The Wanderer Returns…

Sort of….

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I have to confess that in the last three weeks or so blogging has had to take a back seat. It’s the nature of the beast, as both Sean and Chris can attest, that we aren’t in the privileged position of being able to sit around all day watching and writing about cricket. We have jobs that require our time, and while the workload of mine has waxed and waned over the past few years, I’m in the “it’s so damn crazy it is off the charts” phase. You know I’ve been to Rio, yesterday I was in Helsinki, this week I’ve been interviewing, the previous week I was drowning while suffering from another bloody toothache. This coincided with times when Chris was away and Sean was also busy. So there has been a lack of regular content – long-standing readers know how this blog works and recognise this is what happens.

I was on a plane – or at least waiting for one at the bloody expensive Helsinki Airport – yesterday when the Bangladesh game finished. I had one thought other than wasn’t it nice to see Rashid ram the critics words right back at them, and that was “how would Newman segue in a snide reference to Eoin Morgan” into his write-up. Newman is out there for the ODI phase and is not going to let the uppity Irishman’s decision rest. And, so it was, with some trepidation, that I opened up the Mail Online and read the great man’s piece. And I didn’t have long to wait…

And the most satisfied member of the England side was surely stand-in captain Jos Buttler, who followed his impressive leadership in the first week of a tour dominated by safety concerns with a match-winning all-round display. A penny for the thoughts of Eoin Morgan?

In the absence of a telling contribution by one of his potential replacements – Vince and Bairstow didn’t perform, and Duckett’s 60 was not the compelling hundred the punditerati truly wanted – it had to turn to the leadership issue. Jos Buttler offers a few platitudes, presumably enhancing how much he might get under the new contracts, and that’s “impressive leadership”. Jesus, they are easily impressed. I’m accused, regularly, of having an agenda. I’ve nothing on these people.

Newman isn’t one to let an agenda lie, and it was how he signed his piece off that sums him up:

And it was one that provided food for thought for England’s refuseniks in Morgan and Alex Hales.

I bet it doesn’t Paul. It’s another ODI, in another country, which will be forgotten by most within a couple of weeks, save those who might face the 5 wickets in an ODI debut trivia question in a few years time. Your desperation for them to express regret speaks volumes.

England’s win, plucking one from the jaws of defeat, was a really good one. Good that Ben Stokes played a solid innings in a winning cause and posting his first ODI ton. Jos, once again, showed his incredible ability to smack balls with nothing more than an amazing power from those wrists. It’s hard to write something about wrist power without invoking the old Finbarr Saunders from Viz, but he plays shots I’ve never seen before. There has to be a way to harness this for test cricket, doesn’t there?

I’ll confess I’ve not seen the bowling performance yet. Jake Ball does look to have something, given a more than capable debut in tests, and it does remain to be seen if he is another string we have to our one day bow now that it appears to me as though Mark Wood is going to need to have his workload excessively managed if we are ever going to get him performing. Adil Rashid does what he does on occasions in ODIs – he takes wickets, doesn’t get truly collared, and has snarky comments made about him by certain sections of the media (one of them employed now by TalkShite Two). Newman lived down to this…

Yet ultimately they were indebted to the unlikely figures of Ball, who ended up with the best figures by an English one-day debutant, and Rashid, coming into this series under something of a cloud, for turning the tables.

If you ain’t in the in-crowd, then you are out. Presumably this will be reflected in less money in his central contract. You have to be a “good egg” and we’ll have lots of “good journalism” telling us what is being one of those and what isn’t.

I’m running off a load of cricket from the Tivo onto computer and have the India v New Zealand series on. When I left on Thursday I was being advised that Thakur of BCCI, a new tinpot general who thinks being good at business means he’s top dollar to run a sport, was threatening to cancel the whole series. In the World Baseball Classic there is a “mercy rule” if you are getting thumped too heavily, and with India romping this series on result wickets, and with Ashwin posting figures that pur him up with the all-time champions, then I first thought that Thakur’s sporting instincts for a contest were kicking in. Not really. But what happened since then? I genuinely don’t know other than I’ve had to set the recorder to pick up the highlights in the early hours of the morning because there’s a game on and Kohli’s made a hundred. Given I’ve slept most of the day I’ve not been able to catch up on all the toing and froing, so grateful for a steer. Did Lodhi give him a kick up the arse? Are we going to have India over for the Chumpions Trophy, or as it should be known the “win it and Comma gets a CBE Trophy”?

