We Know Nothing – Part 1

At the moment, we are researching a series of posts on the cricket media, so I thought I’d kick off with a little (ha ha, as if) historical perspective as regards this blog, and the predecessor that was HDWLIA in relation to comments on the media. Let us begin around ago….

In the middle of the furore over the Hong Kong cricket match, many of you on here will remember this tweet from a member of our press corps which said:

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

I’ll keep that one.

My frustration with much of the cricket media has been a common, and some would say (very) repetitive theme throughout the last two years. Of course, it was principally sourced from the incidents in the fallout from the Ashes whitewash, but it’s beyond that. It really is, and this scene setter seeks to explain why and how.

The predecessor to this blog, How Did We Lose In Adelaide (still available if you know where to look) had rumbled around for quite a while before it got noticed. For six or so months, probably from around April to November of last year, it hit its peak in terms of the pique it derived from the cricket media. While I would not be as so bold to admit I know entirely how cricket media works, my heavens, I had gained a jolly good taste of how it did, just by watching their reporting, their behaviour, and in some cases, their arrogance. Back then I would take an article, and tried to dissect it (fisking). I was angry. I may well have been off target, but it was from the heart. That blogging captured the drive within me. Sometimes I wonder where that has gone.

(I’ve always said my aim was to get to within three universes of the sort of stuff Fire Joe Morgan did for baseball, where journalists were routinely targeted. They were talented professional writers doing that. I was a sole muppet, with an anger issue…. whatever I did, it seemed to work)

Things died down in the New Year, as HDWLIA closed down and Being Outside Cricket started. There was a brief renaissance of interest during the KP furore of May and the Ashes, but the tone then was completely different. We were aiming at the ECB, and had, actually, been doing that for quite a while. After all, the press weren’t really trying.

But here’s a fact. I was absolutely more excoriating of the cricket media last year on HDWLIA than I have ever been on Being Outside Cricket. I read back my attacks on the big beasts of journalism not hiding behind a paywall from those days last year, and I go full on. Now, maybe that’s because I didn’t really believe journalists would read it, because hit rates then were less than 100 a day and very few people were picking up on it. I was just one of those annoying gnats that you could shoo- away. In many ways, that has not changed.

So, let me go into the way journalists have interacted with me. I had occasional tweets answered early on, and put comments on line. I had a regrettable debate with Jonathan Agnew after a “convivial evening”, which ended up with someone threatening me with physical violence, which was nice (I’d called Agnew obsequious, which  was out of order and we made peace). I think the starting point of more interest was at the test match at Lord’s against Sri Lanka last year.  On that test match night, Jarrod Kimber let me know that he was reading out the “10 Worst Journalists” column to the attendant media. In his words, some were mad at being on the list, some were mad at not being higher. What he did say, was that many there read the blog, including those I’ve been told by others never do.

It’s a bit intimidating really. But I tried to be fair, and probably didn’t succeed. So while I am by no means an expert on the cricket media – we’ll delve into this a little later – the opposite applies. The cricket media’s overall knowledge of social media is laughable, in my experience. They rely squarely on the comfort blanket offered by social media’s lunatic fringe, by lumping those in there trying to make a point as trolls. Ed Smith, in particular, is good at that one. Others ignore the well-made salient points made to them on Twitter, and just pick on a ranting one to have a pop. I’m not saying it’s easy seeing your work dissected by the hoi polloi, but if you go on Twitter, you know what you are going to get. I got some fearful abuse over the KP post last year. I got some this Ashes summer too. It’s not nice. But that’s the price you pay.

One thing struck me from when Jonathan Agnew tried to break bread with Maxie Allen last year on a podcast. He said something along the lines of “if you come into my house and started calling me names, I’d chuck you out. That’s my approach on social media.” Well, yes, fair enough, but how many people with serious points to make are totally ignored without kicking up a fuss, and I’m referring to a number of the selective tweet responses in the para above? I’m a case in point. I called him lamentable and obsequious, and got blocked – entirely up to him, but it came with consequences for me. He then made peace the following day, so we called it quits, and have got on OK since, although our paths do not cross nearly as often. But I wouldn’t have got to that point without being forceful to start off with. I’m not as down on Agnew as others on here, but that’s their right.

