Swear Allegiance To The Flag, Whatever Flag They Offer – Thoughts On 2018

So that was 2018. England started it by completing a 4-0 defeat and with Joe Root burning himself out, literally, in a pitiful rearguard. But it was all fine because (a) it was expected, (b) they had a great bowling attack, (c) Sir got a big double the game before and (d) we weren’t whitewashed. England then humiliated themselves at Auckland, and fought hard in an excellent five day tussle in Christchurch, but ended up with another fruitless test winter. At home, there was a 1-1 draw with Pakistan and a 4-1 win over India. The former looks a bit weak given the travails of that team since, the latter looks more impressive by the day. A 3-0 win in Sri Lanka, yes aided by winning each toss, but no not purely down to that (no way we win that series 3-0 playing like that a few years back) meant the test team, which, frankly given the hit rates on here is all you really seem to care about (ODI only matters during big tournaments), had started badly but finished well.

2019 sees us travel to the West Indies for three tests, a home test squeezed in against Ireland (my addled brain seems to recall that this will be a four day event), a full Ashes series straight after the World Cup – I am just utterly perplexed by this nonsensical scheduling – then off to New Zealand for 2 tests in October (hmm, nice weather for ducks) and then South Africa to round off the year (before I think we visit Sri Lanka again the following spring). It is going to be a busy old year. My hope for it is that a new young star batsman emerges to bring some solidity to the top order. I have absolutely zero idea who that might be!

I like to do a review of the year in blogging as part of my end of the natural cycle round up, but like most things blogging and cricket this year, I have neither the time, nor the inclination to do so. I sit in a neatly compartmentalised mental world at the moment, where I allow specific events to define a year, and everything contextualises around that. With the risk of eliciting a reaction from some who should know better, 2018 will always be defined for me by the passing, quite suddenly, of my beloved border collie. It meant that for the end of the year cricket was relegated very far down the list of my thoughts. I think, being my own worst judge at times, that my tribute post to Jake was the best thing I have ever written. I sometimes look back on my HDWLIA posts and think “whatever happened to THAT person”, and the Jake post was THAT person. I’m not saying that I’m mailing in what I write – you know I don’t – but you have to have that engine, that drive, that passion to really hit the spot. The nearest I came to that on here this year was the Alastair Cook post. 7000+ words on a career that should have been fundamentally straight and simple, a career of accumulation and achievement, became a piece where I tried to explain how an intrinsically dull individual elicited more passion and anger than anyone I have seen since Boycott. I tried, but I was never going to succeed.

And that’s probably my summing up for my efforts on Being Outside Cricket this year. But before I complete my thoughts on that, and due to the prodding of the Bogfather (still waiting on that Barry Richards book review), here are my answers to the poll questions I posed a month or so ago.

