other Murdoch-owned publications is influenced by the tie-up with Sky. Do you not take Mike Atherton and Simon Wilde (cricket correspondents of the Times and Sunday Times) seriously? Or how about Mike Brearley,who writes columns for the Times?

        The story about Kevin Pietersen’s ’50 misdemeanours’ was true. I thought you all knew that. As for the 100th cap story…well, I have mentioned many times that I can explain the background face-to-face but not on here.

        Oh, one other thing. I did have ‘mouths to feed’ but our two children are now financially independent with their own homes. My wife works full time and I actually earn more from my property interests than I do from the Sun! I don’t need to do this job – I do it because I love it!


      • SimonH Nov 10, 2015 / 12:17 pm

        John, you’ve rather joined criticism of the England team with criticism of the ECB there. Most don’t doubt that you’re willing to criticise the England team. Previously, you’ve posted your match report on Day 4 at Headingley against SL and it didn’t pull its punches. What have you published critical of the ECB though? Please move away from the issue of player access because you have a self-interest there. What have you written about the Big Three stitch-up? What have you written about the Olympic bid? What have you written about the Ten-team WCs in 2019 and 2023? What did you write about ‘Death of a Gentleman’? What have you written about Giles Clarke?

        These are genuine questions. If your answer is (I hope I’m wrong about this but i suspect it might be) “our readers aren’t interested in such issues” you realise that is exactly what Giles Clarke argues? Nobody is interested in governance, he claims. If you agree with that you are, deliberately or not, assisting his agenda. I’m sure your paper covers scandal stories in other sports’ governing bodies like FIFA or the IOC – so why not the ECB?

        On the KP-related issues (which poison the well – there’s no denying it), I’m afraid you sound like the stereotypical Englishman talking to foreigners. “If I say it often enough, loud enough and slowly enough, they’ll understand….”. It isn’t that most of us down here haven’t heard your case – it is that it isn’t good enough. You made your accusations in print. You need to support or retract them in print. Making an accusation in a newspaper read by millions then supporting it on a ‘bloke I met down the pub’ basis is simply inadequate. Would you be content if a newspaper published a “John Etheridge strangles kittens” story and then said “meet me down the pub for the proof”?

        On the clash of interests in the Murdoch stable, I’m sure nobody has ever told you not to write articles critical of Sky’s coverage. However, have you ever made the case for FTA coverage to your readers? Do you point out how its absence is damaging the game?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Simon K Nov 10, 2015 / 1:40 pm

        The reality is that we as readers can only judge your reporting by what you choose to publish, and the comments you make on Twitter et al. And the reality is that there’s a clear pattern of comment from you and others which is at the very least generous to the ECB line on a whole range of issues, a pattern far more discernible than the opposite. The same is true of Selvey, Newman and one or two other of the seasoned correspondents.

        There’s nothing wrong with this per se, still less anything corrupt about it: all writers have their biases, and all do their best to claim they aren’t compromised by them. We as spectators/keyboard warriors have biases too. It’s just that when you observe these biases *in the context* of the way the ECB conspicuously functions as an organisation, and some of the decisions it has made over the past couple of years in relation to both on-field and off-field matters, it’s hard not to at least wonder why those biases exist – and not just in a passive way; there is a clear tone of indignation in the way the Hong Kong non-ODI controversy was discussed, as if those journalists involved felt it incumbent upon themselves to present the ECB line as fact, and shut down any assertions to the contrary.

        And then you read Tim Wigmore’s article on Olympics cricket, with its references to Mike Selvey, and his closeness to Giles Clarke – and you realise that despite all the indignant denials, there *are* relationships between certain writers and certain administrators which *do indeed* compromise the integrity of their output, and that remains true even if not every dot and comma of what the likes of Dmitri publish is accurate. And the Olympics farrago isn’t the first time where keyboard warrior speculation has turned out to be more accurate than the whitewash we got in the MSM (with the notable and customary exception of Cricinfo, with its cardinal sin of putting proper effort and resources into its coverage).

        I can’t speak for Dmitri, but I feel like a meeting would be sort of irrelevant. The proper thing for readers to do is to judge writers on their published output and to scrutinise them on that basis.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Nov 10, 2015 / 6:51 pm

          I’ve hardly bothered with the media recently, stayed out of the golf day argument despite some desperate individuals implying I was conspiring with Maxie over it, and yet still they come.

