Glory In Their Hands

Please do try to stick with me through this. It might ramble a little more than usual. It is related to cricket….trust me.


In the United States, some of you may be aware of a basketball team called the Golden State Warriors. They play in “unfashionable” Oakland to full houses, and until last year, had not won the NBA championship since 1975; and when they triumphed last year it was over the mighty LeBron James. They were probably better known for many years as the team who Michael Jordan injured his foot against (which put him out of his second season in the NBA, by and large), but for the most part they wandered around the lower reaches of the Western Conference, obscured by the monstrous Lakers to the south in LA, an afterthought when marveling at the San Antonio Spurs.

Through a combination of good fortune (picking Stephen Curry (the league MVP last year) up in the draft, the development of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green), good business (trading for really good fits for other starting slots and the bench) and a great coaching team, they are threatening the NBA regular season record of 72 wins set by my hero’s team in the 1995/6 season. They pack out houses across the US, they sell a huge amount of merchandise, and the TV companies can’t get enough of them. They are simply wonderful to watch.

I am also reading a book at the moment called “The Ugly Game” and it is the Times Insight Team’s book on the widespread corruption surrounding the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid. I absolutely cannot get enough of the World Cup. It is, to a large degree, a great leveller. It is still, just about, a meritocracy when it comes to on the field play. England, despite having tons of cash, are useless at it. France can come and go, Germany always seem to do well because their players put international football on a pedestal, similarly Italy, and to a certain extent, recently, Spain have bought in. Then there’s Brazil and Argentina, and even the so-called “minnows” now can put up a damn fine show. It’s a fantastic event, run by a bunch of absolute venal c***s. And I don’t use that word every day on here. Every page of the book gets me more and more angry.

At the weekend Manchester City played in the FA Cup 5th Round. They were three wins away from a major final in a year when the league looks out of reach. Their manager threw a hissy-fit about having to play this on a Sunday and then Dinamo Kiev (a three and a half hour flight away) on Wednesday (and I’ll bet they aren’t going cattle class either) so played a team of inexperienced or reserve players and lost 5-1. No-one seems to batt an eyelid, and yet another nail is put into the FA Cup’s coffin. The same Cup competition that meant the world to all football fans twenty years ago.

So what? What do they have to do with cricket?

For the Golden State Warriors, lets take a slight flight of fancy here and look at the recent performances, if not results, of New Zealand. Here’s a team with very limited resources, unfashionable, but with some excellent new talent allied to the old, and playing in a way that attracts fans. They are immensely popular with neutrals. They reached last year’s World Cup Final. They played attacking, attractive cricket in England. In the NBA they’d be inundated with requests to be on TV. They’d be the talk of the town. McCullum’s century would be played on every media network for a few weeks. Williamson would be feted as a genius, a talent to savour. Australia can even be their LeBron to New Zealand’s Steph. But they are small-fry, “not a big draw”. As far as the ECB are concerned, New Zealand away is now a tour to be tagged on to the end of the next Ashes. Or a prequel to a home series. Bravo!

For FIFA, we have the ICC. I am in no position to cast aspersions on their fiscal probity, but let’s face it, as Death of a Gentleman showed, the secrecy is there. Where curtains are drawn, and the probers kept out, there’s a high correlation that there are people up to no good. Like FIFA, they hold our love of the game in their hands, and like FIFA, they use it to make lots and lots of money. It is not enough to say that we can’t do anything about it, and if we do, we’ll get squashed. Sport may be a business but it doesn’t have to make that its “virtue” (and subsequent vice). The win at the back-slapping, ain’t we all jolly marvellous, Sports Journalist Awards for the film should have shamed all those cricket journalists present. They had done nothing to do what Sam and Jarrod did. OK, very little. Because they are scared of the ICC, and by extension, the ECB. We’ve gone down that line before. Because I hate their actions, I can’t give their public persona, the international team in the case of the ECB, my total support. Maxie puts the case more strongly than me in a lively old post today, but I’m not a million miles away from his view.

And then there’s the Manchester City question and their treatment of the FA Cup (and they are by no means the only ones – see Arsenal). Again, another read across for the sport of cricket. For the FA Cup, read test cricket. The 142 year old history puts it alongside test cricket for longevity. Its history gave it its lustre, and the fans of my age group loved it. My team even made the Final in 2004, a lifetime’s ambition. Winning that semi at Old Trafford was one of the greatest sporting occasions of my life. Three seasons ago we made the semis again. I never went. Didn’t care. We were beaten by Man Utd in 2004, who barely broke sweat, and whose fans treated the win like a visit to the dentists. I remember drawing Southampton away in 2003, and looked back at when we played them in four matches in 1986 (both cups), which contained one goal between them, but in the case of the two at The Den, were pulsating matches, played in front of pretty full houses, certainly for the FA Cup. When we went to St Mary’s, there were a distinct lack of Southampton fans. They’d voted with their feet. This 4th round tie wasn’t important, at all. Sure, they got more into it when they reached the Final, but they’d voted with their feet. Not important enough. The other competition, the league, meant much, much more. Because of money. And that’s what is happening to test cricket. T20 is more important because of money, whether you like it or not, to the players, and increasingly to the fans.

These are three examples of sport to have hit me in the last few days. While I watched most of the T20 match on Sunday and sat there only really enjoying the sheer magnificence of Jos Buttler (and I will always want him to do really well) from an England perspective, I wondered what I’m doing. I saw Hashim Amla’s early assault and loved to see a class player fit right in to this format without the biff bang wallop and realised that this sport has a lot to offer. But that’s just it. When you know that your love and passion is fuelling the cynicism, the money-grabbing, and yes, probably the corruption too (mainly focusing on how India fans devotion to IPL is being abused), it’s soul destroying. For some, this can be separated, for some, it can’t.