Sean excoriated the ECB over the Durham fiasco earlier this week and rightly so. Those anti-KP sorts who think we cried and cried purely over the ECB casting out of “our hero” are still welcome to speak now they’ve seen the true nastiness of those in charge. The county that has brought us Paul Collingwood, Steve Harmison, Graeme Onions, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood will now be severely hamstrung in nurturing any further north-east talent because the ECB felt the need to “punish them” as some sort of ludicrous “pour encourager les autres” meme. This is less Battle of Minorca, and more the rattled of Lord’s, who know deep down that all the counties, more or less, are in a dreadful state. I had a look at Yorkshire’s finances, and it’s amazing to look at their debt structure:

yorkshire-accounts

Yorkshire’s turnover in 2015 was £8m. Its staff costs (and other cricket expenses) in 2015 was £3.1m. The cost of providing cricket in 2015 – admin, catering etc. –  was just under £2m. Other overheads were £2.6m. This means EBITDA – your operating profit in crude terms, is £500k. So if you owed nothing, you made half a million quid. Which is, at least a profit. But you can work out that not only is there £25m of debt there, that hasn’t been obtained by popping down to DFS to take advantage of interest free credit for four years. There’s interest to pay.

And that interest is £648k. Their EBITDA doesn’t even cover their interest payments. In finanical analysis terms, this is not particularly indicative of a very secure going concern. Yorkshire announced a profit overall because of an “Exceptional Item” of £781k. The thing with Exceptional Items is that they are meant to be “Exceptional”. I’ve had to study accounts where that term is stretched to breaking point to indicate that a company is healthy. This one is quite interesting.

exceptional

I’m not party to the discussions, but Yorkshire posted a profit in 2015 because they got the local HSBC to reduce the repayment, and in return the bank now has a first charge over one of their facilities. What I’m indicating here is that the cricket club that is held up as a paragon of excellence on the cricket field functions because the head of the ECB has put up his own money – yet still holds the whip hand given it owes him £20 odd million – to save his club. If he had taken the approach of the Durham creditors and said “right, no more to keep you out of the shit”, what would have happened to Yorkshire? I mean, if you really can’t see how there’s potential conflict of interest, you must have a dose of SelfeyRashiditis. Note how that loan from Graves is due to be paid out in the next two to five years. It won’t. It can’t be given Yorkshire’s turnover. Graves will just roll it over.

I’m picking on Yorkshire because, to their credit, they publish their accounts on their website. I saw Ashley Giles having a word or two about Durham’s financial ineptitude but I tried for a while, using my sources of information, and found the only way I could see Lancashire’s accounts was to stump up £12. I love you all, but I won’t do that.

That’s the offence. One that every county’s cricket operations mimics – it doesn’t take a lot of sense to see county attendances will never match the wages needed to pay players – yet Durham need to be punished because their creditors took a much tougher line than Sugar Daddy Graves and his ilk. Before people throw Surrey at me, it has often been said that Surrey is a conference facility running a cricket team. So Durham need to be punished, and so it is that they have been relegated. And deducted points in all three competitions. And been stripped of their test match ground status. One wonders what they might do to a Northamptonshire should they need a bail-out. Would it require them to play Minor Counties cricket? Deduct them 100 points and thus make any game against a team with nothing to play for meaningless and thus destroying what credibility the Second Division has? Again, Sean did his piece, and his pieces at it, and I’ll return to the theme in the coming days or so. But just think through the logical consequences of the decision, of how cricket operates in this country, and what could happen in the future. The ECB have been a disgrace. Don’t worry, I’ll come to Bransgrove in the near future as well.

