Fleet Street Peek: Pique, Cheek and Shriek

It’s now three days since England came so close to winning a second World T20 title, and the press have had their say and moved on.  Ben Stokes has received a lot of scrutiny over that final over, most of it sympathetic, some of it much less so, particularly in the immediate aftermatch, to the point where the concerns about him being the latest journalistic punchbag post Pietersen have resurfaced, specifically a Daily Express headline writer who decided to go with “Choker” as the headline, doubtless to the fury of the journalistic staff.

Over the last couple of years the Daily Telegraph has largely supplanted the Guardian as the broadsheet newspaper which delivers some of the most thoughtful comment.  That’s not to say the old Telegraph of blazers and public schoolboys (although to be fair, there’s a lot of that in the Guardian too, they just tend not to revel in it) has disappeared, for Simon Heffer wrote in the aftermath of the tournament a protest against the way it is supplanting both championship and Test cricket.  His article actually makes a number of very good points, though the opening line of “Along with thousands of other MCC members” is always going to raise a smile.  Still, it’s rare enough that someone in the media references Death of a Gentleman to be worth checking out, and while some of the issues, such as the question of T20 franchise cricket are not open and shut, Heffer argues his case with passion, which is welcome.

Almost all the Telegraph coverage focuses on the players and the match itself.  Paul Hayward is one who retains sympathy for Stokes in print.  Hayward doesn’t tend to get universal praise for his writing, but his opening line is a potent one:

“If you think Ben Stokes’s bowling was to blame, try hitting four consecutive sixes in front of a global television audience, in the final over, to win a world title when all seems lost.”

By focusing on the brilliance of Brathwaite instead of the pain of Stokes, he followed the line that the Telegraph has maintained since the game finished.  Jonathan Liew’s initial match report had remained sympathetic throughout, merely hoping that Stokes would be able to forgive himself, while Michael Vaughan follows pretty much the same line.  Vaughan does go on to say that it was the best tournament he had seen, and gave it 10 out of 10, which is a curiously shallow view of it.  For certain, many of the matches were exciting, and one semi-final and the final itself were thrilling, but 10 out of 10 when the ticketing was a shambles?  When the Associates were more or less ignored at the start?  From the perspective of looking only at the TV spectacle, yes you could see why that might be a view, but surely there are wider issues to look at.

In contrast, the Guardian decided to go big on Andrew Strauss, Vic Marks in the build up writing an homage to Strauss’s achievements.  It is always curious how the players themselves seem to be secondary in some eyes to those above, for while Strauss does deserve some note for his decisions, retaining Eoin Morgan as captain was unquestionably slightly surprising, to then focus only on all good things as being the work of the Director, Cricket is nonsensical.  As for the media being “hoodwinked” over the choice of Bayliss as coach, when all expected it to go to Jason Gillespie, well maybe they were, but this blog queried the likelihood of him getting it at the time, specifically because of how much the media were going on about it, and the ECB’s talent for not telling them the truth.  Choosing Bayliss was a good call, but praising Strauss for everything, while quietly ignoring some of the less glorious episodes, and indeed the players is bizarre.  Even when Nasser Hussain invoked Strauss, he did make the point of saying the players deserve it most of all.  It’s a very English thing though, the suits are the ones who get the praise, but so rarely the criticism as we’ve been all too aware of over the last couple of years.

Marks did focus on the players, or more specifically Stokes himself, when writing after the final, following suit with most others about how he will deal with what happened, but Mike Selvey manages to go through all sorts of hoops when writing about the dysfunctional relationship with Caribbean cricket to avoid even referring to the wider issues about the world game.  It’s quite impressive in a way, for while the relations between the players and the board in the West Indies are indeed shambolic, at least part of the problem is down to the West Indies very much being in the bracket of the have-nots of the international game, something that Selvey has studiously avoided ever considering.  If he’d ever bothered to watch Death of a Gentleman, he might grasp some of the problems that afflict countries outside the Big Three, but presumably even daring to do so would bring down the wrath of his friends in high places amongst English cricket’s hierarchy.

Over in the Mail, Paul Newman got a bit carried away, writing a tear stained love letter to Stokes of the kind that he used to do for his one time ghost-writing subject Kevin Pietersen.  It’s all rather lovely, but we have seen how he can turn.  He also decided to take the opportunity to talk about Strauss, going so far as to describe the Champions Trophy as one that Strauss “will be desperate to win” which is just odd.

