3 years, 900 posts and a million views: Happy Birthday to Us

Writing a blog is a funny thing: you forget what you’ve done, time goes by, and eventually one of the team says something along the lines of “Hang on, isn’t our birthday in February?”.  So it is, although I must confess I initially thought it was our fourth rather than our third, which just goes to show how much attention we pay to such things.  Nevertheless, allow us to be all self-congratulatory for once, as the very idea of lasting more than a month or two seemed fairly daft back then.  It wasn’t really the start, for Dmitri Old’s How Did We Lose in Adelaide blog was the reason so many of us got in contact with each other in the first place, but his opening lines to this particular site are wryly amusing to look back on:

Let’s see how this one goes

The fallout from the Australia tour, the sacking of Kevin Pietersen, the shambolic reign of Paul Downton, the failure of the press to scrutinise rather than regurgitate the inner thoughts of Andy Flower and Giles Clarke – it all seems so distant, yet so recent in other ways.  The schism those events triggered hasn’t healed; if anything positions have become even more entrenched, even if some of the actors have now left the stage.  But when the ECB not only refuse to “clarify”, let alone apologise for the “Outside Cricket” jibe that gave this blog its name (that press release is still up on the PCA’s site), perhaps that no matter how things change they remain the same shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.  They meant it then, and they still do now.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the posts on here, and some have been very vocal about it.  Fair enough too, we have several points of view that people can agree with, disagree with, or ignore, but perhaps the volume of hits for an obscure little blog that’s been pathetically useless in promoting itself (we only got round to using the Twitter address properly recently) suggests it’s not a totally out there line to have taken.

Dmitri’s blog swiftly became a two handed site, then three, and now four.  We professionalised it by buying a real domain name rather than using a WordPress one, and apart from a small issue where some idiot on the team accidentally thought the renewal was a fraudulent payment (now you know why the site disappeared for a couple of days) and cancelled it, it’s been that ever since. With hindsight, outsidecricket.com might have been a better name than beingoutsidecricket.com, but you can blame that same idiot for that as well.

That first year it was all about Strauss, Pietersen, the press, books and subterfuge.  The two posts that attracted the highest volumes were A Matter of Life and Trust and Statement of the Oblivious, both about the sheer duplicitousness of the ECB attempting to pretend their chairman hadn’t said what he really had, and that going back on his word was in no way utterly deceitful and treating people like idiots.  Oddly enough, in the years since, Mr Graves has barely said a word, and could well be gagged and chained in a distant dungeon for all we know.  The most enthralling thing looking back on the first of those is how the focus on trust hasn’t gone away – is there actually anyone who believes anything they say?  Why would they when they are so often caught out fibbing?  Even for matters as small as player injuries the statements range from implausible to outright falsehood.

Both of those posts stand up pretty well in terms of the sentiments expressed, and it should be alarming (but it’s not surprising) that the objections raised have still never been answered.  The joke that the most recent hammering in Australia was probably also Kevin Pietersen’s fault remains as sharp a barb now as then.

Andrew Strauss’s announcement that Pietersen was persona non grata persuaded us to do our first ever live blog – something we’ve fiddled with from time to time since.  The tweets embedded in that particular piece are striking in retrospect – mostly because they’re every bit as true today.  Various of the We Need to Talk About Kevin brigade never did come up with any kind of decent defence, beyond the “Pietersen is a tosser” line.  Unless, that is, we count the marvellously pathetic leaked dossier that was swiftly disavowed once it became clear it was an object of derision.  Note that a real one never did appear – how could it?  That was the actual depth of the evidence against him.

Two other sackings that year also got plenty of attention, firstly that of Paul Downton, with the beautifully titled post Aplomb highlighting the absurdity of all those in the media who backed their mate as someone special despite it being blindingly obvious to everyone else he was utterly out of his depth.  The other sacking was of course Peter Moores, a man who didn’t succeed on either occasion as England coach, but who is a rarity in ECB circles as someone on more than nodding terms with the concept of integrity.  His shabby sacking – leaked to the media as he watched his England team play a one day match, caused BOC to get all angry on his behalf about his treatment.  For all that plenty of people may dislike a Pietersen, always remember this happened to someone who no one thought could possibly deserve such underhanded and unpalatable conduct from his bosses.  The ECB have the sheer cheek to still claim (lie) that they don’t leak.

