Being Outside The Loop

Well, hello to you all.

First up, and I think this really needs to be said, well done to Sean in picking up the slack while the usual duo have naffed off to the other side of the world (different other sides). It would have been extremely difficult for me to report on this test as there is more than just me and this blog to worry about… all the family stuff that comes from a visit to the States. We’ve had a washout on the Bank Holiday Monday here (Memorial Day) as the tropical warm air from a storm called Bonnie has brought lots of warm rain. I’ve rediscovered a love for, wait, jigsaw puzzles, and acted like a kid buying baseball trading cards…including getting one of my favourite player in the second pack I opened!


It’s interesting because Ortiz, above, is retiring at the end of this year, and is being feted by most of the Major League clubs as he does so. He’s having a great season after a few not so wonderful ones, but still is seen as the man for the big occasion, the one who will provide that clutch hit in the circumstances that require it the most. Quite how this links in with Cook getting to 10000 runs I don’t know. There’s something about 500 home runs (the 600 doubles on the card isn’t that vital) that sets the pulses racing. I think what you might be getting from this is that although I followed the scores of both England and Surrey quite closely over the weekend, on the requirement to go the extra mile… no. Sorry folks. A procession, even one not quite as simple as it looked on Saturday, hasn’t drawn me from a 1000 piece puzzle, watching an extraordinary NBA series between Golden State and Oklahoma City (Game 6 was fantastic) and keeping up with the baseball.  It seems such an effort.

I’m going to be even further away for the next few days as I am off on a mini r0ad-trip around Delaware and Eastern Maryland. I have three minor league games on the agenda – at Delmarva Shorebirds, Wilmington Blue Rocks and Lakewood BlueClaws. There’s something of the village cricket atmosphere at minor league games, albeit a little noisier. I’ve been to Lakewood (near where the Hindenburg went down) a couple of times (including standing in the line to get in when I got the first report of last year’s Exit Poll), but Delmarva and Wilmington are new. So far I’ve seen minor league in Burlington, Vermont (from where the Dmitri Old name arose); Harrisburg, Pennsylvania which was indirectly linked to trying to smuggle booze into the Oval Test; Greensboro, North Carolina where I saw the Marlins top pitching prospect throw rubbish; Salem, Virginia, where I saw a Red Sox affiliate team and Rochester, New York.

I thought I had a piece in mind for Cook’s 10000, but you know what, I can’t be bothered. I have no feel for whether Moeen’s innings was due to a resurgence in form or a bad bowling and captaincy perfomance? I don’t know if Sri Lanka made what they did due to a good pitch or bad bowling. It has just been a set of numbers from 3500 miles away. Should I read the news today? Will it make me feel good?

Don’t worry, when I am back I’ll be more than ready to take up the charge. In the meantime, it’s Sean’s show, and what a bloody good one it has been.

Finally, I intend to update the Glossary next week when I might have a bit more spare time. Suggestions welcome.

This is Dmitri Old, signing off.


88 thoughts on “Being Outside The Loop

  1. Mark May 30, 2016 / 11:57 pm

    You haven’t missed much. It’s the biggest non event going. Why would it be anything else? When KP set this as a target he would like to achieve, he was told by the same people who are now fawning at Cooks feet it was a selfish act.

    If ever you wanted to see the double standards of the ECB and their media mouth whisperers this meaningless mile stone has demonstrated it.

    Cook is going to break every recond in the book. He can stay as long as he likes. That is how absurd it has all become. Oh, and he still can’t captain a spin bowler on a flat pitch.


    • LordCanisLupus May 31, 2016 / 12:30 am

      Because I’d give my heartiest congratulations to the person absolutely involved in my sacking as an international cricketer.

      What the other two have to do with it, lord knows. A fan, albeit a noisy one, and a rival player. Anyone checked in to see if Virat Kohli has said a word? Chris Gayle? Mushfiqur Rahim?

      Again – note – they brought him up. Unsolicited. To make a cheap point. Not even Newman tried it today.

      What’s happened to Hayter?

      Liked by 2 people

      • pktroll (@pktroll) May 31, 2016 / 8:21 am

        A few days ago on Sky (before the test), Pietersen was interviewed in any case and paid a tribute to Cook in advance of reaching 10k so that comment is wrong anyway.


        • LordCanisLupus May 31, 2016 / 11:25 am

          Anyone who has read Stocks piece on the Australian site is in for treat. To think, I get accused of being a KP fan boy. This puts me to shame.

          The reference to 24 is worth the time on its own.


      • Mark May 31, 2016 / 8:48 am

        Peter Hayter used to be a respected cricket writer. Shame he pissed that reputation away. Sad to see. He is reduced to being one of the pod people now.

        I guess that’s the only way they can earn a shilling these days? Like a worn out vaudeville act.


      • BobW May 31, 2016 / 9:14 am

        To be fair to Peter Hayter, he did write an article in 2014 after the sacking of KP bemoaning the ECB and why they did not come out with the truth for the sacking of KP. There will always be differences of opinion of KP, (that is the kind of person he was) but as for the ECB, it seems a lot of people (Not just us on here) do not like the way they conduct themselves.


