The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

“In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which was mortally wounded at the SCG on 5th January 2014 and then through the greed of its administrators, was finally killed off on the 8th January 2018. Deeply lamented by an ever-smaller circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. R.I.P.

N.B.—The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to The ECB’s headquarters and buried in its vault of gold”

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It may just be me, but I remember certain promises of a New England team after the humiliation of 2013/2014 Ashes. The difficult and unpopular South African batsman who had batted at number 4 was removed due to an overwhelming dossier of (soon to be published) evidence. We were promised a new start under the welcome leadership of the darling of English cricket. We were promised that there would be a review and something like that would never happen again. There was a promise of a fresh start with a new, young and exciting team that could unite the nation; plus administrators who acknowledged the pain that the English supporters felt and would take steps to ensure that our voice would be heard and that they would right past wrongs.

At least, that’s what the ECB and many of their complicit associates thought they were saying. Instead, they managed to split a cricketing nation down the middle, insult the fans by saying anyone who didn’t agree with them was from “outside cricket”; who then alienated those fans by hiking up the costs and by refusing to put the interests of the true fans ahead of their own financial lust. Every time they told us they knew what they were doing and to have faith in them, they immediately plummeted to new depths. They first marginalised and then penalised county cricket and many of the counties themselves were soon staring down the barrel of bankruptcy and at the mercy of handouts from their increasingly iron-fisted administrators. Durham were docked 48 points and relegated for having the misfortune of producing a number of young English players whilst having to build an international stadium that the local economy didn’t need or warrant. They’ve seen participation in the sport disappear to an all time low thanks to hiding it away on pay for TV and investing the princely sum of £2.5 million for grass-roots cricket. They’ve turned a significant number of loyal England fans against the team and away from cricket who in all likelihood will never return to the sport.

The ECB did all this and for what? A mediocre white ball team and a Test team that has once again been humiliated in Australia, after being humiliated in India, with a team lacking in basic talent and a future pipeline that resembles a dry well . Well done to the ECB, you’ve achieved so much in the last 4 years that many others who were deliberately trying to destabilise the sport wouldn’t be able to do in 10 years. I hope you’re proud.

So after this embarrassment of a series, those few fans that remain are waiting for what comes next, yet we all know what comes next – nothing. Nothing at all. I’ve seen many of the media say that we shouldn’t ‘sweep this under the carpet’ after this series’ calamity yet that’s exactly what will happen again. Boycott had some good questions at the end of the series but took out his frustrations out on the wrong person in the absence of any management. Instead, if lucky we may get the odd staged interview where Tom Harrison dictates to us why English cricket is in a such a good state of health. We may get the odd dissenting question from the likes of Jonathan Agnew (whose last interview was more Graham Norton than Jeremy Paxman), yet I’m sure Harrison will be allowed once again to gloss over these things and nothing will be said or done, after all it’s not particularly in the interest of the media to shoot the golden goose.

Yes there have been exceptions, George Dobell has posted some fine and cutting articles about administrators both in this series and before, but what about the rest of them? The fact that some of the ‘establishments of the media’ are talking about a need for change only now just makes me laugh. Literally where have you been for the past 4 years? It’s been staring you in the face all that time and you have only just woken up and smelled the coffee? If that’s your idea of hard hitting journalism, then perhaps you should consider a career at the Cricket Paper?

Naturally, there will those that blame the team, the coaches, the selectors and probably  the boogie and yes, all of these need to share in some of the responsibility (well perhaps not the boogie, but it has often proved to be an efficient scapegoat in the past). The best thing that could be said about the team is that they kept trying their best to the end, though the worst that could also be levelled at them is that they are a talentless bunch of egotists who can’t handle their alcohol. The coaches have hardly covered themselves in glory either, Trevor Bayliss couldn’t find most of the counties if you gave him a Sat Nav, let alone identify most of their players. Farbrace seems to appear when things are going well, has a large chuckle with the media and hides when they’re not. Ramprakash has been given a contract extension when half the team don’t seem to know which side of the bat to hold and I’m not even sure who our bowling coach is these days! As for the selectors, well let’s just say you could fill a bag with the name of every cricketer in county cricket and pick the team at random and they’d probably be more successful than most of England’s selection in the past 4 years. It’s a mess and whilst the above should all cop their side of the blame, it’s our four protagonists who deserve the most attention and the most recrimination. It’s these four in particular that have taken our once beloved sport and brought it to its knees.

I’m not going to focus on Strauss too heavily as rightly his focus has to be the health of his wife at the moment. Cancer is an awful illness and looking after her and the whole family must take priority over everything else. Another reason that I’m not focusing too much on Strauss is that he is simply the Company Man, employed by those above him to do what they say and to do it in the correct manner. There was talk before his appointment about the role being one where he would have the opportunity to make changes to the structure of the English game to ensure success in all formats and if that was indeed his mantra, then he has failed spectacularly.  My own personal view at the time was that Strauss was the hired hand: get rid of KP for good and be the face of the regime so that no-one looks too closely at what’s going on behind the scenes.  Not a lot has changed my opinion in that regard.

Sure I dislike Director Comma immensely especially by the way that he is able to embrace leaving his faculties at the door so that he can have a fairly cushy job of giving ‘short buzzword-loaded statements’ that the media will lap up in exchange for being part of the Establishment. In truth though, Strauss was part of the establishment long before he retired. He was from the right type of family, had the right look and was willing to adapt to situations that suited him at the time and then to dump those no longer useful. Sure, the ECB would’ve liked Strauss to have a team performing on the pitch to remove any investigation about what was going on behind the scenes but that never was a mandate. The mandate all along was keep the media happy and get the punters paying whilst saying the ‘the right thing’. It is impossible to tell whether Strauss would have copped much heat after this disastrous series if his personal circumstances were different, but I certainly have my doubts, after all why would the ECB want to remove their head boy?

