The State Of This Blog Address

It seems that time of year for awards, the dawning of a new season, and the end to a pretty long dry spell in terms of things to really write about. So in the self-regarding, introspective manner I’ve brought to my epic scale of self-indulgence over the past few years, I thought I’d set out where I see this blog, the cricket writing landscape in general, and more importantly the game itself from this writer’s perspective. You might like it, you might not. But here goes.

The excitement is growing for the traditional start of the domestic cricket season, with the first game in the IPL starting today (Wednesday). Of course our County Championship starts on Friday with a lot less hoopla than I recall this time in the last three years. This may not be an accident, given the ECB’s and County relationship could be filed under the Facebook status “it’s complicated”, but there has not been the traffic on other blogs I read or the newspapers and their BTL sophisticates as the last couple of years. I think we all feel rather beat up by the relentless demeaning of the county scene by people who should know better, culminating in the downright offensive “obsessives” muttered by the Empty Suit a couple of weeks ago.

I found out last year that county cricket really doesn’t float the boat of those who read this blog – and it was pointed out to me! We did a bit of a preview and the interest wasn’t great. Now, I don’t write to generate hits, but because I think I have something to say, but this year I just can’t be bothered to do anything in depth on a competition that the governing body has messed about with again, with a team relegated reinstated to the top division (and by pure coincidence, a toadying owner who did the ECB’s bidding), and a second division with an oddball format which is justified by “this happened 20 or 30 years ago, so why are you moaning?”

The governing body clearly wants first class cricket, but it is determined to strangle it until it pleads for mercy, and quite possibly to control it and concentrate it. I have concerns, and Durham should be the canary in the goldmine. As a Surrey fan I think it is terrible that Stoneman and Borthwick, who sound like a firm of accountants, have had to leave Durham and play for my team. I welcome them, of course, but wouldn’t it be better if they were playing for the county they should always be associated with? But Durham have been the victims of the ECB expansion programme, despite arguably having every bit as sustainable a business model as the team that stayed up in their place.

So while I will definitely attend some county cricket this year, and if you fancy meeting up for a light beverage and some decent cricket, get in touch (current plans are Guildford on 9th June, the Surrey v Essex T20, a day of Surrey v Middlesex in the August Bank Holiday week, and a couple of post-tea visits to the Oval if I can nip out early enough) this blog won’t concentrate on it unless something makes us. You can, of course, put any relevant thoughts in comments and open threads which I will repeat from last year, but it is clear this blog is here to address three or four key points:

  • International cricket, and England in particular
  • ECB and ICC governance
  • The press and TV coverage of cricket
  • Nostalgia, and how it WAS so much better in my day!

We’ve a busy and interesting next 12 months ahead. It could be the make or break of us. We will probably look back on the past three months as a period of rest, and in Sean’s case, purgatory. We will jump into a Champions Trophy in a couple of months’ time, followed by the test series against South Africa and then a series of international cricket against a team purporting to represent the West Indies. There’s a short break for England before we go into Ashes mode again (was it really 2 years ago) and then we play New Zealand after that, do we not? It’s kamikaze scheduling and like the previous Ashes cycle, who knows how many will survive it and come out the other end intact and reputations enhanced? And I might be talking about us here on the blog!

Which means the blog needs to up its game if it is to stay in the vanguard (hark at me) of the malcontent world. I have felt that the blog has drifted this winter, and not just because of the lack of cricket I am very responsible for this as I have to say that at this time cricket is not in the front of my mind. It has been a hectic last three months in my life – health issues within my family causing time to be seriously constrained, and at times, really worrying – but things might be stabilising a little.

But I’ve also not been myself on here. For the first time I pulled an article because I was not prepared to attack someone who I thought deserved it. It was, for once, Lawrence Booth, for the Cricketer article on Paul Downton, and one line in particular regarding you might “question his actions, but you can’t question that his heart was in the right place”. A man, Downton, who brought the world the title of our blog had his heart in precisely the wrong place – that there was an inside and outside cricket – and he absolutely needs to still be called on it. But I couldn’t. I wasn’t in the frame of mind to do it. I’ve stewed over that draft article and never finished it.

