Teacups, Storms and County Cricket

To say there has been a storm in a teacup over the weekend around the availability of certain individuals for the last County Championship game of the season, is me putting it mildly to say the least. There have been claims of dark rumblings going on at the ECB, with rumour and counter-rumour around who would have the influence to pull certain players out of the game and their reasons behind this. We also had the reaction to the news that Adil Rashid had pulled out of the last game of the season, with terse tweets and wild accusations flying left right and centre.

To deal with these both in order, whilst it is undoubtedly disappointing that Jonny Bairstow has been pulled out of the last game and one can also argue that it is particularly poor PR from the ECB, considering the focus that County Cricket has been under over the past couple of weeks, the conspiracy theories don’t really wash with me. The Director, Comma may have spent his career in County Cricket as a Middlesex player and was for a while hobnobbing with the Middlesex board whilst he awaited to be anointed to the position of the saviour of English cricket, but I don’t think the he’s likely to risk his reputation by favouring one county over another. Strauss for all his faults, is nothing but shrewd, and is also unlikely to care enough about County Cricket to actively do his old county a favour at the expense of Yorkshire, he has bigger fish to fry these days. It is though worthwhile remembering how much cricket our international players have played this summer (let alone this year), especially those like Bairstow, who have been picked across all formats – i.e. 7 Tests, countless other ODI’s (I lose county) and 2 T20 games all packed into a narrow summer period. We also must remember that we also have 7 Tests, around 8 ODI’s and at least 1 T20 game in the next 3 months before Christmas too. This is an extraordinary amount of cricket packed into a 6 month period and it gets even crazier next year, so I can’t actually fault the ECB for choosing to rest the majority of their players before the subcontinent tours for fear of burnout (obviously there is a strong argument that we shouldn’t be putting our international players through this type of gruelling schedule, as it’s a one way road to injury, stress related illnesses and burnout, but that’s a whole different argument). In an ideal world, we would have all of our International players fresh and available for the last game of the season, but this is the reality and hence is the reason why central contracts were introduced in the first place, after all the experience of our international players turning up to play Tests after being flogged by the Counties in the 80’s & 90’s didn’t exactly reap brilliant results back then.

With regards to the Adil Rashid situation, I always thought there was a little more to the eye than the terse statements emanating out of Yorkshire yesterday; this from Andrew Gale, I felt was unfortunate and indeed only fanned the flames – https://twitter.com/GaleyLad/status/777485164758831104?lang=en-gb. Of course, there were plenty of those who decided to jump on the bandwagon, accusing Rashid of being a traitor and unfit to wear the Yorkshire shirt again, without truly knowing about the full situation but that’s Twitter for you. This however, wasn’t just confined to angry Yorkshire fans (and there seemed to plenty of them on Twitter yesterday), certain ex-Chief Cricket Correspondent’s couldn’t reserve the opportunity to have a dig – https://twitter.com/selvecricket/status/777524503027019777?lang=en-gb, who said that certain members of our press don’t hold serious grudges around certain players they believe aren’t from the ‘right type of family’. Of course, it then emerged today, that it wasn’t just because Adil fancied lying on the sofa watching Cash in the Attic and eating Pringles in his pants for a week, which the statement below clearly shows.

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The Yorkshire response has been somewhat baffling, as they would’ve surely known this when the squad was announced and thus it could’ve easily been headed off at the pass with an announcement that he was missing because of family reasons; however this smacks me of Strauss’ “understand but disappointed” stance with Eoin Morgan, and we all know that won’t end well. I’ve been at work all day so haven’t been able to check Twitter to see if those calling for Rashid’s head yesterday, have shown some contrition now more of the facts have come out, but I certainly know the ex-Chief Correspondent of the Guardian hasn’t, nor has he been slow in telling the world that he doesn’t rate him either:

‘Rashid, though, is sailing close to the wind with his club and career: there are sceptics about, some with a greater depth of knowledge than most, and his card has been marked.’

I guess those sceptics that the ex-Chief Cricket Correspondent referred to also happen to go by the name of Mike Selvey too, after all, he’s never one to hesitate in telling the public how right he is and how wrong those who disagree are. He won’t be missed…

There has also been the announcement that the new intake of graduates aiming to complete the Andy Flower ‘flavour of the month’ winter tours has been announced – with 50, yes 50, players getting to spend the winter jumping over obstacles at Sandhurst, having their actions remodelled at Loughborough and then hoping to prove that they are from the ‘right type of family’ in front of the Moodhoover in Dubai. Lucky, lucky guys. This has been mentioned a 1,000 times but just how Flower is still part of the England set up after the 2014 Ashes debacle is beyond me, and more to the point, Flower taking some of our more talented younger players and getting them to ‘play dry’ is not what the supposedly new and dynamic England team are supposed to be about. I bet Bayliss is thrilled. Colin ‘mediocre’ Graves may be number 1 in the so called powerlist, but if you are an aspiring international player, then there is one person and one person only you must impress and that is of course, ‘old smiley’ Flower. Forget about Whittaker et al, they’re only there to take the flak away from Director, Comma when the team plays badly, it’s still the old school special relationship that decides whether you have a future in the International game, full stop. Nepotism still stinks badly as it ever did….

On a final note, and back to the cricket thankfully, the final championship game starts tomorrow with the title’s destination yet to be decided. Whoever does go on and win the championship will fully deserve it, as this season has seen some of the most competitive and thrilling championship games in a long time. I know county cricket splits many on this blog (two of the writers of the blog are very much pro, whereas the other would prefer to stick his head in a shark tank); however whatever your persuasion, the fact that 3 teams are still vying for the title and could win it in the last game is a refreshing change compared to the normal status of after “Lord Mayor’s show”. Although (and here comes a little whinge) it would have been nice for them to schedule the games a little later in the week, so that those of us with jobs might have had the chance to watch some of it, but as we know the fans will always come last in the ECB’s thinking. As a side note, it is interesting that Sky has eventually agreed to show the Middlesex vs. Yorkshire game after rightly taking a bit of a hammering around not giving two f**ks towards the county game. It was fairly amusing to see the blame storming on Twitter around who’s fault it was that the the most important game of the season wasn’t due to be shown live (can you imaging the outcry if that had happened with the football?), though my simple guess is that the management dolts from Sky and the ECB simply forgot that we even had a 4 day competition, after all, anything that isn’t City based T20 is mediocre in their eyes.

For those that do have an interest in the county decider and are lucky enough to be near a TV (or even better, watching it live at one of the grounds), then feel free to comment below.

 

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Dearth Of Press Men

The Fantastic Four
The Poll Winners Party

And there there was one.