It can also be rightly pointed out that all of this started way before 2014, under the stewardship of a certain Giles Clarke. Clarke is without the doubt the bogeyman of English cricket, a man who has always been so singular in his own quest for power and the riches that come with it that he isn’t worried about destroying anything in his way. I know a few of the hacks had pieces on Clarke that never made their way to print, such has been the fear of offending him and his lawyers. One can quite easily recall his reaction to Lawrence Booth after a mildly critical piece appeared in the Wisden Almanack alongside his haranguing of former ICC President Ehsan Mani at the same gala dinner. Whilst no-one in the press had the cojones to actually quote what Clarke said to either Booth or Mani (I’m guessing it wasn’t that he was a ‘‘man of great judgment’ unlike Paul Downton); however Mani acerbically commented afterwards that:

‘I’m very used to Giles being utterly irrational. He always thinks it’s just about him when there’s a far bigger picture of three countries sharing 52 per cent of income between them.’

Giles, we know – much like some of those who have followed him into power – was always about the commercials and pretty much stuff everything else. He got into bed with a soon to be convicted criminal – Alan Stanford, strengthened ties with Sky and took more pleasure in boasting that he had increased the ECB’s revenues up to £140 million than he did speaking about on the field success. Clarke created the revenue model whereby counties had to bid for Test Matches rather than the ECB distributing them as this lowered the ECB’s risk and accountability for a poor attendance or rain ruined Test. Indeed it was reported in the Telegraph some time ago:

“Giles’s agenda was all about financial imperatives, keeping the counties alive,” says one former county chief executive, who preferred not to be named. “He was very clever at making sure that he kept at least 10 of the 18 onside, and he was re-elected twice on that platform. Plus, some people became too scared to vote against him. If they did so and didn’t win, he found out, and he was a great one for punishing you.”

“Some people feared he wouldn’t give them a winter cash-flow loan [which many of the counties use to keep the creditors off their backs] or an international match.”

Ah yes, the fear factor the Clarke actively cultivated is well and clearly shown by the above. Back me or I take the money away and give it to someone else who will. It was Clarke’s obsession with money and power that laid the groundwork for the carve up of cricket and the absolutely despicable  “Big Three” revenue agreement, though it seems that Clarke had very little intention of sharing this money with the wider English Cricket community, this was the ECB’s money after all.  Clarke failed to get his hands on the most powerful job of all in world cricket, yet he’s still there, hovering around the halls of the ICC and ECB and no doubt leaning on those in the front line to carry out his mandate. I could write many more words about Clarke, but many of these have been written before and there are some new boys in town ready to take up the mantle.

Then we come on to Colin Graves, either a bumbling fool who has got in far too deep than he thought or some kind of evil genius that the world has never seen before. I’m genuinely torn between the two statements personally because he has shown both sides of this at times, sometimes even in the same press conference. We all know that Colin’s favourite word is mediocre (though surprisingly not when talking about the England Test team), West Indies cricket is mediocre, our current T20 competition is mediocre, I would probably guess that he describes lunch in the long room at Lords mediocre. Surprisingly enough, the reaction to this wasn’t what he had anticipated (i.e. pissing people off and motivating the opposition). However we have also seen a more cut-throat side from Graves, marginalising many of the counties that helped him come to power and survive through his initial appointment when Clarke still had a say on English cricket. He then went completely postal on Durham, a county that had unfortunately no rich benefactor and who were at the mercy of the ECB.  One only has to remember that this certain Colin Graves had helped Yorkshire out of a massive financial hole with a number of loans in the past as County Chairman – conflict of interest, what conflict of interest sir? This is the man, who has single handedly led the charge for a franchise based T20 when there was no support from the fans or the counties and looks to be around 5 years too late to make a major difference. This is the man who has decided to relegate red ball cricket to the very margins of the county season and then wonder why our Test team continues to fall apart when not faced with green seaming pitches. Still Graves is always good for the odd catch-all statement:

‘Everyone is very disappointed. Everyone gave their all, but we have to do things better going forward. There is no specific review.’

‘We have Andrew Strauss as MD of the England team and [ECB chief executive] Tom Harrison in charge, and I trust them completely to make the right decisions. There will be no witch hunt. We have to look at it and see how we can improve, so in four years’ time we are better placed to win [in Australia] than we were this time.’

Ah yes, no witch hunt this time, after all we’ve only been thrashed 4-0 this time with only a dead dog of a pitch in Melbourne saving us from a whitewash and since there’s no Kevin Pietersen to ‘sort out,’ then we can rightly sweep it under the carpet. And Colin, whilst you’re there, I’ve got news for you: if you truly believe that Director Comma and the Empty Suit that is Harrison (more on him later) are deserving of trust to make the right decisions for English Cricket, then you are even more deluded than I even thought. Colin Graves: unfortunate idiot or world class baddie?  I guess the answer will be left to the cricket historians…

Finally this brings us on to the Empty Suit, Tom Harrison – the bean counter, the money man and the dangerous one. Let me just make this abundantly clear, Tom Harrison would organise a game of cricket on the moon, with a basketball and flippers if it made him some extra money. Tom Harrison does not care one jot about the game of cricket, the development of youngsters, grass roots cricket, how the Test team performs and what the future of English cricket will look like. As far as he is concerned, cricket and those who love it are just an unfortunate annoyance that sometimes gets in the way of him making money.  Nothing and I mean nothing else matters. NOT ONE SINGLE BIT. Whereas Downton was both incompetent and stupid, Harrison is unfortunately highly competent in his singular goal of making cash and will ruthlessly destroy those who dare get in his way. I have published this a couple of times in the last week or so, but let’s just look at this statement one more time:

The health of the game is more than just Ashes series overseas.  We’ve had a successful entry into the broadcast rights market out of which we have secured the financial future of the game until 2024.

