I Had Some Dreams, They Were Clouds In My Coffee

21st November 2002. Adelaide. After a chastening first test defeat at Brisbane, the England Ashes tour moved to Adelaide. So had I. On my first visit to watch England overseas it was time for the last leg of the most amazing holiday. Day 1 at Adelaide, after the awful queues and mix-up over tickets, was lit up by an innings of unimagined brilliance. Michael Vaughan slipped the gears, flowed beautifully, took advantage of short square boundaries and made 177 magnificent runs. To be there was a privilege. Hell, for a day at least it even gave us a little hope, although we were disappointed he was out from the last ball of the day. If cricket is entertainment, then Vaughan was the main show for England. Sure he’s made a couple of 190s against India in the preceding summer. This was the Ashes, my Ashes, and I had an England hero to be proud of. He even stood straight faced as he did not walk and pissed Justin Langer off. That was a win-win as far as I was concerned.

24th November 2002. Adelaide. The game is over. Despite Vaughan adding a decent 40-odd in the second innings, Ricky Ponting has been made man of the match. The Barmy Army, based by the scoreboard at Adelaide Oval sing “Michael Vaughan, My Lord, Michael Vaughan” in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. How could the adjudicators not watch that innings and put it above Ponting’s? A minor quibble.

12th September 2005. London. After that successful Ashes, where he made two more big hundreds, Vaughan ascended to the captaincy and pointed England in the right direction, making them more ruthless in association with the development of a couple of key weapons. There was the rampage through 2004. A win in South Africa, and then the coup de grace. Winning the Ashes in front of amazed crowds, with a team that should be remembered for all time. They winged it a bit, arguably did not win in their most dominant performance (Old Trafford), but come the final day the series was in the balance. This amazing Day 5 will, or at least should, never be forgotten. A man playing to his captain’s orders saved the day. England celebrated. Vaughan was seen as a genius, a man able to get the best out of his team, to make it gel, and together with Duncan Fletcher, a team that played exciting attacking cricket, with a team of stars and artisans.

Michael Vaughan, for a couple of years, was the star of English cricket. He had become the world number 1 batsman after a run of form so magical it was scarcely believable. While his batting paid the price in the wake of his appointment as captain, he proved himself to be tactically astute, an infuser of confidence, a beacon of control. He did, also, have a really good bowling attack which, after 2005, never played together in full again. I bought his books, bad as they were. I watched the videos time and again. I still have his 177 in full, I think, converted to DVD. Being there for that was incredible. There was such confidence in his strokeplay, such clean hitting, and confidence. That was what struck out at me, his confidence. While Hussain pottered about at the other end, scratching runs here and there, Vaughan was playing a different game.

Fast forward 15 years since then, 12 years since those Ashes, and the picture could hardly be more different. I’ll wager that the England cricket supporters on here would not have had a bad word said about Vaughan after 2005. In hindsight, and with the benefit of what we know now, Vaughan’s role as a captain may even be questioned, such has been the body of evidence post career of insensitivity, stupidity and downright nonsense uttered from our ex-captain that you wonder how he could lead. When we look at Sky, and I am not a fan of many of them, at least ex-captains Hussain and Atherton grip you with what they say. Nass may go off the deep end every now and then, but you see and hear the utter passion he has for the game at heart. Atherton, in his own way, shows his love for international cricket behind a reserved, considered approach very much akin to the way Richie Benaud approached things. Both ex-captains are, I think, still very much respected for different methodologies, but also because their commentary and analysis avoids you thinking “what are they after?”

Michael Vaughan is all over the bloody airwaves, and social media. He is on Radio 5 Live, both in his stint as a commentator on TMS and a podcast show with the vacuous faux joker Phil Tufnell. Even in the days of HDWLIA when I tried to read and listen to everything, these two clowns were not exactly required listening. At least Freddie makes no bones about wanting to get into show-business. Vaughan can also be found commentating on the dead zone that is Channel 5’s highlights, and if that isn’t enough, he’s going to be on BT Sport’s coverage of the Ashes this winter, was on their sofa last year, and is sure to be put up alongside Graeme Swann as the face of the winter. I love the Ashes, especially in Australia (2002 and 2006 did that to me, even though we lost all 4 matches I went to) and we are going to have to put up with this. In the words of one of my favourite pop collectives, What Have I Done To Deserve This?

There’s no sanctuary on social media. There he is, bestriding Twitter with his faux man of the people act that soon disappears when someone picks him up on something he says, or lawks a mercy, mentions potential conflicts of interest when ISM clients are discussed. If there’s an opinion to be had, he’ll have one. If there’s an acca to promote, he’ll promote it (where he is a “rep” for an online betting company, thus turning an innocent sharing of a bet into a commercial opportunity). He’s also someone who lurches into hyperbole far too readily. If there’s a greatest ever, then he’s onto it. I’m a grump, but I find this nonsense tiresome. And for someone bemoaning a drinking culture (once he saw how the land laid) he’s quick to say it’s “vino o’clock”. Harmless? Sure, but when he’s doing it. Oh, and how about filming a commercial with Stokes for an alcoholic beverage? I suppose it was OK as Hales wasn’t about.

