The county season is in the books. There’s at least a fortnight between now and the next England international game. So it seems an opportune moment to bring the new poll to you for your enjoyment and completion.
It has to be said that I haven’t had cricket on my mind much this week. I was in Rio de Janeiro for the first half of the week, in what looked like possibly the best beach cricket location in the world (certainly after the rain that blighted my visit had compacted the sand) at Copacabana, but with the crap weather I had a chance to contemplate some stuff that I could include. I thought, and I’ve blatantly nicked the idea from Awful Announcing, that we consider a Mount Rushmore of Outside Cricket. The four characters that have shaped the Outside Cricket agenda, if there is an agenda, the most. It could be a player, it could be a writer, an anouncer, an administrator, a coach. It can’t be one of us, that’s the only stipulation. I would like you to nominate four individuals to be cast in stone!
Of course, eyes will focus on the Worst Journalist result. A keenly fought contest, the reigning champions have been sacked within the year – Pringle winning in 2014, Selfey last year – so who are we going to curse this year.
The International Summer
England’s Test Player Of The Summer (Top Three) –
Best Overseas Test Player Of The Summer (Top Three)
Best Test Innings Of The Summer (Top Three)
Best Bowling Performance (Individual) Of The Summer (Top Three)
Journalists & Commentators (Bloggers do not count, cricket press, writing for papers, magazines and cricinfo)
Best Three Journalists (rank order)
Worst Five Journalists (rank order)
Oh No! Why He Is On? Worst Three Commentators
Mount Outside Cricketmore
Your four people to be inaugurated onto the mountain…
Open Space –
Your overall comments on the summer….
Comments on the blog –
What do you like, what don’t you like, what would you like to see more of, would you like to write? All here…
You can send these to Dmitriold@hotmail.co.uk or comment below. I will bring you the results somewhere near 1 November, so you have time. But quick responses are often the best ones.
To say there has been a storm in a teacup over the weekend around the availability of certain individuals for the last County Championship game of the season, is me putting it mildly to say the least. There have been claims of dark rumblings going on at the ECB, with rumour and counter-rumour around who would have the influence to pull certain players out of the game and their reasons behind this. We also had the reaction to the news that Adil Rashid had pulled out of the last game of the season, with terse tweets and wild accusations flying left right and centre.
To deal with these both in order, whilst it is undoubtedly disappointing that Jonny Bairstow has been pulled out of the last game and one can also argue that it is particularly poor PR from the ECB, considering the focus that County Cricket has been under over the past couple of weeks, the conspiracy theories don’t really wash with me. The Director, Comma may have spent his career in County Cricket as a Middlesex player and was for a while hobnobbing with the Middlesex board whilst he awaited to be anointed to the position of the saviour of English cricket, but I don’t think the he’s likely to risk his reputation by favouring one county over another. Strauss for all his faults, is nothing but shrewd, and is also unlikely to care enough about County Cricket to actively do his old county a favour at the expense of Yorkshire, he has bigger fish to fry these days. It is though worthwhile remembering how much cricket our international players have played this summer (let alone this year), especially those like Bairstow, who have been picked across all formats – i.e. 7 Tests, countless other ODI’s (I lose county) and 2 T20 games all packed into a narrow summer period. We also must remember that we also have 7 Tests, around 8 ODI’s and at least 1 T20 game in the next 3 months before Christmas too. This is an extraordinary amount of cricket packed into a 6 month period and it gets even crazier next year, so I can’t actually fault the ECB for choosing to rest the majority of their players before the subcontinent tours for fear of burnout (obviously there is a strong argument that we shouldn’t be putting our international players through this type of gruelling schedule, as it’s a one way road to injury, stress related illnesses and burnout, but that’s a whole different argument). In an ideal world, we would have all of our International players fresh and available for the last game of the season, but this is the reality and hence is the reason why central contracts were introduced in the first place, after all the experience of our international players turning up to play Tests after being flogged by the Counties in the 80’s & 90’s didn’t exactly reap brilliant results back then.
With regards to the Adil Rashid situation, I always thought there was a little more to the eye than the terse statements emanating out of Yorkshire yesterday; this from Andrew Gale, I felt was unfortunate and indeed only fanned the flames – https://twitter.com/GaleyLad/status/777485164758831104?lang=en-gb. Of course, there were plenty of those who decided to jump on the bandwagon, accusing Rashid of being a traitor and unfit to wear the Yorkshire shirt again, without truly knowing about the full situation but that’s Twitter for you. This however, wasn’t just confined to angry Yorkshire fans (and there seemed to plenty of them on Twitter yesterday), certain ex-Chief Cricket Correspondent’s couldn’t reserve the opportunity to have a dig – https://twitter.com/selvecricket/status/777524503027019777?lang=en-gb, who said that certain members of our press don’t hold serious grudges around certain players they believe aren’t from the ‘right type of family’. Of course, it then emerged today, that it wasn’t just because Adil fancied lying on the sofa watching Cash in the Attic and eating Pringles in his pants for a week, which the statement below clearly shows.
The Yorkshire response has been somewhat baffling, as they would’ve surely known this when the squad was announced and thus it could’ve easily been headed off at the pass with an announcement that he was missing because of family reasons; however this smacks me of Strauss’ “understand but disappointed” stance with Eoin Morgan, and we all know that won’t end well. I’ve been at work all day so haven’t been able to check Twitter to see if those calling for Rashid’s head yesterday, have shown some contrition now more of the facts have come out, but I certainly know the ex-Chief Correspondent of the Guardian hasn’t, nor has he been slow in telling the world that he doesn’t rate him either:
‘Rashid, though, is sailing close to the wind with his club and career: there are sceptics about, some with a greater depth of knowledge than most, and his card has been marked.’
I guess those sceptics that the ex-Chief Cricket Correspondent referred to also happen to go by the name of Mike Selvey too, after all, he’s never one to hesitate in telling the public how right he is and how wrong those who disagree are. He won’t be missed…
There has also been the announcement that the new intake of graduates aiming to complete the Andy Flower ‘flavour of the month’ winter tours has been announced – with 50, yes 50, players getting to spend the winter jumping over obstacles at Sandhurst, having their actions remodelled at Loughborough and then hoping to prove that they are from the ‘right type of family’ in front of the Moodhoover in Dubai. Lucky, lucky guys. This has been mentioned a 1,000 times but just how Flower is still part of the England set up after the 2014 Ashes debacle is beyond me, and more to the point, Flower taking some of our more talented younger players and getting them to ‘play dry’ is not what the supposedly new and dynamic England team are supposed to be about. I bet Bayliss is thrilled. Colin ‘mediocre’ Graves may be number 1 in the so called powerlist, but if you are an aspiring international player, then there is one person and one person only you must impress and that is of course, ‘old smiley’ Flower. Forget about Whittaker et al, they’re only there to take the flak away from Director, Comma when the team plays badly, it’s still the old school special relationship that decides whether you have a future in the International game, full stop. Nepotism still stinks badly as it ever did….
On a final note, and back to the cricket thankfully, the final championship game starts tomorrow with the title’s destination yet to be decided. Whoever does go on and win the championship will fully deserve it, as this season has seen some of the most competitive and thrilling championship games in a long time. I know county cricket splits many on this blog (two of the writers of the blog are very much pro, whereas the other would prefer to stick his head in a shark tank); however whatever your persuasion, the fact that 3 teams are still vying for the title and could win it in the last game is a refreshing change compared to the normal status of after “Lord Mayor’s show”. Although (and here comes a little whinge) it would have been nice for them to schedule the games a little later in the week, so that those of us with jobs might have had the chance to watch some of it, but as we know the fans will always come last in the ECB’s thinking. As a side note, it is interesting that Sky has eventually agreed to show the Middlesex vs. Yorkshire game after rightly taking a bit of a hammering around not giving two f**ks towards the county game. It was fairly amusing to see the blame storming on Twitter around who’s fault it was that the the most important game of the season wasn’t due to be shown live (can you imaging the outcry if that had happened with the football?), though my simple guess is that the management dolts from Sky and the ECB simply forgot that we even had a 4 day competition, after all, anything that isn’t City based T20 is mediocre in their eyes.
For those that do have an interest in the county decider and are lucky enough to be near a TV (or even better, watching it live at one of the grounds), then feel free to comment below.
So, the squad for Bangladesh has been announced, and for a sweet while there isn’t the mechanisms of an additional T20 competition to be debated over and over again, I give thanks for small mercies.
First thought is that it’s a bit of a strange squad, even with the India tour in mind, a team of 17 for 2 Tests seems a bit OTT to me, but probably reflects England’s uncertainty in conditions that aren’t conducive to the game plan of playing 4 seamers and hoping they’ll gel enough to take enough wickets to disguise the lack of a middle order that we have.
First things first, I massively think Hameed is a big talent, but we might have a Sheep replica in the fact he scores at quite a low rate (from memory that was the same criticism aimed at Compton and also at times with Trott). We might be 24-0 off 12 overs but is that pushing the match forward with the flimsy middle order that we have, well I’ll leave that for you to decide. 65-4 off 25 overs isn’t a brilliant position. I personally think Hameed will end up taking Cook’s position in the future, but both opening the batting together, that I’m not so sure about..
