South Africa vs England: 2nd Test, day five and review

If you were ever asked which side had the ability to score over 600 and then be nervously contemplating the possibility of defeat on the final day, the answer would be England. And not just this collection of England players either; it seems almost hard wired into the psyche of the national team to scare the bejesus out of their supporters, to cause unending fits of mirth amongst Australians and ensure journalists and bloggers head to Statsguru to see if the latest potential disaster has any kind of precedent over the last 140 years.

In truth, England were never quite on the edge on the final day, but they did certainly manage to make things difficult for themselves and interesting for everyone.   It’s been said before – the England cricket team do have a habit of making Test matches interesting, whether they like it or not.

As soon as South Africa had reached somewhere near parity, the pressure had transferred to England as the only side who could realistically lose, given the time remaining.  The clouds that eventually did for play created just enough for the bowlers to make it rather more challenging, but the pitch was still exceptional for a fifth day surface, and it was far more about the pressure England brought on themselves than anything else.  That is as it should be, for cricket is a mental game and Test cricket is the ultimate expression of it.  Human beings react under pressure, and sporting pressure is still pressure.

Thus it quite often happens this way, as the side batting third has little but time and the draw to play for, and the bowling side can give their all knowing they have but a slim possibility of winning, plus the guarantee of a limited time spent in the field.  Once in a while something remarkable happens, but not today.  Not quite.

Ben Stokes received the Man of the Match award and that was probably inevitable given his tour de force on the first two days, yet for the second match in a row it wasn’t entirely clear cut.  Amla’s double century probably had more impact on how the game concluded and was made knowing failure meant likely defeat, and with poor form over the last year.  Jonny Bairstow batted beautifully in the first innings and steadied the England ship with a disciplined and important knock second time around.

Somewhat astonishingly, Stokes received some criticism for his dismissal today.  It shouldn’t need saying, but apparently it does, getting caught on the boundary is the flipside of seeing him batter bowlers around the park; it remains an unending frustration that those who will happily cheer when the ball evades a fielder for four or six will berate a player if it instead goes into a pair of hands.  This really is how Stokes plays, and how Stokes should play.  Of course, saying such a thing is no longer allowed because…

Doubtless, Swann will shortly be saying that it was a joke, and that many people were taken in by it, but he has form for this kind of thing.  Only a few days ago he patronisingly expressed surprise that Simon Mann could make a pertinent point about spin bowling, only to catch himself when he realised how arrogant, supercilious and sneering it sounded.  Swann is also the man who expressed amazement that home ticket prices were so expensive, saying he thought they were only about £20.  To be so ignorant about those who were paying for his comfortable lifestyle beggars belief in the first place, to then dismiss any right they have to a view as well is indicative of his worldview – ungrateful, full of self-importance, smug and contemptuous.  The cheeky chappie routine wore thin long ago, as he reveals what he really thinks under the guise of it being banter.  He can think what he wants and he won’t read this.  The personal contempt is such that I couldn’t care less, we can form our view of him as the people who pay and paid his wages.

There is now a long break until the next Test, over a week, a rest period that England’s bowlers will certainly appreciate after so long in the field in this game.  South Africa have made fools of all those who wrote them off after the first Test and who gleefully anticipated England routinely flogging them for the remainder of the series.  Some hasty reassessments will undoubtedly be in order.  Steyn is rated as 50/50 for Johannesburg, while Philander has been ruled out of the series.  Kyle Abbott will also be fit as the hosts find themselves with rather more options in the bowling ranks.  Although any nonsense about “momentum” can be ignored, South Africa will certainly be feeling much better about themselves having finished this match on top.  As the Wanderers is also at altitude, England will have a contest on their hands.

South Africa will also have a new captain, with Hashim Amla resigning immediately following the game.  Perhaps the timing is something of a surprise, yet Amla clearly didn’t feel comfortable as captain and didn’t appear to be especially astute tactically, which may well be two sides of the same coin.  Whatever the reality of that, Amla spoke impressively after the game, and his assertion that he felt he could benefit the side more as a batsman than as a captain was both honourable  and quite probably true.

AB De Villiers takes over for the remainder of the series, perhaps ironically so given his less than subtle comments about his workload and the veiled threat to reduce his availability.  It could be a short term option, or it could be a means of locking him into the team – few would turn down the captaincy of their country when offered after all, but at least it should rule out him doing the wicketkeeping again.

For England after two Tests the form of the captain will be a slight concern.  He’s not got going at all this series.  It’s slight because it’s in the sense of a key player not yet having contributed and nothing more than that; he’s had a decent enough time with the bat overall in the last twelve months after all.  Yet it is a curiosity that there is an agreed silence about it in the cricketing press, while at the same time plenty of comment about Nick Compton, someone who failed to reach 40 for the first time in four innings earlier today, or Alex Hales, who scored 60 just one knock ago.  As so often, it’s less about Cook himself, and more about the way so many journalists place him on an untouchable pedestal.