If you think you are safe in newspaper land, well you’d be wrong. He has a gig at the Telegraph where he can share with us his knowledge of mental health issues, his social responsibility agenda, and generally act as a slightly more refined Robbie Savage. Jonathan Liew said of Savage that he always has an opinion, and if you hang about long enough, he’ll give you a diametrically opposite opinion. Vaughan is cricket’s equivalent, a sort of Instant Messenger form of writing. He can say something, hope you’ll forget it, and then say something totally different when he sees how the wind is blowing. Note how he’s changed from a sorrowful, almost excusing tone earlier in the Stokes affair, converting to a full on hammering down, even throwing Alex Hales under the bus too. With friends like these, who the hell needs enemies? One minute we need to understand why Stokes needs to unwind, but once the media line to take was set, it’s you never want to go on a night out with these headbangers.

I think, for me, the beginning of the end was how Vaughan watched how the wind was blowing post 2013-14 and made the case for KP. It was always couched in the public should be told, and that this appeared a question of management. One could almost be fooled that he was on “our side”. If KP made runs in the Big Bash, Vaughan would be on Twitter, saying that he’s useful, he should be in our T20 side at least etc. etc. He was, undoubtedly, playing to the gallery. He is well entrenched into the England cricketing firmament, and he was running with hare and hunting with the hounds. So while, on his radio show, he’d be in tune with us, saying those things we wanted to hear, in reality he was talking out of the side of his mouth. It was more self-referential mentions of how he managed to keep KP in check, and less why the ECB were being ocean-going morons with their outside cricket, dodgy dossiers and contempt for the public. Oh sure, he picked the low-hanging fruit, but he never convinced us he’d do anything about it. When the story came and went, ebbed and flowed, he’d be there to talk about it, but given he has an unspoken influence in the game, he didn’t seem to want to get involved or have a true pop.

Because when he got the chance to do it, he bottled it. He may not have won but for a man supposedly so keen for his views to be heard, and to have influence over the game, he should have gone up against a man who could hardly be seen to be on the same hymn sheet as Vaughan. Michael made it known how he wanted talent to run free, to play positively, to attack, to “fight fire with fire”. Strauss was a man of process, of management theory, of team-building through bonding and stability, buy-in and culture. There was bowling dry, team ethics, winning with pressure applied, and when the team made runs on the board, they were formidable. The ultimate company man, the man who would eschew public opinion and do things his way against a so-called “man of the people”. Process against charisma. Stability against Invention. Bowling dry against pedal to the metal.

Vaughan may have read the runes and said to himself that the ECB would never go for him, but he retreated with caution. There were whispers, most notably from the key domestic cricket writer on ESPN Cricinfo that Vaughan had serious conflicts of interest he would have to divest, which were providing him with a nice little sideline to his commentary and writing gigs. Most notably, and the one which has us wondering quite what we have now is his involvement in ISM.

This is a trick played by all the celebs who claim to love the “bantz” but when it is directed at them, it’s “only opinions”. As if Michael Vaughan’s opinions have absolutely no weighting on any decisions made. I could spend months trawling his twitter feed for examples of this opinion forming manifested itself into team selections. For example, Jonathan Trott, after his first absence from the team made a double hundred for England Lions in South Africa. Off he went on the bandwagon that Trott should return as opener for the West Indies tour coming up. Sam Robson had been dumped and in came Trott. A couple of iffy innings later and Vaughan is saying there’s no way Trott can play in the Ashes, and lo and behold, Adam Lyth is his successor, and he gets the nod. Lyth has a tough time, and Vaughan, yet again gets it right..

Moeen Ali doesn’t have a great tour in the Emirates and Alex Hales comes in. Lo and behold, Vaughan was again in favour…

Vaughan echoed Hussain’s sentiments when he selected his ideal England XI to line-up against South Africa in Durban on Boxing Day.

“(Hales) deserves the chance to open the batting,” Vaughan wrote in The Telegraph.

“It will not be easy to face Steyn and Morkel on his first tour as Test opener but he will have plenty of opportunity in warm up games to find form and a bit of confidence.

Don’t you think we can all do this? Listen to the leaks, report on them, “back” them, because all pundits need to “back” decisions and then repent at leisure. Because, as we know, Hales kept his place for the early part of the 2016 summer and Vaughan had his own focus… James Vince.

This is the issue with Vaughan. Even if he believes James Vince is the answer to our Ashes issues now, or the next taxi on the rank back in 2016, there is, below the surface, the conflict of interest Jonathan Trott went to town on in his book. Vince is in the ISM gang, and that causes a problem with the smell test.