        • LordCanisLupus May 31, 2016 / 11:23 am

          Yes. Precisely. He did.

          But in the past month or so this has changed and he’s been dragging up references to him more frequently. It’s quite strange.


  2. nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 8:14 am

    I just had to bite (on Vic’s thread, not Selvey’s). Absolutely fed up of this “English conditions are uniquely difficult” business. So I pointed out that three English batsmen have averaged over 50 when opening the batting in this country since 1985 and even Atherton was level with Cook until his final series. All of them, you could argue, facing considerably tougher challenges in terms of the new ball and the quality of the pitches.

    Gooch (post-ban) – 53 from 46 Tests
    Stewart – 51 from 17 Tests
    Trescothick – 51 from 42 Tests


    • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 8:51 am

      Strange how that “uniquely difficult” argument seldom gets mentioned when discussing England’s bowlers……

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark May 31, 2016 / 9:28 am



    • Mark May 31, 2016 / 9:26 am

      This is what English cricket has been reduced to. It no longer exists in its own right. English cricket has become Cook. He is English cricket. They are identical. There is nothing else that matters. The England team is Cook plus ten others of little importance. Cook opens the batting with A N Other.

      The cricket media will now start the count down to his eleven thousand run. Why? Because his records are all that matters. English cricket has morphed into a sports version of North Korea. Where the captains face is adorned on everything. Notice how the media use the word “great” all the time. A cringing, sycophantic portrait of their dear leader.

      English cricket used to have great writers of the game. Now we are reduced to stooges like Newman, and Hayter, and Selvey. Jumped up tub thumpers rather than men of letters. English cricket won’t regain its sanity until this El presidente has retired to his sheep. Then we may get some clarity back. It is why it’s so difficult to support current ENGLAND. Because today’s England is A Cook only.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Adrian S May 31, 2016 / 11:31 am

        Mark it cannot be healthy to allow yourself to be so enraged by Cook reaching a significant milestone and it is puzzling why you are.


      • Mark May 31, 2016 / 11:59 am

        It’s a shame you are unable to offer anything other than your lame repetitive concern trolling. (Your only input on this site.) What do you care how enraged I get? Of course you don’ care, , but it serves your agenda of fawning Cook lover To pretend otherwise.

        I couldn’t care less if Cook has scored 10,000 runs, and I laugh at you claim its a “significant milestone.” Just like his greatest ever 15 or his sublime 22 and all the other bullshit about his so called mental strength.

        What pisses me off is the same people who think it is a “significant milestone” told us it was a selfish act when KP put it up as a goal he wanted to obtain. Then, ten thousand runs was a indulgence of little importance. I hate the double standards of the Cook worshippers, and their dishonesty. And I hate how his career is all that now maters in English cricket.

        I also regard their judgement as idiotic if they think Cook is a great player. Or that he is the greatest English cricketer of all time. (According to Newman) This is idocy of a very high level.

        I’m sorry you buy into this snake oil clap trap. But then that is what English cricket has become. You must either be a Cook loyalist or you are not a true ENGLAND cricket supporter. That is the choice the ECB clowns have given many of us. I guess I will have to wait till this fake retires back to his sheep before I can enjoy test match cricket again.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 11:15 am

    I wonder what The Spin will focus on today. Of course, there’s every reason to do so, but it would be nice to see some objective analysis of “greatness” and even better (albeit highly unlikely) an attempt to understand the muted appreciation from some quarters.


    • LordCanisLupus May 31, 2016 / 11:20 am

      Quietly, and with little mention, Cook has one century in his last 15 tests in the last twelve months. It’s a little stat mining but still.


      • nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 11:35 am

        Careful – I got told off for pointing out his record since his last century (a pretty common stat for people out of form, I thought).

        There’s a corker from wakeupbomb today – Pietersen was averaging “well below 40” for the last quarter of his career. He was averaging 38.72 for his last 26 Tests, i.e. the last quarter of his career. But just one Test either side of that mark and he was averaging 40.40 and 41.56. Cook’s average for his last 32 Tests (the most recent quarter of his career) is 41.81.;template=results;type=batting;view=reverse_cumulative


      • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 1:37 pm

        “Cook and Anderson own one more record too, one less celebrated, but perhaps more satisfying. They are the only English players who have won 50 Tests”.

        No mention of matches played. No mention of matches lost. No mention of W/L ratios. What a surprise.

        “And yet neither has become front-page famous, nor what you would call, by the standards of some of their contemporaries, fabulously wealthy”.

        Both having been earning nearly £1m a year for nearly a decade. Not mentioned. What a surprise. I’d call that quite wealthy, personally. (FTR, I’m not begrudging them the money – it’s the way Bull has presented it with the half-truths, omissions and dog-whistling that I’m getting at).