I know many of you were coming on to this site yesterday looking to the reaction I might have about the news that Mike Selvey is not being retained past September of this year. Many of you no doubt thought I’d be delighted. That I’d be revelling in the so-called downfall of one of this blog’s most prominent targets. That I’d be chuffed to see the ending of his writing. That it would be revenge for what happened to KP, and the part people like me thought he played in it. I think some might even have wanted me to gloat.

You probably think I’m laughing my head off right now. You probably want to think that this is something I wanted to happen. Well, you would have been wrong, because the clue was in a post I wrote a few months ago when Bunkers was getting the push from the Independent.

One other point. I know I’ve been a critic of Stephen Brenkley, or Bunkers as he’s known on here. Mr Aplomb was one of those guilty men who drip fed us some crumbs of information but never really told us what went wrong on that Ashes tour. I will remember the salt in the tea analogy as a particular Bunkers piece. Today he took to Twitter to say that he’s written his last piece as The Independent’s Cricket Correspondent, and that’s sad. He also said he has two weeks more to go and he’d write for the I if they wanted him to. I’m not rejoicing. Brenkley’s loss to the media coverage of cricket should be a bloody beacon of woe for the game. I’m not sure who will be taking over at the I, but I’ll bet it won’t be a full time correspondent. Let’s see. It didn’t seem the departure of a retiring man, but one of a paper cutting costs. Maybe things will become clearer.

That it is a disaster for the game when prominent cricket writers are dispensed with on cost grounds. It is a sign the game is losing its audience. A commercial reality writ large, so large, that the ECB can’t keep ignoring it and hoping for the best, can they?

Because I’m not a fan of someone’s writing (and I’m not) does not mean I want to see them sacked. That would be churlish, unsympathetic and nasty, and believe it or not, I might have a part of the first in me (relentlessly so, perhaps), I’m not either of the latter. At least, I don’t think I am. Selvey was (well still is) an integral plank of the written media and the cricket writing genre cannot cope with huge positions being downsized and big personalities being dismissed. It is the canary in the goldmine for the game. As each year passes without a meaningful, well promoted, cross-platform access for the majority to the big events, so another year passes with less people engaged in cricket. When I was growing up cricket was an integral part of the fabric of the nation. Now it appears like an elite indulgence. While the cricket writers of today aspire to the levels of those of yesteryear, anyone without satellite access might as well read Harry Potter, for all the tangible evidence they get of this derring-do. When Ben Stokes played that innings in South Africa, the ECB should have begged, scraped, whatever the BBC to play full highlights of it on their website or Iplayer. When Stuart Broad skittled out the Aussies at Trent Bridge, the patchy wicket highlights were an improvement on nothing, but nothing compared to seeing it live. And you see, as each of those people who have drifted away from the game are further distanced, so the needs for relatively highly paid “experts” diminishes.

It can’t be hard to see, for the likes of Selvey, Pringle and Bunkers, that the sport isn’t what it used to be in the public conscience, and thus as the audience diminishes, so does the need for their salaries. It is brutal, it is hard to take, but we are dealing with commercial realities. The 200 or so who have offered their lachrymose comments on the County Blog are not going to be enough to pay Selvey’s wages. Because, by and large, most of us don’t buy the Guardian (nor the Indy, nor the Telegraph) and read the content for nothing. The alternative for the vast majority is not to pay for access, it is not to read them at all.  The Telegraph limit the content you can access free, so I limit myself to that number of articles (and get around it when needed). That is the pure reality of the space we live in now. The free internet news access is a disaster for most, but taken for granted by many.

Of course, I’m taking a leap of faith on the financial rewards of being a journo. I simply have no idea what they are. But I’m wagering given seniority, reverence and output that Selvey was pretty well recompensed compared to someone newer on the scene. Those tasked with making money, which newspapers need to, aren’t going to see his faithful few supporters as anything other than collateral damage. A few might not buy the paper again in disgust, or not access cricket content, but the opportunity to pontificate below the line is always an alluring one, in the same way blogging is for me. They’ll be back, by and large. Do you thing wctt, palfreyman et al are going to up sticks and go somewhere else?

On a personal level, losing a job is a terrible thing, and on that level I genuinely wish Selvey well going forward. If that makes me a hypocrite in some eyes, well so be it. I can’t help that. Those people that think that are probably the first to misrepresent what I say in any case, so f for Freddie them. On a writing level, I was never a fan and that pre-dates 2014. I’ve said it many times when we’ve run the worst journalist poll, that I have not lost any faith in Selvey because I never really had any in the first place. But I do see how those that used to love his writing felt very let down by the post-2014 fall out. KP has made his feelings known in a typically tone-deaf tweet today, and in many ways I think that these incidents with Cook, Flower, Clarke et al were the beginning of the end. He saw one of his peers, Pringle, alienate his audience so much with his misjudging of the mood that it was no surprise when he was given the push. Now, a bit further on, the fickle finger of the feckless newspaper industry is pointing at Selvey.

I don’t actually believe it was the furore that brought him down. The interaction below the line post-2014 has been aggressive because of the Tyers Twitter Tendency (see glossary) that Selvey was one of the prime examples of, but it drove hits. We didn’t see what we thought we should be seeing – a journalist acting as our representative, not as someone giving off the appearance of being an ECB stenographer (and he did in my eyes), but it got people going. There was a consistent groundswell from “our side” that was almost begging Selvey to be more open, but he closed the door, and his plaudits loved him for it. So while some of his output was, undoubtedly, of considerable quality, it kept coming down to the KP question. The damage of 2014 has been very widespread, as you know, because I’ve mentioned this schism constantly.

When 2014 was ongoing, the likes of Selvey and Newman, Pringle and Bunkers provided me with tons of material to fisk. While Selvey was waging his campaigns, his picking apart of Adil Rashid, his defence of the realm, his pet theories of wind directions for ODIs and where to pick hitting boundaries, there was always something to react to, to provide material for the blog, and comments for the supporters of us here. Like him or loathe him, he provided things to react to, in much the same way as Downton did. Our material is diminished by his departure. But that’s me being selfish.

I’ve never interacted with Selvey (that I know of) and nor him with me. Fine. I don’t live and breathe for journo’s attention, no matter what some of them think. I have been critical of him, of course I have. I don’t share some of the love for him, there’s no doubt about that. But he is a position lost to cricket on a national level, and that can’t be good, and on a personal level, I’m not cheering his dismissal. I’d be surprised if anyone thought I would be. It’s indicative of a sport downsizing. If you are happy with that, then I think you are wrong to be so. But I suspect that’s not a universally held view.

A New Hope

One of the elements of the notorious description used by the ECB (and PCA) which provided the name of this site was the implied attitude towards those who at amateur level played the game, or who watched, bought tickets or paid television subcriptions.  It was a perfect demonstration of their opinion of the plebians who merely provided all the revenue to allow those either within cricket administration, professional players or indeed journalists or broadcasters to earn a living.  It remains one of the most despicable statements ever used by a sporting body towards those upon whom a game relies, and that statement is still carried on the ECB website, and no apology or even acknowledgement of it has ever been made.