I have gone off a little on this, and thus not covered some of the other ground I intended to at the start of this piece. That’s fine. I can write some more later. Until then, thanks for sticking with us.

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34 thoughts on “The Wanderer Returns…

  1. BoredInAustria October 9, 2016 / 5:43 am

    I too have been wandering a bit adding some hits out of south east Asia to your blog.

    I did not comment for a while but these pieces, written between day jobs by our hosts are more valuable journalism than anything we have seen in years form Selvey and cohorts. This is why this blog remains essential. This has become my Home of Cricket.

    But lets rather write about “refusnik” Morgan (since KP is not there anymore …. ). Depressing banana republic stuff.

    Like

    • Mark October 9, 2016 / 8:24 am

      I agree. You will not see anything of this quality from what passes for MSM cricket journalism in this country. Is it beyond their abilities for one of them to dig out the Yorkshire accounts and do a review of the balance sheet? Our host does this and does a a proper job as well. Perhaps if they spent less time putting pictures of their golf charity days on Twitter they would have time to write this sort of stuff?

      But we kid ourselves. They are not going to write this quality. Because it means talking truth to power. And that won’t do will it? No more sponsors finest and free tickets if they rock the boat. Much better to all get together and back slap the ECB and say city cricket is the holy Grail.

      Charlatans the lot of them!

      Like

      • "IronBalls" McGinty October 9, 2016 / 9:07 am

        Interesting article by Vic Marks, not as vociferous as it might be, but, more interestingly, he’s keeping the issue in the public eye, whereas others would prefer to move on.
        I can’t imagine what Selvey might have written about it? Probably would have considered it beneath his perview?
        wctt, and others, also seem to be persuaded to move over to the “dark side”

        https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/oct/08/durham-relegation-county-championship-ecb

        Like

  2. sidesplittin October 9, 2016 / 8:43 am

    I have been remiss about reporting about my recent trip to Kolkata for IND vs NZ. Partly due to internet issues whilst there, partly due to professional pressures and partly due to explaining to my wife why I pissed off half way round the world to watch cricket, without getting a proper leave stamp from her beforehand.

    So……….first things, fcuk it was hot. Humid hot. First time in my adult life I’ve watched days of cricket sans alcohol i.f.o. H2O. Food was off the charts, particularly some of the lamb based curries I scoffed. Another stereotype is that the local folks truly are mad (and hugely knowledgable) about cricket.

    The cricket. I was gutted Williamson was ill as he’s NZ’s best player and I was looking forward to watching his elegant batting. Without him the top order is porous, as Taylor is in one of his semi stoned periods where he’s not fully switched on – see his first innings dismissal.

    Cost me about £4 a day for entry – eat your heart out Lords and the SCG. Crowd was about 10-15k the first couple of days – there was a huge bank of seats of yellow clad school kids who got really involved.

    Losing the toss sucked. Boult looks back to his best and bowled beautifully, as did Henry. Jeets showed the value of lots of County Chamionship overs under his belt and experience. He deserved better figures. India just scraped a few too many and the local lad Saha fully deserved his MoM for his valuable knocks in both digs.

    Guptill, oh Guptill. Nearly 50 test caps for an average in the late 20’s, with a couple of tons against………Zimbabwe. Raval should be getting his chance in this series. Latham batted really well in the second dig and is a much more talented player than his father. As SimonH (I think) has said previously, Watling’s contributions with the bat have been steadily diminishing and he didn’t keep v well either.

    Santner has a huge amount of potential and you could tell the Indian players rate him. If only he used his front arm in delivery he’d get some real bounce and drift.

    The pitch really assisted the quicks and Kumar had it going round corners. Man for man, India are just that bit better than NZ.

    One thing the locals spoke about. They really rate Cook from his efforts there in ’06 and ’12. He’s regularly lambasted hereabouts but every other test side in the world would give their eye teeth to have him opening for them. A lot of you good folks should keep that in mind, once in awhile.

    I would definitely go back to India. Pretty average not to have visited the worlds most populous democracy before at my stage of life. It’s a vibrant country, even if I nearly got run over twice.