My raison d’etre is not to become in with the in crowd. I’d much rather be friends and get along with people than have steaming rows with all and sundry, but I’m not courting anyone. It’s not good for me to be angry and arguing, and after a while, screaming and shouting becomes annoying and self-defeating. So let me strike down casual myth number one about my interaction with the cricket media. I do not want to become a journalist / reporter. That is not my aim, and I don’t know how many times I need to say it. It is also not attention seeking (although I can do it very well as this blog proves), and the clue is in the use of a pseudonym and my unwillingness to meet people. Some people call this cowardice. Don’t bother with me then, because it isn’t changing any time soon. That is the antithesis of “attention seeking”. So my lack of knowledge about the cricket media isn’t keeping me going to get into the game. So perhaps we’ll leave that sorry canard alone, eh? Others have got into journalism, to newspapers etc, and got contacts along the way by blogging. Fair play to them. That isn’t for me. At Lord’s, this summer, I was stood five feet away from Agnew. If I was an attention seeker, I’d have said hello.

What this (Being Outside Cricket) blog did less than the last one was to hold the cricket media to some sort of account in my own style. Again, Jarrod has said to me “why do you blog about people the vast majority of the cricket world don’t give a shit about?” Because it was fun. Yes. Fun. I adored the way they tripped up over themselves in knifing a cricketer they clearly did not like (and if they did, they did a passable impression of hating him), while being on the same side as an organisation headed, at the time, by a bloke I’m confident many of them can’t abide, bigging up charlatans, propping up a captain who, on form and captaincy ability at the time should have been dropped, and giving a passable impression, as Mark frequently comments, of being the ECB’s “stenographers”.

What I got to understand rapidly, is that the one thing that got cricket in the papers was something to do with Pietersen – look how many times his Tweets are converted into news stories. In their own way, this was their attention seeking. Even now, KP makes the papers. I’d wager he’s still the most famous cricketer in England, and only Cook might rival him. His exploits in over-the-way T20 competitions still get mentions. I understood this about the cricket media. A story with KP got hits, got comments below the line where applicable and sold advertising. It still does. Vic Marks alluded to him in his recent piece on Jason Roy. Fomenting antis were over it like a bad suit (remember, we’re obsessed). So chalk that down as something I know about cricket media. And you didn’t have to be Einstein to work that out.

The cricket media have their own jobs to do, and it was something that I was criticised for in Brian’s review in Wisden Almanack (and jeez, I will always have that little gem….) in not seeing their side of the story. Well, I’m awfully sorry about that, but when an organisation (ECB) treats its own fans with such utter contempt, it’s hard to see their side when they won’t see our’s. Our hopes were pinned on at least some of them asking the right questions and having a feel for what a good constituency of their readers might be feeling, at the right time. At the time he was sacked. Instead, they slept. Or stuck the knife in. I never sensed that they cared about that sacking, and said so. Suddenlt there was a wave of people who came along for the ride. Those that read, or read (in past tense) the blog over the past 18 months felt, and still feel incredibly let down by our fearless press have, in some instances, turned their back on England. This doesn’t matter in a world of small-minded administrators. Those that care a lot can be disenfranchised. I can’t watch England in the same way again.

The ECB are never going to give access to bloggers (not sure that I’d want that, but Chris, perhaps, would be more  up for that as it suits his personality better than mine), so our hopes were pinned on the cricket media. We were appallingly let down, whether they like being told it, or care. How we saw the cricket media work there was putting access above adjudication, prejudice above pressure, long-term comfort over short-term revolt. Coming to mind, especially, was the fact it took 10 questions to get to KP in Downton’s first conference when we’d been waiting two months for any answers. Then, hilariously, more than one of the media were falling over themselves to tell us how great JPM’s finest was. The re-writing of history over Downton has been to see how the cricket media works. Not many of them were thinking “blimey, he’s out of his depth” until the end of the summer of 2014 at the earliest. A fair few of us were. We recognise that sort in our daily lives.