So far this series for England, the standout performers have been the discards, the unwanted and the damaged.  Ben Stokes was considered not good enough for the England World Cup team, and even when he had been in the side he had been batting at number eight – a decision that got a fair bit of support from the great and the good at the time; Jonny Bairstow has been in and out of the side in all formats; Nick Compton appeared to fall foul of the different personality selection criteria while Steven Finn was of course unselectable.  Add to that an opener whose technique was openly dismissed by the then coach and there’s a certain pattern.  To look on the positive side, it amounts to a tick for the new England coaching set up.

There are no reasons to be gloomy about England’s chances in the final two Tests.  South Africa had the better of the final two days in Cape Town, but the shock and surprise that exceptional players sometimes play well was amusing.  The bowlers did little wrong, the fielders dropped catches and fine batsmen cashed in.  That is allowed to happen.  When play starts at the Wanderers, all is reset.  Reading the runes based on today and yesterday is as daft as doing so based on the first Test and that went well for those who did it.  Perhaps it was because apart from Geoff Boycott, they all had Test averages under 45.


96 thoughts on “South Africa vs England: 2nd Test, day five and review

  1. northernlight71 January 6, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    Look, you all know as well as I do that as long as Alastair Cook is solely responsible for the orbit of the earth around the sun, we are unworthy serfs who must not criticise him.
    So, he’s batting fine. It’s just two inches of carry, and anyway, 27 is the new 149*.

    Liked by 1 person

    • escort January 6, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      Two inches of carry???? Isn’t there just one thing left that is measured in inches nowadays?


  2. Arron Wright January 6, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    I learned a new word when checking out the replies to Lovejoy’s tweet.

    Suffice to say, it rhymes with “blunder hunt” and describes him perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MM January 7, 2016 / 4:46 pm

      Yeah, that ruled.


  3. Rpoultz January 6, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    Loved scyld berrys ratings. Cook gets a 7 for 33 runs over 2 innings. Bavuma scores an unbeaten century, creating history doing so all while his place was constantly being called a quota selection…gets a 7. Genuis

    Liked by 1 person

    • RpoultZ January 6, 2016 / 8:49 pm

      *Genius…great word to misspell

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus January 6, 2016 / 8:50 pm

      Meanwhile, let’s keep a copy of this little nugget from Paul Newman:

      It could be argued they were too positive at times, not least when Stokes was caught on the square leg boundary the ball after he had hit a sumptuous boundary, but he is such a talent that his bad has to be accepted along with the good.

      He’s right. But let’s see that one maintained when it does end up in a loss.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rpoultz January 6, 2016 / 8:54 pm

        Definitely have to save that one. There will be a time they turn on stokes for his attacking instincts costing his wicket rather than say nicking off tamely. After 258 in the first dig even the MSM wouldn’t dare criticise him this test


      • paulewart January 6, 2016 / 8:59 pm

        Much better to be out caught out feathering a catch down the legside………The hypocrisy of all these type of statements was revealed when Cook was out hooking in ‘the difficult winter’.


        • LordCanisLupus January 6, 2016 / 9:05 pm

          Oh, the hypocrisy is in that article…

          Every time a wicket fell the thought ‘surely they can’t lose this, can they?’ was in most minds from the moment Cook had fallen cheaply for the fourth time this series, this time nudging Kagiso Rabada down the legside.

          Only cheaply…no comment on the softness. But, hello, Nick Compton…

          The fragility that is still worryingly evident in England’s batting was again demonstrated by the soft dismissal of Nick Compton

          It’s subtle, but it still tells a tale.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Benny January 6, 2016 / 9:25 pm

        Anyone know what Newman’s batting average is?


    • MM January 7, 2016 / 4:48 pm

      D’ya think Cook-y gets a default 7 for waking up in the morning? Media are such effin’ tools.


  4. Rohan January 6, 2016 / 9:00 pm

    TLG I love the last line about averages under 45, apart from Boycott. We should nickname it ‘Swann’s rule!’ and I wonder if he would let his rule stand for KP, or would he change it to ‘I don’t listen to C***s’. Swann really is turning into a vile bully boy and I am glad you raised the Simon Mann issue. The behaviour Swann exhibited, if displayed in a ‘normal’ workplace could well result in complaints/disciplinary procedures!

    Once again TLG, I find myself remarking at how balanced and insightful your review is compared to that which we read from the MSM. I know I do mention this regularly, but it is true and yours and LCLs musings are far superior to many in the MSM; who needs access and a test match average over 45.

    I am looking forward to the next test, I think it is very even. I think that SA would be marginal favourites with Steyn and especially so with Philander as well, but alas they will be missing; I like to see the best players play!