“We are in a process of delivering cricket across three formats. They’re making huge strides across the white-ball game, up to a place where we’re winning 70% or so of our white-ball matches – the ODI side in particular – and the T20 side is making good progress.”

In other words, yes we’re crap but look at the money, just look at it!  Look how much money I made out of Sky and everybody else! Yes, Harrison deserves some credit for selling a pretty crap product to Sky and others for £1.1 billion from 2020 to the end of 2024, but equally it would have been pretty embarrassing if he hadn’t managed to get a significant cost increase bearing in mind his background in selling TV rights.  Still even with the ECB breathing a huge sigh of belief, having postponed the inevitable financial precipice until 2024, Harrison once again let slip his key motivations:

‘You’re not thinking about the deal that you’re doing, you’re always thinking about the next deal.’

Stop me if I’m wrong, but it appears that the future of English cricket has been solely handed over to a greedy, ruthless, ex-car salesman type who has masqueraded as the answer to all of the ECB’s prayers. The snake oil salesman, who has rocked up from nowhere with supposedly all of the answers and none of the nasty drawbacks, does it remind anybody of someone else??

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And there we have it folks, we don’t matter, because once the next generation has finally discovered the note with ‘there’s no money left’ our four protagonists will be long gone with their riches and so will be what’s left of the money.  The game will be up, every single decision that the ECB has made during the last four years has ensured that English cricket in the future will be nothing but a rotting carcass, mourned by the few but largely forgotten by the majority and we have Clarke, Strauss, Graves and Harrison to thank for this.

I thought after 2014 the ECB had reached the nadir, covering up a truly despicable performance, sacking our best player, labelling anyone not employed by the ECB as outside cricket and showing almost no regard for the fans  Unfortunately I was wrong, this was just the start. The ECB have done all of this and more over the past years, and whilst we were furious four years ago, this time there is simply no-one around that cares enough anymore. And this is their most damning failure of them all.

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92 thoughts on “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

  1. Andy January 10, 2018 / 5:25 pm

    Stands back and applauds. Well said fella.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Silk January 10, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      Applause from this quarter, too.

      Like

  2. dannycricket January 10, 2018 / 5:27 pm

    So if these are the top 4, where does Flower stand on the list? He must be gutted not to be a part of the Fab Four…

    Like

    • Sean B January 10, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      Close but no cigar I’m afraid. He has another 4 years to reclaim his spot!

      That’s if there’s anything left by then…

      Like

  3. AB January 10, 2018 / 5:27 pm

    short of paying snipers to attend cricket matches around the country and randomly pick off the players and spectators, I genuinely can’t think of ANYTHING Tom Harrison could do to destroy English cricket that would top what he has already achieved.

    How do we get rid of him?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B January 10, 2018 / 5:56 pm

      Paying ‘said snipers’ to turn on him might be our only hope!!

      Like

      • thelegglance January 10, 2018 / 6:01 pm

        Presumably the only snipers at County Championship games would be obsessive ones.

        Like

      • oreston January 10, 2018 / 7:05 pm

        Cue faux outrage on Twitter from the usual suspects: “There are extremists actually calling for cricket administrators to be murdered!”

        You’re saying it in jest, I know you’re saying it in jest and don’t have any problem with it, but as I’m sure you’re fully aware that’s not how it works these days. This really is the kind of stuff that gets dredged up (sometimes months or years later when it can be deployed out of context to the greatest effect) and used against people.

        Not trying to be a killjoy (I’m sure everyone here has realised I have a sometimes annoyingly silly and whimsical side) but public discourse these days is an an environment in which no shades of grey are countenanced and in which all players seem to default with little persuasion to adversarial hostility. I would just hate the excellent positions that all contributors here adopt, and the vital case which is made in every post, to be undermined by “careless talk.”

        That said, please feel free to tell me if you think I’m being a prick…

        Like

        • jennyah46 January 11, 2018 / 7:38 am

          You are right.

          Exactly the same thought jumped into my mind before thinking “don’t be silly” and putting it aside.

          You never know when and how these things may be dragged up, if someone has the will.

          Like

      • oreston January 10, 2018 / 7:15 pm

        So my previous comment went straight into the “spam catcher”. What a fucking surprise.

        Like

        • thelegglance January 10, 2018 / 7:34 pm

          Not deliberately. We don’t get notified if something is in spam, only if it goes into pending. Why some do and some don’t is a puzzle.

          I spotted one of yours in there from yesterday too, no reason for it to be there. If one you post doesn’t go up in the first couple of minutes, let me know, and I’ll go and hunt it down and put it up.

          Liked by 1 person

          • oreston January 11, 2018 / 11:13 pm

            Thanks TLG – and really sorry for snapping like that (it was more in frustration than having a go at anyone – I know the spam folder issue is just a random phenomenon). I have some “stuff” going on at the moment, but then don’t we all? So although that’s an explanation I know it’s not really an excuse.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sean B January 11, 2018 / 11:17 pm

            O – no problem. We’re all broad shouldered here and you are a very welcome commenter always. Hope everything is ok with you.

            Like

  4. @pktroll January 10, 2018 / 6:07 pm

    I would have been angry at this debacle but it was so inevitable that it was resignation more than anything else. Yes I utterly loathe the establishment of the ECB. They seem to be hell bent on destroying the game I love so that all will be left is the pyjama pantomime. Test cricket is still so eminently popular in England yet they are doing their best to undermine what is still a big draw for many.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. RufusSG January 10, 2018 / 6:21 pm

    “The name’s Harrison, Tom Harrison. And I come before you good county chairmen tonight with a money-making scheme idea. Probably the greatest-Aw, it’s not for you. It’s more a Big Bash franchise idea.”

