He’s No Coward…

It was decided in the halls of power at the Daily Mail that Mr Paul Newman and Mr Nasser Hussain were not sufficiently qualified to stick the knife into Eoin Morgan at any given opportunity. Newman tried, oh how he tried. But not well enough. So fresh from a jaunt to Minnesota, the deity that is Oliver Holt, son of Emily Bishop, a top journo back when leather jackets and Jimmy Hill’s kitchen were en vogue, had to fly out on a three day trip to back the boys up. Oliver, or as his lovely friends call him “Ollie” came, he saw, and he wrote. Badly. Away we go.

Eoin Morgan is a lucky man. He is lucky because he has a group of honest, honourable friends in the England one-day side who, through their public displays of support, have shown way more loyalty to him than he has to them.

And away we go. Remember one thing throughout this piece, because it is in his headline. He is NOT, absolutely NOT accusing Eoin Morgan of cowardice. Definition of cowardice is:

lack of bravery.
“my cowardice got the better of me and I crept out of the room”
synonyms: faint-heartedness, spiritlessness, spinelessness, timidity, timorousness, fearfulness,pusillanimity, weakness, feebleness;

informalgutlessness, wimpishness, wimpiness,sissiness;
archaicpoltroonery, recreancy;
“he was charged with displaying cowardice in the face of the enemy”

No, maybe not cowardice here, but we’ve got disloyalty out of the way by way of a starter for 10.

He is lucky because in men such as Andrew Strauss, Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace he has bosses at the ECB who have stood by him, even though privately they must be dismayed and disconcerted by his refusal to tour Bangladesh.

How do you know their private thoughts? Is that what Newman told you via the good journalism route? They may have disagreed, but it was they who gave people the option, indicating this wasn’t a slam-dunk decision. But hey, that’s a nicety because Eoin isn’t being accused of cowardice, even though he refused to obey orders (although held privately).

He is lucky because even though he chose to miss the three ODIs in Dhaka and Chittagong, even though stand-in skipper Jos Buttler and the young players thrust into the limelight in his absence performed like heroes, Morgan has been told he will reassume the captaincy in India in January.

Oh my god. “Performed like heroes”. We beat Bangladesh 2-1. A good result. A result if achieved under Morgan’s stewardship would have been run-of-the-mill. The ability to puff up the victories is an English specialism.

We’ve had three paragraphs kicking off on the theme of being “lucky”. Prepare yourself for five paragraphs starting Everyone knew…

Everyone knew, as we walked out of the lobby of the England team hotel in Chittagong last week and down the slope towards the waiting security convoy, that Morgan will be allowed to waltz straight back in to the side for the first ODI against India in Pune.

“I was with the England team” says Mr Sanctimony. I was with them. And because I’m with them I can say that Eoin shouldn’t be when (assistant, look up where the 1st ODI is in January) we take the field in Pune, and I’ll be sitting at home, or commenting on some old football nonsense. If “everyone knew” Sanctimony, why did you feel the need to go there and get some sort of journo purple heart to prove “it’s safe”? What was the point other than a tedious hatchet job.

Everyone knew, as we walked past the heavily-armed Bangladeshi SWAT soldiers, their backs turned to us as they scanned the lush hotel gardens for any possible threat, that even though Morgan had decided this was way too much hassle, he will lead the team out at the start of the next leg of the ODI tour on January 15.

“Way too much hassle”. Because Eoin Morgan took a serious decision, that could jeopardise his place in the England team, because it was too much hassle. Hey, as I say, WE are the ones with an agenda. Also, security. SWAT teams, possible threats. But Eoin isn’t a coward. It’s too much hassle.

Everyone knew, as we watched England’s players climbing onto the coach that would carry them through the teeming destitution of the streets of Chittagong on a journey that Morgan had decided was too dangerous for him to take, that the absent skipper’s place was safe.

I’ve had this discussion already. Not questioning why this is happening in a country racked with poverty, with a political system in meltdown, and a recent terrorist attack on westerners, and whether sums of money should be spent on it. I know this is a debate, there is no right answer, but acknowledge it. Also Morgan has decided it was too dangerous to take. But he’s not a coward. Olly took it, Eoin didn’t. But not a coward.

Everyone knew, as we rode behind the team in the convoy taking us to the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, trucks of Rapid Action Battalion troops at the front of the line of 10 vehicles and an ambulance bringing up the rear, that even though Morgan had said he could not cope with this level of distraction, he had decided the level of distraction in India would be just fine.

Ah, India. Holt has a point. Eoin Morgan cited an incident in India as a reason for not going, but has been to subsequent IPLs. We can go into many scenarios here, and I doubt Holt has, but maybe experience has proven it safe for Morgan, while maybe he wasn’t so sure about this. I mean, trucks of Rapid Action Battalion troops would convince me we’re playing in a non-hostile environment. But hey, I’m funny like that.

Everyone knew, even as England’s band of brothers defied a noisy, excitable and partisan crowd to set a record for a run chase at the ground and seal a 2-1 series victory, that Morgan will be allowed to reassume control when it suits him.

“Band of Brothers”. A bloody cricket team. Why is he, and others, not too subtly inferring that sport is like war. Leading them out to battle, fighting for England, leading from the front. etc. It’s a bloody sport.

The prospect of his recall is hard to stomach. This is a man who still, apparently, considers himself a leader but who, despite the considered advice of the ECB’s trusted and highly-respected security director, Reg Dickason, that it was safe to tour Bangladesh; decided that he would really rather not stand together with his players in Dhaka and Chittagong.

Do you think he might have discussed it with them, as Jos Buttler made clear, and they thought it fine (and will they think the same of Hales, who has given up on his test career for now over this). Or is there “good journalism” going on here too. Or, as I suspect with Holt, he’s making this shit up.