But on its own, in isolation, it could perhaps be seen as the botched missive of an idiocracy which most people could brush off and laugh at.  Except the trouble was that this attitude was pervasive, and not just within the ECB, it went through every level of the international game.  Indeed, the attitude of the ECB was carried forward into the highest echelons of the international game.  The film Death of a Gentleman outlined the perspective that supporters were merely there to be monetised in detail, and the ECB were not just complicit, they led the way alongside India and Australia in attempting to grab as much filthy lucre as possible.

The power grab by the Big Three (one suspects that rather than hear the dripping contempt of that phrase, some within will view it as a badge of honour) was largely about increasing power and increasing the revenues to those boards, entirely at the expense of everyone else.  The remaining Test nations would be worse off, the Associate nations might as well give up, and for a nation like Ireland, the possibility of Test cricket had receded into the distance and has little appeal to it even if they were to achieve it.

Dmitri yesterday wrote a piece about the anniversary of the removal of Kevin Pietersen as an international player.  Even back then, people were told to “move on” and naturally enough, those who always seem to back the ECB no matter what were quick to repeat it.  But as so often, they miss the point.  Pietersen is one tiny part of a wider jigsaw, and in the grand scheme of things, one of the least important.  But what that episode did demonstrate above all was the utter contempt for those who are Outside Cricket not just by word, but by deed.  That attitude, irrespective of whether one is a fan of Pietersen the player or not is precisely the reason the ECB, and Giles Clarke in particular, had no compunctions whatsoever in behaving the way they did, and the reason it was so important is that it highlighted the naked greed and lack of any interest in the consequences so demonstrative of that arrogance.  It was not just that they abrogated their duty of care for the game, they showed they didn’t care about the game at all, merely their own narrow self-interests.  The expression of lofty superiority by authority was echoed in similar ways across the globe, and while Pietersen had his own problems and was to at least some extent the architect of his own downfall, the lack of interest in the game itself reached the point where players were not turning out for their national teams, preferring instead to play the T20 leagues, and the captain of South Africa – South Africa no less – was openly debating giving up Test cricket. Different circumstances, entirely different situations, yet it was possible to draw a direct line between all of them on the basis of the lack of interest the governing bodies had for the integrity of the game.

The Big Three carve up had the consequence of drawing the vast majority of the game’s revenues to themselves, impoverishing the remainder of the Test playing nations and killing any prospect of the game expanding beyond its rather narrow boundaries.  Cricket became the first sport in history to deliberately reduce its footprint on the planet.  It went further, with Clarke’s flat rejection of the idea of T20 cricket being an Olympic Sport, mostly on the grounds that it wouldn’t make his board any money, whatever he said, while slashing the development funds to non-Test playing nations and turning even the Test playing nations outside India, Australia and England into nothing other than vassals.  The three countries took complete control of the ICC, ensuring that all ICC events were to be held solely in their own territories over the following ten years (though no one expected that to change at the conclusion of the agreed period) and challenging all the others to simply lump it or face being excluded from the kinds of tours that would allow them to survive as cricketing entities.

Some journalists objected, and objected vociferously.  In Australia Gideon Haigh was scathing as only he can be, in England Scyld Berry broke ranks from his colleagues to condemn it outright, while Wisden in the form of Lawrence Booth sounded the alarm for cricket as a game.  Since then Nick Hoult at the Telegraph has frequently written about the machinations both within the ECB and beyond.  Cricinfo too raised the matter, with Jarrod Kimber impressively furious and of course along with Sam Collins making Death of a Gentleman, while Tim Wigmore has repeatedly castigated the powers that be for their duplicity and selfishness concerning the wider world game.

From others.  Silence.  From the Guardian, nothing – really nothing.  At the time of writing, there is still nothing on the ICC meeting today.  From Mike Selvey, their chief cricket correspondent, absolutely nothing at any point on the whole topic.  This is no surprise, for Selvey is known to be close to Giles Clarke to the extent that a paper that has prided itself on investigating injustice has appeared to be an echo chamber – indeed a direct hotline – for the views of the ECB.  Selvey’s first response on TMS to the potential for major change in favour of the richest boards was to profess ignorance of the whole matter and regard it as unimportant and when Death of a Gentleman came out he refused to watch it.  As far as anyone knows he still hasn’t.  It is shameful that newspaper has ignored the matter, it is despicable that they have made no effort whatever to cover it, preferring instead to imply approval of Giles Clarke’s claim that no-one is interested in administration, apparently even when it fundamentally changes the nature of the game.  Colleagues such as David Conn may have views on that. For cricket lovers who have adored the Guardian’s previously excellent coverage, it is a dereliction of duty that they will find very hard to ever forgive.  That it requires blogs like this one to point this out, and to try, in our own small way, to back up the work of those excellent journalists in asking questions and making criticisms is unacceptable.

Unless there is some kind of statement to the contrary, the assumption must be this is deliberate policy, for it is rather hard to believe a journalist of the quality of Ali Martin is purposely ignoring the whole subject.

Today the ICC held a meeting which largely reversed the changes made a year ago, the status quo ante prevailing.  This can be viewed as progress of a sort, though Tim Wigmore wrote an excellent piece on Cricinfo pointing out the limitations of what has happened.  It is well worth reading:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci-icc/content/story/969029.html

Wigmore is completely correct, and points to Lord Woolf’s scathing assessment of the ICC at the time, to which we now more or less return.  And yet even this does provide some grounds for hope, and perhaps practicality dictates that in one board meeting the only possible immediate means of rolling back the changes was to re-instate the previous constitution.  The ICC under the jackboot of India, Australia and England would have in short order killed at the very least Test cricket as we knew it.  The West Indies, already in crisis through their own administrative ineptitude have reached the point where they are uncompetitive against almost anyone, their best players preferring instead to play the shortest form of the game as hired hands – and who can blame them?  The battering received in Australia was greeted with sadness in some quarters, and with outrage amongst those who have delved rather more deeply into the wider problems.  It was only going to get worse, the alarm bells were well and truly ringing when AB De Villiers made his statement about giving up Tests.  The clear revenue increase to the majority that applies now at least buys a little time.