  1. Best Journalist of the Year – Dobell is always an interesting read. Your blog team also met Nick Hoult this year, and he comes across (well to me) as a really decent guy, and one we also like for his work. He didn’t recall, or bring up, my “does he ever leave the ECB canteen” comment I wrote back in 2014. I am not a huge fan of the all-rounders that some are. In fact this year it’s the Aussies who’ve tried to take the mantle. But for me, and treat this a little like the Ryan Giggs getting Sports Personality, the best journo/writer for me is Andrew Miller of Cricinfo. I’ve admired him for many many years, every piece he writes I find interesting, and I hope he does more.
  2. Worst Journalist of the Year – With many out of the picture, and Newman taking emeritus status these days, it has to be Simon Hughes. How he gets so many gigs I’ll never know.
  3. Best TV / Radio Commentator of the Year – Ricky Ponting. Even if he might have slightly blotted his copybook this week, I find him insightful, passionate, interesting and engaging. Even harder to admit as I never liked him as a player. If he doesn’t count as a commentator, then I would go for one of Simon Doull, Mike Atherton or Nasser (very up and down, but conveys a lot of Ponting’s qualities). Give Sangakkara a couple more years (and Mahela) and they may get there too.
  4. Worst TV / Radio Commentator of the Year – Where do you start? Harbhajan Singh was a lamentable pundit, but he was essentially harmless. I am sick and tired of Michael Vaughan, but it is his written work that angers, his podcast cobblers that riles. I am probably going to go for David Gower. We heard rumours a while back that Sky might have wanted to get rid of Gower and Botham, but couldn’t. Botham has upped his game in my view, Gower has not. Judging by the comments received, Agnew is going to win this from the vote here. Again, I think that’s taking his work outside, and the Cook thing, rather than the day job. But I’m not here to tell you what to do.
  5. England international cricketer of the Year – Tough one. Moeen Ali had a redemption year. Joe Root regained some of his mojo. Anderson was excellent, especially at home. Woakes had his moments. But if 2018 was defined by one player for England, it was Jos Buttler (and Sam Curran, but in just one the format). Stats may not be amazing, but he’s now a key part of the set-up in all three formats. Not a stellar year, but a team one.
  6. World international cricketer of the Year – Virat Kohli and then Williamson and Rabada. Some might put Bumrah in the frame too. Kohli pretty much transcends the game at the moment, whether we like it or not. He’s also great to watch and unlike Tim Paine, I really like the guy (for some reason)
  7. Best innings by an England player in international cricket – Jos Buttler’s century to win the 5th ODI against Australia. It may have been a JAMODI but to watch him pull a win out from certain defeat was incredible. Both in terms of technique and temperament. An honourable mention to Sam Curran’s Edgbaston houdini act, Chris Woakes at Lord’s, Joe Root in Kandy and yes, Alastair Cook’s farewell hundred.
  8. Best innings by an international player in international cricket – I think there were just two test double centuries this year. I can check (answer – yes). But to me there were two standout test hundreds. The first was AB de Villiers in Port Elizabeth – a match defining knock, marshalling the last three wickets for 150 runs, and turning the series (126*) before the nonsense – and the second was Virat Kohli’s 150+ at Edgbaston. I was limited as to what I could watch, so Karunaratne’s ton referenced by many of you passed me by.
  9. The worst thing about cricket in 2018 – Australia’s pious hypocrisy over the Sandpaper incident, which continues to spin out of control entirely of their sanctimonious making. I genuinely don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or the ECB and The Hundred. Others do a better job than me in defenestrating this idiocy. It is symptomatic of ECB thinking, most recently espoused by the knighthood for Cook (to put this into context, Atherton, Stewart, Hussain, Gooch, Vaughan and Strauss all have OBEs – many have gone into coaching, broadcasting and administration – where further honours are received). Cook already was one notch above them with a CBE. Jack Hobbs was 70 when he was knighted. Len Hutton was very young at 40 to get knighted. This is clearly not Cook’s making, but it is absolutely the sort of thinking that annoys many on here of the double standards and so forth. But back on topic, the Hundred is coming and the ECB have mortgaged their future on it. And more importantly, our future. And yet they do a great impression of totally ignoring anything we say.
  10. The best thing about cricket in 2018 – Personally it was Surrey winning the county championship. Not a popular view, but one I enjoyed. I also enjoyed the day-nigh game between Surrey and Lancashire, which ended with a thrilling finish. The County Championship is a jewel, but too many deride it, ignore it, or demean it. It doesn’t make money, ergo it is not good is the feeling. It is a really good competition and next year will be fascinating as Somerset, Surrey and Essex look strong. On the international stage, every year Virat Kohli is bang up for test cricket is a great thing. I say it again, he is arguably the most important cricketer in the world since Bradman. If he gives up on tests, we are in strife.

My Dmitris for this year would have been – Sam Curran, Morne Morkel, Surrey, Andrew Miller, Simon Hughes (not sure he’s been one before), the Cape Town test, Tom Harrison and Day 1 at The Oval. Again, a bit Surrey loaded, but it’s about my influences and my experiences.

So to 2018, and what has gone before. I started the year fed up at the media reaction, and those on social media too, to the Cook 244 not out. I took a break from writing, one of my many, and didn’t miss it as much as I thought I might. I then found myself shaking my head through the New Zealand tour, as another lamentable start cost us a series, and there seemed little care about that. The summer will always be defined in my eyes by my reaction to the criticism I received for my report during the second test against Pakistan. In the days before I would have fought back really hard. Now I didn’t have the heart. It was an important moment. A self-reveal. The anger isn’t really there any more. Not really.