Welcome to England’s first non-playing captain; a guy who waves his team off to foreign climes when the going gets tough and rejoins them when it gets easier. Welcome to the guy who chooses the day his mates land in Dhaka to send out a tweet boasting about the hospitality he has been enjoying from Guinness at a boozy session in Ireland.

Keep this in mind, when you think about a previous England captain who rested for a Bangladesh tour, or another former England stalwart who decided in 1986-7 to not tour with England again, or our upstanding keeper-batsman who opted out of touring India. Morgan missed three ODIs. And in true Daily Mail style, if he wasn’t volunteering, or wearing sackcloth and ashes, he was to be condemned. How dare him have a beer when his colleagues were sweating away in Bangladesh.

Some captain this. Some leader. Some sense of comradeship. Some sense of solidarity. For that tweet alone, the man is an embarrassment. It says a hell of a lot about the loyalty and character of players such as Ben Stokes that they should still seek to defend and support him and it says a hell of a lot about the loyalty of Morgan that he should turn his back on them.

Some captain. One of two to lead us to an overseas ICC tournament final in 24 years. When he did lead, he was seen as a cool head on the field, a decent tactician, a supporter of his players and an evangelical pursuer of a more aggressive, attacking form of cricket which has royally entertained us. He looks like a fine leader to me, and one players might be loyal to. How dare you cast aspersions on that on the back of a three day jaunt, Holt. What the hell do you know. Still, he’s not a coward.

Let’s be honest about Morgan’s decision not to tour Bangladesh: he got it wrong. The evidence of a one-day tour that passed without incident off the field proved he was mistaken.

I pray to God that nothing happens during the test series. If there’s anything going off while we are there, England will be home on the first flight (or at least to Dubai). He did not get it wrong just because nothing has happened. That is absolutely dense logic, and one a newspaper reporter should be ashamed of.

It is important to note, of course, that the England Test team are still in Bangladesh and that a security threat remains. Just as it will remain when the Test tour moves on to India next month and when the one-day tour of the subcontinent resumes in January. Modern sportsmen live with threat now. It is their new reality.

The differences between India and Bangladesh are so stark that Holt’s ignorance is on show. I suppose them, India and Pakistan are all the bleedin’ same, ain’t they?

But it is also important to note that the ECB’s preparations for the tour of Bangladesh have been beyond reproach. They could not have done more to create a safe environment for the players. The team hotel in Dhaka was in the midst of an army-controlled area. The team hotel in Chittagong is in a secure compound.

Terrific. England created this. Not the local government, their military, their police, who could, just possibly, be trying to curtail the trouble going on in Bangladesh. It may be overplayed by us in England, but there are issues. For example, one of the Government’s own son was a participant in the Bakery assault back in July. No-one had a clue he’d been radicalised, and that he was indeed planning to be a part of that attack. Still, military preventatives are all we need and never fail.

So when the one-day players flew out of Chittagong on Thursday evening, bound for London, the ECB had kept their part of the bargain. They had ensured their safety. Morgan would have been on that plane, too, if, he had deigned to pitch up in the first place.

If he isn’t accusing him of cowardice, then what is he? Being lazy? I’m losing the will here.

Let’s be clear about one thing: I am not criticising Morgan or Alex Hales, who also refused to travel, for a failure of courage. It is a failure of logic that I object to. Logic and advice suggested it would be safe to tour Bangladesh. Logic also suggests that if it is not safe to tour Bangladesh, then it is probably not safe to tour India, either.

You must note that despite calling him disloyal, saying that Morgan thought it wasn’t safe, that he hadn’t had his players’ backs, that he wasn’t a leader, that he waves off the team when the going gets tough, he’s not, definitely not accusing him of cowardice. He’s accusing him of the crime of not being logical. Logic defies me that the Mail is our most influential rag, and that women in the main are its target, when it has the Tits and Hate column on its website. But Olly works for that rag, and objects to “a failure of logic”. Don’t be a coward, Sanctimony, call him a coward.

And, I’m sorry, but if you are the captain of a team and you wish to remain as captain, you carry a responsibility to your players. Or you should do. That’s why Morgan should be stripped of the role for the limited-overs tour of India.

What does this even mean? Because here comes a belter…

Ask yourself whether principled captains in our recent cricketing past, men such as Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Strauss would have pulled out of a tour and let the team go without them and you know the answer.

Andrew Strauss pulled out of a tour in 2009 to rest. Someone tell Holt that. It was to Bangladesh which was seen as an “easy” tour. Oh, so if management say so, its OK. If a player, worried about his safety does, he’s not a “principled” captain. On the contrary, Eoin sounds quite principled to me. Just because it doesn’t align with Mr Logical, out there for three days, Holt and his definition, Morgan’s a wrong ‘un.

Remind yourself of the example of current Test skipper Alastair Cook. His wife is about to give birth to their second child but he will still then fly out to Bangladesh to be in Chittagong for the first Test.

Good on Cook for going. Good luck to him. Hope his baby is well, and he scores runs. That’s his decision. But then we are talking St. Alastair here, aren’t we.

If you want to, believe those who say that Morgan’s absence in Bangladesh will make absolutely no difference to his authority with the men who travelled without him on the tour that is universally regarded as the toughest trip for English cricketers.

In the absence of public statements saying that, and every single England player questioned saying they understood it, and that it makes no difference, you carry on with your petty spiteful campaign.

Or consider instead what many senior figures, past and present players, are saying privately: that when the chips are down at some time in the future and Morgan is trying to rally his men, they will look at him and somewhere in their minds they will be thinking: ‘Where were you in Bangladesh when we needed you most?’

But he’s not being accused of cowardice. “Hey! Eoin. I’m not going to fight my hardest because you aren’t logical.”

That’ll do for now. There’s a really good baseball game on at this time.

UPDATE. A very unexpected endorsement.

