How To Make A Crisis In Four Easy Steps

In the past few weeks, all of the cricket media in England and Australia have been talking about England’s behaviour off the field. Two incredibly minor events, coincidentally in the same Perth nightclub, have overshadowed coverage of the actual Ashes.

I would argue that this whole situation has been caused by the ECB’s chronic failures in PR and management. Time and time again, they act in a way which actively hurts the team’s perception with fans and the media. It’s incredibly predictable, unfortunately, and here’s how they do it:

Step 1: Wait until the reporting hits fever pitch before releasing the full story

This allows the journalists to build up speculation through the day, ideally whilst England are playing cricket. Some people might suggest that this would distract the English players from performing at their best, but the management still want to perform a thorough investigation of any incident before they release it to the press.

So if we look at how the Bairstow incident was revealed, the Aussies were sledging England over the incident through the game and after hearing about it through the stump mics the Aussie media published the story on their back pages on Sunday. Speculation continued running through Monday, the fifth day of the Test, with a vague statement from Strauss confusing matters even more. Apparently it was “playfulness, no malice, blown out of all proportion.”

It wasn’t until after the game had finished that the full story came out, and then only because the Australian opener Cameron Bancroft explained it in great and amusing detail whilst Steve Smith was laughing his ass off beside him.

With Ben Duckett, the news came just before the toss in England’s two-day warmup game in Perth that he had been replaced by Joe Clarke. There was nothing else released, which led the assembled journalists to investigate the matter and about halfway through the day’s play the ECB finally released a statement. Even then, it only described the situation as an “alcohol related incident” with no details included. It was only through “good journalism” that the full facts of the matter came out later.

Step 2: After “investigating” the matter, declare the players involved as both simultaneously innocent and guilty

As we know on this blog, the ECB are not unfamiliar with the concept of confusing statements. The name “Being Outside Cricket” comes from a joint ECB/PCA press release (still available on the PCA’s website) surrounding KP’s expulsion from the England team in 2014, where they appeared to suggest that no one outside of the ECB had any right to question their decisions.

So in Brisbane, Trevor Bayliss described the Bairstow ‘headbutt’ as “blown out of all proportion” but also said that the players have “got to be smarter” away from the pitch. The Director Comma England Cricket also came out of hiding to talk about it, declaring that “It’s a minor issue but it highlights the fact that minor issues can become major issues.” I think that certainly is the case when the ECB are in charge.

Trevor Bayliss’s statement on Ben Duckett is a thing of beauty, if you find contradiction and incompetence beautiful that is.

“To be quite honest it’s fairly trivial but in the current climate it’s not acceptable. Everyone’s been warned about [how] even small things can be blown out of all proportion. The ECB has also been quite strict to the boys with their message, and it’s quite simply unacceptable.”

So let’s break that down. Duckett’s actions were simultaneously both “trivial” and “not acceptable”, to the point where his possible England future is being written off. Again, this seems fairly familiar to fans of the blog, with its regular references to staring out of windows and whistling being sacking offences. How would this affect a team’s morale, when they know that their team’s management will actively attack them over incredibly minor issues.

Step 3: Severely punish the innocent players

What would be the absolute worst thing to do after a team’s management categorically denied their players had issues related to drinking after the Brisbane Test? How could they utterly undermine themselves and put all of the team under huge pressure? If there was one surefire way to suggest that England are a team of violent drunken thugs who can’t be trusted, it was forcing a curfew and other restrictions on the players. So that’s what their management did.

Certainly I enjoyed the irony when Bayliss said that “even small things can be blown out of all proportion” about Ben Duckett, since the whole media circus was created by the ECB overreacting to a “trivial” incident and dropping the batsmen for the tour match and possibly the rest of the Lions series. As far as I’m aware no journalists had heard about Jimmy Anderson’s unscheduled shower before the warmup game, and so there’s no reason to suspect that it would have come out. Even if it did, without the ECB promising a full investigation from Andy Flower it would be a fairly minor and amusing story rather than another alcohol-fuelled crisis.

Step 4: Repeat

If there’s one thing you might admire about the ECB, they certainly have the courage of their convictions. Despite screwing up in the same ways over and over again, they never change. They never admit they were wrong. They never apologise. So it keeps happening, as regular as an England batting collapse and just as much fun for the fans.

No doubt this won’t be the last of this sorry saga. At this point, anything could become a full-blown international incident and many England players should contemplate not leaving their hotel rooms for the rest of the tour lest they risk their careers in some way. There are already reports that Bayliss wants to get rid of the people he considers troublemakers from the squad to face New Zealand, which certainly offers some interesting parallels to Andy Flower’s actions four years ago.

And… that’s it. Hopefully England can make it through to Wednesday night without another self-inflicted wound, but I wouldn’t bet on it. As always, feel free to share your views below.


102 thoughts on “How To Make A Crisis In Four Easy Steps

    • dannycricket Dec 10, 2017 / 2:03 pm

      Well yes, but that’s obviously far too short to warrant a whole post. I had to pad it out a bit…


  1. Mark Chapman Dec 10, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    Imagine getting a final warning for a trivial incident. Weak leadership/Overcompensating.


    • dannycricket Dec 10, 2017 / 2:50 pm

      Well I’m sure they’re acting in the best interests of the team.

      Hahaha, just kidding. They’re worried about losing sponsorship money. From Nick Hoult’s piece in the Telegraph: “Bayliss and Andrew Strauss, the team director, are under heavy pressure from the ECB’s executive board to get a grip on the situation. The ECB are currently looking for a new sponsor of Test cricket and county cricket’s Blast Twenty20 competition. They will have seen how New Balance, the sponsors of the team kit, dumped Stokes over his arrest and will worry that brands will not want to be associated with the England team.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Dec 10, 2017 / 3:11 pm

        Newman’s report also mentioned the “family audience” target of the new T20.