        Liked by 3 people

      • Zephirine May 31, 2016 / 1:46 pm

        “by the standards of some of their contemporaries,” hmmm, wonder who that could be…. By the standards of all those past cricketers who had to go and disappear into their dad’s small-town law firm or were bloody lucky to afford to buy a pub to run when they finished playing, they’re both obscenely rich.

        Actually I found that Spin interesting in a Kremlinological kind of way. I’d never realised Cook and Anderson were such close friends and it does suggest some different explanations for some of the rumoured dressing-room politics and the pre-eminence of the ‘bowling clique’.

        Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 1:49 pm

        Cook has played in 39 losses (equal fifth most for England behind Stewart, Atherton, Gooch and Gower) and Anderson in 35 losses (seventh).

        Anderson has a W/L ratio of 1.48 which puts him 25th on the list of England players who’ve played more than 50 Tests. Cook on 1.384 is 31st. Ray Illingworth is top. Of modern era players, Giles, Trott, Swann, Vaughan, Tres, Strauss, Boycott, Hoggard, Harmison, Prior and Broad all are above Cook and Anderson.

        Just in case anyone was wondering…..

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 2:34 pm

        I like the bit where it’s supposed to be hilarious that Anderson goes round calling every batsman a cunt.

        I can’t – cough, splutter – quite put my finger on STRAUSS which two incidents this JADEJA reminds me of.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark May 31, 2016 / 2:40 pm

        ““And yet neither has become front-page famous, nor what you would call, by the standards of some of their contemporaries, fabulously wealthy”

        And who’s fault is that? Cricket is bloody invisible. AFC Wimbledon winning the play off final has got more coverage.


      • nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 3:11 pm

        Yet somehow, according to The Spin, the disappearance of cricket from FTA TV is not worth bringing up in relation to England’s all-time leading run scorer and wicket-taker “not being front-page famous”. You’d think “Between them, they have led English cricket for a decade” in the sentence before might be some kind of Scooby Doo level clue.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Mark May 31, 2016 / 3:51 pm


        No body cares, and nobody knows who Cook is. Priceless!


      • fred May 31, 2016 / 7:04 pm

        “I like the bit where it’s supposed to be hilarious that Anderson goes round calling every batsman a cunt.”
        Sledging has got to be the area of cricket most prone to hypocricy. The attitude depends almost entirely on who’s doing it and how you feel about that team.
        Anderson has somehow managed to fly below the radar a bit on this.


  4. Adrian S May 31, 2016 / 11:28 am

    A laudable achievement by England captain Alastair Cook which is rightly being heralded by England cricket supporters and the media and I look forward to Cook making many more runs for England.


    • Mark May 31, 2016 / 12:16 pm

      So by implication if you don’t celebrate Cooks personal runs you are not a true English cricket fan? How arrogant. You would love North Korea. They like that fawning one eyed nonsense.

      What is really interesting is why you keep returning here. It really irritates you doesn’t it? that we all refuse to fall in line with the pravda media and the Cook Luvies.

      Still, if you want to believe that rusty old iron your are being served up is gold them so be it. Non so blind as those that can’t see.


  5. SimonH May 31, 2016 / 12:58 pm

    Okay, here are some stats on the argument that Cook has played in an era of weak bowling attacks. Yes, I’m well aware that’s not his fault and he could only play what was in front of him. But is it true? It’s often asserted without any proof.

    D’Arthez suggested recently a great attack had two bowlers averaging under 25. That seems a good definition to me – with one caveat. Only one spinner (Murali) in the last half-century has averaged under 25. To argue Warne wasn’t a great bowler because he averaged 25.4 seems manifestly absurd. So I’ll cut spinners a little more slack and require them to average under 28. A minimum of 50 wickets seems a reasonable requirement to filter out part-time or one-hit-wonder bowlers.

    Cook: 9 Tests (7%) against ‘great’ attacks.
    (5 against McGrath, Clark and Warne; 3 against Steyn and Philander; 1 against Ashwin and Jadeja [!])

    Some other England openers for comparison:

    Gooch: 33 Tests (28%) against ‘great’ attacks.
    (21 against Holding, Garner, Croft, Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop in various combinations; 4 against Wasim and Waqar; 5 against McGrath and Warne; 3 against Donald and De Villiers).

    Atherton: a whopping 69 Tests (60%) against ‘great’ attacks.
    (27 against Marshall, Bishop, Ambrose and Walsh in various combinations; 18 against Donald, De Villiers and Shaun Pollock in various combinations; 16 against McGrath and Warne; 8 against Wasim and Waqar).

