One of the Boys

There are some things that are beyond all abilities. One of those is trying to put up a blog when there’s a power cut that takes out both normal power and also the mobile phone towers meaning a complete absence of online access. This was a piece that was written this morning, but couldn’t be uploaded during a frustrating day, that involved also a total absence of work. As a result, some observations have been changed…

Cricket is an elitest sport. It doesn’t have to be, but it is. Equipment is expensive, certainly, which is why for the young in particular cricket clubs have always strived to provide kit for those making their way in the game. But like tennis, it has the public perception of being a game that is for the elite, the posh, the wealthy – reinforced by only being accessible to view for those prepared to pay a subscription. There’s a disconnect in that, for the clubs themselves are not, in general terms. They are comprised of people from all backgrounds, and all walks of life from the affluent to the impoverished, the public schools to the inner cities – albeit decreasingly so in the latter case. Yet in the administration of the game, and in the opportunities for those coming up through the ranks, this is anything but the case, and an England team comprised mostly of those from fee paying school backgrounds is illustrative of that.

Thus it is that the appointment of Ed Smith as the new national selector is utterly unsurprising at all levels. He fits all the proper metrics – public schoolboy (not a compulsory requirement as much as good evidence of being worthy of consideration), a Thoroughly Good Chap and thus reflective of the kind of Good Chap the other Good Chaps want to see. The apogee of this attitude was the Odious Giles Clarke’s comment about how Alastair Cook “and his family are very much the sort of people we want the England captain and his family to be”. Note the “we” involved there, this is a pervasive attitude throughout the echelons of the ECB, not just one man’s view. It’s not even deliberate, it’s merely that they consistently go for the same people who reflect their own backgrounds and their own values, and therefore they represent exactly the kind of people they would want in the roles. Thus it is no surprise that someone like Andrew Strauss would consider him ideal, nor that someone like Andrew Strauss would be considered ideal himself. A virtuous circle of a small group of self-appointed officers and gentlemen – Flashman at the Charge.

It’s not to say that Smith is necessarily a terrible choice. He spent most of his career on the county circuit, and it’s perfectly possible that he’s sufficiently in touch with the game at that level to be effective. But it is another instance of jobs for the boys, as long as they’re the right sort of boys. Smith of course has been thoroughly forgiven by those Inside Cricket for his unfortunate episode whereby he was caught out first by Krishna Murali and then the Cricket Couch for being very free and easy with the contents of an Economist article which he passed off as his own work. His employers at Cricinfo tried desperately hard to ignore it, and then eventually pulled the article, offering up a mealy mouthed defence by Sambit Bal to justify their ignoring of the whole affair. What was striking was the total absence of any of his writing colleagues defending him, or commenting on the various snide tweets and posts about the whole affair from the proletariat (see “fans, amateur players and supporters”). Even this morning with the news, it was as if it never happened. Johan Hari must desperately wonder how he ended up in the wrong sector.

The others supposedly in the frame for the role were Andy Flower, Derek Pringle and Mike Selvey – men of differing backgrounds certainly, but who still fit into that “right sort of chap” mentality that infests the ECB as an organisation and the cricketing establishment generally. The jobs move around among the same group of people; doing the same thing, with the same views, and perhaps above all else it’s notable that all those in the frame have sided with the ECB wherever possible in any kind of discussion about cricket and governance. To take one item of note, when the film Death of a Gentleman came out, Smith was critical of it, Selvey and Pringle completely silent (Flower as an ECB employee couldn’t be expected to say anything, so for that one he’s excluded), refusing to even mention its release. In Selvey’s case given his senior role at the Guardian, it was nothing but a complete abrogation of his responsibilities as a journalist. It was, and remains, disgraceful, both in terms of his pathetic sycophancy to Giles Clarke and the ECB generally, and the Guardian’s weak refusal to consider the subject then and since. That the Daily Telegraph became the bastion of the English cricket resistance remains deeply ironic. It is unsurprising that this collection of men from the same background, who have proved their loyalty to the cricket establishment in the most testing of circumstances, are exactly the people who would be considered for a role with them; nor that English cricket, so forgiving of those who go on rebel tours to South Africa but not those who stare out of windows, would worry little about such minor things as the integrity of journalism or the integrity of the game. Indeed, they have recently gone even further than merely supporting those who buttress their own worldview by specifically attacking those who dare to ask awkward questions, to the point a non-compliant journalist in the form of George Dobell is being threatened with legal action by the ECB, presumably for the crime of reporting on them without due deference.

Whatever the legal merits, the money to do this derives from supporters, clubs, players, counties and all who have an interest in the game. It is not the ECB’s, no matter how much they might like to think it is, and no matter how much they behave as though that is the case. The ECB is not the game – a simple, obvious point that bears stating simply because it’s not how they appear to see it, and strikes at the very heart of so much of the fury with and loathing of them: that they consider themselves an end in itself, not a facilitator, promoter and protector of the game of cricket. The appointment of Ed Smith and those others considered is not objectionable because he is incapable of the job, nor because it’s remotely the most important thing this month, but because it so beautifully encapsulates the mentality of the people to whom the care of the game was entrusted. No accountability, no democracy, no say in what they do or how they do it, and best of all, they wouldn’t begin to understand why so many object to them. Bringing the game into disrepute is a charge beloved of sporting authorities everywhere, but when thinking about those words: there is no better example of a sporting organisation in this country that manages that repeatedly than the ECB.

