Trust – it’s a two way street Mr. Director

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We are in middle of an ODI series between England and the West Indies with all the fun and joy that entails (clue, it doesn’t), but if you don’t mind, I will skip over today’s proceedings as there are one or two other things that take precedence in my mind. If I may, I would like to take everyone back to the heady days of the February 2014, when a certain well known ex-captain was asked about a certain well-known soon to be ex-player about his role in the team:

“Without trust, the team environment is stillborn, It is for this reason that Kevin Pietersen’s international career had to be brought to an end. The media have been searching for a ‘smoking gun’. Everyone is looking for disciplinary problems, bust-ups and character clashes, but they are looking for the wrong thing. The smoking gun is the total absence of trust.”

“What happened in Australia from November onwards, when the heat of the furnace was fixed on the embattled side, was that old grievances came back to the surface. Past history weighed too heavily. Trust still did not exist. His relationship with English cricket has been like an illicit affair. Full of thrills and excitement, but destined to end in tears.”

To the surprise of no-one this well known ex-captain was made Director, England Cricket in May 2015, formally ending the disastrous reign of Paul Downton. As a brilliant subtext to all of this, the well-known player that Director Comma had referred to was told to score runs and lots of them to have a chance to force himself back into England contention and of course, as we know, he scored 355* of them in one innings. This was not enough to sway the new Director though, who once again took the fold to confirm that trust rather than talent was the thing that was the most important thing to him:

“He [Pietersen] been phenomenal for England over a long period of time and he should be very proud of that record. But over a period of months and years, the trust between himself and the ECB has eroded. There’s a massive trust issue between Kevin and I. Because of that, we’ve told him it’s not in the best short-term interests of the side for him to be in the team. I’ve let him know he’s not part of our plans for the future, and I can’t give him any guarantees beyond that, but he’s not banned from the side, no one knows what’s going to happen in the future.”

There have been many words and many articles about Kevin Pietersen in the last few years (many by us) and I’m not sure I can say anything that hasn’t been said previously without being jumped on the by the ‘pearly gates brigade’ who like to think of Alastair Cook as a god and KP as the devil with no room for any opinion in between and quite frankly I cannot be bothered to rehash an old weeping sore. For me it is the lack of heat that Director Comma has received that is of most interest to me. Those that have got to know Strauss both as a player for Middlesex & England and now with his role with the ECB (although please don’t ask me exactly what it is as I have no idea what he does – more of that a little bit later on), know that Strauss is the ultimate pragmatist, happy to spew out words about ‘trust’ & ‘team bonding’, but also happy to cozy up to the dark side when it suits him and provides him with an opportunity to further his own career. There have been a number of instances where Director Comma has not just turned the other cheek (rooming with KP in the build up to the 2010 Ashes or making lots of unfulfilled promises to Owais Shah after he picked up the Middlesex captaincy from the poisonous Ed Smith) but also happily thrown his teammates under the bus (see Strauss’ backing and then quick turn of face with KP over the Peter Moores affair). To say that Andrew Strauss is a trustworthy individual is like saying Tom Harrison has cricket’s best interests at heart, which as we know is utter jackanory, yet the media have bought this and so have the one-eyed ‘inside cricket’ fans. Strauss goooood, other people baaad (sorry, a poor Animal Farm reference) seems to have been the memo leaked by the ECB and by god, his associates have thoroughly embraced this mantra. This makes it even more laughable when Strauss portrays himself as a bastion of society, a man bound by his virtue rather than being portrayed correctly as a man bound purely by his hypocrisy.

So why bring this up now some may ask, well the Ben Stokes ‘BristolGate’ has quite rightly opened up this so called Trust debate. As we all know, Stokes whilst being a wonderful player, has had a fair few colourful incidents away from the cricket field, with the latest one surely being more serious than looking out of a window, whistling when getting out or falling out of a pedalo after more than a few sherberts. Here was a chance for Director Comma to pin his colours to the wall, that trust is more important than on the field success (no-one could argue that England were weaker without their supremely talented number 4) and that they would rigidly stick to the ‘no dickhead’ rule when it comes to England selection. To say that the Director, England Cricket fluffed his lines on this is an understatement on a massive scale – no punishment, no criticism, instead ‘Stokes needs our support during this difficult time’ and that ‘selection will be made on form and fitness grounds only’:

http://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/41416692

Well this is certainly a change in tack from previous years isn’t it? Perhaps if KP or those others who’s face didn’t quite fit such as Compton, Carberry and Robson had been given the ECB’s support, then things might have turned out rather differently perhaps. Now I want to be perfectly clear, I do not care what Stokes gets up to in his own spare time, nor do I think he should be dropped or have the vice-captaincy stripped (it’s a nothing role in any case); however the ECB have made their bed through the treatment of other England players whose offence is arguably not as grave as Stokes, yet poor old Ben seems to have had endured nothing but a slapped wrist. This is what grinds my gears, Strauss is doing precisely what he has done throughout his career yet no-one has called him out on it, he is providing one rule for one and another rule for another. Basically if you can provide Director Comma with the opportunity to further his career then he is happy to turn his cheek, however once you have ceased being useful to him then expect to be classed as an outsider and tossed on the heap like everyone else that has outlived their use. Now I don’t know the in’s and out’s of this case nor that much detail in the other mis-demeanours that Stokes has supposedly committed; however what I do know is that apart from a few mumblings from the media about how he has been stupid and needs to learn his lessons, there hasn’t been a whiff of an over-reaction. Where is the smoking gun? Where is the often mentioned and quietly compiled ‘dossier of mis-demeanours’ that is leaked to the media? Where is the whisper campaign saying that Stokes is a bad egg and not a team player? Of course, there isn’t one, the ECB never leaks when it suits their own purposes and having Ben Stokes as an integral part of the England team is the number one priority for the ECB’s paymasters.