The ICC statement from today is worth reading in full:

http://www.icc-cricket.com/news/2016/media-releases/92105/outcomes-from-icc-board-and-committee-meetings

It is a curious thing when an ICC statement provides some degree of cheer for the cricket fan.  The removal of N. Srinivasan back in November when the BCCI withdrew support and the subsequent installation of Shashank Manohar as ICC Chairman provided the first glimpse of the possibility that the theft of the world game by an avaricious few might just come under scrutiny by those with the power to change it.  The other Test playing nations, suddenly aware of their position as turkeys who had voted – or been forced to vote – for Christmas, had raised objections to their diminished status, but the constitution gave them virtually no prospect of changing anything.  It required the BCCI in particular to take the lead.  Manohar was swift to demonstrate things could change, saying upon his appointment:

“I don’t agree with the revenue-sharing formula, because it’s nice to say that India (BCCI) will get 22 per cent of the total revenue of the ICC, but you cannot make the poor poorer and the rich richer, only because you have the clout.  Secondly there is another angle to it which nobody has thought of. India generates money because the other countries come and play in India. If you do not have a fierce competition, the broadcasters are not going to pay you and the sponsors are not going to sponsor your events.”

He went on:

“I don’t agree with the three major countries bullying the ICC.  That’s my personal view, because as I have always said, an institution is bigger than individuals. You cannot guarantee which individual will occupy the top position in either of these countries. And, the ICC constitution, as it stands today, says that in all the major committees of the ICC, these three countries will be automatically there. So all the financial and commercial aspects and the executive committee will be controlled by the representatives of these three countries which according to me is wrong.

“You should have the best man, whether he comes from Zimbabwe, or West Indies, or even from an associate or affiliate to work on a committee, who will promote the interests of the ICC.”

Simple statements of truth, but it garnered attention because it was entirely at odds with everything that had gone before.  Premature it may be, but there is at least a hope that the new man at the top actually gives a shit about the game.  From today’s press release, one line stood out in particular:

“No Member of the ICC is bigger than the other”

Others have been quick to point out that as currently constituted, this is not true, for India in particular have the power that no one else does, and as the major driver of revenue in the game, that is certainly not inherently wrong by any means.  And yet the statement has been made, and while they are merely words, they are good words.  And this is where ideas begin.  At long last there is at the very least a statement of first principles that he and the ICC can be held to.  This is some small progress.

Another item was that the chairman of the ICC could not hold office with any of the boards.  This has direct consequences for Giles Clarke, as President of the ECB.  He has long aspired to be ICC Chairman, but to do so he will have to give up his role at the ECB.  And yet the indications are that despite previously appearing very likely to get it, the change in structure has crippled his prospects.  Australia and South Africa have already made it clear they won’t support him, Sri Lanka are reported to be reluctant.  Given Clarke’s unpopularity in much of the ECB, it would be an irony if the English were the only ones in favour, and it is tempting to wonder if they are even more in favour if it means ridding themselves of him at the same time.  Either way, there will be few in mourning for the dissolving dreams of a man associated with the carve up of the world game like few others.

Other elements from the press release include conducting a review of the T20 leagues and their impact on the world game.  T20 is a reality, and could – and should – be something extremely good for the game, as it raises the profile, popularity, and yes, the revenues of the sport.  That we are in a position where it constitutes a threat to Test cricket and international cricket more generally is not inevitable, and never was.  To review this is again progress, with the tantalising prospect of providing a context for Test cricket in particular, as the form of the game most under threat.

Is it an answer?  No.  Is it even the outline of the answer?  No.  But does it provide the smallest semblance of hope that international cricket, and Test cricket in particular, has a future?  Just the smallest.  It is a start.  If it goes no further, then the downward spiral, which has been paused today, will resume.  But nothing is inevitable, and with the right people at the helm, things can improve.  Today is a good day, the despair is slightly lessened, and maybe, just maybe, Mr Smith has gone to Washington.

 

2015 Dmitris #7 – Mike Selvey

Bilious Inadequates

Last year I put the whole of the UK media in to the Hall of Dmitri, so it leaves me open to start picking them off individually. So while Jim Holden’s article might have had a place all of its own, or Paul Newman might deserve true consideration for his commitment to anti-KP wordsmithing and excessive pro-Cook prose, or Stephen Brenkley could take his arslikhan to a new dimension, there is only one who can really walk through the hallowed portals this year. That man is Mike Selvey.

Often hard for journos to remember they are read by many many more people online than few bilious inadequates who dominate comment section. – Mike Selvey, 8 May 2015

During the KP business last year, Selvey was annoying because he seemed to have a firm feel on next steps in front of others, and when he didn’t, he’d been seen to bolster credentials of people who later got jobs. There was the “how Downton was an inspired appointment and he was a good and safe man on the tiller”. No-one remind him of that one, eh? Then there was how Andy Flower was the second coming, and that the 2013-14 Ashes debacle really could’t be pinned on him. How about his wailing against the dismissal of Graham Gooch, gnashing his teeth at players who had stopped listening to him as if that was all he needed to do – talk? But most of all it was the proposing, repeatedly, of Peter Moores as the obvious choice to replace Flower. He was unshakeable in his contention, firm in his belief. Not forgetting, of course, how he was good friends with our bowling coach in the face of evidence that our bowling was regressing alarmingly, maintaining support as you would for a friend (and that still rears its head – see “the enforcer” comments which, as our readers showed, came from Saker and weren’t a “media construct”).

So the judgement is sound, but what got worse is that as these contentions looked more and more ridiculous, Selvey got more and more hardline, and that has upset a lot of readers on here. It’s easy for me because I’ve never really liked him as a writer or broadcaster, but to see people on here who thought he was a top journo and a decent TMS man turn on him was revelatory. When it came to the crunch, after a debacle of an Ashes series, Selvey, writing for the putatively sceptical of authority Guardian, revelled in the role of the Company Man. A more loyal scribe to the powers that be you could not find.

This year he has grated on the commenters on this blog like no other. He has made his position abundantly clear. He has no time for the likes of us. Hence the bye-line on the blog. We are “bilious inadequates”, “vile ignoramuses” or “social media zealots”. I’m not asking for an invitation to the Cricket Writers Christmas Shindig, but what I am looking for is someone who is there to represent all shades of cricket supporter, not just those who think the sun shines out of the ECB’s backsides. Because if you are looking for critical dissemination of the running of England cricket, you’ll be seeing Selvey’s heels, but anyone upsetting the applecart will get it with both barrels. I’ll let others determine the motivation, because there is one major theory doing the rounds.

So this year he is our journalist emeritus idioticus for a number of reasons. Contempt is top of the list. Now I get people will not exactly invite their critics in for a cup of tea, but Selvey’s attitude is remarkably dismissive. I have looked at this post a lot (it was originally going to be the third Dmitri, but I wanted to be fair) and can understand being riled by nonsense. But I don’t think he’s tackled by stupid people.

There was this quote around the time of Moores’ dismissal:

Too many people here do not understand how journalism works. And too many look for conspiracy where there is none. And do you seriously think we would give up the sources of our stories? Get real, as Farage once said.