Separately, Talksport announced that they had won the rights to the overseas tours to Sri Lanka and the West Indies next winter. The response was resoundingly negative, to the shock of no one. Their coverage will doubtless be professional enough, yet the presence of endless betting adverts and advertorials will be enough to put many off. The one thing that must be said here is that for once this is nothing to do with the ECB, any more than the Ashes on BT Sport was. This is within the gift of the host boards, not the visitors, though it will be interesting to see whether the ECB behave as contemptibly with TalkSport (owned by their friends at Sky) as they did with BT when throwing them under a Twitter bus last winter.

On the other side of the world, rumours surfaced that Justin Langer will be appointed Australia’s new coach, swiftly denied as a done deal, but still likely. Langer is a coach in the same style as Flower to a fair degree, a martinet who demands total adherence to his methods, which may or may not be a good thing for them right now, depending on just what kind of standards are demanded. Perhaps it might work out, though it remains notable that they appear to be looking to choose someone before the two month review into Australian on field conduct is completed.

Lastly for now, today was the day when this blog reached the landmark of one million views. To do so in little more than three years is something we are proud of, particularly given our position on the naughty step in the world of English cricket. There are a small group of journalists who have encouraged us (and Wisden have generally), and have met with us – a common liking for beer proving apparent. It has been almost entirely below the radar which perhaps best reflects the prevailing view that our particular attitude is considered unwelcome by the cricketing establishment. They know who they are, and that they wouldn’t welcome being named and shamed thanked illustrates the point. Nevertheless, they are appreciated. Internally, we’ve had our crises, and it is those who contribute, read, argue with and correct us who are the main reason for keeping us going. Highlighting the readers and commenters has always been a trite observance in many instances, yet sometimes it’s heartfelt and honest. When we say we couldn’t do it without you, it is nothing but the truth. Continue to challenge us daily please.

Here’s to two million, and the absolute certainty that we’ll still never be invited to any ECB events (nor would we accept), we’ll still never try to monetise this place, and we’ll still do it because we love and care about the game we grew up with, played, watched and paid for. It doesn’t make us right, but it does make us a voice, even if from the margins.

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99 thoughts on “One of the Boys

  1. Mark April 19, 2018 / 12:35 am

    “exactly the kind of people they would want in the roles.”

    Whenever I hear the phrase the right person for the role I think of this classic sketch…..

    “Your right leg I like. It’s a lovely leg for the role. I have nothing against your right leg, the trouble is neither do you.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sri.Grins April 19, 2018 / 1:46 am

    Nicely written. Congratulations to all the bloggers for the volume of hits which has come about on the back of a passion for the game and thoughtful articles put up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OscarDaBosca April 19, 2018 / 5:34 am

    In a deeply ironic manner I’m going to plagiarise an email from King Cricket.

    Have a look at this image http://www.edsmithwriter.com
    Is this a cricketer or someone who thinks they are a male model? The photo tells you all you need to know about him. He’s a massive pseud and a charlatan.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Rpoultz April 19, 2018 / 5:39 am

    Congrats for the millionth view. Seriously the work put in on this site is fantastic and I really don’t know where I would be without this dose of sanity each time the cricket season roles around.

    On the subject of TMS, although the decision was taken by the other boards and not the ECB, it has certain parallels to when Cricket was taken from FTA television on 2005. I therefore find it ironic of Agnew to be self pitying considering how supportive he has been of the ECB over he past four years and how much they have done to take Cricket away from the viewer. Furthermore boards selling the rights for high prices can be expected after the big 3 power grab.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hatmallet April 19, 2018 / 6:54 am

    Re fellow writers not defending him… have you seen former Cricinfo colleague David Hopps’ tweets about it? He’s trying to appear balanced, but also agreeing with the ‘jobs for the boys’ line. You’d think a former colleague would be quick to congratulate and praise.

    Having not read the blog and comments as much as I once did, I’m not up to speed with who everyone here was hoping for.

    I presumed that someone like Hussain wouldn’t leave Sky, but was hoping for the likes of Rob Key, Mark Butcher, maybe Steve Harmison to apply and be interviewed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dannycricket April 19, 2018 / 7:32 am

      I wouldn’t say “hoped”, but I think many of us expected Andy Flower to get the job after the new role was announced.

      Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 April 19, 2018 / 8:23 am

      On Twitter, Hopps is also being forced to be polite to Selvey when he must be tempted to say “Is there any opportunity you won’t pass up to throw yourself desperately at the feet of the ECB and curry favour?”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mark April 19, 2018 / 8:47 am

        Cricket has become a cabal of smug insiders buttressed by boot lickers, and cringing media sycophants. It makes the concept of “jobs for the boys” elites like Davos look like a scout camp.

        People are being booted out of county memberships for the wrong opinions, people resigning from the governing body, and one of the best genuinely independent journalist being sued.

        Never been prouder to be “outside of cricket.”

        Liked by 2 people

      • nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 12:41 pm

        Not in the least condescending is he, old “ECB Special Award”?

        Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance April 19, 2018 / 11:48 am

      That bit about not defending him referred to the plagiarism row rather than his appointment as selector.
      Funny you mention Harmison – at the back of my mind throughout writing it was that he is someone who is very thoughtful about cricket, and talks well about it. Whether he’d be a good selector I have no idea, but my subconscious constantly jabbed at me that the chances of the ECB appointing him to do anything seem remote.
      It’s not fair to extrapolate from one person to the whole, which is why I didn’t reference it directly, but that nagging feeling that Harmison isn’t in the club won’t go away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • DC April 19, 2018 / 3:39 pm

        Harmison applied to be a selector in 2014 before Fraser and Newell were appointed. He didn’t even get a thanks but no thanks from the ECB which clearly niggled him. He mentioned it on a Tuffers & Vaughan show a few years ago.