I can’t let that happen again. As you might have noticed, I’ve not pulled my punches on Tom Harrison or the cabal putting the T20 show together. It’s always much harder to hit the ones you have more time for than the ones you don’t.

I have to say that the cricket blogging world frustrates me at the moment. A few years ago I thought we had tacit support from some, and an undercurrent egging us on. Now, not so much. In many ways I feel that we are looked upon as some sort of mad outlier, and if there wasn’t anything to moan about, then we would find it. When HDWLIA, which I still see as this blog but with a different name, got traction I was, behind the scenes, approached quite a lot by a wide cadre of cricket “insiders”. Sure, we got our enemies too – having forthright opinions and not putting up with nonsense does that – but we see a fair bit of what we said then, and how we said it, reflected in some of the mainstream journalism.

There’s no credit to be claimed, and none would be given anyway, but the dial might have been pushed by the resounding way we, and you, put the cases for the prosecution. I don’t see that now. Did you feel much blogging anger at the way the T20 league is being imposed? I didn’t. I saw a bit BTL, I saw a bit on Twitter and in some of the papers. The comments were more on Twitter where key proponents of the new way (some of the old school) were lambasted by all and sundry.

Having said I played safe with one piece, I see a lot of playing safe now by others. It’s a shame. I see bloggers drifting away. I see the new bloggers mentioned in Wisden are not the regular content deliverers but more considered writers. I congratulate them all, and know what it did for me when I got the mention. I really, sincerely, hope they keep on going.

There are some others that disappointed me, who perhaps used the rage we had, and the wave we got on to, for their own purposes and now ignore or degrade us. I’m still a pretty sensitive soul, and believe in being true to yourself. I have never been cocksure about my own position, but drive content by the way I feel. I try not to act like I know it all, because I don’t. It’s something I can’t say comes across with others who I once thought were fellow travelers. Maybe they never were. Us and the Full Toss produce content, we think it is decent content, time after time, while never talking down to you (I believe) and yet I feel others don’t act that way. Just a thought.

The blog itself is ticking along nicely with hits. Where, on a really quiet day, in the past we might struggle to get 200 hits a day, and 50 visitors, we never get less than a hundred visitors each day and we get over 450 hits most days. That’s our worst days. It means we are read regularly by a decent number of people. We don’t have vast networks, we rarely go overboard publicising our posts (I find it somewhat depressing to see people new to the field go to the celebrities and ask for a retweet – I sort of did it once, and regretted it) but we have longevity and stickability. We rarely go a week without something being put up, and during peak season we try to limit ourselves to one post a day (the catchphrase on Whatsapp between us is “let it breathe”) because often there are more talking points. I’m glad we are a niche, I’m glad we offer something a little different to the mainstream. I’m also absolutely indebted to the two other editors, and to all the loyal support and comments we get. I say it often because I never take it for granted.

I am not motivated by hits as the main purpose. Writing a piece that goes down well, gets people talking, and I feel resonates means more to me than the volume of people who see it. We could bombard Twitter and Facebook with this, but don’t. Not really. I love the guest posts by people who love the sport and want to contribute, and we’ve had Simon, Andy and even NonOxCol put posts up. We’d love to see more, so drop us a line if you have any thoughts. You might even want to do one of our Test Match or ODI reports as these are quite often the difficult ones when it comes to availability of scribes. This involvement is what keeps us ticking over.

The journalistic landscape is definitely changing, but also there is still the resonance of the big beasts out there. I don’t think anyone with a clue can think that Nick Hoult, George Dobell, Ali Martin, Jon Hotten, Tim Wigmore, Lawrence Booth et al are not a vast improvement on the Selfey/Bunkers/Muppet axis. They will write things I disagree with, and even try too hard for my tastes at times, but those six, off the top of my head, are people I read because I find they have something interesting to say. I have to say that a lot of the others disappoint, concentrating more on being safe with the authorities than being honest with their readership. I mean, love him or loathe him, and you know where I stand, Newman at least has something to say and is interesting to read, and I owe him royalties for the amount of posts he has driven on here. Given I’ve lost three of my key ingredients, I need Newman to stick around.

