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.