Till The Rivers All Run Dry

Whenever England suffer a defeat, the response is invariably as illuminating as the match itself. It is as though each must be taken in isolation, and never, ever must it be viewed as being part of a pattern. Even more specifically, cause and effect should not be considered, for then it might require thinking about how we got to this point and whether those decisions were wise ones or not. This becomes particularly important to ignore if those doing the analysis either failed to talk about potential pitfalls at the time, or if they instead happily supported them, in which case pretending that all current woes have nothing to do with any of it is by far the best course.

There are exceptions of course, George Dobell wrote a scathing article expressing surprise at the surprise, given the sidelining of first class cricket in this country and the decline in results in recent years. Yet he also implied that not only did the ECB not particularly care, but that this is deliberate – his description of the talent pool becoming a talent puddle being spot on it its brutal assessment of the point we’ve reached. In the follow up to the article on Twitter, he stated that the truth was that the ECB cared more for white ball cricket than red ball, and in one particular reply stated:

It is increasingly hard to take the counter view. When you stop being invited to briefings etc…It’s been an interesting few weeks. I’ll say more about that one day.

For a long time there has been a strong suspicion that the ECB have a real problem with those who don’t toe the line, those who dare to criticise. The apparent legal action against him by Colin Graves received ridicule, but far more insidious and dangerous is the question of access denied, of preventing those who are deemed off message from doing their job as a journalist, which can be, and sometimes still is, a noble profession. This perhaps is at least part of the reason for the rise of blogs like this one and many others – that we have no access to begin with means there is nothing to take away from us for being difficult. We say what we like, and any dislike the ECB has for us is returned in spades. The fundamental belief that cricket is our game, not the ECB’s is simply a view they do not share, but one (irrespective of view on individual subjects) from which players, supporters and fans will not back down.

Self-censorship is by far the most dangerous state of affairs in any free press society, and while it isn’t an accusation that can be specifically levelled at anyone (precisely why it is so dangerous – it happens by omission), the treatment of those who fail to the toe the line is an issue of vital importance. To turn it around the other way, is there any evidence or belief that the ECB would treat those who dare to criticise in exactly the same way as those who slavishly support them? As they are so fond of saying, this is a question of trust, and there is none.

The fallout from the Hundred – or whatever the hell they’re calling it this week – was in many quarters focused on the format itself, rather than the rationale that created the circumstances for the kind of stupidity that thought any of it was a good idea in the first place. It is not, and never has been a matter of whether a ten ball final over is a good idea or not. It is instead entirely about the cretinous management of the English game that has created a situation where such a tournament is deemed necessary to try and undo some of the damage wrought over the last fifteen years by an organisation so malevolently incompetent it has brought the game itself to its knees. Trying to fix the stereo while the wheels have fallen off is the default position of the ECB these days, and none of the derision around losing three and a bit overs should ever forget that.

Simon Hughes, the self-styled analyst, not only thoroughly supported the concept of the Hundred, but went full Al Gore and claimed he’d invented it. It is therefore no surprise that he managed to pen an article that managed the impressive feat of being utterly bereft of analysis while incorporating a leap in logic of truly epic proportions.

It is entirely a given that England batsmen of recent vintage have poor averages, it is equally a given that of those in the side only Cook and Root have recently averaged over 40, albeit Bairstow can be placed in that category if stat mining to a certain cut off point. Yet in all the praise of Cook in that article (and however fawning the coverage of him for modest performances recently, even the lesser Cook is a God among batsmen in this mess of an England team) at no point does Hughes seem to recognise that Cook is a product of an era where the ECB focused on red ball cricket. When England hit the nadir of home defeat to New Zealand in 1999 to become semi-officially the worst team in the world, the response was swift and determined. A focus on red ball cricket, a replication as far as possible of the conditions of Test match play, a specific plan to create Test match cricketers with bat and ball and strong competition for places in a team that was a match for anyone.

The hundreds racked up by England batsmen in the 2000s were by players who benefitted from that policy, who knew how to bat to a situation and whose entire careers had been predicated on the kind of cricket required to do so. It wasn’t just the batsmen either, the bowlers, faced with improved batting standards had to raise their games as well, in the age old arms race between bat and ball.

The best players in the English game are the older ones, who learned their art in that environment, with the arguable exception of Joe Root, who may be quite simply one of those exceptional players that comes along from time to time. Anderson and Broad were part of those England teams, Alastair Cook forced his way into a powerful side through sheer batting prowess to the point he was better than any of the other options. Hughes’ highlighting of Cook’s style of play being central to his career success is quite correct, what he fails to do is recognise that the circumstances in which he learned his game were conducive to that kind of play, and those circumstances no longer apply – which is why so few Cooks are now visible on the county scene.

Instead, Hughes focuses on social media as the reason behind England’s difficulties, drawing a logical parallel between Cook’s absence from it and his cricketing mindset. Apart from the sheer ignorance of apparently being unaware that social media is quite present in other countries whose batsmen have no problems racking up large scores against England, why single that out? Cook is the only one of the England team to raise lambs, perhaps that is the main reason instead? If only Haseeb Hameed had a farm, he would doubtless now be making double centuries in the England team rather than languishing in his county second team.

If Hughes at least recognises that England have a batting problem, Michael Vaughan in contrast highlights the bowlers, calling for Broad and Anderson to be dropped because they have been part of a losing England team for so long. As ever with Vaughan, there is a kernel of insight in what he says, for it is indeed the case that the side built around their bowling leadership is now on a downward spiral. Yet if England’s bowling has been unexceptional in recent times, it hasn’t been the main failing in a side crashing to calamitous defeat with ever greater regularity. Defending scores of 184 can be done on occasion, but not repeatedly, even for the very best. Opposition teams who have England on the rack after a risible score have an entirely different mentality, and bowlers simply cannot fix the unfixable, and nor can they escape the mental fatigue of being asked to so time and again. In this last Test, England didn’t bowl especially badly, dismissing Pakistan for a reasonably par score. The near 200 run deficit was not because of poor bowling.