Which takes me back to Golden State. I am not a devoted, lifelong supporter of the Warriors (although I liked their team of the early 90s with Mullin, Hardaway and Richmond) but I make sure I record every game of their’s this season when they are on the TV. Without wishing to be a hostage to fortune, it is a well run sport (Adam Silver, the Commissioner, is highly regarded), I know nothing of the Warriors owners antics, and I therefore watch a wonderful sporting team, playing superb, exciting basketball and enjoy the sport. Maybe it’s me deliberately not wanting to know there’s something wrong. It would spoil the enjoyment I’m getting. You can’t un-know what you know. But the general consensus is that this is a good thing. A less fashionable team, through a mix of good luck and good management have a great thing going. It’s lovely to watch.

There’s great sport in many places, but everywhere it is under threat where the principle is to make money before considering what you are putting out there. When sport does this, it loses. When it loads the dice, it loses. When meritocracy and hope are suppressed, it loses. Cricket, and in particular our board, really need to think about it and not take the current slow-ish ticket sales for this year’s international cricket as evidence to retrench some more back to safe, money-making series. Because if you build good sport, and don’t take your fans, your customers, for fools, they will come. One day, that problem may hit the great behemoth that is football. You can never be too sure.


112 thoughts on “Glory In Their Hands

  1. Mark February 23, 2016 / 9:23 pm

    The problem with cricket is that the people running it are not growing the game. And the reason they are not growing the game is because they see only 3 teams as profitable. The likes of NZ can have the best team, but the don’t sell. For many years SA have had the best team, and yet they are not seen as big a financial draw as India or Aus. The powers that be would like endless India Aus series. They make money. Screw the quality.

    Slowly but slowly the big 3 have created not only a financial dominace but now a ranking dominace. This has been achieved by simply not playing the other teams on a regular basis. When England played SA in the series from hell they were 1 and 2 in the rankings. But the series only merited 3 test matches.

    By the way Dmitri maybe you should think about opening this site up to more than just cricket topics. You could broaden it out to take in other sports. A reflection maybe about English crickets dwindling profile. We are all outsiders now.


    • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 9:10 am

      The media continue their pro-sky agenda re the Champions League. Loads of knocking copy on BT (Sale has done it already). What they supposed to do? Let Sky have everything?

      More interesting is the big club stitch up. Fuck them. Man City were a third division club 15 years ago. Should remember that.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) February 24, 2016 / 9:44 am

        My issue isn’t that BT has it, just that at least last year you could watch some games on accessible FTA channels, whereas this is not the case this year.

        Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 9:50 am

      Isn’t the comparison between BT and ITV, not Sky?


      • pktroll (@pktroll) February 24, 2016 / 9:54 am

        That was my point. The dregs that you get with UCL football coverage are not unlike what you have on Channel 5 with cricket coverage.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 10:04 am

          Fair comment. If BT have reneged on the deal then fair enough. But Sky never shared live coverage of the Premier League at the start of their takeover. They only do it now because they are forced to and even then it’s to a ppv provider.

          Clear undercurrent is Sky can do it. BT can’t. I’m no fan of either by the way.


      • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 9:58 am

        Oh. That’s the pretence. The real message is BT isn’t Sky. You don’t see these stories for events currently or recently covered by terrestrial on Sky. Let’s see with The Open this year, for example.


      • Mark February 24, 2016 / 10:12 am

        There was no need to take Champions league off free to air TV. The powers that be have already got all the money in the world. Now They are getting jack shit in exposure. Serves them right. Greedy gits. They deserve what they get.

        Sky started the fight with BT by going after their telephone and broadband business. It was only natural that BT would fight back. I think a lot in the media were very happy to pay for Sky only. They didn’t give a shit about those who couldn’t afford it. In fact they mocked them. Now some of them are not liking they have to pay both Sky and and BT. Well too bad. Sky must be challenged because otherwise they will be a private monopoly. The worst kind. And their take over of English cricket shows how dangerous that is.

        Golf must be happy with the game becoming invisible also. Sport is rapidly becoming a plaything of the rich. Could be time to move on.

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 10:35 am

        “I think a lot in the media were very happy to pay for Sky only. They didn’t give a shit about those who couldn’t afford it. In fact they mocked them. Now some of them are not liking they have to pay both Sky and and BT. Well too bad.”

        I liked your comment for this bit alone. The media stance on Sky still pisses me off daily. There was a comment on TFT yesterday that could have come straight from the Sky PR department – the sad thing is that it also read exactly like most comments on the issue from the cricket media.


      • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 11:01 am

        Re Mark’s point about golf,

        I follow golf a little although nowhere near as much as cricket. From what I’ve gleaned, many of the same worries we have about cricket are also growing in golf. Youth participation is badly down I believe although I don’t have any figures to hand. There are concerns it’s becoming a niche sport for an aging, wealthy hardcore. A big difference is that a journeyman player in golf can earn much more than a journeyman cricketer or tennis-player so that keeps a strong player base going (I read that Rod Marsh’s brother earnt playing golf nearly ten times what Rod did in his cricketing career – and he was nowhere as near the top of the game as Rod was in cricket).

        There has been talk about “jazzing up” golf to make it more exciting that has echoes of cricket and T20. As usual, most of it is rooted in the belief that the young are idiots with the attention-span of a mayfly and that pandering to that is the only solution.


    • northernlight71 February 24, 2016 / 9:55 am

      I particularly like his self awareness at the beginning . . .

      “to be embedded, as it were.”

      Words almost failed me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 10:03 am

        I liked this:

        “IPL became a genuine threat to the integrity of the heavy schedule of international cricket.”

        Those who don’t fisk (or, apparently, even think) will nod their heads.

        Others might wonder why that concern for “integrity” in the schedule of international cricket has never once been raised by this writer when discussing the ECB, or even when discussing the Big Three issues two years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mark February 24, 2016 / 10:14 am

      The Guardian has become the go to newspaper for re- writing history. On almost all topics.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart February 29, 2016 / 5:29 pm

        Hasn’t it just. If there was anywhere else to go I’d be gone (I do read a lot alternative media). It’s a sad state of affairs.