You see we all know that Director Comma, despite having a grandiose title and being pushed out in front of the media to spout general hyperbole about ‘trust’, ‘teamwork’ and ‘exciting’, is a figurehead and nothing more. The ECB have in essence their perfect glove puppet, someone who believes he has the power, someone who has been built up to be important in his eyes and someone who will of course tow the company line (after all the ECB has never had an issue with doing a u-turn when it might help them out of a tight spot or enhance them financially). This whole trust thing is a façade, something to keep the chuntering masses away from digging a little further down the rabbit hole, and Strauss is the perfect foil for it! A well spoken, well dressed ex England Captain, who has no issue with being ruthless and isn’t likely to make the type of media gaffes that Paul Downton was prone to making with hilarious regularity ticks every box in the ECB’s eyes. This is the perfect ruse for the real power holders at the ECB, you know the chaps who have their hands in the till and appear once or twice a year with Aggers to utter something meaningless that they have scripted beforehand which fits in with their objectives (lets face it Aggers is hardly Jeremy Paxman and isn’t going to be asking them the difficult questions that England cricket fans actually want to hear).

It is Graves and Harrison that are calling the shots behind the closed door, I can’t work out whether Graves is some kind of evil mastermind or just some bumbling old fool who has bitten off more than he chew; however Harrison is the money man, he is the one calling the shots and anyone or anything that jeopardises the TV deal or the flow of sponsors money will be eradicated. Strauss is the go-between, something that he is perfectly suited too, but Harrison is the Mafia boss, he is the one that says what will happen and what won’t happen to the England cricket team. So back to Ben Stokes, lets make no bones about it, Stokes is absolutely vital for the ECB moving forward, not just through his performances on the pitch but also through his exposure and pulling power across multiple markets, i.e. those markets that can make the ECB more money. Harrison isn’t about to kill the golden goose, so you’ll quietly see this brushed under the carpet whilst Director, England Cricket makes noises about supporting his players and the trust they’ve built up over the past few years. Welcome to the New England, same as the old England.

So lets just revisit this whole trust piece once again shall we? When I first got into cricket I trusted the England board (no matter how archaic it was back then) to at least do the right thing. To ensure that we had a team that was picked on merit, to ensure that we were a fair and proper contributor to the game via the ICC, ensuring that we could grow this game that we all love, to ensure fair and proper access to the sport and too invest it’s money back into the game to ensure that it is preserved for future generations. Instead what have we got, a board that despises its own fans, a board some obsessed with making money that they will happily destroy the Test arena to make a quick buck through some more T20’s, a board that has massively reduced the access that the every day fan has to the sport by charging huge prices for entry to the ground and has all it’s live coverage behind a paywall. Finally a board, where talent doesn’t count anymore as long as you come from the right family, can prove to be a good marketing asset or have some high profile ex-captain who just happens to run a sporting agency, start calling the shots (more on that in a later post). Trust and loyalty aren’t in the vocabulary of Graves, Harrison and Strauss, so surely there must be others apart from us that are willing to call them out before they bury the game for good? Sadly I feel that we are in the minority and will be until it’s too late.

So the next time an ECB Director tells you its all about trust, let’s take it, tell them where to stick it and run a mile, as after all trust is earned both ways and the ECB have shown time and time again that what they say and what they do are two completely different things altogether. Incompetence I can live with, down right lies, I cannot. The ECB has somehow in its infinite wisdom managed to become a master of both.

As a side note, England have won the 4th ODI through the Duckworth Lewis Stern calculations and go into an unassailable lead in the series. Not that anyone apart from the ECB bigwigs remotely cares.
UPDATE: I wrote this before the Stokes video appeared online – https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/cricket/4563431/ben-stokes-england-axe-shocking-video-street-punch. From first view, it looks like the first guy launches at Stokes with a bottle; however the 2nd incident really doesn’t look great at all. The be all and end all is that Stokes really shouldn’t be putting himself in this sort of situation in the first place.

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120 thoughts on “Trust – it’s a two way street Mr. Director

  1. pktroll (@pktroll) September 28, 2017 / 8:16 am

    Good post as always Sean. Just one tiny issue to make with you before anyone else gets in on the act. Gruppenfurher Comma did indeed make a gaffe when he was heard calling someone a c**t not realising he was still on air. But, of course, he was feted for it!

    Oh and can’t help but agree in the way he was one of the ones who helped throw Pietersen under the bus for Mooresgate mark1 in the days when the ECB never leaked………….

    Like

    • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 8:49 am

      Yes indeed PK, I left it out on purpose as the bigwigs at the ECB were no doubt delighted to see KP’s name dragged through the mud even more….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. BobW September 28, 2017 / 8:25 am

    Great read. Totally true about Agnew etc. He/they never ask the questions we want.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. AB September 28, 2017 / 8:42 am

    Graves is the classic example of how you can be successful in business once more by luck than judgement, but then if you try to repeat the same trick, you make a complete hash of things.

    He’s arrogant. He mistakenly thinks his “success” at costcutter was due to his brilliant business acumen. It wasn’t. He now thinks he can use those same tricks to successfully manage English cricket. He can’t.

