Dearth Of Press Men

The Fantastic Four
The Poll Winners Party

And there there was one.

I know many of you were coming on to this site yesterday looking to the reaction I might have about the news that Mike Selvey is not being retained past September of this year. Many of you no doubt thought I’d be delighted. That I’d be revelling in the so-called downfall of one of this blog’s most prominent targets. That I’d be chuffed to see the ending of his writing. That it would be revenge for what happened to KP, and the part people like me thought he played in it. I think some might even have wanted me to gloat.

You probably think I’m laughing my head off right now. You probably want to think that this is something I wanted to happen. Well, you would have been wrong, because the clue was in a post I wrote a few months ago when Bunkers was getting the push from the Independent.

One other point. I know I’ve been a critic of Stephen Brenkley, or Bunkers as he’s known on here. Mr Aplomb was one of those guilty men who drip fed us some crumbs of information but never really told us what went wrong on that Ashes tour. I will remember the salt in the tea analogy as a particular Bunkers piece. Today he took to Twitter to say that he’s written his last piece as The Independent’s Cricket Correspondent, and that’s sad. He also said he has two weeks more to go and he’d write for the I if they wanted him to. I’m not rejoicing. Brenkley’s loss to the media coverage of cricket should be a bloody beacon of woe for the game. I’m not sure who will be taking over at the I, but I’ll bet it won’t be a full time correspondent. Let’s see. It didn’t seem the departure of a retiring man, but one of a paper cutting costs. Maybe things will become clearer.

That it is a disaster for the game when prominent cricket writers are dispensed with on cost grounds. It is a sign the game is losing its audience. A commercial reality writ large, so large, that the ECB can’t keep ignoring it and hoping for the best, can they?

Because I’m not a fan of someone’s writing (and I’m not) does not mean I want to see them sacked. That would be churlish, unsympathetic and nasty, and believe it or not, I might have a part of the first in me (relentlessly so, perhaps), I’m not either of the latter. At least, I don’t think I am. Selvey was (well still is) an integral plank of the written media and the cricket writing genre cannot cope with huge positions being downsized and big personalities being dismissed. It is the canary in the goldmine for the game. As each year passes without a meaningful, well promoted, cross-platform access for the majority to the big events, so another year passes with less people engaged in cricket. When I was growing up cricket was an integral part of the fabric of the nation. Now it appears like an elite indulgence. While the cricket writers of today aspire to the levels of those of yesteryear, anyone without satellite access might as well read Harry Potter, for all the tangible evidence they get of this derring-do. When Ben Stokes played that innings in South Africa, the ECB should have begged, scraped, whatever the BBC to play full highlights of it on their website or Iplayer. When Stuart Broad skittled out the Aussies at Trent Bridge, the patchy wicket highlights were an improvement on nothing, but nothing compared to seeing it live. And you see, as each of those people who have drifted away from the game are further distanced, so the needs for relatively highly paid “experts” diminishes.

It can’t be hard to see, for the likes of Selvey, Pringle and Bunkers, that the sport isn’t what it used to be in the public conscience, and thus as the audience diminishes, so does the need for their salaries. It is brutal, it is hard to take, but we are dealing with commercial realities. The 200 or so who have offered their lachrymose comments on the County Blog are not going to be enough to pay Selvey’s wages. Because, by and large, most of us don’t buy the Guardian (nor the Indy, nor the Telegraph) and read the content for nothing. The alternative for the vast majority is not to pay for access, it is not to read them at all.  The Telegraph limit the content you can access free, so I limit myself to that number of articles (and get around it when needed). That is the pure reality of the space we live in now. The free internet news access is a disaster for most, but taken for granted by many.

Of course, I’m taking a leap of faith on the financial rewards of being a journo. I simply have no idea what they are. But I’m wagering given seniority, reverence and output that Selvey was pretty well recompensed compared to someone newer on the scene. Those tasked with making money, which newspapers need to, aren’t going to see his faithful few supporters as anything other than collateral damage. A few might not buy the paper again in disgust, or not access cricket content, but the opportunity to pontificate below the line is always an alluring one, in the same way blogging is for me. They’ll be back, by and large. Do you thing wctt, palfreyman et al are going to up sticks and go somewhere else?

On a personal level, losing a job is a terrible thing, and on that level I genuinely wish Selvey well going forward. If that makes me a hypocrite in some eyes, well so be it. I can’t help that. Those people that think that are probably the first to misrepresent what I say in any case, so f for Freddie them. On a writing level, I was never a fan and that pre-dates 2014. I’ve said it many times when we’ve run the worst journalist poll, that I have not lost any faith in Selvey because I never really had any in the first place. But I do see how those that used to love his writing felt very let down by the post-2014 fall out. KP has made his feelings known in a typically tone-deaf tweet today, and in many ways I think that these incidents with Cook, Flower, Clarke et al were the beginning of the end. He saw one of his peers, Pringle, alienate his audience so much with his misjudging of the mood that it was no surprise when he was given the push. Now, a bit further on, the fickle finger of the feckless newspaper industry is pointing at Selvey.

I don’t actually believe it was the furore that brought him down. The interaction below the line post-2014 has been aggressive because of the Tyers Twitter Tendency (see glossary) that Selvey was one of the prime examples of, but it drove hits. We didn’t see what we thought we should be seeing – a journalist acting as our representative, not as someone giving off the appearance of being an ECB stenographer (and he did in my eyes), but it got people going. There was a consistent groundswell from “our side” that was almost begging Selvey to be more open, but he closed the door, and his plaudits loved him for it. So while some of his output was, undoubtedly, of considerable quality, it kept coming down to the KP question. The damage of 2014 has been very widespread, as you know, because I’ve mentioned this schism constantly.