Which brings me to the others. The one thing, as you know, that drove me nuts was Selfey saying he was going to do a blog, and not only that, he wasn’t going to do it for the love of it, but to monetise it. I wonder how long that market research took. Denis, with one n, put him straight with an “it doesn’t work like that”, but no. I’ve not seen it yet. Perhaps, just perhaps, someone like Mike will realise how much bloody hard work goes into blogging, and that it isn’t just a nice old recreational pursuit that any old sap could do. This blog is maintained, one way or another, nearly every day. I never, for one minute, think of myself as a journalist. I am a blogger. I never pretended that I was one of them. Nor, for one minute, should they think they are one of us. I won’t let that little beauty lie on here. Selfey’s blog is going to be up there with Alastair Cook’s promise to tell everyone why KP was sacked.

One of the seminal posts on here, the one that got the most attention in the last 12 months, was the Outside Cricket List. Obviously the idea derived from the pretentious, tone deaf, totally ludicrous list in the Cricketer magazine. Of course, the one that got to me most was the editor of that publication anointing himself as one of the top 50 movers and shakers, and not conveying any ounce of humility in doing so. It wanted attention, it got it. It also begged to be parodied.

This is the sort of thing Chris, Sean and I do best. Chris is the calmer head, the incisor, the homing missile of the blog. He is also the one who gives the least shit about what people think about him. Sean has my anger gene, definitely, and has the advantage of giving less of a shit than I do. I’m the worrier, believe it or not. I’m the one who thought a couple of the names were unwise, but they convinced me (not that I had a veto) to go for it. The result was a spectacular success in terms of feedback and hits. It could be a little OTT, but we weren’t being entirely serious. What we watched for most was the reactions of the names contained within it. It told us a lot. It will take a lot to top that for co-ordination, speed of writing, editing and cross-checking. I worried, I needn’t have. I’m in safe hands with those two. I learned to give less of a shit what people thought of me, but then, I am who I am. The diva to his driver.

That’s blogging. We’re not after awards, or to be awarded a writing gig for someone else. If that’s your thing as a blogger, then fine. It’s not a one size fits all. It’s also not a quick route to stardom and fame. To those fortunate enough to get mentioned in Wisden today, keep your feet on the ground, continue the hard work, and write about the game. We need more people to write about it, to show the world there is a core of fans who love the game, and aren’t in it for something else. It’s why I admire Tim Wigmore a lot, because he keeps his feet on the ground and writes for the supporters of the sport better than most. I had a fascinating chat with him at Lord’s about the way he worked, and what he went through at a Cricket World Cup, and it wasn’t the life of bleedin’ Riley. He’s a reporter, but working on a lot of subjects others won’t touch. I appreciate him a lot.

So, on to the next year. It’s been a tough year. A year where we have done our thing, got the people on board, passed 750000 hits in just over two years (but I’m not obsessed about it) and all being well we’ll make it to a million later this year. Not bad for a bunch of social media zealots, bilious inadequates and vile ignoramuses.

Have a great season.

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53 thoughts on “The State Of This Blog Address

  1. "IronBalls" McGinty April 5, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    This blog is like a Test match. It has it’s ebbs and flows, great passages of play, other times quiet, but always nuanced, when one could maybe have a snooze, stroke the dog, but knowing, just knowing, that someone, or something, would ignite the spark that brings the match alive.
    Not for instant gratification, but a timeless sense of satisfaction that comes with the patience to wait for events to surely unfold.
    Everything evolves..and, in my opinion, this wonderful blog is evolving in totally the right way to encapsulate the interest of those with no voice, yet still have the love of the game, but the integrity to accept no bullshit.
    Thank you, really thank you all for providing this blog for all cricket lovers of integrity and self determination!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Mark April 5, 2017 / 9:36 pm

      I second all that!

      Like

      • BobW April 7, 2017 / 9:24 am

        Hear hear. This blog is a great read that gives me immense enjoyment. You, the team and often the contributors with their comments make me think about the game and challenge the views of those in cricketing authority. I love this blog. I do understand though as with most blogs there tends to be a natural life span. I have seen other blogs start and fall by the wayside which just goes to show how much work is needed to continually keep things relevant and fresh.
        If anything I feel a little guilty at times of not posting more as these blogs also rely on people posting to encourage debate and discussion.
        As I said before, keep up the good work.