I do still love writing, but the nice pieces won’t work here. It’s not what is expected of me. Chris writes his stuff so much more beautifully than I could ever hope to do. I do anger well. I know. I do the stuff around Cook better than anything else because there is a righteous indignation to my prose. That there is such favouritism to a player above all others, sticks in my craw, and I’ll bet it did with some of the team too – notice the lack of mentions of him on the Sri Lankan tour – but of course no-one would mention it. While I love writing, I will still write. But it may not be on cricket. It may not even be for public consumption. My passion at the moment is my new border collie. There’s a blog about him. The Teddy Times. I am far more interested in him, than I am cricket.

As a little bon mot, yesterday an old friend popped up on my Twitter feed. Yes, that old friend. I’d made a tongue in cheek tweet about KP doing more for charity, conservation and being a better player. I clearly don’t think he should be getting a knighthood. Or anything more than he has. It got a reaction from my old friend. I made one comment, and walked away. Maybe my old friend should too. Life really is too short.

So, 2000 words in, and I think I’ll just say Happy New Year to you all, and wish you luck for 2019. For all of us in the UK, I think we are going to need it. For the blog, 2019 looks jam-packed and hopefully traffic, which is still quite constant, will pick up. Some of my old commenters don’t show their faces as much any more, and given some of their comments to me they are displaying my symptoms on attitude towards the sport, but amplified, so I hope they come back. To those who genuinely want to write for this blog, please let us know. We love reading your stuff. And to those who contributed in 2018, thanks so much. It’s not been our greatest year, but after the tumult of the preceding four, perhaps a more restful one.

Some of my favourite pics from the year below…



The past?









Sam at Sundown


So what did 2018 do for me. Maybe a neat little bullet point list:

  • I learned to ignore the haters a bit more, but not enough;
  • I learned that you can only keep on keeping on for so long;
  • The standard of cricket journalism is on a massive decline, filled with people who think being more clever than their readers is more important than being interesting;
  • Cricket blogging, like much blogging, is becoming less read, less interesting and increasingly less true to itself. These may not be unrelated factors;
  • That it is OK to take a break;
  • That good commenters are hard to find, and easy to lose;
  • That English cricket probably needed to cut adrift from Alastair Cook;
  • That you should never trust a blogger who gets paid to write (not to be confused with bloggers who try to get advertising revenue);
  • That Mike Selvey’s cricket blog will never happen;
  • I’ll miss Charles Sale;
  • That the death of a loved one conquers all. Even a dog.
  • Contentment is in inverse proportion to your usage of Twitter

Best wishes for the New Year. New beginnings and all that. It’s likely to be fascinating.





49 thoughts on “Swear Allegiance To The Flag, Whatever Flag They Offer – Thoughts On 2018

  1. thelegglance Dec 31, 2018 / 11:42 am

    Funny year this one. Almost one of transition, at least as far as England go, and that’s probably healthy. At least we can rely on the ECB to behave with its usual high handed arrogance and lack of care about the game itself.

    2019 should be pivotal in many ways though. But perhaps the moving on from anger about the England team is beneficial, for everyone.

    One thing I did find the other day was a record of player participation updated to 2018:


    This shows a drop to 291,900 this year, but their previous stats have been for England only, which makes comparisons difficult unless someone else can find a like for like. But a 20% drop over three years is absolutely terrifying, especially given the previous falls in the decade before.

    On blogging styles that Peter references, here’s the funny thing: if I learned one thing over the last few years it’s that I can’t do the righteous fury like he and Sean do. I just can’t do it. They’re vastly better at it. C’est la vie.

    Happy New Year to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Dec 31, 2018 / 12:21 pm

    2018 is for me the year I finally surrendered to the doctrine of Maxie. I can’t support the England cricket team anymore because to do so is to give tacit backing to the ECB. The team, and the governing body should be judged separately, but I can no longer keep them apart. Every time England win, it’s a win for the horrible people.

    Bizarrely, I have finally given in to this view just as Cook has retired, and a new team is being constructed. But my love and passion has gone. Killed off by a disgusting bunch of elite grifters, and backed to the hilt by a media that is loathsome in everything they stand for.

    The Cook era revealed just who the ECB really is, and just who the cricket media answers to. I genuinely despise these people. Hate is a bad emotion, but that is what the cricket authorities, and obedient media have managed to create in me. The only way to abolish the hate is to abolish the love. I don’t care about England anymore, and the hate goes away.