    Boycott: 9 Tests (8%) against ‘great’ attacks.
    (All against Holding, Garner, Croft and Marshall in various combinations)

    Trescothick: 19 Tests (25%) against ‘great’ attacks.
    (11 against McGrath and Warne; 3 against Ambrose and Walsh; 3 against Pollock and Steyn; 2 against Wasim and Waqar)

    Liked by 1 person

    • man in a barrel May 31, 2016 / 4:23 pm

      It is surprising to learn that about Boycott. I suppose that although Australia, India and Windies had some seriously good bowlers, they did not all play at the same time or their averages were above the cut-off. I did some checking. Chandrasekhar at 29.74 falls outside the criterion but he was more than a handful on a dustbowl. Bedi at 28.71. Prasanna at 30.38. Yet I feel that most batsmen of the late 1960s and early 70s would rate them as the toughest attack to face in certain conditions. Similarly, Sobers’s average of 34.03 has surely quite a lot to do with his lengthy spells of containing spin bowling. I don’t think batsmen anywhere were queing up to face his quick stuff. The attack in 1966 of Sobers, Hall, Griffith, Gibbs was enough to blow England away (a line up with Boycott, Cowdrey, Graveney, Milburn, Barrington) and yet none of those bowlers achieves the “greatness” criterion. Pollock and Goddard were a testing pair of bowlers but… McKenzie does not make the grade. When Boycott faced Lillee, the guys at the other end were short of greatness because Massie fails, as do Pascoe and Thomson. Tough criteria!


      • SimonH May 31, 2016 / 4:43 pm

        Hi MIAB, yes I was surprised with the figure for Boycott. He never faced an Australian attack that achieved greatness by my definition. The support bowlers for Lillee (Alderman, Pascoe, Dymock, Thomson, Walker) just fell outside my definition. However that also feels right – I’d rate all of them as very good but not quite great. The West Indies’ attack of the 1960s didn’t get in because Hall and Griffith’s averages were 26 and 28 (both caused by playing on too long I suspect).

        A cut-off of 28 for spinners was perhaps a bit harsh – maybe it should be thirty? However it also feels right to me that Murali and Warne are the great spin bowlers and there’s a bit of a gap to the rest. Boycott of course never faced Bedi and Chandrasekhar in India.

        I was tempted to lower the bar – but one of my pet peeves is the use of “great” to mean “very good”. If “great” is used to describe a bowler who averages over 25, what’s left to describe Malcolm Marshall?

        Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel May 31, 2016 / 5:35 pm

        In reply to SimonH, on reflection, Lillee never played for a team that was the best of its era. And I think the Windies dominance in the mid-60s was quite short-lived. I guess justice is done. It gets difficult to rate spinners across the ages because of the introduction of covering but Laker and Underwood’s figures take some beating. If Bedi, Prasanna and Gibbs had played more Tests in England, that might have changed their figures significantly.


      • man in a barrel May 31, 2016 / 7:13 pm

        I should clarify that the Lillian Thomson team that destroyed England and WIndies did not stick together for long. It was over by the time of the centenary Test in 1976.


    • d'Arthez Jun 1, 2016 / 11:30 am

      Cook played 2 Tests against Ashwin and Jadeja. One in Nagpur, 2012, and one in England. Jadeja averages 45 outside of India, and less than 20 in India. Jadeja made his debut in that Nagpur 2012 Test.

      There are a few caveats. In the past tailenders could not bat as well (though tailenders were not as bad in the past as is often thought). So, maybe such a measure can be evolved a bit more, to account for these things. Problem is that nightwatchmen stand in the way of a relatively quick check against top-7 batsmen, so a more nuanced version will have to be made and checked manually.

      But as a rough measure it seems about right. Since WW1 there have been about 60 bowlers who qualify on SimonH’s measure (with a minimum of 25 wickets taken, and more than 10 matches played). Not that many, and thus possibly exclusive enough to exclude the very good (averages less than 30) from the world class players (averages less than 25).

      So chances of facing a world class attack is quite low, certainly if you happen to be a batsman in a dominating team having such bowlers. It also highlights how tough it was to bat against England in the 1950s. Wardle, Tyson, Laker, Statham, Trueman, not many batsmen will have done well against those when two or more were playing (I checked for the trio of Tyson, Wardle, Statham, and no one really did – and there are lots of combinations to check, since Loader also qualifies with a sub-25 average).

      The measure also highlights how much harder Atherton in particular had it, compared to his successors. 60% against tough opposition? His average may well be understated by 20+ percent as a result. And likewise, many batsmen may have overstated averages.

      It would be interesting to see a list of all batsmen’s averages against such attacks. The figure for Atherton does not seem to be significantly lower than his career average. For Cook, it is probably significantly lower than his career average (considering he did not have great series in 2006/07, and against South Africa in 2012).

      Pity the batsmen from say New Zealand, who never had the luxury to have such bowling attacks (Bond, Cowie and Hadlee are the only ones with sub-25 averages), but having to face such attacks quite often.


      • SimonH Jun 1, 2016 / 11:50 am

        Yes, I forgot the Test in England for Ashwin/Jadeja. Frankly, Jadeja looks completely out of place in the tally of great bowlers so I think the mistake I made was to set the wicket threshold too low. A hundred wicket minimum would have excluded Jadeja (and Fanie De Villiers from the Gooch and Atherton tallies).


  6. Mark May 31, 2016 / 2:07 pm


    Over the last hundred years many of our great cricket writers have lead us to believe that the true definition of greatness was skill, quality of opposition, difficulty of conditions, averages, great performances against the odds, etc etc? We now realise this was not true. A new breed of cricket writer has developed a simpler method for judging greatness. The beauty of this system is it can be summed up with one word. “longevity.”