I can see you, Paul….. How do you feel being undermined by Olly, because, old son, that’s what it looks like from this space. In fact “everyone knows” that.


106 thoughts on “He’s No Coward…

  1. Mark Oct 15, 2016 / 11:56 pm

    Brothers in arms…..

    Through these fields of destruction
    Baptisms of fire
    I’ve witnessed your suffering
    As the battle raged high
    And though they did hurt me so bad
    In the fear and alarm
    You did not desert me
    My brothers in arms

    There’s so many different worlds
    So many different suns
    And we have just one world
    But we live in different ones

    Now the sun’s gone to hell
    And the moon riding high
    Let me bid you farewell
    Every man has to die
    But it’s written in the starlight
    And every line in your palm
    We’re fools to make war
    On our brothers in arms

    What a complete tit Holt has made of himself. And cowardly too. He keeps saying he is not accusing Morgan of cowardice. Yea right? This has all the hall marks of the imbedded US journalists in the Iraq wars. Wearing their shades and Military issued flack jackets they bravely marched into battle to report back to the public everything the Pentagon had told them to say. They might as well of stood outside The White House and read a prepared statement. Holt might as well of stood outside the ECB HQ and read a preprepared statement.

    Holt is a useful idiot. Make no mistake I blame the ECB for this. Morgan defied them and that is not allowed anymore. It was never about just KP. It was a about making sure no one ever rejects ECB mantra.. The ECB gave the players a choice. Morgan and Hales made theirs, and the ECB and Strauss threw their toys out of the pram. So they sent for a hit man. Oliver Holt is hardly Charles Bronson. More like Charlie Drake. He was flown in to do a job that Newman was not up to doing. That tweet congratulating his chum must have hurt.

    I have no idea what the ENGLAND players think. I have not the faintest interest in what former captains and assorted hangers on think. But current players should watch their back. Being given a choice is not what it seems. It’s a poison chalice. Make the wrong call and they will come after you. It stinks.

    Liked by 2 people

      • LordCanisLupus Oct 16, 2016 / 12:06 am

        Alright my loves it.

        Rats. It was hello my darlings. Saw the Drakester in panto once.


      • Mark Oct 16, 2016 / 12:13 am

        One for the teenagers….


  2. Zephirine Oct 16, 2016 / 12:58 am

    That article is so gratuitously unpleasant, so curtain-twitchingly melodramatic and so totally based on speculation that just on its own it could turn a substantial number of readers off cricket altogether. Who wants to follow a sport where that kind of poisonous bitchery is considered acceptable? where it’s even considered to be ‘journalism’?

    Liked by 4 people

    • LordCanisLupus Oct 16, 2016 / 5:13 am

      Beautifully put, Z. Holt has always been a favourite of mine, and for him to move into my wheelhouse has been lovely. He’s quite prickly when challenged too, which adds to the fun.

      Imagine being Newman (please) and your sports editor, or even Holt himself, thinks he needs to swan onto my patch and write an article because you aren’t big enough to do so. You, despite being your paper’s cricket man, doesn’t have the aura of Ollie. Must be a real motivator. Ollie moves on somewhere else (coming back to cricket when his ego determines it) and you carry on with the drudgery. The grind.

      Ah. Lovely.


    • Geoff Boycotts Grandmother Oct 16, 2016 / 8:34 am

      If readers didn’t want poisonous bitchery then they wouldn’t buy the Daily Heil.


      • Mark Oct 16, 2016 / 10:19 am

        I don’t think anyone has ever doubted that The Mail don’t know there readership. They know their prejudices, and serve them exactly what they want. Hot or cold. What I find more interesting is watching journalists (so called) sell their souls to go and work for these people. Holt used to work at the Mirror, and The Times. He obviously isn’t fussy. I guess we all got to eat.


      • thebogfather Oct 16, 2016 / 3:53 pm

        and Lawrence Booth…surely he can’t continue to be associated with these DM dolts?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. BoredInAustria Oct 16, 2016 / 7:20 am

    “Ask yourself whether principled captains in our recent cricketing past, men such as Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Strauss would have pulled out of a tour and let the team go without them and you know the answer”

    As a matter of fact only one captain comes to mind that operated in a similar situation – and went back to India. One would think he could be mentioned…. O yes, he went on record saying it was a mistake…


  4. Mark Oct 16, 2016 / 8:56 am

    Ollie Holt has morphed into the children’s character Mr Benn. In a flash he has changed his costume from cricket and terrorist expert, and he has F…..off back to football.

    Poor old Newman, ( never thought I would write that line) sitting in his pyjamas in a war zone,and the great pretender has swanned back to Blighty and straight onto live TV to munch Skys freshly baked croissants, and inform us about whatever he imagines is his expertise. Which right now appears to be almost anything.

    Someone should make him Prime Minister, and at the same time Chancellor of The Exchequer, and head of the Bank of England.Heck, put him in charge of all three branches of the armed forces. The man is a God dammed genius.


  5. SimonH Oct 16, 2016 / 9:51 am

    On other matters, I see they’ve left Rashid out of the last warm-up game.

    They’re not going to leave him out of the Test team, are they?


    • hatmallet Oct 16, 2016 / 7:54 pm

      It’s been said in a match report somewhere that they didn’t want Bangladesh getting a good look at him and his variations. His place is safe.


      • SimonH Oct 16, 2016 / 7:57 pm

        Yes, I’ve also seen Will Macpherson Tweeting that he definitely plays.

        Pity – playing Gareth Batty instead of Rashid would have been the most Cooktastic selection ever!