        Like

  2. Mark April 5, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    A summer about to unfold with South Africa coming here, and then a winter tour down under for the Ashes should be something to really look forward to. But it is a measure of how far the cricket elites have lost the plot that I don’t have much enthusiasm. The rumours are that SA will come with not a full strength team. We will see. Then onto Aus. An Ashes down under was one of my sporting highlights. Every 4 years like a football World Cup. Heck we even have a new captain thank the Lord. So why my lack excitement?

    The last 4 years has seen cricket completely change in my view. What appeared to be just the sacking of of one player, KP was far, far bigger. His removal symbolised a power grab within English cricket. Individual thought from players was to be stamped out, individual thought from the majority of the media (those who wanted to keep access) was also stamped out,and now the same is true for county chairman, and anyone who does not toe the line. This is increasingly a tyranny. They already have made it clear that we are not wanted if we don’t buy into the new 20/20. I think some people who were hostile to KP, and maybe did genuinely support Cook have come to realise that the ECB is not there friend. They will never admit that we may have had a point.

    Who knows how long test cricket will last? 20 years? 50 years? 5 years? Are we supporting something that is no longer loved by the people running the game? They keep farting around with it. Day night tests, pink balls, 4 day tests. Can you blame me for doubting this thing will still be here in a few years time?

    As for the county championship, what happened last year with Durham was again what you expect from a tyranny. A team relegated and a favoured team kept in div 1. Why the fuck should I give a shit about something that is so badly managed? Will County cricket last? 20 years? 50 years? 5 years? Who knows?

    As for 39, the fact he nominated himslef has one of the most important people in cricket told you everything you need to know about him. On the other hand maybe he really is one of the most important people in cricket. After all, he is leading the way (lemming like) to the brave new world of meaningless 20/20 played by teams that no one supports, and says it’s all about new people who like an event. Why not give them baseball 39?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Julie April 5, 2017 / 10:15 pm

    And I’ll third it !!! Thank you.🤗

    Like

  4. Rooto April 6, 2017 / 4:40 am

    Good to read that the old enthusiasm and determination are still burning. Please accept our deep appreciation and thanks for the pleasure, fun, knowledge and pure conduit for expression and exasperation that you provide. More power to your collective elbows, and next time you visit down here, give us a bell!

    Like

  5. SimonH April 6, 2017 / 11:07 am

    Many thanks to our splendid hosts and all who comment here. Like many, I think I’d give up the game in despair if I don’t know there are like-minded people out there (not that I don’t want to read well-intentioned pieces and comments from other perspectives as well).

    I’ll keep my eyes out for any ICC developments this month. I’ve seen nothing since Manohar’s bizarre un-resignation.

    Hopefully, this hiatus can be used to get the updated Glossary into place!

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus April 6, 2017 / 11:08 am

      Funnily enough I started on it last night with your suggestions. Feel free to add more!

      Like

      • SimonH April 6, 2017 / 12:12 pm

        I hope others will add some more!

        Anyone want to take #39?….

        Like

      • SimonH April 6, 2017 / 3:07 pm

        Not forgetting Shiny Toy….

        Like

  6. dlpthomas April 6, 2017 / 11:32 am

    750000 hits is fucking amazing!

    Like

  7. Benny April 6, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    Don’t think I’ve missed a day since I first discovered this excellent blog. I’m quite happy there isn’t a daily update as it gives me time to eventually get round to posting a comment before the next topic appears. Like I’ve said a few times, this blog feels like a local pub where I can drop in and chew the fat with people whose company I enjoy.

    I didn’t make a single championship match last season but still have a fondness for county cricket because there is nothing to match being out in the fresh air, hopefully with some sunshine, the hustle and bustle of daily life missing, and relaxing while some skillful cricketers entertain.

    For me, the biggest damage to county cricket was inflicted by the introduction of central contracts. I remember and treasure great performances by special players not matches. Just at Hove, I’ve been priviliged to watch Sir Viv, John Snow, Both, Imran Khan, Wayne Daniel, Hales, Monty …..
    A couple of years ago, I just had to be at the early season Notts match knowing I’d see Swann, Broad, Hales and the sublime Chris Read. Heroes are essential.

    Many, many thanks to the three of you for your hard work, commonsense and anger. Hope life is kinder to you soon.