When 2014 was ongoing, the likes of Selvey and Newman, Pringle and Bunkers provided me with tons of material to fisk. While Selvey was waging his campaigns, his picking apart of Adil Rashid, his defence of the realm, his pet theories of wind directions for ODIs and where to pick hitting boundaries, there was always something to react to, to provide material for the blog, and comments for the supporters of us here. Like him or loathe him, he provided things to react to, in much the same way as Downton did. Our material is diminished by his departure. But that’s me being selfish.

I’ve never interacted with Selvey (that I know of) and nor him with me. Fine. I don’t live and breathe for journo’s attention, no matter what some of them think. I have been critical of him, of course I have. I don’t share some of the love for him, there’s no doubt about that. But he is a position lost to cricket on a national level, and that can’t be good, and on a personal level, I’m not cheering his dismissal. I’d be surprised if anyone thought I would be. It’s indicative of a sport downsizing. If you are happy with that, then I think you are wrong to be so. But I suspect that’s not a universally held view.


83 thoughts on “Dearth Of Press Men

  1. Clivejw Jul 19, 2016 / 8:41 pm

    If I had any sympathy with Selvey, who will be well compensated after 31 years as a staff reporter, it was forfeited by his typically churlish reaction on Twitter, with his wounded sense of entitlement. Contrast this with the dignity with which Fred Trueman took the news in 1999 that he would no longer be part of Test Match Special: “Time moves on, and whoever takes my place, I wish them well.” As high an opinion as he undoubtedly had of himself, Fiery Fred also had the humility to realize that no one is indispensable. I enjoyed Selvey’s writing for at least 26 of the 31 years he wrote for the Guardian, but he has become stale and predictable, his judgement can no longer be trusted, and social media has exposed his personality failings even more than his own columns.

    But your concern over the wider issue of the decline of press coverage of cricket is one I share and well articulated, so no need for me to repeat the arguments you have made. If Selvey is replaced by a younger writer who is not so beholden to ECB management and is more at ease with social media and BTL interaction, that is all to the good. But like you, I fear that he will simply not be replaced, and that the Guardian will rely on a couple of junior journos and the press association to fill in gaps. As in so many of the wider issues of the game, Selvey, with his blinkered defence of Sky coverage, seems not to have realized that the dwindling audience of the game would inevitably eventually threaten his own livelihood, so to some extent he has been hoist on his own petard.

    Liked by 5 people

    • nonoxcol Jul 19, 2016 / 9:00 pm

      Spot on sir.


    • Simon K Jul 19, 2016 / 10:39 pm

      I think it’s more that he has spent literally his entire adult life in the “inside cricket” bubble and may simply never have had any sense of how the game was perceived (or ignored) by outsiders. His petulant dismissive attitude to the big three takeover was because he was genuinely unable to comprehend its significance. Likewise Sky, likewise Clarke, Downton and Moores. He is an interesting reader of the game and often a lyrical writer, but he couldn’t see the game from the perspective of the spectator and in the end it was fatal.

      Also, he’s 68. It’s not great to lose your job at any age, but he’s had a full working life and if he doesn’t find more work, can retire happily. The younger journos who are currently being laid off by the dozen at the Guardian and elsewhere will in many cases never get another job in journalism. Selvey has got off lightly by comparison.

      Liked by 1 person

    • quebecer Jul 20, 2016 / 1:01 am

      Hey Clive. Hope you’re well. We’ve never really disagreed on much over the years, and again, I seem to feel as you do now. I do still remember when Selvey was a genuinely good source of information, of the kind you simply couldn’t get anywhere else. I tried to hang in there as long as I could, but in the end it was exactly as you put it: his judgement could no longer be trusted. That was the damning thing for me. Using BTL and social media to be a git rather than inform wasn’t too clever either, mind you.


  2. metatone Jul 19, 2016 / 8:44 pm

    Well said. I liked some of his work, although we did have a bit of an argument pre-KP when I was sceptical of the England medical staff/bowling coaching strategy around playing bowlers when apparently unfit. Post-KP I largely stopped bothering b/c it was clear that S. saw his role about reporting on play and much less about questioning the ECB. I never asked for him to be sacked, not wanted him to be. So no joy for me in the news.

    Further, I agree with your reading that it’s about cutbacks as the game gets less relevant. And it doesn’t look good news in that regard.


  3. Sean B Jul 19, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    completely agree, good well thought out piece. I can (and hopefully) you’ll let me add my own post on this point.


  4. jomesy Jul 19, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    I get the gist…but have to disagree. Selvey was a dinosaur…and a nasty one at that. He’s been a very well paid troll to trot out ECB nonsense that, IMHO, has caused far more harm than him entering into retirement will do. As Clive had said, we need some new guys with new ideas….like you, perhaps.

    Whilst I can (try to) understand your magnimity, I think it’s wholly misplaced here. Hope that’s not offensive as I love the blog, but you’re worrying about a past that cannot return…blogs such as this as the future.

    At risk of really pissing you off, don’t be a Luddite, you’re the future.


    • thelegglance Jul 20, 2016 / 10:06 am

      If there’s one thing that no one should ever have to worry about on here, it’s concern about pissing any of us of off for having a different opinion!

