Read All About It – Written Media Review

I thought I might take a look, in a bit more detail, at how the domestic (to the UK) written media has evolved and changed over the past couple of years. While I don’t have the in depth knowledge of the commercial metrics that some of the contributors here retain, I do think I know a little bit about the message drivers. I’ll also go into some of the social media developments – blogs, Twitter etc. – and what I think of the future for BOC.

Dobell Spy Dossier

This blog, and its predecessor, made its presence felt when it commented upon the journalist corps and its attitude to the events of 2013/14. I had always had an eye on the writing corps because I saw them as our window to the play when we weren’t there, and also a little bit inside to tell us the latest goings on. I’d always been a bit of a sceptic, probably since the Hold The Back Page days, when the personality of the journalist seemed to be more important than the story. Mark’s take on that always makes me smile. There was always a thought that this was a dying trade, as the internet and cheaper writers were available, and cricket, like baseball in the US, seemed a sport open to “new media”. I never thought I’d be part of it, writing away, with no-one paying attention. 2013/14 might have been the Year Zero, but it had been building up to a crescendo for a while. Did the print media care more about themselves than they did about the readership. That’s been the question for me.

Jarrod caric
Wasting Time The Right Way

Despite a journo telling me that we are wasting our time talking about the press because no-one gives a shit about them, the evidence on hits and responses shows this not to be the case. Since the end of that ill-fated Ashes tour. there has been some interesting interaction with a number of the print media, and some of the television/radio gang too, but while quite frequent in 2014, and early 2015, in the past few months that has slowed down to a trickle of comments. But it is funny how pieces about journalists seemed to get traction. We’ll see how this goes down. What I do know is that the old media don’t come around here much no more.

For example, I can’t remember the last time Etheridge got enraged, Selfey called us bilious inadequates, Pringle called us irrelevant, and Paul Newman said we are “nothing important”. In some ways this is a shame. Our penchant for investigating their writing was at times great fun, but also headbangingly annoying. It provided the fuel to run much of this blog, but was also something that needed writing about, and some of them cared what we did. It is evident that quite a few of the journalists are fully aware of some of the things written about them. For example, I was told categorically that Newman never read this blog. I’ve never abused him, as far as I know on Twitter, but he blocked me, and has done for a while. Did someone read it to him? He knows enough about it to deem it “nothing important” which isn’t really the point, but if it keeps him happy, who am I to complain.

Interaction has diminished because, most definitely, the heat is off, for now. In much the same way as Ed Smith is riding out the current plagiarism accusations by saying nothing and hoping it will all go away, he has a precedent in the way the press had time on their side with the fallout of 2014, knowing, that at some point, the main cornerstone, a recall of KP, would become impossible for even the legendary fruitfly to pull off. It’s no coincidence that some of the media who spoke to me in 2014, and who I struck up reasonable conversations with, now barely bother to feel out how the proles are taking things. That’s fine. But if there is a future storm, we’ll be a little bit more guarded than we were before. Others, who were testing us out, taking the temperature, and even getting involved, see no need now despite claiming they wanted to have an interaction. Again, that is absolutely their call, but again allows us to look at them as a “cosy little clique”, with us not sure what side they are on. Actually, we know full well, but let’s be polite here.

There has been a decided trend in cricket reporting. As the sport gets less and less visible, so paying the big beasts large sums in a crowded media market becomes more anachronistic. It has been evident this year. The departure from the scene of two key players, following on the release of Pringle a year or so before that has confirmed it.

The noticeable journalistic news of the past season was the moving on of two of those behemoths. The first was Stephen Brenkley, aka Bunkers, of the Independent, who appeared to be a casualty of the Independent’s decision to go online only. Bunkers filed his last piece as the season was about to begin, and I have to say, I have no idea what he is up to now. Bunkers will always, in my eyes, be associated with the “aplomb” verdict on Moores and Downton’s first presser. Bunkers’ removal / resignation was the canary in the goldmine as a cut-down, online newspaper was not about to keep the payroll of a minority sport specialist on the books when it could source copy from cheaper sources. Bunkers is a good writer, and I disagreed with a lot he said, but he had a turn of phrase that was clever but not, in the main, patronising. Deep down, I quite liked his persona, but he backed the wrong horses on the ECB front and for that he will not be judged favourably. But as I said at the time, we should not be rejoicing, firstly on a personal level, but also on our wish to see cricket in the spotlight.

Selvey Retirement Card

The departure of Selvey is definitely more seismic. This is the biggest of cricket writing beasts, and he is being moved on, and given his Twitter pronouncements, it appears against his will. This sends out the message that few are safe – is it new media and new audiences, or just the reticence not to pay over the odds? The game is losing visibility and although we may not like what he writes, his departure is a bad sign for the game.

Selvey’s not been shy in reminding people he is on his way, a decision that did not surprise your writers on BOC who had heard from multiple sources that this was on the cards, but maybe the timing did shock because we thought there was a natural fin de siècle at the end of the next Ashes series. Selvey is the cornerstone of the Guardian’s cricket coverage, and the feeling is if he could be dumped, so could anyone.It’s a chill wind blowing. England may be on the up, but if the game is so out of the public eye, the top people might as well be reading out the stock market prices.

