Absence Makes The Vision Wander
If a sport loses traction in the public eye, it is devilishly hard to get it back. This was always going to be a tough summer to keep the game relevant in the mass media. The European Championships, with three host nations and Ireland involved, were always going to grab the media spotlight, at least for June. Once they are done with there is the pre-season signing merry-go-round to fill the back pages, and with the top gossip clubs having new managers – Guardiola, Mourinho, Conte – the fictions and facts will block out much other sport. Then, when the test series against Pakistan is reaching its conclusion, we have the Olympics. Given we have two less “glamorous” opponents visiting these shores, the ECB have pretty much no chance of garnering media attention, even if they were the most enlightened, sharp, media-savvy organisation in sport (which they are not). Hell, even I can’t be arsed to write about the game that much. And I’m supposed to be a diehard supporter of it.
There’s the rub. I’ve been back from the States for the best part of a week, and I’ve written nothing on cricket. There are no international fixtures going on in England, a joke series in Zimbabwe, a tri-series of ODIs in the Caribbean, and a hotch potch of formats played here when not dodging the lamentable weather. I do a lot of this blog based upon the media output, and there’s been nothing to rail against. Sure, I could go on about Chris Stocks having another pop at Compton in The Cricket Paper, or I could comment on the new-look Cricketer (I actually quite like the look, it’s the writers I have a problem with) but it would be going through the motions. I think I’ve read just TCP and TC since I’ve been back, and not even in great detail. It just seems that in the middle of June, when we should be doing something to capture the public imagination during a football competition, there’s nothing. So Switzerland v Albania it is!
Writing this blog is not a job. I earn no money from it. I get more grief than I should have to put up with from it. I do it, as I’ve said many times, because I love the game, and I love writing. Throughout all your relationships, if that is the right word, with a sport, there are going to be times when you blow hot and cold, and the blast is straight out of the arctic right now. I have a team I can’t give my all to because of how it originated and who leads it. I have a sports body I still hold in complete contempt, feeling a self-congratulatory Trump-esque feeling of having grave suspicions about the current ECB chairman, while having nothing but fears about Super Series Strauss and Tom Harrison. The international game looks in poor shape, with Sri Lanka’s abject displays in the first half of the series laying bare the lie that the test game can go on as it is. Then there’s the attempts to influence us all in making us love a team some of us don’t feel we ever can until certain people have gone. The Essex Media Mafia have been in full effect over the ascension to 10000, and the tedious debate over “greatness”. This has been augmented by the victorious, smug “KExit” campaigners making no attempt to disguise their contempt for us, by taking over the Guardian BTL with their witless offerings.
I have no idea, nor do I care, how the T20 Blast is going. I’ve tried to follow Surrey’s wins and losses, but that isn’t because I can watch each game on a live stream, as I might if it were available, but laughably we don’t think we can do that due to our TV contract. As for the One Day cup? Well, if you want to finish a competition off, just do this. Split it in half, and see what happens. Make it be played in April to ensure its final complete annihilation.
It’s just Dmitri, once again being negative Nigel, always complaining, never offering anything. Well, I’ll tell you this. I listened to Colin Graves’s wonderful interview prior to the Sri Lankan series. I might be going too far to say it made me pine for Giles Clarke, but it certainly didn’t have me thinking he’s on our side. The problem with test cricket isn’t whether the damn thing is four or five days, or whether it has context or not. It’s the effing quality of it, there’s too much of it, and players are either knackered, injured or so fed up with it, that they don’t produce of their best. There’s little ebb and flow in our matches – we either run over a team on a pitch helping us, or we struggle – while India in their last series against South Africa might as well have rubbed each wicket with industrial strength sandpaper and they’ve have been more subtle than what actually happened. Australia remain dominant at home, and good on batting wickets. Pakistan are anyone’s guess, the rest are also rans. Anyone with the temerity to compare this nonsense with the 1990s oppositions we faced, where even Zimbabwe could run out a Flower or two, with Streak et al to back them up, is in need of some awakening. But Graves wants four day tests. Given some of the wickets we produce, this is aspirational all the wrong way round, but if he thinks making it four days will mean 100+ overs in a day, then I seriously suggest he reconsiders. The current lot don’t give a crap about getting 90 in most days.