    He is far, far too proud and arrogant to ever admit that he doesn’t really know what he is doing and that things aren’t actually going very well at all.

    Lets be honest – we should have seen this coming – Yorkshire are one of the worst managed counties. Despite having the most famous, bankable brand in cricket, and an enormous cricket-obsessed county as their supporter base (even in East Anglia I know more Yorkshire fans than any other county fans combined) they still can’t sell out their T20s and turn a profit.

    Like

  4. SimonH September 28, 2017 / 8:54 am

    “the real power holders at the ECB, you know the chaps who have their hands in the till and appear once or twice a year with Aggers to utter something meaningless that they have scripted beforehand which fits in with their objectives”.

    Newman has a stopped clock moment about Graves:

    Even then he misses the barn door of highlighting the absolute indifference and contempt the ECB have for their own prime domestic competition (including not being able to watch today’s relegation nail-biter on “Your Home of Cricket”).

    Liked by 1 person

    • SimonH September 28, 2017 / 9:10 am

      The Newman we know and er-love is back with his main DM article though.

      Guess what most upsets him about this incident? Is it:
      a) The players have let down Strauss and Bayliss, or
      b) Anything else?

      It’s a tough one….

      Like

  5. Mark September 28, 2017 / 9:07 am

    Look out for Ollie Holt to be flown in again on a special mission.

    He’s the go to hack when a player has to be taken down a peg or two for not touring or has said something offensive. However, He specialises in trying to “understand” and defend the player who goes off the rails. Usually it’s drunken footballers who can’t deal with all the money they have. (Poor things.) The bigger the star….. usually the bigger the excuses.

    He wrote a piece a while ago about how some poor Premier league footballer couldn’t walk around with his wife at 2 am in the morning in Manchesters night club area without getting abuse.

    It never occured to Ollie that maybe….. just maybe. Said footballer might be better advised not to be out with drunks at 2 am with his wife.

    I expect a piece entitled…….. “Why I respect Ben Stokes.”

    Like

    • nonoxcol September 28, 2017 / 11:27 am

      Mark, did you read this before posting?

      He’s started early this time!

      Like

      • Mark September 28, 2017 / 3:36 pm

        No, I hadnt seen that before I wrote my bit, but it’s no surprise. I’ve seen this movie before.

        Like

  6. Mark September 28, 2017 / 9:10 am

    Having seen the footage of the Stokes business…….. one now sees quite clearly why the Ashes squad was leaked so publicly in the news black out of this event.

    Quite shocking how cynical the cricket authorities are, and how bovine the media are who play along. These are the so called moral guardians folks!

    Like

  7. Silk September 28, 2017 / 9:13 am

    I can’t see how Stokes can possibly tour in the light of the video. To be honest I can’t imagine what the ECB are doing. Hoping this will blow over? It won’t.

    Like

    • Northern Light September 28, 2017 / 9:29 am

      George Dobell is disappointingly robust in defending what Stokes did in the name of “defending a mate.” I suspect many people’s view on this will depend very heavily on the kind of experiences they have had in life. Personally, I stopped going out drinking until 3am and getting into fights when . . . . actually, I don’t think I ever did. I haven’t even been drunk since I had a child. The idea seems ridiculous to me.
      FYI George, Ben Stokes is a well paid international cricketer who is 26. Not a 17 year old student.

      Liked by 3 people

      • nonoxcol September 28, 2017 / 11:09 am

        Had some fun reading Twitter yesterday – “he’s young and will grow up”.

        Twenty-six year-old father of two.

        Liked by 2 people

        • man in a barrel September 28, 2017 / 6:29 pm

          Lovejoy on twitter also shows a relaxed attitude to the law of the land. Not really a surprise. This was just banter

          Like

          • BobW September 28, 2017 / 6:46 pm

            As opposed to your son being the guy just twatted by Ben Stokes? Be a different story then.

            Liked by 3 people

          • Mark September 28, 2017 / 7:52 pm

            If Ben Stokes wanted to become a cage fighter then lovejoys point would stand. But he is a cricketer. Even Lovejoy should be able to work that out.

            Funny watching all the wannabee middle weights now showing their true colours.

            They are all now all drooling over Ben the boxer. It used to be Cook the male model. Now they have all gone hardcore.

            They so need a father figure to look up to.

            Like

          • nonoxcol September 28, 2017 / 9:25 pm

            How did I miss this one?

            This generation of English cricket is a fucking sewer.

            Liked by 3 people

    • Mark September 28, 2017 / 9:36 am

      A lot will depend on if the other bloke presses charges. People have gone to prison for similar. But as we all know highly paid sports stars and celebrities get treated with kid gloves.

      What are the ECB doing? This is the meat in the sandwich? They are protecting their own as they always do. As Sean says…… this is naked self interest.

      Whether it’s NFL footballers beating the shit out of their wives or Tour de France multi winners being helped to cover up their drugs cheating or premiership footballers who commit a variety of crimes. The governing bodies look to the bottom line. In this case the bottom line is wining the Ashes and Stokes is seen as vital.

      On a separate note one has to wonder what will happen to Stokes in Aus in the numerous bars and clubs. It’s a long tour, and you can’t stay out of these places for ever. And you know there will be plenty of wannabe Australian heavyweights just queuing up for the next bout.

      Selvey can wax lyrical about his anger management course, but this is a big problem now.