As for the spin options, despite being a Middlesex fan, I’m not desperately disappointed about Batty being picked. Liam Dawson was always the vanilla ‘let’s cover all bases’ pick that England made when picking Samit Patel for the UAE tests. Not bad at things, but hardly a master at either. Jack Leach would’ve been a far more progressive pick but we do have James Whittaker as Chief Selector, so progressive is unlikely to ever take priority. Batty will do a decent job, and despite being a bit of a dick (sorry Middx bias again) he’ll do a decent job if called upon. I can’t see Duckett or Ansari playing in the Tests, which is a shame as both are very talented.
Oh and just a small note around how the gutter press, yes Paul Newman, John Etheridge and the rest of the idiots, have treated Eoin Morgan in the last week. It’s been nothing more than jingoism gone mad, I’m not a massive fan of Morgan, but to call him out for not singing the national anthem (slight clue is that he’s Irish and if Ireland had been given a fair go at international cricket, then I doubt we’d been in this situation) and because he prefers the IPL to the county game. This is nothing more than blame storming, no-one really knows the background to Morgan’s decision, but to see the bile from so-called experts is more than disappointing. I guess Brexit means Brexit in some people’s eyes…
Be interested to hear what everyone else thinks…
As a side note TLG is away in Indonesia and Dmitri has been snowed at work and is away from Sunday this week, so apologies if posts are slightly sporadic over the next week, and we’re not even going to touch the FTA debate judging from comments from the last post!
Sorry everyone. The travails of the real world have put a hold on new postings. I’m thoroughly busy in the office, Southeastern are a disaster area, and when I get home I find I want to veg out on the sofa. So cricket has taken a little bit of a back seat.
So here we are. Chris is still in foreign lands. I’ll be far far away for most of next week, so we’ll see if Sean or any of our guest writers can fill in the breach in the meantime.
So, to avoid SimonH’s excellent ICC post getting cluttered up with even more comments, let’s have your views on the news coming from the meeting of county chairmen today. Were they all mouth and no trousers – and Yorkshire, I’m looking at you. How far will the south east resistance go – Kent, Sussex and Surrey reputed to be the ones to stand up to Mr Mediocre and the Empty Suit? Can #39 avoid licking so many ECB boots that he comes down with cherry blossom poisoning (an Only Fools and Horses joke)? Watch as other media giants push each other out the way to crawl to the ECB. It’s been a spectator sport all right.
Simon H is the man I look to for updates on the governance of the game. Here is his take on the events of this week….as always, many thanks to Simon for his time and effort in putting this together…. He e-mailed me this last night and there’s an update at the bottom to reflect further events.
SUITS, NOT BOOTS
It’s been a stellar few days for those of us (and we number literally in our half dozens) who find cricket governance fascinating. The administrator-media complex that runs the game have produced three stories at more or less the same time, so here’s some attempt to sort out what’s been going on:
As LCL has already written, there has been an ICC board meeting in Dubai. I’m very much a newcomer to trying to understand the ICC and don’t claim any great expertise here. Firstly, those who remember the world pre-1990 may remember something called Kremlinology. This was how outside observers tried to understand the goings-on in the USSR without virtually any official sources – no minutes, no press releases, no interviews, no diaries, no leaks, no non-attributable briefings, no former members pontificating in TV studios. The ICC offices in Dubai feel very much like the Kremlin, except they’re uglier and less drafty.
So, from a handful of statements that have appeared, and from the sterling work of the handful of journalists who are interested, what can we glean? This was an ICC board meeting, featuring the heads of domestic boards but not, as far as I can gather, Shashank Manohar. The formal ICC meeting is next month (I thought it was going to be in Singapore but it now seems to be in Cape Town). ICC board meetings don’t appear to generate any minutes (not that they are ever anything less than next-to-useless) and I don’t think they have any formal power. However, informally, they seem to matter a great deal in preparing issues for the ICC meeting proper.
The big story emerged, of course, on the first day in the lack of a majority for the draft two-division plan for Test cricket. The plan needs seven FMs in support and only had six. India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe were the four against. This was apparently ‘understood’ without a formal vote and was used to prevent the plan even being discussed. Therefore, a measure backed by 60% of the FMs, presumably most of the associates if anyone bothered to ask them and 72% of players according to a FICA survey (although that may be deserving of some scepticism) has been quashed. The most that seems possible is a play-off between the top two in the rankings (hands up who’d like that to Pakistan – and India). Money talks and democracy walks in cricket governance.
That headline story may mask that other measures won approval at the board meeting. ODI and T20 leagues were supported. This will necessitate ODI series being standardised at three matches of each – and every team will have to play the other top thirteen at least once in a three year cycle (hmm, I’ll believe that when it happens). The leagues will be used for qualification to ICC tournaments. It was also agreed members retain control of Test fixtures and the ICC continues to have no power here. Most importantly, there appears to be some move towards revenue-sharing with England, Australia and South Africa keen to pool their TV revenues and other boards welcome to join. This has the potential to be massively important and needs more discussion among cricket-followers. Cricinfo report that changes in the Indian TV market are the driving force behind this and a sharp decline in those revenues is expected. There has been an assumption that sharing means it would be equal – but that remains an assumption.
The background to much of this appears to be a rapidly souring relationship between Manohar and the BCCI. The head of the BCCI has been visiting Srini and playing the card straight from the Srini handbook – threatening boycotts of ICC events, starting with the 2019 CT. Resentment at funding for the CT compared to the T20 WC has been cited – Manohar disputes their figures and the chances of any of us knowing who’s right are as great as a recall for Nick Compton. The internal politics of Indian cricket are something we’d all better learn to start taking an interest in:
And although it’s hardly been mentioned, all this would seem to leave Manohar’s plan of handing back 6% of India’s 22% ICC revenue-share as dead in the water….. which I rather suspect was, ultimately, the point.
Not to be outdone in farcical cricket governance, the ECB have been building up to their very own D-Day. The interminable debate about city-franchises has led many to tune out of the issue – but the crunch meeting is soon upon us as September 14th looms. The proposal needs a two-thirds majority and Nick Hoult, who’s reporting on this has been in a league of its own, reports the ECB are close to achieving the numbers they need.
This isn’t the place to debate again the merits of city-franchises. Whatever one thinks of the idea, the methods of the ECB are the issue here. They’ve presented county chairmen with five options – but to discover these “options”, the chairmen have had to sign ten year gagging clauses. We may discover what these options are later next week once this meeting is done. The ECB’s conception of options might turn out to look rather like that expressed here (starting at 14:55):
Then there is the role of our media chums. Curiously, a number of writers who have taken a not exactly critical line of the ECB in recent years have suddenly discovered a rampant enthusiasm for city-franchises. One got an extended holiday with his mate out of it. Others have been convinced more easily. They get to know confidential ECB survey evidence that has not been published. They don’t know how that survey was conducted, and whether the results are worth the paper they’re written on, but they’ll repeat them anyway:
They’ll use their Twitter accounts and magazines they’ve somehow come to edit as platforms for not debating an issue but prosleytizsng a cause. Maybe they are genuinely convinced? Maybe after the nonsense of the last two years, they don’t deserve any benefit of the doubt……
Finally, Nick Hoult captures in a nutshell what lies behind all this:
Some have already decided it’s because Morgan isn’t English enough. That’s all they needed to know, they’ve known it in their bones all along when he wouldn’t sing the national anthem or miss the IPL to watch it rain in Ireland.
Some are reading Strauss’s comments about not going giving opportunities to others as trying to pressurise Morgan and as a veiled threat. I’m not exactly Strauss’s greatest fan, but I think these were more anodyne statements of the patently obvious. The captaincy will now presumably be between Root and Buttler. We’ve seen there are some doubts about the former as captain before and there has been some talk of resting him in the Bangladesh ODIs. Some may also suspect he would raise more issues about the Test captaincy. Smart money may be on Buttler.
Will others follow Morgan and opt out? If they do, Morgan is damned for influencing them. If they don’t, Morgan is damned for thinking he’s something special. Maybe KP’s intervention might produce some desire among the ECB to show that he was wrong and they will forgive Morgan. Maybe…
SATURDAY UPDATE FROM SIMON…
I should say this was written late yesterday afternoon and quite a bit happened just afterwards. Newman’s article for one. the discovery of Dobell’s podcast for another:
Reading Sharda Ugra on Cricinfo has also opened up a new interpretation of the two-division plan – that the ECB and CA were trying to drive the less attractive parts of their schedule off the roster just before negotiating new TV rights’ deals. It’s a new argument – but if trying to judge whether they are more motivated by short-term greed or a sudden conversion to the principles of meritocracy, which one – based on their recent track record – seems more likely?