When is the ODI series? Is it soon? Oh, it’s tomorrow! How did I miss it?
How is cricket going to survive in the long run? The issue remains pretty simple to me. No matter what I hear or see, the fact is our top players are being paid well enough, but county pros are paid too much to justify the revenue they bring in (otherwise why are these clubs in crisis). Whether this is because the revenue isn’t there (maybe not enough conferences for your conference centre adjunct), or is being held back by a TV/media contract that stops clubs from exploring possible additional media revenue is for those that know to tell us. The top players won’t be giving up yet more money to keep their brethren in clover, otherwise it’s off to the T20 leagues and all that, so you have an impasse where a sport that needs to attract players with money, isn’t going to make enough money to pay them, and certainly won’t get it through money at the gate. When the interest sustaining the current level of international expenditure dries up, as it surely will on this path, I can bet very good money it won’t be the international players, or the administrators at the ECB, cutting back their wages. Only then might we have a county game that is sustainable on its own accord, but I highly doubt it. This is why you’d rather keep with the devil you know – paying the bills, limiting the access – than break free and see what you can do. In a number of ways, it mimics another decision being made this week.
I know. It’s downbeat. It’s me being me. I keep singing the same old tune. But those who criticise need think of this. I still care. But not as much. And not as much equates to not as much revenue through the gate, or on merchandise, or over-priced food and drink than before. And that equates to not watching on TV, or perhaps, giving up my subscription. Of not making the effort to go to a T20 game. And I started from a high base. Lord knows what those who dip in and dip out make of it.
Glad to be back? Maybe. ODI #1 tomorrow. A chance to clinch the Super Series. And they’ll be rejoicing in the streets.
One tiny piece of cross-promotion. In case you missed it I’m doing a blog on US sports. This may, or may not, be of interest but the link is www.dmitriamericana.wordpress.com – if you like it, let me know. If you don’t, don’t!
I follow Legsidelizzy on Twitter and she’s been heroically covering games and posting updates and exciting video snippets. And apparently Yorkshire even won a white ball game. And to be honest, it’s hard to really care about it. I just don’t think there’s room in the long term for domestic T20 & 50 over & CC unless the schedule is really sorted out. On top of everything else, you may just be getting in the flow when a couple of games are cancelled for rain…
And then there’s SL, who may be more competitive in the limited overs stuff, but may not because it may just be damp as all hell and no country for old spinners.
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Not content with imitating Peter Moores, Roy has gone full David Lloyd Zimbabwe 96 now. I admire his ambition and am sure that if he tries hard enough he can even scale the lordly heights of Dexter before the tournament is over.
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Perhaps he’ll refer to “Bertrand Ryan” before it’s all over….
Watching the football, one thing that’s struck me is that the only time I’ve heard England described as young and/or inexperienced was when 18-year old Marcus Rashford came on against Wales. England’s footballers have been the youngest squad and the second least experienced squad (in terms of average caps they number 22.2 – only Romania have fewer) in the tournament. It’s hardly been mentioned.
Contrast that with the cricket team which seemed to have been renamed young-inexperienced-England as that’s what they’ve constantly called by the cricket media over the last two years (even when referring to 28-year old Moeen Ali or 40-cap Joe Root).
The ECB could teach the FA a thing or two about spin.
Roy or is it Woy? is the classic England governing sporting body choice. Straight, upright, decent, not likely to rock the boat type. He is cautious, and managerial. He won’t be found doing anything vulgar or shady. And he can be sold to the masses because he is like a sought of European technocrat. He has been on all the right courses, and got all the right badges.
But he is another English coach that any success they have will be despite him, rather than because of him. England have some good attacking options, and if they click they can score goals. They haven’t yet clicked. Maybe they won’t……….Maybe they will…….but it will be nothing to do with Roy.
“Morgan, seemingly the designated limited-overs leader until the World Cup, is badly in need of a score after just one half-century in his last nine 50-over internationals”:
Newman’s just itching to get a band-wagon rolling.
Morgan has never been “one of us.” The little Newman ECB ers, who think they, and only they should run English cricket. Despite his interview with Nasser when he tried to show his loyalty to the Newman crowd, he was not sufficiently anti KP, and not grovelling enough to Cook. And frankly after Cook attacked the decision to replace King Cook with Morgan after the World Cup, who can blame him?