        Liked by 2 people

      • hatmallet April 19, 2018 / 8:02 pm

        Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Hopps and Kimber are proper staff at Cricinfo, whilst Smith was only a contributor, so their paths may well have rarely crossed.

        That said, there is a lack of congratulations and both are engaging a bit with some critical tweets. Kimber, it should be said, was also criticised by Smith implicitly r.e. DoaG.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 8:30 pm

          Not at all Matt. Kimber gets riled about the analytics bit but it is a smokescreen. Used to talk to Kimber on DM. That’s dried up. But he’s not going to sing someone’s praises he doesn’t agree with!

          Liked by 1 person

  6. keyserchris April 19, 2018 / 10:50 am

    Didn’t realise there was an ECB – BT twitter spat last winter… interesting

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark April 19, 2018 / 11:29 am

      I think what happened was some Sky sports cricket lovers (some in the media) discovered on the eve of the Ashes that Sky didn’t have the rights to the series. They didn’t have BT, and so started haranguing the ECB.

      The brave, and fearless governing body couldn’t wait to tell anyone who would listen it was not their fault and wasn’t anything to do with them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • thelegglance April 19, 2018 / 11:47 am

        Yep, it’s not that they said anything especially nasty, but that it was right at the start when BT’s commentary got the tone horribly wrong. The ECB got their tweet out saying “nothing to do with us guv” as quickly as they could.

        It was pretty unprofessional on their part. Just for a change.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 1:01 pm

    Well, it was a nice 37 years, mostly.

    Be seeing you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. northernlight71 April 19, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    I am awake? This is the planet I went to sleep on yesterday?

    I mean, what the **** is going on????????

    Liked by 2 people

    • nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 1:13 pm

      Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 1:20 pm

      Quite aside from anything else, they are launching the fecker in THE YEAR 2020.

      THE YEAR 2020.

      And changing the format *away from* 20/20.

      And this is a MARKETING GURU selling it to us.

      Liked by 2 people

      • thelegglance April 19, 2018 / 1:24 pm

        Whenever we might think that we’re running out of things to castigate the ECB for…

        Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 1:36 pm

        So bad even Selfey isn’t defending it.

        Oh.

        Liked by 2 people

        • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 1:38 pm

          And on the subject of Selvey…

          God give me fucking strength.

          Liked by 2 people

        • nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 1:39 pm

          Oh you beat me to it by seconds.

          Quick out of the blocks, isn’t he? For someone who is not administrator-friendly and to whom we are being unfair, I mean…

          Liked by 1 person

          • OscarDaBosca April 19, 2018 / 9:47 pm

            I can’t see because I am still blocked. I’m not even sure what I said on Twitter because I am not a prolific tweeter, but it was clearly awful.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Benny April 19, 2018 / 1:21 pm

    Congratulations on the million hits. Shows the value of this superb blog. Thanks as always for the hard work.

    I believe cricket has always been elitist, thinking back to the days of Gentlemen v Players. Don’t know how many working class chaps can be seen wearing the egg and bacon uniform in the Lords pavilion but suspect not many. I’d add to that the complacency and incompetence of the elite, who mostly think that all they have to do is open the ground gates before 11.00 am and the rest takes care of itself.

    I’m still not sure that England Selector is that prestigious a job even if Miller ended up with a gong for picking the same XI every week. Suspect that many better equipped than Smith can find more interesting things to do with their lives. I’m waiting to see if Smith makes a better fist of it than His predecessor. Having thought that even my garden gnome could do better, I’ll have to be optimistic.

    Have to say that I never switch a radio on for anything nowadays so can’t comment on the TMS thing. Ironic since I originally fell in love with cricket listening with my dad to May, Trueman, Laker etc giving it to the Aussies and Windies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thelegglance April 19, 2018 / 5:31 pm

      The history of it is interesting, because the whole Gentleman/Players thing was something of an aberration. It absolutely didn’t start out like that, as the game was a means of gambling primarily, and the crowds would turn up for the wager.

      I absolutely take your point, but that division wasn’t how it started out, and hasn’t been that way outside of a certain self appointed elite for a long time. All kind of familiar really!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Deep Purple Fred April 20, 2018 / 9:11 pm

      God he used to piss me of so much. He was probably worse than westcork in his impact on the debate. Hardly a surprise he comes out with that.
      It’s like climate change, people don’t evaluate based on information, they evaluate on values.

      Like

  10. nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 2:25 pm

    Siri, show me the definition of the phrase “knowing which side your bread is buttered”.

    Like

    • Mark April 19, 2018 / 7:33 pm

      He never, NEVER fails.

      So cricket can have yet another format. They made exactly the same case for pushing 20/20. Soon it will be just one over a side.

      If that is what it takes to get in the knuckle draggers interested I suggest we give it a miss.

      Like

  11. "IronBalls" McGinty April 19, 2018 / 2:47 pm

    Well, I haven’t posted for a while, mainly because my existant biliousness has not thrown up anything new or original, and probably because I’m in a permanent state of “fuck em!”….and then…the latest spiffing wheeze erupts…along with the bile from my gut! Unfuckingbelievable!!
    This word should be in the Oxford English as an adjective describing solely the administrative qualities of the ECB?

    Like

    • Mark April 19, 2018 / 7:42 pm

      I don’t blame you not having anything to say.

      Every time you think they can’t go any lower….. they always find another level.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 8:21 pm

        Read the insert.

        But we have to give these people time to see if their plans work.

