I trust you all had a very decent Christmas, and given the cricket has resumed (with the exception of the Ranji Trophy, which has carried on through the Holidays) I thought it’s time we did. So back on the 2016 Dmitri’s we go…..
As I said when I mentioned the thinking behind the Dmitris, the “awards” are given, if that’s the right word, to players, teams, individuals etc. who have played an important part in cricket during the year, or have had a key influence on the blogging side of things. There is little doubt that where Kevin Pietersen laid the ground for the latter, in 2016 Eoin Morgan has taken his place. Morgan divides opinion, he breaks the cricket fraternity out in a rash. There is nothing quite like watching righteous indignation in full flow.
Yet, back earlier in the year, it was all so different. Eoin Morgan was lauded, a great man, a talismanic leader, a man of iron will. Because of three words. That’s. From. Me. With those words he unleashed the blind fury. Morgan was taking ownership for the exclusion of Kevin Pietersen, as unlikely as any comeback might have been, in public, up front, no questions asked in a statement to Nasser Hussain in the Daily Mail. Piers Morgan went apoplectic, and some of the more vociferous KP supporters followed. Yes, I was angry at it, in every way that I was angry in the first place, but this wasn’t from him. If Morgan wanted KP he never could have said so. We all know that. We aren’t stupid. So yes, while the anti-KP band went over the top in their excitement, we had to take a step back.
But if Eoin Morgan thought that cunning could buy him love from the ECB media, he found out how long it took to upset them and become back in the negative column. One decision and he was in the firing line, with the big beasts of the press lined up firing at him. When Eoin Morgan even hinted that he wouldn’t make the trip to Bangladesh, the game was up. He is dead meat. It is only a matter of time before the fatal blow is inflicted upon him. The anger at putting his own personal wellbeing first, regardless of whether the reasons were iron-clad logical, far outweighed failures of captaincy on the field of others. It’s completely fair enough to have your team mess up week after week, but woe betide you go against conventional wisdom of what constitutes leadership.
Once that happens the “manipulation” of statistics we are often accused of is employed against Morgan. The recent lack of centuries being the main one. The lining up of sensational young talent who have not proved much being another. Ignore his captaincy, and the way the team plays with non-stop aggressive intent – Jos Buttler can do that on the back of a tight as you know what ODI series in Bangladesh that Eoin opted out of (in case you forgot). Morgan’s role, once front and centre, became Morgan the expendable. Because he now lacks the ability to lead his team.
This reached its nadir when Oliver Holt jetted out to Bangladesh in one of the most ridiculous stunts I’ve seen in a while. If you look sanctimony up in the Illustrated English Dictionary, Holt’s face would radiate out at you. Holt had a thing about Morgan and was going to go to Chittagong himself to show the world it’s safe. If the Mail’s chief sports writer, or whatever his puffed up title is, was brave enough to pitch up in Chittagong, then so should Morgan. Plus, Morgan’s bleeding Irish, so he’s a wrong ‘un anyway when it comes to playing for England. He doesn’t even sing the National Anthem, the money-grabbing little coward. As journalistic endeavours went, it was risible. Holt pitched in, and pitched out, wrote his nonsensical piece for the Mail on Sunday, and to be very fair, most of those who follow the game and write about it off the media wagon laughed at it for what it was. Holt being a dolt. I think I might have chipped in.
Our beloved Comma, a man of impeccable trust don’t forget, because that is important and trumps all, had said that if a player had reservations about going to Bangladesh they could opt out. Nothing would be held against them. So two players took them at his word, and the denizens of good manners and military leadership were up in arms. Newman is never going to stop mentioning it, reminding you of it. Selfey’s gonna tweet how great Reggie “best in the business” is. All the while Morgan is going to have any achievements downplayed, any failure augmented, any expression of non-regret castigated. It’s the way they play.
On here the debate caused some heat and light, but many came out in favour of Morgan’s right to choose not to play. Most pointed out the ludicrous calls to leadership standards. Many recognised the modus operandi. But most of all, many supported Morgan. Now he will need to repay that support because if he doesn’t, he’s sharkbait.
And that’s from me.
You are right about almost all of this Dmitri but if Morgan doesn’t show better form I would have no axe to grind if he was dropped. He does not seem to be the player that he used to be.
It is/was his team and he moulded them into a winning outfit of sparkling and entertaining players. He’s been a great captain in that way, He was perfectly entitled not to tour Bangladesh but his decision did give Buttler the chance to show that he was perfectly capable of taking up the reins if need be.
I hope Morgan does come good because when on form he is outstanding, but he is lacking in consistency and we need more than that from him.
I’m very pleased he is not hypocritical enough to sing the national anthem and I have no problem with him being Irish. He is thoughtful and articulate and I enjoy his insightful post match interviews. He just needs to score more runs.
An excellent post. Thank you.
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Fascinating how our gormless media think it is very easy to replace Morgan as ODI captain, and yet seem to think that replacing our underachieving test captain would result in the end of civilisation as we know it.
If Morgan can be dispensed with so easily, so to can Cook.
Morgs vs. Belly (plus a few others) on C5 on New Years’ Day.
Just been watching the big bash highlights on BT sport. Apparantly the cretinous oafs at BT sport seem to think that if you have tuned in to watch cricket (albeit just highlights ) what you really want is the premiership football results taking up the bottom quarter of your screen replayed endlessly. They even include the idiotic quotes from the managers. If that wasn’t enough they think I also want the results and football league tables from the other divisions taking up about 1 sixth of the screen down the side.