Why Broad and Anderson? If a losing mentality is the problem, why not Cook? Why not Bairstow? Why not Stokes? In those cases at least there would be a semblance of recognition that the batting is the primary problem, rather than slating the bowling attack for failing to repeatedly perform miracles. It requires little cricketing genius to realise that the two of them, with excellent records, are most effective when they have runs to defend. Some might even say this has been true of every bowler who has ever played the game.

Broad and Anderson are reaching the end of the road, and Cook may not be too far behind them either. The critical problem this England side faces is not that they are past their best (because they probably are) but that they are still amongst the very best England have to offer. Criticism of them is often warranted, but an England team without them doesn’t just look weaker, it looks a disaster.

The ECB tried their best to deflect reality by talking about how to make away sides more competitive in Test matches, proposing the abolition of the toss to provide tourists with an advantage. Yet again, they are fiddling around the edges to distract from what is abundantly obvious to all. England were not thrashed in India because of the toss, they were not thrashed in Australia or New Zealand because of the toss. They were hammered because they aren’t very good, and the opposition, even opposition that isn’t that strong, are better. Home series have provided a figleaf of respectability in recent years, but even here results have been anything but dominant. The West Indies are no one’s idea of a top Test team, yet England barely sneaked a series win, losing a home Test to them for the first time in 17 years. England have not been inconsistent, they have been poor, and they are getting poorer, and there is little out there to suggest improvement is coming.

If England lose the second Test this week then they will slip to seventh in the Test rankings, above only Bangladesh (against whom they sneaked a largely undeserved series draw) and Zimbabwe in the table. Such a position may be indicative of the shambolic condition of the game, but it is unquestionably exactly where they deserve to be. Berating the players for the conditions that have led to this point is continuing to flog until morale improves.

The ECB have utterly sidelined county cricket as a preparation ground for Test matches. This is not new, the county championship has been pushed ever more to the margins for several years, and with successful bowlers being those medium pacers who bowl wicket to wicket, and successful batsmen those who chance their arm before they are undone by one with their name on it, these are the kinds of players England will produce. As Dobell said, “What did they expect?”.

The lack of care, the lack of any interest, was demonstrated by a glorious late May Bank Holiday Monday where there was no county cricket played anywhere, for the first time ever. That a Test was scheduled for its fifth day is no excuse whatever, to have failed to consider scheduling matches for a public holiday is entirely symptomatic of an organisation that simply doesn’t give a shit any more.

Do not try to tell people that the problems are with the coach. Do not try to tell people that the problems are with the application of the batsmen. And do not try to tell people that this is some transitory issue that will improve. This is the ECB reaping exactly what they have sown over the last fifteen years – handicapping the England Test team specifically, deliberately, and as part of a wider strategy. Late term panic about the invisibility of the sport from an organisation that continues to undermine its very essence not only fails to mitigate previous actions, it exacerbates them.

At every stage in this slow motion car crash there has been the opportunity to change direction. At every stage they could have listened to those who had the interests of cricket at their heart. And at every stage they have doubled down and pressed the accelerator pedal still further. Pathetic tinkering at the margins and pretending we haven’t got to this point by design is nothing other than fundamental dishonesty and contempt for everyone else.

You broke it ECB. And you don’t even care about fixing it.

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81 thoughts on “Till The Rivers All Run Dry

  1. nonoxcol May 29, 2018 / 2:38 pm

    #readthefirsttenwords

    Liked by 2 people

    • oreston May 29, 2018 / 7:32 pm

      Dare one invoke the idiomatic expression, “thick as thieves”? I wonder who he shared the box with.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus May 30, 2018 / 12:37 am

        Selvey’s Twitter feed should be UNESCO World Heritage protected. It’s a thing of beauty and to treasure always.

        184 all out – oppo 50 for 1. England on top.

        You’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rohan May 30, 2018 / 6:09 pm

          Just out of interest, was Jimmy more productive from the nursery end?

          Like

  2. Growltiger May 29, 2018 / 2:55 pm

    What a great lament for the game. Cannot disagree with a word of it. The Insiders should hang their heads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ab May 30, 2018 / 6:41 am

      We’re the insiders, the ecb are not. I don’t see Tom Harrison down the ground cutting the strip and umpiring the junior games.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sri.Grins May 29, 2018 / 3:01 pm

    My view is that a lot of the stress in rich countries for test cricket comes from attempting to pay fancy money to cricketers , coaches and administrators.

    If you halve the salaries paid to players in test cricket, coaches and to administrators and pay more to county cricketers and reduce ticket prices, the fans may actually come to attend cricket or subscribe for pay channels. 🙂

    But, now each tv deal has to be bigger than the previous deal because players coaches, administrators want more and then it is like catching a tiger by its tail.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miami Dad's Six May 29, 2018 / 3:40 pm

      I read somewhere the other day that Tom Harrison is on in excess of £600k per annum.
      I’d love to know what the equivalent salary was in 2005, say – even adjusted for inflation. Whilst I can accept that with your Root, KP, Kohli et al you pay the going rate or they go and work elsewhere, a mediocre/bumbling CEO raking those sort of sums, almost as if anyone with a modicum of sense, access to Microsoft Outlook, and vague idea of cricket couldn’t do the same job equally as well (all those ‘networking’ dinners, what a chore..)!
      I know it’s a part of wider society that I am complaining about here (the NHS and other worthwhile institutions have similar leeching at that sort of level), but it doesn’t sit right. Pigs, snouts, troughs – whilst the game withers and dies.