      Liked by 2 people

      • man in a barrel September 28, 2017 / 2:02 pm

        The situation is interesting. If I were the punched guy, I would press charges unless suitable financial compensation were offered – maybe a year’s salary? If the case did go to court, would you allow Stokes to testify? What character witnesses could credibly stand up for him? Unless there is something really big that is not on that video, things look bad. Stokes might be denied visas for Australia,India etc which effectively spells the end of his career. The money men need to get on the job fast to contain this

        Like

        • Benny September 28, 2017 / 7:21 pm

          What character witnesses? Could be a thread in this. Director Comma, Graham Swann quoted above, couple of hundred the ECB magic up …..

          Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel September 28, 2017 / 8:15 pm

            Would love to see them on the stand. “And Mr Comma did you refer to a valued colleague as a cunt on air?” what value should we place on your recommendation? Mr Swann so you support the use of overwhelming force by a highly trained athlete against a member of the public?

            Liked by 1 person

          • man in a barrel September 28, 2017 / 8:17 pm

            A few hours browsing on this blog should be enough for a good prosecutor to shred any ECB witness, even though character witnesses cannot be cross examined as such

            Like

        • SimonH September 29, 2017 / 7:56 am

          It would be interesting to know if the bloke knew who Stokes was….

          Guy: Come on then.
          Stokes: Do you know who I am?
          Guy: No, I don’t have Sky. Although if there was a T20 franchise playing in Cardiff I could travel to see….

          Like

  8. jomesy September 28, 2017 / 10:40 am

    “other England players whose offence is arguably not as grave as Stokes.”

    Arguably? I’m sorry but Stokes’ offence is way, way beyond anything I am aware of with other players. Clearly we don’t have all the context, but from the video in The Sun, I simply cannot see how Stokes’ can claim self-defence (which I’d have thought is his only defence) where he is clearly, and continually, the agrressor. He’s also bloody fortunate that the guy he knocked out didn’t suffer serious, and potentially life-ending, head injuries from the fall.

    I can accept the ECB want to wait to see what the police intend to do, but this is about as serious as it gets in my book.

    Otherwise, great piece.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 11:00 am

      I was being a little flippant when i said ‘arguably’ which perhaps didn’t come across the piece. Without doubt Stokes’ offence is far graver than anything others have done in the past.

      Like

  9. nonoxcol September 28, 2017 / 11:17 am

    Good work.

    One of my favourite things, late last night, was reading Barney Ronay literally *praise Strauss* for allowing Stokes to become a very rich man by enabling him to play a full season of the IPL.

    I cackled my head off, given the *same man’s* attitude towards certain England players looking to play part of the IPL back in 2012.

    Integrity is his middle name. He just oozes the stuff.

    Like

    • Mark September 28, 2017 / 11:36 am

      Barney Ronay shoots……. and misses the barn door by about a mile.

      The reason Strauss “allowed” Stokes to become a rich man is because he didn’t have any choice. This goes to the heart of the KP issue. (not that Her majesty’s cricket writers) understand a dam thing. Most of the problems behind the KP issue was the ECBs (Flower and Strauss) refusal to let KP go and play IPL.

      Look where that ended up? England have to let these players now go otherwise they could find themselves without their top players.

      The media seem to want to cosy up to Strauss completely……… ignoring his role in the sacking of KP because of Trust. Only obscure sites like this understand the hypocrisy.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Sri.Grins September 28, 2017 / 12:58 pm

          :-). We do. Imagine if you had been as popular as cricinfo. :-D. The mind boggles at the hate comments one has to wade through on any match. Right now it is a niche quality market.

          Like

          • quebecer September 28, 2017 / 1:10 pm

            We really should get some of the other Indian guys on here to, Sri. I keep meaning to tell InspectorVijay when I chat on that other place, and I certainly intend to try to get some of the Aussies during the Ashes. Not that Dmitri will reward me with a nicer avatar of anything, but still. I shall do it magnanimously and without hope of reward.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Sri.Grins September 28, 2017 / 1:43 pm

          @Q

          I will also give a recommend to Inspector Vijay, Rufus and Test Fan when next we catch up.

          I am sure you will get your due reward soon 🙂

          Like

          • quebecer September 28, 2017 / 2:17 pm

            Yep, good guys all. They’d like it here, after all! But to be clear, because I got you, if you get them, I get the credit. Not that it’s about credit and reward (though it should be).

            Liked by 1 person

          • Rooto September 28, 2017 / 4:58 pm

            Q. Looks like you’re treating this place like a pyramid selling scheme. 🙂

            Like

        • Sri.Grins September 28, 2017 / 3:20 pm

          Certainly you deserve the credit and the reward. :-). A bit like MLM (multi level marketing) 🙂

          Like

        • Mark September 28, 2017 / 3:59 pm

          I thought you might like that one Dmitri!

          One for the teenagers!

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 28, 2017 / 4:01 pm

            In the words of Ray…

            I miss nuffink.

            Like

    • Mark September 28, 2017 / 11:50 am

      It says the ECB may make a further announcement later today.

      Which translates into English as “We wish this would all go away, and we haven’t a clue what to do.”

      As dear old Harold Macmillan once said …….”Events my boy, events…..”

      Like

  10. quebecer September 28, 2017 / 1:17 pm

    Sean, this is such a good piece and shows why this place is important (even if a bit obscure). There’s just nowhere else out there expressing these important points is such a way, so pats on backs, and all that.

    Having seen the video, do you still feel Stokes should tour and keep the vice-captaincy? My own feelings are that he should not, and that the ECB should be unequivocal about their own position on such actions regardless of the police investigation.