    • Sherwick February 24, 2016 / 10:16 am

      Selvey: “then came the Indian Premier League, with its moneyed privately owned city franchises, and the riches they offered. A conflict of interest grew, with the top players understandably hankering after the financial rewards”.

      Understandably? UNDERSTANDABLY?!?!

      So, not wretched ‘mercenaries’ after the ‘filthy lucre’ then?

      By the way, I don’t think his entire article, supposedly about T20, mentions that England won the T20 World Cup in 2010, or the player of the tournament in said competition (and who is still enjoying himself in various T20 leagues around the world)?

      Strange that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 24, 2016 / 10:35 am

        Oh Shit…….

        “A conflict of interest grew, with the top players understandably hankering after the financial rewards”

        It’s like Selveys redemption song. Is he about to retire? Is this his come to Jesus moment?

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 10:31 am

        Naah. It’s not as much fun as the Amla and McCullum ones. I think we’ve given you the best bits between us.


        • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 10:35 am

          The McCullum one was much more “fanboy” than anything I’ve ever written on Pietersen.

          I have a 20 minute train journey later. Might fill it.

          Liked by 1 person

    • mdpayne87 February 24, 2016 / 10:55 am

      I actually thought it wasn’t a bad article once you get through the dross of the first few paragraphs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sherwick February 24, 2016 / 10:59 am

        The problem is that he has no credibility left, particularly with T20 and especially as he fails to mention England’s best ever T20 player over the years.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Zephirine February 24, 2016 / 11:41 am

        It’s not a bad article apart from being several years late.

        Liked by 3 people

      • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 11:54 am

        Zephirine, don’t you think there is a covert agenda in that article about killing Test cricket outside the Big Three?

        Maybe not immediately, nor by a single announcement, but I don’t see what else he means by “niche” (nor is there anything in there about how T20 could co-exist with – or even save – Test cricket).


      • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 12:04 pm


        To be fair, my mark out of ten would have been double before I read SimonH’s comment! Re-reading it in the light of that is… interesting.


      • Zephirine February 24, 2016 / 1:04 pm

        Simon, there is surely a covert agenda in the Big Three deal about killing Test cricket for everyone else. Not so covert, really.

        What’s hard for people like us to tell, though, is whether that’s pure money-grabbing or actually based on harsh reality. If most countries are unable to stage Tests at even a break-even level, there is a case for saying don’t bother with Tests then, let the few play them who may actually be able to turn a profit. I don’t agree with it and after all, most sports make little money from audiences, but you can see that it is a case.


      • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 1:55 pm

        Zephirine, shouldn’t those who run cricket say that Test cricket is what we value and we are going to subsidise it from the parts of the game that do make a profit? Only free-market fundamentalists reject any forms of cross-subsidy – and they’ve been in charge at the ICC!

        Of course, that’s assuming Tests are loss-making. Cricket’s finances are so opaque who knows?


  2. cricketcage February 24, 2016 / 10:42 am

    What about re-packaging test cricket to match the NBA or EPL? Home&away legs over a period of 2 years. I’d welcome the addition of Ireland and Afghanistan to the test arena. The idea does have some holes in it. Will it diminish the importance of the Ashes or India-Australia series? Will broadcasters be interested in one-off test matches? Revitalisation strategies for test cricket, however, seem futile with the current Big-3 format. Aus,Eng,Ind are playing the important series and keeping most of the cash so any extension strategy for Test Cricket will only benefit Big Cricket.
    In regards to test cricket, even with a more inclusive ICC structure, test matches need to have more context. Coming back to the idea – 9 tests a year. 3 Points for a win, 1 for a draw, 1 bonus point for an innings victory. Point deductions for pitches like Nagpur to discourage unfair home advantages. Strictly against a County Cricket points system or a two-tier/ two-division format.


    • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 11:15 am

      What sabotaged a Test championship before was:
      1) The Big Three tried to exempt themselves from the possibility of relegation.
      2) The broadcasters Star Sports said they weren’t interested in broadcasting it but would pay for the Champions Trophy.

      The solutions seem pretty obvious – the B3 take their chances like everyone else (plus don’t overload the schedule so teams could arrange extra fixtures outside the Championship if they wished) and find an interested broadcaster (the current ICC whizzs mostly owe their positions to their supposed genius in negotiating media deals so let’s see them earn their corn).

      I’ve heard a divisional structure is on the ICC agenda for the summer. The devil, as always, is in the detail. Crucial for me are the number of teams in each division, the length of the cycle and what happens to Test cricket outside D1. My fear is that D1 will be too small (six or even four teams), the cycle will be too long (four years seems a maximum) and that D2 Test cricket will be killed off (either overtly or more covertly by a lack of support).


      • cricketcage February 24, 2016 / 12:43 pm

        Division two would struggle to be a big draw for broadcaster and spectators. Just think it would be easier to sell test matches and test cricket if they had more context.


      • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 1:42 pm

        Yes, totally agree with the second sentence.

        On D2 and Tests in the first sentence, that’s why the ICC would need to support them. If D2 teams weren’t supported to play Tests between themselves, when it came to the promotion-relegation play-off (assuming that would be what would happen) they’d have to play a format they had no experience of. That would turn D1 into a self-perpetuating oligarchy – which is just what some want, I fear.

        If the two divisions were of six each, that means SL would be in D2. No support for Tests and that is effectively stripping SL of Test status. Given all they’ve brought to the game, and how long they waited, I hate that thought. There was even one mention in the press recently of divisions of four.

        I’d have no problem D2 playing them in a points format combined with ODIs and T20s like in the women’s game.


  3. nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 11:10 am


    That post on the T20 article is one of your finest ever (“of this generation or any other”).

    Particularly liked:

    ‘”It is now my belief that while Test cricket should be preserved, as an important even niche part of the game’s heritage, expansion, which could be almost exponential, has to happen through T20″.

    Coincidentally or not, that is also exactly the view of those recently or currently at the top of the ICC.’


    • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 11:13 am

      My cynicism about Guardian moderation is such that I feel this needs to be done NOW. Hope Simon is ok with it:

      holdingahighline 10m ago

      “if we can but see it, the opportunity is there not just to keep cricket struggling on, but to expand it”.

      From a writer who has supported the Big Three power-grab, and who opposes cricket in the Olympics, talk of expansion rings extremely hollow.

      “men’s cricket is unlikely to succeed in USA or China, two of the biggest untapped markets. But the success of the USA football team shows that women cricketers may just be able to do what their male counterparts have not”.

      I’m not convinced cricket will succeed in those two nations – but to give up on the men’s game there (on zero evidence, with zero effort) is ridiculous. The USA men’s football team is extremely successful so the second sentence in the quote makes no sense at all. In the USA, cricket has been held back by the diabolical governance of USACA. In China, getting cricket into the Olympics is the key (because of the government funding it unlocks). Fundamentally, the issue is the certain boards don’t want to expand cricket because it would threaten their current power-monopoly. Their interest in the USA is about TV audiences there, not US players, and they talk about China because they think it makes them sound hefty while in reality they are spending more on Zing stumps than Chinese cricket.

      “It is now my belief that while Test cricket should be preserved, as an important even niche part of the game’s heritage, expansion, which could be almost exponential, has to happen through T20”.

      Coincidentally or not, that is also exactly the view of those recently or currently at the top of the ICC. So, Test cricket cannot possibly expand? Tough luck Ireland or Afghanistan. Expansion cannot also possibly happen through ODIs – does that mean that the contraction of the WC to ten-teams in 2019 and 2023 is now not a terrible idea? The imminent T20I WC shows the current idea of expansion – the teams out side the ‘big eight’ are shoved into a pre-qualifying tournament which the ICC then tries to pretend isn’t a pre-qualifying tournament. Let’s see how much coverage this paper gives Bangladesh vs. Ireland.
      If Test cricket is to become “niche”, what does this mean? What does it mean for teams outside the Big Three? My suspicion is that they are viewed as suppliers of landless labour to the Big Three franchise competitions – and if they can afford to stage the odd Test match between themselves, well good luck to them. I don’t see anything here that rejects that as a vision for cricket’s future.

      “a week earlier, an astounding 81,000 at the giant Melbourne Cricket Ground, believed to be a record crowd for a domestic cricket match anywhere. These things cannot be ignored”.

      No, absolutely not. What were the ticket prices? How do they compare to international matches in Australia? The WC Final attracted 90k+ and the D/N Test was very well attended. There is plenty of appetite for other forms of the game. Maybe the mediocre crowds at some of the international fixtures in Australia this summer say more about CA’s price-gouging for these matches than anything else?

      “Teams are provided with Cricket Australia centralised funding at around 50-60% of total income…. The broadcast deal monies sit with CA”.

      Maybe that provides a model for funding at international level – broadcast revenues should be held centrally and distributed by the ICC to ensure a level-playing field? How unsurprising that no such conclusion is drawn. The same thing might apply to salary caps by the way.

      “Television audience on Ten Sports is consistently well beyond a million, and the the Women’s BBL is also having a big impact with viewers”.

      So the obvious conclusion is that FTA coverage is crucial and the ECB’s decision to abandon FTA was a disaster. No? Also, how do T20 TV figures match TV figures for international cricket? I gather the Australia v NZ Tests were attracting regular audiences also over 1m. Again, it isn’t the case there is an audience for T20 and nothing else.

      Overall, cricket is blessed in having three formats. This is a boon, not a curse. They appeal to discrete, if overlapping, audiences. T20 can be a ‘gateway drug’ into longer forms of the game or it can be enjoyed in its own right. There are serious issues about balancing the three formats currently. The danger is the game has been run recently by those who make a virtue out of generating short-term profit for their own nations by pillaging what’s currently popular (until everyone’s sick of it) and who have shown no interest in developing the game long-term. How to balance T20 and Tests is a serious question that hasn’t even begun to be addressed.


      • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 11:29 am

        Thanks Arron, I tried not to be too rude to try to avoid moderation. I knew you’d pick that one dig up! I am of course spitting about some of the points you and others have picked up on here.

        As I went along, the article became more and more insidious. I didn’t realise how bad it was until I got started on it. The question is, “is there anything in there that disagrees with the Giles Clarke view of the cricketing universe” and there simply isn’t.

        If he’s acting as Giles Clarke’s stenographer again, that line about “niche” Test cricket is very, very worrying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 11:41 am

        This is what exasperates me about some BTL commenters. Even hblove is on there calling it “tremendous”. It’s a breathless first-hand account, but that’s literally all. Yet he purports to offer insight, solutions and a way forward, on the basis of such shallow or non-existent analysis.

        Same as the Hawkeye piece, same as the Olympics piece, and as you have illustrated, not all that different from the Big Three piece. Just longer.


      • Clivejw February 24, 2016 / 11:53 am

        Simon’s comment is still there at the moment. Top job, by the way.


  4. Clivejw February 24, 2016 / 11:35 am

    Oh, here we all are. I didn’t realize there was a new thread, I was still posting on the DOAG one.

    Yes, like others I am gobsmacked by Selvey’s sudden conversion to T20 and rewriting of history. Just had my post about it BTL moderated. I said something about Selvey’s abrupt U-turn probably means the ECB is about to inflict its own, botched, version of the Big Bash on us.

    Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 10:55 pm

        The counties were never going to vote for self-extinction, and I really believe a franchise system would have meant that for a fair few.

        The linkage between Selfey’s work and the Ali Martin piece is interesting. Not sure it is that closely linked, but well. it’s not as if he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.


  5. Zephirine February 24, 2016 / 11:43 am

    So ‘the impact of T20 on Test cricket’ is obviously the Guardian’s theme du jour.


    • Clivejw February 24, 2016 / 11:48 am

      I watched again the trailer for DOAG last night, and if you only watch the first 90 seconds, you could be forgiven for thinking “the impact of T20 on Test cricket” is what it’s about. So I gather that was the extent of the Guardian’s “research.”


      • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 11:56 am

        I honestly think its coverage of the ECB/Big Three, going back to 2012, but mainly since January 2014, is what truly wrecks the Guardian’s reputation as a respected voice on cricket. You don’t even have to refer to the slanted Pietersen coverage to condemn it.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 12:07 pm

    And we are, as it were, off:


  7. nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 12:08 pm

    Don’t engage with the intelligent argument below the line, Mike. Just do this instead:

    Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 February 24, 2016 / 12:22 pm

      Duty of care? Poor lamb.
      He really does think that a lot of us are stupid, doesn’t he? He genuinely has no idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart February 29, 2016 / 5:36 pm

        He’s a narcissist. It’s clear as day.


    • amit February 28, 2016 / 4:43 am

      Guardian has yet to realize the “duty of care” to it’s readers. They are still letting Mike write for them!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Clivejw February 24, 2016 / 12:26 pm

    While I agree the comment from HannahPeters was gratuitously rude, Selfie gets no sympathy for failing to engage with constructive criticism either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 12:39 pm

      Ok. Read the article.

      It was OK. I’m not quite as miffed as some on here and quite liked some parts about the preparation and thought that goes into a game. That’s good.

      But Jeez it isn’t the marvelous work that some characters are making it out to be. I love long form articles but this was about prep for a season and one match. It wasn’t an article reflecting on defeat. It was a snapshot.

      As for the conclusions drawn we’ll never know what drives them. That’s for him to know and us to hypothesise.

      Oh and the Twitter thing. Laughable. Poor Ickle Selfey getting called self indulgent. Of course he is. So am I. You need to be to write.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Sherwick February 24, 2016 / 12:45 pm

    I’m confused.
    Is it now right or wrong to chase the T20 filthy lucre?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine February 24, 2016 / 1:13 pm

      It’s all right now, David Saker says so.

      But of course it wasn’t a few years ago, it was just awful and caused terribly, dreadfully, indescribably bad feeling in the dressing-room. Even though players wanting the T20 money was ‘understandable’, it somehow wasn’t, erm, understood. At all.

      ‘The past is another country. They do things differently there.’

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Mark February 24, 2016 / 1:46 pm

    Here’s my contribution to Godwin’s law.

    During the war the Nazis would wipe entire villages off the map. This would be done as punishment for resistance. Lidice is a village in the Czech Republic. It is built near the site of the previous village that was destroyed on orders from Hitler in reprisal for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich.

    The reason I bring this up is because Selvey is trying a journalistic version of this atrocity. The ECB media complex is now wiping the last 3 years of English cricket off the map. In this new version of the truth KP did not happen. He did not even exist. All the arguments around him, and what he called for have been been air brushed away.

    As ZEPHIRINE said above ………”not a bad article apart from being several years late.” ………But that’s the point…… Selvey couldn’t write this argument several years ago. Because to do so would have been to admit that KP was right, and to go against ECB doctrine. It’s only now that KP has been removed from the memory that Selvey can completely re write history. It shows a brazen contempt for the truth, and complete disrespect to his readers. There really is no integrity left. And to cover his Tracks he demands a much more censored comments section so that his critics can be removed. Selvey has become the Marie Antoinette of English cricket writers. His tweets are the modern version of “let them eat cake.”

    Careful Mike, we all know what happened to her, and her fellow entitled elite!

    Liked by 2 people

    • jomesy February 24, 2016 / 2:10 pm

      Wholeheartedly agree – hence my very short ref to the “fruit fly” in the comments section to Selvey’s article.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine February 24, 2016 / 3:23 pm

        That was very neat, I thought 🙂


      • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 10:56 pm

        Again, benefit of the doubt, but not sure KP was required for that piece. But yes, the point remains that on this issue, KP, yet again, wasn’t wrong.


  11. SimonH February 24, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    Selvey’s piece reminds me of an article Andy Bull wrote on the ABs during the RWC. I’ve been critical of Bull’s cricket writing recently but that ABs piece was superb. The difference was he traveled widely around NZ and spoke to may different people – he didn’t just hang out with his mate.

    On Selvey and abuse, does he ever ask himself why he gets such comments and Barney Ronay or Ali Martin don’t? (In fact, Ali Martin did get some rude comments for a time but I’ve never seen him moan about them or be anything other than polite BTL. They seem to have largely stopped).

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 2:50 pm

      I see Thepoetseye is setting herself up to be accused of “misty-eyed cobblers” again…

      Makes a change from “impertinent”, I suppose.


      • SimonH February 24, 2016 / 3:17 pm

        Splendidly rude comment from colesla further down the thread.

        It’ll get the chop no doubt.


      • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 10:46 pm

        I found this interjection amusing…..

        Someone who attacks any piece that is pro-you-know-who in the most impolite terms, let alone her interjections here, is anti- anti-comments!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 25, 2016 / 1:43 am

        I bet they are the first to winge about freedom of speech. They’re so far up their own Ivory tower they are completely clueless how idiotic and hypocritical they look.
        The establishmemt media for decades has been dishing it out, and is now having to take it. And they don’t like it one little bit. Their self entitled crayon scriblings are being called on. And so their solution is to ban their readers, under the guise of freedom. Priceless!


  12. Mark February 24, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    Australia’s win last night put them back as number 1 ranked side in the world at test matches. This has been rather overlooked, which only confirms my belief in the pointless nature of a world test championship.

    We already have a ranking system, and nobody gives a frig. As the English cricket media have already decided that last years ashes were better than 2005 the value of this new world number one (as its not England) will be dismissed as valueless.


