The Product

“I had to be convinced because when I started out I was massively against it [four-day Tests], but I am for it because with Test cricket there is a risk of us loving it to death. We have to adapt.”
It’s been a tough time on the blog. Sean has been unavailable, Chris has been on his travels, and I’ve had the ongoing family issue in the States which thankfully looks more bright. It has also coincided with a period of limited England action. The ODI series in West Indies ticked the ICC Tours and England tour company boxes, but had little relevance to any future games. I really couldn’t care a dime about this North v South competition, played, as it is, in the Emirates. The quiet period is actually bloody important because England play far too much and any break is to be welcomed. Flogging a few of our players through all three formats for years on end is going to end careers prematurely.

For someone who has been on the blogging treadmill pretty much non-stop (we’ve had a few interludes here and there) for three years it has been a chance to actually take my eye off cricket for a while. I made little effort to watch anything while I was over in the USA, and I’m very much concentrating on getting out of the house quickly in the morning so don’t even switch on the India v Australia games. It’s on now, but it is hardly the most thrilling passage of play.

So last night, when I was struggling to get to sleep, I was thinking about what I could possibly write about. So I thought I’d probably concentrate at being an old man barking at the moon, and railing against something or other. It’s a vain person who quotes himself, but please let me have this indulgence. I replied to a Mark comment last night about the scriptures passed down by The Empty Suit (Tom Harrison) on the future of cricket in this country. In it, as is frequent in those circles, the sport of cricket, in whatever form it is played, is called a product. Now I’m sure I’ve referred to it as a “product” in the past,  but not in these egregious terms. It’s all about marketing, and image…. buzz if you like…. and actually not about the sport. Empty Suit was all corporate bluster and it pissed me off (and Mark too)

Harrison’s utter bullshit, invoking my favourite word “unique” (that’s a red flag indicating “charlatan” in my warning book) and as you say, Mark, “product” rather than “sport” or “competition” might fool some loyal followers of the used car salesman management text books, but it will never fool me when it comes to sport. Sport is not a product. It is sport. In essence, people playing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got back to that?

Something has happened in the past weeks which has had me all wistful. It started with Millwall being drawn against Leicester in the FA Cup. It took me back to when we drew the same team in that competition in 1985. I went to that game with a friend from the same estate I lived on. He was 13 at the time, and we were great mates. We played football, we played cricket, we loved sport to death. He moved away a few years after, but I see him in on Twitter and he has a prominent-ish role in sport journalism now. I genuinely didn’t want to bother him with my nonsense for a while now, dropping a couple of hints if he wanted to follow them up, and yet he didn’t, and I was quite comfortable with that. This was because he is a journalist and I can’t say I was too keen on any journo knowing who I was at that stage.

Anyway, to cut a boring long story short, I got in contact after the Cup draw, and we are now talking a lot on line. It’s private conversations, but fascinating nonetheless, but I will quote one part. He said that what we have in common is a “childhood appreciation of sport” and I railed at this a bit. But then, on reflection, you know he is right. Sport is about playing, as I said to Mark, when you are a kid and that’s all that should matter. Playing, to the best of your ability, pushing yourself to improve, but to enjoy it. Like blogging. If this becomes a job, then I’m failing, and you’ll know it. When reading Empty Suit’s comments, you wonder what he thinks about the sport. It’s all about product this, experience that, context this, importance that. It’s a study in sport economics, not sport itself. Why should test cricket die if there isn’t money involved?

Sportsmen and women are, by and large, a lot like most of us. If we were offered a lot of money to do a job, and by so doing we would have to work shorter hours and less days, we’d bite that employer’s hands off. Why should cricketers, offered the riches of T20, be more predisposed to a gruelling five day game in the baking sun, than to a game usually played in the evening and lasting half the time of a normal day’s first class cricket? Gideon Haigh says in Death of a Gentleman that “T20 needs something to be shorter than”. The legends of the game aren’t really going to be forged in the white heat of a hit and giggle competition, but by efforts beyond the mere mortal, those of longevity, of perseverance. If you struggle to bat in T20 you aren’t given time to right yourself, as you are taking up time that others in better nick could better utilise. In test cricket it is part of the skill of the game that you can play badly, struggle, but work through it, blossom and triumph. You are given time to establish yourself.