    “Now, wait just a minute. We’re twice as smart as the people who run the Big Bash. Just tell us your idea and we’ll vote for it.”

    Like

  6. Benny January 10, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    Reckon you’ve hit every nail on the head Sean. I’m now tempted to draught a post about how cricket and indeed life is a generation thing. The Four Horsemen wouldn’t have been allowed through the front door 30 years ago

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mark January 10, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    “You’re not thinking about the deal you’re doing, you’re always thinking about the next deal.”

    Oh please! It’s not as if He’s Lee Iacocca, or Steve Jobs is it? He hasn’t had to create the product from scratch. He has negotiated a TV deal between essentially 2 broadcasters. One of which he was desperate to hand the whole game over to provided he could get them to cough up enough dosh. Luckily for him Sky had lost Champions league football, and Premiership rugby which meant they needed something to put on the screen.

    In a parallel universe far, far away there is another Tom Harrison. With a pencil thin moustache a tweed jacket, and his own seedy antiques shop flogging off old ladies China that he half inched from a car boot sale.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OscarDaBosca January 10, 2018 / 7:57 pm

    Perfect Sean. Everything I have thought and much more eruditely written

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mark January 10, 2018 / 8:05 pm

    Good god cricket has it problems, and the cricket journalists are useless, but football has its fair share of pompous morons. I’m listening to the Mirrors John Cross on 5 live. Mr Arsenal through and through who always has an opinion to give. Usually with his nose rammed firmly up Wengers back is getting his knickers in a twist because the Mayor of Liverpool dares to also give an opinion about a football transfer from Everton to Chelsea. Only jumped up freeloaders working in journalism, who don’t pay for the tickets think is fine that clubs pay agents fees of £7 million on a £22 million pound transfer.

    Dear oh dear… football is drenching it’s fans in peach and peacock while daily Mirror journos lambast fans and defend agents. Cross claims you pay agent fees on selling your house. What 33% fees?

    The Mirror used to the the working mans paper. Now it’s staffed by champagne freeloaders who side with agents, and players who employ them, and then want the clubs to pay their fees. No wonder Cross supports Arsenal. The most expensive season tickets in the country. What’s worse is that arrogant Cross thinks only experts like him should be allowed to express themselves. Fans should have better things to do. One day football is going to financially blow up. I can’t wait, for all the hangers on and freeloaders to get their just deserts.

    Sport, be it cricket or football is robbing the fans blind. And the media re all on board from the prawn sandwich seats. F-you!

    Like

    • OscarDaBosca January 10, 2018 / 8:52 pm

      Oh Mark, you’ve fallen for the ‘most expensive season tickets in the country’ MSM bollocks.

      So no other premier league club includes all European football, and Cup games as well as league games in it’s season tickets. Per match it is not even in the top 5 of season ticket costs. They also do some of the cheapest season tickets in the premier league, but that’s not mentioned much.

      Not that I am defending the appalling transfer fees, agents fees and the horrid commercialism of football that has taken place over the past 30 years, but Arsenal are my boyhood club and I will defend them on this.

      Like

      • thelegglance January 10, 2018 / 9:15 pm

        I knew about the cup inclusions, which does make it misleading, but I’m curious: I thought the cheapest Arsenal season ticket was £1,000? No?

        Like

        • OscarDaBosca January 10, 2018 / 9:32 pm

          As far as I am aware there is (or was post the move from Highbury) a concession ticket for those who qualified (I think children and seniors and you had to be a previous season ticket holder). This may have fallen by the wayside as football eats itself, i used to go to Highbury a lot (even after moving to Bristol) but have only been to the Emirates twice (and it should be called Ashburton Grove) and found it ordinary and soulless

          Like

          • thelegglance January 10, 2018 / 9:36 pm

            That’s true of other clubs too though. When they do the comparison it’s for a normal adult ticket. And Arsenal’s is definitely more expensive than most, it’s just that it’s not as bad is seems to be given the seven cup games.

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/41482931

            Huddersfield is the impressive one. They held the price for all those who had them when they were in the fourth tier to the same level as a reward for their loyalty. £100 season ticket. Well done them!

            Anyway, enough football from me!

            Like

      • Mark January 10, 2018 / 9:32 pm

        Serves me right for listening to the MSM then. The same people who tell me that Jose and Conti shouting at each other is brilliant.

        The main point was pompus MSM bloke telling others to shut up, and and don’t worry that agents are taking huge amounts of money out of the game. If I hire an agent I have to pay his fee out of my earnings. Football has managed to create a system where players hire agents, and then demamd the clubs (which means the fans) pay their agents fees. It’s money for old rope.

        I would like to see footballers put on two year contracts. Kill the transfer market for players over 21. Which would alow clubs to sack players who don’t perform. When they got the Bosman ruling players claimed they wanted to be like contract workers who once the contract is up they can move for free. Most contract workers have short term contracts, and no tranfer fee to protect them.

        Never happen of course.

        Like

  10. Adam H January 10, 2018 / 8:19 pm

    Re Colin Graves: is it just me or has been really quiet in the last couple of years? You hardly hear from him these days. I remember when he first came to the scene in 2015, he made lots of noise. He was going to bring back KP to the test side if he performed in County cricket; he would appoint Michael Vaughan as director; he would make Gillespie the national team coach; he would introduce franchise T20; he would make tests 4 day long — and so on and on.

    Some of those ideas were bonkers, but at least he seemed to have some vision. Why has he disappeared from the scene?

    Like

    • Mark January 10, 2018 / 8:33 pm

      I agree, I don’t know why he wanted the job. He came in…..appointed Strauss, and we never saw him again. With Strauss having major family health problems it’s Graves who should be fronting up. Not Harrison. He’s just the money man.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus January 10, 2018 / 8:39 pm

        I’m pretty sure Harrison is Strauss’s “line manager” so absolutely he should be the one fronting up.