  6. pktroll (@pktroll) Oct 16, 2016 / 10:12 am

    Oh well, at least he didn’t mention not singing God Save the Queen this time………………


  7. "IronBalls" McGinty Oct 16, 2016 / 11:34 am

    KP nailed it when he said the ECB will make him pay. True to form they imported their shiny new attack dog to do a job on Morgan that was even beneath Newman’s baser efforts!
    The dossier gambit has been played before (badly), doubtless there’ll be other spiffing wheezes in the offing.
    Upstanding gentlemen? Pillars of moral fortitude? Decent and honourable to the core?
    A shower of shit, in my opinion!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Oct 16, 2016 / 11:41 am

      Yup! This was a hired hit. And it just shows how the media work in concert with their masters. Very sleazy. Another warning to any player who steps out of line.

      I suspect Morgan is on borrowed time now, and any defeat will be met with hysteria. I wonder if he will even want to do it for much longer? Especially as well paid Global 20/20 circuses await.


      • SimonH Oct 16, 2016 / 11:54 am

        The schedule makes it virtually impossible to get rid of Morgan before the CT.

        If England don’t win the CT though, watch out…..


      • d'Arthez Oct 16, 2016 / 4:02 pm

        Never say never.

        When Cook was finally sacked as the ODI captain, it was merely at the worst time imaginable. So the ECB know how to take good decisions (and sacking Morgan would not be a good one), at the most terrible time possible. They may want to improve on that and take a terrible decision at a terrible time …

        But this pathetic hit is dreadful. If the ECB took protecting their players seriously, Oliver Holt would have been declared a person non grata by now.


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 16, 2016 / 4:10 pm

          For what it is worth, I think Holt did this off his own bat, and the Sports Editor went along with it. Only they can answer that. I don’t see a link with the ECB as regards Holt. He’s a cricket nobody. Newman has sources, Holt probably doesn’t when it comes to cricket. Look at the list of articles he has written on cricket. The only source he might have is Joe Root if you look at the interviews he has had.

          I take the article on face value. But I don’t blame people for thinking the ECB might have something in it. After all, it is not as if they had form.


      • SimonH Oct 16, 2016 / 4:45 pm

        I guess if England are absolutely thrashed in the India ODI series Morgan might be vulnerable. However, after India, there are only 3 ODIs in the WI and a couple against Ireland in May before the CT. There is a generally accepted narrative (a dubious one I think – but what I think doesn’t matter here) that England have done badly because of panicky last-minute changes before tournaments. Part of Strauss’s supposed USP was that he had a long-term plan for success and would stick to it.

        I don’t think there is much the ECB care about more than unconditional player loyalty. However their own strategic plans might be the only thing they do care more about. They love them. They have to, they’re how these 300k a year managers justify their existence. They’re itching to win the CT and then blow the trumpets of their genius. If it doesn’t work out, then the 2019 WC becomes the goal and the manoeuvring to get a Farbrace-Buttler team into place for that starts (because I don’t doubt an English-born coach-captain team is what some there dream of).

        If England win the CT it will be the triumph of a long-term plan – but more Giles Clarke’s than Andrew Strauss’s in my view. They’ll also be blowing their trumpets into a vacuum because almost nobody in England knows or cares about the CT.


      • Mark Oct 16, 2016 / 5:39 pm

        You may well be right Dmitri. Certainly his visit was a ludicrous over the top production. If Hollywood had done it, we all would have laughed at it. The idea of him riding shotgun at the back of a procession is priceless. Cleopatra riding into Rome.

        The so called patriotic English media have now managed to get rid of the England football manager ( with big Sams own greedy help) but the telegraph chief football writer was a critic of his appointment. And now Holt and the Mail want the England cricket ODI captain sacked. Just smell the patriotism. I notice Holt does not address the fact thatThe ECB offered the players the choice of touring. When a couple said .”no thanks”……. all hell was let loose. That is why I’m suspicious as to who is behind this. The mail does seem to get all the right leaks. And then presents them exactly how the leaker wants them.


  8. d'Arthez Oct 16, 2016 / 11:43 am

    I’d be inclined to comment: “The terrorists won. They did not shoot Oliver Holt.”

    Such morons ought to have gone through the experience the Sri Lanka cricket team went through in 2009, to actually understand why playing in a virtual warzone can be quite jarring. Not that most of the ECB would know, given their travel itineraries in the 1980s included a virtual warzone or two (and I am not talking about Sri Lanka or Pakistan) …

    Liked by 1 person

  9. thelegglance Oct 16, 2016 / 11:59 am

    I’ve been to parts of Laos that aren’t recommended because of attacks. I’ve been to parts of Indonesia that aren’t recommended because of terrorism. I’ve been in Burma during the elections when tension was high. I’ve been in Munich where there was a bloody terrorist attack going on at the time and seen first hand the panic of a crowd running for their lives.

    I have NEVER implied that I am braver than anyone else. I have NEVER suggested that anyone else either there at the time or who wouldn’t go is a coward. And quite frankly to do so is utterly despicable. So tell me Mr Holt, you who are so brave and so noble, you want to come with me to some of these places? You want to stand next to me when the crowds are screaming? Or would you rather stay at home?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Clivejw Oct 16, 2016 / 12:02 pm

    That’s what I call a Sunday roast!


  11. RufusSG Oct 16, 2016 / 1:05 pm

    Nothing else for me to add, really – a terrible, spiteful article by Holt designed entirely for petty personal points-scoring against Morgan.


  12. d'Arthez Oct 16, 2016 / 4:03 pm

    Meanwhile, Pakistan have stumbled to 121/8 – with Bishoo taking 6 wickets in the second innings already. Lead is a healthy 343 though, and a minimum of 132 overs left in the game.


    • d'Arthez Oct 16, 2016 / 4:39 pm

      That was the dinnertime score. Next over Bishoo takes out Sarfraz and Amir, to finish the innings with 8/49 – career best figures. Wonder how Yasir will fare in the West Indies chase of an improbable 346


      • SimonH Oct 16, 2016 / 4:49 pm

        Yasir’s become the joint second fastest bowler to 100 Test wickets in terms of Tests played (17th).