The longer T20 goes on, the less I like it. I have always believed the worst thing that happened to the game was India winning the first T20 tournament. At that time India were sniffy about the game, thought it wasn’t right for international cricket and that they were above all that. Once they won the tournament, and with Yuvraj in great form smacking sixes for fun, the genie flew out of the bottle and we had the IPL. Players could earn fortunes, more than they got for playing for their international team, just by being great players, whether they were any good at T20 or not. The IPL may be the finishing school of cricket, as KP once mentioned (well, more than once) but it’s got little to do with what is happening on the field. T20 lends itself to betting. T20 lends itself to those with less attention spans.

Chuck D, one of the greatest musical lyricists of my time, commented that the black community seemed to want to infantilise itself, and have black adult artists appeal to kids as their primary selling aim, and so act childish. All that happens is the kids think that it is adult behaviour. I’m generalising, and Chuck D is a far better wordsmith than I ever will be, but his main point about those artists was that should concentrate on what they were, adults, and not talk down or dumb down for the sake of the corporations that run them. On a more trivial, sporting scale I see some likenesses. How many times are we told the T20 competition in the UK is necessary to “attract the kids”? Great. But you aren’t going to attract those kids to cricket. You are going to attract them to T20. In my view, it’s a bloody different sport! Kids won’t be playing test cricket, they will be seeing people smash balls over boundaries as the only measurable currency. This isn’t like baseball where pitchers are valued every bit as much as batsmen, but a game where the bat rules everything. Top quality test bowlers are rendered powerless by short boundaries, wickets made for runs, and a game that only seems to be “entertaining” if it is about peerless batting. The occasions when a bowler has been lauded from the rooftops for their performance? Tell me them.

T20 is a game with considerable skill, and I’m not diminishing that, but it isn’t about quality, it’s now about quantity. It is seen as the chance to make money by having another T20 competition that might secure some of the talent around the world. It is more and more being portrayed by the powers that be that it is the only way to secure the future of the game. A sort of gateway drug to the purity of test cricket. It’s nonsense. The Rugby Sevens aren’t taking over from test cricket. It’s almost a specialist sport in its own right. Five a side football is shorter, more accessible, the game we played as kids, yet it isn’t a thing in any way shape or form at the top level. Yet cricket is absolutely obsessed with changing its core characteristics, of what made it a sport that has lasted, in varying evolving forms for 140 years at least. A desperation to change, a desperation to seem relevant is taking us to a new unchartered territory. I think Empty Suit’s most relevant comment is this one…

“The balance between international and domestic cricket will change. We have to be careful about that and that is my fear about private ownership. Controlling private ownership will be difficult and controlling the ambition of very successful tournaments will be difficult.”The balance between international and domestic cricket will change. We have to be careful about that and that is my fear about private ownership. Controlling private ownership will be difficult and controlling the ambition of very successful tournaments will be difficult.”

Just read that and weep. This isn’t about developing future talent. It is about control. The ECB as our knight in shining armour, protecting English cricket from the marauding arms of the corporate raider is, quite frankly, rib-tickling in its chutzpah. So while we “watch the birdy” as Empty Suit prattles on about his conversion to four day test cricket, and that gets the headlines, what we are really looking at is a way for ECB to stop another body, like a Premier League, to go it alone and devil take the hindmost. The ECB, in all its generous cosy bosom, will cosset the cricket loving people of England and beyond in its tenderness. But if you disagree with that, you are bound to pay for it. That’s some stick for a puny carrot. The Premier League started off under the control of the Football Association – remember Graham Kelly and all that – before it spat that out and took on its own life. Now football is an oligarchy, a sport of totally entitled supporters, sacking managers who perform miracles to get teams into places, only to dismissed after a bit of a losing streak. It’s an out of control behemoth, in place to make money, more money and even more money.

Cricket has its own money issues. The top England players are on, conservatively, if the leak about Cook’s salary were correct, in the many hundreds of thousands. To pay these wages we need to make a ton of money. County teams also, we know, have players on salaries that are well above those that revenues can sustain. We know that the ECB has a war chest for seasons when India and Australia aren’t in town, but don’t seem to like using it (and if you might assume you could, ask Durham). The new T20, with these millions of TV viewers and punters waiting to follow the Big Bash model if only the ECB could come up with something, and the nonsense research put up to tell them what the want, and if it doesn’t, it’ll be spun that it is, is the only game in town. And there is no way anything is going to get in the way of it.