He is tolerated more than loved by the Newman brigade. As soon as they can find a suitable replacement Morgan will be gone. Isn’t it revealing how every ENGLAND batsman is put under the microscope of Newmans gaze except Cook? The love of Cook blinds Newman to anything remotely sensible. So he heaps the pressure onto Morgan like Compton so he will fail.
Although I’m not advocating any regard for Newman, I do think there is a bit more to be said about Morgan. He has failed to perform in big tournaments with notable blow-outs in form in the World Cup and the two most recent editions of the World t20.
The question of how to improve the overall quality of international cricket is an interesting one. Apart from the elephants in the room of revenue redistribution and the fixture list, is there anything else which might help? I’m cautiously positive about two divisions (provided that it’s organised fairly to all countries) and day-night tests (provided that issues surrounding the ball’s durability and dew are resolved), but what other stuff do you think might help?
The big two are the two you’ve mentioned, revenue and scheduling. On the other two, I’m also keen on two divisions but have major concerns about D/N Tests.
1) Pitches – something must be done. ICC-contracted groundsmen is the best idea I can come up with but I’m open to persuasion on other methods to improve pitches.
2) Cricket in the Olympics ASAP.
3) No gagging-clauses on any broadcasters.
4) On-field sensors for alleged ‘chuckers’. A while ago, Atherton said these were in development but I’ve heard nothing about them since.
5) ICC to pay for Snicko and Hotspot everywhere.
6) Routine publication of crowd attendances on scorecards and all TV viewing audience figures to be openly available.
Finish not to your liking ?
What a peculiar game of cricket.
Peculiar = highly entertaining for mine. From 82/6 to tie the game was a commendable effort.
If your replying to me then the result is kind of what I would have liked. I want the England to win!!!!
Knicker gripping, but what’s up with Root? Poor in tests, and a shocker this game!
Not one mention of Morgan?…Hmmm!
It’s a form of Cricket “player cleansing” by Newman.
Truly horrible man.
Yes, being Irish, of course, he’ll never be “one of us”! Captain of England, but definitely outside the Establishment…quite a paradox really? Black balled?
Actually I didn’t really mean that he was Irish. Although only Newman knows if that is why he is so hostile. But in my opinion Morgan’s real crime is he was ok with KP, and doesn’t kiss Cooks back side often enough.
In the peculiar world of the English cricket writer inserting your nose up Cooks backside is all that matters.
Newman was particularly vitriolic about Morgan when he missed the ODI in Ireland (that was rained off anyway) to play in the IPL.
That was before the IPL became flavour of the month with Strauss, of course…..
Yes, and I think next years IPL clashes with some ODIs for ENGLAND. Not completely sure, and can’t be bothered to look it up right now. Be interesting to see what choice Morgan makes. Do I play for England or go and play IPL?
Perhaps Newman hopes he will be out the team by then.
Interesting…the CPL actually want more people to watch it? That flies in the face of the current business model!
At least it’s a start!
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Go Dave! Let’s hope these games attract reasonable viewing figures, because that would totally shoot down the ECB’s mantra that there’s no place for the game on FTA anymore. Starting from such a low base, even an audience of a couple of hundred thousand would probably be an embarrassment for ECB/Sky.
Forgive me for being slightly complimentary to the ECB – trust me, it doesn’t happen often – but I feel that it’s worth commending them for the deal that they’ve cut with the BBC for the online clip rights. It transpires that the deal is for the next four years (so, in-step with the TV and radio rights) and, frankly, it is a step change for those of us without Sky. Within 5-10 minutes of a wicket occurring, you can log onto the BBC website and watch it. And with the same kind of deal in place for ICC events (also for four years), the BBC website is going to be a key place for those of us without Sky to go to for international cricket.
The Cricketer magazine reports that Sky were highly against the deal happening (to the extent that the Cricketer printed in their June issue that the deal had been mooted but wouldn’t happen because of Sky blocking it) and this is why it was never ‘fanfared’ by the BBC. But they are certainly giving it plenty of plugging from their social media feeds and their website. So, for the ECB to stand up to Sky for once and do something to better the experience for the ‘have-nots’ is very unusual and should be commended.