          • dannycricket Dec 10, 2017 / 4:04 pm

            Not to mention all the kids who will be watching all of the games which start at 7pm, both on TV and at the grounds. 7-10pm is widely recognised as primetime for children’s TV.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Silk Dec 10, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    Meanwhile back in Perth, absolutely none of the bowlers do anything to suggest they should play at the WACA. Ballance made a few.


    • dannycricket Dec 10, 2017 / 3:01 pm

      Oh right, there’s a cricket tour going on at the same time as this circus.

      Yeah, media reports seem to be hyping Wood from the game. He bowled a total of 16 overs in 2 days, taking 2 wickets at an average of 31.00. In the senior side, he’ll need to bowl about 80 overs in 5 days and have a better performance than he managed against a bunch of kids from Perth.

      Tom Curran, on the other hand, managed to get 5 wickets at an average of 11.00 in the same game. But presumably he’s not “fast” enough for hournalists to rate him?


      • Silk Dec 10, 2017 / 3:40 pm

        Is Wood not a cross between Steve Harmison and Simon Jones? And if he is, we need to find the other half! That would be some bowler!

        Liked by 1 person

      • oreston Dec 10, 2017 / 5:20 pm

        You’re right about Curran, but given the lowly opposition (and the fact certain people are still deemed undroppable) performances in this game are next to meaningless. Jennings played as an opener and made 80 – good for him. Does that mean he’s going to replace Cook at the WACA? It’s not even remotely likely, is it?


      • Tony Bennett Dec 10, 2017 / 8:41 pm

        Curran won’t play at the WACA of course, but he might feature in the NZ tests, always allowing for the possibility of some of the selections currently ahead of him disappearing from view as part of the new sanitisation programme.


        • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 8:55 pm

          That four or five ne’er do wells who they want out isn’t red meat for an agenda driven media is it?

          Who’s the ECB press person? Comical Ali?


      • jennyah46 Dec 11, 2017 / 6:58 pm

        They are going to destroy Wood if they are not very careful. He can’t possibly be test match fit.


  3. Riverman21 Dec 10, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    Andy Flower investigates!
    Did anyone else think of this this from The Office?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mark Dec 10, 2017 / 6:05 pm

      Ha ha ha

      Or just as idiotically

      Liked by 1 person

  4. northernlight71 Dec 10, 2017 / 4:36 pm

    Latest gem from the Guardian . . .

    “Moeen Ali has admitted that the culture and behaviour of the England cricket team needs to change or they risk turning a generation of children away from the sport.”

    I have some news for you Mo. It’s sort of good news and bad news. The good news is, none of the drunken antics of your childish team-mates is likely to turn any children away from cricket.
    The bad news is . . . that’s because they’ve already found better things to focus their attention on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • KidVicious Dec 11, 2017 / 1:45 pm

      Sanctimonious bullshit isn’t it. Don’t remember it doing Botham any harm, and Flintoff’s legend in 2005 was partially due to his on field performance, partially due his level of celebration. He even won SPOTY for it, and sales of cricket equipment soared.

      It risks turning sponsors away from cricket, which is the ECBs bigger worry. Whilst there’s still an audience for it at least


    • jennyah46 Dec 11, 2017 / 7:09 pm

      Not better. Just different.


  5. oreston Dec 10, 2017 / 5:08 pm

    Moeen is of course the one team member who is (and probably always has been) completely teetotal. Putting him up to give a quote like this looks like a deliberate attempt to exploit that fact.

    You don’t suppose he’s being positioned as a potential FEC? You know, the safe pair of hand who’ll pick up the pieces after a difficult winter and put Humpty back together again…


    • Zephirine Dec 10, 2017 / 6:08 pm

      Perhaps a novel long-term approach to England’s drinking culture problem would be to aim for a team predominantly made up of devout Muslims.


      • oreston Dec 10, 2017 / 7:25 pm

        For the record, I alluded simply to Moeen’s sobriety. His religion may be a major reason why he doesn’t drink – but that’s absolutely neither here nor there.

        I don’t think he’s necessarily the ideal FEC candidate at all (much too laid back, lack of captaincy experience etc.) but who else in the current team is there that’s experienced but still young enough, reasonably sure of their place and more-or-less untainted by controversy? Stokes is clearly out of contention for the time being, no matter what happens with his case. The lack of any better qualified candidate seems to be enough to secure the job these days and Root may not survive the winter if things go as badly as they’re shaping up.


        • jennyah46 Dec 11, 2017 / 7:20 pm

          You are right, but I can’t see how it was fair to put Moeen in a position where he was obliged to make that statement. It makes him look like the class goody two shoes, sitting in judgement on his mates. I’m sure this could not be further from the truth and that he is being set up.


          • oreston Dec 12, 2017 / 12:27 am

            I agree, you wouldn’t have thought it would make him universally popular with his team mates, or the “fringe” players. Set up? I still tend to think of it as “setting him up” (however clumsily – but the ECB don’t seem to be very good at subtlety) to take on a future leadership role. Maxie Allen theorises further down that the quote was actually written by an ECB PR person and attributed to Moeen. Sounds entirely plausible. I wonder what, in that case, would’ve happened if he’d declined to have it attributed to him? Do the players have clauses in their contracts enabling their employer literally to put words in their mouths? The mind boggles.


    • Tony Bennett Dec 10, 2017 / 8:42 pm

      Ali could emerge as vice-captain soon. At least there’s no chance of anyone pouring beer over him.


      • dannycricket Dec 10, 2017 / 8:47 pm

        You’d hope not, that would be an entirely different thing altogether.

        Of course he might also not be in these nightclubs to enforce team discipline and stop the other players getting in trouble. Not that this is a vital part of captaincy…


        • Tony Bennett Dec 10, 2017 / 8:50 pm

          It’s an interesting notion that the vice-captain, or captain, needs to toddle along to the nightclub to enforce discipline. if that;s necessary, one might as well have a total curfew.