    • SimonH February 25, 2016 / 9:30 am

      Mark, I’d argue the two points you’ve raised are arguments for a Test championship:

      1) Lack of status for No.1 in the rankings – because most people don’t understand how the rankings work and those who do know how flawed they are. Most team sports (all? can you think of an exception except cricket?) have rankings and a knock-out tournament to identify the best team. Nobody knows much or cares who’s ranked No.1 in football – would you then say, abolish the World Cup? With a Test championship, rankings would become like the ODI rankings – virtually irrelevant. Were SL ranked No.1 in ODIs in 1996? Who cares! They were the best team in that tournament and revolutionised the game.
      2) The media would dismiss the winners – probably but it would be a lot harder to. The likes of Henderson would still burble that they “know” England are the best but they’d be like those sad old blokes who keep maintaining English football is “the best”. Could Spain do it on a wet afternoon in Stoke is now a joke – it wouldn’t be without a World Cup to settle the argument.

      I’m a relatively recent convert to the idea of a Test championship and apologies if I’m going on about it with overly evangelical zeal. The best arguments for it are it would give games a broader context, it would help stimulate interest in the format (not a magic bullet on that, I’ll grant you) and it would force a sorting out of the international schedule (my main reason). I’m sick to death of cricket’s obsession with the Ashes and the way it distorts the whole fabric of cricket. There were reasons a Test championship was impractical in the past that don’t apply now. Travel is much easier and the problem of what to do in the event of a draw lessening (the number of drawn Tests has halved in the last twenty years).

      It is quite bizarre, if you think about it, that cricket anoints its world champion based on a reduced form of the game. It’s like football deciding the world champions based on a five-a-side tournament or the Ryder Cup being played on a pitch-and-putt.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH February 25, 2016 / 11:27 am

        Talking of sad old blokes with their “could they do it on a wet afternoon in Stoke” mentality:

        I don’t believe it!

        Strangely enough, Australia being top of the rankings isn’t taken as proof that Cricket Australia’s Director of Cricket is the greatest leader since Julius Caesar (and, since you ask, may I also add a splendid and most impressive fellow who hasn’t got a single decision wrong since…..).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark February 25, 2016 / 11:31 am

        Simon,I respect you, and your opinions. But in this case we will just have to agree to differ.

        I take on board what you say, but your comparisons with other sports I feel are flawed. You are right in saying there are rankings in football, and as you say there is a World Cup. But the event takes place in the space of 1 month. Then a World champion Is crowned. You can’t do that in cricket. It takes at least a month to play one series. The whole thing will take too long. By the time you get to a place where everyone has played everyone, many teams will have different players, and coaches. It could take years. Also, do you really think all test series will be standardised either at 3 test matches or 5? Good luck getting the big 3 to agreeing to 5 test series against Sri Lanka or the WI.

        I am also skeptical about rankings in most sports. Ask a sports fan who won Wimbledon in 1977 or 1985 or whenever, and many could say Borg in 77 and Becker in 85. But they would have no idea who the worlds number one was at the time. Same with golf. Would you rather win The Masters or The Open or lose and be ranked number one? Serena Williams plays hardly any tournaments now, and quite often comes into majors not the number one player. Yet she blows the other players off the court and wins the title. Leaving the so called number 1 player looking like a fraud. Ronnie O’Sullivan does the same in snooker lately.

        Golfers are judged by the majors they win. Tiger Woods whole career was defined by one question……..will he beat Jack Nicklous 18 majors? ……. It looks like he will now fail in what at one time seemed a shoe in. His number 1 status was seen as not that big a deal. Would Stephen Hendry trade his 7 world titles for a number 1 ranking? I doubt it very much. When Steve Davis lost to Dennis Taylor in 85 does anybody remember or care he was ranked number one? No. Rankings are not that big a deal.

        Because it takes years for Cricket to play a test series championship I just don’t see the point. You have to have a much smaller time frame. A month for footbal or rugby world cups. Same with a Cricket ODI World Cup. A weekend for a major golf championship or two weeks for a tennis major. And at the end of the day what would you prefer……to win the ashes or be number 1? I bet most England cricket fans will take the ashes.

        Each test series is its own mini tournament. Sure, there are only 2 teams but ranking does not matter. It’s who wins the series. Anyway, I am rambling on now. No big deal we don’t agree on this. I just think there are other things more important in cricket to get right first. Maybe it is the flaw in cricket that will always hold it back. Especially in this modern world of instant access and attention spans of goldfish.

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 25, 2016 / 11:37 am

        It’s not great for your case when you start an article with a falsehood, is it, really?

        Australia, ranked world number one May – July 2014, following their win in South Africa. I mean, it was only one of the best Test series of modern times. Why would the cricket correspondent of a national newspaper not remember it or be able to research it?

        As for Steve Smith… anyone want to hazard a guess how an English captain averaging 60 would be reported, regardless of a weakness against high-class pace? An English captain who was, say, comprehensively out-batted on the same flat pitches?

        Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol February 25, 2016 / 11:48 am

        Oh, I missed this beauty.

        “His captaincy is usually understated but prone, it seems, to naivety and perplexing outbursts of ill temper”

        After 11 Tests, won 7, drawn 4, aged 26.

        Anyone remember a 29-year-old captain prone to naivety and perplexing outbursts of ill temper, who had captained in twice as many Tests and just been whitewashed, being backed to the hilt when averaging about half of what Smith is?

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH February 25, 2016 / 11:59 am

        Mark, no problem at all agreeing to differ but I just wanted to clarify one point – I think we have quite different ideas about what a Test championship would look like.

        I see it as teams playing bilateral series like they do currently except everyone would have to play home and away within a given cycle (presumably four years) and results would earn points towards the Test championship (3 for a win and 1 for a draw probably). The issue of 2,3 or 5 Test series would be resolved by only designated matches counting towards the championship (some sports do this already – Rugby League for example). So, if three Test was the agreed number, the first three Tests of an Ashes series would count in the Test championship.

        Then the top teams would meet for the Finals. It could be the top two – or the top four with SFs (probably the former). There is an issue about venue as home advantage matters so much at the moment. I’d favour the top team getting home venue but could live with a neutral venue. They’d probably play just the one Test initially but if it worked I’d prefer three. In any case, it’d be over in a matter of weeks (or, if it was just the top two playing one Test, a week).