Methinks he protests too much…What Vaughan does not get, and seems to bristle at whenever it is mentioned is that he put himself in this position. He has not exactly been quiet when evaluating James Vince’s early performances. As I say, I remember him bigging up Vince’s fielding when he was in the early days of his test career, more than I’ve ever really heard from him before. It just seemed like an additional promo for “his man”. Now he denies this furiously wherever he goes, even threatening to take legal action against Jonathan Trott and, I presume, his co-writer George Dobell, for making that contention. It’s a dead cert to get you blocked should you try it on on Twitter. The reaction to Vince being touted as an Ashes batsman was greeted with incredulity by those who give much of their time up following it, but were quickly dismissed as “outside the game” by Swann in a pairing with Vaughan. But, presumably as an exercise in thinking who should go to the Ashes tour, rather than who would be going, Vaughan showed that telepathy with the selectors for which he is renowned.

Ignore the bowlers, no-one really cares about them! The thing about this is I don’t know anyone suggesting Vince prior to the weekend before selection and yet an ISM client is put in an ISM client’s list is just happenstance? It came together with the ready packed line to take (he may have the technique for Australia – which is interesting because Vaughan bemoaned Vince’s “hard hands” a year ago and was frustrated that he wasn’t showing the required temperament – presumably these disappear in Brisbane) and off we ran.

But perhaps the single thing that cheeses me off with Vaughan is his unquenchable thirst to promote four day test matches. I’ll go into this more when I do a piece on this risible nonsense, and look at the pros and cons put in the article in the Cricketer (Tim, Tim, why have you let us down on this one). He just does not listen to the arguments against. Imagine how you would have felt, Michael, on the Saturday of the Old Trafford test in 2005. We put 400 on the board, Australia had avoided the follow-on on a rain ruined Day 3. That test would simply have had nowhere to go. England 180 in front, Australia with three wickets left. Day 4 a total irrelevance. Your 166 in the first innings in total vain. A nice bon mot in a game that died. Even with an additional ten overs each day, you aren’t really in a better position. Then we would not have had that wonderful Day 5 drama, played in front of a packed house, watched by millions on TV, entertainment at its best, drama at its best, evolving in the natural flow of the game. 4 day cricket will only get the same results by contrivance. Doctoring pitches, and yes, I’ve heard it all about bowler-friendly wickets being more exciting, but they can also be more of a lottery, forced declarations. But the other thing it could do is make the home team going 1-0 up in a major series prepare roads that would not have to last that long. I can go on.

None of this matters to Vaughan. Test cricket is “dying” (no-one bothering to work out how or why it is being “killed”) and needs to be saved. The only way to do so is to shorten it. But you aren’t really because you’d bowl more overs in the day (stop laughing at the flaw in that argument), so all those exciting five day games would have been finished within his timeline… Anyone who isn’t on board is not with the program. Is prepared to see test cricket die. And if you dare mention it is to squeeze in more money opportunities for the top players that might just be hooked up to ISM, well, there you have it. A block for you.

Back in 2002, when I saw a man take it to the Aussies, in person, in front of my eyes, I would have given anything to be like him. The brilliant shots, the amazing tempo, the courage of his batting convictions. When he captained us in 2005, before my eyes, with control, with verve, with a desire to fight toe to toe with a mighty foe, he could have taken over English cricket at that time and I would have been a fervent fan. Fast forward and I see a man who has gone beyond disappointing me, to being a man I actually loathe hearing from. Sadly, as a cricket fan, I can hardly avoid him. He’s everywhere. He doesn’t pass the honesty smell test, no matter how much he protests. He sways with the wind, pretending, yes, in my view pretending, he’s in with the common fan, but he doesn’t half have a way of being in step with what the powers that be want. It’s almost uncanny. Of course he wants a new T20 competition in England and to hell with the consequences. Of course he wants 4 day test matches, and to hell with whether it will work, only we have to try. Of course he has his fingers on the pulse, because he’s so rarely off the air, I’m surprised anyone else has a chance to get a word in. Laugh at that Power List as we do, there’s a reason he’s that high up on it. There’s a special place in my little list for those who I thought were on our side, but are as inside cricket as can be and act like it when challenged. Number 39, for all his sins, and there are many, makes few bones about it. Hell, he named his podcast Inside Cricket. Vaughan pretended to be for the common fan. He’s nowhere near it. The Shiny Toy with the Mr Green Acca, the Ashes winning captain with the media platform.The faux man of the people. It’s only an opinion Shiny Toy.

I’m not a fan.

Give me a reason why it’s better. 


58 thoughts on “I Had Some Dreams, They Were Clouds In My Coffee

  1. jennyah46 Oct 13, 2017 / 8:16 am

    This is beautifully written and quite superb. I switch off Vaughan when he pontificates on TMS. He is unbearable. You have said it all Dmitri and I have nothing more to add. I’m with you on every vivid line.