    I hope the idiotic 100 falls flat on its arse, and loses the game millions of pounds, and so to its backers, who I suspect are many in the media. But I predict it will be a huge success. The modern, dumbed down culture will lap it up. After all, the best show on TV in Britain this Christmas was the Bros documentary. How can the 100 not fail in a country like that? The ECB know their punters.

    A Happy New year to you all, even if many don’t approve of some of my opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Simpson-Long Dec 31, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    Happy New year to you and I have been following your dogblog and.oving it. May uou and your wife have a lovely doggy year. Keep writing. Does. Ot matte if you are not angry! X


  4. LordCanisLupus Dec 31, 2018 / 4:37 pm

    Gary Naylor has his say on three cricketing events this year. I was fascinated by the Cook one for my own reasons.

    Everyone in the ground is applauding, the India players joining in, perhaps the umpires too – who knows? Our hero had acknowledged the praise, the respect, even, let’s face it, the love of the public in that understated way of his and was now trying to shush us, as he would soon do for his third baby – with about as much success.

    I wasn’t looking there though. I was surveying the grand old ground, tarted up in recent years, but still south London urban, without an egg and tomato tie and blazer combo nor a pair of raspberry slacks in sight. The country, divided so horribly for over a year, were as one in admiration for a man whom few of us knew in even the sense that one “knows” celebrities these days (“Where’s your Instagram feed, Chef? Get with the programme!”) Some of us might not agree with aspects of his rural lifestyle, nor hold his captaincy in high regard, but that was forgotten. This was his moment and we were blessed to share it.

    The man had earned that respect bleeding into love for his decency, his achievements and, most of all, for his dignity in an age in which the word has become almost obsolete, every gesture, every muttering, every thought even, tried in the court of a febrile media feeding on and fed by the shrill tweets of those who would never say such things to people’s faces.

    Of course, there was poignancy as well as celebration in that applause, perhaps its elegiac undertone not just present for its subject but also for the calmer, more considered world of cricket – hell, of the world full stop – that Alastair Cook had joined a generation earlier and to which he had cleaved through it all.

    Vale Sir Alastair.


    • LordCanisLupus Dec 31, 2018 / 4:53 pm

      Or maybe you prefer to dictation from the Central Planning Committee, who will be keen to inform you that tractor production is up, the grain fields are plentiful, and your committee is not the sole beneficiary of the best of times…


      “What do you expect them to say?” i hear from those who think all we do is complain.

      “Nothing less” would be my reply.


      • thelegglance Dec 31, 2018 / 4:57 pm

        I for one am glad to learn that the game is in such a strong position. I have revised all my concerns regarding it crashing through the floor in terms of participation and interest.

        Four legs good. Two legs better.

        Liked by 1 person

        • thebogfather Dec 31, 2018 / 5:51 pm

          Please explain the cricketing ‘two legs’ to the 100’s mass audience….


    • nonoxcol Dec 31, 2018 / 5:16 pm

      There’s an aside (before your quote) where he refers to being proven wrong by this innings, having previously asserted that Cook’s eyes had gone.

      Just as we were all “proven wrong” by the Melbourne knock.

      Everyone has forgotten his *shocking* record for most of the period between Melbourne and The Oval, and most of the year before Melbourne.

      Of course I don’t need to remind everyone of the flip side to this, how certain other batsmen were judged on their overall record in their final two years while their outstanding innings were treated as blips (some fecking blips they were too).

      It was a fairytale ending. Good for him. But man, it covered up for a multitude of sins.

      Liked by 3 people

      • thelegglance Dec 31, 2018 / 5:18 pm

        What really genuinely pisses me off is that I felt unable to enjoy a fairy tale ending for a fine opener entirely because of the conduct of the media for the last few years. Cook is gone, but I’m never going to forgive the media for destroying a feeling of enjoyment for an England player.

        Liked by 1 person

        • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 31, 2018 / 6:02 pm

          It was essentially 5 years of horse **** from the media, starting in the new year 2014 when he had failed abysmally as a batsmen 2 series in a row and shown the shocking lack of match managing skills that started at Trent Bridge, when lower order partnerships almost won Australia the game but for Anderson. The same cluelessness continued in Australia, but no Duke ball meant the utter pounding.

          In my arguments with Cook diehards, they point out his 2015 record as a fine year, but even that was surrounded by a century less adequate sort of series v Australia and a horrendous start in West Indies. His NZ ton at Lord’s was arguably his very best knock,but 3 tons in 15 tests hardly made that a great year. As Dmitri and I have said, you start his record in July 2013 to the end, you look at a player in marked decline.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Dec 31, 2018 / 6:05 pm

          Yes, The media over egged the pudding to a point they made his last few years ludicrous.