      If anything, my biggest regret about this place is that by definition it tends to veer towards the echo chamber. It doesn’t help when we get deliberately trolled either, because so many people simply honestly hold different views.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2016 / 1:43 pm

        Agree. I get passionate in arguments because I give a shit and so do those that argue against me. What I can’t abide are people who misrepresent me outside of here. They are fair game when they do that. They are also still welcome to contribute.

        For example, me and AB have had some delightful debates! But he challenges me and I think vice versa. Sure, I get a little heated but it’s good. It’s not personal. Plenty of you disagree about Selvey. Good.

        But all my arguments are based on being a KP Fanboy? Yes. Like a one trick pony like that would last. Shows that accusation’s laziness, not mine.


  5. Topshelf Jul 19, 2016 / 9:16 pm

    The bigger picture is the problem. Were these cutbacks simply about culling some older writers who have grown complacent and too fond of their own voices, unable to “move on” into a world where BTL and twittersphere debate and dissent are to be expected, then, while a shame for Selvey himself, it would simply be “progress.”

    But it isn’t – it’s yet more cost-cutting that pushes our sport even further to the margins..

    There is an irony I suppose that the most interesting “journalism” on cricket I now find is on Cricinfo (even FICJAM says something intriguing once a year), blogs like this, and not even in print at all.

    The likes of Ian Ward on Sky get more fascinating insight in their masterclasses and the Sky Zone than we often read in print. I’m lucky enough to have Sky, and to be able to use those resources to engage/teach my cricket-mad children. The fact that my love of the game was reinforced by any number of cricket books, including many anthologies of writing over the ages, is a little irrelevant now. I live in hope that my kids will investigate the shelves of dead trees, but in reality a Jayawardene catching lesson, or half an hour of Jimmy talking swing bowling is much more likely to excite them. Getting them on the ECB website, or similar, that might make a difference.

    I actually liked Selvey’s writing in general, if not always the content; but then I’ve always liked a long sentence and a comma, me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Benny Jul 20, 2016 / 2:16 pm

      Excellent observation. I’d add to Benjamin Franklin’s famous “the only certainties in life are death and taxes” the inescapable “change”. Absolutely true about Ian Ward’s masterclasses. Apart from the value that they are fascinating, cricket, from the year dot has always suffered from being hard to understand for those new to it.

      Being ancient, I’ve seen plenty of changes and many have been rewarding – the internet with it’s speed of providing information, cricinfo particularly and blogs that broaden your view. This blog isn’t an echo chamber – I’ve learnt a lot here. However, to echo Dmitri’s salient point, cutbacks are deeply concerning and do suggest someone saying “well, hardly anyone reads this stuff anyway”.

      I believe the press has, maybe unwittingly, driven themselves down this road. It used to be that you could sit down with your morning cuppa, and read up on all yesterday’s scores, in detail. For quite sometime, not just for cricket, the papers have concentrated on printing opinions in place of facts. Main reason I gave up reading them.

      Like others, I don’t have any concern for someone retiring at 68, although I hope Sir Geoffrey goes on forever.


  6. Mark Jul 19, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    In the early 1860s Allan T. Ward a shop keeper from Kansas wrote home to his sister with his worries about the civil war……..“we would have no cause of complaint if we could only have peace, but alas, war with all its horrors is upon us, and of all wars that ever a country was cursed with a civil war is the worst.”

    English cricket has undergone a civil war, and our side lost. Civil wars are always the worst because the bitterness goes on long after the final result. We always maintained it was about more issues than just KP. He was the straw that broke the camels back, but the decline of the game and the managing of the game were also high on our list of concerns. I never understood why people like Selvey ignored those concerns. He seemed to revel in rubbishing our points of view. I have had my disagreements with Jonathan Agnew over the KP issue, and his association with Stuart Broad and the fake Twitter account, but on other issues I do believe he gets it. He saw the bigger picture about what was happening to test cricket.

    Cricket is dying, and test cricket is going fast. It needs competitive series above anything else. Not day night cricket or pink balls or 4 day 100 overs ( Ho, ho, ho) It needs contests. It needs good test players. Even then I’m not sure it can be saved. It’s been good to see so many people enjoy a competitive test match at last. Because we all agree that is the best form of the game. It’s what brought us in to start with.


  7. northernlight71 Jul 19, 2016 / 9:43 pm

    Cricket is less relevant to so many people now in large part because it is not on free to air TV, and it is run and marketed by an organisation for which the word “inept” was surely invented.
    Selvey has rarely, in my experience, truly questioned the negative, short termist role of the ECB either as the guardians of English cricket or of cricket in general. He supports their deals with Sky TV and he has never to my knowledge aired one word of criticism of their role in the stitching up at the ICC.

    If he is being let go because cricket is less important to the national conversation, then he did little to turn that ship around.
    If it’s because he’s alienated a large section of decent, knowledgeable readers at the G, then it’s his own fault.
    If it’s just a case of cutting costs by cutting some of the higher paid of your workers, then he’s finding out the harsh realities of life which many who never went to public school nor float around in that social cesspool have always had in their lives.

    As clive says, hoist with his own petard in almost all cases. And if not, very far down the list of people I feel sympathy for in this country right now.