      Like

      • Rohan May 29, 2018 / 5:24 pm

        Sorry, but what does Harrison do for 600k+, genuinely, what does he do? Can anyone really explain? Strauss, like him or loathe him appears to do stuff and have an influence on proceedings, but Harrison? What does he do?

        Like

      • stephenfh May 29, 2018 / 5:32 pm

        …..£615K to be exact, total directors’ pay in 2005 was around £475k, although closer to £100k the year before (£2018). The ECB’s ‘Manhattan’ of administrative cum business staff since 2005 is basically up and more up, 47 to 108, a bit above proportionate to the total increase in staffers from 153 to 321.

        As for what they do all day….

        Agree with the blogger that there feels like a malaise coming from the management at the top. As for MSM doing independence and candour about the state of the game, Michael Atherton interviewing Colin Graves last week was interesting, but the game needs a lot more of the same.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus May 30, 2018 / 12:18 am

          He, the top earning director, got a pay cut – last year it was £607k plus £52k pension for the highest paid director.

          Previously, and possibly not a full year, it was £360k plus a whopping £108k pension contribution paid to a money purchasing scheme.

          Hard to tell what Downton was on as he wasn’t a Director in the company sense. Someone got £160k in 2015.

          Here is where all the fun is at…

          https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/03251364/filing-history

          Like

      • Sri.grins May 30, 2018 / 3:34 am

        Personally, I would like the players to show by their actions that the high praise they heap on test cricket is meant. Kohli for example does not need rs 7 crore a year as retainer. He makes enough money anyway. The same applies to kp or root.

        They can make their money from franchise t-20 as they are good enough. It is guys like che pujara or cook who may not get into t-20s who can get more than say kohli.

        I would have a lower rate for players who wish to participate in t-20 leagues for retainers and ask for permission to offer themselves and a higher rate for those who don’t wish to play t-20 at all in England, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan. I would not make this applicable at this point in time to the other full members

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ab May 30, 2018 / 6:43 am

        600k plus bonuses, bribes and expenses. Probably closer to 2 mil all in. More than the paying staff of a small county.

        Like

  4. Rohan May 29, 2018 / 3:05 pm

    Bravo, bravo. If only the ECB had, or wanted to have, your level of insight! Excellent read Chris………..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OscarDaBosca May 29, 2018 / 3:22 pm

    Normally I would ascribe the proposition of Hanlon’s razor
    – Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    However with the ECB, they have doubled down so much that I can only assume this is more than just administrative incompetence and is actually malicious and designed.

    Presumably because international test cricket takes up too much time, and the world would be better with just ODI’s and T20s

    Brilliant article. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • dannycricket May 29, 2018 / 4:20 pm

      I go the other way on this. I think the ECB is run by people who are genuinely some of the stupidest people on Earth. Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if they forgot to keep breathing. I can not think of an unqualified success they have achieved in their history. If they do something well, something else suffers more. Eventually everything will be so terrible that English cricket will implode and become an amateur sport again.

      Like

      • thelegglance May 29, 2018 / 4:23 pm

        The decision to scrap the Kia Super League in favour of the Hundred can’t be put down to stupidity. It’s deliberate, sacrificing women’s T20 cricket – the one sodding bright spot of their stewardship in the last 15 years – for their precious tournament.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dannycricket May 29, 2018 / 4:37 pm

          Well yes but it would also put the first English women’s cricket on FTA TV perhaps ever, at least at that high a profile. Like I said, even the good things are outweighed by more problems. The people in charge at the ECB are incapable of thinking holistically. They see one problem (lack of awareness about cricket) and ‘fix’ it with the new competition. But that fix comes with a lot of issues. So they’ll do something else dumb to fix one of those, which causes even more problems. And so on, and so on…

          Like

          • Rohan May 29, 2018 / 5:27 pm

            I think they are quite simply people devoid of any awareness of self or others, they have no insight or perception. They really do believe what they are doing is best for business (making money), sorry, ahem, I mean best for the sport.

            Like

          • dannycricket May 29, 2018 / 6:12 pm

            I don’t think they’re even particularly good at making money. As well as maximising the revenue of their valuable properties (International cricket, the T20 Blast & (in theory) the new competition), they could make more money by increasing the worth of their less profitable competitions. But they don’t, because they’re morons.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Trevor May 29, 2018 / 3:30 pm

    The praise for the selection of Butler in the press was astonishing. No one seems to have commented on the loss of runs due to Root, Malan, Bairstow batting one place higher than their best position.

    George Dobell not being in briefings is quite disgraceful

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Benny May 29, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    Great article. I applaud “malevolently incompetent”. I’d add “stubbornly”

    As for Hughes, I’ve observed the written media moaning, since 1994, that the Internet is the end of civilization, usually by scribblers who know nothing about the subject. Clearly, ignorance continues to have a voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark May 29, 2018 / 3:51 pm

    Fantastic!! Really needed to be said. Bravo!

    The ECB is not the governing body of cricket or anything else in my opinion. . They are a private club that has taken hold of our sport, and run it for a few insiders. I was struck while watching Lords over the weekend how fake it all looked. I know they sometimes trick up American golf courses, dying the grass to make it look more TV friendly. But Lord’s looked as if gallons of antiseptic had been poured over all it. It resembled one of those plasticky Disney towns with white picket fences, and stepford wives. It’s always been stuffy,but now it has a fake corporatism smeared all over it. The flashing advertising hoardings are a nightmare, perhaps that’s why our batsman can’t see the ball?

    The chickens have come home to roost now. Ideally a younger generation would be beating down the door to replace the failures. But they’re not there because of a series of ECB decisions over the last 15 years.

