I Think We Understand

Peter Hayter has an interesting piece up on ESPN Cricinfo.

His finale sums up the issues. Those out there think we don’t understand. We do. But only you are in a position to do anything about it….

The finale…..

The standard of reporting remains excellent, but the desire of the cricket authorities in general, and the ECB in particular, to manage the news, manipulate the media and, on occasions, be downright obstructive, is unhealthy and unhelpful. So is the complicity of those journalists who have allowed the daily news briefing to form the basis of their coverage. Aiding individual requests for access is almost impossible. But if anyone has bothered to buy all the newspapers after non-match days in recent summers, they would quickly have realised they were reading the same story, featuring the same quotes, in the same order. The reader will also be told at the end of such a piece, and sometimes halfway through it, that so-and-so was speaking as a “brand ambassador” for whichever sponsor’s turn it was to have the use of an England player – information that will mean nothing to readers. Those who work in public relations call it churnalism. Journalism, it is not. We have all dined at the same trough. But it did come as a shock to be told by an ECB media officer, soon after I had secured an interview for the first issue of The Cricket Paper with England captain Andrew Strauss (by ringing him up and asking him nicely), that in future I would not be allowed access to any England cricketer unless the piece was arranged in conjunction with a sponsor. I admit I have not always stuck rigidly to the rules.

Players are now well versed in the art and science of media training, to which they are subjected as soon as they show the slightest sign of being good enough to represent England one day. This is conducted by professionals from newspapers, radio and other media, and is intended to teach the poor wee lambs how to talk to journalists – by opening and shutting their mouths without actually saying anything.

In my experience of talking to younger cricketers, media training is the last thing they need. Some may think their time could be better spent being trained to bat, bowl and field. It is interesting to note how much more fun than the English the Australians are to interview, and how much better they come across in public, even while they were losing the 2013 Ashes 3-0. Could this be because, in the main, they said what they actually thought, and not what they thought their media relations department told them to say? If you are looking for answers, don’t bother: I haven’t really posed any questions. But, as well as feeling a profound gratitude for having had such a ball while doing this for a living, I am a little saddened that the next generation of journalists will spend more time glued to the internet than having a beer or two with friends who happen to be cricketers.

And one thing I do know. A bored player talking to a bored reporter in controlled laboratory conditions, sometimes with a sponsor or ECB blazer on their shoulder ready to intervene, usually equals a boring interview for all concerned. The real victims are those who have to read it.

This is why blogs can thrive. We do our best to fill the gap. We don’t need quotes from players, but we look at what happens and do our best to fill in the blanks. It makes us wonder why journalists churn out the line fed to them with little analysis, and in some cases, blind support. They can change it by refusing to comply. The sponsored interview is an abomination, an absolute indication of the utter contempt the powers that be hold us in. You are enablers. You can make it stop. Don’t turn up.

This leads me on to the next Dmitri……..The one journalist to make it in this year for reasons of contempt. You know who it is. I’ve already done 1000 words and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

UPDATE: I was watching Sky last night and they had this teeth-itchingly awful piece with Hussain (RIP his integrity) picking some commentary XI with awful inserts including Eoin Morgan, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. It was everything wrong with the modern media relationship in a nutshell. It was neither too close (but interesting how Sky managed to get England players to indulge in a puff piece for their station) nor distant enough. It may seem like a little harmless fun, but to me it just spoke volumes. It’s a business relationship. Pure and simple. There’s no soul, no passion, no vivacity. It’s strictly effing business.


53 thoughts on “I Think We Understand

  1. jennyah46 Dec 13, 2015 / 4:18 pm

    Brilliant finale from Peter Hayter. I will look out the entire piece. Thanks Dmitri.


  2. Sean B Dec 13, 2015 / 4:21 pm

    Which makes their snotty contempt to those that don’t buy their line even more preposterous than the pro-ECB hagiographys most are obliged to write. And don’t even get me started on those offering to school us on ‘how the media works’..

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Alec Dec 13, 2015 / 4:54 pm

    I saw the last day of the India test series last year. The one at the Oval where India couldn’t be bothered so they conspired to be even more generous to Joe Root than they were to Ian Bell at Trent Bridge in 2011.