    My mate and I went for a beer after the test and bumped into Flem and Gavaskar having a bevvy. The former I know a bit and it was fascinating talking to Sunny about his career, what a lovely chap he was. He was talking about Beefy in the 1980 Mumbai test and what a bowler he was at that stage of his career. I could’ve spent a week bending the bloke’s ear.

    Apologies for the tardy reporting – if you’re thinking about heading out for the Eng series, do so.

    Liked by 3 people

    • LordCanisLupus October 9, 2016 / 12:11 pm

      Cheers Sidesplittin’. I think my chance to go has gone (2006). We’ve also got someone from here going out to India for the England series, and he’s promised to report back as well!

      On Cook, yes we should remember that he’s a damn fine player of spin. We also remember that he went a long time, a long long time, without making a hundred, and pointing out how others, like KP, like Bell, like even Strauss back in the day, were attacked by the media with that stat, while Cook was defended. It’s always been about equality of treatment, and not about the blatant personal favouritism and anti-KP hysteria that drove them. That was, and remains, the point. Cook lost a lot of friends over that – and it wasn’t always his fault, but he certainly wasn’t blameless either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sidesplittin October 9, 2016 / 2:15 pm

        Unfortunately I’m old enough to remember Allan Border, whilst Captain of Australia, going four years (1988-92) and 46 innings without a test hundred. In more recent times, most people acknowledge it would’ve been curtains for Tubby Taylor without his hundred at Edgbaston in 1997. In both instances, the Aussie media were all over it, the double standard then being that Dean Jones got the chop over perceived lack of form.

        Just glad I’m not doing Indore too and watching NZ take five wickets in 170+ overs……

        Like

    • SimonH October 9, 2016 / 2:58 pm

      Border averaged 45 with 21 50s during that long spell without a century (that was in truth even longer than you’ve said). Cook averaged 33.5 during his.

      Border had also just won the WC, didn’t lose an Ashes as captain 5-0 that I remember and was batting in an era of tougher bowling attacks. That latter point is admittedly a subjective judgment but I’d say Hadlee was better than Boult, Ambrose-Marshall-Walsh-Bishop were better than Taylor-Roach-Holder, Wasim was better than Wahab and so on.

      There’s no comparison. A slightly more convincing one might be with Graeme Smith who went two years with a century (2006-08). Chanderpaul also went two years without a century (twice in fact) but like Border was often denied centuries by running out of partners.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. SimonH October 9, 2016 / 8:56 am

    On the BCCI – it wasn’t Thakur who threatened to send NZ home but an unnamed BCCI official quoted in an Indian newspaper. Not Mr Thakur. Perish the thought. It would say “unnamed BCCI official and former cricketer” for one thing. That leaves two possibilities:
    a) The newspaper was simply making it up. I expect news of the BCCI’s legal action against them for doing so to come through any day now….
    b) It was Mr Thakur or one of his minions engaged in a bit of non-attributable kite-flying or mouthing-off on a plausible deniability basis from which he’s since retreated when it got shot down in flames.

    Which seems more likely? Hmm……

    On the Chumpions Trophy, the last (i.e. only) thing I heard is that the ECB are meeting the BCCI this forthcoming week to discuss it. Nice to be having an ICC tournament sorted out in a bilateral meeting between two boards. It’s at moments like this the multilateral mask really slips. As the BCCI still have Lodha on their plates and the new 17th October deadline for compliance it wouldn’t be surprising if the meeting with the ECB is bumped back. It would be interesting to know who’s representing the ECB? The DT assumed it would be Giles Clarke but Harrison and Strauss are out there and it would seem probable that they’ll be involved (why else would the meeting be now?).

    I’ve missed three Australian wickets while typing this – things move quickly these days!