        Liked by 1 person

  13. northernlight71 February 24, 2016 / 9:31 pm

    I’ve lost 3 comments to the Selvey mods. None of them abusive or off-topic. Simply disagreeing with some of his points and mentioning the fact that disagreement BTL is not the same as abuse.

    So I’ve put one up that they might leave there. Just so he knows that I care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark February 24, 2016 / 9:51 pm

      Standard operating procedure at the Guardian now. Anything against papers editorial policy is now removed. Doesn’t have to be rude or abusive. They can’t, and wont tolerate anything that goes against their view.


      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean B February 25, 2016 / 11:20 am

        I haven’t posted anything on the Guardian for ages, so as a test I posted something moderately controversial asking if Selvey could cover the big 3 carve up with the same vigour. Guess what, the mods removed it after 10 mins, it really is quite pathetic…

        Liked by 3 people

    • LordCanisLupus February 24, 2016 / 10:51 pm


      You can always copy them and post here – I really don’t mind!


      • northernlight71 February 24, 2016 / 11:18 pm

        Well, my last one will probably stay.
        But, just in case . . .

        This is an amazingly insightful and wonderful article by a respected, intelligent and insightful watcher of the game.
        Thank you so much Mike.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. nonoxcol February 24, 2016 / 11:39 pm

    Another person lacks the mental acuity, Panglossian outlook and insider status necessary to reach the requisite sycophantic conclusion:

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus February 25, 2016 / 1:49 am

      This piece really has got people acting rather interestingly. It’s not bad but it’s also not Pulitzer Prize either and I’m not reading it more than once to discover hidden depths.


      • nonoxcol February 25, 2016 / 8:37 am

        SimonH nailing it and Tregaskis suggesting he reads it in much the same way is enough for me.

        It’s what you get when you repeatedly accuse people with opinions different from yours of having “an agenda”, I’m afraid. Total, deserved cynicism. I set out evidence of his “agenda” on TFT yesterday. The best (the only) circumstantial evidence against the cynics is Maxie having been a producer on a Piers Morgan TV programme, and most of us appreciating Pietersen’s performances.

        He made his own bed, hopelessly underestimating the intelligence, awareness and curiosity of his readers.


      • Mark February 25, 2016 / 11:43 am

        It was the column he should have written 2 years ago. But he didn’t have the guts or the integrity to write it then. Because it would have made KPs argument, and gone against the ECB.

        He just looks ridiculous writing it now after all he has written about those who have been pointing this out for the last few years. He really should retire to his real ale.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Clivejw February 25, 2016 / 12:06 am

    Basically, Selvey got the Guardian to pay for his extended holiday bromance with Saker. As Simonh says, an Andy Bull would have travelled around and interviewed a wide selection of people with contrasting views. Not shack up with his mate and relay their shared thoughts verbatim.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark February 25, 2016 / 1:52 am

      It’s starting to sound very Smashie and Nicey.

      “Hello best mate, I invented the Yorker, and they said I was mad. I invented the bouncer and they said I was nuts. I like to sit with my best mate and drink real ale with my best mate… a rugged, manly way you understand? Before popping out to do some charity work for my favourate school. Now here this……You ain’t seen nothing yet from BTO.”

      Liked by 1 person

  16. SimonH February 25, 2016 / 12:07 pm

    New FICJAM:

    If you can get past phrases like “Gradgrindian pedagogy” and his hilarious ignorance of football there’s a good point about coaching in there. This idea about “learning your role” that England seem obsessed with in ODIs has always seemed wrong-headed to me and there’s some good ideas in there about why.

    Of course he could use Andy Flower’s England as an example of the style of coaching he’s criticising – and doesn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark February 25, 2016 / 12:30 pm

      As soon as I saw the words Leicester City in the link I just laughed out loud. I wondered when the amateur svengalis would turn their gaze on Lecicester.

      Of course they have not won the league yet, and I guess these sort of pieces will insure they go on to lose the title to one of the bigger teams. Then he can write another piece explaining where it all went wrong.

      I don’t intend to read it.


    • RufusSG February 25, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      I actually think some (if not all) of the ideas Ed Smith tries to tackle in his articles are pretty interesting in and of themselves: as a philosophy student, I was intrigued by the idea that philosophical principles could be applied to cricket more extensively than we tend to think. Unfortunately, as you correctly identify, his work has two glaring problems: he tends to be extremely hypocritical regarding how he applies his arguments to England’s recent travails, and his exasperatingly convoluted, unnecessarily verbose writing style makes him extremely difficult to follow and comes off as a little smug.


      • LordCanisLupus February 26, 2016 / 1:54 pm

        A little smug? Terrific understatement there Rufus.

        This article was pure FICJAM. Quote a populist item in the title. Then put an opening para which might as well read “eff off if you are not as clever as me”. Why put in Gradgrindian pedagogy other than to say “fuck I’m clever. Just ask me?”

        There’s all sorts of high fallutin references that the vast majority won’t have a clue about. The point of the article is reasonable and simple and tackled well in the “abridged ed” twitter feed.

        Smith can write. Of course he can. He just can’t communicate. There’s a hell of a difference.

        Read Kamran Abbasi on Cricinfo re the PCL. That’s communication.


  17. nonoxcol February 25, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    Everyone remembers this, of course:

    A short way down the page are comments by myself and Burly. They had over 150 recommends each at the time. I know this, because I made a remark to Burly about a 300 partnership, unbroken by the moderator “taking a wicket”. They now have about 70 each.

    Weirder and weirder.


    • SimonH February 25, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      First reaction -it could be worse.


      • Sean B February 25, 2016 / 10:20 pm

        Can’t get my head around how they’d schedule it, whilst keeping the big 3 money spinning series (I.e. 5 test match series between India, Australia and England). Be interested to see more meat on the bone and whether the big 3 are willing to sacrifice their cash to support this.