I know it’s not everything we want, but it’s not a bad start within the restrictions of the current deal, and it makes me hold out hope that something might happen within the next rights deal.
Also, re. the premise of this post being that cricket is totally out of the public consciousness – I quite agree. But it was very nice to hear Chris Evans spending a good five minutes on his radio show this morning giving a blow-by-blow account of yesterday’s match, saying it was the best game of cricket he had ever seen and generally promoting the game. That kind of thing can only be good for the game.
Thanks for that Nicholas. Interesting to see if Selvey will support this action by the ECB because of late he has become a Sky patsy.
I think there are some people at the ECB who are beginning to realise they have made the game almost invisible to many people, and this is slowly killing the future of the sport. As you say it’s small beer, but a move in the right direction. Now they need to allow counties to promote their games with clips on line.
The great thing about watching the England ODI side whether they win, lose or tie is that whatever happens, it has f*** all to do with Cook.
What’s more, there isn’t this dead hand atmosphere that hangs over the test side that everyone must praise Cook, no matter how bad he performs.
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Can I just give a small shout out to Purple Woodpecker? I know he or she reads our nasty little blog, if only so he or she can have full knowledge of what the dastardly opposition is thinking, and I’d like to assure him or her that I will continue posting here, there and everywhere as Northern Light, Angry Red Squirrel and a few others inbetween. However, my stint as “Contributor: Mike Selvey” will be finishing at the end of this year.
But why would you want so many aliases? That’s abit scary!!!
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Every so often, Angry Red Squirrel gets a bit too angry and goes into Pre-Moderation. So he needs a friend to help him out when commenting.
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Some attempt to put SL as an ODI team in current context:
SL are 5th in the ODI rankings (England are 6th). They are 17 ranking points behind Australia.
Their series’ results in the last two years:
Ireland (A) – Won 2-0
NZ (A) – Lost 1-3.
WI (H) – Won 3-0
Pakistan (H) – Lost 2-3.
World Cup – QFs (lost by 9 wkts to SA)
NZ (A) – Lost 2-4
England (H) – Won 5-2
India (A) – Lost 0-5.
Pakistan (H) – Won 2-1
South Africa (H) – Lost 1-2.
England (A) – Won 3-2.
In short, it’s a pretty modest record. Apart from England, the only FMs they’ve beaten are Pakistan (ranked 9th and who then beat them) and West Indies (ranked 8th). Both were at home. NZ have beaten them soundly in two home series and South Africa beat them in SL. The results before the WC included Sangakkara and mostly didn’t include three seamers being out injured.
In even shorter, they’re a side that a team that’s had a white-ball revolution and is on course to win the 2017 CT and/or 2019 WC should be beating comfortably at home.
SimonH, are you an actuary in your day job ? 😉
No – I’m a former History teacher!
I do like a stat though (as you’ve probably noticed…..).
I was watching our ladies powering through to victory over Pakistan this afternoon. I spotted one camera shot of a stand populated by a few classes from the local school, all having a great time. What a great idea of someone to give kids a chance to see live cricket
This match & the tests made me wonder if Ian Bell is the new KP? He is obviously better than the smouldering bomb crater that passes for England’s top order, but his face may not fit.
Being from Warwickshire he is neither part of the Essex mafia nor a Yorkie 😉 Hence he doesn’t get clique support.
He isn’t part of the drive for new/younger players. It doesn’t matter that his batting saved a series draw in South Africa & an Ashes win at home in the past.
It’s late, I’m half drunk & biased….. But if we know one thing it’s that we don’t select on merit
The new ” cloak of invisibility” is ready for manufacture!
CT facing the chop (again):
Bugger all that governance nonsense. Here’s what’s REALLY IMPORTANT!!!
This is not a parody.
It’s Selvey – we can take it as read that he’s beyond parody 🙂
Compton to be taking a break from cricket. Congratulations, Newman et al – your work is done. How do these people live with themselves?!?!
“The selection process has to have an integrity and you can’t keep going back to someone if they are not performing, unless their name’s Alastair Cook”, said Jonathan Agnew.
This must rival the one about the tattoo as their most desperate one yet:
Whistle along with this