    • thelegglance January 6, 2016 / 9:08 pm

      I have a sneaky, entirely evidence free feeling that Steyn will play.

      And thank you – much appreciated.


      • Rpoultz January 6, 2016 / 9:32 pm

        Agree with Rohan. The writing by TLG and LCL is nothing less than superb. Essential reading through the year on all subjects not just during tests


    • paulewart January 7, 2016 / 6:48 am

      Looks like both Duncan Fletcher and Darren Gough had good reasons for dropping him in their own inimitable ways. I guess Swann’s own average disqualifies him from talking about batting were we to apply Swann’s Rule which should, of course, be re-named ‘Swann’s Way’.


      • Zephirine January 7, 2016 / 9:58 am

        Graeme Swann is one of God’s jokes, isn’t he? “Aha, I’ve got a great bowling talent here, I’m going to put it into the most obnoxious person I can find, tee hee.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez January 7, 2016 / 5:28 pm

        Marcel Proust deserves better than that Paul.


  5. Benny January 6, 2016 / 9:33 pm

    Excellent and balanced review. Must say I’m really enjoying Test cricket again. As you say, Bayliss is clearly making a difference and Whittaker has woken up to what we outside have been telling him for yonks. I believe this current squad has a lot of potential and it will be interesting to see how Taylor, Bairstow, Stokes and Finn are doing with another dozen tests under their belts. Not sure about Hales but fingers crossed.


  6. SimonH January 6, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    What a shame that the BTL “I’ve put money on a whitewash” blowhards have been separated from their money. England’s last away whitewash in a series was in NZ in 1962/63 but never mind – as Downton would have said, it was due. It’s a wonder bookmakers survive in business with some of these types around.

    England can still win the series – but it’s going to be tough. SA’s record at Joburg is perhaps surprisingly modest (W6, L6, D2 this millennium) but if it comes down to Centurion they have an incredible record there (15 wins in 20 matches).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. man in a barrel January 6, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    This England team is really fragile under any kind of scoreboard pressure. If the opposition score more than 450, this team seems to fold. And it looked close today. Just wish I could get some cricket in Seville rather than bullfighting videos. Now I view each bull as Cook with horns and more agility, I am warming to the sport.


  8. Mark January 6, 2016 / 10:19 pm

    I welcome Swanns outbursts and his so called worldview – “ungrateful, full of self-importance, smug and contemptuous.” ……..Why?

    Everytime he reveals, albeit accidentally his dismissive view of those who don’t agree with him, he only confirms for me everything KP said in his book about the England culture, and the bullying. Every time he opens his mouth he gives us a glimpse of what it was like in the England dressing room if you offered an opinion that didn’t fit with the conventional wisdom of the cheeky chappies.

    As for Cook, it is long past the time when any sensible evaluation can be made of his performance or form. It’s not really about Cook anymore. He is like some ageing Monarch who will be there until he is not. The issue is the clown car media who pretend to cover him, and England. We will have to wait until he has retired before we get any sensible opinion of the England captain from Billy Smarts fleet street media.

    England once again win the first of the series and then don’t win the second. We can be glad they managed to avoid defeat, unlike many other recent second matches. I’m non too condfident about the rest off this series now. The SA big guns are back in form. The man the SA supporters wanted is now captain. And maybe their strike bowler could be back. Could be a couple of interesting tests to come.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rohan January 6, 2016 / 10:47 pm

      Bullseye, nail and head! I agree completely Mark. I said exactly the same the other day, when the Swann and Simon Mann incident was first mentioned. All of the behaviours exhibited by Swann only serve to add more credence to the statements of bullying and cliques, made by KP in his book.

      We can see as Swann has settled into his role with TMS, he has become more comfortable and his comments, remarks, ‘cheeky chappiness’ etc. have become more and more prominent. What seemed af first to be gentle banter, however, has morphed into something resembling that which KP wrote about.

      A shame, as a bowler he was brilliant, as a person, not so much…….

      Liked by 1 person

      • "IronBalls" McGinty January 7, 2016 / 9:01 am

        Absolutely agree, a nasty little viper, vindicating KP in every way!


  9. d'Arthez January 6, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    Shaun Abbott? Certainly you mean Kyle Abbott.

    Sean Abbott is the unfortunate Australian bowler who bowled the ball to Phil Hughes, on that fateful day

    Liked by 1 person

  10. SimonH January 6, 2016 / 11:52 pm

    Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe 3-2 in their current ODI series in UAE having beaten them 3-2 in Zimbabwe last year and showing that was no fluke.

    Tim Wigmore points out on Twitter that Zimbabwe get $50m more than Afghanistan (or Ireland) 2015-23.


    • ArushaTZ January 7, 2016 / 4:03 am

      Call me cynical but I have a suspicion that not all of that ICC money gets spent on cricket in Zimbabwe.


