In 2014, when you know who got the you know what, I had a little quiet old blog called How Did We Lose In Adelaide. I was really very angry over the way you know who got the you know what, and felt, at the time, that the written media, and certainly the broadsheet media, had been useful accomplices in that story – a conduit for dressing room gossip, management plotting, and ECB high-handedness. I don’t want to rehash this here. It just sets my mood music.
During the next year my blogging life was one of extreme ups and downs. I had death threats from a Jonathan Agnew fan, and got talking to Aggers on Twitter after it. I spoke to journos, and found the experience interesting, and a little daunting. I held strong opinions, and aired them. It was, when running a one person blog, extremely nerve shredding. I didn’t do it for attention. I did it because I cared. Along the way I picked up a number of exciting fellow cricket fans, and they seemed to like my output. I even know some of the press corps did too!
It’s interesting, in the context of that era, when the blog was getting a lot of traffic, that very few journalists ever went loopy at me. Very few worried about their integrity getting called into question. Very few thought I was worth the time and effort. Very few acknowledged me – some did, and came on the blog. But I was, and still am, quite irrelevant. It’s funny.
The last 24 hours have been interesting, and a little bit of a return to the old days. I wrote an angry post. Some context. Southeastern gave me a nightmare journey home. I read the Macpherson article on the train. I had not had a great day. I had my fill of Twitter. And yes, I was angry at what I was reading on the 100, the ECB and the Guardian.
You will note that Andy Bull has responded to my little rant yesterday. Fair play, he came on here. I don’t think we have much room to manoeuvre on the topic at hand, so I will take his sincere wishes of good luck for this blog, which is over 4 years old, and the HDWLIA year of You Know Who makes it over 5, in the spirit it was offered. Thank you for responding.
I see Russell Jackson got a little upset, vicariously, that a number of his writing cohorts were given a little bit of a verbal blast by me, and you know how much being upset on behalf of other people is something that I resonate with. Thank you Russell. I like the fact that the post got the thumbs up from Dan Brettig and Jim Maxwell, but that’s just life. Thanks for calling us geniuses. I’m not. I don’t even consider myself one of the great writers either. I just write because I like it, and I write to try to convey my thoughts. At least I’m honest in that intention.
And now we have Selvey. The man who doesn’t read blogs. Having a go. I had all sorts of goes at him in the past, he’s an emeritus on our Mount Cricketmore. He has won worst journalist on here, a popular vote from the commenters on the blog. You will see from the comments what I think of today’s little twitter exchange and how easy his original Tweet was to misinterpret. If he’s “ex-officio” who is this “we” he speaks of.
It’s amusing that it is this hill they are dying on.
I saw, today, Don Topley bully Annie Chave. Now we’ve seen a lot of output and a ton of love for the game from Annie. I see some of the 2014 me in her zeal, if not she’s a ton more polite than I ever was. She has decided to take a break from Twitter. Her motives questioned. I mean, Annie. She absolutely loves county cricket. She loves long form cricket. I mean, really?
We’ve seen Gurney dismiss this blog, and people who think like us. It’s really, really interesting how the cricket fans of this country are expected by players, ex-players and thin-skinned journos to shut up and take their word as gospel. I learned in 2014 that there was no evidence for me to do that, and I’m not apologising 5 years on for doubting them still. There’s a real aggressive streak in people fighting for a shorter format.
Was I a bit over the top last night? Possibly. You lot know me, and I think you like the style of draft first, correct later. I feel the game is being abused, neglected, and the existing loyal support insulted and taken for granted, and I’ll shout out against journos and ECB officials who act like that. If the cap fits it, then wear it. If I’m not angry, then I don’t care. If I don’t love, then I can’t care. I don’t doubt that those who write on the sport don’t love the game, but I’m damned if I’m not going to write when I’m angry.
As I said. Amazed it’s this hill they are battling on.