        So much to consider from Sean’s piece, but the whole thing would drive me mad. One word keeps coming to mind. The word uttered many times on that day in May 2015 when Strauss was appointed and DownTom Harrison made his first utterance as an ECB bigwig. Trust. Any trust any of us might have in them has long since departed.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark January 10, 2018 / 9:14 pm

          Well Harrison shouldn’t be his line manager in my view. Strauss was appointed by Graves to run the cricket side. He should answer to Graves. If he is not available, like now Graves should front up. Harrison is the money Man who does the deals. It’s not up to him why we are picking a twenty year old as our only out and out spinner on the trip.

          One of the problems at the ECB is there are so many chiefs you have to guess who is running things.

          Like

          • jennyah46 January 11, 2018 / 7:43 am

            I’m in total agreement with you here Mark! It’s not exactly a first, but close. 🙂

            Like

    • LordCanisLupus January 10, 2018 / 8:46 pm

      They hid him in Downton’s cupboard. He made that KP gaffe right at the start, lied through his teeth about it, in my opinion, and then got ridiculed by the media for doing it. Then he comes out with four day test matches and calling teams mediocre and so forth. He’s a cricket fan with money. He’s no more qualified than you or I.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sean B January 10, 2018 / 9:00 pm

        Yep nailed it in one. Once he made those comments, he was guaranteed to be given as little ‘public’ air as possible, leave it to the Head Boy.

        What interests me is how Graves got the gig in the first place. My guess and this is just conjecture, is that because he was so friendly with the other CC chairmen, that they felt they could storm these changes through before the counties realised the gravity of the situation. The ultimate wolf in sheeps clothing…

        Like

      • Adam H January 10, 2018 / 9:33 pm

        Can you clarify who you mean by “they”? Isn’t Graves the boss of English cricket? Surely he has the ultimate authority? Or am I mistaken about the governing structure of the ECB? Is it run by some sort of committee, and they are the ones who make the calls?

        Like

        • Sean B January 10, 2018 / 9:43 pm

          Graves is Chairman of the ECB, but the ECB is a serpents nest of old boy clubs and different committees each with their own agenda, many of whom we just don’t know exist. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Haynes – ECB’s Comms Director ended up having a word with the board to tell them to put a sock in Graves.

          The big question is where does Giles Clarke fit in with all of this…

          Like

          • Adam H January 10, 2018 / 9:50 pm

            Oh dear! If that’s the case, then ECB governing structure sounds incredibly outdated and inefficient. Surely not how a modern sporting body should be run.

            As for Clarke, I’d assumed he was out of the picture at the ECB, and was more involved with the PCB to bring back cricket there. But what do I know!

            Like

      • jennyah46 January 11, 2018 / 7:44 am

        Exactly.

        Like

  11. LordCanisLupus January 10, 2018 / 8:49 pm

    A mate of mine, a taxi driver and fellow Millwall fan said that cricket was boring. He’s still not a fan, but he watched the end of the 2005 Ashes. He got into the sporting theatre of it. He could watch it for nothing as well.

    Until The Cricketer stops focusing on twaddle like this and on actually making a difference and recognising the errors of the past, what can we do but point out the obvious?

    Like

    • Mark January 10, 2018 / 9:21 pm

      You’re trolling us boss. And the cricketer is trolling the whole cricket family. They just can’t wait to destroy the game they claim to care about.

      It’s 20/20 or bust for them. And then 10/10 and then 5/5 and then 1/1.

      Managing decline. I said this four years ago. They are managing the decline of cricket. They have given up any idea of saving the game. So it’s just cash in on the decline in the short term.

      Like

      • Adam H January 10, 2018 / 9:35 pm

        It’s funny you mention 10/10 and 5/5. How hilarious would it be if by the time the T20 Franchise league comes around in 2020, the ECB discovered they have missed the boat by a decade, and T10 is the new rage? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • jennyah46 January 11, 2018 / 7:46 am

          You are making me laugh while it’s not funny! Too close for comfort.

          Like

  12. man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 9:43 pm

    I imagine that the people who voted for Graves did so because he had put so much money, time and effort into saving YCC. They thought he would represent the “little people”. However, YCC is still a financial basket-case and the power structures at the ECB got together to minimise whatever he tried to do.

    And in black and white terms, professional cricket as constituted in the UK is a basket-case. The broadcasting rights are showered on the players. Most of the counties are close to the wall. The current situation cannot last. Something major has to happen. Yet another competition, which also sets out to create a new structure to the existing structures –
    the major and minor counties – is unlikely to work.

    I think I would prefer to hand control back to the MCC – at least they don’t pretend to enjoy cricket and never put profitability above the game, whatever you might think of their politics – and revert to a semi-pro game where gifted amateurs can come in and participate when they have some spare time. It’s either that or create a small super-league like the Sheffield Shield, probably based on regions.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 9:45 pm

    The financial detail is contained in earlier posts of mine, which LCL was kind enough to post on this site

    Like

    • jennyah46 January 11, 2018 / 7:53 am

      When I was a kid I used to collect autographs as a hobby. I asked Ted Dexter for his and he brushed me aside as if I was a fly. I’ve never forgotten it.

      Like

    • BobW January 11, 2018 / 9:32 am

      That masterclass was about defensive batting in trying to save a game. Ricky Ponting also discussed the forward defensive at length with Geoffrey. Playing hook, pulls and cuts as Ted so wanted to be discussed, was hardly going to assist you in your defensive batting.

