I listened. I read the rage. I felt your pain. I feel the anger stirring in my bones. Or somewhere else. Here we go. Reminder, this is for events in the last three months only. I intend repeating this at the end of June.
Before I start, these are not in a strict order, but the nearer the top, the more likely you are to have annoyed me.
The press people in here have annoyed me overly in the last three months. This is not a reflection of their overall perception when it comes to my always popular journalist list, which will appear soon.
Thinking also of doing one for the TV personalities too, just so Mark Nicholas can be the Paul Newman of that poll.
OK. Here we go.
1. Paul Downton. Absolutely no shock there. He had a shocker in 2014, and now 2015 has come up and bit him on the arse. The main problem I have is that if anyone in a high position in most all organisations in this country had been this bad, he’d be gone. The World Cup was his Christmas sales, and he’s the cricketing equivalent of shutting at weekends. He bigged us up as a team to be reckoned with, and when we weren’t, he hit the media cycle at full blast before the Bangladesh’s could exit the stadium! His message “not my fault”. Many claim him to be a nice man, a man who builds teams, a consensus builder. I suggest they look at the evidence so far. If he’s still around at the end of Quarter 2, Graves and Harrison are nothing but a false dawn.
2. Giles Clarke. We’ve heard barely a peep out of him. This is the one thing he has done right. If, as we suspect, he’s stopped the dismissals of Moores and Downton on his watch (this has been intimated – that the new duo didn’t even try because Clarke wouldn’t have it), he’s made his personal pride more important than the future of the game. He’s seen as the impediment. An unpopular leader over a revolting set of counties. Who were so pissed off they couldn’t even fire him, so shunted him to a sinecure in the ICC where he can rule world cricket with Srini’s hand up his [fill in the blank]. He won’t be gone in three months, he’ll be around for an age. His dead hand has still got control. We couldn’t finish him off. Because the establishment, of which Graves is a part, can’t do that. His first task was to rid us of this pariah, this embarrassment. Instead, we’ll have him lording over world cricket. God help us.
3. Peter Moores. The greatest coach of his generation put out that rubbish. Players play, we know that, but the whole set-up was wrong. We could all see it from a mile off. His nice man persona, his affability and cordial relations can’t disguise that this man looks fundamentally out of his depth. I don’t want to have a pop at him, he’s far too decent, but we are going backwards. The World Cup was a key objective and he blew it. He’s not getting the most out of his players in one of the fundamental formats of the game, whether we like it or not. Ignore that data stuff, it’s a smokescreen. You need a technician but you also need a motivator. Moores isn’t the latter. We can all see it. It’s painful. I’d gladly eat my words if we win the Ashes this year. Gladly. But I can’t let that campaign go.
4. Alastair Cook. I’m not quite as down on the comments he raised with the reporters in Abu Dhabi, but clearly he’s suffering from a real image problem right now. He’s associated with the dying embers of the Downton/Clarke axis of incompetence and it is too late to distance himself from it. So while many of you have interpreted his remarks with due rage, I want to temper that a little. He was treated badly by the powers that be last December, but it was their sheer incomptence in struggling to make the correct decision at almost the worst time possible that was bad. Bleating about it now, and then making the story about him not particularly wanting KP back (a number of sources quoted his rage at the prospect) has left a bad taste. It’s because if anyone in the England set up that needs to score runs in county cricket to have a place in that team it is “no test tons for nigh on two years” Cook.
5. John Etheridge. This one, I admit, is personal to me as none of you have mentioned him. However, he chose to pick a fight, albeit a little obliquely, with this blog and blogger, on the back of a harmless use of a picture in an old Wisden Cricket Monthly of Doug Ibbotson. Many of you may remember it as a storm in a teacup, and to a degree it was. But timing is everything. It was a combination of the message and the timing that was so bloody annoying, and the accusation of this blog being the product of guesswork (which I have never pretended it wasn’t – I have no access), when those being paid to write are not exactly covering themselves in glory in the post-Ashes era was the most galling thing. They backed the wrong horse, not us. We’ve seen little to prove us wrong. Our reading of some of the issues hasn’t been bad at all for guesswork. None of us said Downton showed aplomb and was impressive. None of us took copy from leaks from the ECB. After he had a pop, you did back. Then to say some were perhaps OTT in responding was the cherry on the trifle. While this won’t be reflected in another piece I will do soon (the ever popular top 10 reporters piece), I was disappointed by his approach. As I say, a personal one. Because Etheridge is one I have hope for. I don’t know why…
6. Dave Richardson. The only thing that could complete this guy’s quarter of a year would be to be appointed as a new press officer for the ECB. Paul Downton has competition for the most out of their depth face of a board/commission in cricket, and this is a world Srini and Clarke occupy (at least these two have seemed to learn to limit public utterances). This was a World Cup with precious few competitive games between the test nations, and illuminated by the characters and performances of some of the “lesser nations” as the ICC clearly thinks thet are. Ireland should have shut him up, but still he has to bow to the TV tune and maintain a 10 team World Cup is better. It’s not a simplistic issue, no matter how some paint it to be, but surely we should err on the side of expansion of the game over limiting the scope? He’s been atrocious, come across as out of touch and arrogant, and been the target for lots of rage. Come join the ECB, Dave.