As Chris is off around the other side of the world, and my job has gone absolutely hyper, the time to consider and even react to games, news, events is so totally limited. Coming home has been like wandering into a gently soothing cool shower, draining away the aches and pains, but leaving you still tired and needing rest. Such feelings don’t correlate with writing passionate blog materials. Twitter is easier, but also lazier.
Carrying out the duties of a blog like this means a lot of spare time is taken in reading and listening to what is going on. Today is a good example. I bought the Cricket Paper this morning. The only time I’ve even thought about reading it was when Tregaskis asked me if he could see a copy of the front page. I get home and the first time I actually catch up with the Surrey and Middlesex scores is on the bus to my house. I’ve listened to George’s podcast while having one eye on the unbelievable opportunity I have in 9 days time to fulfill one of my dreams.
I sit and read the stuff on Eoin Morgan. My job entails me going around the world, infrequently, and seeing some extraordinary places – I’ve been to Almaty in Kazakhstan, a brilliant experience, and down a coal mine in Illinois. I’ve been to Istanbul a number of times, and even the amazing city of Moscow. I’ve been nervous about many of them. But I went, because I believe I can look after myself, have a huge sense of danger, and feel as though my wits are about me. I don’t guarantee safety, but then again life is too short to worry about everything. I’m sure something will happen some day, but it is as likely to be in Paris as it is in Istanbul, for example.
But I have turned down visits that don’t suit my personal circumstances, or where being a chunky could get me into trouble (i.e. being able to run decent distances). Or, importantly, where they make me nervous. You see, I may have to make the choice of going to Bangladesh soon, and I’m not that keen, but would probably, on balance go. But I am not a high profile international cricket team. I have every sympathy for Eoin Morgan, who has damn good reasons for not going. His own. You don’t walk a mile in his shoes, so don’t you dare judge him for making that decision. It is all perfectly well people saying “he’s the leader, he should show some courage”. Bollocks. There’s too much of this judgmental crap these days, and I’ve had enough of it. I’m sure many of you have too.
Those who like that sort of thing are pointing out Eoin Morgan’s “lack of form”. The irony of that smacks me in the face. Two years ago lack of form was nothing when the other England captain was playing test cricket, and his lack of form at ODI level took more than a few months bad trot to get him out of the team. Morgan will know how much he lost if he is not selected for India. If he isn’t selected in the squad, then I know that this is personal. Morgan is a very good white ball captain. Jos Buttler will not surprise us that much in three games to persuade us that Morgan still isn’t the best white ball captain.
Then there is the T20 stuff. Look, sorry people, but I really haven’t been following it as much as I know you might like me to. Part of me is past caring. The ECB know what they want. They want an 8 team tournament, in prime summer, with international superstars, and it live and exclusive on Sky TV. Yes, you read the last bit. If it ain’t them, it will be BT Sport. That the counties want little to do with it, is not a surprise, but they’ll be told “no nice payouts to keep you going if there isn’t what we want” and we’ll melt down into civil war over cucumber sandwiches. Unlike Australia, on which we are basing our T20 envy, the game has lost its grip on the social fabric of the country because it banned itself from free TV. Australia still reveres it cricket and there is still an audience for it. It also, as I read from someone today, the perfect set up with large urban centres limited in number. What would we do? Graves seems to have all the negotiating skills of a Sandstone cliff, and Tom Harrison couldn’t persuade me to put the heat on in winter, so what chance do we have? I don’t think the other side of the debate has been all that crash hot either. Why do we need to save the counties? If they didn’t “need” saving we wouldn’t have to help them out. The game is not viable even in the current “massively successful” T20 Blast era. You know my view – players are getting paid above their market value, and unless there’s some damn realism in this sphere, we are going to be in real trouble ad infinitum. There is not a single current non-international cricketer who should be on more than £2k a week in county cricket. There used to be a few at Surrey. I’ll bet they weren’t the only ones.
And as for the ICC. May god have mercy on the souls of the cricket boards of this world. We truly are in the hands of men with little imagination, other than how to try to make money. I’m done with it. What is there left for us to say? What more could Death of a Gentleman do to say, sort this mess out? I’m not sure two divisions would have saved test cricket, nor do I believe it is in as dire a state as some say it is. It most certainly is in certain countries, but that isn’t new. We have the wonderful success story of Pakistan, the world #1 that never plays at home. England are up and down. Australia too. India look to be getting some consistency. Sri Lanka can pull magic out of a hat. South Africa may still have it. The ICC don’t give a shit. Not really. The BCCI run the game and we all know it. It may have sounded like they were moving towards consensus, but that was always transient in my eyes.
So tiredness and weariness, despair and demoralised, we move on to the end of a season where the premier long-form competition is coming down to a thrilling conclusion with the top two meeting in the last fixture and our host broadcaster, with five or six sports channels to fill in midweek, cannot be arsed to cover it. And that’s the broadcaster who #39 put their head chap at #6 in his power list. He should be #1 because if the exclusive broadcaster can’t be bothered to do this and that company is very likely to keep all cricket in the future, then this sport has the wrong priorities. But we knew that.
UPDATE – Paul Newman has written a truly appalling piece on Morgan’s decision. I’m not linking it. If you want to read it, then go ahead. But there is no room in his ivory tower for a shade of grey. The sort of article that plays the man, and not the issue. An issue so serious that the ECB Head of Security went out there for a week and still the ECB said there would be nothing held against anyone who did not travel. I ribbed an Aussie about their non-tour last year, I know. But there’s been some naughtiness since (I’ve learned a hell of a lot about Bangladesh since then) and it’s a judgment call. No more no less. But there isn’t empathy in Newman. Certainly not in his writing. I don’t know if I could be more angry with him.
You can read the rest. Jarrod lets the BCCI and Anurag Thakur have it with both barrels.
Here at Being Outside Cricket, well especially me, I bow to Simon H when it comes to matters of ICC and world administration. It’s tough to keep up with the machinations of our press and ECB goings on without keeping an eye on what is happening in the international game. But what we all know is that India control the game – and Indian fans save your admonishment because this is realpolitik not some cosy fancy “good for the game” nonsense that I’m fed by people who want more of my cash to be able to watch the sport we all love. For that’s what this is all about. As Gideon Haigh says, what are fans other than something to be monetised? Sport has always been about money and entrenching power. The “product” on the field is a definite second.
But hey, you say, if the product is rubbish then no-one will watch? Well, yes, to a degree. I happen to think that “modern football” of the last 20 or so years, while technically much better, is far less exciting. It’s why I don’t go to my team any more – I was bored watching defensive, fearful football, with losing more feared than winning enjoyed – and yet the Premier League is doing better (supposedly) than ever in the money stakes. India have the IPL – I really couldn’t tell you who won it, was it Bangalore? – and it rakes in a fortune. The Indian national team is a money printing machine, and while they have the cash they do not have one vote on the table. They have THE vote.
We can sit here and moan all we like. This is the real world. We have ONE jewel in the crown – our team plays a massively lucrative series against Australia – but non-India years in the accounts are not good. We’ll see how down they are when we get the next season’s accounts, but revenue was well down in 2015 from 2014, and that was from India to Australia, and they are bound to be a lot worse compared to 2015. Money men, and it’s usually men, who run cricket, don’t tend to do altruism, and in many cases don’t take a long-term view.
One thing with the Giles Clarke interview in The Cricketer is that where there is lots of plaudits on himself for securing a lucrative TV contract without which the professional game in this country could not have survived – his words – he has seen a growth in international player’s wages in the UK which has not been matched by a growth in the game itself. You only have to look at clubs in my area merging or folding (our team did because we had no younger players, and the constant strife the counties put themselves in while paying players money they can’t afford. It’s come to the point where the game in England depends on whether a TV company is going to pony up the money to pay for it. At some point the sports rights market is going to be saturated and people won’t pay any more. Take the fact the US Open tennis has been dropped by Sky, for the cost, I read, of ONE Premier League fixture. Cricket better not be still standing when the music stops and the chairs are all taken.
It’s OK for us diehards to say “that Pakistan series was great and we should have more of them” because Sky don’t want that stiff. They’d have Australia and India alternating if they had their way. They’d have an IPL in England if they had their way. And that’s the issue for us, and increasingly on a global scale. TV calls the tune, and more importantly, Indian TV money (not influence, as the way they are advised to broadcast shows the power the BCCI holds) does, and that’s a lot of money.
There were a lot of rumblings when Shashank Manohar swept on the scene, stopped Giles becoming the head of the ICC, made some very nice international noises which were in contrast to Srinavasan, that all wasn’t all it seemed. A number of the constituent parts of the BCCI weren’t so keen on hearing about THEIR revenue being nicely shared around the world for the “good of the game”. I could just imagine out constituent Premier League clubs doing just the same – a bit like how the top boys react when the Champions League is being reformed, The top boys want the riches for themselves. The assured cash flow. To hell with fairness and competition.
Now, it appears, at the ICC council that the Indian board aren’t going to be as fulsome in their altruism as we first thought. Part of me says why the hell should we. If we were in their shoes, we wouldn’t be. If any part of this impinged on counties, we’d have no chance of changing the rules. So don’t be slagging India off for doing what we would do.