      • Sherwick January 7, 2016 / 8:06 am

        Well, one needs a new Mercedes AMG (or 2) to drive to the cricket ground, no?


  11. BobW January 7, 2016 / 9:45 am

    Swann is a bit of an Oxymoron if you forgive the pun I find. Since who is he to comment about batting either as he does not have a Test average above 45 if you get my drift?
    I enjoyed reading his tweets. Someone was asking him why he retired. which he said was due to the elbow injury. He was then asked why he doid not pkay 20:20 and again he said he was injured. At which point someone asked him why he payed in the 20:20 in America with Vaughan etc. Brought a smile to my face.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 11:51 am

      It’s always interesting how commentators see fit to pass judgement on wicketkeeping for example, despite the fact they’ve never done it, at any level and know less about it than the village team’s Sunday 2nd XI keeper.


      • LordCanisLupus January 7, 2016 / 12:33 pm

        Did you see/hear Ian Ward’s questions to Farbrace on Sky about Bairstow. He sounded as if he knew a bit….

        Or was he bluffing.

        Only thing I know about keepers is they are gobby and odd. 😀


      • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 12:54 pm

        Ward is an excellent interviewer and asks the right questions. I’ve little but praise for him. But our delightful friend Graeme Swann would point out that knowing the principles is not the same as doing it.

        Shut your face you….


    • MM January 7, 2016 / 4:55 pm

      I guess his England stats are safe in the US. Maybe he fancied playing against some 50 year olds for some big dollar. The elbow doesn’t hurt so much when it’s padded with some low pressure wedge.


  12. SimonH January 7, 2016 / 10:00 am

    Poor Ali Martin seems to have to spend half his time BTL apologising for the dreadful headlines given to his articles – which he does with a politeness and good humour that eludes a few we could mention when they appear BTL.

    The latest was so ridiculously one-eyed and classless that it’s been changed this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 12:55 pm

      Given how frustrated he was at the Sun, I suspect it counts as a first world problem for him to deal with duff headlines.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. AB January 7, 2016 / 10:25 am

    On a different topic.

    The ECB need to renegotiate their tv deals. They’re getting screwed, and the spectators are getting screwed.

    The ECB turns over £123m a year of which £65m is from sky. That works out as roughly £130,000 per game that sky are granted exclusive rights to.

    To watch televised cricket in England costs £540 a year, and this only gets to access to a small number of games. The majority of games go untelevised. There is no internet subscription available. You get about 50 games per year in the UK, so the cricket fan pays around £10 per game.

    Cricket Australia, a country with a third of the population, turns over £180m a year, of which half is in tv revenues from FTA broadcasters (channels 9 and 10). This works out at around £1m per game they are given the rights to.

    To watch televised cricket in Australia costs nothing. You can buy an internet subscription for £10 a year, although this doesn’t provide access to every domestic game. Still, the average cost per game to the fan is around 20p per game.

    The MLB ( a similar sport, and probably the best run of the 3) has annual tv revenues of over £ 5 billion. That’s not a typo. 5 billion. This grants various companies the exclusive right to show certain games. Most games of the 2500 played are sold, giving approximate revenues of £2m per game.

    The USA has a population 5 times that of the UK, but the MLB has a turnover 43 times that of the ECB.

    To watch baseball in the USA is virtually free, because the vast majority of games are shown on a basic tv package of about £5 a month.

    To get access to all 2,500 games, an annual internet subscription of £50 is available. This works out as 2p per game.

    In England: sky pays £130k per game, charge fans £10 per game.

    In Australia: tv channels pay £1m per game, charge fans 20p per game.

    In USA, tv channels pay £2m per game, charge fans 2p per game.

    Now you tell me, who is being screwed here?

    The ECB must be the worst run sports organisation in the history of the world, and it’s English cricket fans who suffer


    • pktroll (@pktroll) January 7, 2016 / 10:51 am

      It is essentially the County chairmen who approve this as it is big chunk of that money goes into their kitty. They would consider it a turkey voting for christmas to lose that. Apart from the t20 cash cow their own organisations barely sustain themselves (excluding the big test match ground clubs) for the most part without that cash cow.


      • AB January 7, 2016 / 11:13 am

        Its a turkey voting for Christmas to keep returning to sky over and over again when they pay such a pathetic pittance. Meanwhile, cricket’s profile in the nation’s consciousness is declining rapidly.

        A 90% drop in television spectators (which is what the switch to sky represents) will inevitably lead in the long term to a 90% drop in junior numbers, amateur cricketer numbers, live spectator numbers, coach number, professional cricket numbers.

        I could maybe understand the temptation if sky were paying £2m+ per game. But £100k? That’s £1 per spectator (or 10p per potential FTA spectator, if you want to look at it that way) Its a fucking insult. They must get that back in advertising revenue alone! We’re basically giving them exclusive access to the sport for nothing, and thoughtlessly destroying the sport while we do it.