    The thing that struck me most about the day was the presentation at the end. Instead of holding it in the middle and facing the crowd, it was held in front of the pavilion and facing so that the people who paid to be there couldn’t see anything that wasn’t on the big screen. It seemed to sum up the attitude of the ECB to fans entirely. We’re not there to enjoy ourselves, we’re there to create an atmosphere and noise. All they had to do was turn the stage round 180 degrees but that may have made for marginally worse television and we can’t do anything to upset the people at Sky TV.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Dec 13, 2015 / 5:07 pm

      The advertising hoardings behind interviews and presentations are an abomination. I’ve moaned about them for the decades they’ve been there now. It’s saying that business money is paying for this, not you, so he who pays the piper calls the tune.

      The day one of these brave souls says they will set up the podium in front of the cheap seats is the day I fall off my chair. It’s a nonsense.

      England’s PR people will think they have had a good year. A new Twitter feed has certainly helped – it’s not my thing, but it certainly looks like someone has at least thought about it – and there are numerous reports of players being more open and willing to spend time with fans. But it seems too controlled too often, and that sits wrong with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alec Dec 13, 2015 / 5:16 pm

        It’s the ECB’s indifference that sticks in my throat.

        Active disdain is one thing but they just genuinely don’t seem to get it. They want to keep feeding the monster because they can’t admit that a little less cash in the short term may have vaster long term benefits.


        • LordCanisLupus Dec 13, 2015 / 5:21 pm

          They have a lot of work to do. This organisation didn’t do indifference to our views. That indicates that in even a marginal way they knew we were there. Clarke wasn’t indifferent, he was contemptuous. It wasn’t some casual neutrality, we were some necessary evil. Bums on seats, Sky subscriptions, pay your exorbitant food and drink costs and watch the World’s #1.
          That’s a philosophy that is going to take a long time to rebuild. They might already have lost too much ground.


  4. Arron Wright Dec 13, 2015 / 5:25 pm

    I knew I’d read that somewhere before.

    It’s on pages 107-112 of Wisden 2015.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 13, 2015 / 5:32 pm

      Same here, and realised after I posted it (and the clue is in the title of the article on Cricinfo).

      Just fascinating when we get the “you don’t have a clue how the cricket media works” type comments. But then again, some would say that, wouldn’t they?


  5. Mark Dec 13, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    Etheridge and his “you don’t have a clue how the cricket media works” looks even more silly now. I think we do know how it works John.

    Peter Hayters story about being told he would not be allowed to do an interview with the England captain unless it ” was arranged in conjunction with a sponsor. ” is in my opinion worse than texgate. How dare the England captain and handlers talk of patriosm, and trust when they won’t lower themselves to talk to the supporters (via the media) unless they are flogging some bit of tat. Is Strauss/Cook the England captain or just a presenter on the Shoping channel?

    Alec’s description of the presentation at The Oval and promoting the sponsors over the fans rings so true. Of course the media don’t have to play along with this farce. They don’t have to become by default double glazing salesman, pimping out the sports governing bodies wares.they could refuse to participate. But they obviously are scared of having no access and therefore no high profile pieces. In some ways this is an indicment of their readers like Pan and eggs who must prefer a dreary PR stunt interview than proper analysis.

    Unfortunately this is the fake modern world we live in now. When a newspaper like the Telegraph is reduced to being used as PR agent by a major global bank you know cricket is small fry by comparison. In that case the journalist resigned and broke the story. He is no longer employed with that organisation. Don’t see too many of the cricket writers making the same sacrifice. I’m so glad I no longer buy a daily newspaper. Haven’t missed it a single second.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Benny Dec 14, 2015 / 12:30 pm

      Same here. Haven’t read a newspaper for years. No need to.

      I’m slightly puzzled about the involvement, or lack of it, of the editors and even the proprietors. Are they content with with their reporters operating in this way?

      And yes, I reckon Etheridge is misguided to claim that journalism, sorry cricket writing is akin to rocket science.