        But like giving Kim Il Whatever a chance to see if he can make a really good, really big bomb. Better give him a chance before we criticise him.

        Like

        • Mark April 19, 2018 / 8:42 pm

          You can say the moons made of blue cheese ten million times…..it doesn’t make it true.

          He can kid himself they have shown leadership and provided a challenge, but if that is true why does cricket need all these new formats?

          Or to put it another way….To save the village… we first have to destroy it.

          Like

  12. Zephirine April 19, 2018 / 3:35 pm

    “Boring, innit, cricket? What’s that, ‘100 overs’ what’s that mean? What, like a bit shorter than the other ones? Does that make it, like, less boring? Nah, sorry mate, I’ll give it a miss.”

    Way NOT to attract any new followers to the sport.

    The only possible justification I can think of for a 100-over format is if your aim was to get it into the Olympics. But since this is going to be franchised commercialised sponsorbait, forget that idea.

    Like

      • Nicholas April 19, 2018 / 7:19 pm

        Right, let’s get this right. In the summer of 2014, whilst still a shareholder of The Cricketer Magazine, Hughes was appointed its Editor at Large following the redundancy of Miller and co. Itself a very dubious decision, especially considering Hughes’ links with the company already.

        Then, in 2015, whilst holding the role of Editor at Large, Hughes goes to the ECB to pitch himself as some sort of marketable item, including using ‘The Analyst’ as a ‘sponsorable item’.

        The conflict of interest and pure greed here is too much to bear. It sounds like he’s been booted off the C5 commentary team this summer in favour of Ali Mitchell. Bye, Simon – don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 7:49 pm

          It’s a wonderful document isn’t it. He’s practically begging to get on Talk sport.

          Like

          • Mark April 19, 2018 / 8:27 pm

            By all accounts he thought six ball overs were to confusing and complicated for the average punters. Simplification is the name of the game.

            If you have to rip the guts out of everything, and dumb it down for the purposes of attracting the morons maybe it would be better to say we wil try to l manage without you. Everybody is now appealing to the lowest attention span idiots.

            20/20 is now seen as to intellectual. So they must dumb it down even more.

            Everything will become just a version of Hello magazine.

            Like

        • nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 8:52 pm

          Yeah, well, you say that as a mere blogger, but the journalist on Twitter thinks it’s “interesting”.

          England have picked a diamond in dashing, debonair Downton, by the way. Just thought you ought to know, a propos of nothing. Also, one of his first acts as editor at large was to give Peter Moores the editorial. Digesting that just happened to be my last act as a Cricketer reader.

          Once upon a time we thought Agnew and Waitrose was a dodgy conflict of interest. Aggers looks like a 19th-century Quaker industrialist next to this.

          Like

      • BoredInAustria April 21, 2018 / 6:48 am

        For Analysts division through 100 is easier…

        Bad jokes aside – I find this utterly depressing. This in combination with the news about Ed the plagiarist.

        Like

  13. Silk April 19, 2018 / 4:15 pm

    I was going to post this last night. It fits better here.

    The appointment of Smith to the selector role is perfect. The job is simultaneously impossible to do well (the source material is sub-standard) and impossible to fail at (because there is no objective measure of failure).

    LCL put it best, I think, when he said (of James Whitaker) that he was “stealing a living”. If Whitaker can do it for years without ever appearing to add the slightest notion of value, then Smith taking over, talking clever and going nowhere, is exactly what we need.

    In short, it’s a non-job for a nonentity.

    Like

    • AB April 19, 2018 / 4:32 pm

      The quality of the England side is almost entirely determined by the quality of the system – both the domestic system that develops the players, and the way in which players are brought through into the national setup and then managed. The chief selector has no impact on either of these, really, so its a pointless job for a pointless twerp, which is why I am thoroughly unworried about Smith’s appointment.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 4:39 pm

        I think that worried isn’t the word. His selection to a job he’s not qualified for, should not be qualified for, and on the basis of evidence isn’t qualified is not a source of worry. It’s a source of ridicule. I wasn’t worried when Downton was appointed, you could see through the thought processes and ideals that appointed him. Every bit as much as with this. Ooooh “analytics” (which he’s shown no evidence of)… ooh “long words and Oxbridge” (and that’s served everyone well in the past) and ooooh “been in the media so might know how to handle them” (one skill he might have, evidenced by the brazen approach to being caught plagiarising).

        I said about the new 100 ball stuff, it isn’t anger, it’s ridicule. And this appointment isn’t worrying, it’s ridiculous. They think they’ve broken the mold, taken a chance, and what have they done? Employed someone straight out of ECB Central Casting.

        Me? I’d have seen if Trescothick fancied it when he hung his boots up. Matthew Maynard – been involved in England and county cricket. Paul Collingwood may be more interested in coaching but he seems a decent fit. People close to the game, recent experience, talent bringers as well as evaluators. Instead we get Moneyball thrown around as if it remotely resonates with an international sport.

        Laughable. Not Worrying.

        Liked by 1 person

        • nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 5:33 pm

          You just have a problem with people of intellect, though.

          That’s why you don’t like Syed either.

          That’s it, isn’t it? Eh?

          As if there’s no qualitative difference between that pair and someone who wears it relatively lightly, like Atherton, or (in other branches of entertainment) Clive James.

          As you could probably discern from my username, I have *things to say* on this subject. I can scarcely begin to count the number of Oxbridge graduates I admire, and I don’t bear a grudge about being rejected. But perhaps old Mike Cyclops could tell me why I’m obliged to abandon my own critical faculties and admire people like Smith and Syed *just because*…..