    Like

    • man in a barrel October 9, 2016 / 10:57 am

      I thought that with Stokes and Anderson the medical team were showing signs of improvement. The inability to conclude that something might be wrong with Wood’s ankle after nothing showed up on the first scan however suggests that you might need to be dead before they will step in to reduce your workload

      Like

      • Mark October 9, 2016 / 11:49 am

        Can’t help thinking this new contract clap trap about “good eggs” will be used to shut up anyone with injury problems in the future. Work them into the dirt, and then get a younger model from the counties like Durham seems to be the model. (Oh wait, we’ve just destroyed Durham in the top flight.)

        I also think it’s interestig that its Michael Atherton ( who had his run ins with the ECB) is the one blowing the lid on the good egg nonsense. Perhaps the players didn’t trust the so called profesional journos to do justice to the story? Can’t blame them. Newman is too busy settling old scores. He doesn’t have to put Morgan in his match review, he chooses to do so. Petty.

        Like

      • Mark October 9, 2016 / 1:07 pm

        “The ECB don’t leak”

        Said by The Suns cricket reporter some months ago. Yet some journalist rang Bransgrove with the story 2 days before it went public.

        No the ECB don’t leak, really no sireeee. Trust us!

        Like

  4. RufusSG October 9, 2016 / 12:05 pm

    For what it’s worth, Rashid now has 20 ODI wickets at 27.6 since the start of the English season – pretty solid numbers. You’d like to think that if there’s one bowler that wouldn’t be “under a cloud” in this series, it’d be him…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus October 9, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      Bowled a fair amount of filth today, though! Still, somehow, got their two middle order scorers out. Let’s see how that’s looked at…..

      Like

      • RufusSG October 9, 2016 / 12:22 pm

        Fair enough, and the second wicket was of course bit of a drag down. I still maintain you have to allow leg-spinners more rope with their economy rates than other bowlers, since unless you’re Warne a fair bit of filth usually appears – strike-rates are far more important for them.

        Even Imran Tahir and Yasir Shah aren’t immune. I’m reminded of a line in a Geoff Lemon article recently which said something like “leg-spinners all bowl perfectly all the time as long as you’re on YouTube”. Leg-spin done right always looks great, but the difficulty of the art means a lot of rough comes with the smooth. And that’s fine! I’m definitely with you in finding the indifference by a couple of journalists towards him a bit unfair.

        Like

      • Mark October 9, 2016 / 1:21 pm

        Rufus it’s a great point about leg spins economy rates. Everyone got used to Warnes low run rates and very few rank half tracker filth that they think everyone can bowl like that. Before Warne came on the scene it was a dying art, and captains were suspicious of leg spin bowlers. Certainly in England.

        Like

      • SimonH October 9, 2016 / 1:30 pm

        Tahir is actually the 11th most economical bowler in ODIs this decade:

        http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=2;filter=advanced;orderby=economy_rate;qualmin1=50;qualval1=wickets;spanmin1=01+jan+2010;spanval1=span;template=results;type=bowling

        Afridi is 12th and Narine (who could be classified as a wrist-spinner) is up there too. They’d be higher if the stats were limited to matches against the top eight.

        It isn’t just Warne. However it is fair to say these players get to bowl on more helpful wickets and Tahir and Afridi are different types of leggie who both bowl mainly googlies.

        By the way, has anyone found one MSM journo acknowledging that perhaps Rashid’s taking a rest worked…..

        Like

  5. Mark October 9, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    The cricket papers latest tweet………”TCP – out now >> Plenty of reaction to Durham’s relegation; @DerekPringle says Durham suffered for badly strategised, lofty ambitions.”

    So Pringle hates lofty ambition. Who knew? Not if its Cooks or ESSEX.

    Like

  6. AB October 9, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    “It doesn’t take a lot of sense to see county attendances will never match the wages needed to pay players”

    But this is only true because of the mixture of formats counties are obliged to play, where they play far more of the loss making format than they do of the profit making format.

    Like

    • Mark October 9, 2016 / 1:44 pm

      But it misses the point that county cricket is also about producing the young talent for England that alows the ECB to sell the international rights to Sky for mega money. And that then comes back to the counties through so called hand outs from the ECB.