    1 Removing ALL cricket from free to air at a time when cricket was dying in the state school system. (Reason money)

    2 An obsession with white ball cricket or indeed any kind of money making scheme that has ended with the absurdity of 16.4 (reason money)

    3 The destruction of county cricket, pushed like someone with a contagious diesease into some isolated far off island. (Reason money)

    4 The strange team management where face fitting was rewarded, and individualism was scorned and derided by a lackey media. It’s worth remembering that shinny toy was only a few years ago attacking certain batsman for their slow scoring rate. Now he bemoans the lack of test match quality of top order players. He was all in favour of Harrison’s exciting brand of cricket.

    On and on it goes. One idiot decision piled on another. And to paraphrase dear old Barry Davies…..”where were the Germans?” Or in this case…..” where where the media?” Where was the English cricket media for the last ten years? Cometh the hour cometh the man. Unfortunately history didn’t throw up a Churchill of an Elizabeth the 1st. Instead we got Chuckles Hughes and his sidekick Sneading Selvey. Add in the Pringles and the Newman’s, you get a bunch of cringing loyalists who have genuflected to power.

    You would like to think people at the ECB would resign in shame, but they have no shame. Speculators rarely do. So nothing will happen. Perhaps the counties could rise up and dump the ECB, but they elected these clowns, and went along with pretty much all they proposed.

    England will probably win the next match by an innings, and the same media will tell us all’s well. That’s exactly what they have been saying for the last 10years.

    Like

    • man in a barrel May 29, 2018 / 8:29 pm

      Mark, I imagine you held much the same views about the MCC when it ran the game. 😜 But would you accept that the MCC was more interested in cricket per se than in advertising revenue? The MCC continues to play and organise cricket matches and, for all the unaccountability that so many egalitarians hated it for, did it really do a worse job than the ECB? At least the members enjoyed and still enjoy watching and playing cricket

      Like

      • Mark May 29, 2018 / 11:34 pm

        I don’t think I have ever had very strong views on the MCC to be honest. Maybe because as you say English cricket was better run. (Or at least appeared to be better run. In that we could from time to time produce some decent players, and have some success.) But I didn’t think about it much.

        On the other hand, anything would look pretty good against the last 10 years or so. I’m not against benevolent dictatorships if they work. It’s when they go off the rails that is the problem.

        Why do you ask? Are you advocating for the MCC to regain control of the game? Is that possible?

        Like

    • jomesy May 30, 2018 / 8:50 am

      Mark, rightly, said “On and on it goes.” Rooto, again correctly, says “Difficult to know, objectively, when rock bottom has been reached.”

      And this is what really, really depresses me. Over literally years now I must have thought, on possibly 10 or so occasions, this is THE nadir/it cannot get any worse. How wrong I have been. Worse, and real the shame of it, is that the natural hope I used to hold has long since disappeared and the “new norm” is the utter shite we have to put up with.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nonoxcol May 30, 2018 / 9:10 am

        I don’t know about rock bottom, but I thought the week in which they announced the Hundred *and* appointed Ed Smith from a shortlist also including Selvey and Pringle was literally the point of no return. It was the equivalent of Darth Vader at the climax of ROTJ going “naaah, fuck it, kill my son, Master, then let’s go get my daughter as well, I’m too far gone.”

        There is absolutely nothing conceivable they can do to redeem themselves. I hold the ECB in total untrammelled contempt and can see no circumstances in which they will deserve anything else.

        Liked by 1 person

        • northernlight71 May 30, 2018 / 4:39 pm

          And THEN Andy Flower seamlessly took over from Strauss.
          I think they’re just toying with you now, to be honest 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  9. psoans May 29, 2018 / 4:25 pm

    Maybe what England need is for them to reach rock bottom. If that happens then they may have a rethink of their policy. These short terms solutions will just not work.

    Like

    • jennyah46 May 29, 2018 / 5:05 pm

      Don’t you believe it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rooto May 29, 2018 / 7:51 pm

      Difficult to know, objectively, when rock bottom has been reached, and easy for those in charge to deny it. No, I really feel that only criminal prosecution will see them removed from power, and that’s why I fervently hope that Graves and Harrison are doing something – anything – illegal behind the scenes! These shameless types in public life will just continue bluffing and blustering until removed by force. At least some actual criminality might hasten a change!

      Mark hit the nail on the head with the word “speculators”. As a cricket fan, I’m starting to feel like the poor old granny whose family home has been compulsorily purchased for a song by a council leader who happens to share a golf club with a property developer.
      The permanent, quasi-public assets of the game are being sold off for the short term profit of a few.
      If we could bet on business like we can bet on sport, you’d get short odds on Harrison’s next job being with Sky.

      Absolutely fantastic article by the way, TLG. Thanks for summing it up so logically, concisely and clearly. A skill which, as you can see, I don’t share!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. oreston May 29, 2018 / 4:46 pm

    Excellent piece of writing. I just wish there was grounds upon to which to base hope for some improvement in the situation. When are the proverbial angry villagers going to arm themselves with scythes and pitchforks and burn down the vampire’s castle? Other than write or comment in places like this, what can we actually do?

    Like

    • man in a barrel May 29, 2018 / 8:35 pm

      The way the ECB has been devised disenfranchises anyone apart from the 20 or so members of the ECB, who are not even, these days, connected with cricket in any sense – eg Harrison. The much – reviled TCCB structure at least meant that everyone was intimately linked to cricket, although some parts of the game were under represented. But that could have changed. We now have a board where love of cricket, knowledge of cricket, involvement in cricket is not relevant. It’s about trousering money from Sky

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus May 30, 2018 / 12:35 am

        Harrison and Graves genuinely believe this is the only way the game can survive in England. I know this to be true.