Since then, the pressure has died down on the media, and I’ve not been doing the fisking I used to. That’s fisking (analysing an article line-by-line). Why? Well, for the first thing they are quite time consuming and some newspapers make doing it a real tedious affair. Second, I’ve not felt the need to. Much of the fisking was because people were pretending there were no leaks (hence the repeated use of the “good journalism” meme on here – as in here’s another piece of good journalism “such and such is set to be dropped, we understand”) and also that ridiculous contentions were being put up about KP in particular without tangible evidence to back it up. The relationship between the journalist and reader should be that we either enjoy their style, or we trust what they say, and I was pointing out that I (me, and I write for me alone) liked neither their style nor trusted them in many ways.

I’ve also not issued the results of polls on the worst journalist, and thus not added comments to them. Why not? Because, to be frank, I don’t read much of what they write any more. It used to be fun picking up on their contentions blatantly accessed from sources we’ll never be a party to, or some of their ideas they’ll stick to come hell or high water, but it gets a bit repetitive (another Wisden criticism). The name of our recent winner is at the bottom of the post. It’s no surprise.

A few weeks ago we saw them, briefly, at their finest. A piece of good journalism here, a breaking of an embargo (an embargo, for heaven’s sake, it’s not a top secret report for God’s sake) there, and all round tut-tutting about it. These are the last throes of the dinosaurs. An ECB edict, issued under embargo to a press in need, protected from the punters of course, who don’t need to know before someone with a commercial imperative, and it’s leaked on social media. They haven’t a bleeding clue. Then, hilariously, the big story (Bell’s exclusion) was missed.

You see, the reason I like reading George Dobell and Jarrod Kimber and Gideon Haigh is that I trust them. They have their opinions, and I will listen to them and decide based on what they say. Sure, they have their favourites, because they are human beings, and we all have biases. I don’t believe (well, in some cases I have no doubt) they take dictation from the ECB or other authorities. They call it as they see it. This blog regularly votes them in to the best journalist poll, and we waxed lyrical about George in particular last year. Indeed, I think a sign of how highly he should be regarded is that in some cases, people were disappointed in some of his stuff, and voted him in the worst poll this year. That’s interesting to me.

TLG and I will be talking more about the media in the short term. In the years I’ve been doing this blog the reactions to a couple of recent events really piqued my interest. The golf day stuff, which I stayed out of by and large, and the Hong Kong game. It piques Tregaskis’s enough to write his epic published yesterday.

So be prepared for some more nonsense, and I hope you enjoy it.

Finally, I can exclusively reveal here the winner of this summer’s worst journalist award, as voted for by the readers of Being Outside Cricket. It’s Mike Selvey. No shock there. The rest will follow…. a new entry at number 2, and at number 4 for instance.

Selvey was a landslide winner because he exemplifies how we see the cricket media “working”. In the past 18 months he has been contemptuous of those who dare to challenge his view, has undertaken some of the most appalling briefing against a player I’ve seen in ages (Adil Rashid – it went beyond opinion on the pace he bowls at when he went after him at Lord’s this summer) and his world class tweeting. Just recently Tim Wigmore alluded to something a little more concerning, and no, we didn’t miss it, and nor did you, commenters. He’s number 1 for a reason.

This post was written, mostly, a fortnight ago. I’m sharing it now in the light of Tregaskis’s piece. We’ll be discussing that for days to come, an important blogging milestone of undoubted depth. It took a chance, and his style of writing, leaning towards FICJAM but without the ego, and thus superb in its nature, is beyond what I could possibly achieve. He has sought to be honourable when no such honour is reciprocated by most. I wonder where we go from here. TLG and I will pick up on it more and more, because it has not gone away.

34 thoughts on “We Know Nothing – Part 1

  1. Mark Nov 27, 2015 / 6:50 pm

    ““You have no idea how cricket media works”

    Same way as all the other media works I expect. An editor decides the slant or bias you will report, and then you fix the facts to fit the required slant.