          The fact that both his captaincy, and his retirement as a test batsman was left entirely to him, and if he hadn’t retired he would still be in position as both is an indictment of the ECB management.

          Unless of course he was secrecrly pushed out, with the promise of higher things?


    • Mark Dec 31, 2018 / 5:28 pm

      I am still completely mystified by the deification of Cook by certain media types, and the British Establishment. Nobody has been been able to explain it to me.

      He is not from aristocratic stock or Royalty. He was a lousy communicator. Even his biggest supporters admitted he was not a great captain or leader of men. Up until the KP sacking I don’t even remember the madness in the coverage about him. He was just Mr reliable.

      Then it all changed, and the cricket establishment projected onto him all their insecurities about the uppity people who were complaining about many things. Ticket prices, TV deals, chief executive pitches. Flowers coaching. Cook became the wall they could all hide behind.

      He stood tall, and resolute, and was the face of the ECB. The standard that must be defended, and now lavished with praise and honours. It’s the only explanation I can find.

      Or perhaps his Christmas Day birthday signifies something far more amazing that only the elite know about?

      Liked by 1 person

      • LordCanisLupus Dec 31, 2018 / 5:37 pm

        It’s why he fascinates me. An ordinary fellow, a good, possibly great, England opening batsman (it is up for debate), who had great hot streaks and some pretty dreadful lousy ones. It’s projection on both sides of the schism (I do love that word). We project many of our ills and fears on him, some fair, some maybe not so, while those who were anti-KP/pro-ECB rallied to his sword and in the end, they had the ultimate power. Maybe all Alastair ever wanted to do was play cricket. It’s a pity the ECB and press didn’t let him do just that, and instead made him their Field General and not foot soldier.

        AS I have said for a while, in any ways more divisive than any player we have had in a fair old while.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mark Dec 31, 2018 / 6:18 pm

          It will be interesting to see if any ex players go public in some of the up coming books of this period on what really went on?

          It may have to come from non English players who played against him for a more honest assessment.


      • nonoxcol Dec 31, 2018 / 6:18 pm

        Don’t look at the New Year’s Day schedule for Sky Sports Cricket, whatever you do….

        Liked by 1 person

        • LordCanisLupus Dec 31, 2018 / 6:31 pm

          Like a moth to a flame….

          04:05 am – Alastair Cook’s Fairytale Finale
          09:00 am – How the Ashes were won – 2013
          10:00 am – Ashes Regained: Cook’s Redemption (2015)
          12 noon – the 4:05 am programme
          15:00 – 9 am again
          16:00 – 10am again
          17:00 – 9 am again
          19:00 – 4:05 am again
          22:00 – 9 am again
          Midnight – 10 am again
          2am -4:05 again

          Interspersed with the 2009 Ashes programme.


          • LordCanisLupus Dec 31, 2018 / 6:39 pm

            My guess is that his two magnificent series – Australia 2010/11 and India 2012 – do not currently reside in Sky Sports Cricket’s portfolio of highlights?


          • thelegglance Dec 31, 2018 / 6:56 pm

            They’d have to pay the rights holder to show it. Sky are remarkably tight on this kind of thing – witness how they’d not cough up for 30 seconds worth of fair use football World Cup action during the summer on their news channel.


          • Mark Dec 31, 2018 / 7:16 pm

            What a national disaster he never made an Ashes hundred at home?

            Sky could have put it on its own loop for ever. And never had to pay a penny for it.


          • thebogfather Dec 31, 2018 / 7:39 pm

            I’m sure the GOAT innings of 95 at Bramsgrove’s Bowl will be prominent…


  5. Riverman21 Dec 31, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    On a personal note sorry to hear you had a difficult year.

    Your blog once again has been a must read fizzing with passionate beliefs (spin free) and so can I say a massive thanks to you all for the great work, time and energy you invest.

    We would likely all disagree on certain points of cricket. Its the way it’s done that matters esp when on your patch. The Twitterverse is a strange one and I think does more harm than good on the whole.