    • Arron Wright January 7, 2016 / 10:51 am

      Very interesting.

      Another thing I find fascinating is how it’s (overwhelmingly) journalists and media people who make excuses for the Sky/ECB stitch-up of cricket. When FTA is discussed at the Guardian, for example, the disconnect between the writer and the consensus of opinions BTL is really quite stark. This is not just the usual suspects either – a good number of BOC’s favourite tweeters and writers just do the hand-wringing bit and then conclude that the status quo is all right really.

      For whom?


      • LordCanisLupus January 7, 2016 / 11:21 am

        Have a look at Charles Sale’s piece in the Mail on 5 January. The ECB are schmoozing the media while in South Africa. A member of their coterie said it. Print, TV and radio.

        Guess that’s how cricket journalism works, eh? And we never knew.


      • AB January 7, 2016 / 11:23 am

        I can think of 4 theories:

        a) it is because they have fingers in the pie, and don’t want to criticise their paymasters (eg Times, Sun, Sky themselves)

        b) because of their free access to games, they can’t imagine how miserable it is to be an obsessive cricket fan who can’t watch the sport they love because they can’t afford sky sports (or simply refuse to subscribe on moral grounds).

        c) they’re simply so divorced from the reality of trying to run a cricket club that they don’t see the impact that this is having on the ability to recruit new players – particularly youngsters. All the patronising suggestions about “inclusivity” and “trying different formats” they come out with suggests that this is the case. Thanks, because we totally wouldn’t have thought of that without you.

        d) they read in the press release that £65m a year is a massive amount of money and the usual line about how English cricket would be bankrupt without it, and just swallowed it whole without working through the numbers. They don’t think to dig a little deeper and look at what happens in other sports or elsewhere in the world. Why would they, its not like they’re journalists or anything.


      • AB January 7, 2016 / 11:34 am

        I’m really not surprised at all that 80,000 people turned up to a domestic T20 game in Melbourne. Domestic cricket has exploded in Australia since they told Fox Sports where to shove it 3 years ago and went with FTA tv instead.

        In this country, we already get pretty decent crowds – most of the small grounds sell out and the bigger grounds often get 20-25k. Just imagine what would happen if we copied the success of Cricket Australia and told sky sports to shove their contract up their arse.

        Of course, we don’t have an 80,000 seater cricket stadium… but after a few years without sky we might decide we need to build one.

        Of course, the other lesson we need to learn is that CA expanded the number of teams so that there was 1 team for every 2.8 million people to try and make it easier for people to get access to games. This means we’re about 5 teams short here in the UK.


      • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 12:03 pm

        Hmmm. I’m not sure cricket in England has the fan base that it does in Australia, or ever has done. Of course, by deliberately shrinking it in the last 10 years it has exacerbated that, and you’re very correct to point out that by doing it the way that they have, they’ve done the exact opposite to how CA have raised the profile of the game there.

        What I do find interesting is the way the loss of income from choosing a different path to the Sky one is unquestioned by the media. Loss of income to whom? Not the clubs, who get half of the money from Sport England rather than the ECB.


      • Arron Wright January 7, 2016 / 12:22 pm

        Journalists often don’t have to pay to attend cricket, and sit in a press box. OK, we’ve covered that one at length.

        But some of them also see fit to tell us what great VFM Sky is, while apparently missing the point that they watch it *for their job* and (based on any perusal of Twitter during a series) can watch *lots* more live cricket than the vast majority of us, thus reducing cost per hour substantially. I don’t think this is a trivial point, though it receives far less attention.

        LCL: the schmoozing bit I take as read. Hence why certain people fly right off the handle when the editor of Wisden dares to speak for some of the people not invited to the launch dinner, and certain other people chide the editor in print for daring to question the Big 3 takeover.


        • LordCanisLupus January 7, 2016 / 12:27 pm

          Cricket is overpriced on TV. It is subsidised by Sky subscribers for the football packages. Darts gets more viewers.



        • LordCanisLupus January 7, 2016 / 12:36 pm

          This sounded like over and above schmoozing rather than the norm. Still, our good friends can confirm or deny this at their leisure.


      • AB January 7, 2016 / 12:42 pm

        Well we know there were at least 8 million people who liked cricket enough in 2005 to sit and watch the last session of the Ashes. That’s an 8th of the population.

        Lets say we simply limited our ambition to get those fans back following the sport and supporting their local T20 team. Even if we only get 1 in 5 of them to go and watch a live match in 2017, that will more than double the current revenues from live spectators.

        The financial possibilities are endless. Lets say we let sky keep the one day and T20 internationals for £10m a year, with highlights on Channel 5 for £5m.