          • dannycricket Dec 10, 2017 / 9:04 pm

            That’s what happens anyway, on tour. England’s head of security was in the Perth nightclub for the Jonny Bairstow thing and apparently didn’t report anything out of the ordinary. Tons of staff were at the club during the Duckett thing, apparently.


      • oreston Dec 10, 2017 / 8:51 pm

        No, he doesn’t strike me as the kind of nasty, graceless cnut you might understandably feel the urge to waste good beer on (even if he was in the bar).


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 9:12 pm

        I remember a particularly masterful #39 tweet re: Ali and alcohol. Don’t have all night to find it.


  6. Deep Purple Fred Dec 10, 2017 / 5:39 pm

    “If you want to know how to run cricket, have a look at what England do, do the opposite and you’ll be fairly close to the mark.”
    Ian Chappell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Dec 10, 2017 / 7:26 pm

      Wise words!


  7. Mark Dec 10, 2017 / 5:56 pm

    Bottom line in high profile team sport is if you want to misbehave off the field, make sure you perform on the field. It may seem harsh, and unfair but those are the wacky rules. If you are loosing on the field badly, and pissing about off the field you just look like losers…period.

    In addition, there is no free lunch. If players want the sponsorships and big salaries they have to watch out. Family friendly corporations are incredibly risk averse. Taking offence has become a national pastime, and companies will run a mile if they think any kind of stain will tarnish their brand.

    Then there is context. Again unfair, it always is. But all these trivial incidents come on the back of Bristol. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that night….. when people go to hospital, and plod gets involved all bets are off. Management and moneymen get nervous.

    After the KP affair Strauss kept using the word “trust.” Trust, trust trust. Right now it seems the management don’t trust the players or some of them. And the players don’t appear to trust the management. Happy days!


    • Silk Dec 10, 2017 / 6:46 pm

      Indeed. If Hales had been doing the punching in Bristol, he’d have coped a lengthy ban, no more questions asked. But because we need Stokes, we fudge it.

      If Anderson had dunked a beer over Duckett’s head, I somehow doubt he’d be banned for Perth.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deep Purple Fred Dec 10, 2017 / 7:43 pm

        It’s not just the ECB, that’s how life works, as we’ve just seen with Weinstein.
        If you’re a young guy with ambition, don’t pour beer on the senior player’s head. Seems something you should have worked out by 23.
        Of course I say this with no idea of the context of what happened that evening.


      • Rooto Dec 10, 2017 / 8:55 pm

        If Anderson had dunked a beer over Duckett’ head, we’d be exactly where we are now, I reckon. “What drove him to do it? What did he say to him?”

        I get the feeling that the ECB are still in January 2014 mode: get the bodyguards around the key figures, hang some others out to dry. The press are playing along. Bayliss has made the right noises, but I think he’s still a loose cannon for the ECB. I just feel the people on his list for long-term banishment may not be the same names as on Flower’n’Comma’s list (probably headed by Hales and Duckett). Maybe I just trust him a bit more. I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has the same hunch. Meanwhile, I’d be very surprised if Root is fully onside at all.
        Total conjecture amongst friends, of course.


        • quebecer Dec 10, 2017 / 9:47 pm

          I have the same feeling about Bayliss. He’s a professional, but not a company man. And he has other options.

          The thing about the ECB is that because they have put a structure in place that is THEM at every stage – from U19, to Loughborough, to Lions, marginalize CC, strict hierarchy, faces that fit, Flower, TV, all of it – so when failure comes along one wold have to look at the whole system. Which is exactly what they can’t even consider. Therefore, it has to be something else. Pietersen, drinking culture, doesn’t matter what. In fact, the only thing that whoever/whatever is the scapegoat have in common is that the Australians wet themselves laughing regardless.

          I remember when Moores was first appointed over many much better international candidates with proper CVs at international level, and Selfey saying they felt that as Moores was the top product of their own system, they went with him. To not do so clearly cast a negative light on their own system, in to which they had piled so many resources. My point was, well, doesn’t that mean you need to reassess your own system? Selfey reacted much like a killer robot would do in 1960s sci fi where you destroy it by introducing an emotion and it explodes saying, “Does not compute, does not compute”.

          I’m not absolving individual players of their own responsibility, and given it’s their own careers they are jeopardizing, it’s bloody stupid. However, I’m sure they feel goal posts being shifted and uneven treatment very keenly.

          Liked by 3 people

          • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 10:13 pm

            This was remarked upon earlier, but what the serious hell is this drivel from Newman?

            There should be no tears shed for Northants opener Duckett, 23, who has not shown the discipline and professionalism needed by an England player. And he could become the first of a number who England have run out of patience with.

            12 months is a long time in international cricket. A nice 50 giving us hope in a Bangladesh test, all at sea in India, and now too much rock and roll. IN the words of Selfey, his card is marked.

            Duckett was to have been given another big chance to impress Bayliss with the seniors against a mediocre CA XI but now his England career could be over.

            A big chance? Really. A two day practice game? And what seniors, as none of them, except Ali was it, played? Make some sense. His England career was over, in all likelihood, anyway.

            There could be more like him. Bayliss feels badly let down by a minority of his players and there will be two batsmen at least playing for their international futures on the rest of this tour. Off-field behaviour will be top of the agenda when England come to pick their team for two Tests in New Zealand in the new year.

            Ooooh. Newman drops a clue. Two batsmen on the hook. Not Cook, who was not there. Not Ali. Not Root. So that leaves Bairstow (?), Malan, Stoneman and Vince. If they are playing for their careers due to off field incidents. Needless to say the “victim”, Jimmy Anderson isn’t in this bunch at all. Also, they are going to pick the team due to “off field” behaviour. That’s a good one. Also, Bayliss should be still there to decide? Interesting.