There’s that theme again. “You don’t know how journalism works” as if the securing of information is some sort of complex, unsolveable equation that only those with the special gift can solve. Your job entails watching cricket, analysing cricket, listening to anodyne press statements and indulge in gossip and intrigue to find out what is happening as background. How you do it and who your sources are is your stock-in-trade, and probably requires you to be slightly ruthless but also not backward in coming forward. But to me, the only special skill you need over the likes of us is the ability to develop contacts while not betraying them. So save that £5 for the first pint, journos. If they really mean keeping in with the ECB while maintaining enough of a link to provide stories, then that’s not a skill I’d be singing about.

But the last part of his dismissal above sums up how far up their own arses some have gone. “Do you think we would give up the sources” he wails. What the fuck is this? Nuclear secrets? Industrial espionage? It’s bloody gossip and it relates to the future of OUR England team, not some cosy cabal of journalistic purveyance to maintain THEIR relevance. For without the backstories, they become us with a paid ticket in a shady stand. No wonder they wail when people try to pin them down on who stabbed who in the back in OUR team…. without their “access” it’s Wizard of bleedin’ Oz time. They would be virtually irrelevant.

The piece could go into many things this year, but to me two items really summed up Selvey’s year of antagonism and they are:

The Attitude to the issues raised in Death of a Gentleman – Selvey made, it seemed, a virtue out of the fact that a cricket correspondent for a major national newspaper did not bother to watch a film which tried to expose the workings of international cricket (as he revealed on CWOTV). Now, whether he thinks Sam and Jarrod are a couple of chancers who love to indulge in conspiracy theories, the sort of which Selvey would never indulge in, is by the by. It’s the sort of story the Guardian should be lapping up. Potentially corrupt officials governing an international sport in naked short-term, corrosive self interest. To our shame our board is part of this disgrace. Our toffee-nosed, dismissive, disgraceful ex- ECB head, who manouevred himself into the role of our international representative has committed these acts in our name. An important, widely discussed in cricket circles film is out there, and he’d not even watched it? If that is acceptable to you, fine. I think it’s pretty shoddy. As I said above, there are reasons out there that seek to explain this nonsense. Let them stand until they are disproved. On the key topics he seems to have reasonably well developed views. He’s clear that the Olympics won’t work, instead of seeing the massive advantages of trying to do so – that seems remarkably similar to another key individual – and talks the way he does to anyone who disagrees.

Adil Rashid – I have not seen anything like it. Selvey has been waging a one man campaign against Adil’s selection the likes of which is unprecedented in my memory. That any number of 80 mph trundlers have been selected for overseas tours that were going to be played on flat decks with a Kookaburra ball passes with little comment, but a leggie with success in county cricket who bowls under 50 mph is beyond the pale? I may be being unfair, but really? If you’ve been told once that he bowls too slowly, then you’ve been told dozens of times. No-one here believes that Adil is the answer to our spinning woes, but we should at least give him a try. He can spin the ball, the wrong way for many English players, and he can also hold a bat (as he proved when nearly saving the Dubai test). But he was briefed against:

There is a view, though, one held within the England set-up, that Rashid bowls too slowly for Test cricket where the demands of batsmen are not to try to score at seven an over with fielders round the boundary.

and…

There are also doubts about how comfortable he would be in a Test environment.

Although I am struggling to find the smoking gun at present, I do believe he was also scathing about his injury at the time of the Lord’s test. But that one above is just odd. Who had those doubts? Why are they telling you? Why are you putting this out there?

Then there was the Abu Dhabi collapse by Pakistan which Selvey put down to him increasing his pace (not discernibly, according to my scribes here). It has been a bizarre campaign against a new player to the squad (relatively). I have no idea what this is about.

Selvey’s dismissive attitude towards his critics is, in some ways perfectly understandable. There’s been quite a few sightings recently of “he’s a good bloke, really” statements by people we speak to and read. They are aware how a group of people feel about him. The censoring of comments to his articles, the wonderful responses to tweets, all the received wisdom and sniffiness. Of course, he doesn’t care. Why should he? All I can say is that I read the Guardian a lot less now, due to him.

I have a huge amount of anger towards the press corps, yes for Pietersen, but also for what they did in 2014 to prop up a corrosive, rotten edifice because of reasons they’ve never quite explained, but no doubt will form a chapter in the elusive tome “How Cricket Journalism Works”. The anger is derived from that, it will take a long time to go away, if, indeed, it ever does. This year Selvey gets the nomination, aided by Pringle’s demotion to virtual irrelevance and Newman winding his neck in. The readers here are the reason why – as I said, I try not to read too much of what these people say now, but I’ve seen enough – because they feel let down.

No doubt this will be filed away as another attack. I think there are messages in there. But hey, they don’t really care. Why would they? We just want to be them, don’t we?

So Selvey wins the Dmitri. That is all.

 

Paraxylene

First of all, some house notices.

The Ashes Panel #006 is in the books, and I’ve just now sent the questions for the seventh panel to lucky recipients. You get a doozy of a Question 5. Do well with it.

On The Extra Bits, I concocted a little post on books. I’d be happy to hear what you think are good and bad ones, and perhaps make some recommendations for others. The Extra Bits is meant to be a bit gentler than here, so no wars, eh!

It’s been a great week on here, and I was pleased we got a decent response to the Ashes ODI thread yesterday. There will be one for tomorrow’s game as well.

Now, to the meat of this post, and it’s going to be a bit of a ramble, so do keep with me.

Item 1 – A Legendary Tweet.

Now my flabber was gasted. I mean, this is really just utterly superb. A puff piece? Selfey accuses someone of writing a puff piece?

This is like shooting fish in a barrel, even before we look at the hilarious mis-spelling of Paul Hayward’s name. I’m a bloke who often falls foul of the old auto-correct, so perhaps jumping on that was a tad harsh. Maybe I jumped on it because it included the words “puff piece” and “star” columnist.

I mean, puff piece..

In the process Cook, a genuinely good man and one of the greatest of all England Test batsmen, was subjected to a disproportionate amount of abuse, some of it carefully orchestrated and relentless, of a kind that, in my experience anyway, has never before been directed at any England cricketer.

Genuine puffery.

Against Sri Lanka the margin between winning and losing the series was as slender as could be: six inches more carry on the final delivery at Lord’s; and survival of two more deliveries at Headingley

A classic of its genre.

Without question, though, the other members have been sufficiently convinced that whatever else they may feel, the fact that India is “inside the tent pissing out”, as some like to term it, rather than the reverse, is actually something of a political coup.

Ah yes, the ICC stitch-up. Nothing to see here.

Then there was this non-puff piece…. https://dmitrihdwlia.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/morris-flower1.jpg

And this one…https://dmitrihdwlia.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/downton-selvey.jpg

Not enough puff for your pastry….

As a collective, the team had forgotten how to forge partnerships. There was a complete systematic breakdown of the batting unit. It may say more about them than Gooch, but it is said that many of the players – and shame on them for it, if true – simply stopped listening to the record. Maybe it was a generational thing: Gooch is 60.