        We then sell all test cricket, home and away, to channel 4 (who stick it on More4) for a further £10.

        We then sell the pick of domestic T20 rights to ITV for a further £10m, they show 2 games a week (Thursday and Friday evenings) on ITV4.

        We then licence the new regional channels (eg Notts tv) to show any local T20 games not bought by on ITV, for £500k – there are about 10 regions, so that’s another £5m.

        That’s £40m.

        We then launch a subscription channel called, that provides online access to any England or domestic game you choose for £25 a year. 1 million people take it up. That’s the remaining £25m and we have replaced the sky money, but now the general public have free access to all test matches, home and away, and 3 T20 games. The spectator numbers and fan-base would go through the roof, and the ECB would soon be in position to ask for a lot higher asking price when the rights come up to be renewed.

        Sky pays £1.2 billion a year for the football rights, and a pitiful £64 million for the cricket rights. I know football is more popular, but is it really 20 times more popular? In the long term the ECB should be looking for something around the £200m per year mark.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark January 7, 2016 / 12:54 pm

        It’s quite pathetic how the ECB is always schmoozing the media these days. There was Downton at the World Cup button holing journalists to get behind the team. And then we had Warne being told not to criticise Cook in the commentary box. The Sky team, on the issue of KP turned into a version of the Stepford wives. All smiling politely and not mentioning his name. This obviously went to Cooks head because he criticised Aggers for having the nerve to share a commentary box with KP.

        Dmitri pointed out the other day Cooks put down of Mark Butchers “watching behind the sofa” comment after the Ashes. The ECB and their captain seem very touchy about any criticism. This means they are either very insecure about themselves and their policies. Or they are drunk on power, and think they can boss everybody about. I’m not surprised that the Murdoch media has fallen in line, because they are the ones with the ECB contracts. But quite why the Guardian is allowing their cricket correspondent to strut around like an ECB fog horn defeats me.

        As for the TV contracts it will be interesting to see how much Sky put up their prices when the new football contract comes in next season. I have heard whispers that in the US the number of people cancelling cable subscriptions is growing. The problem for cricket is I don’t think the terrestrial broadcasters want cricket any more. Test matches take all day, and there is not the numbers of fans for it. Although the BBC now has the Red Button where they could place cricket free to air but not taking up all of their day time coverage. The ECB has shown no interest in trying to promote or grow the game in areas outside of the Middle class. In fairness it’s very difficult when you can’t get govts to promote it or any sport in school. Managing the decline of cricket seems to be their policy, and all getting rich while they do it. No wonder they want to distract the media, and keep them sweet.


      • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 1:02 pm

        The line about terrestrial broadcasters not being interested is often used to justify the Sky deal. But they aren’t interested because the ECB is not interested in them. In the same way, I’m not very interested in going to the Oscars next month. Why would they invest any time even thinking about it when they know perfectly well they aren’t going to get anywhere – they focus on the possible.

        I don’t think a baseline of 8 million that we got for the 2005 Ashes at the peak is a reasonable one – that was event television and that gets a huge audience – but I absolutely do think the kind of creative thinking about TV deals that AB is outlining is exactly the sort of thing the ECB should have been and should be looking at. One of the problems to deal with is that Sky argue they pay a premium for the exclusivity, and it’s never challenged, despite sports like rugby league ensuring they have some wider coverage of things like the Challenge Cup.


      • AB January 7, 2016 / 1:04 pm

        “Cricket is overpriced on TV. It is subsidised by Sky subscribers for the football packages. Darts gets more viewers. ”

        Sky sports is 90% football. The majority of content is football, the vast majority of subscribers buy it for the football, and the vast majority of the expenditure is spent on football. Everything else is just an afterthought, an add-on, something to fill the schedules with between football matches. They only buy the rights to sports like cricket to try and stop any other potential sports channels from getting hold of them. They’re a monopoly and they can charge pretty much what they like and they’re not going to let anyone muscle in on their territory.

        For a football fan, sky sports isn’t really that bad value, given the sheer volume of football games you get access to. For fans of any other sport, its a complete and utter waste of time and money. I had it for a couple of years, but as my main interest was cricket and rugby and the coverage of these two sports is particularly poor, it simply wasn’t worth the money.

        The reason cricket audiences on sky are so low is because you’re not selecting from the general population – you’re selecting from the sub-set of the population who are both rich enough to afford sky and love football enough for it to be worthwhile.

        Football correlates with other stereotypically working class sports like darts a lot better than it does with cricket.


      • Benny January 7, 2016 / 1:05 pm

        Interesting point about fan base. My ailing memory believes I saw a packed Blackheath years ago, watching John Edrich and Micky Stewart and a just starting Underwood. Also a jam packed Hove when Imran Khan was playing for Sussex. Googling around I found

        80,000 for Surrey v Yorks 100 years ago. Presumably over 3 days and with a lower population than nowadays and with no TV at all.