    • LordCanisLupus Oct 13, 2017 / 9:23 am

      Thank you Jenny. More time and an un fractured arm might have meant more evidence and more focus. But you get my point.


      • jennyah46 Oct 13, 2017 / 10:19 am

        Indeed I do get your point. There is no mistaking it. 🙂


  2. Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 10:19 am

    Even I…….in my deep cynicism of rent a quote insiders who pretend to be “in the media” was shocked at his apparent inside knowledge of Stokes night out in Manchester during the test match that he completely forgot to inform his readers about. According to people in the know, huge pressure was put on the media to pull that story. What did that involve? It obviously worked because not a single insider sang like a bird until the Bristol fracas. What do you do when you work both sides? Was Vaughn getting his talking points from the management company? Or from his editor at the Telegraph? Decisions….. decisions?

    There is something very amusing about all this. Almost like a scene out of a Marx brothers film where he has to chastise, and then threaten……..er…..himself! As an employee of a management company warning himself as a pundit not to reveal the story. This is comedy gold……”Right Michael……. you need to tell yourself not to write about this story.”

    Also, I had no idea that Stokes and Hales were……. according to him, (but wise after the event revealed to the public) not a good partnership to be let out on the town together. How does he know? How does he know Stokes is out on the town? And if he does know how come the England managemnet don’t? Oh I remember……trust?

    The conflicts of interest pile up, and stink to high heaven. What else his he not telling us? It’s another “I know stuff, that you don’t know, but I can’t tell you because I know stuff,? bullshit rational.

    And the MS media wonder why people get their news and opinions from outsiders on you tube these days?


    • BobW Oct 13, 2017 / 10:25 am

      Makes me laugh when they say Hales and Stokes are no good together. Makes them sound like some sort of criminal racket.
      They are grown men who make their own choices. They stand and fall by their choices.
      It’s up to the ECB to manage them, who once again have clearly shown they can’t. No surprise there then.


    • SimonH Oct 13, 2017 / 10:50 am

      Michael ‘Bomber’ Vaughan?


  3. BobW Oct 13, 2017 / 10:20 am

    Great article as ever. Always making me think and for that thank you.
    I remember that Vaughan in that series seemed to take McGrath apart. Basically pulling his stock ball whenever he could which was always just short of a length.
    I do still like Vaughan however. I just think that he has made himself into a product that sells himself. Hence his over reactions as you discuss. But then again. No one is perfect.
    Swann is the one that grates me. Smarmy git. That type of personality that I really cannot stand. I’m gutted he will be on the bloody TV this winter with the Ashes. TMS it is I guess.


  4. Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    No doubt John Ehteridge will be along soon to tell us we don’t understand how journalism works. In fairness to John he his not an ex player. God knows I have issues with Ollie Holt, but I would never say he should not be allowed to comment on stuff just because he hasn’t done it at the highest level. A charge often made by sportsman who have been lucky enough to make the tansition from player to media. Wink wink….. MATCH OF THE DAY…… wink wink!

    Tv sport is now drenched in ex players. You can’t throw a cat without hitting an ex player who claims smugly he knows the inside track. Knows what the players think because he has been trough the same thing. But I don’t think you need to play at the highest level to know what is professional behaviour, and what isn’t. In fact, when you are paying £100 a ticket maybe you know rather better than the player what is expected.

    All very well, but sometimes you can’t see what is right in front of you. You are so inside the bubble that it takes an outsider to comment. I can’t help thinking this is all very convienient for the TV corporations who have to win the rights these days. Often it’s not just money bids but promises to “promote the sport ” as well. You don’t want too many pesky journos attacking the very product you have just spent millions and billions buying. Better off to employ someone like Swann who will do jokes, and banter.


    • Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 12:28 pm

      Is that your views Michael or your management companies views? Could you have two accounts please….one for your views, and one for your management propaganda views.

      It’s so difficult to know which is which.


  5. Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    Remember when the county championship was 3 days with contrived results. Cafeteria bowling to set up declarations. Welcome to the Test match version of it.

    Who the fuck wants a test championship now they will all end in draws or have contrived finishes?

    I don’t belive there is a single human being on planet earth who hasn’t considered test cricket before because it was 5 days, but will now go because it’s 4 days in length. It’s just money saving Bullshit for tv companies and administrators.


    • pktroll (@pktroll) Oct 13, 2017 / 1:18 pm

      There was plenty of cafeteria bowling on offer when Yorkshire allowed Middlesex some easy runs so that they could attempt an optimistic chase on the last day of last season’s county championship. So it happens in 4 day games too.


      • Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 2:23 pm

        Sure, and you can get some contrived test matches now as well. Point is……it’s the number of games that will be effected.

        A few sessions of bad weather and that’s it. You won’t be able to recoup the overs lost because they will now have to bowl 100 overs per day in four days. There is no room to catch up. They will be playing until 7.30pm as it is.