On this blog the consensus from our commenters is that Selvey had it coming, and there are few tears being shed. I can’t celebrate people losing their jobs, but Selvey made sympathy tough for me. I’m sure there would be little sympathy if the situation were reversed.  He’s certainly dismissive of this “newer form” of cricket writing, and much was based on a snobbish “requirement” of having played at the top level to be an aficionado of the game. When being a former pro appeared to be the main reason for employment, things looked shaky. He thought our passionate criticism of his positions taken were an affront to his professional sensibilities. He reacted not with engagement, but with hostile fire. We’re not ogres here, and we believe a vast majority of the upset fans weren’t either. But it was either you were with him, or you could Foxtrot Oscar. Incidentally, exactly the same attitude a certain fruitfly has towards his detractors! Those that come in peace and constructive dialogue find we are what most of the readers of blogs and newspapers are – cricket fans. That care.

What we have, or at least had, in my view were three classes of national journalist (there are others, but lets deal with the three main sectors).

  • There were the old pros reinventing themselves as writers – we’re thinking Selvey, Atherton, Marks and Pringle. Athers is newer to the genre, and as he’s hidden behind a paywall, and I’m not walking conspicuously to the newspaper rack in the office to read him, is a little blindsided to me. Athers is not a source of any heat, nor, on most occasions is Marks. But the other two have been lightning rods.
  • There are the experienced writers, a genre being phased out, including Bunkers, to a lesser extent Etheridge (not really a call to be a writer in The Sun, not that his role isn’t skilled), Wilson and Newman. These are the hacks, the day to day sloggers, the test match reporters who weren’t former pros. They’ve done the hard yards to get where they are, and they stay there.
  • Then there is a third section – a newer breed. The likes of Dobell, who has been around a while, Kimber, to a lesser extent Hoult, (Booth crosses hack and new school), who don’t seem to treat their audience with contempt, and attempt to approach things in a more open manner. This isn’t to say they are not “hacks”, but they get “newer media” and its opportunities, and yes, its threats. That they are of the generally “younger” generation, may, or may not, be a coincidence.

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Of course, there are other areas of reporting I’ve not touched yet. The Cricket Paper, out every Friday, is a really worthy attempt to bring the old newspaper type reports into a distilled weekly package. It’s not perfect, of course it isn’t, but if it wasn’t there I’d miss it. It allows talented new reporters like Tim Wigmore to have an outlet, for which he is getting wider viewing as a result, and although I have my issues with the way Chris Stocks is going about things, and that it gives Derek a chance to air his misery, it is generally a good read. How viable it is in the long-term, I have no idea.

The Cricketer magazine has had a revamp, it looks quite good, but I can’t quite get past the Simon Hughes thing. He is one of those who effects to be a “man of the people” and in with “new media” but in practice I never see it, with his interactions quickly breaking down when challenged and reverting to “I know more than you because…” responses. He, and others, don’t have to read blogs like ours, or TFT or whoever, but there’s a good deal of journalistic snobbery in the Cricketer – Henderson and Selvey each month for example. Again, though, the failings as I see them are outweighed by the fact that there is a cricket magazine on the market and it can be worth a read. I don’t intend giving up my subscription just yet, though do note that I used to renew each September and now that auto-renew seems to have moved forward to June. They have given airtime to some bloggers – most notably our old friend Tregaskis – but it’s a toe in the water, and a risk. It was interesting that T’s most recent piece, a short one, about how close journalists were getting to players, sparked the ire of Jonathan Agnew, for instance. I thought that interesting. Maybe the Cricketer could try that approach again?

Then there is blogs, and blogging. While there is a twilight zone between papers and the bloggers, where the likes of Peter Miller and others inhabit, with a foot in both camps, I’m obviously interested in how they are working, but to do so, we need to consider what is being reported, and how/

How do people consume, if that’s the word, their cricket reporting? As you know, Chris, Sean and I do reports on test matches, previews etc., but we see them as part report, part opening up comments to the visitors here. We do not see ourselves as the alternative to cricket reports in newspapers and magazines. I rarely read those reports on newspapers, often, these days, scrolling through a Selfey tome to visit the resident muppets BTL, looking to see who can put out the most ridiculous or obsequious comment. The Telegraph website is an absolute disgrace, and I’m finished with it – a shame. It’s where I chanced upon the comments of Chris, where Nick Hoult resides, and where I used to draw a lot of material. The Telegraph has become a horror to visit and it really does Nick, an absolute trojan in the game, no favours whatsoever. Nick is an example of how studying and looking at things more changes minds. I used to be quite scathing. Now I know more, he’s a great example.

The Independent was only worth a look when Bunkers was there – and then only for laughs. No idea who writes for it now, and don’t know what they are saying. The Mirror and Sun are only read when someone leaves me a copy. The Express is a joke. Which leaves the Mail.