Two division test cricket would only have worked if we truly believe England, India or Australia would have been allowed to be relegated. If you believe that, then you should check the bottom of the garden for fairies. Cricket is bankrolled by India, so what they say will pretty much go. The IPL has pretty much destroyed, if it needed much help, test cricket in the West Indies as it always clashes with their season. The best West Indian players get to “choose” whether to earn a reasonably small sums in an uncompetitive team on dreary wickets in the Caribbean, or pocket a small fortune in playing in a competitive if ultimately relatively meaningless “league” in India. That’s tough. Don’t spend too long thinking about it.
The game is run for naked self-interest. We got angry, rightfully so, and we should never not get angry, at this. Of course we do. We’re bloody diehards. But we aren’t who boards care about. We’re the ones taken for granted that we’ll still be there when it all falls apart. We’ll still cough up our Sky Subs, our match tickets, even our memberships just to watch the game.
I hope Simon will write a piece on the meeting – if not, I’m sure he’ll comment – but the ICC haven’t surprised me in the slightest, and I’ll bet deep down they’ve not surprised Jarrod, Sam, Gideon, and all those others out there who railed against the machine. What they have done is make things a little less comfortable, but when there’s money to be made, and cash and power to be invested in themselves, personally, now, I’m afraid mere diehards can go do one…..
So @ianuragthakur you can save cricket. Or you can be just another person who behaves selfishly with a game loved by billions. Your choice
Just listened to the Ugra clip on Cricinfo headlined “BCCI standing with the “small guys”. Really? REALLY? Because they are voting against a two-tier system when they themselves virtually operate one themselves (no tests against Bangladesh at home until the FIRST one in Spring next year). I’m sorry, you’ll have to come up with a better rationale than that.
Part Two…Simon H kindly wrote out his memories of this important, but often overlooked but for the battering the old guard got, test match in 1976. In part one we had the build up and the first day’s play. Now let Simon take you through the rest of this match.
The memory has every day of the summer of ’76 sunny and hot but in fact Friday at OT was cloudy. However overhead conditions had little to do with England losing 8 wickets for 34. A pitch that had something for medium pacers and spinners turned out to have a whole lot more for bowlers who delivered the ball at searing pace. Roberts bowled impressively from one end probing Edrich on off-stump until he finally knicked one and then getting one to rear off a length to have Hayes caught at fourth slip. But it was Holding at the other end who was electric. Running in from near the sightscreen it was athletic and thrilling as only great fast bowling can be.
If I may digress for a moment, it is one of the beliefs of the moderns that fast bowlers of the past weren’t really fast. After all, haven’t all objectively measured sporting performances got better over the years? Fast bowlers of the past seemed fast at the time but they’d be medium pacers now, some say. I have to say that , from the little footage I’ve seen of Frank Tyson, he doesn’t look that quick. But look at the film of Holding in this match and he looks quick, very quick indeed. The 1970s speedmen were also tested in early speed-guns and Thomson was found at 99 mph with Holding (who wasn’t then at his peak) not far behind. It isn’t rheumy-eyed nostalgia that imagines this was ‘pace like fire’. It was.
Nightwatchman Pocock soon edged Holding to first slip. However it was an unplayable lifter to Woolmer that knocked the stuffing out of England. Greig tried to counterattack but it had a hint of desperation about it. Daniel replaced Roberts and with his wading-through-water run-up and muscular action produced an in-ducker that bowled the England captain. For all the talk about bumper wars that was about to erupt, West Indies realised Greig’s weakness was to the full ball and didn’t make the mistake of Lillee and Thomo in 74/75 when Greig goaded them into losing their length. Knott couldn’t salvage this England innings and edged to second slip. Underwood got an alarming bouncer and then was bowled as was Hendrick. The bouncer at Underwood was genuinely scary but he had made 31 in the previous Test (without which West Indies might well have won the game) and English bowlers inflicted some nasty injuries on tailenders in the 1970s (Snow to Jenner in 70/71, Willis to Iqbal Qasim in ’78 and, most famously, Peter Lever to Chatfield in ‘74/75). Holding had 5-17 and West Indies a lead of 140.
England needed quick wickets to keep a toe-hold in the match but like all great sides West Indies sensed the moment to attack. Greenidge launched a second furious attack on the England seamers who looked tame in comparison and although never at his best Fredericks chipped in with fifty before treading on his wicket. When the opposition are effectively 256-1, seeing Viv Richards striding to the crease was just what England needed! Richards survived a few early alarms and at the close West Indies were 163-1.
So far the match had had great batting, great fast bowling, some decent spin bowling and good catches. What it hadn’t had was major controversy. The last hour on Saturday changed all that.
Most of Saturday’s play was actually the dullest part of the match. That one can say that when it featured Viv Richards making a century says something about the rest of the game! Richards had been a little scratchy late on Friday but here he was at his masterful best and some of his late cutting of Underwood was a delight. It was only slightly dull in the sense that a century was so inevitable. Greenidge hit some more thunderous drives on the way to his second century but then Selvey knocked his middle peg out – a moment captured in a photo that Selvey doesn’t like to show every chance he can. Clive Lloyd tried to bat himself into some form and was looking more like his old self before he holed to mid-on to give Selvey his sixth wicket of the match (and the last of his Test career). Otherwise Kallicharran, King and Murray scratched around to no great effect and started to remind everyone that this wasn’t an easy pitch to bat on. A bored eleven year old drifted off into the garden to play some cricket with his brother (cooking apple tree trunk for wicket, Gunn & Moore bat, don’t loft it on the on-side as it would go in Mr Fry’s garden and he was a bit scary) and he missed what was about to kick off……
Lloyd declared leaving England 80 minutes that night to survive and then a further two days to hold on or 552 to make. What happened next Martin Williamson recounts here:
As has been a fault of mine too often, I could see both sides. England were to blame for preparing such an unfit pitch and selecting such an unsuitable opening partnership. As I said earlier, English fast bowlers dished it out in the ‘70s and West Indies’ batsmen took it without (as far as I can recall) any complaint. Complaints about nasty fast bowlers usually boil down to “why haven’t we got any?” There was a nasty tinge to some of the complaints that denied the skill of the West Indies and tapped into some unpleasant stereotypes. But….. Holding did go too far that evening and Lloyd was too laissez-faire about it. That bouncer that just misses Close’s head is a genuinely frightening moment.
I should perhaps say here that I was always immune from the cult of Brian Close. Perhaps I was just too much of a confirmed Southerner? Mostly, I wanted an England batsman to hook like Greenidge. John Edrich was something of a hero though – I liked a dashing opener like Greenidge but a nuggety opener was okay too and anyone with eyes could see that Edrich was having to face some tough bowling. At the time, Surrey weren’t too good and didn’t keep beating Hampshire which also helped.
I don’t have any recollection of watching day four on the Monday. Was I still at school? The match started on July 8th and I remember watching the first day live – did we break up that early in those days or had I pulled a sickie?
Anyway, the records show that West Indies reduced England to 125-9. After all the focus the day before on Holding (and Daniel) it was Andy Roberts who stole the show. Roberts was also one of Hampshire’s and, if he wasn’t as high in my affections as Greenidge, he was still one of ours. Later in his career Roberts cut his pace and became a more English style bowler relying on accuracy and seam movement. In 1976 he was still genuinely rapid, if not quite in the Holding league.
He was twice on a hat-trick and the second time he was denied when Greenidge at second slip dropped Selvey. I can remember watching that but it was late in the day so I’d obviously come back in from whatever I’d be doing. At the time it didn’t seem such a big deal – didn’t hat-trick chances come around quite often? Poor Frank Hayes who’d been picked as a bit of a dasher (he hit 34 off an over once) who might take the fight to the West Indies hung on the longest. His reward was to be promoted to No.3 for the next game where he made 7 & 0 and was dropped never to play again. He played all his nine Tests against the West Indies and ended with an average of 15 despite hitting an unbeaten century.
Rain ended play early on day four so the teams had to come back for ten minutes on day five. Selvey edged Roberts to Greenidge again who didn’t drop this one. West Indies had won by 425 runs. It was the fourth worst defeat in Test history at the time (there have been two worse since) and England’s second worst:
The next Test at Headingley was in some ways even better. Unfortunately, the family holiday got in the way of watching most of it and I spent several days in the Cotswolds trying to find a TV or radio so I could find what the score was. We got back in time for the climax and I remember being incredibly upset when Knott was caught behind and any realistic chance of an England win went. Fortunately, the decks were cleared for the Fifth Test and a game of three monumental performances (Richards 291, Holding’s 14 wickets, Amiss’s 203) could be enjoyed in its entirety. The moaning about bouncers became moaning about over rates and about crowd noise and I wanted to become a cricket writer/commentator who would write/talk about his love of the game and not just moan all the time (!).