    “I know nothing, I’m from Barcelona”

    Like

  2. Arron Wright Nov 27, 2015 / 7:41 pm

    FICJAM! (Not FIGJAM).

    I would never have found HDWLIA if I trusted the Guardian. And that’s it, really. Thanks.

    Like

    • Tregaskis Nov 27, 2015 / 9:00 pm

      Arron, I appreciated the heads up and link you and Simon H gave me on the Selvey-Clarke nexus. Thank you.

      Like

    • Rohan Nov 27, 2015 / 9:50 pm

      Agree with that Aaron. I found HDWLIA because I was not happy with the biased reporting of the ASHES 2013 and KP sacking in the MSM. I thought there must be another side to the argument, alternative viewpoints and I found them from Dmitri and very good they were and still are………

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  3. Badger Nov 28, 2015 / 12:32 am

    I have little sympathy for any of the more egregious wankers who have helped kill my love of the England (and Wales) cricket team, but a thought has occurred lately – I work in a changing industry and I’m trying to make sense of a working life that is as far removed now from where it was two years ago as it was removed then from six to eight years before that.

    I suspect that many of our more derided journalists are finding themselves in a similar position and some of them are dealing with it better than others.

    I constantly remind myself that the world doesn’t owe anyone a living, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. BoredInAustria Nov 28, 2015 / 6:08 am

    Great post. (and a great post by Tregaskis).

    The value of your blogs lie in the distance and the perspective. This allows a critical view. And they feel very uncomfortable with that!

    Meeting a journalists to clarify in private what he fucked up in public in my opinion would compromise your objectivity. (As the childhood friendship with Mr Broad jr would of course have influenced Agger’s perspective in the KPGenius affair…).

    And I do not understand what a phone call with Dobell would have changed to the point Tregaskis was making. (And a fine piece it was as well, sir!)

    These days I merely skim the Guardian posts, and also just the posters I respect. Sad really if you consider as T points out: “Our most important relationship is the one we have with our readers and site users.”

    This motto is now apt here. They should think about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. d'Arthez Nov 28, 2015 / 7:06 am

    Australia collapse to 116/8, and Lyon gets the benefit of what seems to be a huge howler to keep Australia in the game. The standing umpire? S. Ravi.

    To cap it off, when the decision was not given for a catch they checked for a lbw – from another delivery!

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    • Arron Wright Nov 28, 2015 / 9:58 am

      Amazing how often Ravi’s blemishes improve the picture for the Big 3. Really quite something.

      Like

    • d'Arthez Nov 28, 2015 / 10:05 am

      To be fair the third umpire, the one actually making the DRS decision was Nigel Llong.

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    • SimonH Nov 28, 2015 / 12:46 pm

      Having criticised England for dosing players up on cortisone and turning minor injuries into major injuries. it’s only fair to point out Australia appear to have done the same with Starc.

      I gather it isn’t exactly the same injury (ankle bone spur/stress fracture of the foot) but the body compensates for trouble in one spot by shifting some of the load elsewhere. Also the deadening effect of cortisone must prevent the player picking up warning signs and seeking preventative treatment.

      I was surprised Starc wasn’t sent for treatment after the Ashes. Some in the Australian cricket establishment seemed to regard him as too ‘soft’ and almost want to push him to breaking point.

      The pitches prepared for the first two Tests didn’t help either.

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    • d'Arthez Nov 29, 2015 / 9:25 am

      Looks like this is a match-saving howler, and a series-deciding howler. Any chances that they have actually played the wrong ball for the Real – Time Snicko? After all, they did so with the Hawkeye projection for the LBW review. So, I would not be confident that you could actually trust the RTS reading on this one either.

      In other words, broadcasters now can literally decide the outcomes of the series. And I am supposed to think that this is okay?

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      • SimonH Nov 29, 2015 / 10:39 am

        Australia won by three wickets. Dodgy decision aside, they’ve been the better side in the three games. NZ have disappointed except Williamson and Taylor.