      All these people saying The ECB bailed out Durham, and without the ECB Durham would have gone broke. But without Durham producing the likes of Ben Stokes, (who’s 100 won the first ODI of this series) Englands tv rights would be worthless. It’s a catch 22.

      Like

    • Zephirine October 9, 2016 / 5:35 pm

      the sports shop he grew up in, which left him unable to bear an untidy grip on a bat handle – as a Test player he goes through his team-mates’ bags and adjusts them while they’re not looking.
      I find that curiously lovable. But that’s Trott, curiously lovable.

      On the other hand, blimey:
      his driven mother laying into his bowling at a school parents v pupils match .

      Like

  7. SimonH October 9, 2016 / 2:25 pm

    Australia lose again (by 6 wickets and with 14.3 overs to spare) to go 4-0 down with one match to go.

    They’ve never lost an ODI series 5-0 that I can find (they lost 4-1 to the WI in the 1990s).

    Like

  8. Mark October 9, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    It’s all kicked off in the Middle apparently. Butler in a big argument.

    Thankful ECBs finest Anyalist can be relied upon to give us a balanced view……

    “Unusual to see @josbuttler lose his cool. Was it because the Bangladeshi dressing room twice encouraging a DRS review which is not allowed ?”

    One wonders if Morgan had lost his cool as captain would the ECBs finest be so one eyed?

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus October 9, 2016 / 3:13 pm

      Buttler was incensed. Someone said something to him after the dismissal and he had to be stopped from a full confrontation with the Bangladeshis by the umpires. He then walked off muttering something like a “bunch of chuckers”.

      Jos, being a calm so and so, will be given the benefit of the doubt by our media, of course. Hoult was the first to report the dressing room demanding a review. That’s interesting, but it seemed more personal than that from here.

      More to follow, I’m sure.

      Like

      • SimonH October 9, 2016 / 4:54 pm

        Didn’t see much of the match or the incident.

        I did hear Ian Ward call it England’s “worst batting performance since the World Cup”. Seriously, this match has been flushed so far down the memory plughole, it’s like it never happened:

        http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/743985.html

        A series decider, at home, a collapse not against the opposition two best bowlers (who were both a lot less than fully fit) but against Hastings and Marsh.

        One could add the series decider against SA as well except that would be unfair on Hales.

        Like

      • SimonH October 9, 2016 / 6:06 pm

        Another annoying comment in the post-match analysis was the expression of surprise that it was the Bangladesh seamers who took the wickets.

        Look again at the WC match England lost to Bangladesh. Their seamers took the wickets then as well (at Adelaide, the second best ground for spinners in Australia). Of course, you never will learn from your defeats if instant amnesia is your automatic response to them.

        Also, in case anyone missed it, if we’re going to get holier than thou about send-offs Woakes was caught on camera giving one of the Pakistan batsmen (Sharjeel) a mouthful in the last series (can’t remember all of it but the end was “you fat f*ck”).

        Like

      • Mark October 9, 2016 / 8:40 pm

        Can’t take these scraps seriously when they have Waitrose plastered all over them. Doesn’t really go with the image. Need to change to Iceland as sponsors. Different type of clientele.

        Like

  9. SimonH October 9, 2016 / 4:58 pm

    Anyone been listening to Selvey?

    Like

    • northernlight71 October 9, 2016 / 5:19 pm

      His wife and children probably have to. I can’t imagine anyone else chooses to. Perhaps Derek Pringle?

      Like

      • d'Arthez October 10, 2016 / 4:56 pm

        Not registered to give a recommend, but thanks for the laugh NorthernLight.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. BobW October 10, 2016 / 10:14 am

    Couple of thoughts really. Stokes ought to think himself lucky he wasn’t playing in India or Pakistan in the old days of home umpires. Miandad, never LBW, he’d have a fit on that one.
    Secondly I remember when Sri Lanka were coming through. They were aggressive and in your face. They had to be, to be taken seriously by the bigger cricketing nations. England seem to come across as arrogant in these matches. Look at your own performance as to why you lost, don’t blame the opposition.
    Must say I love the Bangladeshi support, all decked out in Tiger body paint.

    Like

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