One of the issues with a blog such as this, is that it’s written by people who have jobs, and jobs that aren’t in (and definitely not Inside) cricket. That means that any post when a match is ongoing is dependent on being able to have the television or at worst the radio on during play. In my own case I am fortunate enough to be self-employed with an office at home, and doubly fortunate that having it on in the background doesn’t distract me in the slightest when I’m concentrating on work. Cricket is like that, it exists but it isn’t necessarily something where full on focus is possible or even desirable all the time. The same applies when going to a match of course, where much of the time can be spent chatting to others; queuing for the bar (which at Lords can take up to a session of play, so inept are they at looking after their customers); queuing for food (because you don’t want to do that during that portion of the day usually referred to as lunchtime, unless you want to miss even more of the play); or nipping off to the usually vile loo. Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to stretch the legs that have indentations from the seat in front and where you try to recover some kind of blood flow in a backside numb from a plastic seat presumably bought in a sale at B & Q.
It’s a routine that cricket fans tend to be familiar with, and regular supporters take account of it. As an aside, a picnic at the cricket is often viewed by the media as being somehow charming, as opposed to the reality of it as being a necessity when faced with outrageously priced, virtually inedible tat you’ve waited an hour to receive – at which point imminent starvation tends to win out over revulsion.
All of which is the background to explaining that with meetings all day, I haven’t seen a ball of the match, and haven’t heard a ball either. But then you see, as I work for a living, I don’t get paid to watch cricket. On the contrary, cricket costs me, and costs me a lot of money. It’s not just tickets of course – for some on here go to far more matches than I do – or indeed for some like Dmitri, flights, hotels and tickets. It is also television subscriptions and the TV Licence fee.
This could be viewed as something of a disadvantage on a cricket blog, and indeed in terms of providing brilliant insights on a day’s play, it unquestionably is. I mean, I could start talking about how late the fonts moved off the seam on Cricinfo’s ball by ball text, but it’s probably not going to make anyone sit up and ponder. But here’s the thing, this isn’t a newspaper, and it isn’t written by journalists. We don’t get paid for this, and more to the point we don’t want to be paid for it. In fact, let’s go further than that on the point about us not getting paid. We don’t monetise this site through advertising either. The odd advert does come up, but that’s a WordPress thing, it’s nothing to do with us. The option to get banner advertising here is in the settings, it hasn’t been done, and it won’t be done either – neither of us are remotely interested in ever doing that.
And yet the idea that we are frustrated or failed journalists because we pen our thoughts here doesn’t seem to go away. Let’s be clear about this, neither Dmitri nor myself have the slightest aspiration to join the ranks of the paid hack, to have to pay attention to the possibility of upsetting someone at the ECB, to worry about “access” to players or officials or to have to write “Sponsored by Waitrose” at the bottom of a puff piece about Stuart Broad’s latest hairstyle (receding by the way, poor lad). Why would we? We have our careers and we’re both pretty happy with them. More to the point, if journalists as a body were doing their jobs properly, then blogs like this would barely exist, for few if any would read them, let alone take the time to make comments which repeatedly teach me new things and find out contradictions and hypocrisies of which I’d otherwise be unaware. Why unaware? Well, you see it tends not to be in the papers. Written by…oh yes.
What is puzzling is quite why some journalists find the blogs to be such a threat. If they are so irrelevant, inane or downright mad, what’s the problem? Clearly no one will pay them any attention and readers will instead genuflect to the great correspondents who nobly dispense wisdom on a daily basis. So why even mention them, why make a pointed comment about the difference between a journalist and a blogger as if one is somehow inherently superior? Because they get paid for it? Some people get paid for having sex, we don’t tend to consider it a plus point.
We do get the occasional journalist talking to us directly on here or on Twitter. It’s quite striking the difference in approach. The ones utterly unconcerned about blogs tend to be friendly, inquisitive and (he’ll hate me for saying this) full of praise for my partner in crime’s writing. The ones who are tend to make public comments at odds with what they say directly. There’s a word for that kind of behaviour, although “insecure” fits, it’s not the one I was thinking of.
The first paragraph of this post detailed some of the joys of going to cricket when you’ve actually paid for a ticket. How many journalists are in any way aware of any of it? How many have paid to get in to a Test match and sat in the normal seats? There’s a TMS commentator who played the game at the highest level and thought tickets were about £20; there is a total disconnect between those who report on the game and those who pay to watch. It’s a delightful little club, where they really are Inside Cricket, and the rest of us are Outside. Obvious it may be, and it’s all too often regarded as a trite point by those on the receiving end, but without people going to matches, they truly wouldn’t have a job. In my line of business I’m acutely aware that without customers I don’t have a job, not least because it’s happened. And yet there is very little evidence whatever that the media appreciate that most fundamental of points. The various ECB disasters over the last couple of years were dissected repeatedly from the perspective of those on the inside of the special club. The wider question of why people should pay a fortune to be treated like dirt at the ground while at the same time being dismissed as irrelevancies never occurred to many of them, because they don’t even realise that’s how it is.
It isn’t all of them of course, no one would claim that. And yet those this isn’t directed at would know that perfectly well from reading it. They know who they are, and they do good work.
Here’s the rub, great journalism does what a place like this could never do, and wouldn’t even try to do. It can be majestic, and it can change the world (FIFA, IAAF). You want to know the difference between a journalist and a blogger? It’s that you can. You want to know why there isn’t one? It’s because you don’t.
Oh yes, the Test match. Looks pretty even to me. Here’s a match report:
Discussion on day two below!