Fuck you BT. If I want football, I will tune in for football. If you don’t want to cover cricket then don’t. Putting shinny toy on with his dipstick chum is not covering cricket. The obsession with endless pundits talking is very a depressing part of modern sport. Ba humbug!
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They have to sort out BT SPORT 3. That split screen shit is annoying and I think can only be got rid of on BT TV and Sky. Virgin be damned. It’s unwatchable with all that garbage.
Morgan is one of my very favourite cricketers. His articulation makes Cook look like the dim witted dolt! Cook’s backhanded derisory jibes after his way overdue sacking will live long in my memory.
He’s virtually single handedly (credit to Farbrace tho’) transformed the short form teams, virtually overnight, from abject losers into dynamic winners, and very entertaining to boot! His captaincy skills are of the highest order, and rather than being mercenary, he’s honing those skills playing with the best cricketers in the world…makes sense to me!
It confounds me, that when English cricket has a jewel in Morgan they’re after him because he’s “not one of us doncha know!” Pure traditionalist, class ridden, bullshit!!
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It was a quote from, I think, Lord Raglan, during the Charge of the Light Brigade who said ” It’s just not the done thing to surround oneself with people who know what they’re doing….it smacks of murder!”
England cricket Establishment in a nutshell!
Yes, in the 1960s film one of the general officers (who may well have been Raglan) speaks that line with specific reference to Captain Nolan – who was a skilled professional soldier rather than a bumbling aristocratic amateur who can’t even issue coherent orders (still less take responsibility for them). It’s also implied that Nolan is thought of as something of an outsider.
In real life Louis Nolan was born in Canada, while his first military experience was as a young cavalry officer in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before later transferring to the British Army. No parallels with Eoin Morgan at all then, oh no. You just know they’re waiting for the opportunity to pin the blame on him for something analogous to a suicidal charge down the wrong valley…
I completely agree. The ECB have a treasure in Morgan, but they don’t like him. Too independent-minded. Too un-Cook-like. Too Irish.
In his after-match interviews, he gives credit to the other side, always praises players who’ve done well and doesn’t deliberately single out anyone for criticism – you’d think that would be basic stuff, but Cook does the opposite, time and time again.
He politely insisted on the management recognising the usefulness of the IPL as a finishing school and knowledge pool for players – something KP had previously tried but failed to do. OK, times have changed, but perhaps Morgan is also a better diplomat.
‘That’s from me’ was an anomaly, he’s not usually so clumsy in expressing himself. It seemed to me to be simply an attempt to shut down the discussion, perhaps acting on instructions. I didn’t like it, but that train has left the station anyway.
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I think Morgan will go and be the scapegoat if they don’t win the Champions Trophy.
Tim Wigmore’s latest:
Good grief!! Just watched lovejoy winning celebrity mastermind? He’ll be even more insufferable now!
What was his chosen subject? ……..Himself?
Ticket pricing for cricket games?
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Picking up on the theme, am I the only one here who doesn’t think Graeme Swann’s punditry is utterly awful? Sure, his jokey style isn’t for everyone, and his attempts at humour do sometimes fall flat given how incessant they are. His comment about not knowing what certain ticket prices were, especially in this climate, was undeniably a bit ignorant. Although I don’t think he intended to do so maliciously, I’m not sure he showed much self-awareness regarding the bullying accusations in his playing career, since I genuinely believe he meant well but didn’t recognise that less experienced members of the dressing room might not have reacted well to his hyper-competitive and extroverted persona.
But, much of the time, I think not only that he’s at least reasonably amusing (he’s a decent storyteller for one thing), his analysis is often right. I’ve agreed pretty much entirely with his diagnosis on how England handle spinners badly and don’t know how to coach and develop them properly. It’s also worth pointing out that, despite his close friendship with Cook, he’s been more willing to publicly criticise his captaincy than some other members of the media have. Perhaps it’s a generational thing: I’ve certainly been more used to pundits in his style during my time watching sports coverage than some of you may have been. I’m not saying all his jokes are good but I wouldn’t say he’s annoying to the point where I actively dislike his work.
I don’t think the Tim Lovejoy comparison is totally fair, either. I find him genuinely irritating and his attempts at joking with his typically uninterested guests excruciating. But, ultimately, his only role is to present, not inform. At least Swann’s humour, whether amusing or dud, is usually based on some substantive important point about the game in hand.
Watching Pakistan vs Australia. Great to hear Bill Lawry back on the air. All our yesterday’s. Channel 9 before it was turned into a clown car with tales of Warnes Pizza toppings.
Brayshaw’s departure has improved things somewhat, although I guess that wasn’t difficult. The tone in general, whilst no means perfect of course, has at least been marginally more serious than in recent years.
It’s probably worth noting that (the sadly currently unwell) Mark Nicholas admitted in his recent book that he thought Geoff Lemon’s now infamous article about the declining standards of Channel 9’s coverage “had a point”, and that he hopes their recent changes show a genuine desire on the part of the network to improve the quality of the coverage again. At the very least, that’s a start.
Tufnell, Tufnell, Tufnell… He was never going to drop that! A classic piece of commentary from someone who, as a player, was noted for his total lack of warmth and excitability.
Curious fact about Bill Lawry – he was never given out LBW in a home Test (in 50+ innings).
Javed Miandad (about whom that fact is often claimed) was in fact given out LBW 8 times in home Tests.
A double-century for Azhar Ali, a-run-a-ball daddy for Warner and now a century for Stephen Cook.
That Guardian Test team of the year opening partnership looked a bit dubious at the time, now it looks properly daft and parochial.
At least it’s only fantasy though – what about the South African selectors who took so long to pick Cook?….
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