I still have some old fashioned, naive thoughts about sport being about people playing. It isn’t. Of course it’s not. It’s business. It has been for ages now. Childhood appreciation is a misguided construct. Cricket isn’t about that any more. It’s about a power grab. Trying to sell it any other way takes the punters for mugs. But they’ve been doing that for a while. There’s more on T20 to follow. But I for one am right behind our patrician authority, fighting the good fight against those corporate raiders! I never had Empty Suit as a modern day Arthur Scargill!

Have a good week everyone.

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35 thoughts on “The Product

  1. dannycricket March 19, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    I’ve been thinking about the problems facing county cricket for a while now, and I think perhaps its largest problem is that the ECB doesn’t see it as a product. If you were comparing it to American sport, the county teams are basically treated as developmental leagues, subsidised by the Major League ECB. Instead of being a competition on its own merits, the counties rely on supplying players to the international team for their money. Its TV coverage is thrown in basically for free with the England’s national team TV deal, and that coverage is spotty at best and ridiculously undervalued.
    According to George Dobell, the ECB consider the value of the County Championship’s TV coverage in the current TV deal to be £0, the T20 Blast at about £7.5m and the One Day Cup somewhere in between. Let’s be generous and say that the overall value is £10m per year. By contrast, BT Sport recently paid Cricket Australia £16m per year for coverage of their international team and the Big Bash League. For cricket which occurs entirely between midnight and noon, BT have paid around 60% more than Sky have paid for the ability to schedule almost 6 months of cricket in a much more valuable timeslot.
    Then there’s the current T20 proposals. The ECB expects to receive a deal of between £35m-£40m for an 8 team tournament of 36 televised T20 games. On Sky Sport’s current schedule for their 2017 cricket coverage, they list 34 T20 Blast games with more to be confirmed. So a similar number of televised games, quite frankly a similar standard of play, and yet for some reason one is worth 5x more than the other?
    It’s my opinion that in order to survive not against corporate raiders but the ECB’s incompetence, the counties must wrest back control of their own TV rights after 2019. It doesn’t seem unrealistic that, without being restricted by not showing any county games whilst the England team are playing, the counties could easily get as much money as they would for the proposed self-destructive T20 Franchise league.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. "IronBalls" McGinty March 20, 2017 / 10:11 am

    Sigh!! On reflection, I’ve struggled to think of one thing that those empty suited money grubbing weasels have done for “the good of the sport” “Guardians of the game”???…my arse!!
    Somewhere in my Utopian dreams I envisage the Counties finally getting rid of the whole lot of em, starting again, and returning the joy of the sport back to the common man…as they say..”in your dreams!”

    Like

  3. Mark March 20, 2017 / 10:47 am

    The ECB created 20/20 as a saviour to the test match game. It was the new shiny “product” for the hippidy hoppidy kids with their funny music, and strange headphones. “Don’t worry” they said. it’s just a bit of fun that will bring in some much needed revenue. They had invented a monster, and very soon, like all mad scientist created monsters, they would lose control of it. I believe it was the formation of the IPL which lead to the Stanford debacle. The ECB panicked as they suddenly saw the terrifying sight of all their top players trotting off in April/May to earn fortunes instead of playing test cricket for England. They needed a good earner to keep the players sweet. So they hatched the Stanford cash register. It was never meant to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to be the players becoming multi millionaires. Oh no. The money was supposed to be kept by the greedy governing bodies to subsidise test cricket. How did that work out? And so in came the restrictions and bans. KP was the first real conflict of interest in the new “product” wars. This conflict of interest would in time through endless disputes and rows lead to his sacking 3 years ago. But he was not alone. Across the world players fell out with their boards. Notably in the WI where players left to earn fortunes as free agents. Dave Cameron could offer little instead.

    As Dmitri notes, the formation of The football Premiership was sold on the same high principles. Do you remember all the blue prints and hot air about how the new Premier league would lead to a better more successful England national team? The road to hell is always paved with good intensions.

    But many saw through this right from the start. I remember Ian Smith the former Kwi wicket keeper and commentator ( not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like him) pointing out early on that this would completely change test cricket. Because the new heroes were going to be the old fashioned village green blacksmiths. The Jessie Ryder types who could smash a 12 over hundred. Who wants to bat slowly and carefully for 90 overs, seeing off two new balls? Instead a days work would be about 60 balls of smashing fours & sixes. Then back into the shed for a beer and a pie. Thanks for coming, and good night. Imagine a modern day 13/14 year old Geoff Boycott heading off to the nets with his ECB coaching manual? Elbow out, front foot forward defence…block, block, block. While all the time in the other net a gym pumped iron man smashes it to all parts and then heads off to his agent to pick up a million $ contract. I don’t blame the players for which one they choose.