            Strauss, who has been guilty of muddled thinking in imposing a curfew and then lifting it, is under considerable pressure now to clamp down, along with Bayliss and the selectors, heavily on offenders who are just not listening and appear to be in total denial over what has been unravelling here


            Newman has Strauss in his sights (again, we are sitting here with cigars, saying told you so. Once you make “trust” an issue, and sentient human beings have disagreements, trust is very hard to keep. We’ll see.) “The tour is unravelling”. Never knowingly underhyped.

            But interestingly England have exonerated vice-captain Anderson from any blame for the incident even though it could be argued that he was in the wrong to be in that now infamous Perth bar in the early hours apparently having a row with Duckett. Could the senior players not have self-policed the evening?

            The Avenue Bar, poor sods, is now “notorious” and obviously one of the reasons the tour has fallen apart. Anderson’s character – and there’s form, Newman or did you ignore the Jadeja spat – is not to be besmirched. Interesting indeed, Newman. Again, one really wonders if KP was in the same place as Jimmy if we’d be so understanding.

            Clearly, the time to act is now, starting with Duckett and then spreading to the bigger fish who Bayliss clearly wants to fry when England get home. Or, alternatively, they could just try to find a team of Moeen Alis.

            Did we not learn how well scapegoating went after 2014? Did the media not learn that producing the ECB’s line to take went down like a pint over Jimmy the Saint’s head? We all love Moeen, but he’s not captaincy material, because we’ve been told he’s not, but a team of not quite good enough to be a test batsman in a vintage era, and not quite good enough to be a lead spinner in Australia, is going to get us where we are now.

            For all their Loughborough conditioning, for all the money spent, for all the coaching and training these guys get at every step, we get what I consider to be the most mentally weak England team in 20 years. These guys aren’t getting scars, they are having amputations. This is, at this stage, worse than 2013/4. There was a force of nature at the top of his game, and a mad coach at the end of his tether. This is a tide of mediocrity, and under performance. If we lose in Perth, watch the next three weeks. Sharks are circling. Those batsmen won’t be kept secret any more.

            Liked by 4 people

          • Deep Purple Fred Dec 10, 2017 / 10:35 pm

            “In fact, the only thing that whoever/whatever is the scapegoat have in common is that the Australians wet themselves laughing regardless.”
            Guilty as charged. And you guys used to run an empire? I’ll bet no one ever poured a glass of rum over Captain Cook’s head.

            You and Rooto are right about Bayliss though, he’s much less invested in all this than anyone else involved, and may not be feeling chuffed about his job anyway, I doubt they can depend on him to toe the line.


          • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 10:40 pm

            Joe Root is going to be cast as Alastair Cook this time around, and I doubt he’s going to be as compliant as Cook was. Cook, in his own way, was visibly rattled that he was gagged after the dropping of KP, but toed the company line because, well, we all think we know why.

            This time around we don’t have a Panto Villain of the magnitude of Kevin Pietersen. Bayliss isn’t going to get the job he wanted in the way Flower did. Root is going to be a very interesting character to watch. He dropped that little hint about how he wasn’t best chuffed with his bowlers after the Adelaide test and how they used the Day 1 conditions. Will he play it like Cook?

            One win does change everything. A whitewash has to be avoided at all costs. Otherwise it’s carnage.

            Liked by 1 person

          • SimonH Dec 10, 2017 / 11:10 pm

            One thing about Root is that he looks short of obvious allies to counter-balance (to put it mildly) the group of senior players.

            A couple of years ago it looked like the Root-Stokes-Buttler axis was going to become the dominant force in the dressing room. They were similar ages, had similar outlooks on the game and looked like management would back them.

            It’s all fallen apart very quickly.


          • quebecer Dec 11, 2017 / 4:26 am

            Fred: In all fairness, we did also lose an Empire.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sri.Grins Dec 11, 2017 / 9:25 am

            especially the jewel in the crown :-D.

            Just imagine the team you could have put on the field.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Deep Purple Fred Dec 11, 2017 / 9:53 am

            Quite right Quebecer, I overlooked the losing part. All that’s left now is the commonwealth, which doesn’t do much except get together every few years and play games. And the Queen, we’ve all still got the Queen.


          • jennyah46 Dec 11, 2017 / 7:29 pm

            So far the treatment has been very uneven. Everyone should be treated exactly the same by any disciplinary process, anywhere. This does not seem to be the case here.


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 10:32 pm

        Again, absolutely.

        I get the Stokes stuff divides people. People I follow on Twitter and who I give a shit about disagree with me on this. Absolutely fine. Some say the Stokes punch could have killed him. That’s what the law is for.

        I get upset about drink driving being “overlooked” for two reasons. First, a friend of mine was killed on a motorway as a passenger. So I’m a bit touchy about it. Also, one night driving home, I was overtaken by a drink driver, at high speed. He could have ploughed into me. A mile up the road, he ploughed into a tree and killed his passenger. Funnily, I feel more angry at Wayne Rooney being allowed to play for as long as he likes, earning as much as he does, but Duckett (who has a dd conviction, which I did not know about, which speaks absolute volumes) gets thrown the book at for stupidity.

        Anyway, carry on!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Miami Dad's 6 Dec 10, 2017 / 9:31 pm

    I think this tour is shaping up to be even more of a calamity than the last, and in a kind of morbid traffic accident voyeurism, I cant take my eyes off it. Stokes and Hales, Duckett, Bairstow – sticking it to ‘the man’. The three old men of the side, Cook, Anderson, Broad – last Ashes tour? Root – gone as captain? Crane, Ball, Finn, unselectable? Stoneman, Vince, Malan, one tour wonders? Bayliss, sacking it off to coach an IPL side? Selectors, sacked in the morning? Everyone else – Tainted by association?