        No bowler with a record better or equal to his played after WW2. Only Clarrie Grimmett played after WW1.


      • d'Arthez Oct 16, 2016 / 4:52 pm

        Oh, and Bishoo’s innings figures are the best for a West Indian bowler outside the Caribbean (and 5th best overall for a West Indian bowler anywhere).


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Oct 16, 2016 / 5:08 pm

        I’m actually watching the Pak game now after hearing the score. It is on a channel called Zing. I’ve found (thank goodness) that I don’t have to specifically subscribe to it so I’m watching now. I suspect that Yasir will decide the day although Pakistan have made it harder for themselves than they might otherwise have done.


      • d'Arthez Oct 17, 2016 / 3:59 pm

        Darren Bravo has his ton, and is now batting with Holder. 116 runs to get, 4 wickets left and a minimum of 40 overs to bowl . Ball is just 1 over old. Will be an intriguing end to the Test.


  13. SimonH Oct 17, 2016 / 11:06 am

    Annoyingly compulsive quiz question doing the Twitter rounds – name both sides’ First Test XIs from each of the last 11 Ashes’ series.

    Even more annoying not to beat OC#24’s score (219/242 to my 215/242. I knew flushing those two oldest tours down the memory plughole would come back to haunt me one day!).

    From the batting order in the tour match, it looks like Hameed and Duckett are likely to play in the Test ahead of Ballance (although the latter is now making some runs). I suspect they’d really like to play Buttler as a batsman but he hasn’t advanced his cause any.


      • nonoxcol Oct 17, 2016 / 11:46 am

        I got addicted to Sporcle in early August (am I a late adopter?), but haven’t played since coming home from holiday 5 weeks ago. Keep finishing in the 95th-98th percentile on big* cricket quizzes: there truly are some freaks out there.

        *for some, like “name all Test triple centuries”, anything below 100% would be a personal disaster. The hardest one was “name every England Test opener since 1946”.

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Oct 17, 2016 / 10:10 pm

      225 in the end. Infuriated at not remembering Gooch went down the order in 94/95, cheesed off at forgetting Bevan, North and Finn. The others were the kind I expected to miss.


      • SimonH Oct 18, 2016 / 8:06 am

        I managed to get into the 70s with England postwar openers. 109! Bloody hell!

        Quite why I was able to remember Mark Benson, or that Jos Buttler opened once (in the Dubai run chase), or names like John Dewes and Don Kenyon, and forget the likes of the Rev or Raman Subba Row or that Gatting opened in a couple of Tests, I don’t know.


      • nonoxcol Oct 18, 2016 / 8:20 am

        Did you do the “England XIs of the last 25 years” quiz (actually 1988-2012) that is linked above the Ashes quiz? Full marks possible if you can write quickly enough, because I think there are only 15-20 names out of 275 you really have to rack your brains for. I got 271.


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 18, 2016 / 10:47 am



      • nonoxcol Oct 18, 2016 / 1:40 pm

        Some gems in there:

        Andy ‏@andyjh1965 3h
        @selvecricket have a look at @thefulltoss and see what you think. The best cricket blog on the circuit in my view.

        The Full Toss ‏@thefulltoss 9m
        @andyjh1965 @selvecricket I’m afraid we were blocked a couple of years ago. Think it was a row involving Maxie (former editor)

        Julia ‏@cricketandcats 3h
        @selvecricket I’m sure many of us would read it. You need to consider if you want to try to monetise it or is it just to keep your hand in.

        mike selvey ‏@selvecricket 3h
        @cricketandcats I think the former. Certainly not out of vanity

        Mike Andrews ‏@MikeJ_A 1h
        @selvecricket We need independent voice tackling how the ECB are destroying county cricket. I’m sure you’d get a huge following

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Oct 18, 2016 / 3:04 pm

        “We need independent voice tackling how the ECB are destroying county cricket. I’m sure you would get a huge following.”


        Has this muppet ever read anything Selvey has written over the last 3 years? Because an independent voice he is not. it seems even his followers are deluded.

        Or perhaps this is killer satire.


    • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 2:17 pm

      Not convinced by the streaming argument. Although it’s impossible to know for sure, the evidence of music downloaders was that they tended to be the ones who bought the most too. And it’s a small proportion of the public who even know how to stream. Add in to that many of them will be subscribers who simply want to watch their own team on a given day and I’m doubtful it has that big an impact. Those who stream and don’t pay always streamed and didn’t pay.


      • nonoxcol Oct 17, 2016 / 2:36 pm

        Never ever get me started on streaming and the singles charts. 62 years of integrity pissed away, and data distorted for all-time, in a foolish, ill thought through attempt to reflect what da kool kidz do, and bugger everyone else (some artists included) for whom the sales charts were part of their heritage.


        • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 2:48 pm

          Here’s a thing: I wanted to get a family member the remastered original Star Trek series. They aren’t interested in DVDs, they download. No problem I thought, but could I do it? No. Apple do it, but he’s not an iPad man and doesn’t want to be tied to the DRM. So it turns out it’s simply not possible. And there I am with my money ready. But I can download it all illegally, that’s easy. Utter stupidity.


      • SimonH Oct 17, 2016 / 2:45 pm

        I’m not necessarily convinced by the streaming argument – but TLG, what’s your evidence for “it’s a small proportion of the public who even know how to stream”?

        What would be your alternative explanations for audience decline in football this season?


          • LordCanisLupus Oct 17, 2016 / 8:45 pm

            And tonight’s Liverpool v Manchester United game has shown how truly crap it is.


        • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 2:50 pm

          Because anything remotely techy always is a small number. Much smaller than anyone thinks it is, because those that talk about it are in the same circles. Those that don’t, just don’t. I would say England’s shambolic Euros will have had a big effect, and the reason I say that is because it’s well known that when England do well, audience figures for domestic football go up.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Oct 17, 2016 / 4:33 pm

        Basically, yes, apparently people who have Netflix/Amazon Prime tend also to have Sky and generally watch a lot of TV. And the number of people who go and find something to stream illegally is obviously hard to measure but seems to be relatively small.