Augmented by this tremendous Tweet:

Maybe it’s a puff piece when others do it, eh?

Then there’s Moores…

Read the post this comes from again. God, I was a much better blogger then – https://dmitrihdwlia.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/well-good-morning-judge-how-you-doing-today/

The fact is, that I’ve not even mentioned the Tweets about Saker, absolving him of all blame, and the countless times he’s backed Cook when he was under pressure for his place, no doubt believing he is vindicated. Calling for KP’s return, or considering it, is every bit as much puffery as the crap he wrote about Downton, or Flower, or Gooch. I laughed hugely at this nonsense.

BTW – want an old gold post, which I used in this research, then read this again. https://dmitrihdwlia.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/behind-the-hatred-there-lies-a-murderous-desire-for-love/

Which leads me on to Part Two

kp FO

I’ve not spoken a lot about Pietersen recently, but the tide of fury is rising. In the past two or so months, since Strauss came out with that pile of drivel about trust and what-not, I’ve seen a decided change in approach. The mere mention of Pietersen’s name is to bring in some sort of collective shock, or even worse, collective contempt. Mention him to one of the media behemoths so staunchly stood behind the aristocracy of the game, and it’s no better than “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”. Muppet did it the other day, the contemptuous prick that he is, as if our wishes and concerns are of no relevance to him.

Remember the arguments made by media folk, and those anti-KP’ers at the time…. “There’s no vacancy….who would you drop……this team needs to grow and develop”. As with most of the pathetic arguments about KP, that one has been shot out of the water. By dropping Ballance after a rickety start to the summer, and promoting Bell up to three, they created a vacancy, as many thought might happen. Now, as much as Bairstow deserves a place in the team, should KP not be eligible for consideration? Note, those of you who think this is all black and white and are quick to throw their nonsensical bollocks at me, I’m not saying KP should be an automatic choice, but 8181 test runs seems rather persuasive when looking for evidence. But you can’t just shut down the debate because you don’t like to hear it. Strauss cut off one of our options on “trust”. This may be that Cook doesn’t want him back, but neither Strauss nor Cook have the guts to tell us that, instead we heard it via Dean Wilson in the Mirror.

Pietersen, in the eyes of his critics can do no right. He has finished his T20 spell in St Lucia and this coincided with a test loss. I suppose that is his fault. He has an ego – news to you, pretty much all top level sportsmen do – and probably thinks he should be playing. Many of us share that contention. This argument isn’t going to die with any zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz tweets, or people telling the likes of me and Maxie to stop it, we’ve got no chance of him coming back. It, as always, spectacularly misses the point. It’s personal politics, and it’s potentially harming England. I think it was, and probably still is, especially driven by Giles Clarke (and potentially Cook and Flower, although who knows how influential he is now). And yes, KP’s book is not irrelevant, but these are grown adults and they should sort it out. It’s not too late.

What I won’t let go is a tweet like this. I won’t give the name, but I’ll copy what he tweeted to me a couple of days ago.

it was only a matter of time before the worst thing for English cricket was heralded as a saviour again

The worst thing for English cricket. That’s just unutterable bollocks and despite frequent points that you may question many things, but you can’t question what he gave to England by way of entertainment and match-winning innings (hey, the worst thing for English cricket saved us an Ashes series. What did the second worst thing do?). I don’t get it. I call Graham Gooch “the devil” but christ on a bike, I don’t demean his batting, his great innings, his determination because I don’t like him. Bloody hell. This was a man WHO TURNED HIS BACK ON ENGLAND FOR MONEY and he gets revered above by Selfey, while KP TURNED HIS BACK ON MONEY FOR ENGLAND and gets slagged off! Hell.

I also know of no-one who thinks KP is a saviour, which also appeared in that tweet. Another sweeping generalisation of the position perpetrated by numpties. My line is this – is he in our Best XI? Simple as. I’m sure Bell’s sour demeanour at present and stupefying lack of form is absolutely intrinsically vital for this team’s performance while someone who might just go out and give it a whack would be a dressing room cancer the likes of which we’ll never recover from.

I said it almost a year ago when that post went viral….

But on Day 5, this looked in jeopardy. One man held the line. While all the other top batsmen got out, one man rode an early piece of luck to then just take Australia to the cleaners. Aided and abetted by a spin bowler people derided, that one man kept the dream alive and then made us believe it was all over. Without that one man, Australia would have been chasing 200 or less to win the Ashes in 50-60 overs. You want to know what would have happened without that one man’s innings, you saw exactly what in Adelaide 18 months later.

So, all you “haters” out there, remember that. Remember it when you boo him. Remember it when you spit out YOUR bile (for that’s something I’ve been accused of) on the various sites. Remember it when you demean a great career. Remember it when you slag him off relentlessly as some sort of traitor despite the fact he was sacked, has been abused by the cricket authorities more than any other player I can remember, treated with disdain and contempt by a media in their back-pockets because maybe, just maybe, he didn’t like them. He is a bit arrogant? So what? He scored masses or runs, loads of hundreds, played injured (and was then slagged off if he took time off to cure or rest them). never gave less than his all (remember Headingley 2012, before textgate, when he opened the batting for the team in the second innings?) and yet still there’s this hatred. For what?

I get it. People don’t like him. People despise him. I happen to enjoy his batting and to me that matters. Until someone comes up with more than a half-arsed dossier, leaked like so much to do with KP was, and tells me how it was, then I will believe there’s a stitch up and that the main sufferers are those that want the best players playing for England. I understand the other view – about building a new team, under new players with a solid figure as coach – but I disagree with it. The bile, if you want to call it that, comes from the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, and the demeaning of his record and his contribution. The almost Orwellian erasing of his history, the Lynton Crosby-eque “dead cat” mention of his name among media types. The sheer fact that a score of 355 is dismissed casually by many.

By the man in Mumbai, the conductor at Colombo, the harrier at Headingley and the bringer of brilliance in Bridgetown in the World T20. Yeah. He’s been the worst all right.

(Before people say the individual meant going forward, he had plenty of opportunities to clarify that, but he never did.)

The worst thing for English cricket? Really?

After all, you can only get better from a 400 run smashing, can’t you?

Curious

I wrote this last night. I didn’t enjoy writing it and have had thoughts about whether to publish it. Quite a lot of the time I try to be humorous when having a pop at a journalist, but in this case, I couldn’t find the humour. Is it our fault?

So read on…..bilious inadequates.

There are advantages and disadvantages of being 3500 miles away when stories break. I’m a bit more removed from the sources of the stories than if in the UK, but also I’m not at work and I do find this sort of thing quite relaxing, believe it or not. But this Moores story is one of the oddest in an odd 16 months or so. Once again a major story is put out in advance of the agreements being signed or deeds being worked upon, and the ECB’s media strategy, whatever it is, has gone up in smoke. The new man in the role, name not known at present, hasn’t had a much better time than his predecessor.