        That’s why opposition is being crushed, and the zealots move on and on. When threatened, they’ll hit out. I genuinely believe they both love the game too, and will never say that they don’t.

        But we are reaping what was sown before. All powerful leaders, believing their own brilliance, making catastrophic decisions. The parting on the left, is now the parting on the right….

        Like

        • thelegglance May 31, 2018 / 10:09 am

          But by “the game”, what they mean is the professional game as it us currently structured, not the wider sport itself.

          Given the pretty limited support cricket outside the counties gets from the ECB (and the zero say it has in the running of it), it has to be questioned whether the clubs and schools would notice that much of a difference if the ECB wasn’t there. Most of the interaction at youth level is founded on individual volunteers and the charities that support it, including, yes, the funding that the ECB provides.

          But if there were a cut in the game’s income, there’s no reason why that part should change so radically, because that funding is such a small part of what they spend.

          So. If we were to assume that the broadcast income dropped, the big changes would be at professional level, and the counties would find a transition hard. Harder than a Premier League football team that is relegated for example?

          All organisations have to cut their cloth according to their income, I simply don’t recognise the concept that a reduction means armageddon.

          Like

  11. Sean May 29, 2018 / 8:37 pm

    Did #39 actually blame England’s batting malaise about using social media or have I woken up in some parallel universe??

    Like

    • nonoxcol May 29, 2018 / 9:55 pm

      On the basis of his article, he believed it to be more worthy of note than ECB policy or actions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus May 30, 2018 / 12:40 am

        Off work this week and had the Kent v Somerset game on. During the interval someone thought it would be a bright idea to replay David Lloyd’s comedy piece on a houseboat/barge in Little Venice. He dressed up as a gondolier, and just barked Italian football / managers / food items at random with a pseudo Italian accent (eg, went under a bridge, someone had graffitied a figure of a man on it, and he just barked “Roberto Di Matteo”. To put it mildly, it was absolutely distressingly unfunny, and 24 carat shite.

        And they canned Cricket Writers because it had no repeatable value, but played this instead? They must really not have wanted Selvey to take the lead.

        Like

    • Mark May 29, 2018 / 11:40 pm

      Yes, it’s all our fault.

      For four years we have been walking out to bat with the England team, shouting at them. And when we aren’t doing that we are sitting behind the bowlers arm with mini mirrors pointing in the batsman’s eyes.

      39 has gone insane. More like he has run out of excuses. So it must be the customers fault. 39 sounds like Basil Faulty. “I’m trying to run a hotel. If only the guests would let me.”

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus May 30, 2018 / 12:30 am

        A part of it is that there isn’t a message that can be controlled. In the bygone, pre twitter era, series narratives were set by the press, the TV and radio media, and there was always this sense that it was somewhat detached from the people, who only wanted to eat up scandal and salacious gossip – or cheer when we win. You’d rely on the only non press voice to be raised up in anger to be some old soak from the Tory backbenches wanting to bring the team home after we went 1-0 down. Terry Dicks, an appropriate name, seemed to be good at that.

        The more egalitarian, and yes, rowdy, social media scene doesn’t leave the sole holders of message control in the hands of tabloid gossips or broadsheet know it alls. It’s now in fans of the game to get their voice out. When some of these blogs gain traction, however small, or whenever a social media bandwagon grows, the messages get out. We’ve seen some of our’s out there, taken up, yes, by the old beasts, but also knowing noise can’t be suppressed. Was the old media going to censure Ed for his plagiarism? No chance.

        The team aren’t immune. They know what is being said. They may not like it, but they know it. Because, and for me you know 2014 was my penny dropped moment, we aren’t 100% behind the team because of who it stands for, it is easy to blame us for not being supportive. The fact we are supporting the game, the sport, the very basis on what brought us to this glorious pastime, is neither here nor there. So because we can’t be controlled, because some of us turned on them, the media, for letting us down and siding with the ECB back then to smash little old me, and many others, they have to make us into something else. Mad people. Social media zealots.

        Zealots run out of puff in the end. They then become enemies.

        It’s late, and I’m getting a bit out of hand, but the sheer change in the commenting landscape is cast. People and players don’t look to the press now to see what people think. They can find out by logging on to Twitter and other outlets and seeing what people think. Unvarnished.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Rohan May 30, 2018 / 7:44 am

          Spot on LCL. I think, however, you forgot one thing. In part, I imagine they are also slightly envious of blogs like this and afraid of them. Envious, because blogs have more freedom of views and afraid because, because, blogs might just be right and bring their whole ’empire’ crashing down.

          Like

          • thelegglance May 30, 2018 / 8:29 am

            The younger generation of journalist embraces the blogs rather more, and make a point of reading quite a few of them. Not religiously, but they want to know what is being said.

            It’s the older generation that see them as a threat, they’re still wedded to the old preach from on high model.

            One of the younger journalists specifically got in touch to praise Danny’s work on TV viewing figures saying that it was going to be a resource for everyone.

            But as much as anything, it’s about people worried for their own futures in a business model that’s changing rapidly. Younger journalists get where it’s going, the veterans hate it. And people who produce output for nothing are undermining them in their view, and they wish it would go away.

            A lot of Simon Hughes’ antipathy comes from his insecurity about his livelihood. His complaining about Alison Mitchell struck me as someone well aware he was likely to be cut in favour of an entirely new strand of cricket broadcaster he’d never had to deal with before.

            Liked by 1 person

          • dannycricket May 30, 2018 / 4:51 pm

            To give credit where it’s rightly due, the Viewing Figures post was by Andy Oliver and not me. No young journalists ever get in touch to praise my work… *sniff*

            Like

          • thelegglance May 30, 2018 / 5:12 pm

            Oh God of course it was. He even sent it to me too. Sorry Andy!