        BARB’s figures show that most people still want to watch sport live and 90% of them do*.

        So cricket needs readily accessible live broadcast, plus the ability to move gradually to live streaming as/if that becomes the norm…. hmm.



    • d'Arthez Oct 17, 2016 / 3:37 pm

      Every noob who can read, knows how to download torrents. Knowledge to do these things is social, so even if someone does not know how to stream, but wants to watch, it is just a matter of asking someone who does know.

      So I am not so sure that the numbers are small. But then again, it is in the interests of the powers that be to drum up the fears – after all streamers are the biggest threat to cricket according to a certain G. Clarke. Not bad governance, unsustainable financial models, or anything remotely related to lopsided fixture calendars.


      • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 3:41 pm

        I doubt that very much. It’s confirmation bias to assume that just because people in your circle know how to, that so does everyone else. I strongly suspect most people’s response to your post would be ‘what’s a torrent?’. Obviously the younger they are, the more likely they are to know. But then the profile of the average pay TV subscriber is older anyway. So it doesn’t explain a drop, and especially not when Sky have not reported a fall in subscription – just the opposite.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Mark Oct 17, 2016 / 4:04 pm

        Thelegglance is right. You would be amazed how many older people don’t even use a cash point card, let alone have any internet connection. This arogant idea that ” everyone is connected” is bollocks.” I have no doubt that lots of young people, and some older silver surfers are good to go.

        I still buy CDs, and books. I am deeply suspicious of buying air. You library has been turned into air, your music collection has been turned into air, and now they want to turn cash into air. The power and control this gives corporations and govts is terrifying. At a flick of a switch they can turn off your world.

        Dmitri…..”It’s an effing crap product”

        I was thinking that while I was watching Southampton vs Burnley yesterday. Talk about The Emperors new cloths? It was shit. Sky were desperately trying to hype it up at the end. I notice the BBC didn’t even have a match of the day 2 last night, such was the lack of interest.


        • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 4:07 pm

          My suspicion with Sky is that because all teams have to be on a required number of times a year, they get them out of the way by picking matches they play each other in, thus halving the number of ‘crap’ games in their eyes.


      • d'Arthez Oct 17, 2016 / 4:57 pm

        Ten years ago smartphones were “techy”. Does that mean smartphones are less complicated now? Or that still a fraction of the population knows how to use them? Of course not. Streaming was techy in 2005. Not so much in 2016.

        The technology has been around, so the kids who were in their early teens are the ones now moving out of their parental homes, while being aware of the technology. And obviously often not in the position to spend oodles of cash on pay-tv channels. So not only is there an incentive, there is also a population group, who can take advantage of the technology.

        Hard to get numbers (for one, the smarter ones know better how to hide their online presence a bit better). CNN.com barely beats Twitch.tv, which beats bbc.co.uk on Alexa rankings. It comfortably beats the Guardian’s website. Alexa rankings are far from perfect, but they do give an idea that people are well aware of streaming options.


        • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 5:01 pm

          If you were to tell the average person what a smartphone can actually do, and how little use they make of it, they would be amazed. In a survey, over 80% of owners used less than 10 apps a week. Everything is skewed by a small number who use them extensively. Most do not.


      • d'Arthez Oct 17, 2016 / 6:28 pm

        The figures I have presented suggest that more people check streams on twitch.tv than they bother either with the BBC website or The Guardian website. But I suppose you should only be counted as an internet user if you check the Times online…

        People who use Microsoft Excel are unaware of 99% of the functionality too. I am guessing they could just as well be using abacuses …


        • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 6:34 pm

          I just don’t remotely believe those figures. I’m pretty savvy with streams and I’ve never heard of twitch.tv. I am wary of using myself as any kind of example, but it doesn’t sound right unless they’re talking global. And even then I would query it.


      • d'Arthez Oct 17, 2016 / 6:48 pm

        So, now the fact that you’re unaware of twitch.tv means that no one knows about twitch? I guess I should ask my neighbour in the Netherlands if they have heard of Alastair Cook. Apparently I can deduce from his reply whether or not any person in England has heard of him …


      • "IronBalls" McGinty Oct 17, 2016 / 7:01 pm

        This conversation has gone right over my head. You are talking language that I don’t, nay, even don’t want to, understand!
        Yours truly
        The bog standard, run of the mill, dinosaur. 🙂


      • d'Arthez Oct 17, 2016 / 8:51 pm

        You may have doubts about the veracity of the Alexa figures. And the Alexa methodology is far from perfect. We could argue for hours about the flaws in the methodology. But it gives a reasonable first impression of how popular certain services are (the top 10, globally is 1. google.com 2. youtube.com 3. facebook.com 4. baidu.com 5. wikipedia.org 6. yahoo.com 7. google.co.in 8. twitter.com 9. amazon.com 10. qq.com.

        Alexa’s ranking of espncricinfo.com suggests it is very popular in Bangladesh (#14), Pakistan (#18) and India (#49), with nearly half of the page-views coming from India, and that the website is far less popular in the UK (#392). It seems to reasonably measure the sites popularity, if you would look at the nations of origin of the commenters on the public discussions there.

        It is certainly more reliable than the gut-feeling approach which predominates in many discussions with regards to popularity of certain services on the web, whether that is torrenting, tweeting, whatsapping, etc.). That gut-approach often happens, because hard figures are hard to obtain.