    All power to you in 2019.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. psoans Jan 1, 2019 / 12:17 am

    2018 was a year where we had too little cricket. The Boxing Day bonanza was a nice end. I think 2019 will be a year of apathy. I hope I am wrong though.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 1, 2019 / 11:43 am

      2019 is a massive year in English cricket. For the rest of the world, let’s see.

      We are putting all our eggs in the 2019 World Cup basket. England simply have to win it, or the previous four years will, wrongly, be seen as a massive failure. It’s that thing again where if England win, we’ll drown in such sycophancy and the English going OTT, that the great success will be used by the ECB to enhance its already enormous reservoir and self-regard to impose pretty much what it wants on the game. This is not something I want to see (the latter, not the former, before some troublesome idiot misquotes me). You think that the ECB won’t bask in the credit to make the 100 worse than it already is. Just watch them. Now, if they don’t win, well, the last four years have been a good run, we’ve got to World #1, we’ve put bums on seats. Not the worst outcome.

      We then have the Ashes crammed into mid-August onwards. I thought we were looking to avoid a clash with the cricket World Cup, but now we have decided to plonk the biggest tour on the end of it. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

      My main hope is India remain as committed to tests as they are now. I think they are a real force for good in this format, and Kohli is so massively important right now. It’s also great to see players coming through – Pant is a character, Shaw looks the absolute business, didn’t get to see much of Mayank’s debut, and I like Vihari’s temperament – and the game needs that. A lot.

      Australia will find talent, of that I am sure. South Africa need to find some new batting, but their bowling looks OK. Pakistan are Pakistan and they always will be. New Zealand are a cracking good unit, and the away win in UAE should not be sniffed at. Bangladesh are the future and they always will be. Sri Lanka worries me, but they do seem to have a knack of producing spinners and batsmen, and I hope they develop. West Indies sadly appear to be the past, and they always will be. The newbies need to be given a fair crack.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Deep Purple Fred Jan 1, 2019 / 10:55 am

    So Australia get caught cheating and trying to cover it up. As a result they apply severe penalties, fire the senior management and coach, and institute an organisational review. They listen to the public outcry. They essentially sacrifice on-field results for a year, including a home summer aginst the world’s top team, and that’s looking like giving India their first series win in the country. And this is “pious hypocrisy” ?
    I guess one constant in cricket is to hate Australia. They’re truly damned if they do, damned if they don’t.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 1, 2019 / 11:32 am

      The senior management had to be removed kicking and screaming for their part in this nonsense – and not a day too soon. It’s one major part of Geoff Lemon’s book that truly interested me. They may well have wanted to stick it to Warner – it will be interesting to see what happens when, or if, reintegration takes place.

      You will find I have a lot of sympathy for Smith and Warner (Bancroft is just a useful idiot at this point). They are having a lot of the angst for actually crossing the line piled upon them when the international cricket authorities have their own punishment system. It’s not hating Australia – it’s watching them twist themselves in knots for reasons, frankly, that are now beyond me. You can’t have the win at all cost culture, which seemed to have been imbued in the team after Hobart v South Africa, and then act horrified when it blows up in your face. Sure, players know what is right and wrong, and I get that, but I’m an equal opportunities loather of pious, hypocritical, sanctimonious cricket boards and media stooges.

      Meanwhile, sitting in the comms box, unaffected by past misdemeanours sit two men implicated in a betting scandal, and one of those just happened to be taking a well-known WADA banned masking agent while recovering from a shoulder injury prior to the World Cup and the authorities were so disgusted that they gave him half the recommended ban and let the “his mum gave it to him” reason run out there. Different era, different authority, but they are still doing just super out of the game. Hell, one of them is/was a selector!

      And we will see when the next person from an opposition team against Australia gets caught the reaction from there. Again, see Geoff Lemon’s book on the Anderson incident.

      If you think this means that I don’t think our authorities and media do not do “pious hypocrisy” you haven’t been reading me much, Fred. You have a point with the damned if they didn’t, damned if they did. But it’s not hating Australia. I don’t hate a nation and their team that revitalised test cricket. Sure, they were the pantomime villain, but fucking hell, I respected their ability. It’s what made 2005 so special and 2006/7 so excruciating.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Deep Purple Fred Jan 1, 2019 / 12:50 pm

      This dates back to well before the Hobart nadir. It goes to the heart of how Australia sees itself since the Border days.
      Australia has never had a win at all costs even if it involves cheating. That’s why the emergence of this behaviour was considered unacceptable. Australia has every right to decide it’s own response, regardless of ICC sanctions. They obviously felt it needed more than the standard ICC slap on the wrist. (And the ICCs failure to either properly condemn or condone ball tampering is another, sad story).