    I don’t think they want to do that, however, not at all, and I think they might get themselves in to a lot of trouble because of this.

    Like

    • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 1:41 pm

      Thanks Quebecer, much appreciated. I think Stokes should be stripped of the vice captaincy certainly, whether or not he should be dropped from the Ashes depends on whether the police file a criminal investigation against him (in purely my own opinion).

      I think if it was anyone else (except Cook, Root & Anderson) then he would have been dropped and fed to the wolves right now. Double standards and all that.

      Like

      • quebecer September 28, 2017 / 1:58 pm

        Very welcome. And no doubt on that last point.

        Just replaced Stokes with Cook in the video in my head. Pretty funny, to be honest.

        Liked by 1 person

        • SimonH September 28, 2017 / 2:31 pm

          A ferocious deer and a rifle and Cookie would be so there….

          He did have strong words with that Angelo Mathews once.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 9:53 pm

            That made me laugh out load…

            Like

    • oreston September 28, 2017 / 3:09 pm

      Director Comma acts! Both Stokes and Hales now suddenly suspended from international duty by the ECB until further notice and referred to the Cricket Discipline Commission (whatever that is). Apparently this is on the strength of the video. Can’t help feeling this is all going to end up excessively harsh on Alex Hales. So Ben doesn’t need their support at this difficult time anymore, then?

      Like

      • "IronBalls" McGinty September 28, 2017 / 4:10 pm

        Hales “card was marked” on the Bangladesh issue. They’re still lying in wait for Morgan!

        Like

        • mdpayne87 September 29, 2017 / 5:54 am

          Hales kicked the bloke when he was lying on the floor, no?

          Like

    • quebecer September 28, 2017 / 2:00 pm

      In the Sub heading, “Should the all-rounder be prevented from going to Australia, as a less important player already might have been..” I wondered for a second if they were referring to Alex Hales. Didn’t get the unreal conditional immediately.

      Like

      • quebecer September 28, 2017 / 3:53 pm

        Huh. Guess it was inadvertently right after all.

        Like

  11. SimonH September 28, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    Ronay will probably follow it up with one of his pained, quizzical pieces about how mysterious it is that some people don’t like modern sports’ stars very much.

    Like

  12. Deep Purple Fred September 28, 2017 / 2:51 pm

    You can look at this incident in various ways.
    If you think of the impact it will have on the career of an exciting young athlete, it’s potentially a disaster.
    If you think about young men drunkenly brawling and being serioiusly injured, it’s tragic.
    If you think of the way ECB is managing it, it’s outrageous and unjustifiable.
    But I prefer to put my Australian hat on, because in that case, it’s bloody hilarious and I’m doubled up with laughter. It always seemed like just a matter of time before Stokes popped one way or another, and he hasn’t let us down. The only thing that would be funnier would be if he did tour for the Ashes, there’s no way he’d get through those few months withour incident.

    Liked by 2 people

    • quebecer September 28, 2017 / 3:13 pm

      Man in a Barrel has suggested Stokes might not even get through Australian immigration. Surely the funniest scenario for Australian-hatted people.

      Does your hat have corks on it? Do you have other hats without corks too? I ask only in the interests of promoting cultural awareness.

      Liked by 2 people

    • oreston September 28, 2017 / 3:24 pm

      I guess we were all concentrating on the possibility of him “popping” on the pitch, or at least having a pop at another player away from the field of play like David Warner did. This is on a whole different level though. Glad you’re enjoying it. Suppose we’d react the same (even if we didn’t admit it…)

      Like

    • Deep Purple Fred September 28, 2017 / 6:35 pm

      You betcha! An Akubra with corks, a wore out crown, and baked in Nullabor dust. I’ve also got a Beret, a Bowler and a Stetson. They tried to give me a Tyrollean mountain cap, but it was teal so I laughed and gave it back.
      Barrel Man might make jokes about passing immigration, but I guess Stokes’ Kiwi passport will help get around that.

      I see he’s been put hors de combat, great shame, was really looking forward to seeing him.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. ianrsa September 28, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    This is a very well written article. I am firmly in agreement with pretty much all of it, it is punctuated well (something I battle with). The spelling is as one would expect and the tone is just right in my opinion.

    But (and I have battled with this urge all day, only to lose) It’s toe the lie not tow.

    I know, I know it’s a petty and pedantic point but as with loose for lose this one scratches my OCD brain.

    I’m sorry 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 4:08 pm

      Ha, no worries, I always tend to miss at least one thing when writing (often more). My rather tired eyes didn’t notice the obvious mistake last night.

      The whole ‘loose’ rather than ‘lose’ drives me nuts too…..

      Liked by 1 person

  14. BobW September 28, 2017 / 3:31 pm

    In my humble opinion I think that Stokes will get off relatively free. The guy he hit will be bought off. He won’t want to press charges and then the lawyers will get involved with anything to do with the CPS and Stokes will get a rap over the knuckles.
    Surely if Stokes gets a criminal record that means he gets a fast track through Aussie customs though?
    I remember Ian Botham having a set to in a pub many years back. It culminated in him cutting his hand in a pub door. It was it in the news and luckily for him there were no CTTV cameras about then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark September 28, 2017 / 3:56 pm

      A few people have suggested that the man might offer not to press charges in return for something. Cough cough. The media should watch to see if a nice car turns up outside his house or indeed he moves to a bigger house,

      It’s quite shocking that could be possible. The police might not be too happy. If the money men do this……. then quite frankly the morality of the governing body will be in the toilet.