    • MM Dec 15, 2015 / 11:32 pm

      “How dare the England captain and handlers talk of patriosm, and trust when they won’t lower themselves to talk to the supporters (via the media) unless they are flogging some bit of tat”

      ROFLMFAO or whatever the term is. Brilliant stuff Mark. Sellouts the lot of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rooto Dec 13, 2015 / 9:18 pm

    Just read the whole article. While I agree it reads well and is a pleasant stroll down memory lane, I’d be annoyed if this was the cosy relationship at present between press corps and team today. Certainly can’t blame Peter Haytor for pushing the ECB towards their current total control and information lock-down mode. Those juicy secrets weren’t getting past him.

    Now, however, the cosy relationship is between the press corps and the management, which is worse. Of course the ECB is by nature a scorpion, so we can’t complain when we get stung. The blame for this lies squarely with the incurios members of the media pack. Lying back and waiting for press day, rather than sniffing stuff out.

    Only fair to praise Ali Martin for sniffing out the Overtons racist abuse story this week.


    • Rooto Dec 13, 2015 / 9:24 pm

      No s intended on the word Overton. Don’t want to tar the twin with the same brush…


    • Mark Dec 14, 2015 / 12:40 pm

      This is a very good point, and distinction. The cricket media have moved from being friends with the players to being friends of the management. And yes, you are right, this is much more sinister.

      Players are caught between a rock and a hard place. They know the press will act obediently on managements instructions in going after a certain player who doesn’t tow the line. Whatever you say in the dressing room may be leaked to the tame journos at a later point. It’s like living in a banana republic where your own family may be briefing against you. No wonder England players look like rabbits in the head lights when they give interviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. SimonH Dec 14, 2015 / 11:24 am

    NZ won in Dunedin to extend their home unbeaten run to 12 matches stretching back to March 2012 (6Ws, 6Ds).

    SL looked to be making a fight of it until Mathews and Chandimal were both out not playing shots. Mathews’ dismissal was extraordinary – he lost his middle stump with the ball going between his legs!

    NZ’s attack looked better for the inclusion of Wagner who made things happen with the old ball when the pitch was flat. Southee (who’s had a poor 2015, averaging over fifty with the ball) was also back to near his best. Their main worry must be Boult whose pace was often below 130 kph and can’t be fully fit. SL had some decent runs for Karunaratne and Chandimal and two promising knocks by Siriwardana but their bleak recent run continues.

    As usual with these two sides, there are generous highlights on YT. Each day is split into two parts. Here’s part two of the final day:


    • Arron Wright Dec 15, 2015 / 9:53 am

      It’s a close-run thing between FICJAM and Donald Trump as to which causes greater despair for satirists.

      Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH Dec 15, 2015 / 10:09 am

      “Mathematics, statistics, physiology, nutrition and psychology have all influenced sport. Almost every top professional side has access to data analysts, physiotherapists, strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists and psychologists. Step forward the philosophers?”

      He’s pitching for a job, isn’t he?

      Ed Smith – Philosopher Comma.

      Liked by 2 people

    • MM Dec 15, 2015 / 11:39 pm

      Damn, couldn’t get past the first paragraph. Again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Dec 15, 2015 / 10:12 am

      Why doesn’t he just go away? Because the press wouldn’t have blatant filler like this, that’s why.

      Ask who is keeping him in the spotlight, you neutral lot. It ain’t this blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tuffers86 Dec 15, 2015 / 7:42 pm

        What next, they will write a story about KP having a bitch about his broadband provider?

        Who needs those high profile interviews, let’s build a story around a Twitter rant. #HowMediaWorks

        Liked by 1 person

  8. pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 15, 2015 / 10:53 am

    Because until lets just say Ben Stokes does someting a little bit naughty, they haven’t really got anyone whose newsworthy enough in terms of their antics to bother writing a story about.

    There was a cringy piece in the cricket paper a couple of weeks ago as to why Alastair Cook deserved a nomination for Sports Personality of the Year. This overlooked that the likes of Joe Root and Stuart Broad would at least be as deserving if not more and of course really overlooked that England hadn’t been that successful in the calendar year, if they were looking to use this year as a vindication of Cook’s leadership.