            Like

          • LordCanisLupus May 30, 2018 / 3:07 pm

            I actually don’t think it is envy at all. After all, they get to go to all the great places international cricket takes them, and we sit in our mum’s basement churning out guesswork. Why would they envy us. No, for the four or so years I’ve been doing this I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of them don’t care one jot about us.

            Four years ago there were a number making overtures to meet me. Now I get none. Four years ago I was being DM’d by a number of them on Twitter. Now I’m left in peace. I tell you this, it’s a lot better for the stress levels and heart, I can tell you. I don’t miss those days at all. The most camera shy “attention seeker” of all time!

            But newspapers now react. You’ll never see a piece like the one Chris has written in the papers. It’s too long and it’s jeopardising access. Dobell is now too far gone to the dark side for the ECB to do much. It’s a case of moaning about the team for reasons the ECB want you to think is completely out of control and the press will help them.

            Like

          • Rohan May 30, 2018 / 5:52 pm

            LCL, you are to self-depreciating, you do yourself a disservice, your ‘sitting in your mum’s basement churning out guesswork’ is often far more insightful and, as hindsight has proved, closer at times to the truth than those with access, free boxes, seats, flights etc. I really do think they are envious of some aspects of blogging, but don’t realise it/or don’t want to and would never, I mean never, admit it.

            Like

      • Mark May 30, 2018 / 4:36 pm

        Yup, one of the biggest revelations to me of the KP affair was how corrupt the English cricket media was. On one side you had the ECB elite, and on the other KP. In the middle was supposed to be the media. But the media were not impartial. They are not journalists, but ECB boot lickers.

        Dobell’s treatment does not surprise me. They only want arselickers at the briefings. Most of the lickers can be trusted not to rock the boat.

        They have been covering up all the shit for a while and now they are only left with blaming the customer for the problems cricket is in. Let that sink in! They are the enemy of the cricket fan in England. I hate them even more than the ECB. Bunch of dishonest freeloaders.

        Like

  12. quebecer May 29, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    TLG absolutely bang on.

    One of those articles where I don’t comment because it’s just been perfectly put already.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Zephirine May 29, 2018 / 10:02 pm

    Excellent article.

    I was going to add something else, but I find I can’t bear to write about these people.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. thebogfather May 30, 2018 / 11:51 am

    This article is definitely the GOAT (apart from numerous LCL ‘off his long run’ examples from this blog and HDWLIA….:) )

    CC, I bow down to your ability to rip apart the ECB without the need for hyperbole, abuse or vendetta. The truth doth speak louder than the lies… well done!

    Like

      • thebogfather May 30, 2018 / 4:05 pm

        Stay off the fizzy p!ss, enjoy something darker without ramblings nor remiss
        Enjoy the Ed meeting without plagiarism, e’er remember the eternal ‘schism’
        We await your report and so to thus retort… 🙂

        Like

  15. OscarDaBosca May 30, 2018 / 5:49 pm

    So Jimmy has now spoken. I thought he could be a semi-decent captain, but if these quotes are anything to go by he is not even a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind.

    “I don’t think there is a problem. I just think we’re potentially low on confidence. It needs something just to turn it round, a bit of luck or something.”

    “I think it’s quite easy for the confidence of the team to take a hit when you have a defeat like that. So it’s going to take some special individual performances this week. So we’ll try, as well as using our skill, to use our heart – to use the fight we have in the dressing room to show people what we can do.”

    “When you suffer a heavy defeat there’s always a lot of noise,”

    “Lots more opinions come out. There’s not a lot as players we can do about that. If the management or players think that feathers need to be ruffled, then as players all we can do is concentrate on our job.”

    “Some people think they might know better than me but I’d like to think that, after 15 years of playing Test cricket, I know which lengths to bowl on certain pitches.”

    “It’s not as simple as saying ‘we’ve got to bowl fuller’ and just chucking it up there and get smashed everywhere. There’s a bit more to Test cricket than that. You’ve got to be patient. I’ve always looked at it as almost a game of chess.”

    “I’m not sure what he means. As I said, we’re talking a lot, trying to figure out what’s going wrong. Trevor can’t come out there with us and tell us how to bowl. It’s up to us to take that responsibility.”

    So the terrible form all winter is just about luck.
    We are into the ‘heart’ and ‘fight’ cliches that all English teams roll out when they face more skillful opposition
    He knows which length to bowl, which is interesting in itself, because we have all seen him bowl terrible lengths on multiple occasions, only to change his length the next session / day after being told.
    Tellingly he doesn’t want to risk bowling full because he might get hit. Ok then Jimmy just dispense with the slips then, whats the fucking point of making a batsman try to drive you if they may score runs.

    Finally he has a pop at Trevor Bayliss’s comments (“It’s enough to make you throw your hands up sometimes.”)

    So nothing to see here, just a bit of luck (or more likely Pakistan beating themselves)

    I truly and utterly despair, either he has been told to say this, or he lacks so much self awareness he must be a teenage child.

    Liked by 3 people

    • northernlight71 May 30, 2018 / 6:56 pm

      ” I’d like to think that, after 15 years of playing Test cricket, I know which lengths to bowl on certain pitches”

      I’d really like to think that too. Sadly the evidence seems sometimes to point in the opposite direction, James my boy.
      Now run along and bully someone else.

      Like

      • BoredInAustria May 30, 2018 / 7:46 pm

        I’d like to think that, after 15 years of playing Test cricket, I know which lengths to bowl on certain pitches.”

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
        I needed something to make me laugh as life is a bit shit at the moment. Thank you Jimmy.

