The Post With No Game

Newman Markings
Newman – 12 May 2015

Well, it has been an interesting old week. Today is the 12th May and it marks the one year anniversary of the “Trust” press conference / media event which many now congratulate Strauss on for providing clarity and a clear message going forward.

Relive the joy through the threads on the day. Chris live blogged a press conference:

“Strauss has effectively acted as judge in his own divorce case, awarded himself the house, then asked his ex to advise on the redecorating.”

Standing O for Andrew Miller….

But no matter how passionately they expressed their platitudes, or how multi-layered they made their appeals for a reassessment of the team’s priorities, the white noise of corporate bullshit was precisely the last thing that we, the working media, and by extension, them, the disenfranchised masses so odiously dismissed by the previous regime as being “outside cricket”, needed to hear.

There’s a lot of this sort of management mumbo jumbo coming out in the ending of the career of Charlotte Edwards, where it is clear the individual wanted to carry on, but also clear that the management did not. Now if this is down purely to playing matters – i.e. whether a player is the best taking into account all facets of the game – is less clear. Indeed, there is some indication that this might have been done with that hoary old chestnut of “developing for the future” coming to the fore. While media gurus sniped at women’s cricket lacking “athletes”, the drop off in performance of our world beating team of a few years ago is disappointing. Mark Robinson is out of the ECB School of Coaching, and this looked like a typical move. It seems a nice contrast to see Pakistan’s men team coming over with a 40+ captain this summer. Age is quite often used against players – see the drip drip drip about Ian Bell’s “eyes going”. I thought it was an interesting day watching the dancing around the issues. Robinson has made his bed and will now have to lay in it. Edwards has made it known that this wasn’t a decision of her choosing, but the inevitable decision she had to make once she saw the writing on the wall. All quintessentially English.

I’m not a keen follower of the female game as some on here – simply not enough time – but it has to be said I am judging this through the “ECB of the last couple of years” prism. I’m also more than wary of the men judging the women’s game through men’s standards – sub-consciously or not. I don’t often hear anyone on the T20 circuit, for instance, complain about Chris Gayle’s lack of athleticism. An extreme example (and when he’s not scoring runs in the IPL, like he is now, a cogent one) maybe, but Edwards is that taliswomanic (I love making words up) figure for the English team. Robinson may be trying to show he’s made of the stuff in making tough decisions. I hope the decision hasn’t been made to appear tough.

I can’t help but reflect on the death of Tony Cozier. For me he was the voice of West Indian cricket. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him on TV. It was on Newsnight, in 1984, with a dazzling white suit jacket on, explaining in the wake of the 340-odd run chase at Lord’s how the West Indies were so great. And of course, without knowing, the response was “he’s white?”. However, the main reasons we cared so much about his passing have been gone into in great detail on here in the comments, in articles, on Twitter etc. He was part of our cricket education. In an era when educative commentary is buried behind “well how many caps did you get” drivel, Cozier educated you on the rise, and fall, of West Indian cricket. He’s one part of the reason that the West Indies have a special place in my heart. His love of the game, and his determination to speak what he believed, shone through. I’m sure he had his faults, we all do, but to finish his life virtually ostracised by the WICB, casting aspersions on his fitness to commentate on the game when he’s surrounded often by braying morons, saddens me. I had the chance to pay a visit to The Wanderers Club in Barbados in October 2005. Before I went I did not know it was his club. Instead I went on a pilgrimage, at first, to Kensington (then being demolished) and then to Holders Hill. But when we visited Wanderers his presence as club behemoth lent it an aura I’ll never quite forget. RIP Tony. You gave much to me, and I know many others.

I won’t comment much on the England selection, which saw the outlandish predictions of a few weeks ago row back into yesterday’s limited changes. Congratulations to Jake Ball for his rapid rise, no doubt helped by being on TV a couple of weeks ago, and also to James Vince who will make his debut, I would imagine, as a straight replacement for the sadly retired James Taylor. Now Vince has undoubtedly benefited from being a client of a prominent management group and a vocal ex-England player, and his initial international performances can be filed under “encouraging” rather than “devastating”, so he has a lot to prove. I hope the hype is matched by performance. The selection of Compton also was interesting. I would have had no problem if he’d been dropped. Provided this dropping was based on his performance on the field and the notion that there is someone more suited for his number 3 slot. Instead what I’ve been reading and hearing is a whispering campaign about being “fidgety” “overwrought” “nervous” “too intense” “bad body language”. Barely a piece goes by that does not allude to Compton’s mental state. In one sense the media individuals spouting this amateur psycho-babble claptrap must be pleased he’s been picked because they can go on about it again. I’ve never seen a player briefed about in this way since, perhaps, Mark Ramprakash. Good luck Nick, I hope you prove the doubters wrong.

Some House News. Both TLG and myself will be off premises for a few weeks at end of May, beginning of June. For me that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to post, but it might not be that regular (depends on how the holiday is going). That said, I won’t be able to watch any of the second or third tests. I can set up posts, and perhaps read some from others, but commenting on the action will be difficult. We’d love one or two of you to write up reports on the day’s play if you have the time (I know you’ll do lots of it in the comments) and if you wish to volunteer, please let me or Chris know. Otherwise, I’ll make do and mend.

Finally, I was journeying home from another leaving do last night when I came across the frankly astounding interaction between Tregaskis and Paul Newman. I want, believe it or not, to be fair to the Mail journo, but good grief he makes it hard for you. There is no doubting that getting an interview with Andy Flower was a “scoop”. Well done. To then allow that interview to appear to be a job application form, and a puff piece with little delving into things he clearly doesn’t want to talk about (like the Difficult Winter), Newman, in my view, let us down again. There’s clearly a desire to hear Flower’s side of the story from the horse’s mouth (and not unattributable “Sportsmail understands” nonsense), but instead there’s a dance around it. The result was an interview so lacking in substance that it’s little surprise that there has not been a lot of re-reporting of it that I’ve seen. Then to get prissy with Tregaskis, who clearly has got under his skin before if that was anything to go by, and start doing that “let me explain journalism to you” claptrap that I have had in spades from others, seemed out of character. Newman blocked me 2 years ago. I can still read his stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever directly tweeted him so blocking me is absolutely spurious, but he blocked Tregaskis who is rather confused by it all.

A message to you good folk of the dead tree press. Speaking for myself. I don’t want to be a journalist. I have never wanted to be a journalist. I just like to write on things that I care about, and cricket is my niche at the moment. I don’t want to know the horrors of your job, or understand access and such like. I’m sure you work very hard doing something you love. But your responsibilities are now to hits and churn and not to getting to the bottom of the story. Flower may have said no questions on KP, but you then go out of your way to praise his dignity rather belies any sort of meaningful approach. We are now all aware that if we are ever going to get the definitive counter-view on that Difficult Winter, it’s going to be through Alastair Cook or Andy Flower’s autobiographies. We’ve long since given up on the dead tree press getting it. So while I received a comment last night, one of a few in the past year, to let these things lie because I can’t change them, it still means a lot to me that these issues, in their own way, aren’t out of the visibility. In our own small way, Flower’s reticence still resonates. Because we, and others, won’t let it go. That’s the issue, not a KP comeback.

That should get you through the next day or so. Chris has promised at least one piece, so we look forward to that.

And from this month’s Cricketer it is a battle of good versus evil!!!!