    Test cricket is already changing. The % of wins by away teams is dropping. The frequency of rear guard actions has declined. (As if to prove me wrong as I write this Australia are carrying one out) Many test matches now follow a similar plot. One team gets ahead in the first two days, and then the other capitulates, with a 4 day or even 3 day loss. So now the snake oil salesman are back. Having sold us 20/20 to save test cricket, they now return to tell us test matches must be reduced to 4 days to save it again. This will only change test cricket further. Why score 600 in a four day match? Instead quick fire 350s will be what is required. How long before Harrison is back telling us that 3 day Test would be the solution?

    Like

  4. SimonH March 20, 2017 / 11:01 am

    Well, there goes another alibi of the 4-0….

    Somebody needs to tell the Australians that modern bish-bash-bosh batsmen can’t bat out a Test to save a game.

    Like

    • "IronBalls" McGinty March 20, 2017 / 12:34 pm

      Careful Simon, you’ll be “loving test cricket to death” and we can’t have that now, can we? :-/

      Like

    • oreston March 20, 2017 / 3:58 pm

      Never mind, four day tests will rid us of these excruciating bore draws…

      Like

      • man in a barrel March 20, 2017 / 6:33 pm

        If the new Ausssie batsmen are able to perform against whatever attack England may be able to cobble together at the end of this year, there could be trouble for The Product. Heavy losses against both India and Australia will surely convince the fans that England has a tarnished brand.

        Like

  5. SimonH March 20, 2017 / 1:34 pm

    Haigh on the recent ICC shenanigans:

    “A recurrent complaint during the stand-off in the wake of the Bengaluru Test was about the lack of leadership at the International Cricket Council. On Wednesday the complaint achieved literal truth: the ICC’s chairman, Shashank Manohar, suddenly resigned, eight months into a two-year term, without a word to his fellow directors, without anointing a successor.

    Manohar’s resignation, “for personal reasons”, followed his meeting with representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India who advised that they could not support his mooted new ICC financial model. He denies any connection between the meeting and his departure, correlation is not causation etc etc. But, y’know, c’mon…..

    while the headlines of this Border-Gavaskar Trophy have pitted India against Australia, the backstory has been the BCCI ­versus itself, with interim administrators accountable to the Supreme Court, state associations accountable to themselves, and a disgruntled ex-administrators accountable to nobody….

    Anyway, when Rai, Limaye and CEO Rahul Johri met Manohar this week, and advised their countryman that the BCCI’s interim committee would not support the in-principle decision of the ICC’s executive board made on February 5, they recalled that famous negotiation exchange between Churchill and de Gaulle.

    Shocked that the Frenchman was proving so intransigent from a terribly shaky position, Churchill asked: “Cannot you make me any concessions?” Replied de Gaulle: “No. I am too weak.”

    Yet the BCCI’s position is also not unjustified: the new financial model on the table might be more equitable, but by being cooked up from arbitrary numbers and opaque calculations invites the same criticism as the ‘Big Three’ scam.

    Nor should it have come as a surprise that the BCCI had drawn the boards of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to its side, ­sufficient to throw into doubt next month’s meeting to ratify the reforms….

    Some argued that disarray at the BCCI was an opportunity to push the reform cause without the necessity for Indian support — there was, no doubt, an element of payback after the indignities of the ‘Big Three’. But as a tactic it always looked too clever by half, and right now appears misguided in the same proportion”.

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  6. AB March 20, 2017 / 1:58 pm

    Cricket is a complex ecosystem with multiple inter-linked and mutually dependent parts. Amateur cricket, junior cricket, county cricket, international cricket. Players, coaches, fans and administrators.

    The success of professional cricket is entirely measured by the extent to which it fulfils its role in the growth of the overall ecosystem. The role of professional cricket (whether county or international) is to attract attention to the game, to entertain and enthuse existing members of the community and to inspire new people to come into cricket.

    At the moment professional cricket is largely unfit for purpose, because it doesn’t fulfil its role in growing the overall size of the game – but the people in charge are so stupid, they don’t even really understand why or how that is. Its like they’ve never actually even sat down and thought about what the ECB is for – or if they did, they didn’t have the sufficient intelligence to come up with the right answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andy March 20, 2017 / 3:21 pm

      Like so many ‘mainstream’ sports, the governing bodies swing more towards profit and shareholders than growth and getting ‘the product’ infront of people. Almost forgetting that if they grow it with new participants, they will get more cash anyway.