        PS – I think this statement proves Jimmy is perfect captain material

        Liked by 1 person

      • quebecer May 31, 2018 / 12:57 am

        Jimmy is hiding one thing, I think. His out swinger to the right hander doesn’t really go as it used to. It’s not altogether surprising as he’s a bit more open chested and there’s a little less rotation through the hips – all understandable going in to his mid 30s. However. what it means is that he can’t trust it quite as much, needs a bit more help from conditions to get it going, and so is a little less comfortable pitching it up to the right-handers. he can still get it going away from the lefties easily enough and (let’s be clear I’m no where near 100% sure about this) therefore is a touch fuller to them.

        Broad has always had to work hard to get the out swinger going and can lose a little pace when he bowls it, so again, doesn’t want to be ‘floaty’ to the right hander by going too full.

        Jimmy knowns how to keep things tight with his length, yes, but he doesn’t have quite the same threat with his out swinger so (I think) plays it a little safe. And when he does, he can always point to economical figures.

        Like

        • dlpthomas May 31, 2018 / 4:06 am

          So can we afford to keep picking both of them in the same side? (To be fair, if England had held their catches, the bowling figures would have been a lot better.)

          Like

          • metatone May 31, 2018 / 6:17 am

            Has anyone done any stats on “chances per innings”? I’m wondering if we tend to remember the missed chances of the losing team more. Wondering if the really good teams catch a lot better, or just a bit better and create more wicket taking chances?

            Like

          • Sophie May 31, 2018 / 8:57 am

            I seem to remember reading that the one thing England did better during the Ashes was catching, but I don’t remember the numbers. I think people just focus more on dropped chances when everything else isn’t going too well either.

            Like

    • Elaine Simpson-Long May 31, 2018 / 8:38 am

      And this is wht Root will never prevail until this arrogant arsehole has gone. And take Broad with you

      Like

  16. Rohan May 30, 2018 / 6:05 pm

    “Some people think they might know better than me but I’d like to think that, after 15 years of playing Test cricket, I know which lengths to bowl on certain pitches.”

    This is rich ^^^^^^^ considering it was Jimmy, if I remember correctly, who blamed the coaches during the ashes for not telling him earlier, that he needed to pitch it up! Was it Adelaide, either way, what an ironic quote!

    This is a result of the clique, the way he is responding, undoubtedly. I am sure he wanted KP gone and it happened. Sure he would have been an advocate of Cook staying on as captain during 2013/14 and it happened. Sure he has had an overly great influence on England in the last few years. I am not saying these things happened directly because of him, but it seems he has been left ‘unchecked’ for too long.

    Then again you could argue that at least he has an opinion, he seems to know what he thinks he needs to do and has a vague plan. He may be wrong, but at least he’s not ‘err, well the boys, err well’ like Cook was. Maybe he could work as captain, it doesn’t sound like he’d be afraid to challenge the coach (as long as it was merited and not just because he wants to be a so and so), which is no bad thing after Cook laid down for Flower to walk all over him……..

    Like

    • dlpthomas May 31, 2018 / 4:04 am

      “Some people think they might know better than me but I’d like to think that, after 15 years of playing Test cricket, I know which lengths to bowl on certain pitches.”

      So Jimmy knows the length to bowl on “certain pitches”. I take that as an admission that he hasn’t a clue how to bowl on “other pitches”. I know some people consider Jimmy an all time great but for me he just has too many bad days. That is not something you can say about Walsh, McGrath, Ambrose and several others.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jomesy May 31, 2018 / 7:47 am

      Rich indeed!

      For me, the most damning sentence in that article was:

      “Trevor Bayliss, England’s coach, has admitted he was at a loss as to why some of the messages he gives to the players do not get through.”

      Who runs the team? Clearly the senior players. What is the point of everyone else if that’s the case? Sorry, but I go back to the point I made previously. Drop both Broad and Anderson and let them know they’re in the team under instruction or….they’re not in the team.

      Btw, I understand Cook and Anderson are best buddies. Maybe that’s why they do entitled so well.

      I would normally I’ve credit to Cook for his more sensible comments at the end of that article but he knows he’s a protected species.

      Like

  17. Mark May 30, 2018 / 8:02 pm

    Just seen a press conference of Jennings speaking to the media on Sky. He has a really posh Old Etonian accent. (Snark)

    Can’t wait to see all the usual suspects who had such a problem with another certain player with a southern African accent pile in. Oh wait…………

    Like

    • oreston May 31, 2018 / 12:05 am

      I hope Keaton enjoys his six Tests (max.) before being dropped again. That revolving door opener slot is cursed. It practically needs an exorcism performing to give anyone a chance of flourishing in it.

      Like

      • Zephirine May 31, 2018 / 10:15 am

        And over at the Guardian, Tim de Lisle is asking why it is that all Cook’s opening partners seem to fail….. a question some of us have been asking for really quite some time
        .
        https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/may/31/alastair-cook-tricky-co-pilot-keaton-jennings-pakistan-second-test

        BTL is quite interesting so far, for the number of people who just can’t possibly imagine that Cook could in any way be a problem.

        I have to say that while it is an extremely odd record, I’ve never seen anything precisely that he could be doing to make them play worse. But then I’ve never been a nervous opening bat in my first Test.

        Amusing stat about him opening with KP (in ODIs): most successful partnership.

        Like

        • thelegglance May 31, 2018 / 10:44 am

          I’m always a bit uncomfortable with the idea that another batsman is to blame for the failures of individuals. It’s like blaming the top scorer for getting out and starting a collapse, as though all those following had no say in it.

          Whatever the issues with Cook, I can’t see how he is responsible for the other openers, any more than the problems at 3, 5, 6, 7 and the tail.

          Like

          • Mark May 31, 2018 / 11:32 am

            “I can’t see how he is responsible for the other openers.”

            No, neither can I. There is no bigger critic of “the cult of Cook” than me, but it’s not his fault that all these other batsman have failed. He hasn’t been running them out like some deadly assassin.

