Infamy

In an act of self-indulgence, I am commenting on the mention of this blog in Wisden. I have a copy of the article, from the editor himself, and I’ll have to say it’s an interesting take on the blog.

One topic dominated the agenda of the English cricket media in 2014.
England’s brutal and irrevocable decision to dispense with Kevin Pietersen, and its deeply unsatisfactory aftermath, prompted serious attention from some of the blogosphere’s best writers. In terms of quantity and passion, Dmitri Old at cricketbydmitri.wordpress.com stood out.

Old wrote thousands upon thousands of words, mostly excoriating the
ECB. While at times the effect was like being repeatedly hit over the head with one of Pietersen’s bats, his blog acted as a valuable conduit for deep resentment at the ECB’s administration of English cricket. This was exemplified by their reference in a press release to people “outside cricket”, intended as a response to one of Piers Morgan’s many incursions into the saga – but which was latched on to by Old as evidence of the board’s lack of empathy with the fans.

First up, thanks to Brian Carpenter for including me in his review. It is interesting to see how your blog is viewed by those outside my usual comment client base. I actually grinned when I read the bit about “repeatedly hit over the head”, but at the time when this blogger was that mad about things, there was always gold in them there hills in which we could pick apart the arguments. I could repeat and repeat, because the press and the ECB repeatedly gave us the ammunition.

I am, by my nature, quite a modest person. I really find praise and that sort of thing awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but I don’t claim credit often. But I do think this blog (along with TFT of course) has done the most to put “outside cricket” front and centre over the last year. We’ve never let it go, even if it means I’m likened to a bludgeon. Repetition hammers home the message. I don’t apologise for it. I don’t think Brian means me to either, but there are a number who tell me to let it lie. Never. Not until I get the sense that the authorities do anything more than pay lip service to what this small, noisy band of cricket tragics say. This sport does not need to become more exclusive, more insular, more arrogant – it needs, to use their bloody horrible phrase, to reconnect with the public.

However, Old didn’t take aim merely at those in authority: he also trained his sights on the traditional press, some of whom he viewed as Establishment stooges. In one or two cases, he might have had a point. But the press coverage reflected, in part, the vulnerabilities of cricket journalists, who have a symbiotic relationship with administrators and players: the administrators grant access to the players, who provide interviews and quotes. Most bloggers have no such privileges, yet this very freedom from professional dependence means they can shoot from the hip.

This is a really interesting debating point, in my eyes. Let’s go back to when KP got dropped. There is a substantial section of the England fan base that said “good”. Fair enough. I have always said they are entitled to their opinion and I’d never want to shut that down. That part of the fan base, shall we say, was more than adequately represented in the journalist corps. We pick on Paul Newman a lot here, but he’d got the inside track, by hook or by leak, and there appeared glee in reporting the end of his career. The other big beasts, such as Pringle and Selvey, and I’d say Etheridge too, had nailed their colours to the mast.

Those of us who saw a batsman top of the run charts for his team, albeit, we know, not a stellar record, being the main man to pay the price as unfair, and in my case as a fan, antagonistic, weren’t the beneficiaries of much supportive press. KP split opinions. He still does. The main conclusions to be drawn, from totally outside, was that the press had either personal grudges they weren’t prepared to go into, or they were too close to members of the establishment. Selvey was possibly the worst case, with his piece supporting Downton on his appointment, his Cricketer love letter to Andy Flower, and then his praising of Moores. It’s easy to draw the conclusion we have.

Now, I will admit, that at some times I might have gone a bit wild. But as I’ve explained to the Editor, I come from the background of a football club’s message board. Nuance and reason didn’t work. They just didn’t. You needed to put your argument forcefully. If that’s shooting from the hip. then I’ll agree.

The main gripe, as Brian would know (and he’s limited to space) was our frustration with the journalists was the TTT – Tyers Twitter Tendency – which is “we know more than you, trust us, it was the right decision”. That intimated that there was something, but the proles couldn’t know. I still don’t. Innuendo, unattributable briefing and “I’m not going to comment” isn’t going to cut it in this day and age. And yes, I went on and on and on. I still do. But it is interesting to read these views.

Where Old sometimes fell short was in failing to recognise that journalists find themselves in a different position; in any case, the press as a whole weren’t quite the Establishment mouthpieces he felt them to be. But his obsessive refusal to let sleeping dogs lie – together with an urgent, punchy delivery and a nice line in song-lyric titles – was the most distinctive aspect of the blogosphere in 2014, even if it ultimately prompted the feeling that, at some point, he would need to let go. And in February 2015, he appeared to do just that, taking his blog down, his point eloquently made.

That is very kind of Brian, and while I disagree a bit (and I see the Establishment / Press relationship a little differently now to what I did – amazing what speaking to people does) it’s fair comment. I do listen to these things, and I recognise my style is not for all. I am clearing out the spare room at the moment and came across my old school reports. For English language (and my old English teacher follows me on Twitter) I was accused of all sorts of stylistic abominations. My history teacher called my writing style brutal. Maybe I’ve always been a blogger, and my “florid prose” isn’t to all tastes. But it gets the message across.

There is no secret that I was a nobody who no-one talked to 15 months ago, and now I’m a nobody that speaks to lots more people. I don’t over-estimate any influence I have, but I do know this blog resonates, because mainly the posts are backed up by salient, well honed arguments from many similarly angry commenters. It’s a bit raucous, very angry, and yes, we get things wrong. But it has made it’s mark.

I also see this blog as an extension of How Did We Lose In Adelaide (and Brian wasn’t to know that a new blog had taken its place) so excuse me if there is any confusion over which blog is which!

The conclusion to the article on the relationship between press and blogger is also worth a read, but I think that’s for another day. But it is an important discussion that I think I have a different view on.

My thanks to Lawrence Booth for allowing me to “fisk” the article. My thanks to Brian Carpenter for the review of this and other blogs, and my thanks to all who have supported, and all who hate what we say. It keeps the petrol flowing into the engine.

PS – Do you miss the song-titles?

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Perspective

It’s been an interesting 36 hours, but one that has a silver lining.

No cricket for a day brought the silly squad out, and now everyone’s had their say, most notably about Pietersen, and less about the folly of Downton and the first plays of Colin Graves.

The South Africans did for Ireland in a big way, and the full test nation lobby has a little string to its bow.

There’s been the John Etheridge stuff which I’ve probably talked about too much. But it’s been revelatory.

Then there’s been another of our favourtie sponsored interviews, and Stuart Broad does little to disprove “the book” and its little take on our fading star.

But we don’t have perspective, we have guesswork, we have sneering superiority, we have arrogance. Oh well. Let’s move on. (oh dear, I sounded just like them).

Two games tonight, game threads to follow. I think we can say, without fear or favour, judging by hit rates and visitor numbers, that after a month re-establishing myself, the blog is back.