    • dannycricket Dec 10, 2017 / 9:32 pm

      …and with literally everything under his remit in chaos, surely that spells trouble for Strauss?


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 10:14 pm

        If the heat goes on Graves and Harrison, yes.

        But there will be people before him. As I said, James Whitaker better make sure that CV is fine working order.


        • SimonH Dec 11, 2017 / 9:45 am

          I doubt Harrison is particularly bothered. His brainpower allocation this week would be something like:

          90% new T20 tournament
          5% 2019 World Cup
          4% finding new ways to screw Durham
          1% Test cricket

          That 1% would consist of checking there are enough bodies between him and any bullets (“Root-Ramprakash-Whitaker-Bayliss-Strauss…. looking good Tom, old boy”).


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 9:48 pm

      I think you’ve rather nailed it.

      What is going to be interesting is how the tour will be spun at the end of it. It seems odd that a man who is the Director of England Cricket, the international team, and the routes into it, has now come home. Watching this company man twist in the wind is going to be beautiful to watch. Watching the words about trust and all that nonsense come home to roost as the Aussie press dismantle the team, and the English media fall for it hook line and sinker – Duckett doesn’t happen, or get reported like it, if it’s not for Bairstow – and his precious team building cobblers fall apart, aided and abetted by a coach who Strauss think’s it is acceptable not to look at county players as part of his remit, is simply superb. This is Downton II, and only a World Cup win can save him. A World Cup win dependent on the two banned for Bristol, and various other lively characters.

      I prefer to wait for the Perth result, if that ends up in the confirmed loss of the Ashes, and then Sydney for the complete running the rule over this. The pious pearl clutchers on Twitter have made me puke today. The journo corps preaching alcoholic probity always brings a smile. Duckett now has a rap sheet nicely “not leaked” in a classic example of “good journalism” (honestly, how does an ECB report about conduct on tour make it into the public domain – especially after the non-leaked KP list of misdemeanours) so he’s done. As I said, I’m sure Jimmy was also an absolute saint during it all. It makes little sense. Danny’s done his best.

      Most of all, this is at Stokes’s door. Without his Bristol nonsense, this gets treated like John Crawley in Cairns. An isolated incident. Treated as such. But there’s a meme, we are losing, and the press want blood. Who gets pushed in the shark-pool is the main question now. Ben actually might find this a good tour to miss. Joe Root will be holed beneath the water-line (imagine him doing a post-tour report that says he can’t captain a team with Anderson and Broad in it?), and Trevor Bayliss goes to save Strauss until the next disaster. Keep the seat-belts fastened.

      Finally, not going to run an Ashes Panel for this test. If the panelists can make themselves available post Perth I’d be really grateful, but it is Christmas, so I understand!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scrim Dec 11, 2017 / 9:18 am

        No problem. Next week is better for me than this week anyway.

        I have nothing to add on the off field drama, except to say I need to go get myself another family sized bag of popcorn.


    • jennyah46 Dec 11, 2017 / 7:40 pm

      Umm. You could be right.


      • jennyah46 Dec 11, 2017 / 7:44 pm

        My replies are not appearing in the correct place! It must be me. It usually is.


  9. Grenville Dec 10, 2017 / 10:49 pm

    I reckon, just a guess, that Flower/ISM picking the team on a ‘face fits’ basis has created a lot of bad blood. Rashid, Hales, Leach, Patel, Robson, Compton, Roland-Jones (I know he’s injured but they rushed Woakes after a fantastic start to his career), Jordan, Hameed and goodness knows who else must be pretty pissed off that Vince et al get picked ahead of them whilst they are almost totally ignored by the press and, when they do make it into the team, they get briefed against. In the briefed against category you can include Bairstow who they clearly are itching to drop. It’s balmy and probably soul-destroying for the outside Loughborough professionals. It can’t make for a happy dressing rooms.

    Liked by 2 people

    • northernlight71 Dec 10, 2017 / 11:00 pm

      Are you suggesting this blog changes its name to “Being Outside Loughborough?”
      Actually, that might work . . .


      • LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 11:15 pm

        On an unrelated matter, I note no-one at ESPN Cricinfo put their name to this hagiography masquerading as a player profile…

        When Alastair Cook resigned as England’s Test captain in the aftermath of a 4-0 trouncing by India in 2016, he ended a five-year tenure that had established him as a leader of great integrity and empathy without ever managing to achieve lasting accolades as one of the finest skippers of the age. Cook’s leadership was, in many ways, like his record-breaking batting: unyielding, determined and deliberate, but lacking the spark of tactical genius to win him ultimate approval. But his rock-like commitment to the cause, and high personal standards, were cause for considerable respect and gratitude. That was enough for Andrew Strauss, his predecessor as England captain and by then England’s managing director, to judge that he “deserves to be looked upon as one of England’s great captains.”

        As Cook contemplated a return to life in the ranks – unlike many jaded captains, he judged that, at 32, his appetite for scoring runs remained high – he had assembled a deeply impressive batting record. His 30 Test hundreds were far and away a record for England; Kevin Pietersen, the brilliant and rejected maverick who had given his captaincy its bleakest hours, by then seven hundreds behind. Twelve of those hundreds came as England captain (10 after he had won the job on a permanent basis), although he made only five in his last 48 Tests in charge, more symptomatic perhaps of the burdens he had to withstand rather than worsening technical deficiencies. His 24 Test wins in 59 Tests made him the joint second-most successful captain for England in terms of Test wins, behind Michael Vaughan, who had 26. His 22 defeats were also a record.

        Cook, by the time of his resignation, was already established as England’s highest Test runscorer, having surpassed his great mentor with England and Essex, Graham Gooch, on a chilly day at Headingley against New Zealand in 2015. Gooch regarded him as a once-in-a-generation cricketer, but it was typical of Cook that he ticked off such statistical milestones with little fanfare, resorting neither to extravagant strokeplay nor rousing speeches: he was no attention seeker. His team, Pietersen apart, gave him great loyalty. Those who perceived him from afar as representative of English cricket’s aloof and elitist ways seriously misjudged a warm and approachable man.