        Australia have papered over the cracks shown in England rather than resolved them I think. The batting has looked highly vulnerable here when there’s been a little movement. Smith’s captaincy of the seamers has been impressive but less so with Lyon. Apart from Smith himself and Warner, they aren’t, by Australian standards, a particularly good fielding side.

        D/N cricket clearly has an issue of a proper balance between bat and ball. If that much grass has to be left on the pitch to preserve the ball, then three-day Tests will be as common as Test centuries will be rare. The road in Perth was just as bad of course – but in the opposite direction. Is somewhere in-between so impossible?

        As for the house favourite’s accusation of pitch doctoring, the grass on the pitch helped NZ’s style of bowlers as much as Australia’s. Australia were of course also 1-0 in the series.

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      • d'Arthez Nov 29, 2015 / 4:44 pm

        No issue with the result. Australia have been the better side through the entire series.

        I would not be too fearful for the future of D/N cricket. Wickets fell in bundles in all sessions, not just the ones under the lights. So it is not like a distribution of 5, 5, 27, which would indeed strongly suggest that you’d be better off declaring after two sessions, than batting on. It was not like that. And if you bear in mind that the last session is usually the longest, then the effect is even smaller.

        Yes, the pink ball seems to be doing more than the red ball, but I suspect that has more to do with the limited production process (how many pink balls have been made?), rather than something that is naturally inherent in a pink ball.

        Besides, there might be a small advantage to batsmen who don’t get to play much in England: they will have more opportunities to play against a moving ball.

        As for people having to get used to it (including players), did something similar not apply when one day cricket started and evolved? That is clearly before my time, but I would not be surprised if that was the case.

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      • BoredInAustria Nov 29, 2015 / 5:02 pm

        Here the whole agonising 6 minutes ….

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        • LordCanisLupus Nov 29, 2015 / 5:23 pm

          I saw the highlights version. I met Nigel when I was a kid, and he was a really good bloke, so those sort of things stick with me and I kind of like to give him the benefit of the doubt.

          If he’d given it the Aussies could have said “what about Snicko?” and we’d be seeing others having a go. I didn’t envy him with that one. Maybe hot spot needs to have a wider angle?

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      • BoredInAustria Nov 29, 2015 / 7:10 pm

        I do feel there was a total failure of the technology – he asks for split screen, no split screen (surely this should be pre-programmed selections?), the f-up with the LBW, Snicko seemed dodgy (does not register the shoulder hit).

        But what do I know. Selfey tells me DRS is all good…

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  6. BoredInAustria Nov 28, 2015 / 7:32 am

    http://www.waitrose.com/home/inspiration/cricket/power-players/chance-to-dine.html
    Simon Hughes as a guest at a Waitrose event. 3 players and …. a journalist. They really should take a seminar on compliance…

    “Simon Hughes followed with an Irish Salmon with pickled vegetables and soda bread dish”
    Hughes standing in for Eoin Morgan cooking Irish Salmon… subtle

    And since some seem to be still obsessed by mercenaries: “Hughes also played for Northern Transvaal in South Africa during the winter of 1982–83”

    Like

  7. Mark Nov 28, 2015 / 10:08 am

    It’s long been my observation of the media, and in particular the written media, they have the hallmarks of the school bully. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it. This is true of almost all sections of a newspaper. They regularly lament the lack of characters in modern life. Be it sport or politics. Yet as soon as someone puts their head above the wall and says something interesting, and therefore controversial, it is the same media lamenters who jump down their throat and tell them to get back in their box. Only they, and their narrow minded followers will be the arbiters of opinion, and taste.

    This year, and partly because of the cricket but also because of my growing contempt for the media I cancelled my newspaper. I’m newspaper free now. And what a pleasant freedom it is. I am only aware of their latest idiocy by coming on here. Little tip. If you want to improve your life, and health dump the newspapers.