It would be 14 years and over 20 Tests before England would beat the West Indies:
West Indies’ global domination perhaps wasn’t confirmed until they beat Australia in Australia in the first post-Packer series in ‘79/80 – but in retrospect the domination had started at OT. A cricketing dynasty was founded.
England recovered some pride by winning the winter tour in India. West Indies hosted Pakistan in an epic five Test series at home and, with Holding and Daniel injured, discovered two new bowlers in Colin Croft and Joel Garner. (Ironically it was David Holford’s leg-spin that won them the final test and the series 2-1). The West Indies’ reservoir seemed bottomless and the game became increasingly dominated by pace (or at least seam). Mike Brearley wore a skullcap under his England cap to protect the temples in 1977 and on the tour of the West Indies in 1977/78 Graham Yallop became the first batsman to wear a helmet.
This youngster joined one of those cut-price book clubs so he could buy cricket books cheaply. CMJ’s ‘MCC in India 76/77’ was I think the first. Tony Cozier’s ‘Fifty Years of West Indies cricket’ soon followed (with its cover picture of Clive Lloyd driving while Greig stood helpless at slip). I replayed the matches endlessly in garden cricket or on the indoor cricket games I had. I don’t remember listening to the India tour on the radio so either it wasn’t covered or I wasn’t doing that yet. I only listened to TMS when there wasn’t TV coverage and there was no Richie. Richie was impossibly exotic and didn’t keep telling us it was better in his day. I loved listening to him and felt transported to a different, more exciting place. The Centenary Test was shown on TV in a highlights’ package and in the epic Lillee-Randall duel, England at last a batsman who could take on a great fast bowler and win. Australia arrived in 1977 – the Ashes were supposed to be this great thing but it soon became clear this Australia weren’t very good. Lillee had stayed at home and the fearsome Thomo of legend wasn’t so fearsome. And they weren’t the West indies.
My thanks to Simon, for a brilliant account of a very interesting test match. Feel free to comment, and to share any memories if you are old enough!
We were discussing, on the way home, whether to bother with a preliminary for the T20 international being played tomorrow between England and Pakistan. This is it. If you want to comment, now the Super Series is over I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, then please do so here.
In the meantime a couple of house notes. First of all the List, which has seen more unique visitors hit this site than has been achieved in a long, long time, now takes it permanent place above in the Pages section, next to The Glossary (which I must really update). We’ve had some very interesting reaction and comments, and the post will remain on the blog itself as well (so you can read the comments), but it’s time to unpin it and get on with our lives.
This means we move from the ridiculous to the sublime, and I will be putting up Simon’s conclusion to the 1976 test piece that, in my opinion, was absolutely fantastic and would love to see more of. This blog is more than just criticism, debate and reaction. It’s nostalgia, it’s a world view, it’s the memories that make cricket the game it is. It’s also getting YOU to tell us your memories and personal thoughts. They may not get the attention that a List like Saturday did, but they are what I most like about doing this. So my thanks to SimonH once again for all the effort he put in. It will be up within the hour (all being well).
Lots more to come – and if you want to comment on the T20, do so here. I may be at The Oval tomorrow as well, so be prepared for pics etc.
When a publication gets bored and runs out of ideas, it turns to lists. Whether that be “Five Things We Learned” or a wider list, it’s lovely clickbait because it manages to irritate just about everyone, whether the inclusions are too low, too high, not on it, or because the list itself is preposterous in the first place. (Is this author having a go at The Dmitris, or the journalist list?)
This week it was the turn of The Cricketer, with their Power List of English cricket. Oddly enough, we weren’t on it – presumably we were in 51st just behind the editor of Wisden, who they eventually remembered, probably when they realised he dared to criticise people. Objectively understandable – who would ever read the editorial of the world’s premier cricket book? Who would ever write article after article about his excoriation of the game’s governing bodies?
The real trick is then to nominate yourself to be on the list, but only the worst kind of self-important, smug, arrogant idiot would dream of doing that. So between the three of us we’ve come up with our own. It’s a list of those who adore the sounds of their own voices, who fully believe that they are far more important than anyone else, who rest with absolute certainty in the superiority of their own existence. And are not shy about letting us know.
It’s a team effort, it’s not listed individually, so you’re going to have to blame Dmitri, TLG and Sean equally. Oh and feel free to slate us in return, that’s the whole point of it after all.
There is an order to this, but trust us, we’ve not spent more than 5 seconds trying to work it out. Anyone upset by where they are…..good. Our work is done.
By all accounts one of the most charming, delightful men you could ever wish to spend time with, a chatterbox who entertains all those around him, and who often wrote beautiful prose. It was therefore particularly unfortunate that he didn’t turn his mind towards asking some of the more obvious questions that should have occurred to him. Had the misfortune to be at the Independent in the dying days of that paper, and whose departure was symptomatic of an organ that was going nowhere. Has been rather quiet since, and while his output may have been criticised, his loss to the cricket community is simply rather sad.
Perhaps with hindsight Botham’s mastery with the ball over his career was down to the fact he had about 30 fielders at any given time. For surely there can be no other explanation for the uncanny ability to point out that England should have had a 26th slip fielder in place mere moments after the ball has gone through the vacant area. In this, he is at least more accurate than he tends to be when trying to forecast the future instead of the past, his notorious 5-0 prediction for the 2013/14 Ashes proving accurate as long as no one mentioned who to.
A fixture of cricket coverage during the noughties, a period he clearly misheard, deciding to consider his time on air a mere interlude between visits to the toilet carrying a small bag and a rolled up £50 note. Special mention must go to his outstanding explanation of reverse swing as being akin to the uneven underside of an aircraft wing. Planes fell out of the sky a aeronautic engineers absorbed the reality of the new, radical theory.
I’m sure some are amazed he’s here. In fact Knight himself would probably say “Would you believe it?” To be fair Knight says “Would you Believe It?” to almost anything; indeed it’s quite likely his default response to missing the bus. There are perhaps few greater exponents of the art of speaking the most bleeding obvious of the most bleeding obvious in the cricket world today. It has been said the poor man has splinters from such an outstanding ability to sit on the fence – I prefer to focus on the way he casually ignored the fastest ball ever recorded by nudging it round the corner for a single. Not for Knight the glorious out of the park for six shot, oh no – the nurdle for one, the special ability to be a key part of history, yet for no one to remember his role in it. Few have ever so beautifully summarised the point that television is a medium than Knight has – for it is neither rare nor well done. A medium medium. A chicken tikka masala with a keema naan. Inoffensive to all, memorable to no-one.
He’s blocked one of our number on Twitter for a start. One prong of the Essex Mafia, and a conduit for the ECB line to take on everyone’s favourite scapegoat; the one thing not in his favour is his lack of gravitas. But it takes some sort of special individual to make the KP issue so personal. Some of his work read like a screaming teenager shouting “No. No. No.” I often wonder what it was that set him off, but then it really crystallised when he allowed the dignified silent man, the Flower of Andrew, to have his dignified say. Couldn’t have been a larger dose of cats out of the bag since Millwall drew Hull in the FA Cup. I have to say I was stunned. After all, Newman did the talking in 2014, and Flower’s lips never moved.
Old school journalist, who never forgets to mention that he came from the University of life. Gloriously misreported that Kevin Pietersen had returned his gifts from his 100th Test match and then vowed to investigate when proved wrong. The investigation must be extremely thorough as it’s been 2 years and 85 days and we’ve still heard nothing about its result. Desperately keen to be seen as a serious journalist and known to get extremely pissy when asked “why he bothers as no-one reads cricket in the Sun”.
Ooh controversy. One of the most sublimely talented batsmen in the world, the one who can pull off an innings in Colombo that ghasts the flabber, and a friend of this place rather obviously going back to the frankly idiotic initial sacking and cretinously stupid refusal to consider him after the small matter of a triple century.
Trouble is, he’s a knob. You know it, I know it. He’s an amazing batsman, who is so good his international record is frankly a disappointment. But he’s an idiot. There’s being opinionated, there’s being a rebel. There’s even being right – and the worst crime Pietersen ever committed was that dreadful tendency to be right on so many occasions, and for the ECB to quietly do exactly as he suggested, even though he was very obviously wrong at the time, right? Who would ever forgive that? Especially those who have less talent, there’s no way they could ever even think about accepting such outrageousness. But there’s being right at the right time, and there’s being right at the wrong time. And then there’s being right at the right time that you’ve managed to turn into the wrong time. Hang on, slight pause to check I understand that sentence – oh yes, got it.
Pietersen is one of the most insightful, intelligent commentators on the game out there. That so many refuse to listen to things which are actually rather good is partly his fault. There are lots of villains in that whole sorry tale. Pietersen is sadly one of them, even if not the worst. In the last 30 years, there has never been so clear and obvious case for banging heads together as l’affaire Pietersen.
The commentary darling of the BCCI and well known for his over the top praise for every Indian cricketer ever. Known to share the same commentary manual as Knight, Nick with gems such as “If India want to win here, then they will need to play well”, “Edged and….taken” and “the next few overs will be crucial” Ravi is always on hand to state the bleeding obvious time and time again. Has since been dumped as India’s head coach which left him “surprised and disappointed” but no doubt come the winter, he will lighting up the Sky studios with his unique take on how everything in India is amazing.
