Like most things in my life, birth, wedding, even the dog’s birthday, the 7th is a major date in any month. I started How Did We Lose In Adelaide on the 7th of January 2009. I thought I’d start a cricket blog, that my mates could read and agree or disagree. It accompanied another blog, that when I read it back, I wince. Thoughts, words, opinions, beliefs. Change. Constant evolution, constant change.
That’s a rather cryptic intro into the preview for a Champions Trophy Final. A Final the English cricket world now cares about as much as the finals we didn’t play in when the tournament was held in Sri Lanka, South Africa and Kenya, for instance. Jason Roy may have exorcised some demons today with a 92 for Surrey, but no-one else will now really remember this tournament in England, who is an England fan. Sure, some involved closely in the game will give it all that, but the fact is, tomorrow I won’t be watching the Final. I’ll be out with the family on a lovely summer’s day, and let India and Pakistan fight it out without caring one jot what happens.
But 8 and a half years ago I would have cared. I’d have found some excuse to fend off the beloved and sit in and watch it. This is, yet another, “I don’t care” piece from me on the state of the game. On the state of fandom in cricket. On its running. On its marketing. On its meaning. The game is about patience, adaptability, skill, strategy, long-term thinking, short-term skirmishes. The game is test cricket. It is three day cricket, or four day cricket. The shorter forms are taking over and cricketers who made their way in the test era are visibly, audibly contemplating a life without it. You cannot force me to be interested. Good luck to those who care about this piffling trophy, a tournament somehow resurrected because India won it in 2013 and England hosted a half-decent competition that they got to the Final of. Now it is being given added life support because the biggest game cricket can provide makes a Final. It’s not new. It happened before. That Australian World Championship thingamy in 1985. That was a crap final.
As I sit here, on a Saturday night, putting together a half-hearted preview of a game I care nothing about, I have to contemplate what is coming up. I still love cricket. I still love my days at Guildford, the journeys to see a county game at Lord’s or The Oval, and to watch some really good players do really good things. I will probably watch the test matches as well, when I can. But there’s a lot of work on. I won’t be watching or listening to anywhere as near as much as I would like to. The days I look back on, those in 2014-15 when I was a solo show, putting up a piece a day, getting abused by people for actually caring, are like something from an age ago. I would churn out stuff, day after day, and be called out in Wisden for being akin to being bashed over the head by one of KP’s bats. But I loved the game then – both cricket and blogging. I can’t say there’s the level of love for either right now. I’m so pleased that we’ve brought together a cadre of excellent writers and commenters, passionate, angry and most of all, very hard to ignore. We’ve achieved a lot, and will still do so.
This has not, and never has been, about attention. This has been about writing. I love writing. I love cricket. What’s not to love about doing both. Bully pulpit I might be, some would say, but you were always given your say on here. You were never fully stopped from commenting (pre-moderation was the exception rather than the rule). I think the day I knew things were totally effed up was when someone threatened to “Dox” me. That struck me as sickness, not strength. As cowardice, when I was being accused of being a coward. The laughable death threat I got after a row with Agnew, a row instigated by an infamous critic, wasn’t it. It was someone threatening personal exposure because of a sport. You sort of lose a lot of respect for a sport that has that sort of fandom. Just as I did with my football team, when a post I did on an old blog ended up with someone threatening to sort me out.
The media landscape has changed dramatically since I started. Indeed it changed dramatically after 2014. Pringle is left to scrape around on second rate journals on a level with his talent. Selvey has retired, and I certainly haven’t missed him. Brenkley, who I didn’t think had the best 2013-14, but who I still quite liked for all that because you sensed he still really enjoyed the sport, and conveyed that, is not on the radar. We still have Newman, Etheridge, Berry, Wilson and Hoult to carry the old torch, to varying degrees of efficacy and effluence. Some good, some bad. But to me it’s the rise of talking heads like Shiny Toy Vaughan, #39 Hughes, and Ed “The Plagiarist” Smith that makes my heart sink. To watch the first set of BBC Highlights of this Champions Trophy and for it to be introduced by a man who Cricinfo blatantly won’t employ any more because he copied, and to have it broadcast as if we were all five year olds who should be grateful for Ed to tell us how it is, was deflating. I wish George Dobell and Tim Wigmore all the best of luck. Imagine a profession where airheads with big heads move seamlessly on, and the talent is stuck out of plain sight. George Dobell has 37k followers on Twitter. #39 has 74k. Double the exposure, less than half the ability, insight, knowledge and communicative powers for someone like me. No wonder a mate of mine imagines me to be in a permanent state of “shaking my fist at the screen”.
No. I’ve not had a beer. No. I’m not feeling especially moody at this point. I always said that there would be no grand farewell, and this isn’t it. I am not the most emotionally stable person, as the blogging history aptly displays, but I do care. That’s what I want to convey. I don’t care about tomorrow, no matter how much Shiny Toy will tell me to. The fact that me, and people like me, don’t care is a matter that should concern the powers that be. We are the games evangelists. We, well I, feel as relevant as a Sinclair C5.