    Like

  8. metatone April 6, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    Family wise this has been a hell of a year gone past (and not in a good way.) I live in hope that things might be getting better, but have to say, sport in general has not had the same appeal for me.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus April 6, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      I understand completely. I am losing the love for sport in many spheres but still watch a lot. Tonight it’s the Sox v Pirates to see if my team can start 3-0.

      Like

  9. SimonH April 6, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    Scyld Berry’s back after a break and, boy, is it a doozy!

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cricket/2017/04/06/andrew-strauss-joe-root-have-england-cricket-safe-hands-county/

    It’s like a particularly soppy teenage girl has taken her secret love letters to Andrew Strauss and posted it as a cricket article.

    “The essential fact at this season’s start is that the sport in modern times has never been better governed than it is now”.

    If I start fisking this, it’s going to be a 1000 words long. Just read it, and keep picking your jaw up off the floor…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark April 6, 2017 / 7:53 pm

      With apologies to all here, but I’m sorry I can’t let this pass without comment.

      “Assuming the postal ballot confirms the changing of an article in the ECB constitution to allow franchises, this will be not a revolution but an evolution achieved by consensus, with everyone pulling together: the hallmark of Strauss whether as England captain or director.”

      This is vomit inducing but it is also a lie. If consensus means pushing out anyone who disagrees with you, and bribing the remaining counties with £1.3 million then your definition of consensus sounds more akin to Hitlers “Consensus” that Poland & France would like to be governed from Berlin.

      But hang on a minute you then say this……..

      ““You can’t please everyone,” both of them said; and a governing body, if it even tries to, will fail”

      Ah, so much for you consensus then. It’s basically a steamroller, and if you don’t want to get flattened you better get out of the way?

      And on the 8 franchises we get this…….

      ” Clare Connor, the ECB’s director of women’s cricket, made the point that counties had ceased to produce a good national women’s team and had to be replaced by franchises – it will not survive.”

      So this an attempt to replace the counties in the long term? It is a power grab, and if the counties don’t perform the franchises will take over County cricket as well?

      “Preserving the game as it is would only succeed in the short term. Research data, observation, anecdotal evidence, all combine to insist that cricket is diminishing in popularity.”

      How about an acknowledgement that those on the outside of cricket have been warning about this for a decade, and oafs like you have not taken any notice until it is spoon fed to you by your great new heroes Strauss & empty suit.

      “Eight England players are taking part in the Indian Premier League, not only cashing in but gaining big-match experience which will help the six who play in the Champions Trophy: again this has been engineered by Strauss and consensus, not like the West Indian board which prefers confrontation, fall-outs and bans.”

      One almost marvels at the complete idiocy, and alternative universe this man must live in. This is straight out of George Orwell’s……. up is down and left is right. Does he really believe this dog vomit? So cashing in at the IPL is now seen by Strauss, and the ECB as a good thing? Because it certainly wasn’t when KP wanted to do that. Remember KP? The man hounded out of English cricket because he was apparently greedy, and selfish and wanted a piece of the action? And who helped to hound him out? A certain man who called him a cunt, and then on the day he scored over 300 said we have no vacancies in the middle order. Oh yes, the man you claim is of consensus. Are you this fucking stupid or are you just a liar?

      “Joe Root has taken over, the Test captaincy as well is in another pair of safe hands.”

      Why do I think that if Mr Blobby had be made the New England captain your nose would be rammed up Strauss backside telling us this was an inspired choice, and Mr Blobby could phone Noel Edmonds for advice?

      If ever you wanted to see a piece of cowardly “access” journalism, then this is it. It should come with a govt health warning………”There now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of the ECB, and are my free tickets in the post?”

      Liked by 2 people

      • SimonH April 6, 2017 / 8:09 pm

        Two more lines that grabbed my attention:

        “Cricket followers of the first millenium AD were no doubt outraged when traditional fixtures like Eboracum v Londinium were scrapped after the Normans introduced new-fangled counties”.

        Straight out of the dinosaurs, old-fashioned, old-men-with thermoses handbook.

        “All that remains is for England’s Test team to move forward again, as their white-ball teams have done under Eoin Morgan, having gone backwards last year”.