          Some of the press lost my trust. I’m sure they’ll live.


      • paulewart Nov 11, 2015 / 12:45 pm

        The man’s a fraud. Any respectable journalist would have followed up the ludicrous 100th Test gift story. He was sold a pub but hasn’t the whit or decency to care about it. Likewise the 50 point dossier. These people are ciphers, nothing more, nothing less.


    • Topshelf Nov 10, 2015 / 12:12 pm

      John, thank you for replying. I am glad that you are able to do something for the sheer love of it – much like our very own Dmitri. So you have that in common at least.

      Your answer re the 100th Test gifts is consistent, but still unsatisfactory. Is it not as simple as unwittingly repeating a fib you were told? Not the first journalist that has happened to after all – KP’s best mate being a particularly glaring example.

      As to the “dossier” – I have no doubt that paper exists documenting KP’s enormous capacity for behaving like a wazzock. Even in my own position at the furthest periphery of the inner circle I’ve heard unpublished tales of him doing some incredibly gauche and daft things.

      But a “dossier” of exactly 50 misdemeanours? Did they stop recording at 50? Did they wait eagerly while he was stuck on only 49 annoying acts until the whistling broke the camel’s back? It just smacks of a lazy shorthand – and that is the problem for me, and I imagine many others.

      Perhaps Twitter isn’t the best place to judge a journalist’s output, as it perforce requires an element of shorthand. I have no intention of traducing anyone, and hope you don’t feel that to be the case.

      But my strong feeling is that there are elements of the cricket media who are a little too eager to reproduce what they are told, rather than question the detail and, occasionally, intent. Not needing the money, you, John, would be in a stronger position to do so than many.

      Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Nov 10, 2015 / 9:37 am

      By the by, the story shows the idea that journalists need to be tame to gain access is, at best, a simplification.

      George Dobell has not been Loughborough’s best friend! Yet here he is gaining access to Kevin Shine. Partly, I would think Shine simply wants to get his side of the story out. Partly, there may be an element of hoping some face-to-face contact might moderate the line Dobell tends to take.

      Nick Hoult also doesn’t seem to suffer any lack of access. No doubt it helps Dobell and Hoult that they work for bodies as powerful as Cricinfo and the DT and those working for smaller organisations may be in a more difficult position. However for the big media outlets, threats of denial of access are seven-fifths’ bluff in my book.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Simon K Nov 10, 2015 / 2:44 am

    It’s interesting how indignant some “independent” cricket writers get when the ECB line is questioned, and indeed how keen they are to curtail discussion about their conduct.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. SimonH Nov 10, 2015 / 12:44 pm

    At least John Etheridge and others were at the HK match and reported on it. Certain other newspapers didn’t bother. Now we have this:-


    • Arron Wright Nov 10, 2015 / 12:55 pm

      Pretty much sums up why you and I and others spend so much time here now, doesn’t it….?

      Either that or Sam Collins is just another “bilious inadequate”.


    • Arron Wright Nov 10, 2015 / 1:03 pm

      I see that Jonathan Liew, in response, has actually defined The Spin as a “whimsical weekly cricket column”.

      When a trend becomes a description…


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 10, 2015 / 1:10 pm

        Someone stick Selvey’s tweet about balance for Srini, please.


      • SimonH Nov 10, 2015 / 1:35 pm

        From the Wisden India article:

        “Srinivasan also ensured that former players the world over were envious of their Indian counterparts, who received whopping one-time payments and also a monthly pension”.

        How does that work? How much – and what are the strings? Genuinely interested….

        “He didn’t endear himself to the rest of the world either, being central to the Big-Three carve-up of the ICC. If the new dispensation were truly different, they would begin a process to make the global administration of cricket a more representative exercise. That isn’t going to happen. Whether it’s Srinivasan or Giles Clarke, Cricket Australia or the England and Wales Cricket Board, the big boys are only interested in one thing – consolidation of power”.

        That’s their defence…..?

        Elsewhere, they’ve Tweeted that the new BCCI head is sounding more sympathetic to playing Pakistan – really hope that’s true and not just more manoeuvring.