    For context, my Dad has been a writer/journalist for most of his life. Never earned a fortune from it but has always had principles and tries to honour them, quite apart from the fact I can’t imagine him being so snide, superior or abusive even if he did use Twitter. A much better human being all round, and still working at 82 because 1) He loves what he does and 2) He really can barely afford not to, since his useless son is yet to engage in a career which would allow generous subsidies to be sent his way.

    When Selvey is half the journalist and human being my Dad is, maybe I’ll feel regret. But since we all know he’s never going to be poor, he’ll still spit his bile on other websites and in other publications, and he’ll never lose his condescending and superior air or his sense of entitlement to abuse people for their opinions, that day will in all likelihood never come.

    I hear he’s not that nice in person, either 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Simon K Jul 19, 2016 / 10:43 pm

      “If it’s because he’s alienated a large section of decent, knowledgeable readers at the G, then it’s his own fault.”

      Oh, not just the readers. It isn’t a state secret that he was not the easiest colleague.


  8. cricketjon Jul 19, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    If Thom Yorke can ( on his now obsolete Friends Reunited account) claim to be someone who just “plays music for a living” and Misbah Ul Haq can dedicate the excellent performance of his team to a relatively unknown activist then who in the name of jamming jack can justify Mike Selveys utter lack of grace and dignity?

    Stop and imagine being 68 years old and being that bitter having had ( by his own admission) fifty years in the game that must have given him some pleasure. His existence ( because without the fans it would not happen) was dependent on peeps from all walks of life and that inevitably means those who work for a living, in all probability not doing something they love, in order that, amongst other things, they could watch or keep up to date with the game.

    It is entirely possible that for many years he was an above average writer but I shall sadly remember him for the last two where he nailed himself so unequivocally to the ECB mast that his objectivity went out of the window. It is a key requirement of a journalist that objectivity is retained for without that their participation is otherwise redundant.

    This is before I revert to the instances of bitterness which prevailed whenever anyone questioned him on his drafting. You see, just because he has written doesn’t mean that the ordinary folk cannot offer an opinion. Of course they can offer an opinion. And we may not always agree. But for him to respond so aggressively as though his opinion is beyond question jabs a further dagger into the profession.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zephirine Jul 20, 2016 / 12:50 pm

      I suspect that much of what we supporters disliked about Selvey’s work in recent years – the “I’m in the know” stance and apparent channelling of info from the ECB – was about him trying to hang onto that job.

      It would have been difficult to sack somebody who genuinely had the inside track from the England camp, and with money being so tight at the G he needed to seem irreplaceable.
      He may have been exaggerating what he knew, helped by a few hints from his mate Saker, so that he could maintain his air of expertise. Hence the oblique style and veiled comments.

      I wouldn’t blame him if that were the case, the results weren’t great in terms of journalism but we all do what we have to do to put food on the table.

      Unfortunately, though, his main sources are now either further from the team or have left.

      Liked by 2 people

      • northernlight71 Jul 20, 2016 / 5:23 pm

        That’s very perceptively remarked, zeph. Sounds very plausible.
        Still doesn’t excuse his boorishness and ill-judged superiority complex though 🙂


      • Rooto Jul 20, 2016 / 9:12 pm

        Very good point, Zeph. He has definitely distanced himself / been distanced from the inside track on the England team recently, as Saker’s and Flower have left.

        I’m not confident that the Guardian is going to replace him with a young BTL thruster, or even replace him at all. Just look at the Web We Want stuff to understand that Selvey ‘s defensiveness, bluster and moderation about his output is pretty much the in-house style over there.


  9. Jez moses Jul 19, 2016 / 9:54 pm

    How was aggers associated with the kp genius twitter account?


    • Mark Jul 19, 2016 / 10:18 pm

      Aggers is a good friend of Stuart Broad who happened to be friends with a man who shared a house with Broad, and WAS behind the fake Twitter account. Aggers always claimed it was not run from inside the dressing room, ( how did he know?) but why were there others who had the password to the account? KPs wife had a quite public argument with Aggers at the time about it. Aggers went off Twitter for a bit over it.

      Either Aggers knows something or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t know something….How can he claim to know that the account wasn’t run from within the dressing room?


      • SimonH Jul 19, 2016 / 10:40 pm

        The, er, highlight of that particular exchange:


      • Mark Jul 19, 2016 / 10:56 pm

        I forgot about the “lose the attitude” remark.

        Still think he got it wrong though. If you have the password you can tweet as Mrs KP says. I’m not sure if he l understood that. I also think when it was said it was being run from within the dressing room he took that literally. Nothing to say it couldn’t be operated from a hotel room or private house when a test match was not even going on.


      • AB Jul 20, 2016 / 8:24 am

        I think he was caught out in a lie and tried to plead stupidity through the dullest form of literalism.

        He was aware that Broad (or similar) logged onto the account, wrote disparaging tweets and hit “send”, but because he wasn’t the actual account holder, and he wasn’t literally in the dressing room as he did it, then it wasn’t being “run from inside the dressing room”.


  10. Clivejw Jul 19, 2016 / 10:02 pm

    As we know, Sky are also having a shakeup in their cricket coverage team, with Botham and Gower set to be given the chop. Botham is Botham, he’s there to be admired as an institution, I don’t think anyone listens to his comments (he’s reportedly a good after-dinner speaker and his Cowdrey lecture was okay, but he’s mind-numbingly tedious and semi-detached on Sky); but I’ve always thought that Gower did a good job. But this exchange with Mike Holding made me think that maybe it’s about time the former golden-locked genius went the way of his hair:

    Incredible lunchtime scenes as David Gower compares Kerry Packer's breakaway cricket to Apartheid. Unreal— #Cutteridge (@JamieCutteridge) July 16, 2016


    I don’t think Gower will want to be remembered for asking, live on air, whether apartheid was worse than Packer.