          Like

          • thelegglance April 19, 2018 / 5:38 pm

            I’ve always liked the automatic assumption that their interlocutor (see, Ed, I know some long words too) is automatically less intelligent and worthy. Judgement immediately on no grounds whatever.

            Liked by 1 person

          • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 5:53 pm

            Talking of people with great intellect…

            He’s a visionary.

            Liked by 1 person

          • nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 6:01 pm

            Royal flush!

            It’s like a black hole of negative self-awareness out there. I feel sure that, if the late and unpretentious Oxbridge scholar Stephen Hawking were still with us, he would recognise it as a harbinger of the end of the universe.

            Like

          • Mark April 19, 2018 / 7:36 pm

            When you listen to The ping pong man I would not class him as an intellectual. Whatever qualifications he may have his theories strike me as absurd.

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 7:58 pm

            You do know he’s released a children’s book. You know, train hard enough and you can be Roger Federer stuff. Should get on Twitter. There is another Mark who tears this drivel apart.

            Like

          • Mark April 19, 2018 / 8:33 pm

            He was pushing that book about kids on his BBC ping pong man show on five live the other week.

            Outrageous use of BBC time, and goes against their no advert rules. It’s one thing to have on a star to promote a book, but quite another when the host is selling his own book on the BBC. It makes a mockery of the so called impartiality and non commercial rules.

            Like

          • northernlight71 April 20, 2018 / 8:33 am

            I got rejected by Cambridge. Rightly so, I was clever but when I applied I was unworldly, immature and I would probably have been destroyed if I’d gone there. So I’m not bitter either.
            Really I’m not.
            🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  14. Grenville April 19, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    Ol Wordsmith is the perfect choice. He will just crib his squad from Andy Flower’s short list (and preface it with an apposite Dylan lyric). Two selectors for the price of one.

    Like

  15. nonoxcol April 19, 2018 / 6:11 pm

    Speaking as someone who was completely unmoved by and disengaged from the Aussie ball-tampering business, and losing interest in general…

    I think this, in terms of performance above and beyond the call of duty by those inside cricket, now ranks alongside early Feb 14 and mid-May 15 as one of the three greatest weeks in the history of this blog and HDWLIA.

    Like

    • Deep Purple Fred April 20, 2018 / 9:37 pm

      Equally unmoved.

      Bored with all of it. The only way I experience cricket now is watching video with the sound turned off. (I don’t reside in a cricketing nation, so nothing live). At least that is still moving and evocative Stunning images.

      At least this blog is intelligent and skeptical, but it gets tedious when every second post is the same person dumping an angry emotional rant. Bar room bore, move gently away from him. This is all getting between me and the cricket. Cricket as I knew it is probably gone anyway.

      I’ve always valued the anonimity of these blogs, I’m a bit annoyed when someone reveals themselves in some way because I like the exchange of words without having any other information to guide my judgement. However, nonoxcol, in your case, since I won’t be around on blogs much now, I visit England often, mostly London, and would be great to have a wine.
      I’d ask Q too, but he’s probably busy watching videos of Cummins in slo mo. And Zeph, but for some reason I have the idea she lives up north.

      Like

      • nonoxcol April 21, 2018 / 7:45 am

        Hi Fred. I too live “up north”, i.e. Nottingham, and looking to buy in Sheffield, where I work and went to university. They’re both on a main train line from London St P, but I guess that’s not what you had in mind.

        My London visits over the years of this blog can be summed up as follows: August or September at start and end of my annual European train holiday; late December for IMAX showing of the latest Star Wars film. I also came down to see Nile Rodgers and Chaka Khan at the O2 last October. (This bit is terrible) I stayed in Greenwich and didn’t even think about meeting Dmitri (who lives close by) know until I had booked my train times and was literally in the park on the Saturday morning, about two hours before going home.

        I do like London a lot though, so I am not averse to paying one-off visits. This also goes for the editors, should they ever wish to put a face and voice to Mike Selvey’s Number One Fanboy.

        If I might reveal just a little more: I have sentimental as well as cricketing reasons for my attachment to 2005. Not remotely on the level of Dmitri’s, I hasten to add. But I was living and working in Birmingham, in what would be considered a blue-chip career: it was the last summer before I had a massive “nervous breakdown”, had four years signed off work, went back there for three and a half years (much fatter, thoroughly miserable, living with parents 50 miles away, and with no self-confidence or chance of progress). I was eventually dismissed in summer 2013, and was unemployed when I discovered HDWLIA (probably why I posted so much there and at the Guardian during the difficult winter), remaining so until March 2015.

        So really, BOC has coincided with my first reasonably secure phase in life in over a decade.

        All this is by way of explaining that I absolutely would not have felt comfortable admitting to any of this in 2014, nor would I have been open to meeting anyone here, but now I feel happy about it.

        Cheers
        NOC (or Arron)

        Like

        • Deep Purple Fred April 21, 2018 / 3:44 pm

          Ah, so you found life is not an upward trjectory, more like a game of snakes and ladders. Yeah, I know the feeling. I’m always aware when I look at people on the street that they could have been just like me a few years ago, and had a run of bad luck.

          2005 was pretty amazing, and the more time passes the more its significance grows. We’ll never see it’s likes again. I was lucky enough to be invited to Lords for the tied ODI, and a day of the test. Later, buried in the south of France furiously hitting refresh on cricinfo on my mobile to knows what’s happening. Walking out a restaurant to cross the road to get better reception, I just had to know. With everything that’s passed since, cricket will never mean as much as it did then.