      But it’s wheels within wheels.

      Whatever happens now Stokes is in the last chance saloon, If he gets into another serious situation it’s going to be very embarrasing for Strauss.

      Like

    • oreston September 28, 2017 / 6:09 pm

      Botham had a set-to with Chappelli in a bar 40 years ago. Apparently they’ve never buried the hatchet. What is it with these mercurial all rounders?

      Like

      • man in a barrel September 28, 2017 / 6:32 pm

        ITB also tried to spark a fight with Peter Willey in the WIndies 1980-81. I think Willey walked away and Botham sighed with relief. Willey was not a guy to mess with

        Like

        • man in a barrel September 28, 2017 / 8:07 pm

          Ian Botham would “bully” any of the England players on Tours except for Peter Willey as once he did a practical joke on him but Willey’s response was to pick all the clothes from Ian’s suitcase and threw them to the swimming pool. Botham just stood still and was in a shock so he never picked on Willey again

          Liked by 1 person

        • Mark September 28, 2017 / 6:51 pm

          39 was just on 5 live. He was pushing the line that Warner punched Joe Root and got a two match ban. On this basis he thinks Stokes will go to Austrslia, but might miss the Brisbane test.

          Like

          • SimonH September 28, 2017 / 7:26 pm

            The differences with Warner are so obvious even Selvey can see them. Warner gave up drinking, the most worrying thing about Stokes is that he hasn’t said anything that suggests he can see that drink is a problem for him.

            Has Ed Smith spoken yet? We need to know how we’re all getting this wrong, illustrated with a Roger Federer anecdote.

            Liked by 3 people

          • LordCanisLupus September 28, 2017 / 7:35 pm

            I love my commenters.

            I have partaken in light refreshment.

            Check on me at 2:30.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 7:37 pm

            I’m readying John Etheridge as we speak 😉

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus September 28, 2017 / 8:08 pm

            Ha ha. They don’t speak to us proles any more. We’re better writers than they are.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 7:37 pm

            That’s the first (and probably last) time anyone has suggested that we need FICJAM’s input 😀

            Like

          • oreston September 28, 2017 / 7:27 pm

            The Warner incident was deplorable though I think it was pretty minor at least in comparison to what we’ve all now seen of Bruiser Ben’s exploits on Monday night. You don’t really look to Hughes for a responsible sense of perspective though.

            Liked by 3 people

          • nonoxcol September 28, 2017 / 9:19 pm

            Hughes there, who back in 2014 drew moral equivalence between texting South Africans and adultery, and claimed texting was worse than turning up drunk to training.

            Yes, drunk. To training.

            (source: Dobell v Hughes, HDWLIA, 7 October 2014)

            Liked by 1 person

  15. ianrsa September 28, 2017 / 3:32 pm

    This is a very well written article. I am firmly in agreement with pretty much all of it, it is punctuated well (something I battle with). The spelling is as one would expect and the tone is just right in my opinion.

    But (and I have battled with this urge all day, only to lose) It’s toe the line not tow.

    I know, I know it’s a petty and pedantic point but as with loose for lose this one scratches my OCD brain.

    I’m sorry 😦

    Like

  16. ianrsa September 28, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    And I see several punctuation errors in the above. So feel free to lay into me.-)

    Like

  17. Sri.Grins September 28, 2017 / 3:36 pm

    Looks like all articles have been closed for comments.

    @Q, is this the just reward for your posts on the video? 😀

    Like

    • quebecer September 28, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      I posted BTL about 6 times last night once I realized they were disappearing just to annoy them because I knew it was very early in the morning in the UK. The last one, I posted, “The ECB are great and I love the Guardian. Is that OK to say?” Then I replied to myself when it wasn’t taken down, “Excellent! Thanks.” And then after a few minutes, “But I can’t say Ben Stokes? Just to be clear.” and they took the lot down.

      I was a bit bored last night.

      Liked by 3 people

      • ianrsa September 28, 2017 / 4:13 pm

        You rascal you. Well done.

        Like

          • ianrsa September 28, 2017 / 9:27 pm

            Hi Dmitri,

            I pop by now and then but I have to admit that I enjoy and always have enjoyed this blog above all others for the quality of the articles and the astounding knowledge and common sense of the members.

            As a point of interest, I had always fancied seeing a game with you or at least having a beer together. However I am leaving South Africa (The Regime) and emigrating with my family to New Zealand in six weeks. So if you ever need accommodation in the most southern of the antipodes I’m sure we’ll have a spare bed and a tipple of something acceptable available.

            Cheers mate,
            Ian.

            Like

          • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 9:47 pm

            Does that apply to other BOC editorial members too? 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • ianrsa September 28, 2017 / 9:56 pm

            Indeed Sean anyone who finds loose as opposed to lose as irritating as I do will always be welcome.As well a large majority of the BTL contributors. Northern Light and NonOxcol are two I would really enjoy chatting with and not just about cricket, Brexit springs to mind. Of course I don’t want to be controversial. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

          • quebecer September 29, 2017 / 1:12 am

            Ahem! Cough cough!

            Liked by 1 person

          • ianrsa September 29, 2017 / 5:30 am

            Well of course Quebecer, that goes without saying!