    I will miss Gower’s gift for understatement, though. Now that Richie’s gone, there’s no one who understands that forgotten art, so much more effective than hyperbole. Gower and Benaud talked to you, everyone else shouts in ALL CAPS.


    • Clivejw Jul 19, 2016 / 10:07 pm

      Well, so much for my attempt to embed a tweet in my post. Sorry about that.


      • MM Jul 20, 2016 / 7:23 pm

        Don’t worry fella. I keep being told how and I keep forgetting. Too many Findus Crispy Pancakes when I was a teen.


    • Mark Jul 19, 2016 / 10:31 pm

      Gower is a poor front man. Charles Colville is way better. So is Ian Ward. Gower is a good commentator. I will always have a soft spot for him because of the stylish way he played. Also his tiger moth stunt was priceless. I saw him run out playing for England once . He walked off with two different coloured socks on. He always had this amusing persona about him. He reminded me of Harpo Marx.

      I wonder if this is also about saving money? Surprised about Botham because I thought he was bullet proof.


      • Clivejw Jul 19, 2016 / 10:41 pm

        I think Ian Ward is set to replace Gower. He’s good, but I would have preferred Mark Butcher.


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2016 / 10:12 am

        Ian Ward is exceptionally good, especially at getting cricketers to talk beyond the usual platitudes. That’s a pretty rare ability amongst ex pros, he’s become a proper broadcast journalist.

        As for Charles Colville, I know a lot of people don’t like him, but the reason the Verdict can so often be riveting watching the because he knows when to shut up and get out of the way. He’s not a great presenter, but he is superb at questioning.


    • pktroll (@pktroll) Jul 20, 2016 / 7:39 am

      Yes, I was very disappointed with that, as he was my favourite English batsman to watch as a kid by a country mile, in fact probably my favourite English batsman ever.


    • Zephirine Jul 20, 2016 / 12:53 pm

      I’ll be sorry to see Gower go, but he is so low-key as sometimes to seem almost bored, which is not what TV producers like to see.


  11. Dennis Freedman Jul 19, 2016 / 10:19 pm

    Losing journos is not just a cricket phenomenon. It is happening all across traditional media sites in all kinds of roles including current affairs, news, etc.

    However, interesting that it is happening at the Guardian, where every dollar made is meant to be reinvested in journalism. What’s changed?


    • northernlight71 Jul 19, 2016 / 10:46 pm

      If one were being unkind, one might remark that they may well still be investing in journalism. But Mr Selvey is more of a partial, embedded and opinionated ex-player than an actual journalist.
      At least, one might if one defined a journalist in a realistic way.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Simon K Jul 19, 2016 / 10:47 pm

      They’re losing piles of money each year. They thought they had reached a sustainable level of losses until about 18 months ago when online ad revenues collapsed. During the boom years they also expanded into Australia and the US and undertook a fair few vanity projects.


    • thelegglance Jul 20, 2016 / 10:15 am

      Does need a bit of context – they added Ali Martin to the roster recently, where before then they just used freelancers, so you could say it will revert to where it was.

      But as Simon says, they’re in deep financial trouble.


      • SimonH Jul 20, 2016 / 10:37 am

        Curiously, the Guardian is carrying its first Gideon Haigh (who I’m guessing doesn’t come cheap) article in years today. Does it need saying that it’s a must-read?

        Even a conspiracy theorist like myself can’t argue it’s anything more than a coincidence that’s happened the day after Selvey – but I am finding a 2001 John Cusack film springing to mind!


    • SimonH Jul 19, 2016 / 10:59 pm

      I’d recommend reading it in conjunction with Dobell’s piece on cricinfo about why Bayliss and Cook are in no position to act as selectors. Plus with every pronouncement over the last few years that the ECB doesn’t leak.

      Newman also deserves credit for working in yet another go at Compton. Real creativity there.


      • Mark Jul 19, 2016 / 11:12 pm

        Newman ……..”Who better, then, than former England coach Andy Flower as a ‘super scout’ working closely with Bayliss and being reunited on selection with his ex-captain Strauss?”

        Let’s never forget the three giant fast bowlers Flower took to Australia who were not fit for purpose.

        It gets more like I Claudius everyday.

        Looks like Angus Fraser could be following Selvey out of the door. It doesn’t pay to suck up to this regime. If you get too close you are likely to get burned.


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2016 / 1:39 am

          Bayliss is ok. For now. In their eyes. But I wouldn’t get too comfortable Trevor. I really wouldn’t.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2016 / 1:42 am

        They are mad about Compton. Very mad.

        Perhaps we should mention how some were keen on Vince. I mean AT THIS STAGE it isn’t looking too clever is it? Your boy Flower really liked him though.


    • quebecer Jul 20, 2016 / 1:19 am

      Hi Simon and Mark,
      I think the thing to remember is that Strauss is, well, he’s a winner. He likes winning. It’s a quality that I think people have always underestimated in him, and sometimes seems at odds with his natural conservatism, but I think that second trait simply flavours the first, rather than overrides it. What I mean is that, for example, change? Yes, he’ll do that. People, positions, egos? Nope, not the point to him. Company man that he is, for Strauss it’s still about winning.