Newman Dossier

This is the only online site where I read the writing and ignore the comments. The focus, of course, is my perennial favourite, Paul Newman. He’s either excellent at his job, or the worst out there depending on your metrics. But, to contradict myself within one sentence, I think it is a bit of both. The articles, at times, are absolutely designed to provoke a reaction (aka blatant clickbait). His anti-KP screeds in 2014 were by far the most intense in their dislike for the controversial one from a journo – or gave the impression that he did. But the comments followed in droves. His defence of Alastair Cook, the England hierarchy and his attacks (the Bell one in particular) on potential rivals were seen as lacking integrity. It has been noted, that in my perception, he has been more vociferous against Colin Graves than he ever was against Giles Clarke in the Great Leader’s later years at the ECB. Graves made the cardinal sin of trying to finesse the KP situation when it wasn’t called for in Newman’s eyes. From that day it seemed as though Graves was in Newman’s cross-hairs. Not that he’s wrong to do so (especially over the four day test nonsense). I’ve been about as unimpressed by the Costcutter Clown as I was Downton. But Newman’s motives are absolutely not those I share, and he’s attacking Graves as an affront to the old ways, not some desire for a new broom.

While the Mail employs a stream of writers, including Booth, Lloyd and Hussain, Newman is the focal point here. After a quiet period where things had calmed down post KP and World T20, he got the interview with Andy “Dignified Silence” Flower in what seemed a barely concealed pitch by our former Team Director to have a more prominent role with the main England team. That that was followed, not long after, by an attack on the selection panel revolving around playing, or not playing, not fully fit players (Stokes broke down in his first test match back – something not noted anywhere near as readily as the row over the first test), which again was construed as a pro-Flower supremo piece. We can be accused (well I can) of tin-foil hat conspiracy theories here, but isn’t as if we don’t have form here with Newman and his sources. As you know, we have seen plenty of “good journalism” round these parts.

So, with a couple of small exceptions, this summer has been pretty quiet on the journalistic ire front. We saw the treatment of Nick Compton by some, which seemed to be borderline personal in places, as if Compton, who has as two test hundreds to his name, two more than Alex Hales, for example, was the first intense batsman to fail in England colours. There barely seemed an article by Pringle passing by where Ramprakash, who had a better test career than Muppet in my eyes, was not used to compare Compton. But in the end, the fact that Compton wasn’t, or isn’t up to it, was “proved” on the cricket field. His performances in the Sri Lanka series weren’t good, while Hales had a decent series so someone has to be on the hot seat. But the vitriol, and it seemed it from Stocks in particular, was something I’d not seen in a while.The calls for Vince seem slightly more muted to me – there’s an England player there but with mental blocks – is odd. He’s never looked like making a big score. I guess personalities matter.

Cricinfo remains a reassuring constant presence. I have a post on them alone in my head, so may well leave it until then to go into detail. The Ed Smith nonsense will pass – he’s not some ordinary OBO person so making a stand is harder – but the journalistic and writing chops of Dobell, Kimber, Hopps and Andrew Miller for starters, with all the others who contribute means it is a much better force for good than bad. We are really lucky to have such a vehicle covering our sport so well.

So to social media, and blogging. How does it look from my perspective after the test summer has ended? I have to say I don’t read anywhere near as much as I used to, as time pressures and other interests make a play for my spare time. The perception is that there is not as much to see. My “must reads” were always Maxie Allen, Tregaskis, Yates and The Old Batsman. Of course, there is also the Full Toss, seen by a few in the media in times gone by as joined at the hip with us – which wasn’t correct. That is not so much the case now, as James has taken the blog in a slightly different direction, which is absolutely within his right and he still produces fine work. But there is no doubt, if ever there was one, that we are two different entities now (not that we were that similar in the past – just we attacked the same targets) and I do miss Maxie’s takes.Long may they continue. James is a bloody hard worker and the site has some crossover and some distinct areas we don’t approach. Their presence is important.

Tregaskis plays his cards very astutely, posting little, but substantial and tenacious when he does.His jumping on the golf interaction in the UAE and the follow up non ODI with Hong Kong is the main time we saw the press truly interact with us in the past 12 months.

Yates doesn’t update his blog any more, but is still an astute and acerbic commenter on Twitter (if you can get through the darts stuff), and I’d love to see him get back on his horse. The Old Batsman, aka Jon Hotten, has gone from strength to strength and has shown how blogging can get people to notice good writing, but his blog is now neglected for other outlets.

The blogging environment is getting somewhat more scarce – I’m more interested in blogs delivering messages rather than trying to win writing awards (T does both, and I’m envious) – and quite often the biggest “enemies” of the writers are those who frequent BTL and put their own views prominently on newspaper comment sites, but seek to deny or decry those who take the time out to create their own space. Never understood that thinking. I see BOC as my home venue, and you know where to read what I think. I know where to go to find out where my antagonists comment, so I choose to avoid them. I see no point in going out of my way to say what I think. I’ll never understand them, even as my two co-conspirators tell me not to try! Which takes me on to the Danger Zone…

Twitter has its behemoths as well. Peter Miller is obviously quite a prominent figure, and he appeals to some and not others, in his double act with Dave Tickner – I’ve interacted a lot less in the past year as it does feel like too much of an in crowd. Fair enough. They are doing bigger and better things. Lizzie Ammon, who veers more to the journo side than blogger, given she is a journo, also caters for that audience, but not for my tastes as I stopped following a while back.