        All that remains!? What, it’s only the main thing they’re responsible for!

        The whole thing read to me like a virtual declaration of war on the counties. If the NWB declines, it’s nothing but their fault? Not the result of abysmal marketing and stripping it of its best players? I can’t help feeling that, with the DT having published some moderately critical articles on the ECB (not that critical – Hoult has denied on Twitter he was saying the ECB were “bullying”), that they had to publish something this grovelling. Or maybe Berry’s just this bonkers?

        Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus April 6, 2017 / 8:36 pm

        What in the name of fuck is this?

        The ECB is still human. The new campaign of All Stars, designed to attract children before they reach ten, will increase participation but only that of the existing middle-class by charging £40 per child per course; this does little to lure Afro-Caribbeans back to cricket.

        I mean, seriously. Stereotype, broad brush, stuff straight from the Stone Age. There are poor in all communities, just as there is money in all too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mark April 6, 2017 / 8:59 pm

        Yes Simon, I saw the first millennium AD bit, but couldn’t be bothered to put it in, such a lame joke. If he wanted to make a better point he could have gone back to the 19 th century, and teams playing money matches.

        But as you say, an attack on those old timers who have propped up cricket for decades, now to be cast aside in the White Heat of bullshit and focus groups. Thanks for coming, oh you can’t operate our new shinny ECB App? now fuck off!

        And all the while this brown nosing of Strauss running like liquid shit through the whole piece. One of the great sadnesses of modern cricket is to watch the media become nothing more than paid shrills for the governing body.

        I still haven’t seen anything to explain how franchise 20/20 cricket is going to improve county cricket. Remember the blue print for the start of the Premiership, and how this was going to improve the England national team? 25 years later we are knocked out by Iceland. In 25 more years we will be knocked out by Iceland the frozen food chain.

        Like

      • d'Arthez April 7, 2017 / 5:34 pm

        Clare Connor apparently does not want to acknowledge that part of the reason England’s women were so successful is that the ECB were just about the only board willing to spend some money on women’s cricket (and to a lesser extent CA).

        Now that the other boards have caught on, England simply does not dominate as much as it used to. But I suppose we should all look rosy-eyed how professionals beat up a bunch of amateurs, and call that fair competition.

        Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus April 6, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      Not a firework, not a celebrity, not a pom-pom in sight

      Minor gripe. I’ve been to a decent number of US baseball games. There are no pom pom cheerleaders at baseball. Wrong sport you old tit.

      Like

    • LordCanisLupus April 6, 2017 / 8:46 pm

      Jim Holden won Article of the Year in 2015
      Oliver Holt snatched it with his commando raid in 2016.
      We have our 2017 front runner with this tide of effluent. It’s like someone read this blog and said “I know, I’m going all in to really piss them off”.

      Like

      • Mark April 6, 2017 / 9:10 pm

        I thought that Dmitri. It’s almost a checklist designed to piss of those outside cricket, and delivered with a pompus clever dick delivery . Have you noticed how these charlatans now pounce about warning everyone about the dying of the game as if nobody has been screaming this from the rooftops?

        I mentioned baseball the other day. Saying they might as well import the game lock stock and barrel. And low and behold, he has brought up bloody baseball.

        Like

      • man in a barrel April 7, 2017 / 2:46 pm

        Scyld Berry has always fluctuated quite wildly between sounding sensible and deranged but this article is truly bonkers. I love his final point about a new strike bowler being needed if England are to win in Australia. But he doesn’t throw any names into the debate! And how on Earth does he know so firmly that Root will make a good captain?

        Liked by 1 person

  10. man in a barrel April 6, 2017 / 8:45 pm

    I listened to the Switch Hit and it was truly weird. Andrew Miller made the point that he grew up in Dorset so never felt affiliated to the county championship. I grew up in Surrey and yet supported Kent. People grow up in Malaysia and support Man United. So it’s not a line of reasoning I greatly respect. But if there are 8 franchises, how does that increase the chances of someone in a minor county watching big league cricket?

    The debate was totally surreal. Are Dorchester and Weymouth going to be building cricket stadiums?

    Without the big counties, where is the breeding ground for the Test team?