If 2015’s posts were dominated by the seemingly daily dose of ECB ineptitude, 2016 saw many of the most popular posts being about actual, real life cricket.  The tours of Bangladesh and India towards the end of the year in particular gained a lot of attention, and probably gave rise to the inside joke that this is the Bad News Blog, where readership rises in proportion to England’s cricketing woes.  It’s not quite true, the reality is that Test cricket is what gets the attention, whether England win or lose.  That we prefer watching and writing about Test cricket suggests there may be a hint of self-fulfilling prophecy about it, but it does mirror the newspapers, who also see traffic drop off for the more disposable versions of the game.  This of course makes it thoroughly intriguing how T20 in particular is seen as the future, when attention is so limited, at least in the written media.  This place isn’t representative of anything at all of course, but when it’s widespread across all media, it becomes notable.  The interest is unquestionably there of course, but it’s shallow.

Outside of the cricket itself, by far the most popular (in the strictest sense of numbers that is – it was deeply unpopular with many of the targets) post was the collective effort that was the Outside Cricket(er) List, a riposte to the gloriously pompous Power List published by The Cricketer Magazine, the one where its editor (Simon Hughes, just in case you’ve forgotten) decided to include himself – presumably 39th place was as high as he dared and well ahead of the editor of Wisden, for example.  Our own list probably caused more internal discussion than anything else we’ve ever done, mostly involving debates as to whether any of the entries were too nasty.  A few probably were, though in at least one case the response by the victim magnificently made a debatable hatchet job turn out to be nail on head.  Mind you, it was a few days later that someone asked why we’d left out Piers Morgan, followed by the horrified realisation that we really had somehow forgotten the most obvious subject of all.  He may consider that particularly wounding.

It’s long been considered that county cricket is death in terms of attracting attention, but Sean’s post  about the climax to the season, player availability and, that old favourite, the ECB shooting themselves in the foot provoked plenty of comment.  Perhaps there is life in the old dog beyond the Guardian county clique blog.

2017 of course was all about the Ashes, and the spike in hits across that period reflected the way that however hard the cricketing authorities try to undermine the game, certain things still resonate with anyone who loves the game of cricket.  That the series turned out to be once again a mess from an England perspective didn’t alter that, except that both posts and comments tended to range from furious, via despair to withering contempt.  Still, there was always l’affaire Stokes to keep everyone entertained, as writers and commenters worked out the best ways of talking about a subject that couldn’t be talked about.  Some of the Tangled Web didn’t age terribly well, but that’s blogging, and anyone who wants to go back over the output of the last three years and point out where we got it completely wrong is more than welcome to do so.  No need to tell us though – life’s too short.

Alastair Cook is a perennial favourite on here – partly because there’s just so much to say about him (and often very positive, contrary to popular belief), but the day he stood down as England captain (what, you didn’t realise?) was unquestionably a big one, not least because of the length of time he’d held the job.  I’ve always felt Dmitri’s assessment of him that day was one of the best things he’s written, weaving a tale of a flawed captain propped up by an adoring media who wouldn’t brook any criticism of the Chosen One.  The prescience of that piece was highlighted perfectly by the astoundingly over the top media response to what certainly was a fine innings in Melbourne, just not a visitation from the Almighty.

Last year also saw the completion of the Gang of Four (presumably, execution isn’t on the cards for this one) with Danny joining up and posting his analysis of All Stars Cricket, the latest wheeze from the ECB that pays lip service to grassroots cricket and generates lots of positive headlines when announcing it, before anyone has time to really start looking at it properly.

Of course, it’s not just been the four of us, the guest posts have been without exception outstanding – in one instance a journalist got in touch to expressly mention how good it was (they don’t do that for me, damn them) and how well researched.  Furthermore, the comments are always what makes a place like this worthwhile, whether agreeing or disagreeing, praising or hostile.  Like any community, it’s only ever as good as those who make it up, and from a personal perspective, it’s involved meeting a lot of terrific people, and in the case of a few, firm friendships have been forged. I did think about individually thanking everyone who has posted a comment on here, but then I realised how long it would take, blanched and bailed out. Sorry.