    Longevity is now the only test of greatness. Oh, and scoring ten thousand runs. These are the real definitions of greatness. Scoring runs against pop gun attacks on flat pitches, and without any world class spinners is what counts. In addition if you can be said to have something called “mental toughness” this also makes you a true great. Unfortunately we can’t define mental toughness, but stamping your feet, and threatening to resign if you don’t get what you want is a factor. We are sorry that the previous cricket writers got this so hopelessly wrong, and apologise for their mistakes. The new breed of cricket writer who we have decided to call “ignoramus brown noser” are the real judges now.

    Jack Hobbs, Peter May, Dennis Compton, Geoffrey Boycott, David Gower, and many others failed to be greats under our new definition. We should stress that saying you want to achieve ten thousand runs is not a mark of greatness. Even if you are close to that figure. In fact we would say it is worse than that. To admit it is even a goal is now seen as tacky, selfish, and not playing for the team. The other fantastic factor of this new definition is in the modern age of endless 20/20 very few players in the future will now achieve longevity at test level. This means the current great players will never be beaten in our eyes. So there is only one modern great player and he will always remain the greatest for all time. We apologise for any misunderstanding.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. man in a barrel May 31, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    It is amazing that Jack Hobbs had a Test career that spanned 22 years and yet “only” played in 61 matches, having made his debut at the age of 26. Despite the loss of 4 years to war and another lost year because of appendicitis he managed to achieve an average of nearly 57 for 5410 runs.

    After 61 Tests, Cook had scored 4666 runs at an average of 45.3 (it was the 1st match of the 2010/11 Ashes, at Brisbane) . And he was 26 years old – the age at which Hobbs made his debut. It took Cook another 6 matches to pass Hobbs, by which time he was still 26.

    Who is the more remarkable cricketer? Who would you prefer to have in your team?


    • Mark May 31, 2016 / 3:59 pm

      Quantity not quality is the new black.


    • Rob May 31, 2016 / 11:21 pm

      Yes it was rather lazily efficient for Andy Bull to equate Cook and Anderson the current day heirs to Jack Hobbs and SF Barnes


  8. nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 4:39 pm

    Coincidence corner:

    The day after Cook makes history, Austin Reed go out of business.

    Fred will be amused, no doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine May 31, 2016 / 4:59 pm

      I smirked at that.

      Meanwhile over at the G, gluck has been modded for asking why they’ve steadfastly ignored the existence of the IPL this year. Admittedly it was way off topic on the particular thread, but, y’know.


    • fred May 31, 2016 / 6:30 pm

      Ha! Serves them right, they should have used Root, he’s a much better batsman.
      But I guess Root lacks that “strong jawline that makes girls swoon”.


  9. fred May 31, 2016 / 8:27 pm

    I think Cook reads this blog, he’s bought into the longevity aspect too.
    ‘The 10,000 has been a milestone that has driven me over the last few years. You get tested at the top of the order in all conditions against the best bowlers bowling with the new ball, and I’m glad I have hung around long enough not to get dropped.’
    I’ll let pass the self serving bits about the personal milestone, all conditions, and the best bowlers, (as if that doesn’t apply to anyone else), but he does seem to say (although the phrase is a bit confusing) that the secret to his success has been not being dropped.


  10. nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    My stars, if you want to see a contender for most pompous BTL post of 2016, check out TheUtican’s latest on the Bull thread.


    • nonoxcol May 31, 2016 / 9:03 pm

      I dare someone to just write “Parklife” in reply.


      • Zephirine May 31, 2016 / 10:22 pm

        I’ve had a little dig 🙂

        It’s all the more ridiculous a response because the ranting on that thread is all from the anti-KP posters and the troll, the pros have restricted themselves to a few ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ comments here and there.


  11. SimonH Jun 1, 2016 / 9:11 am

    Humanity at its finest in some of the later posts on ‘The Spin’.

    The description of Pietersen as “the little rat” is a particular lowlight. There’s also plenty of foaming at the mouth about “won’t these people stop bringing up Pietersen” when it’s the daily-haters who have kept bringing him up and an unintentionally hilarious attempt to argue (from normally one of the better mainstream posters) that the c-word isn’t that offensive.


    • nonoxcol Jun 1, 2016 / 10:01 am

      It’s such a “beautiful” word, isn’t it? I’ve always found that women are especially impressed with your intellect and vocabulary when you use it, being as how the world hasn’t really moved on in the six hundred plus years since Geoffrey Chaucer.