    The cricket medias laughable deceit that they only report the story was exposed as completely hollow at the beginning of this summers season. Colin Graves was taking over, and he had let it be known that there might be a way back for KP. The media made it very clear that they were not going to except this. They went into overdrive of smear and scare and Graves like a rabbit in the headlights soon realised that he was about to take over a new job with the media tanks parked on his lawn. He U turned, though he denied he had ever said KP might come back by appointing media darling Strauss, and let him do the dirty work behind the scenes.

    We were never going to win this fight. They had nukes to our sticks and stones. But we won the argument, even if we lost the battle. Downton (gone) Moores (gone) Saker (gone) The ODI team is now rising out of the ashes of decades of failure. It’s funny watching the muppets in the media clinging onto this new bandwagon, who only a year ago were telling us Cook should stay as England ODI captain until the 2019 World Cup. ( yes they really did) The test team however, still has the dead weight of Cook all over it. The contrast between the teams is the difference between going to a fun party (ODI team) and a trip to a dour church sermon. The Test teams coverage is now reduced to the hilarious spectacle of the media trying to cover and excuse every negative thing the captain does. So much for “how the media works!” I think we know all too well how it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. SimonH Nov 28, 2015 / 10:30 am

    Very enjoyable read – as was Tregaskis of course. I want to expand (at some length!) on an issue touched on in both pieces about what is one of the root problems in the English cricket press (IMO of course). I’m not going to say anything about who I am, or what my credentials are, but ask people to judge it on the quality of its argument and its evidence.

    The English press are far too taken up with the notion of “good chaps”. Political historian Peter Hennessy – a moderate leftist by the way, not some raving Marxist-Leninist-Maoist – wrote Britain was dominated by “the good chaps’ theory of government” and we certainly seem to have the “good chaps theory of cricket journalism”. Where it comes from, who knows? It certainly fits in with what are said sometimes to be values inculcated in the public school and Oxbridge system (especially the elevation of ‘character’ above all other values) and that may or may not be the case here. Anyway, it isn’t really the issue and I’m not looking to start a class war. The point is that the English cricket press seem to behave like a common room or a gentleman’s club where “good eggs” are mollified and excused but those who are “black balled” are cast into some outer circle of hell (or global T20 franchise).

    The process by which someone is “black balled” seems opaque from the outside – and possibly to those inside as well – but once decided it seems impossible to reverse. It seems largely circular (Pringle approves of Selvey, Selvey approves of Brenkley, Brenkley…. etc) and thus decidedly hermetic. They include those who resemble themselves and treat others with at best bemusement and at worst contempt. Outsiders are first ridiculed (“not a proper journalist”) then, if they stick around and gain some leverage, subjected to a campaign of co-option. Even writers I respect are guilty sometimes – see Kimber’s comments on Paul Newman helping newbies in the press box or Dobell’s Tweet to Tregaskis that he was “harsh” on “Selve” (as Hermann Goering once nearly said, when I hear journalists refer to each other by nicknames I reach for my revolver).

    The press spend much time close to each other (especially on tour as Nick Hoult said on CWOTV) which is perhaps unique to cricket among sports. It must be difficult to see people you’ve got to know personally being criticised. I think what is particularly revealing is how John Etheridge responded to your criticism by saying – let’s meet down the pub. He’s trying to recreate that personal contact by which the press judge each other. By meeting, you’ll discover what “good chaps” everybody is and the criticism will be spiked. Otherwise, he’s hoping you’ll gain a greater understanding of what an incredibly difficult job it is – to which the only fit response is “fuck off, it’s only cricket” (which needs restating in a world where games have become big business and/or vehicles for national willy-waving and are taking themselves far too seriously).

    This, I think, helps explain the vehemence of the reaction to some of your pieces or to Tregaskis. They’ve all convinced themselves they are such “good chaps” that it’s a shock to discover others don’t see them that way. They’d squared their peers and that was the hard work done, they thought. The solution? Selvey’s lofty disdain? Meetings down the pub? Exchanges on Twitter? No, produce better writing. I’m interested in what they do, not who they are. It is the sheer irrelevancy of good chap-ness that drives me up the wall. One famous investigative reporter was, by most accounts, an extremely unpleasant man. It didn’t stop him breaking one of the Twentieth Century’s most famous exposes. Newman may be helpful to newbies but that doesn’t make his piece insinuating Pietersen had pocketed Stanford cash any the less obnoxious. If it’s true, support it; if it isn’t, STFU.