        His finest captaincy moment may well have come near the start of his reign. The series victory in India in 2012 – England’s first for 28 years – was testament not just to his outstanding batting, and the presence of two matchwinning spinners in Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, but also his willingness, at that point, to reintegrate Pietersen to the team despite considerable opposition. Two modest Australian teams were defeated in favourable English conditions in 2013 and 2015 – victory did not always silence grumbles about England’s safety-first, regimented approach – and, in his final year in the job, South Africa fell too.

        There were significant captaincy disappointments. He led the side that was whitewashed in the 2013-14 Ashes and which subsequently descended into a power struggle over Pietersen. The coach, Andy Flower, resigned, Pietersen was banished, but Cook (who had been party to the decision over Pietersen) stayed on, only to be beaten by Sri Lanka in England the following summer when he almost resigned, such was the ferocity of the criticism on social media. Heartfelt applause at the Ageas Bowl for his painstaking 95 against India to end a desperately lean run was something he treasured.

        Emboldened by Strauss’ return as England’s MD, he sought a more caring and relaxed England dressing room, but results still lurched from one extreme to another. England were held to a draw in the Caribbean by a West Indies side labelled “mediocre” by the ECB chairman and there were fearful collapses, too, against Pakistan’ spinners in the UAE. If Plan A (bat long and drain the opposition) did not work, he could look short of a Plan B and his strangely mangled speech in media conferences – he was no public speaker – did not enhance his look.

        His stubbornness was sometimes to his detriment. The apparently unquenchable self-belief, that helped turn a relatively limited player into England’s record Test run-scorer, also convinced him that he was the man to revive England’s ODI fortunes. As a result he lingered too long as captain of an outmoded side and was stung by the consequent criticism. While he led the team within an ace of that elusive global ODI title (the Champions Trophy of 2013), he was omitted from the 2015 World Cup squad, ending his limited-overs career around his 30th birthday. The change came too late to spare England a humiliating failure, but their improvement in the format thereafter was telling.

        Those in the know were saying that the tall, dark and handsome Alastair Cook was destined for great things very early on. A correct and stylish left-hander strong on the pull, Cook was thrown in at the deep end by Essex the year after he left Bedford School with a fistful of batting records. He captained England in the Under-19 World Cup early in 2004, scored his maiden first-class hundred later that year, and added a double-century for Essex against the Australian tourists in 2005.

        The following spring he was called up by the full England side when injuries struck in India. He had been in the Caribbean with the A team when the SOS came but, unfazed, stroked 60 and a magnificent century to complete a memorable debut in Nagpur. His ability to play long, attritional innings without showing signs of fatigue – it became a cliché that he did not sweat – was evident from the outset.

        He remained consistent, seemingly at ease with the pressure, and was a shoo-in for the 2006-07 Ashes. Before that series even started Glenn McGrath paid him the honour of publicly announcing that he would be targeting Cook: it made for a tough baptism, but although he was hardly prolific (276 runs) he did manage a century in Perth. Bowlers began to exploit that penchant for hanging on the front foot, but Cook still made his share of runs. By the time of his 25th birthday on Christmas Day 2009 he had scored far more runs (3536 to David Gower’s 2548) and centuries (nine to Ian Botham’s six) than any other Englishman of a comparable age. He hit three more Test hundreds in 2009 – but none of them were in the Ashes series, in which 95 at Lord’s was his only score above 32 as the Aussies probed that front-pad problem.

        The Ashes tour of 2010-11represented his outstanding feat. He came good on a host of promises, scoring an incredible 766 runs in seven innings to anchor England’s first series win in Australia for 24 years. In so doing, he went past 5,000 Test runs, having turned 26 on Christmas Day – the second youngest batsman to reach the landmark after Sachin Tendulkar. Two years later and further records had been broken as he became England’s leading Test century-maker – hitting No. 23 against India in Kolkata, his third in three matches – and the youngest player to pass 7000 runs.

        Strauss had taken time off at the start of 2010, enabling Cook to captain for the first time in Bangladesh, scoring centuries as both Tests were won. His appointment had long seemed inevitable and the fact he had seemingly not particularly worked for it, nor craved it, but it had fallen into his lap, was a cause for some disquiet who were suspicious of English cricket’s preference for public school manners. Soon he was named as Strauss’ full-time successor in the one-day captaincy even though his methodical batting approach was out of kilter with the evolution of the 50-over game.

        Little more than a year later, after Strauss’ abrupt retirement, the Test role followed, with a demanding tour of India his first assignment. It was a challenge that could have broken lesser men with the Pietersen saga in full cry, but it turned it into a triumph as England won the Test series 2-1 and Pietersen returned to the side to play a key role. Pietersen did not last long, but Cook did and England were all the better for his longevity.

        No room for questions over who might be the bad guy? Count the mentions of KP in his profile!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Zephirine Dec 11, 2017 / 12:52 am


          How about “Curiously, when runs were desperately needed by England against Australia in 2017, his scores were paltry, despite his previously wonderful wonderfulness.”


        • Sri.Grins Dec 11, 2017 / 1:39 am

          God. Amazing writeup. made me laugh. Tall, dark and handsome. :-D.

          That sounds like an old M & B novelist like betty neels, essie summers or amanda doyle whose books I used to read. Maybe espncricinfo is hiring from M & B?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Zephirine Dec 11, 2017 / 2:38 am

            Sri, you’re full of surprises, I wouldn’t have thought of you as a Mills & Boon type… It reminded me of when I worked on a project that involved reading summaries of all Barbara Cartland’s novels (there were 600+ of them, but to echo Shane Warne’s cruel remark about Monty, she basically wrote the same book 600+ times). Lots of tall, dark and handsomes in those. Some of them probably shot deer as well.