To me, the biggest question on Twitter is when does Innocent Bystander sleep. If you go on Twitter, he’s a must follow, and also, as much as you can judge someone by Twitter interactions, a top bloke. His coverage of the game is amazing. I’ve singled him out but there are loads of top people to follow, and in my view some to avoid, but I don’t doubt all their sincerity and love for the game, even if that is sometimes not reciprocated and my motives in particular are questioned. I’m not going to comment on Dennis Does Cricket. I really am not!

Now to us. Sean being brought on board was brilliant for us, and I’d like to thank him for all his work. He’s shown he can do this, and so can you! So we all met for the first time as the Glum Boy Three. As you may know, we had an Editorial Meeting on Wednesday, and the minutes have been recorded as follows:

MINUTES OF BEING OUTSIDE CRICKET EDITORIAL MEETING – 17 AUGUST 2016

  1. Attendees – Dmitri Lord Canis Lupus Old, The Leg Glance, Sean Great Bucko B

  2. Apologies – We apologise to no-one

  3. Items for Action – 2 x 3 rounds of beverages.

  4. Actions Going Forward – Write more articles

  5. Items for Discussion – Two of the editorial committee have made club hundreds. One has made double figures in hundreds. Bastard.

  6. Date of Next Meeting – Some time before Christmas.

It has been a curious summer. I think the first thing that needs to be noted is that for a blog like this to run as it does, it needs some commitment and a lot of hard work. It also has to be enjoyable to do. This year, from my perspective, the enjoyment has waned a little, but not enough to pack it in. Those who read this blog regularly and comment on here know this. They really get what we do, and what it takes, and I feel the same way about our commenters. We genuinely regret seeing some old faces go, but we are happy when new ones appear. We are particularly concerned that genuine newbies are allowed to dissent, without there being too much rancour. We’ve seen a few come along and stick, and that’s good. We do not want this being an echo chamber. We will maintain our policy on moderation – that is there really isn’t one, just behave yourselves.

In the same way an Ashes summer boosts TV viewings, and controversy drives hit spikes, we know there is a solid core of people who visit nearly every day, and even when we don’t post there are still a core amount of hits per day. No-one is confusing us with a national circulation, but we have our niche. It would be lovely to grow it further, but we will not do it by compromising our values and beliefs. We write because we enjoy it, we write what we want, we do not try to court hits via blatant clickbait, and we love interaction and comment. If you are prepared to come on here with that in mind, you’ll find me sticking up for you. If you question my motives, I’m afraid that’s not the way to keep me onside. Question what I say, by all means. Don’t impugn motives that aren’t there.

Here ends the ramble through the written media this summer. Hope there is something in it for all of you, and would welcome, as always, any views. Being Outside Cricket remains, and will continue, to provide comment, analysis, reporting of sorts, and a forum for you to discuss cricket. We will provide nostalgia, anecdotes and a platform for anyone who wants to write things on here that fit with our concept. We loved it when Andy and Simon provided us with pieces, and we’d like some more! The future looks busy – we have seven England tests scheduled by the end of the year, five of which are in India. There are some key anniversaries for series to go through, as well as a number of international matches that are sure to be interesting. There appears a dead spot for a couple of months next Winter, but then the following 12 months looks full on. Sean B, TLG and I are looking forward to it. Hope you are too. Where the print media is at the end of the next 18 months is anyone’s guess. Where the blogging world is, who knows? Maybe some new players can come on the scene and hit it off. Where English and test cricket is too is going to be interesting and with the flaws in all teams, plenty to debate. Let’s hope there are plenty of sources to read and talk about it.

UPDATE – I came across this piece in an old edition of Wisden Cricket Monthly from 1987. Amazing how the same themes come through three decades on, especially the bit about team selections (below the header “Briefed In Advance”. We’ve done a bit of EM Wellings before, I think, and he might have been a spectacular curmudgeon, but this certainly is something worth reading.

Wellings Press

Also, great to see Yates back on his metaphorical horse with a new blog post. Read him here.

 

Dmitri

 

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34 thoughts on “Read All About It – Written Media Review

  1. Neil August 19, 2016 / 7:19 pm

    Stephen Brenkley was on cricket writers a few weeks back. With a splendid tache.
    Caption said Teesdale Mercury. Was very passionate about Durham’s plight.

    Like

    • nonoxcol August 19, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      Stab in the dark, but I think commenter AB might approve of that one.

      (By the way, I am probably responsible for any spike in views from Germany in the last two days. Holiday time, lots of it on trains)

      Like

    • SimonH August 20, 2016 / 8:06 am

      George Dobell: the case against.

      I’ve fallen out of love, I’m afraid. He got way too close to Peter Moores and he has ceased to be “must read/listen” for me.