      Maybe they had to be removed kicking and screaming, but removed they were. I didn’t follow in great detail but I thought CEO Sutherland fell on his sword. I know another guy cynically get himself reappointed for three years days before the review came out, but he was told to take a jump. Pretty sure Lehman felt the zeitgeist and resigned too, rather than being fired. In any event, the clean out got done.

      I don’t see what a couple of Channel 9 commentators who did some dodgy stuff a decade ago have to do with it. Their presence or absence is irrelevant to how CA decide to run the game today. CA was reacting to what happened in SA, not Warne’s drug cheating. I guess they have some influence still, but I see even Michael Clarke, a more relevant voice, didn’t like the measures, but was shouting into the wind. Should CA have gone soft on this because Warne cheated a decade ago?

      Australia has taken appropriate and necessary action. You might argue that it was a bit excessive, and you might have a point, but that doesn’t make it pious or hypocritical.

      As for Lemon, every article or tweet I read is one article closer to ignoring him altogether. Although I do want to know what’s happening in cricket, I don’t want to have to go through the filter of someone’s ego to get it. That’s why Dobell and even Marks are appreciated, their personality and humour is there, but it’s not instrusive. They’re not showing off. He does seem to be popping up everywhere these days. His take down of Ch 9 was great, but you can’t live on past glories.


      • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2019 / 3:04 pm

        Just taking the Lemon part of this, because we aren’t going to agree on the rest. I thought the book was in large parts utterly dreadful. When I say about journalists writing stuff to appear more clever than the reader, he is one I have in mind. Haigh has a knack of writing quite highbrow stuff, and in my eyes I never feel talked down to. Lemon tries to be clever for clever’s sake. It makes the first half of the book mostly awful. I might buy Haigh’s take on the business, but he better bring it down in price for a 150 page book (which is what Amazon says it is).

        That said, there is insight, there is useful stuff in there. I absolutely understand the filter aspect – Barney Ronay comes to mind for me – and can see why quoting the book isn’t totally bang on. But at the moment, it’s the only tome I’ve read.


      • Deep Purple Fred Jan 3, 2019 / 9:06 pm

        Ah, agreeing to disagree, that’s a shame, but probably for the best. Not a very uplifting subject.
        Just like a good batsman makes batting look oh so easy, Haigh makes sophisticated writing look easy, and read easily. It’s only when someone out of his depth tries it that you realise the talent required.

        I’ll blame England for this (a reflex response, I’ll admit). Used to be Australians just wrote boring match reports and news, and it was the Andy Bulls and Rob Smyths of the world who brought edgy attitude, “humour” and irony. Now the disease has spread to Australia, Kimber was the carrier, and it’s getting worse, with Lemon and Jackson. Often the best way to experience cricket is through that live ball by ball scorecard that Cricinfo runs. It’s just pure cricket.


  8. Riverman21 Jan 1, 2019 / 11:17 am

    Any thoughts on BBL?
    I have been following pretty much because I have BT Sport and it’s always good to watch any cricket at this time of year esp beamed in from sunnier climes.

    It’s easy to get into with every game on but I understand we won’t get that with the 100 so that will be a barrier to the “new audience”

    The standard is lower than expected to my eyes especially the young Australian players compared to ours. The experienced one day internationals seem to dominate.

    I understand it has been extended this year so another example of over stretching the brand.

    It’s a good watch but the IPL is so much bigger and better. What price another IPL league played overseas in the next 5 years.


    • LordCanisLupus Jan 1, 2019 / 11:46 am

      An almost total lack of interest, Riverman. Simply have better things to do with my time to watch an event, which as you say in the end, has been extended not because the format previously did not work – it did – but to soak the purses of TV companies, and ergo you and me to make more money for players and administrators. When cash drives you, and not sporting merit, then you are doing it wrong. They should have let Smith and Warner play in it for integration purposes, and at the minimum wage if they wanted to play. The bits I’ve seen aren’t great, but I understand the wickets haven’t been too marvellous either.

      Remember when the T20 in the UK was 16 games per county? They stopped that after a couple of years.