    One discernible result of the “good chaps” approach is that it produces a tendency to ‘groupthink’. Splendid chaps confirm that each other’s views are splendid and there is very little diversity of thought or fresh thinking. How else can they all seem so convinced by such nonsense as England didn’t win in the West Indies because Colin Graves used the word “mediocre”? It can’t be a coincidence that some of the most independent voices like Jonathan Liew and Mike Walters are not part of the regular cricket press pack. And maybe (and I’m cheekily putting words into his mouth here that he may not have meant) that’s part of what David Hopps meant by the ‘old boy network’ he’s fed up with.

    Groupthink and good chap-ness help explain (along with ignorance, indifference and deference to power in some cases) the credulousness to the ECB that has blighted much reporting. Enough members of the ECB are proven good chaps,- drawn from the same schools, yeomen on the same county circuit – that to doubt them is unthinkable. They are ‘good men’ and that’s that. If they have their hand on the tiller then all’s right with the world. It also explains their attitude to the ICC reforms – institutional structures and ideology don’t matter because character is all and that Giles Clarke really is a splendid fellow. If only we could meet him, we’d know.

    Good chap-ness is one reason why they are so blasé about conflicts of interest. Their splendidness is the guarantee against corruption. Look at the recent reactions of Sebastian Coe and Sunil Gavaskar for examples of that mindset. It’s also why there is such high dudgeon observable when they feel their sacred integrity is questioned. This preciousness about integrity has destroyed BTL communities through moderation policies that would make St Just blush. The Guardian BTL resembles a church that has driven out all the heretics and sceptics and where the virtuous gather to praise each other for their virtue, not noticing that the congregation has been shredded.

    Good chap-ness is why I fear Tregaskis’ Caesar’s wife analogy won’t gain much traction. Suspicion? Who could be suspicious of such good chaps? Pronounce that someone (journalist, player, administrator) is “a good man” and all suspicion is allayed. Allayed in the mind of anyone worth bothering with, that is – the rest are to be “black balled” and cast out with the mob of bilious inadequates and ignoramuses.

    Liked by 4 people

    • LordCanisLupus Nov 28, 2015 / 1:00 pm

      Simon,

      I think there’s some element of truth in this, but there’s one point I would wish to pick up on.

      I don’t know that the view of Giles Clarke is widely shared by the print media. While there are some who seem very close to him, there are a lot more that really despise him. Not many of him think he’s a good old chap. I think the thing to say is “watch this space”. I also don’t buy George’s World War I football match analogy. When they finished playing football with the Germans, the British troops didn’t go back to the trenches and say “right, Kaiser Wihlelm. Totally misunderstood. The Germans are right.”

      Like

      • SimonH Nov 28, 2015 / 1:56 pm

        LCL, yes, fair point. I suspect a positive regard for Clarke is now limited to a very few (you know who I mean!). But, my word, it took a long time for the worm to turn and how many have stated their revulsion in the public domain? Lawrence Booth has of course – but I’m struggling to think of many others.

        It may, or may not, be related, but there’s an interesting Twitter exchange between Tregaskis and George Dobell (spread over several Tweets so it wouldn’t work to copy it into the thread) where the latter mentions that Clarke threatened to sue him over his reporting of the Anderson/Jadeja affair. That’s a new one to me.

        Like

      • pktroll (@pktroll) Nov 28, 2015 / 2:24 pm

        The problem is that Giles Clarke is going to be ICC Chairman come June of next year. I can’t help feeling that the interim President Manohar is merely talking the good talk with his talk of trying to eriadicate the bullying culture at the top of the ICC. How many ideas can he implement ahead of then and all I can see is that the “Big 3” will continue with their merry way from then onwards. Am I being overly cynical? I can’t help feeling that it is a dove strategy that can easily be overhauled from then on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez Nov 28, 2015 / 5:19 pm

        If that is true Simon (and I for one don’t think George would make such a thing up), that really paints a scary picture.