    • fred Jun 1, 2016 / 11:58 am

      The guardian cricket blogs have dropped off my list of regular sites, way off, but whan I do wander back for a look, I usually feel the need to have a shower afterwards.
      They’ve really shot themselves in the foot the way they’ve managed that community. They’ve alienated the more considered posters, and thus greatly increased the proportion of reactionary posters, creating a downward spiral in the quality of discussion, which will only drive more people away.
      And you’re right about the “stop talking about Pietersen!” group. No one actually is, very much. It’s almost John Cleese-like in its absurdity.
      I’m really puzzled about the love for Bull too. Sure, he writes pretty well (I should hope so, as he’s a professional journalist), but the level of praise he gets seems all out of proportion. It used to be like that for Selvey before, he was routinely declared the best writer in cricket/at the guardian/in the world of sports journalism etc. but the mantle seems to have passed to Bull. Almost like it’s a badge of honour to recognise his apparently extraordinary writing.
      It’s a sweet story about two young men in the Engish cricket team, but I guess such pieces would be more welcome if the writers also addressed some of the thornier issues too.
      As regards Cook and his place in the pantheon, it’s strange the debate that has erupted around comparisons with others. If he’s entered the 10k club, who cares where he’s placed within that club? Surely the main point is that he’s scored 10k. Does Bradman’s average detract from Viv Richard’s position? It’s reached a point where what should be a straightforward recognition of a certain achievement has triggered arguments about what it’s worth, simply because it’s Cook. If Bell had gotten 10k, do you think there would be such vitriolic debate?

      Liked by 1 person

      • pktroll (@pktroll) Jun 1, 2016 / 1:02 pm

        I think the Cook reason is easy. If it wasn’t for many of thowe you mention above going on about him for the last 3 years when he’s been anything but great, apart from a few brief periods then there wouldn’t be many of these arguments. For one, I think Cook has been a fine player, but not close to being the best English player I recall over my lifetime, let alone many who were around long before my time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Jun 1, 2016 / 1:11 pm

        The love for Bull on his most recent Spin is rather exaggerated and not very fair on other people who write equally well. Mind you, you get identical responses to Ronay or elsewhere to Marina Hyde. As you say, a badge of honour, a bit like wine connoisseurship.


      • fred Jun 1, 2016 / 1:54 pm

        Zeph, yes, interesting dialogue driven there by Vijay. I hadn’t seen that. The discussion around Eng/Ind series often descend into brawls almost as bad as the Aus/Eng series, which is a shame because you miss out on discussions like that.


      • fred Jun 1, 2016 / 4:08 pm

        it was a while ago now but when Ponting hit 10k I don’t recall focussed discussion on how he compared to everyone else. There was just simple acknowledgment that he was a great batsman, and everyone clapped. No one said “yeah but he’s not an opener, or “yeah but Asia…” Maybe they did and I’ve just forgotten.
        Part of it is probably that there is a certain species of cricket fan who likes nothing better than orgies of stats, and a list of batman is simply irresistable.
        I agree it’s more to do with broader issues around him. Cook has become a lightening rod for discontent, only partly self inflicted, and he’ll probably never be uncontentious again now for the rerst of his career.


      • fred Jun 1, 2016 / 4:21 pm

        In fact:
        “”It’s taken 13 years of international cricket to get 10,000 Test runs,” Ponting said after play. “Everyone growing up wishes they could do it, but the thing I’m most proud about is my longevity in the game. To play so many Tests, I’m proud of that record. As a top-order batsman, if you play that many games, you’re probably expected to get close on 10,000.”


        Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel Jun 1, 2016 / 4:33 pm

        With all respect, Fred, but I do not think that anyone would have objections to Ponting being classed among the greats of the game. He had an immaculate defence AND he could and did play every shot in the book. He was also very tough mentally. From my partial and patchy recollections, for example, every time during his career when England looked like establishing an ascendancy over Australia, along would come Ponting and, more often than not, snuff it out – for example a certain Test in Adelaide that out host would prefer to forget. Just as an aside, he totalled 191 runs in that match and Cook got 36.


      • fred Jun 1, 2016 / 4:58 pm

        Yes that’s true, Ponting’s qualities are inarguable. It would seem some people believe that Cook’s qualities of longevity, determination and being an opener in England make his greatness inarguable.
        I have to correct you on one thing though, there were actually one or two occasions where Ponting didn’t snuff out English ascendency. You know what I mean and there’s no need to dwell on it 🙂 but it’s the one less than stellar aspect of his record.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jun 1, 2016 / 5:23 pm

        Fred, when Ponting got to 10k his average was around 58 which made him absolutely bomb-proof in terms of his place in the pantheon. His career was up there with anyone’s (always excepting Bradman). I recall some Indian fans pointing out his problems against spin on the subcontinent so it isn’t as if people only make these sorts of points about Cook.

        The issue with Cook doesn’t need any complex explanations. His record is simply a little less than the other players who’ve reached the landmark. One Indian fan I’ve seen made the point that he’s a little like Harbhajan in the 400 club of bowlers. That in itself isn’t a problem – it’s the steadfast refusal of large sections of the UK media simply to note that fact. It is the quite concentrated effort they’ve made to blank out completely any slight qualification of Cook’s achievement. That’s been accompanied by some quite extravagant, even hysterical claims, about Cook being comparable to Tendulkar, the mentally-toughest ever etc. Did Ponting get any of that?