The bar is set World Limbo Dancing Championship low when you follow Giles Clarke into the head of the ECB hotseat. That you couldn’t even make your KP statement stick two minutes before backtracking quicker than Frank Bruno against Mike Tyson second time around, spoke volumes for your ability. Wants four day tests, and absolutely loves the word “mediocre” which probably should just be the title of a book based on his reign so far. Well, mediocre will do when “A damn effing laughing stock” probably won’t make the shelves at WH Smith’s. Number 1 on The Cricketer’s list, which is amazing as I couldn’t think of a single good thing he’s done yet. Plus, just what is that £1m guarantee thing in the ECB accounts? Perhaps we should be told. Mediocre financial data there.
Channel 9 commentary
“Hey Brays, guess what Warnie and Slats went out for beers and pizza last night and boy are they hanging, boom they’re goes another four, went like a tracer bullet to the boundary, that went even quicker than Tubbs opening the door to the pizza delivery man, haha”. And so it goes on, the cricket commentary team where talking actual cricket is likely to get you sacked and where the arrival of Mark Nicholas in the box represents a glorious interlude of cricketing erudition. It’s like watching a middle aged episode of the Inbetweeners where a load of ex professional cricketers see who can outdo each other in the banter stakes and holler loudly whenever there’s a boundary. Then there is the deliberate idiocy in how Brayshaw and team declare how they have never heard of the Indian fast bowling coach or of the Pakistani leg spinner, after all, these teams are just there to make up the numbers and should not detract from the amazing Australian team. Oh and they don’t take criticism that well either, as Brad McNamara highlighted when launching an ill conceived tirade at Gideon Haigh after he had gently criticised the commentary standard of channel 9. Glass houses and all that.
Since his appointment as Grand Vizier at the ECB, Flower has disappeared from the radar of many. But he’s still there, and he’s still exerting influence. This is a good thing, for losing the expertise of someone who has had such an important job would be extremely wasteful – though not so wasteful the geniuses at the ECB didn’t think it perfectly reasonable to dispense with Duncan Fletcher. Maybe it was because he wasn’t the Best Coach of His Generation or something.
Flower had a decent enough record as England coach, and the idea that he’s the enemy of the state is no more reasonable than believing he is descended from the heavens to dispense wisdom and success. But the determination that everyone bend to his will is as flawed as it always has been. The briefings to the media about players that seemed to include things that only Flower knew according to those on the receiving end of the headlines didn’t exactly engender trust. And now the England Lions get the benefit of that. Aren’t they lucky?
Aggers is a late entry on this lise, first of all because crossing him invokes the fervent fandom’s ire, and we can vouch for how that plays out from personal experience. Secondly, even we have to pad out stuff like this. Agnew generates plenty of heat and light from those who don’t buy the folksy charm and think he’s an establishment stooge. We have to reflect that on here, although it has to be said, he’s not really part of the problem. But he gets in for the reaction to the infamous Clarke pic. And how he reacted with other blogs. Come on….
How this curmudgeonly old writer still gets gigs is beyond me. He’s allowed to spout off about this and that each month, looking back and never forwards, seeking decorum and manners in the game he rarely shows in his pieces. If you are looking for tolerance, look elsewhere. I can only imagine he’s kept on as some poor man’s Swanton tribute act, and instead of being amused my his grumpiness, he just enrages. I’m sure he would absolutely love this site. About as much as I love root canal. I’d like it that way.
This is like criticising fluffy little kittens. Everyone loves Bumble, don’t they? Well, yes, to a degree. The problem comes when he stops being a cricket commentator with great humour, into an attempted humourist talking over the cricket. This tends to happen more in T20, where yes, we should give less of a toss, but still. Yes, Start the Car was amusing. The first ten times. He’s low in our pecking order because this is pretty harmless stuff, but one of us, in particular, has had his fill. It’s good to be contrary. So let’s name fluffy little kittens because some of us are allergic to cats.
He really went for Nick Compton, didn’t he? What on earth was that all about? At least he got in touch to ask how he was perceived, and that’s decent. But you can’t get away from the pieces. But we do have sympathy for freelancers!
Guardian County Cricket Blog
This will resonate with a few.If your face doesn’t fit, if you dare to relate our domestic game to our international, if you dare to question the sacred cows below and above the line, then woe betide you. For you will be damned for eternity, or at least until you abide by the unwritten rules. Suck up to the admin, be deferential to certain characters, and be whimsical. Oh yes, be very whimsical.
Put himself number 39 in his own Power List, above the Chief Cricket writer at The Telegraph, the single best England batsman of the last decade and clickbait king combination in history, the editor of Wisden, England’s current best all rounder, England’s best all rounder who works for Sky, and every single one who picks the England team as a selector. I’d understand it, just, if you were John Etheridge, Jonathan Agnew, or Jonathan Pierce. But if you walked down the street and picked out a random person and asked them who Simon Hughes is, I’d bet a majority who answered would pick the former Liberal Democrat MP! When you aren’t even the most famous person with your name, well that’s hard yakka. We’ll always have that Dobell exchange though….
Since this went to the original typesetters, we’ve had some small interaction. We’ve had those patronising tweets, where we are extremists and he is unbiased. I mean, really. I mean REALLY. Have a day off. Because “went off in a huff” is the language of equanimity. Let’s put it this way. This tweet…
@MaxieCricket@DmitriOld you have a valid voice in the game but do yourself no favours with extreme unbalanced criticism of unbiased opinion
There’s a peculiar difference prevailing in the world today. Be a grumpy so and so, scream at players when they make mistakes, provoke and get involved in physical confrontations, and the press will defend you to the hilt. Smack a ball down a deep fielder’s throat and you’ll be lambasted as irresponsible. Jimmy may be one of our greatest ever bowlers, but we enable his behaviour. And, well, frankly, this as well….
We don’t have many positions for entities rather than people, but we couldn’t leave out Lord’s. Look, we get it is where everyone wants to play, but to go there as an ordinary spectator is to be classified as a second class citizen, shuffled behind people who patently don’t have mirrors in their houses. Dressing up like a clown is clearly a sign of intellectual, moral, and let’s face it, financial supremacy over the proles. Then there are the queues – because they’re always shocked to find people want food or drink, the appalling views in the lower stands, the pervading sense of patronising people and those effing champagne corks. Who, or what do they think they are?
But what is he for? I mean I’ve written loads of stuff on other people and I keep coming back to this one point when I think about Mr Sublime Interviewing Technique. And that is…..I don’t quite know how to word this. Oh yes. Um. How about “What is he for?” Answer – to bring Ballance to the proceedings…
You could have two entries here. One is the Mills and Boon character, the handsome doe-eyed (and they are his own doe eyes, not the one he shot) England captain, fighting against the odds to reach success while those beastly enemies try to take him out by pointing out his long period without centuries, and his appalling captaincy that used to coincide with the number 4. On the other is the man who has only to pass 50 before grown men collapse in paroxysms of ecstasy, retweet more than One Direction fans after the latest band break up, and then claim he’s been subjected to a media battering. Combined you have a strong contender for the top spot in our list. Oh, and he’s not England’s greatest ever batsman, before you start going on about that, either. Bring on the Cooky Crew…
Well known for his role as Director, England Cricket and for calling KP a c**t on national TV and getting away with it. Strauss is the darling of the MSM, the man who decided that his trust is the only prerequisite to be playing for England, stuff talent and runs, and a man who Gary Lineker referred to as “extraordinarily petty and immature”. Director comma still believes that KP ended his career, never mind the fact that he couldn’t hit it off the square and has taken great pleasure in ending the former’s international career too. Currently being deigned as the saviour of England cricket alongside Cook, Alastair by his mates in the MSM and last seen desperately trying to push the merits of the ‘super series’ to fans who can smell bullshit 1000 miles away.
Dave Richardson –
Grow the game? What is this nonsense? it’s our game and our money and we’ll do what we always do by making the rich even richer and the poor even poorer, 3 team World Cup anybody? Last seen whilst serving as PA to Anurag Thakur.
One of the more talented cricket writers out there, who has a body of work behind him to be proud about. So why would he ever make a list like this (That’s an in-joke between TLG, Dmitri and Sean, and a pair of Old Shades)? Well the trouble arises when certainty about his own wit and knowledge supercedes the more natural uncertainty that most people have. Miller’s Twitter timeline is a delightful example of being so sure of himself that anyone daring to disagree is considered thick. He’s keen on making political points, and that’s fair enough for anyone, but it remains instructive that anyone so sure of themselves that those who hold perfectly legitimate different opinions are regarded as the lowest form of life in his eyes. And that is the problem – contempt for the views of others in one field is illustrative of the same contempt in all others. Only the arrogant can ever be so certain.