        You would think the authorities would at least prove they can bowl 90 overs in a day by 6pm let alone 100 before they start this.. But no, let’s just do it because some management company who is contracted by the TV companies wants it.

        Is there a sport that hates it’s fans more than cricket? They so want a new customer base.

        Liked by 1 person

        • SimonH Oct 13, 2017 / 2:56 pm

          When this idea of four-day Tests was first floated, wasn’t there going to be a provision that the fifth day could be used if time was lost to weather? What happened to that? I haven’t heard it mentioned for a while.

          Is this net going to catch all the rain?


          • Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 4:51 pm

            There is of course a logic to having a fifth day to make up the time. However, the reason they want 4 day tests is so they can save all the costs of fifth day expenses. All the people who have to be employed, caterers, stewards, police etc etc.

            If they have a fith day reserve, it defeats the whole object of the exercise. Money, and profits.

            Watch out for Shinny toy and his band of ECB elites starting to tell us that the test match game must speed up. Batsman will be judged on strike rates for their hundreds. We saw this with Compton when they claimed he was batting too slow. If games continue at today’s pace the draw will become common.

            I can’t wait to hear Cook speak out on this seeing as he loves test cricket…………


          • SimonH Oct 13, 2017 / 5:27 pm

            Yes, I was kind of getting at how can there be any savings when all the staff have to be available for a possible fifth day anyway. Ah, zero hours’ contracts….

            As for Cook using his godlike status to speak out on something that might make officialdom uncomfortable, that would be a first (or a second after his heroic stand on batting helmets). How long before “redemption for Cook” became “his eyes are going”, “gosh, you know he hasn’t actually scored that many centuries for a while” and “who really wants that batting record anyway”?

            Liked by 1 person

    • Benny Oct 13, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      I remember being at a Sussex v Leicester 3 day game at Hove years ago. The 3rd innings was in progress on the last day and a draw was the only possible result. So we had to watch the teams just going through the motions and it was utterly boring.


      • Quebecer Oct 13, 2017 / 6:57 pm

        The only way to avoid this in tests would be worse pitches. And we lament the loss of test match batting now?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    Dave Richardson speaks…….

    “The trial starts immediately, probably with the first one Zimbabwe playing South Africa from Boxing Day in South Africa,” Richardson said. “The trial won’t be compulsory; it will be by arrangement between participating teams in a particular series. So, whoever wants to play it can play it.”

    “The real value is, teams like Ireland and Afghanistan, even Zimbabwe who have not been at their best. They will be able to explore the opportunity of playing four-day Test matches. Teams visiting, for example, South Africa, might be more likely to play Zimbabwe in a four-day Test than they would in a five-day Test. So, I think it has a number of advantages.”

    Notice how he pretends this is being done for the under dogs. Nothing is done in cricket unless the big 3 want it.

    Under Richardson logic……..perhaps Crystal Palace can opt to play Man City over 60 minutes, and not the standard 90. Or boxers can opt to fight 8 rounds and not 12. Perhaps golfers can take on Dustin Johnson over 14 holes. Perhaps I can race the 60 metre sprint while Usain Bolt runs the full 100?


  7. Quebecer Oct 13, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    I can just about see why some people advocate a test championship. I personally don’t agree, either philosophically or practically.

    However, 4 day tests? You can’t possibly love cricket or have its best interests at heart and be for it. I just don’t see how it is defensible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Deep Purple Fred Oct 13, 2017 / 11:41 pm

      I can understand there can be practical challenges to a test championship, but I’m interested to know what your philosophical objections are.
      Being crowned the Test Campionship Winner would surely be the pinacle of cricket. Awarding that title to anyone in a meaningful sense is probably impossible, given the enormous difference in conditions, schedules, T20 intereference etc. but it would be a great title. So yes, practically not realistic. But why don’t you philosophically agree?


      • quebecer Oct 15, 2017 / 12:01 am

        Certainly, Fred. Some thoughts for you:

        – Because a test series is an end in itself. I love how it is a self-contained thing, unto itself, with it’s anticipation of the arrivals, the beginning, the unfolding narrative, and the de nu ma all because of the series itself. It doesn’t need context. it has its own.

        – And then, wonderfully, we draw a line under it and start agin in often a completely different environment with no need to have anything but that to make it great.

        – We know who the best team in the world is when there is one. And we know when there isn’t one. A two year cycle tells us less than that, not more.

        – A test championship will take away meaning to far more series than to where it adds meaning – even if added meaning were needed, which it isn’t.

        – Inevitably, it changes the very nature of every series played, however, and how players and administrations will react can in no way be guaranteed to make anything better at all.

        – Plus, anyone who loves test cricket loves it for what it is – the perfect game. The product is good: change lessens it, rather than strengthens it.

        – A test championship will in no way have the effect those making the decisions hope it will. While what the future holds is impossible to predict, we can safely bank on that. It’s just the manner and level to which it will be negatively effects that we can’t fully predict.