When reading through the various articles about this, it’s quite striking how little comment there is.  The Times might well have plenty, but since it’s hidden behind a paywall it’s going to get ignored.  The press did give coverage to the match reports, which is useful given most of the public didn’t see the final, but subsequently?  Not so much.  It’s a bit thin, and although there are the specialist sites such as Cricinfo, which are so frequently excellent with Jarrod Kimber excelling himself, and Ed Smith being, well Ed Smith.  But for general newspapers, the days of in depth analysis seem to be largely behind us. A shame.


38 thoughts on “Fleet Street Peek: Pique, Cheek and Shriek

  1. Adrian S Apr 6, 2016 / 10:08 pm

    The press showed significantly better judgement in their reporting on Stokes than a commenter here who stated ‘Stokes is mentally subnormal’, one assumes that the commenter in question has no family member or family member of friends with learning difficulties as he would have known just how offensive ‘mentally subnormal’ as a derogatory term is to anyone with any decency whatsoever.


    • LordCanisLupus Apr 6, 2016 / 11:27 pm

      You had a point and I’ve done something about it.

      I don’t believe someone who in his first two comments calls people “liars” should get too high on that horse, though.

      And I was going to have an early night.


      • BobW Apr 7, 2016 / 7:27 am

        Well said Adrian.


  2. escort Apr 6, 2016 / 10:55 pm

    Why didn’t you name and shame the commentor in question?
    However,i like a gamble and would have put a large bet on who it was and after a quick check i would have been correct.


    • LordCanisLupus Apr 6, 2016 / 10:58 pm

      Our moderation policy, such as it is, is to not moderate as much as possible. We’ve had a lot of comments recently, and that one slipped through.

      Our view, consistently put, is that commenters are responsible for what they write. We will moderate when we see fit. That comment has now been moderated.

      I would reiterate, if you have a problem with anything on here, contact me on dmitriold@hotmail.co.uk and we’ll look at it.


  3. man in a barrel Apr 6, 2016 / 11:13 pm

    I stand by my comment. I have an autistic brother. Does that do the virtue claiming for you?


  4. SimonH Apr 6, 2016 / 11:24 pm

    That Newman “desperate to win” piece is one that I’d missed and it is, in its way, magnificent in its wrong-headedness (although he does at least mention the drugs’ issue). I might have more to say about that one when the hour is more civilised.

    In the meantime, this is good (but incredibly depressing) on the BCCI and TV commentary:



  5. sgtcookieblog Apr 7, 2016 / 9:16 am

    Describing someone as mentally subnormal, while opening a large offensive crevice for many to fall into, is wholly inaccurate. Because he’s gobby on the playing field and punches the odd static piece of furniture? Who among us haven’t, when angered, punched something, holes in a piece of A4 perhaps, a caricature of M selvey while reading his stuff. Only the other day I was angered by something on the local playing field and screamed ‘blast’ at a passing dog. (I had no proof it was his excrement I had just stepped in so my reaction was a little uncalled for) Good luck Ben, hope you bounce back.


  6. Mark Apr 7, 2016 / 9:33 am

    The Telegraph has been light years ahead of The guardian on its cricket coverage for years. They were even prepared to offer KP a column. This was not without risk seeing as the anti KP people were determined to drive him and his name out of English cricket with torches and pitchforks. I doubt many other newspapers would have given him a platform. Neither Sky or TMS wanted him anywhere near them until matters had settled down. This diverse opinion did not disintegrate BTL. There were some heated discussions, but not the corporate Pravda that took hold at the G

    It is interesting that Paul Hayward (who is not a former player) is more sympatheticc to Stokes than some ex players turned ivory tower experts. The Telegraph also gave Boycott a column. This was very different from the fawning pro ECB stuff coming from the Guardian and Mail.

    As Simon points out above regards the Indian control over tv commentary. It’s a sad development that when governing bodies sell the rights to events they are increasingly demanding obedience and no criticism. This shows how feeble they are and how insecure they have become. But they hold the rights and they can demand what they want. This is no doubt why the over hyped event is now so common in modern tv coverage. They have to keep telling people what they are watching is just fabulous. It smacks of the Emperors new cloths. And it has become rife in acces jounalism as well. If you want an interview you must run full page picture of sponsors name, and how everyone is just wonderful. Can’t see this being something people will want to watch or read going forward. I turn down the volume on most tv sports coverage these days. What does that say? Probably that I am a silly old man who is not in tune with the kids and the modern world. Ho hum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Apr 7, 2016 / 9:37 am

      Maxie made the point a while ago (in something that turned out to be misreported) that it’s illegal in this country for the subject of a programme to exercise editorial control over it without that being made clear to the viewers. Given what he does for a living, he would know.