        The BTL stuff is a corrective to the omissions and half-truths ATL. We have to keep pointing out, for example, the number of games he’s played because the ATL writers keep ignoring it. I hate it. I don’t want to sound churlish and carping. However it’s a product of journalism that has become hagiography. They are so determined to have Cook accepted as a great that they are willing to steamroller anything in the way of doing that (including large parts of their own team’s history which puts the lie on the notion that this has anything to do with patriotism).

        By the way, on the subject of comparing Cook and Ponting, I noticed that Cook’s 54 wins for England (that Bull was so excited about) is exactly half the number of wins Ponting had in his career. 108 Test wins…. bloody hell!

        Liked by 2 people

      • fred Jun 1, 2016 / 6:22 pm

        yes I hear you.
        Also, we better stop rtalking about Ponting, it’s making me miss him too much.


      • Mark Jun 1, 2016 / 6:27 pm

        Very well said Simon. I would go as far as to say the English cricket media have ruined Cooks achievement by hyping it to idiotic levels. It has made many people just recoil at the utter bullshit.

        If you see my post below about Mark Nicholas puff piece about Cook, he lets slip an interesting fact. By all accounts Cook sees today game as the best it has ever been. If true, so much for the humble Cook we are constantly hit over the head with. It’s an amazing revelation if true because it means he thinks today’s team is better than 2005 which is nonsense. This team would have no chance of winning the 2005 ashes. This team has NEVER had to face a team of the great Aussie team of that erra. This team would have no chance against the great Wi team of the late 1970s early 80s.

        This is the problem with the carefully constructed image the media try to create of Cook. I’m afraid it doesn’t fit with reality. You wonder why they are so determined to hide the true Cook from the English public?


  12. Mark Jun 1, 2016 / 9:35 am

    “The Internet we want.” Or rather the Internet The G wants.

    Which seems to be vile and offensive to anyone who doesn’t go along with the agenda opinion of The G editorial and their writers.

    No wonder they are losing paying customers. Ivory tower hypocrites.


  13. RufusSG Jun 1, 2016 / 1:51 pm

    Regarding assessing Cook’s career and the merit of his records, there’s one area which I’m surprised hasn’t been brought up more: whilst there’s some truth to the notion that he struggles against high-class seam bowling, he is a fabulous player of spin. So much so that, in fact, he’s the highest non-Asian test run-scorer in Asia of all time: 2,252 runs at an average of nearly 61.;continent=2;filter=advanced;orderby=runs;team=1;team=140;team=2;team=3;team=4;team=5;team=9;template=results;type=batting

    Unlike some of his other achievements, this one can’t simply be chalked up to Cook’s longevity: he’s played a similar number of tests to everyone else in the list – for example, second place on the list, Jacques Kallis, has played five tests more than Cook in the continent. To me, anyway, this represents a magnificent achievement.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think Cook’s claim to the status of great needs to be dismissed quite as contemptuously as some are doing here. The media have overegged his credentials, for sure, and have ignored some of the more glaring weaknesses in his record – of all the batsmen who have reached 10,000, I’d say Cook is (currently) the “least great” of all of them, and the fact that his average is several runs lower than the rest of them bears that out. Whilst I think the comparison that’s been made here between Cook and Justin Langer is a good one, in terms of their records and the role they both provided to their teams, I think the member of the 10k club Cook most reminds me of is actually Mahela Jayawardene: they both had/have a slight weak spot against good pace attacks in their favourable conditions (Mahela got caught in the cordon regularly in the innings I watched him in), although they’re still quality enough players to have produced fine innings in these conditions, but are both great and incredibly relaxed players of spin bowling. As much as the 2010/11 Ashes gets brought up, I personally think the 2012/13 tour of India was the best I’ve ever seen Cook bat in a series.

    But I do think it’s a debate worth having: do ten+ years of consistent “very goodness”, as Cook has produced, with some very high highs and a few troughs thrown in along the way, translate to greatness? You may disagree, but I think it’s at least worth considering. Neither do I think that calling Cook great is in anyway meant to diminish the impact of other players and what they’ve achieved: different players are great for different reasons.


    • LordCanisLupus Jun 3, 2016 / 2:10 pm


      Apologies, but this got held up in the Spam queue. Might be to do with the link.



    • man in a barrel Jun 3, 2016 / 4:04 pm

      An interesting viewpoint! If you sort in terms of average and then filter out the players with higher averages but less than 1000 runs, then you lose Paul Downton from the list of Cook’s peers – only joking. But the players who rank above Cook are quite few – Sobers, Hussey, Clive Lloyd, Stephen Fleming, Rohan Kanhai are the ones that stood out for me. Barrington with an average of 90 for 13 innings was an eye-opener, much higher than his career average of 58 albeit in 13 innings out of his total of 131. Dexter’s 13 innings for an average of 71 was also interesting. What becomes clear is that a lot of those players only played one series in those conditions – eg Allan Watkins, 5 matches, average 64. The blokes who have scored over 1000 runs played at least 2 series.