      This is the problem. The sport / competition aspect goes away in lieu of making money and getting a big paycheck.

      This was the main reason for the Big Three – they wanted all the monies.
      It appears the BCCI still want all the monies.

      The ECB demonstrably want to play series that make money rather than those that struggle (I would love to see a serious breakdown of the cost to the ECB for hosting NZ / SL vs AUS / IND for example).

      While I think everyone can agree that sports need to make their own money – in the pursuit of that they forgot about providing a balanced sporting competition.

      Like

      • dannycricket March 20, 2017 / 6:41 pm

        Surely the most damning thing about the ECB’s incompetence in financial matters is that they sold everything they could for the highest price they could negotiate, and yet it’s clearly not enough to sustain even the pre-2005 level of cricket in this country. And having negotiated a comprehensive TV deal which can’t fully finance the game, they also made it so it lasted seven years. It’s truly breathtaking in its stupidity. Imagine working in a business where your boss comes in and tells you that he’s signed a contract to sell something for £70m a year that costs you £90m to make, and you can only sell exclusively to this single buyer for seven years. A normal business would simply collapse in such circumstances, but a sport has the unique ability to squeeze its fans for more and more money.

        Liked by 2 people

      • man in a barrel March 20, 2017 / 9:17 pm

        Compare with how the “old farts” at the RFU have managed to turn an elite sport into something as hyped as the Six Nations and club rugby is not overlooked. Once shabby clubs such as Saracens and Harlequins are now “brand ambassadors”. Compare with the big counties – Yorks, Warwickshire, Surrey, Kent, Middlesex, Lancashire – all surviving by clinging on with their toenails or by private money. There must be lessons to learn from US sports but we will learn the wrong ones. How does baseball survive with its huge season and games when most people are working? Doesn’t each team play about 50 matches?

        Like

      • AB March 21, 2017 / 10:27 am

        MLB teams play 162 regular season games, plus around 20 spring training games, plus up to 20 post season games, all in front of crowds between 30,000 and 50,000 people.

        There are 30 major league teams plus ~ 100 professional minor league teams who draw crowds of around 5-10,000 people.

        The tv rights for the MLB come to several billions of dollars.

        So what does the baseball administration do so right that cricket does wrong?

        Well, unlike the ECB attitude towards cricket, the MLB clearly love baseball. Just look at the mlb website. It promotes history, tradition, rivalries, it promotes the incredible skill of its athletes and the passion of its fans. It treats fans seriously and doesn’t patronise them or baby them – it expects people to know what the difference between a slider and a cutter is, or what WHIP stands for and why it matters. It ensures the uniforms and stadia are distinctive and iconic, that each team has its own identity, that a day at the baseball is a fantastic family experience, that tickets prices are kept low (cheaper seats just $10), and that the game is as visible as possible. More venues, more games, shown on multiple different channels, a dedicated online channels with access to every single game, and highlight packages and clip reels professionally produced and available online and pushed onto news channels every day.

        The ECB are about 100 years behind in terms of figuring out how to market and promote a sport.

        Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH March 21, 2017 / 9:44 am

      The Guardian’s account of the Olympic venue has some quotes from Harrison not carried by Sale:

      1) “It would be an amazing statement – 60,000 people in a ground in the UK watching World Cup cricket. It’s making a statement about what cricket means in this country.”

      If “unique” is a word that sets LCL’s whiskers twitching, then “statement” trips my wires. It shows they’re thinking about what something symbolises and how it fits into a narrative rather than the thing in and of itself. True “statements” emerge organically and in retrospect – these attempts to manufacture “statements” are pure hubris.

      2) “It’s the right time to put cricket at the forefront of a child’s experience…. It’s about winning the battle of the playground”.

      Was there a wrong time to appeal to children? And calling trying to appeal to children “the battle of the playground” is just nauseating.

      3) “We don’t want to have a question mark about being relevant.”

      Protesting a bit too much I think…..

      My best guess about what’s going on is that they wanted to set up a T20 tournament out of envy at the BBL and their own market research they conducted to flog the idea to the counties has scared the bejesus out of them. Typical of a poorly-run monolith with no checks-and-balances, they put all their eggs in one centrally-decided basket and lurch from one extreme to the other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mark March 21, 2017 / 10:43 am

        I thought it was pretty cool when 5 million people watched the ashes on free to air tv. By all accounts the ECB prefer just 60 thousand in the ground.