    Growing the game by reducing participation seems an odd strategy to me, unless you create a pyramidal structure. But franchises are not the answer, especially if you end up with franchises in Sheffield and Leeds, or Bolton and Manchester. That is surely a route to destruction.

    I think I will follow the Sheffield Shield in future. At least that appears to retain a shred of tradition.

    How about reverting to the all – England club approach of the 1850s – ie an elite team touring and taking on all comers? That would be better than these moronic franchises

    Like

    • Mark April 6, 2017 / 9:23 pm

      Non of it makes any sense unless you want to centralise all power from the counties to the ECB, cash in on some X factor bullcrap, and then remove about half the counties for good at a later date. The ones who tend to be awkward.

      Centalising accadamies, and every aspect of the sport. It will be like another franchise model that makes fries and burgers. Mc Cricket but without any of the success. The Burger joint keeps expanding.

      Like

    • AB April 7, 2017 / 1:13 pm

      “he grew up in Dorset so never felt affiliated to the county championship”

      I grew up in a minor county and so felt the same way – at best I vaguely followed the two nearest major counties in the newspaper but never actually went to watch them – but for that I don’t blame the system, I blame the counties for doing absolutely nothing to attempt to attract fans from nearby neighbouring counties.

      Imagine if Essex formed an alliance to bring promising Cambs players into their academy and played one CC match at Fenners every summer and gave away tickets for a fiver – soon everyone in Cambridgeshire would support Essex.

      Like

      • man in a barrel April 7, 2017 / 1:52 pm

        Northants did something similar back in the day. They used to recruit loads of players from Durham – Milburn, Larkins, Willey to name just 3.

        Like

  11. Rooto April 7, 2017 / 5:58 am

    The ECB plays around with the CC like a cat playing with a mouse. The ultimate intention appears to be the same – mess about and then kill it.
    Nevertheless, fuck ’em. It’s the first day of the season and i woke up excited!

    Like

  12. SimonH April 7, 2017 / 6:29 am

    “Is he [Hameed] as talented a player as I’ve seen come into the England side? I’d say so”.

    “I’d say he is a better more technically sound opening batsman that Cook”.

    “He’s got all the attributes to be able to cope with anything that’s thrown at him. His ability and his talent is frightening for such a young lad, so I think he’ll cope with anything.”

    “He has the temperament and concentration of Cook in bucket-loads”.

    “I don’t want to talk him up too much”.

    Think that last horse may have already bolted, Jimmy…..

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/story/1090104.html

    Liked by 4 people

    • northernlight71 April 7, 2017 / 10:14 am

      Harrumph, something must be done, Um, aaah, that’s not the kind of comment I expect from a so-called friend, especially now I’ve um given up the captaincy.
      Ah, ummm what, he’s annoyed that nobody um even sounded him out when appointing the er new captain? Well it was um er nothing to do with me. Nothing is anything to do with me. Um. Ah.

      Like

  13. SimonH April 7, 2017 / 10:22 am

    What’s the CT got to do with the first day of the CC season, part 1:

    Like

      • nonoxcol April 7, 2017 / 11:35 am

        That Pringle headline is a bit disturbing on more than one count.

        Like

      • nonoxcol April 7, 2017 / 12:00 pm

        I do hope he’s still proud of his newspaper.

        Like

    • Mark April 7, 2017 / 11:52 am

      So he has just taken a snap of his back garden to show his followers that the sky is blue? Just in case they can’t look out of their own windows. He must have contempt for his followers.

      But he is the 39 th most important person in English cricket!

      Like

    • Andy April 7, 2017 / 12:15 pm

      I saw this too. Interesting if light on some finer details.

      It’s amazing how much debt counties go into to try and make sure they are at teh forefront of selection for games/franchises.

      Notts are currently building a new media centre on top of the Radcliffe Road Stand. I’m sure this is an effort to appease the press and the ECB who want somewhere cushty to sit. Wonder how much its costing.

      Like

  14. man in a barrel April 7, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    Interesting isn’t it how reporters are suddenly looking at county finances. I wonder if they were inspired by this blog. However what stands out for me is the treatment meted out to Durham. If a £3.8m loan was enough to repair their finances, why have Yorkshire got away with a hole of some £25m? Their belief that they can repay this plus additional borrowing in 10 years beggars belief. I wonder how they get away with it? Maybe friends in high places…..