Comments on tomorrow’s game below.
No, I won’t be sitting up all night watching the game either even though I admire a few players from both teams. Don’t care who wins. I’ll be sitting up all night on 1st July listening to Surrey and Notts on BBC. I’ll be listening to Surrey games when KP comes back to the fold because I still miss him and still wish he was playing Test Match cricket. You may be busier now, Dmitri but don’t leave us and I do hope you can still get some joy out of the cricket being played.
I know what you mean boss.
Amazingly CWOTV can’t get enough of these relics. Last week it was Pringle. who as you say lurks around second rate publications along with Brenkley. This week it’s Selvey, who was booted out of The Guardian, and The Suns finest. Only The Suns finest has a MSM presence of note. So why if you are going to have sacked, retired, and discredited people on, don’t they open up to others?
Has George Dobbell ever been on? Probably doesn’t want to be. Can’t blame him. CROTV has become a giant circle jerk of discreditited ECB propagandists with their crack pot theories, and biases.
As I write this Selvey puts forward the theory that England lost because they dropped Roy and brought in JB. Remember when Selvey was demanding people be dropped from Cooks England because their form had been lost? They are laying into Morgan now. 4 years of undiluted love for Cook, and now they finally find the courage to attack the captain. Selvey is blaming the whole thing on changing the side. ONE CHANGE THEY MADE, and according to Selvey that is the reason they lost. Where was this theory when your mate Cook dropped people? No where to be seen.
Oh my, they are really laying into England now. We have not seen any of this for 4 years under Cook. Always excuses, and excusing Cook for his incompetence. Now suddenly they want to hold the captain to account. I repeat….. One f***ing change in selection, and they blame the captain.
You are a bunch of charlatans. You talk absolutes bollocks. These are the men who have helped drive away people from the game with their bullshit. A bunch of smug, pompus discredited retreads, wheeled out for no reason.
Didn’t watch CWOTV but that just sounds like absolute bollocks and is another reason to not bother watching it.
Didn’t JB make more runs than Roy in his one innings vs Roys 3….
Pakistan batting first which isn’t what the neutral wanted.
If India win this, one joy is going to be watching #39 copping it after he saw fit to lecture India on how to bat in ODIs.
Kinda weird that in all the pre-match discussions there wasn’t any mention of which team has the best Director Comma. It was all old-fashioned stuff like who has the best batting and bowling.
Has anyone seen Comma since last Tuesday?
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Yea, amazing that. The people who cover English cricket have more theories than the JFK assassination.
No, Simon, he’s probably retired to the cupboard.😢
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Pakistan off to a great start so we might have a contest here. Fakhar’s been kept a little quieter than England managed by India bowling full and straight. India’s fielding has been woeful.
Obviously, there’s a very good crowd but there are still empty areas when the camera shows the right angle, which isn’t often (the first tier of the Vauxhall Stand, for example).
Interesting read on Fakhar’s background –
Hot-housed in an ECB academy at eighteen months’ old and ear-bashed by Andy Flower’s management consultants at Sandhurst, he wasn’t…..
One of the more crack pot theories advanced on CWOTV this morning for why there hasn’t been any close matches was the following……….And I’m not making this up.
The reason why there are no close matches is because the teams are all so good that…..When they get on top, they just kill off their opponents. Yes really!
So the great World Cup final between Clive Lloyds WI and Australia in 1975 was close because they were both crap? Same too the 1992 final, or Sri Lanka vs Australia in 1996. In fact all close matches in history must be because the teams are crap?
What does it say for modern coaches, and management consultants if teams just roll over when they are losing? I suggest it means they are getting too much money for doing bugger all. They are all a bunch of Emperors new cloths merchants. Promising a fabulous new suit of fine thread, and delivering nothing.
Good game so far. Go Pakistan! (just as well I’m not working tomorrow)
India 33/3 after 9 overs chasing 339.
At the moment it looks rather one sided again. Still time for India to recover. But its not looking good for the mighty India at this point.
Make that 54/5
Doesnt look like a close one again, but who knows? Still time!!!!!
How are Pakistan ranked only 8th in the world? So much talent, and yet so much inconsistency.
They’re doing worse than England at the moment. Indian fans are leaving the stadium. Be a hell of a game to win from here!!!! Shame to miss it!
Well that was a bit of fun. 154/7
Tremendous hitting from Panda….76 in 43 balls, but he was just run out in comical fashion. Both batsman at the same end. Always the most amusing.
156/8 now. They think it’s all over, it probably is now.
I’m happy for Pakistan, but apart from Pandya’s heroics it’s been yet another one-sided contest. Not sure I’ll bother with the highlights later.