          • quebecer Dec 11, 2017 / 5:13 am

            Zeph, are you really that surprised at Sri? I find I’m not, somehow.

            P.S. So you know, your turn of phrase has been making me giggle out loud every post. Duckett pouring drinks on those above his station was particularly good. Another positive of these pages is that I get to be around your wit again.


          • Sri.Grins Dec 11, 2017 / 10:20 am

            @Zeph, Q is right. An optimist like me has to be a romantic. 🙂 or maybe a romantic has to be an optimist. :-):-)

            I have read Barbara Cartland including some of the novels which were allegedly based on Georgette Heyer’s books. But, Georgette Heyer, Patricia Veryan are some of my preferred regency novelists. Similarly Neels, Sara Seale, Amanda Doyle, Essie Summers are my preferred reads from the M & B stable.

            When India does badly at tests/odis (most of the time touring away ie :-D) or otherwise I am feeling down, I tend to go to my bookshelves and read some of the books that I love to read (multiple, multiple times) and usually that does the trick. Heyer, Veryan, PGW, Dick Francis, Edgar W.allace and even Enid Blyton are some of the authors whose books I use for this psychological therapy. The other option is to watch those old classic romances in English, Hindi or Tamil with the happy endings which cheer me up. (for example when poor Q lifted his hand up because of me 😀 )


          • Zephirine Dec 11, 2017 / 12:04 pm

            Glad to be entertaining you, Q :), you get my humour which not everybody does, alas.

            Sri, Georgette Heyer, now you’re talking! Witty, well-researched. And her version of tall dark and handsome would be a badass with a serious duelling habit, not like St Alastair at all.


          • Sri.Grins Dec 11, 2017 / 3:34 pm


            In these old shades, devil’s cub, black moth the heroes are a bit of bad asses and duelists.

            But the hero is certainly not dark or handsome though he is tall in Unknown Ajax and he is a very ordinary mortal in Cotillion (neither tall nor dark nor handsome). The hero in Unknown Ajax has also a neat sense of humor. Likewise in the Grand Sophy, the heroine has a great sense of humor. I prefer the last three books I named to the first three if I reread her books. 🙂

            These old shades and the devil’s cub etc follow the Alastair family though and probably why the heroes in those are like Cook in appearance if not in character. 😀


        • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2017 / 6:13 am

          Either the same freak who wrote his Wikipedia entry, or someone who selflessly managed to resist inserting yet another set of brackets after Bedford school saying (alma mater of my sons).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Rooto Dec 11, 2017 / 7:40 am

            The length of the sentences does somewhat give it away, for me.

            Liked by 1 person

          • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2017 / 8:27 am

            There’s almost too much in there for me to swallow and respond to. It’s borderline offensive in parts: Pietersen giving his captaincy its “bleakest hours” in the same article as India being his “finest captaincy moment” is especially egregious and reminiscent of the old World T20 revisionism.

            “Those in the know”, though. FFS. Blew your cover there, didn’t you?

            Anyone who cites his “double hundred against the 2005 Australian tourists” is desperate, imo. As if he doesn’t actually have enough genuine achievements in the Test arena, we have to cite a 13-a-side run fest with neither Warne nor McGrath and a side whose focus might *just* have been on the forthcoming match in Kennington.


          • LordCanisLupus Dec 11, 2017 / 8:40 am

            I was looking to see how far adrift of KP he is in the averages (about 1.3 ish) and saw this. I’ve not read this before. It’s not the one eyed nature of it that gets me. It’s almost defining his career by KP. It’s mad.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Mark Dec 11, 2017 / 10:52 am

            This article is toilet paper. A particularly deep, soft, rich toilet paper. But in the end… just toilet paper.

            Just off the top of my head…….Mark Nicholas?


        • Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) Dec 11, 2017 / 4:48 pm

          “He made only five in his last 48 Tests in charge, more symptomatic perhaps of the burdens he had to withstand rather than worsening technical deficiencies”.

          I honestly don’t know what to say…


          • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2017 / 4:54 pm

            We’ve said it of this particular “anonymous” writer over and over and over again for five years…

            When he drives outside off stump in a rearguard he’s tired, when he makes 43 it deserves a hundred, when he makes the ugliest, luckiest 95 runs imaginable it’s a golden moment of affirmation, when he fucks up a winning position with historically atrocious captaincy he only lost the series due to six inches of carry.

            I think LCL has found an absolute gem here: prima facie evidence that all the BTL malcontents were 100% correct about Mr “ESPNCricinfo staff”.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jennyah46 Dec 11, 2017 / 7:53 pm

            Your comments could be best kept to yourself Maxie! 🙂


  10. LordCanisLupus Dec 10, 2017 / 11:27 pm

    Anyway, I see the two Manchester teams have decided to help the cricket team out by showing them the way. Barely an English player in sight, and sure no alcohol.

    Derive the points from this you want. I’ll wager none of the players will have their careers ended over it.


    • thelegglance Dec 10, 2017 / 11:30 pm

      Well, seven English players. Mind you, there was a dust up in the tunnel afterwards apparently.


        • thelegglance Dec 10, 2017 / 11:40 pm


          • Mark Dec 10, 2017 / 11:53 pm

            I can’t wait for the Sunday supplement on this. Knowing smirks, and winks and how Man united players stand up for their team. Old stories about the good old days, and how Jose cares deeply. Any other team in the league they would throw them under the bus.

            We may have to call in Ollie Holt, and Samuel’s if he can be flown back from Aus, and the fat Custis for a “balanced panel.”


  11. Mark Dec 10, 2017 / 11:36 pm

    OT Just watching Match of the Day and pissing my self laughing.