      The last two times I’ve sought him out:
      1) The last Switch Hit – he claimed that winning in India would be “a miracle” (said twice) and he seemed to be saying it would be as difficult as winning in the West Indies in the 1980s. India are tough at home and pre-series favourites – but that is a preposterous overstatement and we’d be all over Newman/Selvey if they said it. West Indies were unbeaten in home series for over two decades (’72/73 to ’94/95). In that time, they won 15 series and drew 2. They only lost one Test at home in the 1980s (against Pakistan – Imran took 11 wickets and Javed made a century, two of the all-time greats). There is also the question of the margins of their wins (they went an entire five-Test series against Australia without losing a second innings wicket) and the physical challenge of playing them (nobody expects to come home from India looking like Gatting or Edmonds after ’85/86). India, by contrast, have lost one and drawn two home series in the past decade. Most of their good home results were achieved with a different crop of players and their current team haven’t played much Test cricket at home. Their feeble away record means they have no aura of invincibility about them like the West Indies had.
      2) Switch Hit previewing this season – Dobell claimed here that county cricket is as good as it’s ever been. As good as when teams were full of West Indies, South African and Pakistan players – plus when England players could play regularly? And when out-grounds meant more diversity of pitches? Nobody these days rocks up to face Malcolm Marshall at Portsmouth or Sylvester Clarke/Waqar Younis on the old-style Oval pitches.

      There’s a thread here – cricket’s as good or better than it’s ever been. This is a line we know the ECB and current England leader are keen on. Dobell has shown he’s not just a stooge and I think he must really believe it. He seemed to buy into the ‘new era’ England thing and has been one of its strongest salesmen. I’ve never heard him say the ‘new era’ was a choice, self-inflicted and that, for all England’s alleged inexperience, many of the teams they’ve beaten were more inexperienced than England were.

      I don’t listen to Polite Inquiries much which, when I have listened to it, is like Miller-Tickner (they tend to reinforce each other’s prejudices which over time has produced a lack of fresh thinking and too much in-jokiness).

      That latest article on city franchises has some good stuff in it. That Dobell is against the idea is hardly a shock. He seems to be turning against Graves-Harrison which is encouraging – but he has spent much of the last year-and-a-half telling us that the new ECB (i.e. post Giles Clarke) was different so all he’s been proving is that his own judgment was wrong.

      On a different tack, did anyone think that scheduling English domestic cricket’s flagship day on the same day as the last day of the Olympics was not a great idea? I know the ground has sold-out but it isn’t going to help attract a TV audience or global viewers (outside the pre-existing cricket hardcore who are all the ECB ever seem to think about).

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark August 20, 2016 / 10:25 am

        There did seem to be a marked change in his tone once KP was seen off by Strauss. In some ways I can understand that. His job is to work with the existing set up, and players, and to be banging on about KP all the time would not play well. What has disappointed me was how quickly he seemed to become just another pod person regards Cook.

        Once again for the record just because Cook is a good opening batsman does not make him a good captain or indeed a genius and a god like figure. We know from Mark Nicholas that Cook believes the current era of cricket is as good as it has ever been. This is bollocks. Some aspects have improved, fielding for example, (or though the standard of catching in the last series was pathetic.)

        I would love to watch the current batsman including Cook face really quick fast bowling without much protection, and see how they got on. We had a brief taste of it in Austraila in 2013/14 when Johnson bowled at 95 mph consistantly and it didn’t end very well for the batsman. I would love to see this crop of players against Warne amd Murali at their peak.

        20/20 has completely changed cricket. We are all living in the shadow of that change. Cricket is different now. Some will say it has to be. 200 runs per day is not going to cut in any more. Who knows if test cricket will even exist in 25 years time. And will any one want to watch if the players are so conditioned to play 20/20 they can’t last more than 3 and half days?

        Like

      • LordCanisLupus August 20, 2016 / 10:53 am

        I do understand where you are coming from, Simon, but there’s no media outlet that would write that piece on T20 and the ECB, because unlike George, the others seemed very international focused, and George has always been a county cricket man. I’ve felt that he’s been an ECB sceptic throughout, especially on their growing of the game – and quite reasonably he thought anyone could have been better than Clarke and like most of us we are disappointed that we have got a complete numpty in his place.

        We are in a world where views like ours are only going to be given airtime on places like this on a regular basis. This might be the “extreme wing” of cricket fandom, a world of contrary so-and-sos like ourselves, but I think Dobell and Kimber do get it. Like you, I don’t follow polite enquiries like I used to because there was too much of the in-jokes, and some other issues with it grind my gears (but that’s for me and not for this forum) but again, it opens up the debate to supporters and watchers – any of that needs to be welcomed, not ignored.

        On county cricket, I’d have to agree with you. My reference point for my county is Surrey. The 1999-2004 era would absolutely destroy the current Surrey team. Surrey have, in my opinion, never replaced the most important player for the club in the time I’ve watched them, Adam Hollioake. The current team has worthy pros, playing well at the moment, but it really isn’t on their level. We have a competitive balance, we have a competitive league and the standard of competition, rather than standard of players, has improved. I think this is proved by how hard players are finding it to transition to test cricket, which we all believe has declined alarmingly. George likes these players, and there is no crime in that, and I can see his point.

        But that’s for another piece some way down the line. I’d be interested in your views, Simon, and others on how they see the blogging landscape these days. Writing this post had me worried for it. A lot of the old beasts don’t seem to do much these days. Another canary in the goldmine.

        Like

      • Mark August 20, 2016 / 11:11 am

        The problem with the whole franchised model for 20/20 is that the people behind it want to drain all the money out of that franchise for themselves. A cricket version of the premiership. They don’t want the money distributed to everyone. It’s pure self interest.