        You can’t use your own experiences to construe the idea of what other people know. Maybe, you’re less aware of the things that are becoming increasingly popular on the net? There is nothing wrong with that – it just points to the danger of using your own experiences as a yardstick – because you come from a particular place in the world, are at a certain age, have certain interests etc. twitch.tv happens to be not so popular in the UK, but that does not mean it is not popular elsewhere. baidu.com is not popular in the UK, but extremely popular in China.
        I certainly would not be claiming to know it all – there are plenty of extremely popular websites that I have never heard of, or have no interest in. Personally I hardly use twitch. Certainly less than I access the Guardian (although Mike Selvey has certainly not helped the Guardian’s cause in that respect) or the BBC website, but I certainly won’t be extrapolating my experiences to convince myself what others must know and not know about the internet and streaming. Especially for the younger generation, who can hardly remember a YouTube-less world – or maybe were even born after YouTube started.

        Tech development is rapid, and the possibilities multiply rapidly as well. 40 years ago, email was a pipedream, 20 years ago, receiving email on a phone was a pipe dream. Now people can happily transact large sums of money through their phones. Of course there are still plenty of people who don’t know how to do these things. And especially older people often feel that technology is forced on them – and prefer to do things the “old way” (which is often itself “only” 20 years old).

        You can’t even argue that people who only use 3 apps on a smartphone are not using the smartphone optimally – it all depends on what they use it for, want to use it for, and what other devices (and software) they have access to. I use many apps (and I am referring to apps and not applications such as Word, Excel, Foobar etc.), but not on a smartphone or tablet. There are now often dozens of methods of doing something that could be done in only a few ways 20 years ago. It is hard to keep track of all the possibilities, even when you’re an expert (and I am certainly not).

        All I have been arguing is that numbers may not be as low as some people often think. I have no idea what the figures are either, but given that streaming has been around for quite some time now, and that technology is very social, in the sense that humans can quickly learn from other people how to use technology, the numbers may be quite high: the knowledge needed to use a technology is far less than the knowledge needed to know why a technology works.

        I might be wrong: for all I know I have been interacting with the only 17 streamers from the UK, on an extremely small website. Somehow that seems doubtful. But statistically it is certainly possible.

        I have seen no evidence to suggest that numbers must be low in this whole discussion. Just a lot of assumptions, based on gut feeling and self-claimed expertise. So, unless we get some hard figures (ideally also broken down by demographic age), it is pointless to continue the discussion.

        And let’s be clear. Twitch.tv is hardly an ideal platform if you’re looking for streams of sports. It is much more geared towards people doing things on webcam, and then sharing it with the world. But that was the point. You can’t rank that high globablly, with just a few people knowing how to stream.


    • Mark Oct 17, 2016 / 4:40 pm

      It’s is interesting that ratings in the US for sport are falling. We are living in hard economic times although the politicians wouldn’t admit it. The idea people can just go on paying out ever more on subscription tv is suspect. Sky never say how many subscibers are purchasing the sports package. Even though there subscription numbers are rising that may not be sports subscribers. And who can blame people as the price has gone up more and more.

      The danger for cricket is it lives off Skys football subscibers. If that goes down substantially cricket could be in deep financial trouble. End of the day sport is pricing itself out of the market. Although seeing as 81000 turned up at Wembley to watch Malta last week maybe there are still enough muppets with more money than sense.


  14. Clivejw Oct 17, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    After Brexit, the Mail is reliving its glory days of the thirties, when it supported Moseley (“Hurrah for the Blackshirts!”) and was dead against Britain taking any Jewish refugees. We are back in the era of No Blacks, No Dogs. And No Irish Captains of England Cricket Teams. The Mail can’t help it: xenophobia is part of its DNA, or the DNA of its Bermuda-based, tax avoiding owners.

    Holt claims not to be calling Morgan a coward while sending him a pillow case full of white feathers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance Oct 17, 2016 / 3:34 pm

      Can we ease up on the political comment please. This isn’t the Guardian, and as soon as someone starts, someone else will reply.


  15. SimonH Oct 17, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    Gripping day in Dubai bubbling up to a good finish. Superb innings by Darren Bravo (continuing his odd preference for away games – he averages 55 away and 29 at home).

    Pakistan’s performance has been weirdly reminiscent of their game here against England. Dominated the first two days with the bat, didn’t run through the opposition as they expected (not helped by some poor selection of playing only one true specialist spinner), dozy 2nd innings’ collapse against the opposition leggie and now in danger of losing the game.


    • d'Arthez Oct 17, 2016 / 6:24 pm

      Yasir took a blinder of a return catch to get rid of Bravo. And now Holder is running out of partners (just 1 wicket left, 100 balls to survive). Not being helped by an extremely silly runout by Cummins.


      • SimonH Oct 17, 2016 / 6:45 pm

        Oh West Indies!


  16. Benny Oct 18, 2016 / 9:27 am

    My observation is that women’s cricket is on the up while men’s frets about popularity.

    By the way, if it weren’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have a clue who Holt was so guess how important I think his views are …..


  17. SimonH Oct 18, 2016 / 2:17 pm

    Sledging? (Repeat as if Basil Fawlty saying “spoons”).

    I think I’d prefer an article on lob-bowling in the 1880s rather than that tired old click-bait.

    I wonder if Bull’s been told to up his clicks – there hasn’t exactly been a stampede to recent editions of ‘The Spin’ (and if Indian commenters hadn’t ignored the last topic and posted about other things, the last one would have had literally three replies*).

    * Warning: I may be using “literally” in the Jamie Redknapp sense there.


    • dlpthomas Oct 19, 2016 / 12:34 am

      It was an “ouch moment” in that Broad had a bruised heel and couldn’t bowl (or “run away”). I think that was a bit of a cheap shot by KP.


      • BoredInAustria Oct 19, 2016 / 4:32 am


        Saker said: “It is a bit of an issue. He has not bowled as we would have liked. But he’s not the first bowler to come over here and find it hard. Even some of the world’s best all-time pace bowlers have struggled, in fact, to be effective in subcontinental conditions. Stuart’s not a great yet. He has to learn ways to become great.