Sean is on the decks for tomorrow’s game. Let’s pray the rain stays away.
I’ve still got it, haven’t I?
You got it! It’s so good to see you back. Keep those angry fires burning. You are unique.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Jenny. I just wish I had more time, but they’ve given me more responsibility in my job. It’s a pain.
Oh, and the new mutt is a total handful.
This is a selection of Don Topleys twitter account about his support for the 16.4. What this confirms is my long held belief that the 16.4 is really the Trojan horse to kill off county cricket as we know it. Forget about mother’s and children that can’t add up to six. He lays it all bare with the real agenda, They don’t want 18 counties any more, and this new venture is the way to finish off the old guard.
“really wish we were not where we are but we are….And no longer in the 1980s. The game is a worrying position where it is not sustainable. It laughable that the 70000 county members thoughtout the UK, think the game is ok and sustainable and observe “we want more 4 day!”
“So members take their flask & sarnies to get out of the house & sit in their favourite seats, next 2same chap on every session of every 4 day game – It’s not sustainable at all. 5counties have very nearly gone bust in the last ten years or less. We play more cricket than any1!”
“I have not said this before…..but having three counties inside 80miles is an issue. If we arrived on Mars tomorrow we would not design a professional area with three teams within 80miles. Thoughts? Same too with Northants, Leics and Notts.”
“18 teams dilutes the standard….having just eight improves the overall product. They want a better standard something than may be comparable to IPL/BBL and certainly not 2 Divs.
“Last point is worthy of investigating. But I have to travel miles for top rugby or prem football. But I do want to watch the best. I support Colchester but I also want to watch better! The Som/Glos/Glam is undoubtedly the anomaly. It will be a process of re-education going 4ward”
Wow! So we are all going to have to be sent to re education camps? The beatings will continue until we conform.
Shouldn’t the ECB come clean about the real agenda now? Stop the bullshit about mother’s and kids and all the other crap. This is why the 16.4 has been pushed through with such authoritarian zeal. This is why they won’t release the so called market research.
This is not 20/20 mk2. This is not hit and giggle. This is the end of a hundred years of county cricket, Instead, they inventing a new sport with new teams and stupid logos. They want a new fan base, Time to tell the truth, and admit it ECB.
I’m pretty sure that in the SE there are six first class counties within 80 miles. Three of them will probably be awarded franchises, which is clearly a more favourable ratio than the one in the East Midlands. And given Derby’s proximity to Nottingham he should really be saying that 1 county in 4 is having a franchise for that area, which makes it even worse.
I’m obviously not unaware of the differential in population density, but why not come out and say that? It’s a far better argument than pure geography. It’s also the only way you can possibly justify four franchises in the part of the country between Leeds and Birmingham but nothing north of the M1.
Unfortunately nor am I unaware of the interesting southern bias in the awarding of Test and internationals over the last decade (see comments passim, TFT even penned an article about it). Which now has some people arguing that Trent Bridge or Edgbaston should be entitled to an Ashes Test over Headingley every time, in spite of Yorkshire being only just about to receive its second since Mark Butcher in 2001 (and the other ended in 2.5 days).
We’re a bunch of coffin dodgers now. Why don’t we just die and save everyone the hassle.
As most on here know, county cricket generally leaves me pretty cold, it’s not something that I’m too fussed about. However, I know how passionately many people love it, so my view is neither here nor there.
However, I find it astounding, utterly astounding, the absolute contempt so many people who have earned a nice living from cricket have towards those who provided that living.
I am also continually amazed that cricket is the only sport, the only damned one, that considers its most fervent adherents to be a problem not an asset.
The issue of the Hundred can have many views, the loathing and contempt for those who love the game is despicable.
It’s all coming out now. The true agenda, the real hatred towards the old guard who have propped up county cricket for the last fifty years.
What is interesting is are they saving the game or their incomes? If cricket dies, then goodbye £700,000 salaries.