        If it comes into force those counties who have to either merge or be left out, will lose the one cash stream they have going. Reduced to just county cricket and 50 over they will be finished in 10 years. Maybe it is what is needed. A cull of some counties. A smaller pot to cram the existing talent into would in theory make for more competition. But cricket is tribal, and for many county memebers they prefer to be minnows and exist rather than becoming part of a huge franchise that expects them to travel far for a home game.

        I’m not sure ENGLAND havent already missed the boat on all this. We can’t do the glamour, and razzmatazz of the IPL. And we don’t have the weather for the Australian version. Or the brains because the big bash Is on free to air channels. Not going to happen here. Cash is everything, growing the game just a side line. Managing crickets decline, and gutting out every last £ before the carcass collapses is the agenda in my view.

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  2. d'Arthez August 20, 2016 / 11:13 am

    http://bit.ly/2buQrqM

    Batting averages for visiting openers in each country, since Alastair Cook’s career started (this is solely done by batting position, so there are a few nightwatchmen-openers in there as well).

    Like

  3. SimonH August 20, 2016 / 1:17 pm

    I’m not the right person to comment on cricket blogging as I don’t follow it widely enough, but I do have some thoughts on one type of MSM cricket-writing that isn’t mentioned in the main article, the star all-sport (or at least more than one sport) sports’ columnist/feature-writer (not sure they have a more succinct job description – although I suspect Mark might be able to suggest some!)..

    In the non-paywall world, I’m thinking of Jonathan Liew at the DT, Andy Bull and Barney Ronay at the Guardian, Ian Herbert at the Indy and Martin Samuel at the DM (I was going to add Oliver Holt but I think he’s only written one piece on cricket). Some might add FICJAM and Steve James although as ex-f/c cricketers they’re slightly different.

    It’s a growing trend, and one I find interesting. It seems to me a product of both hubris and nemesis. The nemesis is a combination that old-style match reporting has had its day and that getting several sports out of one writer can save money. The hubris is in the rampant self-regard that often seems to go with some of these writers. Others with a wider and deeper knowledge of UK sports-reporting might be able to place it in a longer term context than I’m able to.

    As with all-rounders, they can be Jacques Kallis – or they can be Ronnie Irani. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – I’m quite fond of Ronay, but know some dislike him and a few absolutely loathe him. This line of his from December 2015 is my favourite in cricket-writing from the last twelve months:

    “Perhaps, from the playing side, we have already had the golden age of T20, that moment where a generation of meticulously schooled, genuinely top-drawer Test players were allowed to expand into unorthodoxy, like the classically trained modernists who produced the great experimental art of the 20th century, before everybody forgot how to draw and just made a pile of Lego bricks or a video instead”.

    Others like Andy Bull. I don’t. I know that come as a bit of a shock to people here. Liew also seems really to divide opinion. Hopefully, we can all agree that Martin Samuels’ contributions to cricket-writing during the 2015 Ashes produced some of the greatest comedy of recent times.

    What these writers should bring to cricket is the old C.L.R. James’ notion of “what do they know of cricket who only cricket know”. Some trends in the sporting-industrial complex (nicked that from Marina Hyde’s recent piece on the Olympics) cut across sports and are ripe for some cross-cutting analysis. What do we think Andrew Strauss has learnt from the Olympics? I’d love to read a quality article on that. If anything, there needs to be more writing in the MSM along these lines – so long as it isn’t FICJAM shoe-horning in more references to Federer or showing his hilarious ignorance of football.

    Are these writers the answer to the authority-manipulation of cricket-writing that most of us here have detected since at least 2014? If these writers don’t depend on cricket alone for the livelihood, shouldn’t they be able to be more questioning? Perhaps. There’s another side to it though. If these writers lack deep roots in any one game, are they more open to manipulation through lack of knowledge? Perhaps if the England captain and specialist cricket writers tell them that India are as good as the 1980s West Indies, and these writers aren’t steeped in the lore of that team, perhaps they’ll believe it? Hey, Michael Holding would be a medium-pacer now and if you want real pace like fire watch Mohammad Shami!

    The greatest danger is that the authorities can smuggle out bad news when these writers are distracted. If most analysis comes from these sort of writers, then there will be periods (Olympics, World Cups etc) when almost no-one is paying attention to cricket. That’s a dream for the masters of news’ management techniques.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus August 20, 2016 / 1:35 pm

      I deliberately excluded the “generalist writer as cricket commentator” genre this year because it has been nowhere near as prominent. Ed Smith is an outlier in more ways than one, as whenever he gets off cricket (and as a baseball nut, he’s no bloody good on that either) he leaves his supposed comfort zone. For a number of the names mentioned I ascribe the term “Beautiful South Syndrome”. I wasn’t a fan of that band by any means because they always had that self-satisfied, smug approach to songwriting. You imagined that once they’d finished their writing, they’d metaphorically slap down their pens and say to themselves “how great are we”. I might be being totally unfair, but some of the writing of those more untied to cricket fall into that genre. It’s less about making a point on the sport, and more about making a point about how great they are, and what wonderful cultural references they can throw in.