We’re three years old, we intend to carry on.  There’ll be hiatuses no doubt, and nothing ever stays quite the same.  We’re never going to monetise it, we’re never going to accept “sponsorship” from a betting company.  We (and I mean all of us, readers, writers, commenters) do it for the love of the game and the burning anger at how it’s being systematically wrecked by those who care for filthy lucre rather than the sport.

Onwards and upwards, and if you can, forgive this one piece of chronic navel-gazing.  So happy birthday to us – all of us.  To answer Dmitri from February 6th 2015, it’s gone pretty well.

Oh one last thing – on the million views claim.  We’re actually 30,000 short.  But as exaggeration goes, we’re not remotely close to newspaper levels.  And it won’t get us a profile in the Cricket Paper either.

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32 thoughts on “3 years, 900 posts and a million views: Happy Birthday to Us

  1. Rooto February 9, 2018 / 9:28 pm

    Make that 29,999. And tomorrow it’ll be 29,998 at most. And so on…
    Thanks to all of you for showing up the pros for so long, and putting in so much effort. Sometimes I feel I should try and write a post defending the Guardian County blog, but the feeling doesn’t last long. We can all handle a bit of cognitive dissonance, can’t we?
    Thanks for putting up the links. I look forward to re-reading those seminal posts over the weekend.

    Like

  2. dannycricket February 9, 2018 / 10:16 pm

    “Last year also saw the completion of the Gang of Four (presumably, execution isn’t on the cards for this one) with Danny joining up”

    I am suddenly a lot more worried about the company I’m keeping here…

    Like

    • Sean February 9, 2018 / 10:32 pm

      Come to think of it, Chris did say he had an urgent trip to Grimsby coming up last night.

      Like

        • Sean February 9, 2018 / 10:36 pm

          Well i guess you’ve put Danny at ease (for tonight)…

          Like

        • dannycricket February 9, 2018 / 10:41 pm

          This is true. There have been a lot of urgent trips *from* Grimsby though.

          Like

      • dannycricket February 9, 2018 / 10:35 pm

        Right, that’s it. I’m going into witness protection. You’ll never find me!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sean February 9, 2018 / 10:38 pm

          A couple of my closest friends are from the Met, we’ll find you don’t worry 😂

          Like

          • dannycricket February 9, 2018 / 10:39 pm

            Great, so now I’m not only going to be found but also arrested in hospital after “resisting arrest”.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sean February 9, 2018 / 10:42 pm

            If you see a helicopter hovering above you in the next 10 minutes, then you’re all good 😉

            Like

  3. LordCanisLupus February 9, 2018 / 10:29 pm

    Muchas gracias from El Dorado Airport in Bogota. On the way to Lima.

    It has been a great three years on BOC.

    Feliz Cumpleanos.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. quebecer February 9, 2018 / 10:58 pm

    “…comments tended to range from furious, via despair to withering contempt”

    Ne m’en veux fucking pas!

    Anyway, happy b’day everyone, and Dmitri, don’t worry; you do look four.

    Like

  5. Zephirine February 9, 2018 / 10:59 pm

    What relentless churls we are! How continuously bilious, how perpetually vile. What dedicated ignoramuses. And how very, very Outside…

    Well done all, and keep on keeping on!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Miami Dad's 6 February 10, 2018 / 2:53 am

    Nothing noteworthy to add from me (as per usual, some might say), other than a swift “good work” and “thanks” sorta vibe. Honestly, the blog is better than anything else out there on English cricket. The foreign commenters are very welcome and certainly add to the variety of chat too. Here’s to another year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Benny February 10, 2018 / 7:33 am

    Happy birthday BOC. You know I enjoy being here. Many thanks to the Gang of Four

    Like

  8. thebogfather February 10, 2018 / 11:23 am

    Being OC is our badge of honour, proudly and definitively worn
    As the ECB self flagellate, absconding from responsibility
    Loudly our game they defile, hence we scorn
    All seeing, we shall remain, with passion and ability
    To call them out, and their MSM so subservient still
    So blind they be to the monied, as Cricket, they kill…

    To the Four Hoarse Men, and all here, I Thank you,
    Still time to come again off many a long run, without fear, all so true!