          I go to Birmingham for work occasionally, but never Nottingham or Sheffield. Even if we never do meet, at least by you just existing I know I’m not losing my head, and that it’s reality that needs adjusting, not me.

          Like

          • nonoxcol April 22, 2018 / 8:07 am

            That reminds me. Even before all that happened, I made this remark to a good friend who mentioned snakes and ladders:

            “I’ve been a lot closer to the jungle than the building site lately.” He was still reminding me of this line months later.

            Don’t think I was under any illusions about relentless upward trajectories! Although you may appreciate that, for many peers in blue-chip organisations, it is virtually all building site and very little jungle. They are not, generally, the sort of people who readily empathise when they look across the street.

            As ever, thank you for the kind words. And no, nothing in cricket can or will ever be the same again for me. This place is pretty much my journal of a dying love.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine April 22, 2018 / 10:38 am

        Fred, I think quebecer is actually in Quebec. Unless he’s been fooling me all these years and is really living in Watford. I’m in London (where the sun is shining, yay!) but I tend to be like you about not crossing over into real-life meetings, nothing personal in any case but I like the separation. So you have to keep posting, now and then, to give us your news.

        Nonox, I can think of various and widely different blogs that I’ve visited where it’s later emerged that people were quietly rebuilding after a bad patch. Either the ‘blogrunner’ or regular visitors or both, and the blog was helping. But it has to be a blog about something, because what makes it work is having a topic that everybody cares about and at least one person who keeps the focus steady. A good blog is a fine thing.

        As for cricket, well, the game in England is definitely at the bottom of a snake right now, mainly as a result of the persistent and misguided English belief that the way to make any public endeavour succeed is to put a random businessman in charge of it. It will recover eventually. We live in hope.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Deep Purple Fred April 22, 2018 / 8:27 pm

          Zeph
          that’s funny, I had you pegged as a northerner. I’m searching my memory and prejudices now to understand why I thought that. Maybe its because your comments often exhibit sang froid and perspective, which I don’t expect so much from a Londoner….oh shit this is getting complicated.

          Very happy to keep knowing you through a blog and not in real life.

          On a completely different subject, since you’re a Londoner you may have some ideas, I’m about to take my 13 year old girl to London for a long weekend next weekend. She is very excited about it but can’t say why exactly, except curiosity and Big Ben. Maybe I could take her to Lords?

          Yeah I know Q lives in Q. But I think his big thing at the moment is Cummins. Spring is coming, he may thaw soon.

          NOC, not much more to say. Nuff said.
          (except, looking into chaka kahn, wasn’t aware)

          Like

          • LordCanisLupus April 22, 2018 / 8:31 pm

            Word of advice – Big Ben is currently clad in scaffolding and the clock face is totally obscured. It’s a bit of a let down!

            Like

          • Zephirine April 22, 2018 / 9:44 pm

            Perhaps it was my well-known fondness for Paul Collingwood that suggested a northern outlook?

            Re your daughter, I always liked the V & A, I was into historical novels at her age and it has historical rooms and costumes and is a weird mishmash of a place. But it depends on her tastes.

            My standard recipe for ‘a day in London’ for visitors of all ages is to start at Embankment and get a boat down the river to Greenwich. It’s a lovely ride and once at Greenwich you have a choice of museums, the Cutty Sark, the Observatory, and a fantastic view from the top of the hill. Then you can come back on the DLR through Canary Wharf and back onto the Tube system to wherever you’re staying. Obviously you need reasonable weather and Greenwich can be crowded, but you see lots of different aspects of London and the mix of old and new.

            Like

          • Deep Purple Fred April 23, 2018 / 2:37 pm

            Thanks Zepherine, great advice.

            Like

  16. Mark April 19, 2018 / 6:43 pm

    I am just sitting here pissing myself laughing. On every level it’s comedy gold. The ECB is a laughing stock. According to Dobell…..Smith was ushered out of Kent with almost an on field insurrection. Things were not much better at Middx.

    The contempt the governing body has for the poor bloody Infantrymen is ledgendry. Instead they elevate people from the right type of school. Selvey can try and hide this love of the officer class behind some cloak of anti intellectualism all he likes. It is nothing of the sort. It’s jobs for the boys.

    What this sorry saga shows is what a small minded little club the England press have become. No room for any opinion that doesn’t fit the conventional wisdom. We have been watching this on here for the last four years.

    It’s also funny to see what a snob Selvey has become. Quite typical of Guardian types. No doubt they think their so called superior education gives some insight that others do not have. I would suggest that just because you have a degree in history from Cambridge or Oxford does not make you an intellectual about every other subject outside of your chosen subject of history.

    Do you want a Oxbridge history graduate flying your areoplane? Or performing surgery on your children or any one else for that matter? Would you like your ancient Greek expert to explain quantum physics?

    As to this new 100 ball bullshit. Let’s call it what it really is. A giant admission by the governing body that taking all cricket behind a pay wall over ten years ago was a complete disaster for the long term health of the sport. If Selvey wants to lecture about anti intellectualism he should admit that fact, and so should the other ECB supporters. You made a mess of it, and you sneered at those who pointed out the long term effect. It is you and your chums who are the real anti intellectuals.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Benny April 19, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      When I was working in an insurance company years ago, new graduate employees were welcomed practically on a red carpet. I remember a history graduate employed to do things like calculations, compose letters, insurancey things. He wasn’t very good.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus April 20, 2018 / 7:24 am

        I had a doctor of maths unable to construct a decent analytical piece which required thinking. So he copied the previous one. Twice.