      Like

  14. man in a barrel January 10, 2018 / 11:33 pm

    Tom Harrison reminds me a lot of a certain Adam Crozier, who flits from high-paid job to higher-paid job without having achieved anything and, in some cases, of having destroyed things. The FA, Royal Mail, ITV. He left all of those jobs with the organisation struggling and is still getting promoted. He and Andy Hornby are people to watch. Destruction of value is what they excel at. Harrison is a wannabe, but rapidly becoming successful at value-destruction

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sri.Grins January 11, 2018 / 2:36 am

    Nice article. This may well become as famous as the one where the legend of the ashes got started.

    Meanwhile how come you have ignored Flower? He has been directly responsible for creating the mess with the players and not nurturing talent and he does not get a mention?

    The responsibility for lack of talent has to be significantly borne by him

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B January 11, 2018 / 8:31 am

      Flower is massively influential no doubt, but he has more hovered in the background since 2014. Whilst I don’t discount the amount of damage he’s done, I personally felt the other 4 had done more…

      Like

      • AB January 11, 2018 / 10:11 am

        Actually I think whilst Harrison is public enemy no 1 for his ongoing destruction of domestic cricket, Flower is probably more responsible for the current on-field debacle than anyone else. He’s responsible for elite player development, and the no 1 reason we are so poor right now is that we’ve failed to develop any elite players whatsoever.

        The system actually worked ok until he took it over. Now we get nothing but a stream of talentless buffoons who are “good in the dressing room” (but crap on the pitch).

        We’ve resorted to picking players on spec straight out of county cricket. Some of them have come off, most of them haven’t, but this isn’t how its supposed to work. The Lions was supposed to help players bridge the gap between county cricket and international cricket, but since Flower took over 4 years ago, it appears to have become actively detrimental to player’s careers.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Sean B January 11, 2018 / 8:35 am

      Flower was a difficult one as whilst he certainly needs to take a share of the blame, he has largely disappeared from public view since 2014.

      It was my personal view that the other 4 had done more damage as you can only have 4 horsemen…

      Like

      • Sri.Grins January 11, 2018 / 10:01 am

        I beg to differ as but for Flowe r , KP’s manner of exit would not have occurred which started the divide among English fans and if the talent had been better identified / managed, the test team would have done better and that would have kept fans more fans in love with the game.

        It is his ego that hurt England and once the results slid down, the value of the business starts diminishing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sean B January 11, 2018 / 10:53 am

          Happy to have different opinions around Flower. As i mentioned i do think he has to swallow a large part of the blame certainly around KP, though I would also suggest that Downton was hired by the powers that be with the mandate to get rid of KP irrespective of Flower.

          I think Flower has to shoulder the blame for the lack of talent coming through, though again the pickings are now so meagre now and that sits with the ECB’s complete lack of grass roots investment and forward planning.

          Like

  16. Tom January 11, 2018 / 6:36 am

    That picture of Giles Clarke – I can’t stop thinking of this:

    Liked by 1 person

    • jennyah46 January 11, 2018 / 7:56 am

      It was Giles Clarke’s participation in Death if a Gentleman that still haunts me.

      Like

      • thelegglance January 11, 2018 / 11:40 am

        The Odious Giles Clarke said at one point in the film that no one cares about administration. Sadly, he’s probably right.

        Like

  17. LordCanisLupus January 11, 2018 / 9:11 am

    Anyone else absolutely enraged by the selection for New Zealand? What does Vince need to do to be dropped? Leave ISM? Stoneman is lucky too. We continue this charade with Stokes. If the preparation starts here then sticking with the mob that got crushed in Australia doesn’t seem to instil confidence.

    Where is Livingstone going to bat if he plays? It won’t be three. Malan made a success at 5 so bung him up the order! Brilliant. Hard to see a problem with that. Whitaker is still getting paid for this twaddle.

    I am Surrey biased I know. But Tom Curran got to make his debut on two batting surfaces and is condemned to exclusion. Broad ponced around Australia and is still absolutely untouchable. Same with Woakes. Tom never got the benefit of playing at Adelaide. Two tests for him seems like a mistake. 12 for Vince and people still swoon over the cover drive he middles and forgiving the one he nicks.

    What a nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Silk January 11, 2018 / 10:00 am

      I don’t see why we should be bothered. Picking basically the same team that got hammered 4-0 in Aus. What could go wrong?

      How Whitakker can preside over two Ashes drubbings and a hammering in India, and still be in a job, is beyond me. But while he’s in the post, we will continue to see this sort of thing.

      After all, this is the man who brought back Gareth Batty, and introduced Liam Dawson and Ansari into Test cricket. Given that, a piss poor, and unimaginative, selection for NZ is hardly a surprise.

      He gets paid for this. Presumably a lot. It’s a fecking joke.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark January 11, 2018 / 10:32 am

      There is no accountability, period! It’s what this blog has been saying for years. My hunch about Vince is they have no one else that fits their criteria. The captain, Root, refuses to bat at 3. Milan batted at 5 and had a decent tour so why punish him by moving him? Bairstow is our next best batsman, but he keeps wicket, and isn’t really a number 3 anyway. The only other option is to drop Cook down to 3. But that would mean finding another opener.

      So Vince stays. There are other batsman but did they go to the right school, does their face fit? Look how many we have tried over the last few years? It’s why I blame Strauss more than anyone of the four above because he runs the cricket part of the ECB. It’s not his job to do tv deals, but to focus on the cricket. He sits in on selection meetings. He has veto on which players can play. Did he fight against dumping county cricket in June and July? I didn’t near him.

      Also I still think you hire Strauss you get Flower in the background.. It’s the same MO. Bowling dry, and not wicket taking overs. Interesting listening to Harmison on Sky talk about what they did to Finn. They thought he was too expensive so they shortened his run up, and made him a line and length bowler.