      So, it looks as if players until about the mid 1990s generally got few opportunities to play in those conditions. And Cook has benefited from the scheduling here as well. 41 of his 229 innings – a much higher ratio than Barrington – have been played in Asia for a return 14 runs higher than his full average. In comparison, Gower played 24 out of his 204 there. I guess the interesting thing is to locate when it became common to play more than about 10% of your innings in the sub-continent. Presumably when Sri Lanka and Bangladesh became full members. But that theory is destroyed by Clive Lloyd – 31 of 175 innings and a 16 point increase over his career average


      • SimonH Jun 3, 2016 / 7:13 pm

        The number of Tests played by non-Asian teams in Asia almost doubled across two decades:

        1950s 30
        1960s 44
        1970s 41
        1980s 59
        1990s 67
        2000s 103
        2010s 68 (so far)

        Therefore, it’s not surprising that few players from earlier ages are going to appear in stats measuring achievements in Asia by volume. Only players who had very lengthy careers like Sobers or Clive Lloyd are going to stand much chance of being included. Most famously, Dennis Lillee could play for 13 years (1971-84) and never tour India (Australia’s one tour there in that period came when Lillee was playing for Kerry Packer).


  14. Mark Jun 1, 2016 / 4:16 pm

    When unrestricted genuflecting, and fawning is required, you send for Mark “Gush” Nicholas.

    Warning, you may want to have a sick bucket by your side to collect all the vomit you spew up.

    Here’s a taster……

    “He is a stubborn so-and-so and naturally wary. Part of this comes from his own reticence in front of camera, or behind a microphone; the rest of it from his feeling that those in glass houses (press boxes and commentary boxes) should be more careful with the stones they throw.”

    Where? …..Where are these commentary boxes that throw stones at him? I see no such stones being thrown.

    “He believes that modern cricket is the equal of, or has improved upon, any other era in the game’s history – an argument over which he cannot be swayed.”

    So he is not quite the humble, good egg they all like to portay him as. Basically he thinks today’s cricket is as good as it has ever been. Pretty arogant.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. SimonH Jun 1, 2016 / 6:44 pm

    Selvey’s piece of whimsy, doing a ten degrees of separation on England cricketers, is worth reading if only for a magnificent piece of rudeness by gluck towards…. well, you’ll have to read it to find out but it couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow.

    I’m also not too sure how Selvey’s comment accusing an admittedly annoying post of “shitbagging” quite fits in with ‘the web we want’.


    • Mark Jun 2, 2016 / 1:00 pm

      If they can’t reverse the revenue distribution, and big 3 stitch up all the other things like test match championships, and two divisions are meaningless.

      It’s quite clear there will soon be hardly any competitive test cricket played anymore.


      • SimonH Jun 2, 2016 / 2:08 pm

        They have their model –

        A slightly-less-than-megabucks team can win something once every twenty years and the useful idiots bounce up and down proclaiming, “see, it isn’t all down to money, if only the other poorer teams did what they did, why don’t they stop whinging…..” etc.

        Normal service can then be resumed – and if it isn’t, the megabucks’ boys start planning their breakaway competitions.


    • Mark Jun 2, 2016 / 3:53 pm

      Interesting article which shows again that it is the telegraph that is head and shoulders above the Guadian in looking deeper into cricket matters. Scyld ends his piece by asking ” what will be done?” The answer is absolutely nothing. There is no way cricket will be pushed in state schools. Far too expensive, and time consuming in the modern curriculum.

      I do wonder when the likes of Anderson and Broad have retired where the next fast bowlers will come from? I doubt Bedford school and Eton will be breeding Middle class kids who want to run in and bowl fast for 10 years. Batsman, yes, but not fast bowlers. The Northern counties Scyld Berry talks about no longer have the close mining communities that produced so many fast bowlers in the past.

      But then we might not need them. 20/20 is the only form that makes any money. Perhaps in the future working class kids will want to be 20/20 cricketers who get paid millions, and lead celebrity life styles? Don’t hold your breath!


      • man in a barrel Jun 2, 2016 / 4:46 pm

        Aggers went to Uppingham and Gubby Allen went to Eton bit I can’t think of too many other quick bowlers, apart from Neville Knox and Charles Kortright from the Golden Age, who went to public schools.


  16. quebecer Jun 3, 2016 / 2:52 am

    Can I turn our attention to a linked matter? I’m very interested in this, having grown up with Keith Piper as he went through the Haringey Cricket College while I was at Middlesex. White boy, black boy, obviously. Still, look who made it? 🙂,13919663

    To me, this is the point. What is needed is HOURS of top coaching. It can be had at private schools, or if you’re a normal person, because of incredibly helpful parents taking you to the local indoor county school. The Haringey College model is the exception. And the answer. But make no mistake in thinking high level play is to do with anything other than exposure to top coaching from a young enough age.

    PS I should state clearly that white/black/brown was never an issue that I ever saw at Middlesex. Most of my friends (the comprehensive school contingent) were of some colour or another and I know none ever felt any negativity in this regard.

    Liked by 1 person

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