      • SimonH Jul 20, 2016 / 9:52 am

        Q, if you mean that Strauss is unsentimental in the pursuit of victory, then I’d agree. I’m not sure he’s even all that sentimental about Cook. There was a Cricinfo article a while back about opening partners and the way Strauss talked about Cook, compared to Hayden and Langer, was like a corporate speak-your-weight-machine.

        Would Strauss rip up an established institution in the pursuit of victory? Yes. That’s why the article seemed credible and I linked it in. I suspect the bit about Flower is more from Newman.

        I’m not quite so convinced Strauss is quite the genius at securing victory that that MSM imagine. England had some shockers on his watch – the first WI tour, the 2011 WC, UAE, the last SA visit. The greatest triumph, the away Ashes’ win, involved stumbling across the right bowling attack rather than a triumph of long-term planning (Broad’s injury and Finn’s decline forced them to pick Tremlett and Bresnan). Australia contributed by being an utter shambles and, as someone old enough to remember 1986/87 knows, it doesn’t always take greatness to beat Australia away.

        Strauss was blessed as captain with England’s best spinner and probably best batsman (Root may yet turn out to be better than Pietersen – we’ll see) for half a century. Let’s see how Strauss as manager does without them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2016 / 10:32 am

        I don’t think he’s at all sentimental about Cook, it’ll be at the back of his mind that Cook is a more than useful sacrificial lamb (as captain) if it all goes wrong.


    • Julie Jul 20, 2016 / 1:19 am

      Strauss will be running the whole show on his own before long perhaps with a little help from his friend Andy Flower.Where is England cricket going????


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2016 / 1:36 am

      His little junior Essex mafia sidekick thinks it is a superb piece. Selection full of “archaic thinking”. But only recently. Same selectors were fine when holding the KP line.

      Oh. Anderson and Stokes needing to prove fitness? Noone remember Matt Prior’s last days as a test player? We do.

      Liked by 3 people

      • quebecer Jul 20, 2016 / 3:26 am

        Woof, to your point about Matty Prior. Goodness me, yes, you nailed that one.
        That was one of the lowest moments, with rather a lot of competition.


      • Geoff Boycott's Grandmother Jul 20, 2016 / 8:06 am

        You only have to go back to January for an example of Jimmy declaring himself ready when he wasn’t.

        He bowled poorly in the second And third tests, continually wasting the new ball. It was only the second innings of the fourth test that he was back to his normal self. Obviously Cook still threw him the new ball each time, no matter how well Finn was bowling.

        I have no time for Whitaker who selected Bell, Ballance and Taylor over Roy, Billings, Pietersen and Stokes for the World Cup, and consider Fraser and Newell – who preferred Finn of Middlesex and Ball of Notts over a Jimmy who hadn’t proved form and fitness – but they got this decision right. The power grab is deeply concerning.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2016 / 8:10 am

          “I know my own body” are the words used of every man in denial of their health.


      • Burly Jul 20, 2016 / 2:44 pm

        Sorry, what was the problem with selecting Taylor? He was our best bet leading up to the world cup but got totally messed around by them preferring Ballance in his position. Even then he backed it up with a 98* against the Aussies, having been dumped from batting 3 to batting 6/7.

        It was utterly braindead decision making to move him out of the crucial #3 slot in favour of immobility’s Gary Ballance, but it was absolutely the right decision to pick him to start.

        Poor guy retires with a 42 average in ODIs (double Gary Ballance’s, for what that’s worth).


  12. quebecer Jul 20, 2016 / 1:11 am

    A quick note about two BLT contributors mentioned above. My thoughts on wctt are well known to any who used to read those blogs at the time. I mean, I made my thoughts pretty clear to wctt himself. I really couldn’t have been clearer. (i just giggled a bit there, btw)

    But palfreyman? No, palfers is simply a gentle soul. Conflict is just really not his thing. He’s a lovely fellow, and a pal. There are a few prized FB threads with him, Galactus, KarlInLondon, Mouth, Busfield, and some others that were the funniest I’ve ever had – and very much all of a mind regarding the game.

    Wctt is just an arse head. I can say that, right? I think I did to him, after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. CRICKETJON Jul 20, 2016 / 6:21 am

    Why do I have this feeling things are about to really hot up here? I’m sure that the origins of this are that England must not lose to anyone (which is a step change from the 90s for sure) but at any cost? I had a nightmare last night that Strauss was in the third umpires bunker calibrating the DRS equipment in response to each review.

    Very similar to the Matt Cheese four inch tear two years ago but I don’t see PAkstan crumbling like India.

    Just seen the Gower Holding apartheid scene for the first time. Ouch.


  14. Mark Jul 20, 2016 / 9:30 am

    Strauss is the arch Macavelli. But if you become all powerful you need to make sure there are some underlings who will take the blame when it all blows up in your face. As Dmitri says, step forward Mr Bayliss, and I venture Mr Cook. They should both sit uneasily now on their new ejector seats. Because they will be blamed for wrong selections.

    There hasn’t been much in the way of player power in English cricket lately, but I suggest that they get some. Because this type of regime will destroy your long term career through injury for a one off test match. I’m not aware of any of this junta having medical qualifications.

    Some on here have always said the true agenda was to reunite Strauss and Flower as supremos of English cricket. Looks like the jigsaw is nearly done. I wonder if Newman will be allowed to sit in for selection meetings so he can propagandise ( sorry report ) straight back to the Peanut gallery? I don’t think playing for England is going to be much fun in the coming years. Siberian salt mines come to mind.