      I’ve seen few go truly against the authority grain in cricket. Paul Hayward did a bit, and I’m lukewarm on him at the best of times. Holt would demean himself to do cricket only if there’s something he can get sanctimonious about. No-one does that better in sports writing. Liew is well regarded by my co-writer – but Mr Grump that is me isn’t as high on him either. Ronay and Bull aren’t on my radar, although the former appears on my twitter feed a lot I don’t read much. That they have not registered this year means I’m not that mad on doing them in this piece. I did want to keep it under 6000 words, Simon!

      Like

      • SimonH August 20, 2016 / 2:13 pm

        To be fair, Ian Herbert has put the boot into the ECB (and was thoroughly pro-KP). He long overtook Bunkers as the most interesting cricket writer at the Indy. The trouble is he just doesn’t write on the sport enough.

        Ronay’s attitude to the ECB is bizarre. He keeps teetering on the brink of criticising them – but always seems to pull back (often finding the most ridiculous grounds for doing so). It makes me wonder if there has been an editorial line at the Guardian where criticising Giles Clarke was simply not permitted.

        Like

  4. "IronBalls" McGinty August 20, 2016 / 7:54 pm

    The Olympics have shown that FTA has the power to inspire millions of kids to participate and succeed in a wide variety of sports.
    Pity the ECB takes the entirely opposite viewpoint, and hides cricket behind a paywall, in it’s best effort to grow the game and inspire youngsters?
    Off topic, I know, but their greed and stupidity makes me so effing mad! One of the many reasons why I stay loyal to this blog..but all those msm ‘journalists’ can see it, they’re just too shit feared to write it! ….topic reconnect…rant over!

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus August 20, 2016 / 8:50 pm

      T20 Finals Night – on Sky, competing with football all day, competing with the Olympics. A couple of Saturdays ago there was nothing on the TV to compete, nothing that would really take away from the highest priority domestic cricket day of the season – except a crammed in test match. The Premier League hadn’t started. The ECB wouldn’t want a spare weekend at such a time, would they?

      Some people love the format of Finals Day. I think it would work, but maybe at the end of July. Lord only knows how it will work next year with the test season so backloaded, and a Champions Trophy to get out of the way.

      Dobell may be one of the few voices against the ECB here, but the day sells out, the quality isn’t by all means poor, and there seems some heat and light. But it just seems to miss something, doesn’t it? The reason the Big Bash model worries me is that the people at large have little idea who the likes of Bavuma, Williamson, Kohli (who wouldn’t play) and others are because they are invisible. Where the Olympics makes names like Nicola Adams, Mo Farah, Jason Kenny, Laura Trott et al, the stars of cricket are much less visible. It’s quite an easy thing to describe. Top level sport, prominent access. People know them.

      So not off topic IBM. Not at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark August 20, 2016 / 9:55 pm

        I keep telling you Dmitri…..Managing decline is the policy.

        I bet UK cyclists would be more recognised on the streets today than most England cricketers. But as long as the Sky money keeps pouring in nobody gives a fruitcake. Money for old rope.

        Like

  5. Rooto August 20, 2016 / 9:23 pm

    Here’s hoping my Northants’ victory (again) can be another kick in the nads to the ECB plans for ejecting the counties from the best-supported county competition.

    Like

    • "IronBalls" McGinty August 20, 2016 / 10:16 pm

      Agreed…a good kick in the nuts for the ECB….TWATS!….Sorry..ale has been taken!

      Like

    • quebecer August 22, 2016 / 1:48 am

      And here’s to your Northants, Rooto my man! Good on you – and them a bit, obviously. 🙂

      Like

  6. Dennis Freedman August 21, 2016 / 11:00 am

    Hey Dmitri. Dennis has two ‘N’ s. Not that anyone reads the drivel on this blog. Am I right?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus August 21, 2016 / 11:06 am

      Better than Denise as a typo?

      Corrected.

      Lord, if I got mad every time someone called me DImitri…..

      Liked by 2 people

    • fred August 21, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      Dmitri
      why didn’t you want to say anything about DF in this piece? I didnt really understand that comment. Or maybe I shouldn’t ask.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus August 21, 2016 / 1:21 pm

        This was a piece concentrating on the English/British media, and not worldwide. I was fishing with Dennis. With two Ns. Love how the throwaway line gets more traction than most of the rest of the article!

        Me and D are cool!

        Like

      • fred August 21, 2016 / 1:30 pm

        Ha, mischievous shit-stirring! Mission accomplished.

        Like

  7. d'Arthez August 21, 2016 / 12:29 pm

    So, after the farces of Days 3 in Durban and Port of Spain, maybe the authorities will rub their lonely brain cells together to consider a revolutionary concept called “weather patterns”, when allocating fixtures.

    Fear not, we’re probably asking something of the most lonely brain cells in the universe.

    Like

    • SimonH August 21, 2016 / 12:37 pm

      I’ve looked up Durban’s average weather and, to be fair, August is the driest month. Durban might well have been denied this Test on grounds of poor attendance though – the Wanderers and CT were much better attended during the England series and could have been rewarded for that.

      What are the ground facilities like? Port-of-Spain outrageously doesn’t even have a super-sopper. Does Durban? Does it have one of the new underground drainage systems? Two years ago, there was a lot of moaning about the installation of these at English grounds – but we’ve forgotten what sitting around all day waiting for the ground to dry is like.