This is not an ECB leak. We’ve been assured this by all and sundry, except, interestingly, Jonathan Agnew who appears to be jumping to the conclusion that we have. BOC has been informed that this was not an ECB leak, but will not be told who has spoken. Fair enough. But you could be forgiven for thinking “so what” if they did tell us. What difference would it make? Luke Sutton had been tweeting away yesterday about how bloody unfair it all was, and I’m wondering out loud about who might be the source, but I am only guessing. This isn’t right. It can’t be right. The ECB may be anal about leaks, but they seem pretty hopeless in stopping them.

Which brings me to dear old Mike. He’s been on form today. Let’s go through a couple of his golden greats. I like this one:

Too many people here do not understand how journalism works. And too many look for conspiracy where there is none. And do you seriously think we would give up the sources of our stories? Get real, as Farage once said.

This is getting out of hand. You ain’t the victim here, Michael, the paying cricketing public are. You get to sit around, write and watch games as a job. Many of us would love that role. You seem to think it better to sit behind your keyboard admonishing the great unwashed for being reasonably on form when it comes to the way the governing body has acted for the last 18 months. To say “too many people here do not understand how journalism works” is hilarious. You don’t have the faintest idea how social media and blogs work, as judged by your dismissive attitude to anyone disagreeing with you. I fundamentally disagree with a number of journalists, but have a decent online relationship with a few, because, to a degree, I get how journalism works. What I don’t get is how what you does works? When we see Moores shabbily treated like this, what are we supposed to do? Say “oh, well done ECB. Another bang up job done.” Even if the ECB did not leak, THEY ARE SACKING HIM AND THEREFORE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT INFORMATION. You made a decision and decided to tell certain people of that decision and no doubt stressed its confidential nature. If that person then went on to leak it, you’d have to question your judgement. Or am I being too harsh here?

Which brings me on to part two of Selvey’s beauty. “Too many look for conspiracy when there is none.” Nothing drives me, and I suspect those who comment on here in record numbers each month, more mad than this “I know what is going on but I’m not tellling you.” Then, to compound it, they make less than subtle digs at your sanity for thinking there might be more to things than meet the eye.

The ECB are firing a Head Coach, which while I’m not completely against the decision, is a shocking development and the way it has been “released” to the public, by what appears on the face of it to be a synchronised piece in three newspapers at 12 noon, screams out for someone to try to connect the dots! “Too many see a conspiracy” when clearly someone has coordinated this piece of information’s release (that’s how it looks). So we’ll question the timing, the synchronisation and the content. This isn’t the 19th century where we just take the view of our Lords and Masters. We try to investigate, try to get to the bottom of this and theorise. Because, at heart, we are inquisitive and want to know what is going on. To dismiss this as the work of “conspiracy theorists”, which is a dog whistle for “nutters” – a charge thrown at us regularly, and dismissed just as easily as the accusations of the morons throwing it – is insulting your readership. I’m so sorry about that Mr Selvey Sir (I tug my forelock).

In the third part, I don’t expect you to give up your sources, because I understand to a degree how journalism works. I’ve learned a lot talking to some journalists about it, funnily enough. I share as much as I can with my readership, because I don’t want to betray trusts. I’ve never been asked not to say something (I don’t think so) but recognise that balance needs to be struck. However, once my information is confirmed I let people know what I know. Don’t tell me to get real (because I believe this stuff is aimed at the likes of me and my readership). You get real. Work out why the people BTL have turned against you in large numbers in a way not seen anywhere else. Work out why Ali Martin, Nick Hoult, Lawrence Booth, Scyld Berry, Dean Wilson and even John Etheridge get better social media reactions than you. Because they don’t treat their readership like the shit on their shoes. Don’t go hiding behing a ridiculous article by Ed Smith (he’s so clever, just ask him) to prove that those who disagree with you are just a voluble minority (who can be ignored), when that minority are pretty adept at reading between the lines, and don’t like this secret squirrel bs. The secret, silent majority may pay their ticket prices and pipe down, but then who is to say that they aren’t thinking “this is a bit of a shambles, isn’t it?” You can’t keep assuming their silence means consent.

Peter Moores, although he’s not a favourite on here, has never ever had his commitment questioned. He’s tried his hardest, and although I think he should have gone after the World Cup, has tried to keep this team on the road. The “antis” should not ever question that. It was the ECB who gave him the hospital pass, it was the ECB who “bigged him up”, it was the ECB trumpeting every success, backed up by a largely compliant press who were always primed to provide six inches of mitigation if we just held on for a couple of balls more. Lots of us had doubts, ongoing doubts, but we were told to pipe down about them because we beat India in a test series. We may have had those doubts, but I’m not here to bury Moores. I’m here because I get angry when I see someone treated very, very badly by authority or whoever it was who leaked this. Moores is another one spat out by this machine. Excuse me if I theorise over what happened. You get real.

I see journalism. I see a victim. I’ll theorise.

Contrast this with Ali Martin’s reponse to wctt:

And you’d been complimentary about my work early on too. Ok, I have seen both your comments today and while they stung a wee bit, no one is more aware that my writing style is not a patch on some of my illustrious colleagues than myself. What I would say is that while they turn out the beautiful flowing prose, I work very hard to source cricket news stories and share it with the readership as soon as I can turn it around. Not every piece can be Cardus – it’s news, ultimately, and that is my brief. When it comes to great writers, the Guardian had an abundance.

I respect Ali’s work a lot. He gets “us” to a degree and if I’m not putting words into his mouth, doesn’t think a great way to carry on is to piss off his customer base. Which includes those who disagree and those who agree.

Unlike this.

Good night all. Bilious inadequates. Remember, those silent and who don’t comment on blogs or the newspapers think that too.

All You Can Cook – Selfey Service

Selvey Downton

Once again, let me set the scene by referring back to Alan Tyers most famous tweet around these here parts…

As we all know, the man we think this refers to most appropriately, even if Mr Tyers might not, is Mike “Selfey” Selvey. His attitude to the great unwashed over the past year has been reprehensible, and if he doesn’t feel loved back, well that’s his fault. He has written articles praising Flower and Gooch despite the disastrous Ashes series, and most memorably for me, telling us all how great Paul Downton would be as MD of the ECB. We all know how that has gone. I’ve not seen one word of contrition on his part for that load of old hogwash.

So if there’s benefit of the doubt going around on a comment or two, the inclination in this parish is not to give to Selfey, because he gives none to any critic. Or at least it appears this way. So when he writes something like this, we’ll grab probably the most obvious end of the stick:

There is a familiarity to it all. Since the back end of November, England have played 15 ODIs and the first seven of those were against Sri Lanka in that country. The result of that series – Sri Lanka winning it by five matches to two – is largely irrelevant when it comes to this match given the entirely different conditions it will be played in.