        – And a load of other stuff as well.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Sri.Grins Oct 15, 2017 / 3:01 am

          Agree with you that 4 day tests are just to reduce losses to tests not watched by many and this test championship looks like a daft ploy hoping that soemhow saying that these matches count to test championship, will make people watch.

          I would not really anticipate that an India vs SL test series that english fans find crucial would be watched by them in droves.

          However, the cnange to ODIs to have a context is fine.

          Test cricket championship winners will not be seen as any more special than being ranked no 1. At least now thanks to the ranking logic (probably weird) multiple teams have a chance to be no 1 and provide interest. I remember when england had a chance to be 1 and then pak became no 1 because they beat england and prevented them and then pak got overhauled.

          Now , fans of some test countries like Pak would know that unless their team does well, they have no chance at the final and so will switch off even more. Same thing may happen to Indian fans too.

          If only they had consulted me. 😀

          I had a better Idea. They can make India & England & Oz the Evil Empire teams or the Dark Side. The other 9 would contest among themselves to play one of the three. This would ensure that a lot of test fans root for the evil sides losing and watch every test. 😀 :-D. Easy to market too. So many similar films have come and people can relate to it.


          • SimonH Oct 16, 2017 / 8:57 am

            ” the cnange to ODIs to have a context is fine”

            In itself, I wouldn’t disagree – but not the version they’ve actually introduced with its implication of a ten-team (or fewer) WC for ever more. Are you really okay with the WC format with India playing endless Pool games with no real jeopardy?

            As for your “better idea”, it sounds like current reality!


          • Sri.Grins Oct 16, 2017 / 10:58 am



            the current system is a great improvement over the existing pointless bilateral odis and if it means that more people will watch and more money come in, that is good if the money is used wisely.

            As to whether the WC should be a 10 team affair or larger, that is a different discussion. As I see it, logically elimination should be possible at the early rounds (b4 QFs) for India. Practically, the idea is a killer because ODIs are not so fascinating to watch when played between teams that are not supported by you and hence viewership will dip and revenues will dip too.

            So, it is a compromise which we can live with. At least, it is better than what went on before.


        • Deep Purple Fred Oct 15, 2017 / 9:25 pm

          Thanks Q, I think you’re on to soemthing here; I’ve got three comments.

          1. Not sure what you’re saying is philosophical. Was expecting something more along the lines of “mans condition can’t be determined by endless cycles of a constantly changing objective”. But maybe I’m over complicating it.

          2. “– And a load of other stuff as well.”. I fundamentally disagree. Or I would if I know what you were talking about. My high school biology teacher used to say that if you use “etc” it means you’ve stopped thinking.

          3. Fantastic reminder of what a series is about. It’s wonderful the way the team turns up, the fake wars with the warm up games, the speculation about who’s going to do what, and then the series unfolds, in all its glory. During that series, who cares about global ranking? This is about two teams locked in mortal combat in a specific place and time, with young heros, old champions, winners and losers etc, regardless of broader context.
          Who cares if McGrath was injured, England won in 2005, there is no other interpretation allowed. No room to say, yeah, England edged it but Australia’s still number one: no, England won the series, and that’s it.

          It would also add the opportunity for rampant unwelcome hype and fluff. I can well imagine a tight match between say NZ and SL being commentated by Warne reflecting on how the outcome will impact Australia’s ranking. Vomit inducing.

          So yes, on reflection, I think you’re right, the test champion idea could well undermine the singular importance of the series that are played, which are the foundation of our cricket calendar. I thought it was just impractical, but now I think it’s also a threat to the values that underpin the way we organise cricket today.
          I thought it was impractical because how could you equate Australia beating India in India, to Australia beating South Africa in South Africa? Both presumably earn points for away wins, but obviously they’re not the same.
          So it becomes a contrivance, and cricket is better off taking the high moral ground, sticking to series, and living in the world of informed debate and discussion rather than global points tables.

          I’ll add a fourth comment: I don’t think cricket is perfect, and I’m not closed to change.

          Thanks for your comment.


          • quebecer Oct 15, 2017 / 10:52 pm

            #1. I suppose I said philosophical because we’re discussing the very nature of something.

            #2. My Biology teacher was more likely to say, “Oi, quebecer! Take that frog out of O’Sullivav’s ear.”
            (“But he likes it, Miss!”)

            #3. Yes. Exactly.

            #4. I’m with you on that. And Sri’s point about adding context to ODIs is well made.


        • Mark Oct 16, 2017 / 2:25 pm

          Well said Quebecer.

          I see absolutely no point in a test championship. We already have a ranking table that is updated from test match to test match letting us know who is the number 1 ranked team is. And as you say, if there is a dominant team we all know who it is.

          Test series were,…… as you rightly point out…….self contained. A beginning, a middle and an end. At the end of the series a team would evaluate where it needed to go next to help improve.

          But that model does not bring in the money so they have to fiddle with it. One off test matches counting towards the test championship will be meaningless! A green seamer hastily prepared to get a three day easy win. Who gives a shit?