      At least, it’s making the case against two match series and four day Tests!

      Like

    • d'Arthez August 21, 2016 / 1:16 pm

      The issue is not so much the rain in Durban. Yes, it is a relatively dry month (certainly compared to November – December, though certainly wetter than June and July), but the issue is that it is winter in South Africa. And that in turn affects how good or bad the soil can absorb water when it does fall.

      65 mm apparently fell overnight, which is substantial though (and quite a bit more than you’d expect on average).

      Durban does have a supersopper by the way.

      Now I am no soil expert, but I would expect that if something like that happened in March in England, play would be impossible as well – and the authorities there have not yet grasped the idea of creating Test fixtures in the month of March. For good reason.

      This is traditionally not a time of year to be playing cricket in South Africa. It is as simple as that. And a cursory glance at the fixture history in South Africa shows that. The latest a Test has started in South Africa is April 27th 2006 against New Zealand (at the end of the domestic season). The earliest (in the new season) a Test has started was 18th of October 2002 against Bangladesh – so this is fully two months earlier than the previous record earliest fixture since South Africa got Test status more than a century ago.

      That is simply asking for trouble from the weather gods.

      And I am pretty sure, that this is not the time to be playing cricket in Port of Spain either.

      Like

      • SimonH August 21, 2016 / 1:57 pm

        Thanks D, very informative.

        I had a look at Test in Durban and there had never been a Test there between March and November before. The vast majority have been in Dec and Jan.

        Like

    • d'Arthez August 21, 2016 / 2:37 pm

      Meanwhile, at 10.25 AM play has been called off for the third successive day in Port of Spain. Barring extremely atrocious batting by the West Indies, Pakistan will be confirmed at World #1 tomorrow.

      They won’t keep that ranking for long in all likelihood (India will be red hot favorites to claim top spot in the near future), but I still find it a fitting expression of appreciation of all that Misbah has done and achieved since becoming Test captain.

      Like

  8. fred August 21, 2016 / 1:21 pm

    I think you’re letting Selvey off lightly. I agree with you that someone being made redundent is nothing to celebrate, and I don’t take any pleasure in that happening any more than you do.
    But that issue aside, I’ve seen a tremendous decline in the quality of the guardian community, and while that can’t all be laid at Selvey’s door, his condescending and at times aggressive tone towards those that didn’t pay him what he considered his due respect certainly played a role in the way things panned out, with the guardian BTL now, with a few exceptions, being a waste of space.

    It was a difficult time for English cricket, and his interventions, from the privelage of a very powerful platform, did little to improve the debate, in fact quite the opposite. I would say he contributed to the fractious nature of the debate within English cricket, and he contributed pretty much nothing towards the debate around global issues. He held no one accountable for anything, except maybe KP. Not good enough from a senior correspondent at a major newspaper.

    I don’t see the redundency of this “big beast” as a problem to cricket coverage. It’s just one older journalist moving on, there’s plenty of coverage for those that are interested. Alot of that is coverage by journalists who have no sense of entitlement, no “trust me on this, I know” attitude, but who know their product has to be both compelling and informed in order to keep their jobs.

    On a human level, I wish him the best for whatever he does next, but I’m certainly not mourning his departure from the guardian.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. SimonH August 21, 2016 / 2:50 pm

    David Willey out of one-dayers with a possible broken wrist (Jake Ball called up). Broady’s off to the BBL with Hobart as had been trailed last week.

    There have been some glowing headlines for Mark Wood playing for the Lions and in yesterday’s SF. I didn’t watch those. I watched yesterday’s Final and he bowled well but I didn’t see one ball over 90 mph as had been claimed about those other games. He was at 87-89 mph at the start and down to 84-85 mph in his last over. He also fell over once in delivery and I swear at one stage he was limping.

    Either there was a reason for the difference between what I saw with my own eyes and what’s been reported (slippery footholds, perhaps) – or there’s some smoke and mirrors going on.

    Like

    • "IronBalls" McGinty August 21, 2016 / 9:12 pm

      I listened to that over on TMS when he just blew Root away, it was immense, 92-94mph was claimed!

      Like

  10. thebogfather August 22, 2016 / 6:08 pm

    Dear Dmitri, please never go
    For I love you on your ‘long-run, it makes me glow
    But this time I find myself a little low
    A topic so epic, failed to flow…

    It’s not the separate choices, they deserve it all
    For they, have engineered their own fall
    It’s the fact that you’ve slacked in your true skill
    To react or proactively, go in for the kill…

    I agree and accept that any scribe now lost
    Is another death knell to our game, e’en in diatribe cost
    Yet the blether and blather that the ‘names’ have us, force fed
    In ‘ I know, but you don’t’ in inexplicable ECB fed meds
    Doesn’t mean as they depart to the ‘Cricket Paper’ or oblivion’s SKYscraper
    We should let anyone off, who has profligated dross for any paper

    So please Dmitri, ne’er let go
    Of the throats that make our blood boil
    For their incestual self satisfaction just shows
    This game we love, they conspire to spoil.

    Liked by 1 person

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