    While I’m on a a bit of a rant, it appears that a European U15 cricket tournament is due to be scrapped because the European division of the ICC has had to accept a funding cut. I hardly need to explain to you where this money has otherwise gone to as you can no doubt guess, but read on if in the article should you wish.


    • d'Arthez Dec 15, 2015 / 3:37 pm

      Those cigars for Giles Clarke HAVE to be paid for.

      Who cares that a world governing body is so strapped for cash that no actual cricket can and will be organized?


    • d'Arthez Dec 16, 2015 / 9:49 am

      You would almost think that Wally Edwards, Giles Clarke, Srinivasan and their ilk were running a political party. They have basically broken all the promises they made. To every stakeholder. Be it the Full Members, the Associates and Affiliates, the fans, authorities (with regards to illegal gambling and other nefarious issues). Funding for everyone is disappearing left, right and centre, Integrity and meritocracy are just nicer words for the mafia-like mob that they are. It is only a matter of time before we can publicly discuss the protection money involved.

      Standard of play is (rapidly) deteriorating. Associates and Affiliates are struggling, financially, or even to PLAY the game in competition, due to cost cutting measures. We’re already easily in the situation that the counties receive more funding from the ECB than the ICC gives to all 95 Associates and Affiliates COMBINED. That is including Ireland and Afghanistan, who are expected to take home about $37.5 million each. And, yeah, cricket is really mainstream in England courtesy of that deal.

      Fixing is ingrained. I am not talking about spot-fixing, or dubious play (though undoubtedly it happens), but the legalized version: in the offices of the ICC. The idiots in the various “stakeholder organisations” (such as the PCA, and the mainstream media) merely serve to legitimize it. Mike Gatting and their ilk got away with it. And it seems that these people will as well. Where it will leave the game, seems utterly irrelevant to them, as they already display an unhealthy disregard of basic facts, and make up facts to serve their pathetic little agendas as the whims of the time demand.

      If there was an offense of sporting treason, we’d have the sight of a few dozen people being hanged. Maybe it will get more viewers than the European Under-15 championships. The broadcasting rights might be worth more too – if only because there are millions out there who hate the guts of Srinivasan, Giles Clarke, and all the other robber barons. Sadly these athletic terrorists won’t have to suffer a final smoke. They’re more likely to get an OBE or something similar for their efforts in destroying a once proud game.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Dec 15, 2015 / 10:58 pm

      Gonna have to check that out when I have time. When I saw the windies had lost in such an abysmal way to Aus last week, it was almost as if a little piece of me died. It made me sad to see a once great cricketing nation performing so badly, against the backdrop of all the board issues and other matters they are facing. They were the great team of my childhood, Walsh and Ambrose, Richardson and Lara, Hooper and his loose limbed, laconic spinners, I bloody led them! Maybe I am overreacting, but I cannot see the windies recovering from their current plight…….sad sad days………



  9. Tuffers86 Dec 15, 2015 / 7:17 pm

    @Mark wrote: “they obviously are scared of having no access and therefore no high profile pieces.”

    And where are these high profile pieces? Where’s the sit down, one on ones that has everyone talking and making one choose a paper over the other?

    The only England cricketer on the circuit that will do that is Pietersen, but let’s not go there, hey?

    The only example I can think of recently, that I read and learnt something from is Trott with Barney Ronay, a left-arm occasional in cricket writing…


    But this had the italicised bloody footnote. “Jonathan Trott was speaking to the Guardian at the launch of Warwickshire County Cricket Club’s new partnership with Selco Builders Warehouse”

    I’m pretty sure there was an earlier one with George Dobell, but I can’t find the link. But that came from years of closeness, the relationship that Peter Hayter mentions. Even he had the italicised footnote from hell on the recent Moeen piece http://www.thecricketmonthly.com/story/926493/the-making-of-moeen

    And frankly, I don’t give a shit what Cook et al has to say. They’re bloody boring. I think Bell’s interview is the one everyone is waiting for. There will be some meat on the bones to that one. I wouldn’t trust it in the hands of the main press pack though.

    Further reading on other countries’ cricketers (captains)


    Hang your heads in shame lads.


