There have been a number of interesting things, shall we say, that have occupied minds over the past few days. I note that in the comments today, for instance, there has been some views expressed on TV contracts and media relations; a request to talk about what is happening in Australia with Chris Gayle; and, of course, some general hilarity over some reporting and scoring.
I really didn’t want to say anything on Gayle. All has been said. His attitude to women, his tiresome nonsense meant long ago that I unfollowed him on Twitter. His approach is dreadful, and he doesn’t have a clue what the consequences of his actions are. Don’t give me straw men about women doing it to men too – they don’t get the sort of abuse women do who “make a big deal about this”.
Mark asked me if I’d given any thought to commenting on what has been happening in Australia. Yes, I’d given it some thought. But then who needs to hear another voice outraged at Chris Gayle’s conduct? Because of his actions female reporters are going to be scarred by it, abused for it, made, in some eyes, culpable for it and have to take the sort of stuff on Twitter I would have nightmares about (and no doubt they do too). Why? You can’t move on the internet for people sticking their views up. The initial reaction is incredibly important, and it isn’t a blog like mine that’s going to be a key player. It is those directly affected who matter.
This isn’t a bloody cop out. I listened to the podcast Dennis put up on his site. It’s powerful stuff. Listen to it. I can’t walk a mile in Melinda and Neroli’s shoes because I am not a female reporter subjected to this shit. I won’t be the one copping the abuse, the rape threats, the outright disgraceful misogyny that this stuff elicits. It would have been miles more effective in getting the message across if each newspaper across the land had just written out the transcript of this podcast, conveying the emotion of Melinda Farrell especially, rather than a special paid columnist to air their “I’m so fucking important” view, as so many have.
Yes, that might sound like me being a touch hypocritical. But let me give you an example of hypocrisy. Jonathan Liew wrote a very decent article today in the Telegraph, actually approaching it from a slightly different angle. I’m not a fan of all Liew’s work, but this was worth reading. He says, as others (men) do that when they meet Gayle he’s charming, humorous and good company. But he also condemns totally what he did to Mel McLaughlin. It’s a decent read.
So, we have a serious article, written by a bloke with a reputation for being a bit smart, and who you could listen to. Then, right below it, are those links – you know the ones, the “Outbrain” ones, those paid for adverts that induce to click on them for salacious stories and gossip – and the first one is a picture of Neymar with a blonde woman with, let’s face it, a large chest and the headline “Neymar parties with UFC stunner” (or something like that).
I mean, that bloody well says it all. Look, in our newspaper we’re berating a sports star for acting like a prick, treating women like trophies, having one of our top journo’s go into depth and thought – and look, click on a picture of a sports star with a woman in a very small bikini? Leave off. You wonder, you really do….
No blame on Liew, all the blame on the muppets (being kind) who ignore this thing. Takes me back to Keays and Gray, and the Mail Online having a lead story getting all self-righteous about their sexism, and the picture next to the story on-line was of Cheryl Cole, as then was, with a tattoo on her back and the headline “Nice Tramp Stamp”. Spare me the newspaper moralising, please.
I now realise I’ve done precisely what others have. I tell you what I won’t do. I won’t publicise this on Twitter (other than the auto notification on the LCL Twitter Feed) to get those nodding hits of approval or the scathing admonishments. I won’t go all out to call people knuckle-draggers because they might have a different view. I won’t be vicariously offended by something that did not happen to me, but will support whatever stops this shit happening again. The ONLY voices we needed to hear were the victims.
Instead some journalists bring in their own stories, like Russell Jackson, put it at the front of their piece, their first evidence. Then, when called on it, you claim the person “wasn’t one of the big beasts” (as if that matters), and that it wasn’t representative of the overall article (you mean your first piece of evidence, and the most striking, is not to be taken as your most convincing point?). Chuck in another story about an OBE, in pure TTT (Tyers Twitter Tendency) mode and then attack the critic. It’s been a time.
But, these are my opinions. Others apply. It’s my view of the current world we live in.
Meanwhile the Big Bash goes on in full swing and breaking all sorts of records. It’s the perfect size, played in mainly perfect weather, and with just enough blend of international talent and home-grown stars to make it work. Six teams might be too concentrated, ten teams a dilution without the Australian internationals. They play in the six main population centres and the two largest conurbations get two teams. The structure is almost perfect. Australian domestic cricket pretty much covers all the bases for quality players and it works.
So what about the T20 in England, I hear the cry? The Big Bash works, so why don’t we apply it here? Well, one, I don’t want it, so that’s a start. Two, we don’t have the massive stadia to play it in and don’t talk to me about football grounds. Three, yes the block wouldn’t work in a bad summer. Four, it would be the death of county cricket. Oh, it’ll carry on as a niche sport, but players won’t want to get injured in that if they miss the Big Blast, because that’s where the money would be.
If you had eight teams, got the international players over to play it, and did it in a three week slot at, say, the middle / end of August, it might work. Football might get in the way, but I’m not sure why it would decimate it. There would be big crowds, there would be interest, you might even get FTA to cover it, but given that the bidding power of satellite providers dwarfs that of FTA, I think wrong trees are being barked up. It would work, and at the same time leave the counties beholden to it. Sooner or later a franchise owner will say “why am I subsidising these clowns?” and off we go. Sports clubs owners in the UK aren’t exactly known for seeing the bigger picture. This isn’t an American sporting organisation that looks to grow the whole sport.
Don’t go searching for the golden answer because it doesn’t exist. Ramble on with our Blast and you’ll get good county standard matches. Go for a franchise tournament and the better players get richer, while the rest go to hell in a handcart, but the public laps it up. County cricket would wither on the vine, a dependent relying on the success of others – for some counties it is like that now, this would accentuate it. Run two T20 comps, one for the counties, one for the franchises, and it will be the equivalent of BDO/PDC darts. If that’s a price worth paying, so be it. Talking about expanding the current arrangements is arrant nonsense. Enough teams in the Blast jack it in when they’ve lost three early games, the standard is variable and introducing more teams will dilute quality, and more games will take away the special nature of the fixtures, turning it into a Sunday League type affair.
We have an 18 county structure. If we were to start from scratch we wouldn’t have. We do not have that luxury. I don’t know what will work, and don’t pretend that I do. That would be a position many would do well to take.
Finally – Pringle on a sensitive topic. Can’t wait…
Finally, Bunkers’ final day report is a beauty. Read it.
Always happy to have you comments….