Also, this now explains the media blanket support for this venture. They obviously understand what the true agenda is, and they support it. Interesting many of them are ex players. I still don’t get how 16.4 is going to help international cricket, and that according to Harrison is a premier product. That is what they sold to Sky for a billion quid.
Occam’s razor suggests that, rather than being a machiavellian plot, the Hundred is a desperation move from the ECB.
Which FTA channel was keen to show T20, let alone test cricket? They needed a shorter format, and probably can’t sell county cricket again. Hence, the Hundred.
We can slate the ECB for arriving here though…
Thank you for the article yesterday. Indeed thank you for the blog. It is why I am still watching cricket. I have 4 vaguely related thoughts.
1. Sport only makes sense when it is a public event. It is only by being public that it is meaningful. Sport played in private will be, at best, spectacular, but by and large dull. It will always be pointless. Sky is a private club. I appreciate that the premier league is on Sky but a. It fills newspapers and fan blogs. It also has match of the day. It remains part of the fabric of public life. Cricket, even if Sky’s audience doubled, would be a pointless private affair watched as a private passtime. It has ceased to be sport.
2. The hundred is not going to help. The ECB should have a. Put the county championship on free to air TV. It is massively the most popular format amoung existing followers of big domestic cricket. B. Played the Blast on Friday nights for the lads and Sunday afternoons for the families. That would help increase access to big cricket. They can pay me a fiver for that.
3. Free to air TV is not quite the issue. It’s about putting cricket on a widely available platform. That could be Netflix or equivant. Netflix is not free but it is widely available. It forms part of our public world and explains why we have endless conversations about Game of Thrones.
4. Sky money has done nothing for cricket. It went to the ECB who are a private club controlling test and county cricket. Sky money improved, I am sure, the lives of professional cricketers, administrators, coaches, groundskeepers etc. That’s mostly a good thing. It is manifestly not equivalent to improving cricket or aiding cricketers in the UK.
LikeLiked by 4 people
Point 1 cannot be stressed enough. And it is one that is probably exacerbated by the distribution of Sky subscriptions (they are anything but random). In short, it gives a select few people, from the same social circles something to talk about. As relevant to public life as polo. At some point the newspapers will reduce their cricket coverage (cost cutting due to too few eyeballs), to the point that you might just get the brief scores in summary. What will happen then?
I am not sure about attendance numbers of the Premier League on a weekly basis, but it must be in the ballpark of 400 000 people to 500 000 attending a round of fixtures. Now if we add in the Championship, League 1 and 2, then the number must be approaching 800 000 to a 1 million (that is all professional football I think). For a domestic competition. Those fixtures are all over the country. Chances are you’ll struggle to be more removed than 30 miles from a professional fixture on any given Sunday during the season, provided you are on the mainland (and not on say the Falklands). That screams public life.
Sure, sports can become a massive public hit if the national team does extremely well. But pray tell, which pay-walled sport has achieved that in the modern era, even moreso for a sport that does everything in its power to make certain their global event contested by the same nations ad infinitum?
At the end of the tournament, the ICC may argue that 1 million people watched a game, based on ticket sales (at least if the rain stops pissing on their corrupt parade), but I wonder how many “new people” (locals have never been to cricket before) turned up. I am guessing not that many. There might be a few tourists from Australia, India and the like, and the minority communities might have a pop at one of their ‘original’ teams (depending on self-identification as say Pakistani, Indian and the like). It is not like ECB research that went into the Hundred suggested that they had been catered for thus far by the ECB (attendance was measured as 95% white after all).
But after the tournament, the minority communities will still be ignored by the ECB, the audiences will still be 95% white, and it will still be the same select few people attending the games. The players will still be unrepresentative of the playing base in England (compare the number for British Asians playing recreationally and professionally), in many respects as skewed as South Africa’s were until recently (and let’s not even delve into public and state schools). And it will still be the same people talking about cricket.
