And The Painting You Stole From Picasso

October has passed, the traditional down month on Being Outside Cricket, and we haven’t exactly bucked a trend on here with our output last month – some traditions may be worht keeping. In truth even our WhatsApp group has been really quiet as I think we get over the hard work of a cricketing summer, try to replenish the enthusiasm to carry on writing while trying not to drop the standard, and to try to focus on something different, or approach something from a different way. We are always keen that the site, and the posts are prevented from being a load of old samey nonsense, being too vanilla and that they to get you to care. We are certainly not here just to conform with social media norms of bantz, lolz and all that jazz.

November will see the start of the Ashes in the early hours of Thursday 23rd November. I love the Ashes, and will still be hooked on watching as much as I can. Hopefully this turns into decent pieces for you to read and elicits the insight, caustic and pointed as it is, from you lot. I think a few of you needed the time off too to prepare for the overnight slog of an Ashes series. I think we’ll be buried below so much meaningless pre-Ashes claptrap from the media, we’ll just hibernate until the action starts for real. Or maybe not.

So, this is a blatant holding post for now. Work has taken over a lot of my time, more than it used to, and when I do get home, I don’t want to stare at screens, or look for inspiration, to write. I know Chris has similar issues with his work at this time of the year, and Sean is also in a relatively new job. There’s also not really a lot to write about, if truth be told. I do still owe you the Readers Awards poll, and the second nominee for our conceptual Mount Rushmore, after Giles Clarke pretty much swept the board last year.

I did want to raise one point, and it may not be one the vast majority of the readership agrees with. It may even be odd, coming from me.

I believe that Ben Stokes should be in our Ashes party.

But here’s the thing. I can certainly understand it if people think he shouldn’t.

This may appear to be a really woolly position, but it is symptomatic of where we are now. If you don’t agree with me, then fine. I’m cool with that. It doesn’t do for us to all agree. I like to think, even if I might not have shown it, that throughout the KP business, I understood if people didn’t like KP. Hell, after some of his latest stuff, I’m not sure if I do. But just because he disagrees isn’t a reason to hate, to shut out the contrary view. What grinds my gears is when there are no shades of grey in any issue. If you believe Stokes should go you are condoning blatant thuggery, you are setting a bad example to kids, you are basically scum. I’ve seen that. Give over. I had a fight outside a pub once – innocent party and all that. Hell, I nearly got arrested in Barcelona for a row with my brother! Less a fight, more an aggressive embrace. We are as close as brothers can be. Shit happens.

Whereas I say, he’s not been charged, yet, and therefore he is either available for selection or the ECB suspend him. There is a form of moral code now that our sportsman have to adhere to. I’m not necessarily falling for the gay bloke story, but this jump to judgement is symptomatic of conclusions drawn from limited evidence. A vacuum needs to be filled. Opinion fills it. I know how this works.

It’s not about Stokes per se – but about attitudes to debate. I found my arguments carried more weight, more influence, when I got angry. Anger brings steamroller tactics, no compromise, I’m right, you are wrong. The world is not full of absolutes. There’s a guy I follow on Twitter who is adamant Stokes is a thug, who could have killed someone, and should not play for England ever again. Presumably Wayne Rooney, among countless others over the years, getting into a car sopping drunk and driving, who legitimately could kill someone too, is fine because, well, he never meant to hurt someone. I had a mate die because of drink driving. Maybe I should get all mad about Wayne Rooney still picking up hundreds of thousands a week (and this isn’t picking on Rooney). But don’t. Shades of grey.

The Stokes debate has absolutely got me depressed with the state of cricket on social media and in the press. Maybe it’s a bit casual to say that fights happen all the time, good people get embroiled in them, and there for the grace of God etc. It’s easy to be morally pious, and yes, no doubt I’ve done it. It’s not an absolute. Sorry, it just isn’t. We chuckle at Botham claiming to chase Ian Chappell for a fight, but then get up in arms because the one man who appeared most likely to get involved in something like this, did. I don’t know what to say.

If Twitter wasn’t necessary for this gig, I wouldn’t be on it. Or at least I’d unfollow a lot of the cricketing firmament who deal in absolutes, and that their opinion is right to the exclusion of all others. Maybe I’m mellowing (I doubt it).

So, not the long run the Bogfather was looking for, but there’s time for that. The BT Sport panel for starters. Shiny Toy and Lovejoy. It hardly seems fair.

Also, I see there was good news so far for Jonathan Agnew’s wife. I am sure we can all be pleased about that. He may divide opinion, but he’s sometimes been an ally to this blogger, and having lost close relatives, like many, to that disease, it is nice when people get good news. So good luck.

Don’t worry. I’ll be back to my curmudgeonly ways, no doubt.