  10. Tuffers86 Dec 15, 2015 / 7:34 pm

    Lord Canis, I think I sent through a reply, but it’s not showing up? I’ve not done anything untoward, have I?


      • Tuffers86 Dec 15, 2015 / 8:05 pm

        Ah, I see. I was citing too much, My bad, and thanks, sir.


    • SimonH Dec 16, 2015 / 10:32 am

      That’s a little embarrassing for journalists who wrote at the time of the ICC reforms “everyone will benefit from the additional money that will ensue”. There were also claims that the reforms would introduce “more checks, balances and transparency to accounting”.

      Even more embarrassing if they then went on to the comment thread and said their critics were writing “cobblers” (or “complete and utter cobblers” and “muddle-headed, misty-eyed cobblers”).

      That’s if embarrassment is an emotion said journalists can any longer feel.


      • Arron Wright Dec 16, 2015 / 10:45 am

        You will no doubt have noted the alacrity with which said journalist cited David Hopps’s “stop carping and get behind the ECB” piece in The Weekly Whimsy yesterday…


      • d'Arthez Dec 16, 2015 / 11:22 am

        Was not Andy Bull feeding us the same line? I could be wrong there …


    • d'Arthez Dec 17, 2015 / 12:59 am

      I knew that Andy Bull had written a piece on it back in the day.Usually his pieces are not the worst of the lot (and he used to get it right a lot better than Selvey), which is why I suspected that the quote came from someone else.

      Sadly, if you’re based in the UK, you’re spoiled for choice if you want to be misinformed with regards to cricketing matters after all. It is hard to keep up with the fabrications, acts of wishful / delusional thinking and outright lies, and remain cognisant of who is responsible for what piece of puffery / deception. It has probably gotten to the point that one could host a serious game show / fun thread on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. SimonH Dec 17, 2015 / 11:05 am

    Selvey on Twitter –

    “Why is it our business what contracts are worth ? Going to tell us what you make ?”

    Why is it our business? Because they are the team representing the nation. Because the public pay the tickets fees and subscriptions that pay the contracts. Because secrecy breeds corruption. Because secrecy breeds suspicion. Because the game isn’t the private fiefdom of the ECB who can do what they like – and we should trust them because they’re ‘good chaps’. And probably a whole host of other reasons as well….

    For all his bluster, when these figures were quoted at him he doesn’t say they’re wrong:


    Liked by 1 person

    • d'Arthez Dec 17, 2015 / 12:42 pm

      Just to provide some indicative maths:

      Assuming that all the players who are picked for all the games are on central contracts, or on increment contracts, the players share between them: $11.7 million between the twelve of the centrally contracted ones for having central contracts. (7.8 million GBP –> USD).

      If we add in match fees for 14 Tests, 26 ODIs and 5 T20Is up. That is another 168 000 + 130 000 + 12 500 *11 *1.5 (GBP –> USD conversion) = $ 5.12 million. Combined that is nearly $17 million for just one year. That is still excluding performance bonuses, costs for hotel stays, coaches etc.

      Now, if we multiply that figure by 8, it becomes obvious that England spend about as much on their centrally contracted players as 45% of what the ICC allocates to all the Associates and Affiliates.

      Giles “L’etat c’est moi” Clarke, obviously has a very aristocratic idea of merit there ..


      • SimonH Dec 17, 2015 / 1:06 pm

        Are there any figures for other Test-plying countries? I wouldn’t imagine the figures for Indian players are very comparable (because of the IPL and issues like advertising and image rights) but a comparison with, say, Australia and teams like NZ or SL would be very interesting.

        Also, Selvey’s attitude helps explain why he never showed any interest in reporting the terms of Flower’s new job. None of our business! Impertinent to ask! I would merely note that however much he’s paid, and whatever it is exactly that he does, Flower appears to have the time to coach a PSL team.


      • d'Arthez Dec 17, 2015 / 1:23 pm

        For New Zealand it is hard to get figures. This is the only recent one that I could find.


        It seems McCullum gets about $200k / year on his central contract. Notice that the match fees for ODIs are also substantially lower than they are for England. There is no reason to suspect that the differences for T20Is and Tests would be less substantial.