        “It’s about winning the battle of the playground”

        And you just know some hipster with a PR company came up with that bullshit statement. The ECB spends too much time down at Sandhurst with their corporate think tank partners mixing with military talking points.

        My guess is they desperately want to attract the UK Asian community as they see them as a group to exploit. They were very disappointed a few years ago when they held the Pak vs Aus test matches here. They thought the Pak community in Bradford would turnout in big numbers for the Leeds test. They didn’t. Some blamed the ticket prices others that the target audience wanted one day cricket. The ECB is now in the business of cricket. It’s not a governing body anymore. It wants to cash in.

        Like

  7. SimonH March 21, 2017 / 9:28 am

    Think your gob can’t be smacked any more by the ECB? Try this:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cricket/2017/03/20/joe-root-told-england-must-play-exciting-cricket-even-leads/

    The captain’s on-field strategy is dictated by the CEO. There’s not even any pretense otherwise. “It’s a very deliberate strategy”. Root has to be guided by what he thinks will excite five year olds – and what will also, coincidentally, work best for covering the ECB’s arses (“we understand that it’s more likely you’re going to be forgiven for having a bad day if you’re doing everything to try to win a game”). England wouldn’t have played like Australia yesterday. Marsh (definitely) and Handscomb (probably) wouldn’t be in the team because they aren’t exciting enough. Marketing has openly taken over.

    Harrison is also quoted as wanting cricket in the Olympics. “It doesn’t have universal support at the moment”, he says. Start with your own man at the ICC because Giles Clarke has been one of the biggest opponents of the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andy March 21, 2017 / 10:04 am

      I’ve not read the article yet (but I’m going to throw this out there anyway).

      It’s almost like they are admitting that their time with Cook as captain was boring and didn’t entice new fans to the sport….

      Liked by 2 people

    • Mark March 21, 2017 / 10:49 am

      Laughable but not surprising. Oh well, Root has a ready made excuse when England lose. He can blame it on the empty suits above for dictating the style of play.

      Ironies of ironies….. he can now use the……” It’s the way I play” ….defence when he gets out. You Cant make this stuff up!

      Like

      • SimonH March 21, 2017 / 12:47 pm

        Harrison comes across like Simon Cowell. The England team feel like some synthetic boy/girl band manufactured to appeal to a target demographic. Their back stories are becoming more important than their talent (all those bloody articles about Hameed – Mark’s dead right that they long to break the Asian demographic and turn on that revenue tap). Now Harrison wants to write their songs too by telling them how to play.

        Another influence never far away is of course football. A lot of this is out of the Sky handbook about the “most exciting league in the world”. There’s a fundamental contempt for the spectator’s ability to understand the complexities of the game. Attacking play is lionised, defending treated as redundant – and the result is England don’t win anything as they can’t defend (and our “word-class” strikers look clueless when they come up against some proper defenders).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark March 21, 2017 / 1:27 pm

        That’s a brilliant comparison Simon. The ECB are the manipulators behind the scenes. The Stars chosen for their various marketability. The right type of scool, the right type of family. Individual thought is not encouraged. The lyrics are bland and non offensive.

        England are now the Spice girls of cricket. Or One Direction. And One direction is an apt name for this arsehatery.

        Andrew Straus and Harrison as Simon Cowell. Or is it the Brian Epstein of cricket? Sounds like they want to attract the Ravi Shanker demographic. That was another Harrison (George) who brought in the Indian element.

        Like

      • SimonH March 21, 2017 / 2:39 pm

        Sporty Spice = Root.
        Scary Spice = Stokes.
        Ginger Spice = YJB.
        Posh Spice = you know who.
        Baby Spice = Hameed.

        Liked by 1 person

    • SteveT March 21, 2017 / 3:32 pm

      ‘Previous Test captain Alastair Cook was criticised during much of his time in charge for being too defensive ‘
      Really, by whom? maybe by Shane Warne until he was effectively gagged by Clarke and Geoff Boycott. Can’t think of many others. Obviously they are rewriting history again!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Northern Light March 21, 2017 / 7:31 pm

        It wasn’t his defensiveness so much as his utter lack of tactical acumen and his inability to change things on the hoof. Not that he ever really got criticized at all.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. "IronBalls" McGinty March 21, 2017 / 10:29 am

    I’m hoping against hope that the county chairmen tell his emptiness to eff off on Monday. I guess he can count on the Yorkshire vote, being as Headingley’s screwed, so that particular turkey will vote for Christmas?

    Like

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