      Vince will probably score runs in NZ , but I don’t think he is a test match number 3. Reminds me of Bopara. Stylish but loose, and will just give it away for no reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pktroll (@pktroll) January 11, 2018 / 10:38 am

        Yes I’m truly f***ed off too. It’s almost as though that the ‘Nothing to see here’ meme has been enacted. It sadly leaves me wanting England to lose badly to see real change and even then I doubt it. Team needs another stuffing I think

        Like

    • Miami Dad's 6 January 11, 2018 / 1:02 pm

      All I wanted was for heads to have rolled. As many as possible.

      I get this – livid!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus January 11, 2018 / 1:23 pm

        James Whitaker is stealing a living. Absolutely stealing a living. This is short-sighted, blinkered selection.

        A while back I did a little data mining picking out a sample of our “successful” players over the years. There were two, I think, of those in recent memory who went on to long test careers who did not make a half century in their first two test matches. One of those was Michael Atherton who made 49 (check 47 – he made a century in his third match)! Another was Vaughan who had his first go in the horror that was Johannesburg and won a lot of plaudits. That’s of course not saying if you make a 50 in your first two tests you are made, but not many go on to great careers. If I get the time and/inclination I will look at England players who made more than 10 test centuries and the number test they made their first.

        The Vince one particularly annoys me. Jennings, Robson and Lyth all showed “faults in their game” and were dropped after a few tests – 6 or 7 was the going rate. Vince has now had 12, in two attempts, and still gets in the squad. What does he have that the others don’t? No centuries for a start.

        This was laziness. Throw us a bone with a larruper who scores fast but who froze on his T20 debut (according to reports – I never saw it), while a chance to blood some other talent is ignored. Last time we lost 5-0 there were casualties. Carberry, Borthwick, Pietersen, Rankin, Tremlett, Bresnan (?) never played again. Prior and Trott had misguided comebacks only to falter. After this debacle, sack the waiter, the man who got to bowl on two roads and a thing called Jake Ball. Let’s not take the bull by the horns and get rid of old-timers.

        I saw someone say that Cook has stated he wanted to get to 200 test matches. It would be great if that was made public. I’ll watch as the public tell me this is different to KP saying he wanted to get to 10000 runs. That would be great fun.

        Like

        • thelegglance January 11, 2018 / 1:33 pm

          I’ve a feeling it took Mike Gatting something like 30 Tests before he got his maiden hundred.

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus January 11, 2018 / 1:38 pm

            Yep. 31st. And made 10 test centuries.

            I’m going to do a list of those who made 11 test centuries and above…. 🙂

            Gooch also took an age to get his first.

            Like

          • man in a barrel January 11, 2018 / 5:19 pm

            Although Gooch took a long time to make a century, wasn’t it that amazing attacking 122 against the 1980 West Indies?, he did have a couple of scores of 98 and 99 to his credit

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus January 11, 2018 / 8:24 pm

            He had a 99 and a 91 not out.

            His innings against the West Indies was indeed his first.

            Like

          • man in a barrel January 11, 2018 / 8:47 pm

            Glad to find out that my memory is not fully shot! I now think it was 123, and Tavare scored something like 49 on debut, described by EMWellings as a match-losing innings

            Like

        • Benny January 11, 2018 / 7:26 pm

          OK I’m going to be outrageous. There is available a batsman with 16 tests experience, 2 centuries, an average of 30, which is better than most of Whittaker’s choices and close to Moeen’s. Oh yes, he’s an experienced and able captain.

          Another chance for Morgan anyone?

          Like

          • Sean B January 11, 2018 / 7:34 pm

            Sorry Benny, can’t agree with that. Morgan hasn’t played red ball cricket for around 3 years now and has made it clear he doesn’t want to.

            The last season he played CC cricket, he was averaging under 10 with the bat.

            That horse bolted a long time ago..

            Like

          • Benny January 11, 2018 / 9:37 pm

            I guess so Sean. I’m sure I remember he became disenchanted with red ball once he knew England weren’t going to pick him again. However, his previous compares favourably with several getting the chance now and I don’t believe it would be that difficult to switch back on, if he had the motivation. Plus he’s only 31 and would remove the TINA issue with the captaincy.

            I dream a lot

            Like

          • Sean B January 11, 2018 / 9:47 pm

            I’m a Middx fan for my sins. When he got dropped from England’s Test team and realised he could make good money doing the T20 tour, his desire dropped for red Ball cricket and so did his game.

            He was also given a lot of stick by the Middx fans that season (he’s probably the most unpopular person amongst the members), was that correct, probably not, but the Middx members aren’t the most forgiving. Put it this way, I got quite a lot of crap on Twitter when I defended him against Holt a few years ago..

            I think he’s found his niche now and is happy with it.

            Like

        • man in a barrel January 11, 2018 / 8:20 pm

          The classic case used to be Bill Edrich. His first 11 innings produced 88

          Like

          • man in a barrel January 11, 2018 / 8:21 pm

            Runs but in the second innings of the timeless test he got 219. He ended up making 6 centuries for an average of 40. It would be great if Vince could achieve that

            Like

    • RufusSG January 11, 2018 / 4:35 pm

      One of the suggestions I’ve seen for Stokes’ continued picking and withdrawal from squads is that the ECB might be concerned that by leaving him out completely implies they think he’s likely to be guilty of the charges made against him by the police, which could be seen as prejudicing the investigation. So continuing as you were, and then avoiding actually selecting him in teams on some vague excuse, is a safer option legally for now.

      I’m no legal expert so haven’t got a clue whether that flies or not.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus January 11, 2018 / 4:47 pm

        Not sure that flies. Plenty of workplaces suspend people on serious offences before trial. Happened to someone i know. Now maybe as he is a public figure this might be different.

        But I’m tired of the charade. I’m not going into a long legal exposition because I know fuck all about it.