    Like

  15. Mark April 7, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    From George Dobell

    “Leicestershire have been hit by a 16-point penalty and seen their captain suspended on the eve of the County Championship season.

    The club were punished following an incident in which their veteran seamer Charlie Shreck was found to have used obscene language or gestures in the match against Loughborough MCCU last week after being reported by umpires Steve O’Shaughnessy and James Middlebrook. That meant the club had been penalised five times within 12 months resulting in a one-match suspension.

    On the eve of the Championship season, Leicestershire therefore became the second county tin the second division to begin the summer with a points deduction. Durham start on minus 48 after a financial bale-out by the ECB in October came with points deductions and relegation as a warning to other counties not to turn to the governing body as the lender of last resort.

    Leicestershire were also fined £5,000 with a further suspended penalty of eight points, to be imposed if cricketers playing for the county incur a further two Fixed Penalty breaches in any competition within a period of 12 months from the date of the hearing.”

    The ECB is getting the taste for throwing their weight about with points destructions. At least to second division counties. I do find it amusing the way county players are treated to certain Englan fast bowlers who like to shout abuse at their opponents.

    Like

    • d'Arthez April 7, 2017 / 5:48 pm

      I wonder what Mr. Shreck said. Seriously, I do wonder. Also I do wonder why several purported role models can get away with similar offenses.

      Since according to Cook and Anderson “fat pr*ck” is just a local and friendly greeting, c**t is a cricketing highlight of the year (the ECB took no offense to Selvey writing that, after all), and even gets you a promotion from mere commentator to someone who is making 300k a year for spouting platitudes, and whatever Cook said to Mathews after the Mankading game, must surely also be a witty poem worthy of a Nobel Prize for Literature, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. thebogfather April 7, 2017 / 2:13 pm

    I’m angry because… part one of many becoming a multitude
    Part one is local, more to come with wider vocal…

    Ahh…The Bramsgrove Bowl
    Swallowing all whole
    If only you could get there…
    No road, bus or rail
    For the ‘Obsessives’ to trail
    To stands overpriced and bare…

    I once was a HCCC obsessive true
    Membership from age 10, enthused
    By BAR, CGG, AMER and then MDM
    With Turner, Jesty, then through the Smiths and MCJ
    At United Services, Dean Park, and Northlands Rd, they played
    Now as an ECB anointed ‘Obsessive’ I’m flogged and flayed
    For I among many, are no longer a part
    Of this game of Cricket, embedded deep in my heart
    This is ‘Death Of A Gentleman’…

    Enjoy your fake and far too late slogfest
    As cricket dies, so will I, my last tied Test..

    Liked by 1 person

  17. SimonH April 7, 2017 / 5:13 pm

    Barney Ronay’s turn to sell the T20:

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/apr/07/ipl-back-bedlam-squeals-thunder-pure-cricketing-energy

    To be fair, Ronay is a long-term fan of both T20 and FTA. I think he has the game’s best interests at heart and is sincere in what he’s written. I also think because he’s not a specialist cricket writer he sometimes misses some of the nuances lurking in the fine print. But the way he represents the options as franchises or no-change here is highly misleading.

    Like

  18. d'Arthez April 8, 2017 / 9:28 am

    I have not seen it mentioned on this blog (or in the Guardian), but both Younis Khan and Misbah are retiring from Test cricket after the upcoming 3-Test series in the West Indies. The former is set to pass 10 000 Test runs (and becoming the first Pakistani to do so), while the latter should pass 5000 Test runs as well. Both have been great ambassadors to the game.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus April 8, 2017 / 10:07 am

      Agreed. I have to say that I don’t particularly like doing the tribute pieces. Too often I find they are not written from the heart, which I think they should be, and more to see if the author can get plenty of kudos. They also maximise the hyperbole and I’m getting grumpier by the day!

      I’ll keep it simple – Misbah was one of the most accomplished leaders of men I have ever seen. I will not forget Lord’s 2016 for a long time. Younus was an enigma to English fans. He was mighty on some occasions, but often looked liked he’d never seen a bat before. But when he clicked you could not get him out. If you’d like to write a tribute for the blog, D, I wouldn’t mind at all.

      Like

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