        (Feel free to delete my repeat post).


      • Simon K Nov 10, 2015 / 1:43 pm

        We don’t even need to nod and wink about Selvey any more. We have it on the unchallenged record from Tim Wigmore: he’s a mate of Giles Clarke, and his worldview on cricket administration is basically Clarke’s. What the hell the Guardian is doing continuing to employ someone who is willing to act as an uncritical mouthpiece for that pompous oaf is anyone’s guess.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Nov 10, 2015 / 1:53 pm

          Tim said “good working relationship”. I have good working relationships with people I have little time for so let’s not jump to too many conclusions!


      • amit Nov 11, 2015 / 4:04 pm


        Former cricketers have been paid significant sums out of the board pockets. In an inflation-ridden economy, with limited skill outside of cricket, most former players have struggled to make it. I wouldn’t quite call it a pension, but a few million rupees would go towards helping them quite a bit. Dileep is not too far off when he says a balanced view of srini’s reign would not paint him in as bad a light.


      • SimonH Nov 11, 2015 / 4:17 pm

        Amit, thanks for replying.

        Do you know if players have to sign a ‘gagging clause’ to receive the money? (i.e. agree not to criticise the BCCI). Also, do they lose the money if they take part in breakaway tournaments?

        I’ve heard that Kapil Dev is a virtual unperson in Indian cricket because of the latter.


      • amit Nov 12, 2015 / 10:44 am

        @ SimonH
        Not aware of any clauses but can’t be surprised if there’s an unwritten rule.
        After all, you wouldn’t want to bite the hand that feeds.

        As for Kapil, he was quite shabbily treated (like others associated) post ICL, but I think that’s history and he’s again part of the main fold. Players associated with ICL were given an option to apologize and get back into good books of BCCI. Stuart Binny is now playing for IPL and India after having been a part of ICL, so it would seem that BCCI is past that one.


    • amit Nov 11, 2015 / 3:05 am

      Srini going out is a big news. And a welcome one. I wish GC follows suit.

      But let’s not forget that like all administrators, he had his share of both good and bad. That he is likely to be remembered only for the bad is a terrible legacy to leave behind but he did add value to the BCCI setup over years.
      It takes a certain kind of personality (Diplomatic / Shrewd / Machiavellian) to succeed in these high profile roles and Mr Nice Guys usually don’t do too well because they can never get around the issues and win mandates. I take his stint in that context but as much as i dislike his attempts to ignore the conflict of interest issues in IPL or just take the pubic for a ride, i can’t say it was all bad.


      • LordCanisLupus Nov 11, 2015 / 9:18 am

        It is big news amit. It’s all over our sports papers. Wall to wall coverage. Can’t read a story about “backing Jos Buttler” for the analysis.


  8. amit Nov 11, 2015 / 6:41 am

    Trust between ECB and fans or for that matter between various boards and fans has suffered irreparable damage. KPgate might have been the proverbial last straw to the English fans while the very apparent but brazenly ignored conflict of interest issues did it to us in India. We’ve seen issues being swept under the carpet, not being addressed or Spin taking precedence over honesty. Repeatedly! And ultimately I think that’s what causes this great divide between us. The MSM has contributed to it, by usually pandering to the establishment and not really drilling into issues that could be uncomfortable. That is not really going to change. But I also think that the cricket analysis is moving on from the MSM. There are enough clicks on these blogs where people find a healthy debate. So in some ways, it’s a bit existential for the MSM. They need to evolve and not ignore the fans because ultimately its the fans that keep the game alive. Not the boards. Not the players and most certainly not the mainstream journalists. I don’t go to read a columnist, I go to the institution. Would I even bother with someone say Aggers, if he wasn’t at BBC?
    I am quite happy I am not on Guardian or any other mainstream coverage except may be cricinfo as often as I used to be. I find my fill on such blogs. So keep up the good work. You have our trust.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Nov 11, 2015 / 9:21 am

      England’s massive problem is Giles Clarke and his presence at the ICC. In many ways it was as grievous an error of judgement as the way the ECB handled KP. A clean break would put us in a better position to stand up. Instead we have a member of the ancien regime ensconced in Dubai. Our hopes he might do the decent thing are. …..


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