    Like

  9. metatone February 10, 2018 / 11:42 am

    Great work everyone!

    A humble suggestion from someone who has run the odd website or two over the years…

    You’re not interested in e.g. T20 internationals (and often ODIs) and fair enough… but if you put up an “Open Thread” post for a match, vaguely addicted types like me will put comments in… and sometimes it creates it’s own momentum for people interested in something you’re not.

    (I never feel right tagging comments on the latest T20 onto a post about something else…)

    Key point here is it’s the internet, you’re really not short of space…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sri.Grins February 11, 2018 / 2:55 am

      Agreed :-). I love all cricket and it makes sense to me.

      Like

  10. "IronBalls" McGinty February 10, 2018 / 8:06 pm

    Bloody well done chaps…extremely well played! It’s been a pleasure and a privilege!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. @pktroll February 11, 2018 / 11:56 am

    Just popping in to say hello. Abroad relaxing at the moment. Can’t say that I have really kept in touch with the t20 stuff more than checking on the score. However I have enjoyed the 3 year ride amongst the bilious inadequates. Long may that continue!

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus February 11, 2018 / 7:40 pm

      I am in a city where an England captain (I think) was born….in South America. What a place to celebrate three years of BOC and four of the rage machine!

      Like

      • BoredInAustria February 11, 2018 / 10:01 pm

        Freddie Brown! (had to Google that)
        On the trail of Paddington bear?

        Like

          • @pktroll February 12, 2018 / 2:50 am

            I guessed that as soon as you mentioned South American city. Well done to BoredinAustria too.

            Like

  12. Neil February 11, 2018 / 6:28 pm

    Happy Birthday…
    We’ve not had the best relationship, and yes you’ve got me pretty riled over the years.. But I’m glad you continue. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber and will always seek the opposite view.
    There is some fine writing here, and I’ll continue to read as long as you post. A proactive and important blog 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Northern Light February 11, 2018 / 6:45 pm

    Your birthday is all very well, but I had a notification telling me that February 9th was the day I opened my Facebook account, so I’ve spent the weekend celebrating my 11 years on the finest social network on the planet 😉

    But BOC does come a VERY close second in my affections. After all, I can’t be quite so vitriolic and bilious on Facebook, they’re very careful about controlling hatred and trolling over there…..

    I have huge amounts of admiration for all the effort this takes, for all of you. I may well have given up on cricket altogether if I hadn’t found out that there were so many other people who felt similarly about it on here. Thanks doesn’t really seem enough of a word. But it’ll do as a starter.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Julie February 12, 2018 / 1:32 am

    Happy Birthday to all you wonderful people. As you all probably know KP is very special to me and without you guys when ECB were doing the treatment on him and I was angry, depressed and ready to invade England to have a go at them, I don’t know what I would have done. Special thanks to Dmitri. Your words and comments did help me. Three years gone!! Where??? I’m sure it’s not easy to keep something like this going but we don’t expect too much. 🎉🎉🎉🎉

    Like

  15. BobW February 12, 2018 / 11:50 am

    I can’t believe this blog has been going for only three years. It seems so much longer and in a good way too. There have been some brilliant posts and I’m glad one journalist did take note of the level of research involved in this blog and amongst the replies as well.
    I am sure has been said before, but you guys write the stuff that should be in the papers. Not the rubbish they come out with.
    Keep up the great work.

    Like

  16. KidVicious February 12, 2018 / 12:32 pm

    Very many happy returns and congratulations on what is always a fantastic informative read. I have no practical understanding into the amount of hard work you all put in having no experience myself, but from a readers perspective I have to say the output is superb and I am very much grateful for the effort.

    Like

  17. Sir Peter February 12, 2018 / 2:55 pm

    Cumpleanos feliz indeed hombres Have a nice Easter!

    Like

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