      Of course, soft influence is hard to stop and impossible to prove, but the situation you have in India couldn’t exactly happen here.


      • Mark Apr 7, 2016 / 9:50 am

        While I bow to Maxie’s knowledge on this subject, and I am sure he is right, there are always ways and means of getting round the rules. What does it say when the head of the ECB storms the Sky Box to berate a pundit from criticizing the England captain?

        Whatever Sky may say publicly there has been a marked change in tone since that incident. With KP air brushed out and some of their pundits openly showing disdain for him while fawning all over The England captain.

        “Cooks redemption!!!! ” was Nassers opinion of England’s win last year. Slightly more ludicrous than Athertons “England have won back the ashes” in 2005. Whatever, it’s a sad sign of the times that we have to now look at impartiality laws for sports shows now. This has usually been just for political coverage. But the tv rights are big money these days and the governing bodies know how desperate the tv companies are to have product to fill their airways. Gone are the days of tv just covering a sports event. They have to hype it to extreme now.


      • nonoxcol Apr 7, 2016 / 9:59 am


        Remember this?


        Mercifully, in amongst Ed Smith, Dominic Lawson et al, I missed the news that they’d actually done *another* version specifically for that 2015 series we all loved so much:

        “Ashes regained back in Notts, Michael Clarke in the dock
        Little Urn it returns, Broady takes eight

        Davy Warner, Jimmy’s six, Edgbaston loving it!
        Johnson joins the club, Steve Smith doubles up

        Trevor Bayliss, floppy hat, ‘bowled him’, Finny’s back
        Edges, Stokes’ catch, Bumble struggles on the app

        Baggy green, Rooooooty, Belly up to number three
        Ricky Ponting, he’s still got it, Starc makes the bails fly!

        We didn’t start the fire…

        England back on top. Nasser, and that drop
        Millionth ball, leg byes, Watson DRS

        Birmingham, Aussie rout, celebrate, Walkabout
        Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Voges gone first ball

        60 at Trent Bridge, catching practice in the slips
        Commentators having fun, Barmy Army in the sun

        Healy in The Zone, Ashes are coming home
        Johnson, Wood, fierce pace, Cooky smacked in that place…

        We didn’t start the fire…”

        (Link follows, so I don’t have to include two links in one post)


      • Mark Apr 7, 2016 / 2:09 pm


        I know what you mean. I don’t mind their hype videos too much. They are over the top, but they try to put a bit of humor into them. What annoys me is the editorial line that is pushed throughout the actual cricket. And when I read what the Indian board now demands from their chosen broadcasters, and knowing how close the people at the top of English cricket like being part of the big 3 you know they are going to move more in that direction.


      • sidesplittin Apr 7, 2016 / 7:05 pm

        Agree the new DT layout is hideous – is BTL comment / Disqus function disabled too post revamp ?


    • SimonH Apr 7, 2016 / 9:48 am

      I have raved about the DT’s cricket coverage in the past – but in the last month or so it has been distinctly underwhelming. I think they missed the Giles Clarke being summoned to parliament story and they definitely missed the Dave Richardson interview.

      Has there been a change of personnel over there? Please don’t tell me there is a new sports’ editor!

      Maybe I just can’t find the good stories in that ghastly new layout they’ve adopted.


      • thelegglance Apr 7, 2016 / 10:04 am

        The new format is hideous isn’t it?

        They’ve only really got one dedicated cricket reporter in Nick Hoult. Jonathan Liew does some of the match reports and occasional comment, and then you get the celeb columnists of course.

        Ironically the Guardian has rather more, and so have less excuse for missing big items.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Apr 7, 2016 / 11:49 am

        TLG, Scyld Berry?


      • Adrian S Apr 7, 2016 / 7:51 pm

        Scyld Berry from the Telegraph has been in hospital for a long time and I think he still is, he has tweeted a few times from hospital.


    • thelegglance Apr 7, 2016 / 10:54 am

      I wonder what his response would be to someone writing something about Selvey that had come from someone who knows that business and is “above reproach”. It’s easy to do.

      If you ever catch me doing it, belt me over the head please.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Apr 7, 2016 / 11:09 am

        Because we never have the opportunity to do that. Do we? 😆


    • Zephirine Apr 7, 2016 / 11:25 am

      It gets better. Read on down to the response to Peter Blanchard.


      • nonoxcol Apr 7, 2016 / 12:07 pm

        I like your one-line response. Do you work for the Diplomatic Corps?

        More to the point, why on earth does he still think this is enough for a naturally curious and sceptical, and reasonably well-informed, readership?