          Would an English/Aussie fan rather win the Ashes than be test Champions?

          They are messing with the game because it is dying. That is why we now have so many formats. You can usualy tell when a Restaurant is going down hill because the menu becomes enormous. So as to make sure they appeal to every possible person. Trouble is, the food is usuall shite because they have to freeze it all.


  8. Mark Oct 13, 2017 / 8:03 pm

    Good grief……. Sky are getting desperate now. A whole hour show on…….”Liverpool Vs Man U countdown!”

    Countown to what? FA cup final? Champions league final? No, just a mundane premiership game. The more they hype football the worse it gets. All that money they bid for it, theyve got to make it sound like the best thing since sliced bread.


    • Ian Oct 15, 2017 / 8:39 am

      And like all over hyped games especially with a Mourinho team playing it ends nil nil.


  9. Matt taylor Oct 13, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    I can live with Vaughan and Flintoff flip flopping depending on which media outlet they are on at the time (i think someone said ‘rent a quote’ on the blog a few days back). After all, Pele has essentially made a full time job of travelling the world somhe can go on telly for five minutes to tell Norway they are capable of winning the world cup before doing the same for Denmark.

    It made me laugh when Freddie siad this is our greatest test team with best ever batsman in Cook, immediately i thought how can you say that having arguably been in our best ever test side with Vaughan and Trescothic opening who are both better than Cook imo.

    What i cant abide is the faux hard man act that Vaughan puts on to imply he was not to be messed with in the dressing room. If someone asks if Stokes antics would be accepted in his team. i garuntee you will get a response like ‘would it heck, not on my watch, discipline, lead by example blah blah blah’. Whenever he is in the same room as Geoff Boycott i get the sense he feels he has to man up, be a true Yorkshireman and call everyone a big jessie if they dont it gravel for breakfast.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Deep Purple Fred Oct 13, 2017 / 11:53 pm

    I can sort of sympathise with this, but then I think Shane Warne, and I think you guys don’t know how good you have it.

    The greatest spin bowler and one of the the best bowlers Australia has ever had, but a dubious character on the field, magnified a hundred fold upon retirement. Launched an international Hair Replacement/Hurley/Poker/Roving Commentator career that still has people reaching for the off button. We’ve paid a heavy price for the ball of the century.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Oct 14, 2017 / 8:29 am

      Isn’t that why he was overlooked for captain?

      I think he would have made a very interesting captain in terms of on field tactics and strategy. He liked to attack, even in ODI games with lots of slips. Very interesting to watch.

      But as you say all the baggage that went with him off the field would have been a big problem to the authorities.


      • Deep Purple Fred Oct 14, 2017 / 10:29 pm

        Yes, Australia was smart enough to look past him.
        Funnily enough, it was England that went with the wild ones, with KP and Flintoff, with entirely predictable results. Although I guess KP’s demise wasn’t entirely self inflicted.


    • BobW Oct 15, 2017 / 8:55 pm

      I see you with your Shane Warne as a commentator and raise you with Ian Botham….


      • Deep Purple Fred Oct 16, 2017 / 9:01 am

        I raise you Slater.
        You’ve got no chance, I can do this all day.


        • BobW Oct 16, 2017 / 11:40 am

          Oh yes Michael Slater, how could I forget. But he wasn’t one of your all time greats though.


    • Mark Oct 14, 2017 / 9:36 am

      From that article…….

      .”And, because of that, our – and for other teams too – tactics were determined by what we needed to survive in Division One. One simple example of that was the last game.

      “If we needed two extra points, we’d have had completely different tactics. We’d have scored 300 in the first innings and we’d have been fine anyway.”

      If the ECB overturn this they have made a laughing stock of everyone who paid hard earned money to watch the last few champiomship games.

      Serves Middx right for having a lousy over rate in the first place. Cricket has done nothing about over rates, and now a county want to winge about how it cost them.

      Liked by 3 people

  11. Ian Oct 14, 2017 / 10:33 am

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this and agreed with every single word. Shiny Toy had got more and more annoying as the years have progressed but the threatening of Trott with Lawyers was the absolute low point for him.

    Off topic but I see that South Africa had to postpone their new T20 comp because of being unable to find a title sponsor or good enough broadcast deal. That must be worrying the ECB especially as I wonder if by 2020 will Sky or BT have enough money to be paying top dollar? Secondly I guess the ECB were hoping for a worldwide deal from India and if this hasn’t worked out for SA then I wouldn’t hold out much hope for the new Blast.


    • Mark Oct 14, 2017 / 11:22 am

      Oh yes Ian, this whole new ECB 20/20 is targeted at India. Both the Indian TV deals, and to get them interested in covering it……attracting top Indian players to come over.

      There is no guarantee they can do either, and they are going to have to pay mega bucks to get the Indian players to come. More money that will have to be soaked out of the poor fan.