        Like

        • thelegglance January 11, 2018 / 4:49 pm

          It is different as a public figure, because for the rest of us, a workplace suspension wouldn’t risk prejudicing a trial with a presumption of guilt, simply because the jury could never know. With him, it would be reported across the media.

          It makes sense as a reason to me.

          Like

  18. Sri. Grins January 11, 2018 / 9:29 am

    The selection for nz appears weird. Ballance, Curran seem to have been identified as the least damaging to the ecb management and selectors if dropped.

    Certain cricketers appear above reproach.

    It is amusing to see that a player who never played and a bowler who supposedly gave his all got dropped. Woakes, Ali, broad, Vince are all performers in the ashes by this logic.

    I hope that NZ smash England so that such a lousy approach dies not get rewarded.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Silk January 11, 2018 / 10:04 am

      Don’t get ahead of the curve! The hope, right now, is that we get smashed in the ODIs first. The (marginal) improvement in ODIs is the fig-leaf keeping Whittaker, Bayliss and Strauss in their well paid, and responsibility free (it seems) jobs.

      If we lose the ODIs we drop below NZ and we’ll be back where we were 4 years ago.

      Maybe then there will be nowhere to hide. Maybe.

      Like

      • Sri.Grins January 11, 2018 / 11:50 am

        Not sure if England will do that badly in ODIs/T20s vs Oz. Oz are no longer powerhouses in ODIs especially in bilateral series.

        England also have a better team as bowling has more or less gone the way of dinosaurs in LOIs.

        Like

        • Silk January 11, 2018 / 12:45 pm

          Well, if you are right, then everything wrong with the Test team will be justified on the basis that we are good at ODIs.

          (Maxwell overlooked, AGAIN. For Cameron White this time. Steve Smith must really hate him)

          Like

          • Sri.Grins January 11, 2018 / 1:15 pm

            :-). I guess Oz selections however weird seem to work out while Eng selections equally weird don’t. It is a function of luck I guess.

            Maxwell is a good cricketer and will be back. As long as Smith has excluded him mostly on cricketing reasons, it is fine. if it is due to a personal agenda, the treatment of maxwell will come back to bite oz.

            Happened with KP’s decision even if it took 4 years.Cricket is a funny game that way. People who mess around with others for non cricketing reasons tend to get shown up even if the wheels of cricket grind slowly but surely 🙂

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus January 11, 2018 / 1:35 pm

            Maxwell’s ODI batting for the last two years hasn’t been magnificent. That may be due to lack of opportunity given the propensity of the top order in scoring runs, but it’s still not something to go all KP over!

            http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/325026.html?class=2;template=results;type=batting;view=innings

            His bowling is a total irrelevance at this stage:

            http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/325026.html?class=2;template=results;type=bowling;view=innings

            Maxwell gives people a lot of chance to drop him. Whether this is a KP to a Cook situation I really don’t know Sri, but this is picking on potential rather than evidence (if any pick is really anything else). Alluring T20 innings and the odd massive Shield score aren’t persuasive.

            Or it could be the NSW Mafia working against Victoria. Doesn’t it always?

            Like

          • Silk January 11, 2018 / 8:58 pm

            Maxwell’s not been great, but to ignore him and go with Cameron White??!!?

            Unless they really are sending him a message. “We want to pick you. But until you achieve X we will continue to ignore you, as we think you are wasting your talent.”

            But it feels to me like Smith hates him.

            Like

          • Sean B January 11, 2018 / 9:05 pm

            Must be from the ‘wrong type of Australian family’

            Like

      • KidVicious January 12, 2018 / 1:26 pm

        But Morgan will cop the flack for that! Card’s marked!

        Like

  19. Rooto January 11, 2018 / 8:09 pm

    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/jan/11/london-schools-cricketing-mission
    This is an article by Barney Ronay which explains how Mike Selvey is fronting (as President, so ‘fronting’ may not be the right verb, we’ll see if he sits in the background or not) the revived London Schools Cricket Association. Ronay himself is involved (he has occasionally mentioned his active interest as a father in London cricket development) and has taken the role of Communications Officer on the committee.
    It all seems a very noble cause and one worthy of praise and support, and I’m sure it is.

    You knew there’d be a but…

    If the LSCA is dependant upon ECB goodwill, and ECB directives allowing South Eastern counties to use/fund/patronise the LSCA, then surely these two journalists are compromised when it comes to independent criticism of the governing body. For Selvey read ‘further compromised’. It’s good of Barney Ronay to be proactive and open about his role, for sure. I wonder if he will see this potential conflict of interest. I admit it’s not a big one, it’s just *another* one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol January 12, 2018 / 6:20 am

      There is a tweet from LSCA, quoted on the BOC feed. Below it is a query,
      to which Ronay responds.

      Look at Ronay’s replies and be a little more strident in your cynicism.

      He takes two tweets and considerably less than 280 characters to say that a) the ECB is accountable because it is scrutinised by the media and b) Flower should not be included in the blame game…

      Like

      • Mark January 12, 2018 / 10:56 am

        Which just shows why Ronay is not to be taken seriously. He’s a new Selvey in the making. Usual warmed over bullshit. No accountablity of the ECB. A total refusal to look in the mirror and see that you are not holding the governing body to account.

        Protection of Flower, usual crap. 4 years of failure, supported by a craven and dishonest media. The Guardian sport is an oxymoron. They don’t cover or understand sport. They like access and free tickets and hospitality. It’s A cosy, cushy club of pompus mutual love and protection.

        Cricket media and the governing body is a giant circle jerk of mediocrity and self interest. Everyone else can pipe down and piss off.

        Like

      • Rooto January 12, 2018 / 9:26 pm

        Cheers, NOC! Will investigate further.

        Like

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