        Giles Clarke’s meritocracy? Only if England benefit. Giles Clarke’s accountability? Only if you agree with him.

        Like

    • Rooto Nov 28, 2015 / 1:12 pm

      Excellent points, Simon. The closed circle of good chaps and subsequent exclusion of others – the black-balled, as you call us – is of course a policy which seems to be endorsed right from the very top of cricket administration, thereafter why would they question it.
      Aaaargh!!

      Like

    • Mark Nov 28, 2015 / 1:14 pm

      Round of applause Simon.

      What you have just articulated is the reason for the failure of so much of English sport. “Good chaps” is the disease rife in most English sport. From Twickenham to Lords, and the FA. The decades change, but the good all boys in Blazers with their freebies and increasingly ludicrous Salaries stay the same. Parroting words like “accountability” while offering no such thing. The Americans have a word for it. (the grift.) It’s all about the grift. A gravy chain of gold for mediocre performance. Not since the bankers has so much wealth been given for such little success.

      Its all a little too clubby. And that includes the people who cover these sports in the media. A cosy club of chocolate cake munching, Fine wine swilling chums. They all rock up at Lords in the spring to tell tall tales of their winter exploits. To sample the sponsors finest, and to brag at just how chummy they all are, and to confirm that they, and only they see the world as clearly as they do. They have group think tattooed on their foreheads. The very notion they might be wrong, is never even considered. How could such a diverse group of chums ever be wrong? (Snark)

      And this little group of village elders will decide which people can be admitted to their club,and which must be blackballed. The criteria will not include talent. Talent is not of importance to these people. It’s an after thought. Are they “one of us?” is much more important. Can they be trusted to play by the unwritten club rules that only chums can understand? Woe betide anyone who doesn’t know the chummy club rules.

      When the IPL was formed there was a horror at chummy towers. The very idea that a few players might make millions, and most others would get little was sacrilege. This is not how it works in chummy land. Chummy land is run by a code of chumminess not talent. This was the thin end of the chummy wedge. People who the chumminess club had blackballed might start getting very rich. Of course if you ever pointed out to these good old boys that they were sounding a little socialist they would need the smelling salts. They are not socialists don’t you know, but good old chummy boys looking after each other.

      Have another slice of chummy chocolate cake!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Rohan Nov 28, 2015 / 6:21 pm

    Brilliant Simon H. I think we have new words to add to the MSM lexicon ‘good chaps’ and ‘chapness’! Although I do agree with LCL, to use a favourite word of his, Clarke is odious and I think many journalists feel this too……..

    Like

  10. SimonH Nov 29, 2015 / 10:50 am

    Still fighting the fight on Twitter –

    Any of our London-based commenters feel like jogging along and asking a few awkward questions….?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine Nov 29, 2015 / 12:39 pm

      Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to attend, on medical grounds. I’ve developed a condition where exposure to a high dose of bland management platitudes makes me scream out loud. If the platitudes are totally unconnected to any known form of reality, the screaming becomes uncontrollable and I have to be taken away to a quiet dark place for a while.

      The doctor said they haven’t got a name for it yet but it’s getting quite common.

      Like

    • Mark Nov 29, 2015 / 1:27 pm

      You have to feel sorry for the poor plebs who either sign up for these things or who are sent along at the behest of their employers. To be subjected to ……”‘Ur…Ah, um, erm….Trust……ha ha, urn yea, urm”

      Shouldn’t the position of England captain carry a bit more gravitas, dignity, and salary than to be reduced to flogging yourself out to guff like this?

      As H. L. Mencken one said …” Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

      Like

      • Zephirine Nov 29, 2015 / 3:34 pm

        Captain of the Test side certainly carries enough salary that one would think he doesn’t need to take this kind of gig. Perhaps Cook sees himself in the future following in the Flower path as an expert on “elite leadership”.

        Like

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