Well Charles…the Sky man who is only known for being Bob Willis’ cannon fodder. He surely can’t believe he has still got the gig despite knowing next to nothing about cricket and regularly being schooled by Mark Butcher, Rob Key and Marcus Trescothick, who don’t even pretend to hide their disdain for him. Posh, obnoxious and clueless never makes for a good combination for commentators; however it does tick all the boxes for a Director role on our glorious board, expect him to be the next MD of the ECB.
The outstanding coach of a generation unfortunately turned out to be not that outstanding at all, even second time around. Primarily utilised by Paul Downton as a tool to ensure Kevin Pietersen could never return to the England fold, Moores did his usual job of talking a great game and then disappointing on the pitch. The lead up to the 2015 was at best comical and the results on the pitch were even worse, proving that Moores had paid no attention to the way ODI cricket was evolving. He then kindly hammered the nails into his own coffin by declaring that he would have “to look at the data” after a hammering by Bangladesh. Now working as a consultant at Nottinghamshire CC, which judging by their form this year, hasn’t exactly proved him to be the outstanding coach in which he was proclaimed. Special mention goes out to his wife, who after a vino or two, is not afraid to stomp onto Twitter searching for those who dare to declare that his time in charge wasn’t a roaring success.
In recent times thesauruseseseses (er, not sure where to stop there) have updated their entries to include Clarke as a synonym for “odious”. Indeed all cricket fans should be encouraged to do a Google search for both terms and ensure that it comes up as a suggestion in the search box. His finest moment in a career of James Bond villainy is undoubtedly his starring role in Death of a Gentleman where his patronising, sneering arrogance has led actors like Mark Strong and Jeremy Irons to watch and learn how to portray a character that audiences automatically hate. Where Clarke excels is in his total disregard for any other human being and disdain for any contrary view. Such things as actually loving the game of cricket are not for him, when instead it is purely there for his own self-aggrandisement. Lawrence Booth still lives in fear, looking over his shoulder every day to seek out Clarke’s henchmen intending to finish what the great man started at the Wisden dinner (this may not be entirely true).
Like all great supervillains, Baron Greenback has his sidekicks, and the superb insertion of Oddjob into the Guardian to act as chief cheerleader remains one of his finest achievements. Add in a sense of righteousness that removes any hint of self-doubt and you have a man who superbly manages to represent every single thing that is wrong with the game. What a diamond he is.
It is always instructive to visit Del’s Wikipedia page, purely for the deliciously cruel entry about him that reads “Pringle’s first-class batting average exactly matched his bowling average, indicating that he cancelled himself out perfectly.” But his true metier has been in journalism, where he created a dedicated following of readers, who were united in despising every piece of vitriolic hatred that passed for a newspaper column. The only ones who approved were those who hated Pietersen even more. The best journalists have the rare ability to necessarily criticise players who have by definition made it to the top of the game. Only Pringle had the extraordinary ability to arrogantly belittle those so much better than he ever was. These points about him won’t worry him in the slightest, for he has that wonderful ability – let’s call it Clarkitis – to consider the views of the little people to be beneath his pay grade. The feeling of contempt is entirely mutual.
Where would we be without Paul? We wouldn’t have a name. We wouldn’t have been able to keep this (and the previous) blog going without his material. We wouldn’t have had aplomb. We wouldn’t have had the dossier. We wouldn’t have had the “best coach of his generation”. We wouldn’t have had the Agnew interview (and one of our number wouldn’t have had death threats). To do a FICJAM to AndyInBrum, “He’s so out of his depth he’s below fish with lights.” We miss him. We needed him to get through “difficult winters”. It’s hard to be “fresh” and “exciting” and instead we need to be disengaged. Also noted for having his English corrected by Kevin Pietersen, who responded to the charge he was disinterested by denying that he’d been uninterested.
This is all about disappointment. The most talented player of his era, hell the most talented player of almost any era. I’ve spent hours waxing lyrical about Gower innings to the young (i.e. therefore stupid – apparently it’s a meme), mentioning the most sublime cover drive ever seen, the most delicious cut shot, the most perfect pull (unless it was a fraction too full and knocked off stump out). And he’s a posh boy, he’s ideal for TV. And he was too, he was wonderful. But in more recent times he’s gone all establishment – the insistence on refusing to mention the Great Satan (Pietersen FYI) because it might cause palpatations at Lords, the general stroppiness when anything or anyone dares to challenge orthodoxy. Where did it all go wrong? You were the Bojo of cricket, the upper class boy who was the rebel incarnate, and unaccountably popular with the masses. And now you’ve gone native.
Nothing is as disappointing as being let down. Oh David. What price criticism from the studio for flying a Tiger Moth over the team now.
Failed England Cricketer and now author, philosopher, philanthropist and more recently plagiarist. Never hesitates to remind us how incredibly clever he is by dropping in notes about 15th century Umbrian history or Virgil’s Aeneid into his cricket writings. His ability to destroy the morale of a whole dressing room which then kicked him out on his ass, has naturally led him to be proclaimed “the next Jonathan Agnew” on TMS and the Course Director of the MA History of Sport at Buckinghamshire University. Currently lying low on social media after being found to have copied and pasted one of his Economist colleagues pieces on stress and claiming it as his own. Not as clever then as he thinks.
I’m all for enthusiasm. Really I am. But there’s enthusiasm and then there’s being the kind of person that you see come into the pub and pray to whatever sky fairy you hold dear that he won’t come and pull up a stool next to you. Danny Morrison (or DFM as I call him – work it out, it’s not hard) is unquestionably one of these. Picture the scene as you quietly sip your pint, only to have someone next to you screaming that the way the barman has delivered it is the best he’s ever seen, that there’s simply no pint in existence that could ever compare, and that while the bar staff run for cover in terror, he then turns to everyone else and invites them to partake in excited appreciation of said beverage. Just for God’s sake no one tell him there are crisps under the bar, probably of various different flavours.
It’s always been an idle thought that the commentary box has anything sharp removed just prior to a DFM stint, and his colleagues are allowed solely a hip flask in order to cope with the ordure created from order over the following half hour. It takes something truly special for cricket fans to be actively looking forward to the commercial breaks, where a Safestyle advert counts as a reduction in the volume. Drinks breaks in DFM covered matches should be increased to one every other over, allowing desperate fans to run outside and put their heads into a bucket to cool off. But you know, it’s what the people want, right? It’s cool, it’s down wiv da kidz (innit). He must be popular with someone, or he wouldn’t be there. But who? Um, seriously who? Answers on a postcard please*
*They will be ignored – just so you know.
Is gaining rapidly on Jimmy Anderson as England’s leading wicket taker, without ever getting quite the same amount of coverage for his achievements. Divides opinion like few others not called Kevin, with some calling for his dropping despite a truly world class bowling average over the last few years. He will not be satisfied with it, mostly because of his absolute certainty that he has been denied around 300 lbws by the combination of appalling umpiring and a DRS set up that is biased against him. It must be biased, because when he walks out with the bat the dastardly umpires switch round the settings so he is given out every time he is struck on the pads (quite frequent) and then DRS upholds it no matter how many times he reviews it. There should probably be an investigation into this clear example of bias.
A major redeeming feature is a pathological love of winding up Australians.
A few years ago there was a Test series in New Zealand. Actually they’re fairly regular, but this was a specific series and I can’t remember who they were playing anyway. It matters little, in the way that Tests played by New Zealand so often tend. Anyway, it was raining. That happens too. And with a morning wiped out, Sky – who had spent at the very least pub money in getting Cork and Mark Butcher in to the studio, had to fill. And fill they did, Charles Colville (who is going to get a right slagging elsewhere on this page to my undying fury – there will be words ) deciding to simply ask Butcher and Cork about cricket at the highest level. It was glorious. The following day rained as well, and the cricket viewing public tuned in to watch two old Test cricketers (Er. Old. Looks at birth certificate. Bugger) reminisce about players, series, conditions, opponents, structures and anything else in their minds. For a cricket fan, it was nirvana. To the point on the third day the fact play was possible was a fundamental disappointment. I wanted to hear more. In fact I wanted a dinner party with Cork as a guest, I wanted to know everything. He was wonderful, Butcher was wonderful, Colville was wonderful.
All of which makes it so hard to understand why Cork has to be such an utter twat the rest of the time.
The County Chairmen
The rulers of the English game. In itself, it doesn’t have to be a problem, after all someone has to do it. But here’s the problem, cricket isn’t like football, where the clubs are the power and the money. County cricket is a loss maker, international cricket is a money maker. And yet the counties are the ones in control and they are the ones who dictate everything. What that means is that all the international arrangements are handled in terms of how it can best support the counties, and the county chairmen. The English structure has managed to create a delightful situation where the counties leech of both the top level and the clubs beneath them. Nice work if you can get it.
It’s hard to know what’s worse – the stuff Gayle comes out with or the response to it. When he decided to chat up a journalist on air, the howls of outrage echoed from one side of the world to the other. And then there was a long debate about the nature of it, whether it was sexist, what defines sexism and so on. All of which missed the point rather spectacularly that it was still boorish, rude and disrespectful first and foremost. Gayle is wonderful at belting a ball over prodigious distances, but has an uncanny ability to annoy and enable the holy to engage in virtue signalling. Ultimately this man’s place is in the wrong.