        He didn’t last long.

        Like

  17. Maxie Allen cricket (@MaxieCricket) April 19, 2018 / 9:29 pm

    Excellent piece, Chris.

    Leaving aside all the other objections to Smith, why are the ECB always so determined to overlook the dozens of ex-players with long test careers and instead pick someone with virtually no test experience to pick the team?

    The last four chairs of selectors: David Graveney (0 test caps); Geoff Miller (34 test caps); James Whitaker (1 test cap); Ed Smith (3 test caps).

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus April 19, 2018 / 9:31 pm

      Reading Dobell they were considering scrapping LBW. The 10 ball over was Clare Connor’s idea and a total of three players were consulted.

      Read it. And weep.

      Like

      • Mark April 19, 2018 / 9:50 pm

        A lot of people who have criticised this site should be baking up a large humble pie right now. They may not have agreed with us about KP, but we warned that he was just a symptom of a deeply flawed organisation that was heading in the wrong direction.

        This latest dogs breakfast deserves to be their Waterloo. The counties made a spineless decision to hand over total power in exchange for a few pieces of silver. Even staunch loyalists are rebelling now.

        What is astonishing is how many people running the game seem to really hate it. Harrison would be better suited to Alton Towers dreaming up rides for the day trippers.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus April 20, 2018 / 7:28 am

          interesting to note that the majority of those I see on Twitter saying give it a chance are those who may seek gainful employment from it. Hopeful commentators, some edgy writers etc.

          Those not looking to derive some income have been pretty forthright.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Mark April 20, 2018 / 9:01 am

            It’s been that way for a while. Sucking up to the ECB or Sky can be financially beneficial.

            But of course that is just dismissed as anti intellectualism.

            Like

        • LordCanisLupus April 20, 2018 / 7:43 am

          We have been told that Harrison genuinely believes he has a mission to save the game in England. An almost evangelical zeal. He’s also a tough guy negotiator to go along with that.

          His appointment was typical ECB. His behaviour is typical ECB. The outcome is typical ECB.

          Like

          • Mark April 20, 2018 / 9:08 am

            Reminds me of that yes Prime Minister sketch

            Sir Humphrey….”he has a large salary, a good pension, a govt car, a house in the country….what more does he want?”

            Bernard…..”I think he wants to govern Britain.”

            Sir Humphrey…..”well you must stop him Bernard.”

            Like

      • Sri.grins April 20, 2018 / 1:37 am

        Dobell is pretty supportive of the move in his article trying to pitch the positives.

        The point he chooses not to address is how will the t-20 blast and the b-100 will coexist sensibly. There appears to be no radical differences between playing 120 and 100 deliveries for both to coexist unlike t-20, odi, tests.

        Like

  18. Tregaskis April 19, 2018 / 11:34 pm

    I just wanted to say many congratulations on your millionth view. It is a terrific achievement and very well deserved. All power to your elbows as you drive towards the next mile stone. The commitment and focus of your content is pretty inspirational.

    Like

  19. Sri.grins April 20, 2018 / 1:09 am

    Meanwhile, saw Jordan bowl last night. Pretty good. Has improved quite a bit.

    Saw jos play and he was quite OK too.

    I know it is a only t-20 but still something is better than nothing.

    On selection, maybe ecb should adopt the bcci guidelines. They are quite detailed on various issues including involvement with media columns etc.

    On the new 100 balls stuff, best of luck. 😁

    Ecb is obviously trying to be a new innovator as the original t-20 brand has moved away from being linked with England and become synonymous with India

    Maybe they hope this will be the format for Olympics and thus give them back the innovation mantle

    Like

    • dannycricket April 20, 2018 / 5:22 am

      No. Just no.

      The ECB definitely don’t want this (or any other format of cricket) in the Olympics because it occurs during the English cricket season and they don’t get a share of the TV money.

      Like

      • Zephirine April 20, 2018 / 3:03 pm

        Oh, so that’s why. I hadn’t put two and two together.
        Big, BIG mistake if you ask me.
        People know what curling is from the Olympics. But they don’t know about cricket.

        Like

  20. northernlight71 April 20, 2018 / 7:31 am

    I find it amusing* that so many “pundits” (or ex-players now in the pocket of Sky and the ECB) are suddenly so interested in the bedtime of children. Tweet after tweet after article mentions that a T20 starting at 7.30 finishes too late for the poor wee ones’ bedtime and thus we are being denied access to the next generation of great cricketers……
    Now, I don’t know many children under 10….. oh actually, I do, my daughter has just turned 9 and also moved school so I know LOTS….. but if I was taking her to an evening cricket match every night, then yes getting home late and being in bed after 10pm would be a problem.
    But if I did it once or twice over a few weeks – which is surely all that even cricket mad parents might be able to afford in these straitened times – it wouldn’t be a big problem. She had gymnastics training that lasted until 9pm before Christmas. She survived.

    I think my point is….. they seem to be obsessed with this one tiny detail, almost as if the overall nonsense behind the scenes was too awful to actually contemplate.
    Ah, that’ll be it.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus April 20, 2018 / 7:35 am

      Football finishes at 9:45 in midweek. Somehow it has struggled to survive.

      Like

      • Ab April 20, 2018 / 11:53 am

        I doubt there are many 8 year olds in the crowd in an evening football game, and for good reason

        Like

    • Mark April 20, 2018 / 8:41 am

      Northernlight I agree.

      The whole kids thing is a complete red herring. The problem is they want it all ways. They want to pretend that they are putting on evening matches to encourage the kids, but actually they are far more interested in attracting the drunks who will spend a fortune on over priced beer and wine, and then buy a over priced burger and fries.