    The jokes just keep on coming. Reason 3578 why I hate modern football? Constant team changes for no reason than to pretend you are a genius. Klopps team is on fire so he drops half the team in a show of total disrespect to Everton. Serves him right. His lack of respect fed through Liverpools players and finishing, and you just knew what was going to happen. Then Kllopp claims that it shouldn’t be a penalty because Everton were crap. Ha ha ha This is idocy of the highest order.

    Then before this we had the Manchester derby and the same whinning about penalties. Time to convene a special Sunday supplememt and bring out the usual faces of crazy. The fat Custis can re appear to tell us how parking the bus at home is just as good as it was when he parked the bus at Anfield. Or the clown from the telegraph who sees no interest in attacking football. But thinks tactical genius of parking the bus is the way to go. ( funny he never thought this when Jose was at Chelsea.

    Bring on Paddy (old man river) Barclay to spout the usual convential click bait wisdom. These people are stealing a living.

    This is comedy gold.


  12. Mark Dec 10, 2017 / 11:48 pm

    Certain journos who never wanted Cook to give up the captaincy actively want Root to fail. They don’t want England to improve because it makes them look bad.

    They also will never stop defending the clique that still exists within the England dressing room. Same old faces who must never be challenged. If Anderson had thrown beer over Duckett this would not have seen light of day.

    “Flower is leading the investigation” WHY? He shouldn’t be anywhere near this. Shouldn’t be near Australia. England have endless managers. Strauss, Flower, Bayliss. Selection panels and a cast of thousands of back room people.

    Oh and just one more time for old times sake. ” The ECB don’t Leak! Cough cough hey John At The Sun! The old ones are the best hey?


  13. quebecer Dec 11, 2017 / 2:46 am

    Sorry, but anyone else think Stoneman, Vince, and Malan could all have done with a bat in this ‘warm up’ game?


    • BoredInAustria Dec 11, 2017 / 7:25 am

      Jimmy Anderson?


    • Scrim Dec 11, 2017 / 9:24 am

      Cook as well.

      Bit of a bizarre game. It seems as if both sides were interested in trying to force a result in 2 days, and batted at breakneck pace. Are these Lions trying to force their way into the test or the ODI team?


  14. dannycricket Dec 11, 2017 / 8:07 am

    From Will MacPherson’s article in the Times:

    “It is understood, however, that [Duckett] was not the only player partaking in such activity last Thursday… Contrary to some reports, there was no argument between Duckett and Anderson and they continued to socialise happily together throughout the night.”

    Which makes the publicising of the incident by the ECB and the fact they only punished one player even more puzzling.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 11, 2017 / 8:41 am

      This is outrageous (if true).


      Nothing more important.


      • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2017 / 8:53 am



      • Mark Dec 11, 2017 / 10:45 am

        The trust Meme is taking a bit if a beating. As is the “ECB doesn’t leak” line.

        How long before we have another dodgy dossier?


    • nonoxcol Dec 11, 2017 / 4:33 pm

      Imagine being a time-traveller from August 2012.

      I for one am shocked that Andrew Strauss turned out to be a prissy establishment “doos” with blatant double standards.


  15. SimonH Dec 11, 2017 / 10:05 am

    Stumbled across this looking for something else:

    From fawning about Cook (“Cook had experienced a gruelling examination that would have crushed most athletes”) to flogging his ridiculous course via his laughable management theories.

    Coming to a TMS box near you soon….


    • Mark Dec 11, 2017 / 10:43 am

      This has been debunked so many times.

      What “gruelling examination that would have crushed most athletes?” Show me FT. Where, how, who. You can claim the moon is made of blue cheese a million times it doesn’t make it so.

      Cook was given a golden coach free ride to hover above a few social media critics. The mainstream media were loyal to a level I have never seen. Purging critics from commemtary boxes and nearly all publications.


  16. dlpthomas Dec 11, 2017 / 1:33 pm

    According to George Dobell, Stokes is “unsophisticated”, Bairstow is “socially awkward” and Duckett is “a good-natured halfwit”.


    • Benny Dec 11, 2017 / 2:06 pm

      Further evidence our selectors aren’t doing their job properly


      • Zephirine Dec 11, 2017 / 3:26 pm

        Or just that too many players lead ridiculously limited lives from the moment their ability is recognised. It’s Tregaskis’s ‘turtle tank’ again.

        BTL on the rather strange Engel whinge about Boycott, a commenter mentioned that his Dad had worked with the young Boycott in the DWP office in Leeds or wherever. Boring job, discipline, grown-up stuff like normal people. How many current England players have that kind of experience? Most of them don’t even have any higher education.


        • Sri.Grins Dec 11, 2017 / 3:52 pm

          Education does not matter as much as bringing up, culture and attitudes among the people you grow up / live with.

          In many ways, uneducated Indians come out better than educated ones and show more concern and helpfulness.


        • Benny Dec 11, 2017 / 7:06 pm

          I was trying to be whimsical


  17. Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) Dec 11, 2017 / 4:42 pm

    Northern Light…you were right to flag up this pip of a quote.

    “Moeen Ali has admitted that the culture and behaviour of the England cricket team needs to change or they risk turning a generation of children away from the sport”.

    So that’s the 2017 award for most-obviously-made-up-by-a-press-officer-but-attributed-a-player sorted, then.

    Don’t kids like to imagine that life on the road with England might be well, fun? That there’s banter and mucking about? Or does every schoolchild dream wistfully of featuring on Andy Flower’s spreadsheets and data analyses.

    Speaking of which, for me, the glaring line in this BBC report is:

    “Following an investigation led by Lions coach Andy Flower”.

    It all sounds like the Order of the Bottom Inspectors in Viz. The lad never stood a chance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Benny Dec 11, 2017 / 7:09 pm

      I thought that about the alledged Moeen quote too. “A generation”? Of the liitle angels our society is blessed with? Probably not


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