    • SimonH Jul 20, 2016 / 10:03 am

      Yes, scrapping the selectors means a convenient scapegoat has gone.

      Not long ago Nasser Hussain blamed the non-selection of Rashid and the selection of Trott in the WI on “the selectors”. That was despite the selectors only picking the squad and Moores-Cook being in charge of the selection of the team.

      I’ve written here and at the TFT that the selection system was flawed. County coaches should not be selectors. However they’re changing it to something worse and for the wrong reasons. Changing it because the selectors wouldn’t pick a crocked fast bowler (aged 33, on his third injury in the last 12 months and the captain’s mate) is ridiculous.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2016 / 10:20 am

        Was it Boycott who reacted with contempt for the idea the “selectors” were to blame for not picking Rashid on that tour?


      • Zephirine Jul 20, 2016 / 1:04 pm

        “(aged 33, on his third injury in the last 12 months and the captain’s mate)” Anderson’s influence on the team and on Cook is one of the more interesting aspects of England in recent years, and I’m pretty sure we don’t know the half of it..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Jul 20, 2016 / 1:10 pm

        You can argue that a) Strauss has got this post of Director, comma, so he might as well go ahead and direct and b) he was always good at counteracting Flower’s more manic side – the true Mood Hoover persona seems only to have emerged after Strauss retired.

        On the other hand, to revive the partnership would be re-heating an omelette. Just because they won before, in different roles, doesn’t guarantee anything.


    • Mark Jul 20, 2016 / 12:36 pm

      It’s almost word perfect with Newmans. Funny it should appear at the same time. The media have obviously been briefed. Notice in both articles they point out the use of videos. The selectors don’t have to view the player in person, They can now watch him on their laptops. Shades of Alan Sugars famous “Carlos kickaball” quote come to mind.

      There has long been a call for this model in English cricket. The so called football model with an all powerful manager who selects the players and is responsible for results. In cricket the coach is joined by the captain in a sort of buy one, get one free job lot. In some ways there is a logic to it. Didn’t Duncan Fletcher have some interesting picks? He identified county players on technique and temprements rather than just scores in the book. It can work.

      But being a good coach doesn’t always mean you are a good judge of talent. Not everybody can be Alex Ferguson. Look at Roy Hodgson. There is also a risk that cricket as in other sports is reduced to a play station game where the coach is all powerful. He sits in the stand making all the calls. It also depends on the captain and coach being able to know exactly when a player has reached the end of his shelf live. Football is littered with managers who were too loyal to players, and didn’t spot early enough a young upcoming talent. Also does the captain prefer players he is comfortable with as opposed to the best players available? What happens when the coach and captain are in disagreement? Who gets the casting vote? And who is accountable?


      • thelegglance Jul 20, 2016 / 12:40 pm

        Well we had it when Ray Illingworth was around. That went well.


      • SimonH Jul 20, 2016 / 12:55 pm

        Fletcher had been a CC coach (at Glamorgan). He picked Tres largely on the back of having seen him make 161 against Glamorgan’s then strong attack.

        How many days D1 CC cricket would Strauss, Bayliss and Cook have seen between them in recent years? One would have fingers left on one hand after counting them all. Of course, though, it doesn’t matter if you’re not going to select anyone until they’ve played for the Lions and Flower has run the rule over them.

        Let’s also just float the possibility that maybe one or two of the selectors are too keen on Root taking over the captaincy?

        Liked by 1 person

  15. ianrsa Jul 20, 2016 / 12:23 pm

    G’day everyone,

    While I am not celebrating Selvey’s dismissal I have very little sympathy for him. Among others he is one of the reasons for my walking away from all things cricket after forty odd years of a total love affair with the game.

    He knowingly chose to tread the path of inside man and adopt a superior “i know more than you can possibly understand” attitude. While his position may well be a loss from the journalistic numbers point of view, the man himself demonstrated very little integrity and never struck me as an honest broker between the establishment and the consumer. So to me he represents no loss to journalistic integrity or probity and will probably only be missed by his well loved sycophants so ably represented by WCTT.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Simon K Jul 20, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      I find myself in melancholy agreement with your first full paragraph. The feeling that not even the “independent” reporters of the game had the interests of spectators at heart was one of the things that has made me feel over time that the game isn’t worth my investment any more.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. AB Jul 20, 2016 / 12:33 pm

    Selvey’s latest article is just bizarre, he appears to be railing against the very concept of democracy itself. Unfettered dictatorship is the only solution.

    How does he think business’s with boards of directors make decisions?

    The Anderson business shouldn’t have been a selectorial question anyway. Its up to the team doctor to decide whether he is fit to play, and if he isn’t, then he isn’t.

    Ideally the selection process should be a straight vote between captain, coach and 3 selectors, who are paid, independent of any county, and spend the majority of their time watching county cricket. It should have nothing to do with Strauss or Flower or anyone else.


    • Mark Jul 20, 2016 / 12:59 pm

      Selvey….”The fitness or otherwise of Anderson is not the main concern here (although several weeks previously he had told me the nature of the problem and was confident of being fully fit) but rather the selection process itself and spheres of influence within. ”

      So Anderson told Selvey. Well that’s ok then. Nothing to see here move along.

      Selveys journey down memory lane about sitting in a hotel bar drinking brandy with Allott because they each thought the other liked it seems rather these two old pros sat in a bar and were incapable of choosing a drink they did like?