            Like

          • northernlight71 September 29, 2017 / 10:05 am

            The question we are all asking, though, is : Are you going to change your user name to IanNZ?
            🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • ianrsa September 29, 2017 / 10:37 am

            Hey Northern’ I had considered it, However I’ve had this one for over a dozen years so I shall probably stick with it.

            Like

        • Quebecer September 29, 2017 / 11:18 am

          I should jolly well hope so too, what with your spot in the tundra apocalypse bunker still reserved.

          Big and exciting move, Ian. I do hope it’s all positive for you. Where are you heading exactly?

          Like

          • ianrsa September 29, 2017 / 9:16 pm

            Hi Quecer, thanks for the good wishes. We are heading to Nelson (the north of the South Island).

            I have always wanted to live in NZ. I visited a couple of times after I left the army in the early 80’s when I was ski bumming my way around the world. To my mind it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Rivalled only by western Canada around the Fernie, Kimberly and Banff area.

            I would be very happy to welcome you if you ever make it south of the equator. I feel we would get on terribly well..

            Like

  18. SimonH September 28, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    Middlesex relegated by a Vince blockathon.

    Second season running an England selector has seen the county he coaches relegated (and Notts are only returning to D1 because of Northants’ penalties for slow over-rates. Northants have won two more games than Notts).

    Like

    • northernlight71 September 28, 2017 / 5:15 pm

      I was genuinely torn today. Did I want Bransgrove CCC to go down, or the mighty Middle Saxons so beloved of Mike Selvey?
      In the end I’d rather have seen Bransgrove get his well deserved descent, but as usual I backed the wrong horse.
      Story of my life 🙂

      Like

    • Mark September 28, 2017 / 5:22 pm

      I was hoping Hampshire would go down. It would have been justice for last year.

      Just been reading Mark Nicholas defend Vince and Crane. Two Hampshire players defended by an ex Hampshire captain.

      The Crane selection is one of the biggest gambles in recent years. He was supposed to play at Lords against WI, but after England lost at Leeds England needed to put out a pace attack to win the series.

      What a way to pick a team. It sounds as if his face fits. So that’s all right then.

      Like

      • SimonH September 28, 2017 / 5:30 pm

        If it’s any consolation, I think Bransgrove’s order of cricketing priorities is:

        1) Getting an Ashes’ Test for his ground.
        2) Getting a T20 franchise (pretty much done and dusted)

        <>

        3) The fortunes of Hampshire’s CC team.

        Like

        • SimonH September 28, 2017 / 5:31 pm

          Oops, it’s disappeared – but that was the Grand Canyon between points 2 and 3!

          Like

  19. Benny September 28, 2017 / 7:42 pm

    Absolutely spot on Sean. By the way, didn’t Director, Trust suggest a while back that he wasn’t satisfied with our selectors? In the 3 years since the start of our New Era, we still don’t have a team of 11 Test class players. In this case, the loss of one lauded all-rounder becomes disastrous – “can’t drop Strokes because we won’t win a thing with what’s left”

    I too wonder what on earth Strauss finds to fill his days. Oh yes, just wanted to say I’m not convinced he’s very bright.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 7:47 pm

      Thanks Benny, one may suggest that he spends his time enjoying the fruits of his title….

      I bet those cozy ECB lunches are a sight to behold…

      Like

  20. Milano Expat September 28, 2017 / 8:15 pm

    A very insightful piece, thank you. I don’t get to hear much of the ‘background’ being an expat (especially as I’m on holiday in Holland at the moment).

    I really had no idea about Andrew Strauss’ lack of morality. I had always assumed he was whiter than white, especially following Paul Downton. You live and learn, so they say…

    Like

  21. Ian September 28, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    Like

    • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 8:39 pm

      Hahaha, I need to borrow a phrase out of Andrew Strauss’ dictionary for that tweet.

      I am available tonight for all mainstream radio stations as an FYI…

      Like

      • Mark September 28, 2017 / 9:02 pm

        I did try to warn you all this morning. Holt is a man for all seasons. All seasons of shite that is.

        1 Not going to Bangladesh (after being given that option by the ECB) hanging offence.
        2 street fighting, and puting someone in hospital is no problem.

        Holt is the bleeding heart liberal of multi millionaire sports stars who screw up. He should have been a phycologist. I put it down to access journalism, oh, and his Alice band wearing days of e Beckham era on Hold the back page.

        Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol September 28, 2017 / 9:01 pm

      Gratifying to see how well that went down.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Silk September 29, 2017 / 6:26 am

      It’s all about trust, isn’t it?

      Like

  22. Mark September 28, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    It never rains…..it pours.

    Now there is a snapchat video of Stokes mimicking Katie Price’s disabled son according to the independent.

    Look forward to Lovejoy turning this into a funny turn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dlpthomas September 29, 2017 / 8:32 am

      Not quite on the same level as brawling in the streets but I suppose we can now look forward to revisiting every sin he has ever committed. Mocking the disabled is pathetic but I suspect most of us have said or done things that we are very glad are not on video.

      Like

      • Silk September 29, 2017 / 8:55 am

        I’d agree with that. Kicking him for doing something a bit stupid isn’t fair. Most of us, I suspect, have said things we are glad aren’t on video for the whole world to see. I certainly have.

        Like

    • Sean B September 28, 2017 / 10:42 pm

      You’re move Mr Strauss. I’m just imagining Colin Graves petting an evil cat on his lap..

      Liked by 1 person

  23. dlpthomas September 29, 2017 / 3:31 am

    Was the guy that Stokes knocked out admitted to hospital or just seen in A&E and then discharged? Also, do we know what injuries he sustained?