  12. Mark Oct 14, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    I know this report is about the USA, but it’s interesting as a barometer of trends. It appears many Americans are cutting their cable cord and pay tv in general.

    As Bloomberg points out this morning, pay-tv subscriber losses are expected to set a new record in 2017, surpassing the 1.7mm homes that “cut the cord” in 2016,

    “Barring a major fourth-quarter comeback, 2017 is on course to be the worst year for conventional pay-TV subscriber losses in history, surpassing last year’s 1.7 million, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. That figure doesn’t include online services like DirecTV Now. Even including those digital plans, the five biggest TV providers are projected to have lost 469,000 customers in the third quarter. AT&T sank 6.1 percent

    Craig Moffet industry analyst warns “it is becoming increasingly clear that the wheels are falling off.”

    Be careful what you wish for!


  13. Zephirine Oct 15, 2017 / 6:06 pm

    It’s a well-known saying in UK politics that no-one leaves no 10 Downing Street [i.e. the Prime MInistership] entirely sane. I wonder if the same is true of the England captaincy?

    You will say ‘what about Brearley?’ and I would reply that Brearley is the exception to every rule.


  14. SimonH Oct 16, 2017 / 9:24 pm

    The head of FICA makes two pertinent criticisms of the recent ICC reforms that no journo that I’ve seen had spotted:
    1) There’s still no clear ‘blocking’ of the schedule for international matches and T20 leagues so the two may still clash and players be forced to chose between them.
    2) FICA weren’t consulted except in very general terms at the start of the process (given what we know about Clarke and Peever, is anyone surprised?)



  15. Mark Oct 16, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    Flintoff’s dream team on 5 live with the ping pong man. Shakes head, and leaves room. I kid you not. Who knew the 20th century never existed?

    Shinny toy capt
    Ben Stokes
    J Bairstow WK

    Ping pong man……….”it’s a hell of team”

    The ECB picked this man to captain England. I’m surprised he didn’t pick Mr Blobby.


      • Mark Oct 16, 2017 / 10:45 pm

        What could possibly go wrong? He’s going to tell them about his “black box thinking.” Learning from your mistakes.

        I wish the BBC would learn from their mistake of hiring this clown.

        Chancy Gardiner comes to mind.


      • nonoxcol Oct 18, 2017 / 3:59 pm

        And whaddaya know….?


        • nonoxcol Oct 19, 2017 / 2:49 pm

          This is absolutely glorious self-owning (not by Jonathan Liew, I hasten to add):


          • nonoxcol Oct 19, 2017 / 2:50 pm


          • nonoxcol Oct 20, 2017 / 8:27 am

            LCL will just *love* this…

            My mind is frazzled. I don’t even recognise my own species any more.

            Syed, Flintoff and Savage. No egos.


          • nonoxcol Oct 21, 2017 / 10:59 am

            I’ll quietly note here that Syed doubled down on this issue in his article this morning, that several proper sports journalists appear to loathe him, and that if we do have an annual poll this year I am changing my no.1 on principle.

            Utter fraud, and both dangerous and narcissistic with it.


          • LordCanisLupus Oct 21, 2017 / 11:25 am

            He’s not a cricket journo, or even really someone who ever comments on it though, so he doesn’t really qualify. If we bring other sports journos into it then Henry Winter is walking into my pantheon.

            Samuel and Holt come in because they’ve got cricket in their remit.

            I loathe Syed. The word supercilious was invented for him. It’s all about him monetising his own brand – even this recent affair. I follow a guy on twitter who used to be a journo, Mark O, and he lambasts him all the time (he’s also terribly cynical about most sport, perhaps too much so). The Mediawatch on F365 has taken Syed apart. You know all this, I’m sure, but he is loathed by many. I’ve not read the article today, I can hardly wait.


          • Mark Oct 21, 2017 / 3:35 pm

            No egos?

            Savage must live in a world of nothing but egos if he thinks there are no egos in that show. And the biggest ego of all is the Ping Pong mans.

            I’m telling you he’s sports answer to Chauncey Gardener. He has blundered into a world he is clueless about. For those that don’t know….. Peter Sellers last film about a cranky old Gardener that gets mistaken for a genius in the financial world.

            He is the sports version with his own column, and book deals. Invited to give speeches to organisations about his crack pot theories. They invite him on to Newsnight. Ffs. The world is going to hell in a handcart.


    • lawnmowingmaniac Oct 20, 2017 / 8:22 am

      Interesting how Flintoff went for Giles over Swann?


  16. Sir Peter Oct 19, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    Punter and Vaughan confirmed for notSky coverage…Geoffrey Boycott and Adam Gilchrist will be joined in the commentary box by three-time Ashes winner Graeme Swann; Damien Fleming, who won the Ashes twice with Australia; and award-winning broadcaster Alison Mitchell. The coverage will be presented by BT Sport’s Matt Smith.


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