Captain of the most famous Ashes winning side now turned mouthpiece for ISM Sports Management and Stan Collymore impressionist on Twitter. Vaughan never fails to have an opinion on anything, unless of course it contradicts that of Neil Fairbrother, you’ve got to bring home the bacon after all. Campaigned mercilessly for James Vince’s inclusion in the Test squad even if everyone and their dog can see he is patently not good enough and will no doubt do the same for the next batch of ISM inductees. Occasionally seen writing in the Telegraph in favour of whatever Director, England Cricket has briefed him on.
A ubiquitous Twitter and blogging presence, with that oh so unique Australian sense of humour that generally involves ignoring any Canary Yellow disasters and shouting “look over there” at anything English. Being maganimous in victory is easy, to be arrogant when you’ve been thrashed is far more satisfying. So thus it is that Olympic medal tables can be dismissed as Britain being four countries rather than one, and awkward stats like Yorkshire doing better than the whole of Australia ignored. It’s a good game of course, and one we all like playing. Which is why Dennis himself will be inordinately thrilled at his presence on this list. That’s Denis with one n.
He is to Richie Benaud as I am to Neville Cardus. And I didn’t go half way round the world, suck up to the powers that be and pretend to support Australia to further my career. Crackerjack. His written pieces in Cricinfo exist only to give Plagiarist Ed something to live down to. It is a measure of how far Channel 9 have sunk that he is clearly and by a distance the best thing on it.
Ex England captain and one time promising commentator who actually asked difficult questions of the ECB but has since sold his soul and insight for bucket load of cash from Sky. Now mainly seen wandering around ECB sponsored events asking innocuous questions to England’s band of up and coming warriors and writing pre-approved hagiographies in the Daily Mail. Always the butt of the jokes from fellow commentators for having a big nose and being tight – oh the lolz.
Some things in life deserve a serious tribute. And the IPL is one. There are few such magnificent money making adventures in the world of sport, and the owners of the franchises can indeed sit down, raise a glass and appreciate how they’ve superbly exploited a love of cricket to their personal benefit. It’s a touch unfortunate that artificial teams that no one remotely cares about change around every year, and even more so that the police seem to take such an active interest in what’s going on. But what does that matter – feel the cash. Appreciate the dosh. Hang the rest of the game, this is where it. is. at. And. Ya.
We like to go against the grain on here. Not for us the open goal of quite a bit of journalistic stupidity over the years, no we prefer to attack the nuance, the subtlety, the clear problems in the media. And thus, so it is that Ali Martin finds himself on this list. More acute observers of the largely nonsensical output of the media may be puzzled, they may indeed consider Mr Martin to be one of those who has irritated few, who has criticised where it is due, who has praised when needed, who has offered up pithy and occasionally subversive tweets daring to take the piss out of the ECB.
And that’s the damn problem. No one can be that good. No one can have been in his role all this time and not managed a single article on here complaining he’s an idiot. Not even the fact he’s a mate of the wife of one of your writers justifies the reasonable, critical and generally objective journalism Martin puts out. To be blunt, this is not what is expected of the Guardian, whose cricket writing has tended to be beautifully pro-ECB throughout (The Telegraph has been the anti-establishment paper on this – which just goes to show the world is more screwed up than you ever imagined) to the point the good old Grauniad have thoroughly enjoyed the company of Giles Clarke in various hotel suites.
Sorry, it’s not acceptable. It’s not what we’re used to, and to be blunt about this, things were so much better when Martin was at the Sun covering the Zimbabwe element of the Under 19 World Cup while John Etheridge enjoyed the hospitality of a full England tour. Reasonable and balanced coverage? Call yourself a cricket journalist!
Oh Lizzy, where to start? No, you’re not Mike Selvey, insulting your followers doesn’t work or make you look clever. Trying to follow Lizzy on Twitter is akin to putting ones head in a sand mixer and hoping for the best. Lizzy is great if you follow her peculiar brand of cricket, but try and disagree with her about anything, then she will not hesitate to tell you that you know nothing and are an idiot of the worst kind. Desperate to be part of the MSM, fortunately her talent isn’t as strong as her bite.
Bilious inadequate, eh? Social Media zealot, you say? Vile Ignoramus? Charming. A man who launched a thousand quips, his presence at the Guardian as some sort of teleporter for the words of Chairman Giles, he bestrode the media world like a colossus, until the Guardian packed him off, with a stream of WestCorkian tears trailing behind. If you didn’t play, you couldn’t say. He made fruitflies an acceptable insult, made calling someone a C*** a moment to cherish, and if you dare question his greatness, well, you were just plain impertinent. Rather loved being called Lord Selvey by his adoring public, many of whom became rather less adoring quite swiftly. His departure has been the journalistic equivalent of Steve Waugh’s Australian finale. By the time it was finished, I think we were all glad.
Played a bit of county cricket, so you thought he might know that the doddery old sods in charge of the shires know more about survival in harsh climates than Bear Grylls. They ain’t about to take some secondhand TV salesman with a sharp suit and a line in sweating gibberish at his word, when they’ve had Vodafone and Paraguay Mining Inc beating at that door before. Or was McLaurin Tescos? Who gives a stuff. Anyway. good luck with that reshaping of T20 old bean. You may come across as a straight talking hard nut, but to us here, you’ll always be an empty suit we’ll never trust.
Best mates with a certain ex Chief Cricket Correspondent of the Guardian and an ex England bowling coach who had one method of trying to get the opposition out, i.e. bang it halfway down the pitch and hope for the best – see Headingley 2014 as a prime example. Successfully turned one of our most promising fast bowlers into a quivering wreck and after successfully making the Melbourne Renegades one of the laughing stocks of the Big Bash, is currently the new bowling coach for Australia, where I guess he has been advocating the need for the bowlers to ‘get in the oppositions faces’.
The thing is, you need to lose to win. If you want to win a game, you need to lose to win. If you win, then it’s because you lost to win. If you lose, it’s because you won to lost. Oh hang on, that doesn’t make any sense at all. Warne never said it, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he had, since the verbal diarrhoea reaches such proportions that there’s almost nothing you won’t be fairly sure you’ve heard him say. It’s always a clue on commentary – the momentary silence while a colleague tries to think of creative ways to politely say “that’s a load of shit, Shane”.
When you have a true great, a titan of the history of cricket, a man who stands second on the all time list of wicket takers, who would have been first but for an unfortunate episode where he was incapable of reading prescriptions, anti-doping regulations, team orders, WADA guidelines….errr perhaps just incapable of reading given the lack of plausible excuses for the ban.
As a commentator Warne has managed to nail that oh so difficult niche, whereby he witters on talking utter crap, yet retains the attention of the audience because maybe, just maybe, there will be a nugget of actual insight. And let’s be clear, Warne doesn’t lack insight – the bigger problem is the Herschelle Gibbs level of intellect. It does limit it a touch. He’s also so delightfully Australian. Not content with slating Alastair Cook to the point that even the residents of this blog were getting feelings of fatherly love and sympathy for the England captain, he also manages to go full on C’mon Aussie C’mon without realising there’s someone next to him who might remember it differently. Things like, oh I don’t know – the laughable claim Australia never doctored their pitches for Best Spin Bowler In The World Shane Warne for example.
Atherton could barely disguise his incredulity.
Like the mate you knew from when you were growing up, you know the one who behaved like Jay from the Inbetweeners, been there, done that, completed it mate. Swann believes he is the best thing since sliced bread and has the banter mode to live up to expectation. What most of us see is a middle aged, ex-international spinner who decided that he didn’t quite fancy being whacked around the park in Melbourne and decided to pack his bags and leave in a huff. The man who believes that Test tickets are but a mere £20, Bantersorous Rex is truly a man of the people. Tim Lovejoy has a new heir to the throne.
One of the authors of this blog in particular takes great umbrage at being offended. Jade didn’t like the fact that I criticised him not for his bowling, but for some irresponsible batting when a game might have been saved. As I saw he returned for the ‘rey recently, I clicked on his Twitter timeline to see I was still persona non grata. Given his performances for England, his position as a standing joke as a “finisher” across the whole of social media and press, to take umbrage at li’l ole me seemed rather, shall we say, petty. But it’s his right.
The English Medical Staff
Do they have something against people with first names starting with M? With Cheese, who made everyone know he was playing through pain, they let him carry on with a tear in his achilles that ended his career. With Mark Wood, even Director, Cricket was questioning what the hell was going on. But there are green shoots. They told England not to pick Stokes and Anderson at Lord’s, and the selectors backed them. Mr Dignity played absolutely no part in the furore that ensued. That furore went strangely quiet when Stokes broke down again and Anderson said it would have been too early.
This list is arbitrary, unfair, unreasonable and the product of three blokes in the pub deciding who to have a go at.
On that basis it’s every bit as important as the Cricketer’s list. Glad you approve.