It is true to say that had Alastair Cook opted to take a break by missing it rather than using it as a team bonding session, he would almost certainly still be leading the squad here now. Such is fate.

Let me do a bullet point breakdown of all this. It needs a decent examination:

  • The tone – throughout this is laced with “I know the inside track and you don’t”. That is, we can’t possibly get to the full story because we are mug punters and they are journalists. The art of journalism is to act as our representatives in that room, not as some sort of privileged conveyor of the establishment’s screed. So results don’t matter, the English wanted a bonding session and Cook was/is possibly a case for special treatment. How else could we think? Because we don’t know….
Invaluable. To be protected at all times.
Invaluable. To be protected at all times.
  • History – Re-writing it is cool. If Cook, as Selvey supposes, chose to miss the Sri Lanka ODI tour, does anyone here seriously think he/the toxic brand would have got away with it? Do you actually think it was an option on the table? Even the toxic brand couldn’t pull that one on us. So, frankly, even raising this is bunkum. But it implies he knows something we don’t. I’m sure he does, but raising it in late February when selection for the ODI tour to Sri Lanka was in September, was it not?
  • Results are irrelevant – Clearly they weren’t. If Cook had struggled, but we’d won that series, then he’d still be in place. The fury would still be there, but losing the series 5-2 combined with the lack of form Cook showed meant he was dead. Results weren’t irrelevant.
  • The Sri Lanka tour as team bonding session – International cricket as a practice match, as something not to get up for, as something that it doesn’t matter how you play. To use the over-rated, and overused, quote by Steve Archibald, team spirit is “an illusion glimpsed in the aftermath of victory” and bonding in defeat rarely ends well. I don’t know, you don’t have to look too far back to see how that defeat thing helps team mates get on. The fact is that while some games are defintitely more important than others, and we are not ignorant of that fact, if these games were “largely irrelevant” then more shame on the England team for taking that approach. They were equally irrelevant to Sri Lanka, after all, because surely England don’t have the monopoly on not giving a shit, and they still roused themselves to stuff us. Fans cannot tolerate being told international sport doesn’t matter. Do you think an Aussie takes the field thinking that? They are the standard we are aiming for. New Zealand certainly didn’t think their preparation cricket was largely irrelevant. Maybe, by bonding session, the press thought they might get another Ian Bell as crap leader leak….
  • Oh, I’m sorry. I’ve ranted about a largely irrelevant when it comes to this game. Well, yes, it is. But you can’t tell me that the Sri Lanka series is treated as an irrelevance by the media. They tell you that by their team bonding nonsense. So no, I’m not giving them that out. After all, prior to that series, anyone remember the journalists weather forecasting abilities when citing how stupid this tour was?
  • The cult of Cook – opinion is divided as to whether Selfey, who has claimed for a while that Cook should pack in ODI cricket, meant with his line that if Cook had missed the tour it would be good or bad that he’d be here. Undertones of the good servant reek through this piece, and I’m inclined to believe that Selfey believes Cook perished through his own good intentions rather than any masterplan. Well, there was no masterplan. Cook was dropped because his presence was not tenable. He wasn’t making runs. He wasn’t scoring fluently. He looked miles off the pace. He was losing ODIs as captain. He was the story. If he’d missed this series and gone straight to the Tri-Series and cocked up there, the fury would have dwarfed the level it reached in Sri Lanka – and that was hot enough. The story of the whole tour would have been Cook, even if he hadn’t been there.

The comments section on the below thread have remarked on Fred’s comment. In case it gets modded, I have copied it here.

That’s it, I’m done. I’ve officially passed the point where I think the shallow and xenophobic cricket press in Australia is worse than English cricket writing. English journalists use longer sentences and more adjectives, but stripped of that it comes to the same thing. Bollocks. 
The above sentence is just breathtaking in its delusion. If only Cook hadn’t played, he’d still be selected now for the team? What a fool he was to walk on to the cricket field! There was no problem at all with Cook, just that he chose to play the wrong series, but of course did it for noble reasons. 
“Such is fate”: he could have been leading England to glory now if he hadn’t come unstuck in Sri Lanka?
He used it as a “team bonding session”? A seven match ODI series against Sri Lanka, the country that just beat them at home? A fucking bonding session? 
By way of comparison, every Australian who speaks about playing cricket for Australia has awe in his voice when he talks about playing for his country. Doesn’t matter who, where, when or what, it’s playing cricket at the highest level, for their country, and they all jump at the chance, and they want to win. They’re not there to bond. 
This sentence, and the editorial tone of Guardian cricket, indicates the malaise of English cricket.

Here’s another one not giving Selfey the benefit of any doubt. I don’t blame him. Not in the slightest.

On another paper our old favourite, the nomination for Cricket Journo of the year pocketed, has been having his say on Eoin Morgan not singing the national anthem:

The anthem issue is a contentious one because it throws up the whole dynamic of national identity, which is more complicated in cricket than most sports. Morgan is not the first nor the last international sportsman who has chosen not to sing (Darren Sammy was the only player to sing Rally Round the West Indies before the match against South Africa) but it has been noted in Morgan’s case because is a Dubliner now at the helm of the England side.

‘It’s pretty simple,’ said Morgan. ‘I have never sung the National Anthem whether I’ve been playing for Ireland or England. It doesn’t make me any less proud to be an English cricketer.

‘I am extremely proud to be in the position I’m in and privileged to be captain of a World Cup side. It’s a long story but it’s a personal thing.’

Morgan chose not to tell that long story which is a shame because it leaves him open to conjecture as to why he will not exercise his vocal cords.

It’s because he’s Irish, Paul. We’re not stupid. If we’re going to have a pop at people for not singing the anthem, then watch our football team. They don’t have a dual nationality issue to offer as a reason. Maybe we should focus on those born and raised on these shores for their “failure to show enough national pride”.

But the bottom line is that it is his choice and it is better surely to be true to yourself rather than, as some dual nationals in England’s recent history have, belted out the anthem for effect.

Or you could just have a go at Kevin Pietersen.

Finally, I couldn’t let go of the little nugget in George Dobell’s article on the proposed changes to English cricket.

Other suggested changes includes a rebranding of the ECB – the current brand is seen as toxic – as Cricket England & Wales.

Because this will change all of our views.

Mr Toxic Brand
Mr Toxic Brand

Unless Paul Downton and Giles Clarke are excommunicated then you could call it Late For Dinner and you aren’t going to fool any of us. It is an insult to all of us who pay such close attention to what is going on that you could actually imagine this being something that would calm us. How about doing your jobs properly, apologising for your stupidity and adopt a real new approach and we will be accommodating. Having a coronation for a Chief Exec, shunting the bete noire upstairs where he can dip his snout in the trough, and keeping the disaster that is Downton isn’t the way.