Maybe Comma might put down the Management text-books, stop consulting with top motivational gurus, and pack off the Empty Suit to the UAE to see how a T20 tournament might work as a result of this.
But Mark’s point is right. Not many teams have shown resilience when faced with adversity. Pakistan did it v Sri Lanka. England were three down early v Australia. But not much else.
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But boss, according CWOTV that is because the teams are brilliant. They just kill the opposition when on top. Killer sharks they are!
If that theory is right what does it say about all the back room staff, phycologists, and corporate speakers? They are stealing a living, that’s what it says. Charlatans.
When you ask them what they do for a living, and they say……..”I’m a motivational speaker”…..run for the hills or your pocket will be picked.
Don’t give Comma ideas – we might end up with the new T20 tournament located in UAE!
Amazing game. How can you not love Pakistan?
I couldn’t agree more.
Didn”t take him long….
Oh he loves Pakistan now. Went to the final of their 20/20 don’t you know? Was boasting about it this morning.
Of course all this hob knobbing with Pakistan would have absolutely nothing to do with trying to get a certain Giles Clarke head of the ICC?
I’ve been watching cricket for over 50 years and played for a fair chunk of it. Just can’t think of anything these hacks could say that would interest me or that I couldn’t work out for myself.
As an aging relic, I don’t get out as much as I used to (or it could be laziness) so for the past week, I’ve been delighted to sit in front of the telly and watch CT and the Royal London games. Many good performances and that Notts win was theatre. Samit Patel must be pretty fit to play that innings, if it’s OK to contradict perceived wisdom. Yes, the long form is best but I do enjoy 50 over games. What’s special about them is the teams have to play to win so they have to fight all the way. I’ve sat at more than one championship match where both teams are going through the motions, knowing it’s going to be a draw.
The sheer incompetence of those who run our cricket annoys me but put me in front of a game and I’ll Ignore it for a while.
This is why I’ll forgive Vic Marks a lot, whenever he disagrees with me.
“It does not feel as if they have been plotting their campaign for the past two years whereas there is the impression that Andrew Strauss and Eoin Morgan have been thinking of little else.”
Completely gratuitous. And glorious.
Oh, by the way, fantastic performance Pakistan. Many congratulations.
The other finalists slung together a team at the last minute, are in strife with their coach and so on.
It’s enough to flick your mind.
I remember a podcast with Gideon Haigh (I think it was the Cricket Sadist Hour) in which he said that great teams emerge in spite of their administration, not because of it. Save possibly the all-conquering Australians last decade, I can’t think of an real example to counter it
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Motivational speaker being paid thousands……
“Right, I want you to visualise being in the jungle, and a lion is coming towards you. Your heart starts to beat louder, you start to run, you are sweating, your mind is a blur. Faster you run, but the lion is getting closer and closer, you can’t breathe. You trip over and fall on the ground. The lion is yards from you coming at full pace….. teeth showing……. Youre doomed!”
“So compared to that being 54/5 is no big deal. It’s a breeze. Now visualise yourself out in the middle, these are bowlers, not lions. What’s the worst that can happen to you.”
Pad it out with lots of filler about never giving up, and some quotes from some Greek god or Roman Emperor, and Bobs your uncle.
Im telling you, it’s money for old rope. The greatest skill these people have is pulling the wool over sports teams and governing bodies. Particularly the ones sitting on mountains of cash.
Does the Guardian want to raise the question of its own behaviour in 2014 and 2015? No? What a surprise…
I have a counter theory to ‘teams are too good so kill off the opposition’.
What if the amount of T20 games just imposes the mindset that ‘there is another game tomorrow, and the next day etc’
THere is always another game, or another tournament next month to win. ‘We can’t get back from losing 4 quick wickets so look for the next opportunity.’
There is no scarcity in the short format, so the players will always get another chance.
Then they play test match and cannot change the mindset properly, so they struggle to dig it out and collapse in a heap.
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I think your theory is much better Andy.
As you say, it’s not just 20/20, we see the same thing in Test cricket. One team gets on top and then the other team folds in 3-4 days. Batting to save the game is becoming a lost art. In the modern game run rates and strike rates are all. In addition home advantage has become dominant in recent decades. Teams don’t travel very well.
And there is no way in a million years are they going to sell me the theory that the standard of test cricket is the best it’s ever been.
“Test teams are just so good they crush each other.” I think not.
As for 20/20 India were abject yesterday. Pakistan played fantastic, but 54/5 on that pitch was hopeless. Perhaps the mindet is as you say another one will be along in a few weeks. But not finals in front of millions of people.
Scyld Berry player ratings!
Berry seems to have got over Rashid but not Hales. Hales averaged over 40 and had a higher SR than anyone in the top six except the captain. He failed in the crunch match but, crikey, he wasn’t the only one and we can now surely see that Pakistan had a pretty decent attack. Hales gets the same rating as a bowler who took his wickets at over 50 and an ER of over 6.