    Like

    • man in a barrel September 29, 2017 / 8:56 am

      Very few details have emerged. In the old days, the Sun would probably have sneaked a reporter into the hospital disguised as a nurse and have been writing interviews with his friends telling us what a great guy he wad

      Like

      • BobW September 29, 2017 / 9:02 am

        Believe me they still do that. Friend of mine who is a nurse and works in the St George’s, Tooting hospital. I think it was the Grenfell fire tragedy. Two people made out they were family relations. Turned out they were not. The hospital cottoned on very quickly and booted them out.

        Like

  24. Elaine Simpson-Long September 29, 2017 / 5:33 am

    I cannot help but feel that not going to Australia, being stripped of the vice captaincy et al might be the best thing that could happen to Stokes. He will be slap bang up against reality, especially if he ends up I prison though I think that is unlikely, and it could be the shock he needs. A comment eslsewhere, cannot remember where, said he was ‘young and will grow up’. He is 26 and has two kids for gawds sake (incidentally wonder what his partner thinks of it all, they are getting married next month). Mind you he has been a member of a Young Team that has been Young and Learning for about ten years now so hardly surprising this attitude is expressed.

    Not a huge fan of his myself, My reaction when I heard he was trying to stop a lout from abusing two gay guys was one of understanding, I then saw the video and changed my mind. He just went on and on and would not stop and that is really worrying. What an awful mess it all is.

    The sports world is full of those who have had their careers wrecked through bad behaviour, drinking etc and I really hope that Ben does not join the list. Stay home, which you may now have to, be with your family and calm down and sort it out. Please

    Liked by 4 people

  25. SimonH September 29, 2017 / 8:01 am

    This is throwing up all sorts of moral dilemmas….

    Like do I get a Premium account to read Michael Henderson?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie September 29, 2017 / 8:13 am

      You probably know that, but you can sign up for free to get one article per week. For all I know there might be ways to get around that limit, as well, but I haven’t looked into it. I’ve only read one article in the few months since I’ve signed up anyway.

      Like

    • Silk September 29, 2017 / 8:37 am

      He works Olympian ideals, Matt Busby and Bernard Manning into his first two paras.

      Like

    • nonoxcol September 29, 2017 / 8:50 am

      Michael “only the riff raff support KP, I never go near them” Henderson?

      Michael “Selvey is wonderful and always right” Henderson?

      Nope.

      Like

  26. Deep Purple Fred September 29, 2017 / 10:24 am

    Malcom Knox:
    “That agonised moaning heard from Lord’s around the world is not a group yoga session loosening some stiff upper lips, but English cricket authorities contorting themselves into a pretzel in an attempt to retain both Ben Stokes and their principles.”

    Akward yoga imagery aside, spot the obvious flaw in that statement.

    Like

  27. Clivejw September 29, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    I do hope Stokes’ reported defence that he was defending two gay guys from abuse is not made up, as it at least gives some kind of explanation for what looks like extremely brutual drunken violence. But even if true, he clearly went too far in his “defence” and is very lucky he didn’t cause the other guy serious injuries or worse. My message to straight guys who want to be knights in shining armour is that gays have a lot more experience dealing with homophobic abuse than you do, and can usually handle themselves without ending up in the slammer. Homophobes aren’t worth having their injury or death on your conscience.

    Like

  28. Zephirine September 29, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    Hm. Having once upon a time had to research all this stuff, my attention was grabbed by two things: 1) the charge was quoted as Actual Bodily Harm and 2) the police kept him in custody overnight.

    This is, if you’ll pardon the expression, serious shit. The usual charge for a bunch of drunk guys having a brawl is Affray or possibly Common Assault. Those get you a booking at the Magistrate’s Court.

    Here are the rules about ABH: ABH should generally be charged where the injuries and overall circumstances indicate that the offence merits clearly more than six months’ imprisonment and where the prosecution intend to represent that the case is not suitable for summary trial.

    There may be exceptional cases where the injuries suffered by a victim are not serious and would usually amount to Common Assault but due to the presence of significant aggravating features (alone or in combination), they could more appropriately be charged as ABH contrary to section 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This would only be where a sentence clearly in excess of six months’ imprisonment ought to be available, having regard to the significant aggravating features.
    http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/l_to_o/offences_against_the_person/#a08

    The charge indicates that the police dealing with Stokes thought he was a thug and treated him accordingly. He’s been charged, so things now have to take their course. With the video evidence, I don’t see how he can get away without a criminal conviction even if he gets a suspended sentence.

    Perhaps the best thing they can do is send Cook to court as a character witness and he can work his mysterious doe-eyed magic on the judge.

    Still, just the other day a judge let a girl off for stabbing her boyfriend because she wants to be a heart surgeon, so perhaps if Stokes hastily signs up for hurricane relief work over the winter and declares a vocation to work for the Red Cross when he leaves cricket…

    Other things I thought:

    I hope Stokes’s wife gives him absolute hell. He’s got kids, FFS.
    It rather puts Monty peeing at a bouncer in the shade, and look how quick they all were to write Monty off.
    Botham, Flintoff and some of the other ‘hellraisers’ of old should thank their stars that they were players when they were. Nowadays some guy with an iPhone is always going to lean out of an upstairs window and get the evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zephirine September 29, 2017 / 9:13 pm

      Aha, correction: he hasn’t been charged yet. Not quite so scary, still time to nobble the CPS (joke).

      Like

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