        Also recalled my Dad saying they used to get 80,000 watching Charlton down at the Valley.

        Blimey he wasn’t far off. There are several reasons for decline in attendances of which TV is one. Failure of administrators to provide what the supporters want is another. Multi million pound developments, which provide shiny media centres and more corporate boxes, while still leaving the public exposed to the elements, don’t impress me. Not being able to watch the top players because the ECB has them locked away irritates me too.

        While sharing others’ suspicion about administrators’ dubious motives, I believe sheer incompetence plays a big part too.


      • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 1:10 pm

        That isn’t true any more with BT Sport arriving on the scene. Sky managed to spectacularly shoot themselves in the foot by going after BT’s core business of home phone and broadband, and BT’s response was to attack Sky’s own business.

        They are now deeply vulnerable. BT are a much bigger, much more profitable business than Sky are and they have even deeper pockets. The enormous deal for the Champions League football showed that clearly, and they are obviously interested in cricket by buying the CPL and now all Australian home Tests over the next few years.

        The ECB are licking their lips about the prospect of a bidding war between Sky and BT, because the irony is that for sports broadcasters, Test cricket is lovely – it fills lots and lots of hours without being especially expensive to stage.

        Now what that means is that your ideas about being creative with broadcasting rights have no chance, they will instead trumpet a great deal for whoever by playing one off against the other.


      • Mark January 7, 2016 / 1:45 pm

        I agree with you 100% about Sky and BT. That is why Sky was forced to pay the money they did for next seams Premiership deal. They had to stop BT from taking it from them as BT had already got Champions league football and Rugby.

        BT seems more interested in protecting its telephone and broadband business and giving away the sports package for a much cheaper price. sky wants to give away the broadband and phone package, and charge for the TV package.

        Cant see terrestrial broadcasters venturing into this fight for some time. Too expensive.


    • LordCanisLupus January 7, 2016 / 12:30 pm

      I read this once and it just washed over me. I must be getting immune.


      • Arron Wright January 7, 2016 / 12:32 pm

        Whereas I broke my boycott, in a non-abusive manner.


    • Mark January 7, 2016 / 1:27 pm

      Selvey.. “Now though he has done so on the back of a stirring fightback from the side he led, and an emphatic return not so much to form (he had not looked out of touch in the second innings in Durban) as to relentless run-gathering.”

      Notice the self congratulatory line about how Amla had not looked out of form in Durban. Just in case you had not been told….Selvey had spotted this, and his chums have been pointing it out ever since The fact Selvey misses everything else in cricket is overlooked. Like the workings of the ICC.

      Don’t think Selvey is the right man to write about other nations captains.Seeing the dogs vomit he has served up about Englands captain for the last 2 years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • AB January 7, 2016 / 2:33 pm

        There was a bit of a kerfuffle over the guardian the other day when in response a disappointingly vague article about Steven Finn’s new-found success, I politely asked Mr Selvey if he could describe exactly what Steven Finn’s previous technical problems had been and how they had been addressed by the England coaching staff.

        His response? To come btl and call me “a complete arse” and tell me “I wouldn’t be able to understand his explanation”.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Mark January 7, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    A little joke about that kid in India who scored 1000 runs.

    Or rather a joke about Boycotts reaction……” It’s one thing scoring a thousand, but you need to go on and make it a big thousand.”


    • paulewart January 7, 2016 / 4:02 pm

      More Gooch, surely: a daddy thousand.


    • alecpaton January 7, 2016 / 4:48 pm

      To be fair to the ECB here, ruining the county season is their job and they’ve been so good at it that one can understand why they’re so protective of that burden.


      • alecpaton January 7, 2016 / 5:53 pm

        Sorry I’m not sure why that appeared beneath this post and not the one above it.


  15. Mark January 7, 2016 / 2:03 pm

    By the way Dmitri have you thought about writing a piece on what is going on in Australia ?

    You have the Chris Gayle interview and now other allegations of bad behaviour and even exposing himself at a press conference. His manger has now announced they are suing a media company over that one.

    There are allegations made by a Guardian journalist of a cricket writer watching porn in the press box, but not naming the jounalist. This has put the entire press box under suspicion and has thrown them all under the bus because they are all under suspicion now.

    Channel 9 going to show woman’s 20/20 matches free to air. And channel 10 having good viewing figures for the womans game. This has only cause even more embarrassment to the various media companies. One of whose directors may now get the sack after his comments on the Gayle allegations.

    It’s a riot down under.


    • AB January 7, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      On the subject of women’s cricket, I’m waiting with anticipation to see where the new 8 franchises will be located.

      I really, really, really hope they’ve used a bit of common sense and have placed them in cities that don’t already have a professional cricket team. Places like Plymouth and Cambridge where the local populace don’t already have a professional cricket team to go and watch.