            As to Jennings, call me cynical, but his presss conference sounded like it was scripted by the ECB.

            1 Name checked Andy Flower. (Check)
            2 Praised the backroom coaches & management. (Check)
            3 Sounded like a footballer just arriving at a new club by saying he was proud to wear the shirt. (Check)

            Hope he does well, but jeez, do people take this stuff seriously?

            Like

          • KidVicious May 31, 2018 / 12:04 pm

            First things I have to say magnificent article. Up there with one of the best on this very high quality blog.

            Mark, I’ve thought that about Jennings too. I don’t think he has necessarily been ECB scripted the way you suggest. I just think he knows who press conferences are really for and is very very good at making the right noises.

            Like

          • Mark May 31, 2018 / 2:16 pm

            Kidvcious,

            Highly likely as point out that players know what they should say, and what is required. Face fitting is very important to play for England. Right kind of school is very important according to a previous chairman. Right sort of image, and of course no individualism. Must sign up to group think.

            Right now we have a group think of failure.

            Like

          • KidVicious May 31, 2018 / 2:54 pm

            Indeed, and you’ve got to be ludicrously talented to get away with it, and even then it will be made damn difficult and international career cut short prematurely.

            You can’t blame the players for keeping their heads down; it’s a livelihood at stake. To be honest, I’m surprised we don’t see more Ansari’s, but maybe that opportunity is not available to everyone.

            Like

        • northernlight71 May 31, 2018 / 11:39 am

          TDL has written one of my favourite things of today. Not that the article is that great, but the incredulity BTL that anyone could have a problem with St Al is so chuckle-inducing, I am wary of bringing any hot drinks near my keyboard.
          It’s not as if TDL is blaming Cook so much as wondering if he has an effect on his partners – which in itself seems a fairly uncontroversial idea, to me. But as so many posters seem to be taking umbrage against things that aren’t actually said, one can’t help but feel a little sorry for them as they shake their mind-forged manacles at the sky and piteously scream “No! The great Alistair has done nothing wrong! Nothing! Why are you still being so mean to him?!”

          Like

          • Mark May 31, 2018 / 12:00 pm

            As I say, it’s a cult. The cult of Cook. (Not his fault if he attracts such strange cultists.)

            His followers exhibit typical cult like behaviour. Delusion, hysteria, and a lack of honesty in examining the full picture.

            You can’t reason with cultists. They can cut themselves off from their families, and give away all their money to odd religious cults. Best to just ignore them if they don’t want to be rescued from their insanity.

            Like

          • oreston May 31, 2018 / 12:29 pm

            There have been about a dozen openers tried and discarded (and occasionally recycled) since Strauss. Sure, none of them have been World class players. We wouldn’t be where we are if any of them had been. However a few have shown glimpses of ability and the potential to be “good enough for now” (certainly Nick Compton and Michael Carberry) and should’ve been given a longer run in the team. I’m sure Cook would like nothing more than a dependable opener at the other end – why would he not? Does his personality or reputation intimidate his partners? Maybe that’s been a factor in some cases (to answer that authoratively I’d have to know the people involved, which of course I don’t) but to suggest that’s been behind ALL of them failing is stretching credulity. So I suspect there are a mixture of factors involved in this ongoing farce. Clearly, some of the players tried have not been remotely of the class to be viable Test openers. Responsibility for that has to be largely on the ECB for what they’ve done to the domestic First Class game. In one or two other cases – notably Nick Compton – the press corps are guilty of the most apalling conduct (aided and abetted by “good journalism” OTR briefings?) that undermined the players’ confidence, damned them for not being worthy to walk out to the wicket with the sainted Alastair and effectively hounded the poor bastard out. So even if Cook only bears limited direct responsibility it’s his fevered cultists who have sometimes done the damage.

            Like

    • northernlight71 May 31, 2018 / 6:36 am

      I don’t have any problem at all with Jennings’ accent. I am slightly discombobulated by the fact that he has played for and captained South Africa U19s before deciding that he’d really rather play for England. I mean, it’s not a deal breaker for me but I’d have trouble standing up for him in an argument about flags of convenience, if you know what I mean.

      Like

      • Zephirine May 31, 2018 / 10:22 am

        Somehow the captaincy makes it uncomfortable… more ‘representing the country’, and being picked as captain suggests that they thought he was committed to SA.

        But, y’know, if he’s got the qualifications and all. Up to him.

        Like

  18. man in a barrel May 31, 2018 / 3:47 pm

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… So Stokes is doubtful for the match, having somehow acquired a mystery injury and Bairstow got hurt during one of those pointless games of football they play as a warm up, as if that makes any sense whatsoever. Do footballers and rugby players warm up by playing another game? What benefits does it bring apart from the obvious risk of injury?

    I think I would prefer it if they spent all the hours we are told they spend in the nets doing proper practise. Instead of which they seem to rehearse their bad habits and then wonder why they are so bad at their jobs.

    Serious questions should be put to Smiler Farbrace and Bayliss the idle. The problem is that nobody wants to ask them

    Like

  19. Benny May 31, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    Sometimes I boldly go where I normally wouldn’t. Alistair Cook on Sky website:

    Maldon Cricket Club, where I grew up, has a massive kids section on Friday nights. That’s how I, and a lot of people, get introduced to cricket, but there’s not always facilities and kit available at certain levels.

    We could always do more, but that’s where the ECB alongside Chance to Shine and other charities like the Lord’s Taverners are doing a great job in promoting the game to kids. It’s about making the most of the places and facilities you’ve got available and bring the game to kids – I played cricket at a school recently on the top of a roof!

    Hey Colin Graves! This guy is not following the company line! Clearly not the sort of person …….

    Like

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