        And for Pakistan:
        Divide those figures by 100 to get a reasonable estimate in US$. These were last year’s figures, so they may have increased a bit, but nothing too dramatic.

        So Pakistani players such as Misbah have central contracts worth:
        US 50 000 for the Central contract / year. These are the top performers, and Pakistan has only 5 of them. Ergo, most of the stalwarts make less than that.

        Match fees (for Misbah): US 4 000 for a Test
        US 3 000 for an ODI
        US 1 000 for a T20I


      • d'Arthez Dec 17, 2015 / 1:26 pm

        Simon I posted a comment with two links in it (on Pakistan and New Zealand), but it seems to be held up in a moderating queue. No idea when those posts will be approved, so I am just providing you the gist:

        England’s centrally contracted players make roughly 5 times as much as the New Zealanders and about 10 times as much as the Pakistani players.


        • LordCanisLupus Dec 17, 2015 / 2:15 pm

          They are approved as soon as I see them.

          Sadly if you saw how much junk we get, you’d know why it’s needed.


      • d'Arthez Dec 17, 2015 / 2:29 pm

        No worries LCL. I have been involved in forums (in admin positions) for quite some time, so I know how much cr*p you get to deal with. Even with the most seemingly extreme configurations to avoid spam, trolling etc. Having pre-moderation is the sensible thing to do.


      • SimonH Dec 17, 2015 / 4:39 pm

        Many thanks D’Arthez, very interesting.


    • Mark Dec 17, 2015 / 1:15 pm

      “Why is it our business what contracts are worth ? Going to tell us what you make ?”

      Once again Selvey demonstrates why he is totally unsuitable to be a journalist. He does not cover or investigate the sport on behalf of the paying fan. Instead he acts as a PR agent and propagandist for the the ECB, and the senior players. Is he getting a % as a PR consultant?

      Just reason 4896 why the Guardian should sack him or at least place a disclaimer above all his articles. Something like……..

      “There now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of the ECB and Alastair Cook.”


      • d'Arthez Dec 17, 2015 / 1:29 pm

        For some reason I had to think of this:


  12. man in a barrel Dec 17, 2015 / 5:33 pm

    It looks as if English cricket is well down the road taken by the football Premier League. The vast amounts of money flow almost entirely directly into the pockets of the players. Which means that there is normally a strong correlation between the size of a club’s wage bill and its place in the League – this current season seems to be the exception that tests the rule. However, it leads to a vicious circle – ever-increasing amounts of money coming into the game and ever-more wealthy players. Until such a time as the money stops coming in….. The Premier League is global in a sense that English Test crciket is not, so the former game has a lifeline that is a lot healthier than that of the ECB. It only takes someone at Sky to ask why they should continue to inject money into the ECB for the knitting to unravel completely. I imagine that they view cricket as a loss-leader – hoping that it will attract more people to watch the football. But I am not sure whether that is good reasoning. It could be the case that one day they decide to make it pay-per-view. What would happen to the ECG then?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Dec 17, 2015 / 6:31 pm


      I have long argued English cricket is living off the Premier league. At least with the football you get the feeling that most of Skys subscribers are actully paying for the privilege of watching the Premiership. How many pay just to watch the cricket? Not many I suspect. Now of course there are some who like both sports and are happy to get cricket and football and golf included in the price. But how many would go on subscribing if Sky lost the Premiership rights? Seeing as Darts gets a much bigger audience share, maybe it should be the darts players who are getting the big contracts.

      This is why Sky was forced to pay such a huge amount for next years Premiership rights. To effectively blow BT out of the water. Just as Sky did with ITV at the start of the Premier league. But back then the subsciber was paying £5 per month. Not £50 a month like today. No football, and goodbye high monthly fees from subscribers. Sky have lost Rugby and Champions league football. Don’t know if they are as attractive as the Premiership. Doubt rugby is very profitable.

      As you say cricket is probably run as a loss leader to attract a more up market consumer who can then be sold advertising of posher products and encouraged to take out the movie package. But without the hard core football fan paying the bulk of the subsciptions cricket would be in the deep brown stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

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