      • SimonH February 25, 2016 / 10:57 pm

        India don’t play five Test series against Australia (the last two have been four each) and the story was that they don’t want five against England. So, it really is just the Ashes.

        The scrapping of automatic qualification for one-day tournaments is one they’ll struggle to get through.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) February 26, 2016 / 8:53 am

        Although it may be a step up for the likes for Ireland to play tests against say Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and West Indies, I can’t see those countries finding much value of playing test cricket against those teams at all without the lure of the ‘big 3’ and South Africa. There has already been issues with many non Big 3 nations having to sacrifice test matches because of lack of funds, let alone the Pakistan situation. I don’t think there is a good solution to this.


      • SimonH February 26, 2016 / 9:41 am

        Some reaction from Twitterland:


  18. Sherwick February 26, 2016 / 10:23 am

    New BBC article on Pietersen ‘living the dream’ playing T20 cricket, entertaining fans and ‘bonding with teammates’ in teams all over the world… except here in England of course.

    WTF? What’s the point of it? Is it meant to show that he hasn’t really suffered from his exclusion? Or to show us how dumb the ECB was and continues to be? Or something else?

    All I’m left thinking is why on earth can’t I watch a fantastically entertaining England batsman here in England or, even better, playing for England.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zephirine February 26, 2016 / 12:43 pm

      Pietersen’s general line at the moment seems to be to emphasise that he isn’t sitting by the phone waiting for England to call – in fact, he started saying things like ‘when I used to play for England’ quite some time ago, I remember noticing it in that TV documentary. It looks as if he accepted after the Strauss meeting that the situation was irreversible, even if many of us supporters didn’t.

      Haven’t read the article, but I read a comment a while back from someone in Aus saying they really like him there now, BBL teams he plays with think he’s great and his commentary is interesting. People in places that aren’t England seem to like him a lot, funny that. Why would he want to go back to Clarke and Graves and Strauss and Flower and Cook?

      Of course, it just reinforces the sneer that ‘that’s what he always wanted, to jet around as a selfish solo player playing hit-and-giggle cricket for big money’, but if people want to think that, they will.


      • Sherwick February 26, 2016 / 1:21 pm

        Selvey has been told, er i mean says it’s now ok for all and sundry to chase the hit-and-giggle filthy lucre AND play Test cricket too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sherwick February 26, 2016 / 1:33 pm

        Here are some comments from KP fans (one not a fan):

        Thank you so much KP for coming to Dubai and playing in PSL.. You’re a great leader.. Wish you best of luck heart Your fan Love from Pakistan

        It was lovely to see you play in #PSL Although im from Rwp and should have been supporting Islamabad United in PSL but just because you were playing for Quetta, I was supporting Quetta .. Thats how much I love you as a Player.. Hope to see you in action again soon..

        Go away you disruptive has been & play in your 20/20 circuses worldwide. If its Tuesday it must be The matubeliland Tuskers. Your career as a test player is over. No one cares what you do. I don’t know how you got onto my page but your are going off it a bit sharpish


        • LordCanisLupus February 26, 2016 / 1:59 pm

          Adam Buckley on his YouTube station nails that no-one cares line beautifully in his review of his critics to his annual ten worst songs clip. Try to find it. I’ll link later on.


    • LordCanisLupus February 26, 2016 / 2:01 pm

      There was a fair bit of comment on the quality of the article earlier in the week.

      BBC raid a player’s Instagram account for story. Good grief.


      • Clivejw February 26, 2016 / 8:03 pm

        I’d love to think that KP was totally happy nowadays, but I think if you offered him his test place back he’d take it like a shot. Ah well, not gonna happen.


      • Zephirine February 26, 2016 / 8:27 pm

        Clive, I agree, but on the other hand he seems to love being a father and they’ve just got a new baby – how much would he ever see of her if he was in the Test side?


      • hatmallet February 27, 2016 / 1:06 pm

        Of course, KP would be damned whatever he says about his happiness.

        If he’s enjoying his T20 life and saying he’s living the dream and enjoying a more balance work/life balance, he doesn’t care about England and is clearly a mercenary.

        If he’s saying he still wants to play for England in any format, he’s refusing to move on and attempting to destabilise the England team.

        Liked by 4 people

  19. hatmallet February 27, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    Selvey article – in isolation, it’s a decent read. Clearly a lot of time has gone into it and it’s good to get a slightly new perspective on T20 cricket. That said, it’s diminished by what’s gone before – he mentions his old attitude to T20 cricket and it’s all so convenient that as soon as his friend Saker says T20 is good that his own attitude changes. There’s also a hilarious comment BTL calling it “visionary”, which is an odd description given that this was the fourth year of the BBL whilst the IPL is about to start it’s ninth season.

    On the ICC ideas, they are very interesting. It’s good to see them giving some thought to new ideas and letting the schedule be a mix of divisional series and series against anyone is a good idea. Of course, the devil’s in the detail and they, and we, should be very careful about any reform.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark February 27, 2016 / 2:08 pm

      ” There’s also a hilarious comment BTL calling it “visionary” ”

      Probably written by someone who either works for the paper or a chum of the writer. It’s amazing how brown nose comments stay up, but any critics are removed straight away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • hatmallet February 28, 2016 / 11:09 am

        Having to bite my tongue on another comment, this time on the ICC reforms, saying that India shouldn’t reduce the proportion of revenue given to them.

        A very twisted argument. Aside from the fact that it’s not the BCCI giving and taking (on the whole, it’s TV companies and sponsors funding the ICC, though I’d imagine that national boards do have to make some payments), he’s decided that the opposing argument means India would have to receive the same money as Turkmenistan, which precisely zero people have argued for.

        Distribution of funds like this shouldn’t be about contribution (which is a loose term anyway), it should be about need. Though I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted here!

        Fifa and Blatter, despite being a toxic pair, did at least understand a bit about this, pumping money into poorer nations (though an unacceptable amount, i.e. more than zero, was fraudulent in some way, which I’m in no way condoning).


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