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2016 / 1:04 pm

        I got to the end of that first paragraph and thought….. why?


      • northernlight71 Jul 20, 2016 / 1:20 pm

        I couldn’t help but post on Selvey’s latest missive from La-la land. Since it’s bound to get moderated, as it is neither abusive nor off topic, I’ll reproduce it here for posterity. Feel free to skip the next few lines!

        This article is so full of self-contradiction, I won’t bother to point out most of them – others have already started the job after all. But to say that only one person should make a decision then expand to explain that you obviously mean the captain, coach and a selector should be that “person” is a little confusing.
        As for Anderson, players shouldn’t be trusted to either know or be honest about their own fitness. They’ll almost always decide that playing is better than not playing, that’s human nature. Matt Prior did a great job of deciding he was fit in his last few matches, I seem to recall. Selectors trusting the medical team might even be a welcome new development, given the record England have of putting out teams of half fit players who then break down for even longer, or for good.

        Also, just wondering who the proposed “national selector” should be Mike? Your old pal Andy Flower perhaps? Can’t imagine he’d be that keen on actually being accountable for something. Especially when some of his closest allies won’t be around to defend him in future.

        Liked by 3 people

      • AB Jul 20, 2016 / 1:22 pm

        The entire article, just my the majority of his output for several years now, was simply an exercise in name-dropping, cronyism, and auto-fellatio. There is very little opinion or insight involved, just the knowing smirk of the inside man who thinks he knows more than everyone else and isn’t willing to share (which is pretty much the exact definition of everything a journalist shouldn’t be).

        Liked by 2 people

      • AB Jul 20, 2016 / 1:26 pm

        “Selveys journey down memory lane about sitting in a hotel bar drinking brandy with Allott because they each thought the other liked it”

        Its probably not true, just a made up fiction used to remind the readers of how famous and well-connected Mike is.

        If it genuinely IS true, then its very bizarre. Normal people do not drink a drink they do not like simply because the other fellow is. The anecdotes tells us a lot more about Selvey than it does about committee group think.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Jul 20, 2016 / 1:45 pm

          Don’t know about you but if I can’t stand a drink I won’t drink it for anyone.

          Probably makes me a bilious inadequate.

          Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol Jul 20, 2016 / 1:52 pm


        A later comment from the normally mild-mannered Adrian Morris has already been zapped.

        Goodness knows what he said if yours is still there!


    • nonoxcol Jul 20, 2016 / 1:05 pm

      Their integrity is beyond reproach again, of course.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Topshelf Jul 20, 2016 / 2:05 pm

      Adrian Morris posted a link to his blog. My comment about camels has failed to upset anyone, and NorthernLight’s is still there for the moment.

      I can’t see a problem with 5 selectors and a free vote; problems come when whoever is Chairman (if there is one) has some sort of power (real or perceived) over the others. A free vote quickly becomes voting to gain patronage, or not upset the boss.


    • SimonH Jul 20, 2016 / 2:56 pm

      “Selvey’s latest article is just bizarre, he appears to be railing against the very concept of democracy itself. Unfettered dictatorship is the only solution”.

      Homer Selvey:-


      • SimonH Jul 20, 2016 / 3:32 pm

        ….. that they might even do it a second time –

        The first article is hilarious for its theory that the referendum was lost because Gove was sacked as Education Secretary. Ed Smith clearly adores an Oxbridge-not-quite-as-clever-as-he-thinks-he is type. A little bit like looking in the mirror, perhaps?

        The second article is actually quite good for a while (the dissection of Leadsom and the bit on the social problems of Boston are really quite pertinent) but hang on in there because it reliably goes off the rails into an autobiographical reminiscence of WTF proportions followed by an extended whinge about how tough it is being a member of the elite these days.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Jul 20, 2016 / 5:17 pm

        Smith……” By chance, I spent 13 years working in an antique travelling circus. We toured the nation, plying our trade in unflashy cities and county towns, rustling up whatever small crowds we could, chatting to punters after the final curtain, trying to keep a faltering show on the road. ”

        Oh FFS ….he thinks he’s Mr Bojangles now

        He danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs throughout the south
        He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him traveled about
        The dog up and died, he up and died
        And after 20 years he still grieves

        He said I dance now at every chance in honky tonks for drinks and tips
        But most the time I spend behind these county bars ’cause I drinks a bit
        He shook his head, and as he shook his head
        I heard someone ask him please

        Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
        Mr. Bojangles, dance.


    • Clivejw Jul 20, 2016 / 5:56 pm

      Just in case this remark is modded:

      The thrust of this article is exactly like that of Paul Newman’s in yesterday’s Mail and Scyld Berry’s in today’s Telegraph. I put that down to Sheer Coincidence and the tendency of great minds to think alike, rather than the press having been briefed about the imminent axing of the selection committee and told what view to take.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Jul 20, 2016 / 6:53 pm

        Yes, it’s fascinating how all these puff pieces about what a jolly good idea getting rid of the selection panel is all turned up at the same time.
        I wonder if Staruss had the courtesy to inform people like Angus Fraser? Or did he read about it in a newspaper? Because trust is very important remember.


      • northernlight71 Jul 20, 2016 / 7:57 pm

        Trust? Ha, I wouldn’t trust any of them further than I could throw them.
        Mind you, they’re such low-lifes that I could probably find a burst of adrenaline to throw them pretty far at the moment….

        Liked by 1 person

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