    • SimonH Oct 19, 2016 / 9:15 am

      Great link PK, many thanks.

      The non-coverage in the UK press is an embarrassment.


      • SimonH Oct 19, 2016 / 10:06 am

        I’m not sure if my favourite line is:

        “The BCCI also tried to push Giles Clarke, head of the England and Wales Cricket Board as a potential replacement for Manohar. When the motion was floated, not one single Test playing nation backed it”


        “Giles Clarke, the potential replacement for Manohar, is also said to be a close aide of Srinivasan”.


      • SimonH Oct 19, 2016 / 7:23 pm

        Having apparently failed with his masterplan to use the charm and popularity of Giles Clarke, Anurag Thakur looks into another way of getting rid of Manohar –


  18. nonoxcol Oct 19, 2016 / 8:32 am

    An old friend from BTL plays “Spot the Subtext”….


      • nonoxcol Oct 19, 2016 / 8:38 am

        Yes, just spotted that – didn’t realise when I posed the above that you’d already got involved.

        “Nobody else reads it that way.” Reeeeaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. About as convincing as “Flower didn’t issue an ultimatum”.


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 19, 2016 / 9:56 am

          It’s good to see their willingness to take the high road when it comes to Cooky. After all, he’s a callow novice when dealing with the press. How could he expect cynics like me would interpret his comment on duty (one I’ve not heard from the many others who have done what Cook did) at a time like this as a dig at Morgan. He’s so naive.


      • nonoxcol Oct 19, 2016 / 8:43 am

        I’m having *big* problems recalling a precedent for Cook having an unnecessary, vaguely self-aggrandising dig at Morgan……

        You know, the sort of thing that would make your theory more plausible…….

        Perhaps it’s never happened before……..


        • LordCanisLupus Oct 19, 2016 / 5:33 pm

          Also, while I saw a couple of reports mentioning “duty” last night and this morning, most of the journos we know and grudgingly admonish are silent on it. Strange.


          • LordCanisLupus Oct 19, 2016 / 7:49 pm

            The Cricketer – http://www.thecricketer.com/default.aspx?pageid=1223&catid=71&topicid=42683

            “It is an incredible privilege to be captain of England and that was a decision that we made as a family. We felt was the right decision to come back and do the job. You don’t know how long you are going to be captain of England for so it is a very privileged position. I felt it was my duty to come back.”

            Interesting how the first part of this quote is recited verbatim in the press reports (half of which seem to be written by Will MacPherson) but the last line isn’t. I don’t know. Curious.


    • Mark Oct 19, 2016 / 12:47 pm

      I find these pusedo fake military comparisons with The ECB cricket team very distasteful. “On duty” my arse. But we had all this guff about Strauss and how he loves his military tactics and war books. These are the armchair keyboard warriors. The 101st airborne of the ECB. I bet they have all read their Andy McNabs and Black hark downs. I wouldn’t mind if it was Mathew Flemming who has actually served on the streets of NI. Not sat in the bus with his flack jacket and shades with his hand on speed dial to the Daily Mail head office.

      This is cricket, not war. It’s sport, not war. If you want to try war then sign up, otherwise stfu.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rooto Oct 19, 2016 / 5:03 pm

        Lol at “the 101st Airborne of the ECB”. I now have a mental image of a painting on the side of a plane- the Memphis Cookie.


      • Mark Oct 19, 2016 / 6:08 pm

        “The Memphis Cookie”. Ha ha, I like that!

        Point is, there is a bit of a difference from Lord Cook strutting around his farm blowing the heads of sheep, and patrolling Fallujah.


      • AdrianS Oct 19, 2016 / 6:22 pm

        ‘I find these pusedo (sic) fake military comparisons with The ECB cricket team very distasteful.’ then ‘These are the armchair keyboard warriors. The 101st airborne of the ECB’. Do you understand irony Mark, for months you’ve compared cricketers and ECB to Nazis on many occasions and you now you’re criticising others, it’s beyond belief.


      • Mark Oct 19, 2016 / 8:28 pm

        So glad your still interested in what I have to say. How’s that brown nose of yours? Still rammed up the ECBs arse? Must be very smelly up there.


    • RufusSG Oct 19, 2016 / 11:23 am

      People have had enough of experts, after all…

      On a serious note, I sadly fear Jimmy’s body is at long last beginning to catch up on him, after a period of fitness exceptional for a fast bowler. He’s now had quite a few injuries in the last year or so.


    • RufusSG Oct 19, 2016 / 11:55 am

      Thanks for linking this (unlike most here I’ve never really visited the Guardian’s cricket pages much). The opening paragraph in particular is absolutely fabulous.


  19. RufusSG Oct 19, 2016 / 11:39 am

    Completely off topic, but I thought this might be of interest to some: this is a really fascinating comment on the backgrounds of the current Indian team, and how the BCCI has seemingly been able to unearth talent from incredibly underprivileged areas of India among a billion people in contrast to most of England’s cricketers coming from more well-off backgrounds, despite our far more modest population size.


    • Tuffers86 Oct 19, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      If it’s anything like Pakistan, the informal scouting network is king. Talent identification and nurturing has never been prevalent in a lot of English culture. England expects you to get into the right place where they take a look.

      Just look at the mess that is football. Scouting used to be how clubs managed to stay afloat. It’s a dying art. And who’s to say the BCCI is a success. For all we know there’s a dozen Tendulkars out there in India’s sprawl who haven’t been given a chance.


      • LordCanisLupus Oct 19, 2016 / 2:27 pm

        Why should clubs like mine scout if the moment we get a 15-16 year old of any talent he’s farmed off to a premier league club who won’t play him and end up flogging him for more than they paid for him, or worse they fall by the wayside.

        Liked by 1 person

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