      If they were really only interested in the kids they would start the matches at 5pm. Kids are long out of school by then. The whole thing can be over by 8.30. But the drunks won’t arrive until nearer 6pm which only gives a few hours drinking time.

      In addition, if they speeded the over rate up as was intendended when they introduced 20/20 they could get the required match finished on time. No need for yet another format. 16.4/16.4 doesn’t have a ring to it.

      If they want to make improvements to 20/20 (gimmicks) how about taking measures to speed up the game/overs? And if they want to involve the kids how about the kids can draw lots or submit the best reason why they should win the prize as to who gets to shoot an air rifle pellet in the arse of the captain and bowler who doesn’t bowl his overs in time.

      Instead of getting rid of LBW how about there is a prize for the stupidest captaincy decision of the match/worst ball of the day/and most idiotic dismissal? The culprits can be placed in stocks and the kids get to throw rotten eggs and tomorrow’s at said players. You could also have worst dropped catch of the day. Culprit has to dress up in a dolly the sheep outfit and walk around the ground while being interviewed by Swann.

      The kids will love it, and cricket will quickly become the most enjoyable days sport in the country.

      Like

    • Sri.Grins April 20, 2018 / 9:46 am

      Completely agree. I read the reasons given and grinned.

      Even in cricket mad India, parents can’t afford to take them to the stadium every ip match in any of the eight cities They pick and choose maybe one match out of the 7/8 scheduled and I see parents bringing children to the stadium when the match finishes at 11.30 and given bangalore’s streets and traffic, the children probably go home 12/12.30 pm.

      This is not an issue because it is a one off outing and parments don’t mind as it is not going to be done daily. In fact for some parents and children it is the charm of a late night outing which enthuses them.

      My wife as a kid ( she was less than 12 when her father died) was taken very occasionally between 8 and 12 to late night movie shows by her father and that is still one of the happy experiences she talks about when she reminisces about him.

      The reason is purely about broadcasters reluctance. Why can’t they just say so honestly?

      Like

    • Ab April 20, 2018 / 11:49 am

      Are kids under 10 really the right audience for live sport? I didn’t go to my first live game until I was 13, and was old enough to sit still and concentrate and appreciate seeing my heros off the TV in the flesh.

      Attracting kids appears to be seen as an end in itself, rather than a means to growing the number of adult fans and players in a decade’s time.

      Like

    • oreston April 22, 2018 / 3:17 pm

      It’s OK, the new format is aimed “at mums and kids during the summer holidays” apparently, so the poor little mites wouldn’t have to worry about getting up for school the next day anyway. I’d love to see the research that demonstrates a vast new potential audience within this demographic. But anyway, there we have it – the ECB’s bold strategy for the future of the cricket is to remodel it as primarily children’s entertainment. “We want to make the game as simple as possible for them to understand,” sez Uncle Straussy.

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/43854924

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Silk April 20, 2018 / 7:53 am

    I went to Oxford. I hope you will always judge my posts on the basis of their content, rather than treat them as wisdom from above.

    ‘cos, like, you know, ‘appeal to authority’ is the last refuge of the bagger.

    Like

    • nonoxcol April 20, 2018 / 8:33 am

      I was rejected by Cambridge. I was encouraged to apply on the basis of academics alone. I can honestly say that, as a cripplingly shy 18-year-old from a very working-class background who had at the time little in the way of extra-curricular activities that developed social confidence, it was absolutely the right thing. It was enough of a struggle to settle in Sheffield. It would have been nice if the early-mid 20s version of me could have applied, but life doesn’t work that way.

      My username originated at the Guardian. It comes from the Guardian’s absurd, borderline parodic reliance on graduates of Oxford and Cambridge for basically everything from editorial down to banal trivia columns, and the resulting effect on its overall ‘voice’. Some of whom are great and some of whom are, er, ….. not. No other value judgement should be read into it, and certainly not a “problem with people of intellect”, for feck’s sake.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Silk April 20, 2018 / 7:51 pm

        I believe I was aiming for “blagger” but my phone thought otherwise.

        Smith is blagging it. Always has been.

        Like

  22. pktroll (@pktroll) April 20, 2018 / 9:39 am

    Ten years ago we saw the first IPL. That in itself was a reaction to the ill-fated ICL competition that was a non BCCI creation and therefore was marginalised at an early stage. The ECB at that time were having awful relations with the BCCI and then decided to have a partnership with Allen Stanford in the West Indies. I hardly need to recall the story for any of you and who the main player in the ECB was then……

    Anyway, I always felt that if England wanted to have as successful a competition as they could, they should have gone down the road of a franchise quite some years ago. Instead the counties have become better at marketing their own product and there seems far less of a reason to have a different one now, and on top of that they are getting rid of a quite successful women’s Kia Super league for the replacement.

    I’m afraid the new competition can never hope to match the IPL in reach or appeal, that is hardly any sort of story. The problem is that it is in competition with the CPL that takes place at nearly the same time. That means that there are likely to be less Windies players available and of course they are hardly that bad at the shortest formats. With other international sides often in operation in the 2nd half of the English summer it actually starts to cut down the absolute cream who actually will be available, let alone the English test match stars who are any good at t20 or whatever they are going to play now.

    I cannot see this being a success, no matter that it might be geared to current ‘non-cricket fans’.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Growltiger April 25, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    I just realised that Strauss missed a trick. He should have sent for Johan Hari and offered him the job.

    Liked by 1 person

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