    • Ab Jan 1, 2019 / 11:28 pm

      The ipl is awful. Overhyped, gimmicky, obviously fixed, appalling standard. It’s about as far away from a world class sports league as its possibly to be. The exact opposite of what we need in the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Miami Dad's Six Jan 3, 2019 / 9:21 am

      Agree on the standard, there are obviously some good players in the tournament, but watching this summer made me understand why Luke Wright was such a gun player over there. Is it me or are there fewer ‘top top’ players in it this year too? There was a golden generation of the likes of Gayle, KP, Sangakarra etc who used to turn out. This year there’s Buttler who stands out hugely, and…Colin Ingram of Glamorgan?


      • Riverman21 Jan 4, 2019 / 6:03 pm

        Still enjoying it. Agree with you MDS there is a lack of gun/name players. I think that was my main drift the IPL is way ahead of other domestic leagues in having the best talent.

        Some of our county pros are a cut above the Australian guys I reckon. As you say Luke Wright.

        Buttler is head and shoulders above and Joe Root is making the case that he is not a natural t20 player.


  9. Tom Jan 2, 2019 / 11:50 am

    Happy New Year, everyone.

    I know there’s a lot going on right now, but hope you can all think of Andrew Strauss and his family at this moment after the loss of his wife to cancer. No matter what you think of him, his children and himself are going through a terrible time and hope some here can spare his family your best wishes and if you’re so inclined, your prayers.


    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jan 2, 2019 / 12:48 pm


      Chris put in the preceding piece – Boxing Clever. Losing a family member at such an age is shattering, and despite all the differences of opinion I might have with Andrew Strauss, human empathy should never be confused with disagreeing on stuff. I think inconsequential people like me saying condolences feels odd for people I don’t know, but on a family level, it must be shattering. My best wishes to the Strauss family at this awful time.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Northern Light Jan 3, 2019 / 1:43 pm

      My mum died near to Christmas 16 years ago and I can’t say that the sympathy, thoughts or anything else expressed by strangers helped in any way. Perhaps it made them feel better, which is fine. But semi public expressions of sympathy for those in the public eye seem to be more about being seen to do the right thing than much else. I have little time for such gestures I’m afraid.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Northern Light Jan 3, 2019 / 1:43 pm

    My mum died near to Christmas 16 years ago and I can’t say that the sympathy, thoughts or anything else expressed by strangers helped in any way. Perhaps it made them feel better, which is fine. But semi public expressions of sympathy for those in the public eye seem to be more about being seen to do the right thing than much else. I have little time for such gestures I’m afraid.


  11. Mark Jan 3, 2019 / 5:14 pm

    From Richard Williams…..

    “West Ham United charge mascots’ parents £700 while paying “Baroness” Brady £438,000 in “consultancy” fees on top of £898,000 vice-chairman’s salary.”

    Apparently West Ham mascots parents line up for the privilege. And this from a football club who are sponging off the govt in a tax payers built stadium.

    Sport is now nothing more than wealth extraction operation from punters who believe they are fans to an elitist bunch of grifters. I have no doubt the 100 will offer many similar opportunities to relieve people from their hard earned money. Perhaps many people don’t work too hard to get it these days?

    I really must cancel Sky sports. I hear there is this Now tv where you can pay for either a day, week or monthly pass instead of a full subscription. Anyone tried it? I could pay just for the Ashes and then bin it.


    • Zephirine Jan 3, 2019 / 10:44 pm

      I have Now TV, it’s fine. You have to be a bit careful as they obviously want you to set up your payment and then forget to cancel, so the monthly ‘pass’ can easily turn into a subscription. I usually just get day passes for match days.


      • Mark Jan 3, 2019 / 11:19 pm

        Thanks for that.

        I think I will look to go that way as I watch so little on Sky sports now. So a few week passes through the year will cost a lot less than the monthly subscription.


        • Stevet Jan 4, 2019 / 11:46 am

          I’m with Virgin and went to cancel it last month. They offered me a 20% discount on my package instead, so Sky Sports is now effectively costing me a tenner a month. Had I not gone to cancel it they would have continued to charge me at the higher rate. So much for customer loyalty. Might try again in a years time.


    • Riverman21 Jan 4, 2019 / 6:06 pm

      Don’t get me going on Brady.

      Given a helping hand by the BBC for years… For what?


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