      Somehow I doubt it. I bet they’ve played safe and done the worst possible thing imaginable and gone for 8 test grounds.


      • Andy January 7, 2016 / 3:36 pm

        It’s a bit chicken and egg.

        do they place the teams where there is not the ‘distraction’ of mens sides, but perhaps not the cricket watching public,


        place them where they have fans and infrastructure to cope, but risk getting overshadowed.


      • AB January 7, 2016 / 3:48 pm

        I don’t see why you would conclude that just because a city doesn’t currently host one of the 18 counties, that the public there simply aren’t interested in cricket at all.

        Cambridge, for example, is a very cricket-friendly city with hundreds of local teams playing all through the summer. But to watch pro T20 cricket we either have to drive to Northants or Essex – both about 90 minutes away – or take the train to London. We’ve got a good cricket venue – Fenners – but the stuff that is played there is pretty turgid. Women’s cricket is pretty big here – the England captain comes from Cambridge for god’s sake!

        The good people of Norwich and Plymouth have it even worse.


  16. MM January 7, 2016 / 4:45 pm

    Asked this before but my mum fed me findus crispy pancakes in the 80s and now I have the memory of a, well, a findus crispy pancake…

    how do you copy and paste them tweets into these comments? Always looks so excellent when you fellas do that.


    • SimonH January 7, 2016 / 5:00 pm

      Click on the time of the Tweet (first line – on the right) then copy from the address bar and paste into here.

      There can sometimes be a delay before it appears. WordPress is more temperamental than Newman when Cookie’s not getting enough adoration!


      • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 5:03 pm

        Embedded tweets tend to flag up in the moderation queue as requiring approval, no matter what the settings are. So the delay is when me and Dmitri are in the pub, sorry I mean working hard.


  17. MM January 7, 2016 / 5:06 pm

    Thanks. I’ll try Swann’s twatty tweet and see if it works.


    • MM January 7, 2016 / 5:08 pm

      Thank you SimonH and LGL. No thanks @Swanny66.


  18. MM January 7, 2016 / 5:11 pm

    I’m having a comment glut. Did Broad-y really get fined for saying to the umpire ‘let’s get on with the game’? Shouldn’t Cook-y have been fined for not getting the over rate up a bit? As in, getting on with the game.


    • thelegglance January 7, 2016 / 5:16 pm

      That nothing was said by the match referee about the over rates says it all.


  19. SimonH January 7, 2016 / 5:25 pm

    Major obstruction on BTL thread caused by a pram shedding its toys.

    Guess who? “I was proved right”.


    • Arron Wright January 7, 2016 / 6:02 pm

      Is it occidental Irish Blur album?


    • Arron Wright January 7, 2016 / 6:21 pm

      Ah. Now I see the occupant of the pram. And that there were even more elephants than I previously allowed for. Good heavens, who could possibly have guessed that allowing friendships to dictate what you write could have caused a ruckus?

      And Alastair Cook is an excellent Test captain. Of course he is. So much more excellent than that classless, self-regarding Michael Clarke was, for instance.

      I don’t know why we bother. Fred from Australia, yossarian from India, hblove from the USA, us English lot. We must all be imagining things. Perhaps one day we will see the light.


    • LordCanisLupus January 7, 2016 / 6:37 pm

      I underestimated the Chappell / Ganguly angle. Unleash the blind fury.


  20. Arron Wright January 7, 2016 / 6:29 pm

    Classic bit of work from Rooto as well.

    “I like reading Selvey because, even though I’m not the sharpest tool, when I see what idiots he takes us for, even I feel like a fucking genius.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • northernlight71 January 7, 2016 / 9:32 pm

      Rooto’s jibe won my “Comment of the Day” award.
      It’s, er, a keenly contested and much valued trophy, I can tell you. . . .


  21. BobW January 7, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    You’re missing the point. KP was sacked for being an awful whistler (The tune I believe was ‘I was born under a wondering star’ from Paint Your Wagon) Also he liked to watch the IPL T20 at the wrong moment. (Often)


  22. BobW January 7, 2016 / 8:46 pm

    By the way did anyone see the run out fiasco yesterday between Luke Wright and KP? The way Wright went back and stuck his bat in the crease to make sure he stayed in made me smile. Any time that happens it’s like a batsman issuing the last rites. KP was not amused.


    • SimonH January 8, 2016 / 12:40 pm

      Some superb comments demolishing his article and BTL strop. Response from him: none.

      LOL late comment from clivejw.


      • Arron Wright January 9, 2016 / 7:56 pm

        And then tedious little w**ker aquitted turned up.


      • Arron Wright January 10, 2016 / 9:14 am

        Yes I know. Makes westcorkthinktank look like Gideon Haigh.


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