      • Zephirine Apr 7, 2016 / 2:06 pm

        Ha, no, but I thought it was a good moment to be what a previous boss of mine used to call ‘cryptic’.


    • SimonH Apr 7, 2016 / 11:38 am

      His whole argument is pure 24-carat Selvey – all governance problems come down to the lack of a ‘good man’ at the top. Ignore structures, ignore finance – it’s all down to just the want of a good man.

      As for his source, decide too that they are a good man then trust everything they say. It’s the Selvey school of journalism. How anyone can believe someone has “absolute knowledge” in the early 21st century is beyond me. Just when you think it’s impossible for Selvey to get any worse, he smacks you in the gob once again.

      I didn’t think I could feel any sympathy for Dave Cameron – but I might just be starting to (damn that contrarianism again!). On second thoughts, no I’m not.


      • nonoxcol Apr 7, 2016 / 11:55 am

        He really is a gem, isn’t he?

        It’s precisely because he thought Strauss and Flower’s integrity was above reproach that their attitude in 2012 was never once described as “intransigent”. “All the fault lies with Pietersen”, he said over and over again. Even though the Andys were blocking almost exactly the sort of enlightened approach he now appears to be advocating for the West Indies.

        Yet again, you can go back to the MS who chose the Stanford Series as a highlight of the 2000s, while pouring scorn on the IPL, and draw a direct line from there to here with one (ahem) party being the common thread…


      • thelegglance Apr 7, 2016 / 12:27 pm

        He’s not alone in this of course. So much of the media now talking about giving the credit to Strauss fought tooth and nail to support the previous regimes when dreadful oiks who do things like actually buy tickets were suggesting it might not be the best approach.

        Pipe down Arron, know your place.


      • Mark Apr 7, 2016 / 2:13 pm

        I still find it astonishing that The Guardian has let one man dictate the whole tone of their cricket coverage. It’s not just his bizarre opinions, but his indifference to any idea that he may not be right all the time. His dismissive attitude of those who disagree with him has formed the style of the papers cricket coverage. It has also played a great part in setting the tone for the BTL section.

        But then there is a lot of things I don’t understand about the new Guardian.


    • LordCanisLupus Apr 7, 2016 / 12:25 pm

      An absolute nonsense. Isn’t KP getting knocked out first round by Kohli or something?


      • nonoxcol Apr 7, 2016 / 12:35 pm

        Miller and Tickner are having fun with it.

        Probably has more integrity than Simon Hughes’s “10 Greatest Batsmen of Modern Times” thing though, tbf.


  7. SimonH Apr 7, 2016 / 1:08 pm

    I’ve just listened to my first ‘Switch Hit’ in months. There are some annoyances – I counted three ‘greatest evers’ for example – and if David Hopps hadn’t intervened to eviscerate the tournament organisation I’d be furious (it looked like it was going to get a free pass), but GD makes two very interesting predictions:

    1) Joe Root will be Test captain by the end of the year.
    2) The ten-team WC for 2019 will be abandoned and an announcement about it will be made before the end of the month.


    • Zephirine Apr 7, 2016 / 2:14 pm

      The first one’s very ‘Hmm’, I’ve always got the impression Root didn’t really want it. But he’s – I was about to write ‘a smart cookie’ but perhaps that isn’t entirely apposite 🙂 – a cool customer. No doubt he has a plan.

      Second one, well yes, one would hope so.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Apr 7, 2016 / 2:35 pm

        I think the first one may be about England perhaps getting their backsides handed to them in India when perhaps only 2 players in Cook and Root will be that competent in facing spin. Perhaps that may be enough for Cook who will have been in post for 4 years by then. Although I’m one who definitely wanted him gone after 2013/14 I will confess I have now thought he would likely stay around as captain until the end of the next Australia tour in just over 18 months time (that soon already?)

        The second one, I can only hope so. There was a lot of talk about how Ireland may have shot their bolt after coming unstuck in the qualifying round of the World t20. In comparison I believe that they haven’t played as well in t20 in comparison to 50 over cricket where they have beaten a test playing side or two in the last 3 World Cups.


      • SimonH Apr 7, 2016 / 2:49 pm

        On the first one, I’ll believe it when it happens. There might be an element of it being what GD wants to happen.

        On the second, there’s still the question of the precise format. They wouldn’t try to repeat that pre-qualifying nonsense, would they….?

        By the way, did anyone notice Newman predicting England will win seven out of seven Tests this summer? It’s not quite 11 out of 18, and I think a strong case could be made for England winning both series, but seven out of seven?


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