7. Simon Hughes. I’m worried. Still a few left and room for Newman is running out. Why Hughes? Well he’s the editor at large of The Cricketer and he’s using it to full effect. I blame editors for cartoons like the one disparaging Pietersen. I blame editors for letting pieces like Pringle’s through citing propaganda from KP’s side as if it was all one way. I blame editors for setting the tone. Then, on top of that, whether it be personal animosity towards Pietersen or loyalty to former team-mate Downton, or a mixture of both, he throws his “analyst” tag out of the window and abandons any pretence at logic. He endorsed that piece from Holden a few weeks ago and floundered when challenged. He’s made a strong play to get into the journos top 10 – he’s a dead cert, and may well get a very high new entry placing – because he combines his personal animosity with an implied “don’t you know who I am” persona. The very personification of what we know as the “Tyers Tweet Tendency”.
8. Mike Selvey. At the risk of alienating some of my readers, who I believe are developing what I would call “a bit of a thing” about Selvey, he’s not really incurred my wrath to your levels. As I said, I think some of that is due to people having a high opinion of him and feeling let down. I never started there. I know your writers are a matter of taste, but his really really awful stuff was last year. He is, though, protected like there is no tomorrow on The Guardian BTL, and treats critics with an aloofness and contempt that if he just TRIED to engage he’d find there’s a kinder, calmer voice out there. He seems unable to pick his spots, his words anger, his approach seemingly of a different age. But he’s not Simon Hughes this quarter, although, I’ll grant you, he’s worthy of a place here. Is Ali a threat – he’s started very well at the Guardian – because Selvey seems to annoy more than enjoy these days.
9. David Saker. His one and only appearance in a dirty dozen, we hope. All we can say is that if you are judged by current performance, the way the bowling fell off a cliff in the last couple of years, with our best prospect regressing alarmingly before our eyes, then Saker should have been booted out a while back. Instead it was the same old same old. Lightning rod for criticism, protected by number 8 in print, and then leaving with no regrets from many outside cricket. His stock, so high after 2010/11 has now become a laughing one. As we bowled bouncer after bouncer in a World Cup, getting carted about, the coach was not for turning. Both he and Moores went on and on about “plans” and when they failed they “weren’t executed properly”. No. He’s gone. Thankfully.
10. Jim Holden’s one article of note. You know when there’s an internet meme going about when an article on the Diana and the Weather rag, the UKIP love-in Express catches attention. Jim Holden was always someone I liked to read, and although I didn’t agree for a lot of the time, it was good stuff. The article in praise of Cook and slagging off Pietersen was just gobsmackingly rubbish. D’Arthez tore it apart. I tore my hair out, and there’s not a lot of that. It’s bad because it completely ignores Cook’s last two years in the job, with batting form going out the window, and then turning on Pietersen as if his points were new. When he brought Piers Morgan into it, then he’d lost the plot. When the people who backed your article were Hughes and Newman, and when the people who would approve of it were Downton, Whitaker and Clarke, you may be batting on the wrong team, Jim. Terrible stuff.
11. James Brayshaw. Man it was a toss-up between him and Dominic Cork. The latter is turning into the Robbie Savage of cricket, slagging KP off for many crimes that could have been levelled at him (“show pony”). But I’m always an avid viewer of Australian test and ODI cricket in the winter months, and Brayshaw is just off the charts atrocious. I mean so lost in the ether, they’d make seven series about him and tell us it’s all a dream. I expect a little bias to the home team, but this is partisan cheering. Geoff Lemon tore the Channel 9 team apart. In his piece he said “James Brayshaw has the emotional depth of a sock puppet during a button shortage.” I gave that a standing ovation. We were spared him during the World Cup, thank God, but his grating man-love, his fawning attitude scarred me. I know, it’s pointless hating him, but then I can mention Brad McNamara….
12. This is difficult. All of the following are going to be left out. Paul Newman. Derek Pringle. Andy Flower. Stephen Brenkley. Nick Knight. Mark Nicholas. Australia. Shane Watson in particular (gobbing off at a Scotland bowler – big man). Srini. Colin Graves. Tom Middleton or whatever his name is. Kevin Pietersen, Piers Morgan and those BTL stalwarts we all know and love. But number 12 has to be James Whitaker. For that interview with Pat Murphy. Like any man completely out of his depth he keeps his public utterances to a minimum. His first as chairman was memorable for the phone going off and wilting under the pressure of Tim Abraham. His last was memorable for keep mentioning plans that someone wasn’t part of, and the justification more or less being Gary Ballance. I like Ballance a lot, but after you’ve parachuted him into the ODI team with no return whatsoever, I’d have kept that quiet. David Graveney had no caps and if I recall, was a leader behind an apartheid rebel tour. We didn’t feel the need to get angry at him for lack of experience. Whitaker has something else. That knowledge he isn’t good enough. That he cannot cut the mustard. That he cannot represent a policy so stupid, so immensely dense, so beyond understanding that any attempt comes off as imbecilic and easily picked apart. He’s my last in the dirty dozen.
Thanks for all the help in putting this together. Hope you enjoyed it, and although you won’t agree with my views, the prompting helped no end….