With regards to the Hundred
Has anyone asked the crucial question: what does the audience get out of attending a game? That varies of course from league to league, from country to country. And I certainly would not argue that the motives for the Indian middle classes to attend an IPL game (which are probably more expensive to attend than national games!) are the same as they would be for whoever will attend the Hundred.
That is what the market research should have been about. Duration is not a critical component to that (whether a game is 3 hours or 3.5 hours won’t make a significant difference to the experience, especially given that a substantial amount of time will be needed for the commutes, which have not been factored in by the people who designed the Hundred). What is critical is enjoyment and engagement. Unadulterated.
Perhaps that is why they are desperate to load all these gimmicks on the game – hope that they audience comes for the twerking cheerleaders, the loud music or the fireworks whenever a six is hit), rather than the cricket which is presumably too unappealing to be worth it on its own. Then you are not selling the cricket, but to the twerking ladies and the fireworks, or the “experience” in marketing bollockese. People don’t become fans of a sport by sensory overload. At best they’ll see it is a form of entertainment, not something to aspire to do.
A format that suggests it is more scripted entertainment than a sporting contest (like the Hundred will), won’t attract people to get into the game. All the bling that might be added won’t help either (cheerleaders, fireworks, loud crappy music and the like). The bling might even be detrimental to getting people into the game. If anything more could be gained from removing most artificial restrictions (bowling quotas, power plays and such) to simplify the game, than from all these gimmicks.
Sky money has trickled down a little bit to the counties. Sure. Players will be paid better, facilities are better. There is no doubt about that. But the biggest increase in spending is undoubtedly overhead of the organisation. Very little of that money will have trickled down to the recreational game, the amateur leagues and the like. Which, ultimately is still the base of the game. All the money has done, is to make certain that the base, which is shrinking more and more, has to support an increasingly bloated superstructure (the ECB and the professional game). At some point it will collapse.
On 1. Agreed.
On 2., you don’t just “put” things on FTA. You have to find a channel that will show it, and most evidence points towards BBC/ITV/C4 being uninterested in anything even as long as a typical T20 match.
Thats the main reason the Hundred was invented, so it fit with FTA scheduling. However, even the ECB aren’t stupid enough to say,
“Hi guys, just realised we’ve f**ked the sport and are desperate to get something (anything) back on FTA. We really wanted T20, but it was too long so we put together some old cobblers instead.”
Can the ECB even sell county championship games until after their next renegotiation with Sky?
On 3. this is probably more promising in the long run than FTA. The problem is who actually does the broadcasting? BT sports put their coverage of the Champions League final out on free-to-view platforms and claim to have got ~10m viewers. However, they already have the infrastructure for high quality broadcasting of live sports.
On 4. Saying a large TV deal does nothing is too extreme. The real problem is that every other major sport in the UK has managed to balance FTA and pay TV coverage e.g. for Rugby Union six nations is on BBC/ITV, world cup on ITV, some autumn internationals are on C4, other tests and domestic rugby are on Sky sports/BT sports. This is the right approach (IMO) for a minority sport like Rugby. Being completely dependent on Sky like cricket (and Rugby League) is very unhealthy for a sport.
I have not been on here a lot of late – popped in every now and then to see if there is anything of interest. Cricket is currently not high on my priority list
Watched the beginning of the WC in Pretoria as I popped past my dad on a snap business trip (he is still there, 90 plus, ever decreasing eyesight, sitting inches from the screen watching ). And have just been too busy since.
I tracked what I could of the last few day’s discussions. Very depressing. But kudos to the team here highlighting the destruction of the game we love.
And it does reconfirm my growing aversion to MSM. And the great need for blogs like this.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Great to hear from you. Hope life is treating you well.
I’ll get to Vienna soon.
All good – just very busy. And somewhat depressed about the state of the world – which does influence our business… Do let me know – will love to catch up!