Liquefied Natural Gas

By way of entertainment, I’ve been reading some of our old favourite’s work so you don’t have to.

Who might that be, you ask?

Fox Sports Australia regrets latest appointment
Fox Sports Australia regrets latest appointment

Yes, our old man who used to be at the Telegraph, a man who topped our polls for worst journalist on a regular basis, and yes, who deemed us poor saps who write using blog names as “irrelevances” has got himself an Ashes gig with Fox Sports Australia. In return for some coinage to recompense him for his views and insight, Oman’s cricket consultant (what, you didn’t know) has regaled those Down Under with some tremendous insight.

Here’s something from a piece just after Cardiff…

If England were not quite wetting themselves at the prospect of facing Mitchell Johnson and all the other Mitchells currently operating with menace, they were pretty apprehensive about it. But a Cardiff pitch shorn of pace, especially in the middle where the main Mitchell is most effective, brought about a double play after England’s victory – simultaneously raising the home side’s spirits while depressing Australia’s, a situation obvious to anyone who watched the past few days’ play.

Suddenly Alastair Cook and his men know there is little to fear, providing climate change doesn’t accelerate like Lewis Hamilton and turn the pitches rock hard overnight. Facing fast bowlers without fear gnawing at you is bolstering in a way that is hard to explain to those who have never been pinned to the crease by 90mph thunderbolts aimed at your throat.

I love hindsight. Yes, I was going on about distress signals, but also, this is a tough bunch of professionals now, not some flaky old players with no recent success behind them and I recognised that. I suppose the Aussie audience want some good old fashioned Pommie jingoism, Muppet…

Tours can unravel at an alarming speed when they start as badly as this one has done for Australia. Teams can play poorly, that is the nature of sport, but it cannot help that Clarke, with his chronic back problems, and several other senior players are on their last Ashes tour.

This is it now. All first test malaises are to be measured about a tour that unravelled spectacularly with our lot. You note that Australia lost the first two over here last time and definitely had the better of the third and to a lesser degree the fifth tests because they did not collapse. It does not follow that Australia will act like England did 18 months ago. However, in lazy journo mode, this is the only precedent, it seems, worth considering.

As a captain heading for the exit and no doubt worn down by the prospect of being the first Australian to lose four Ashes series in England, any further setbacks could see him move on mentally to the next phase of his career.

I don’t know. That doesn’t sound like Michael Clarke to me. What say you?

Maybe Shane Warne’s claim that Starc is ‘soft’ will pique him into declaring himself fit.

Oh yeah. That would do it. Wouldn’t be a muppet piece without some snark.

England, hugely buoyed by their swaggering victory, will also take heed of the recent past. They went one-nil up against New Zealand earlier this summer only to be hauled back to parity in the second Test. Yet that was before Trevor Bayliss had settled onto his perch on the dressing-room balcony, an Aussie hawk to lend talons to Cook’s English dove.

Finally, Cardiff, despite being an opening Test, felt like a watershed moment. During the Ashes series six years ago, Cook’s predecessor Andrew Strauss announced that Australia had lost their aura, and was proved right. Expect Cook to advance that claim again.

I do miss him at the Telegraph. It felt like a watershed, there’s a hawk for poor ickle Ally’s little precious dove (the deer shooting callous bastard). Beautiful. Brings a tear to my eye.

But there’s a lot more. There’s a podcast that I’m sorry, you can’t pay me enough to listen to. My eyes are sore enough as it is without feeling the need to stick nails in them listening to this man’s wit and wisdom. So I’ll read some more…

OUCH, that hurt.

Mitchell Johnson may not have bruised many England bodies at Lord’s, but his fast aggressive bowling broke their resolve.

Three wickets did not do his savage brilliance justice, but Australia will tell you it is a team game and the other bowlers certainly benefited from his efforts as England’s second innings disintegrated in a measly 37 overs.

You changed fast, Muppet.

Less edifying is the sight of craven capitulation, something England were guilty of and something their selectors have a fortnight to come to terms with.

Getting bowled out in the fewest overs ever in the fourth innings in a Test at Lord’s has created an unholy mess and James Whitaker and his panel must now figure out how, and who, they need to cope with Mitch and the other Mitchells.

It will not be simple.

Three of England’s top four are ailing badly though there are hardly a plethora of worthy candidates bashing down the door.

Less a watershed, more a boggy swamp. One week eh? Needed rock hard pitches, eh? No-one seemed to consider the Aussies came into the first test a little undercooked, did they?

Now, there are hardly a plethrora of worthy candidates bashing down the door. That’s partly because the ECB locked one in the cellar and chucked away the key, the duplicitous lying bastards. There is no way this Muppet will mention his name. Here comes the insight:

Jonny Bairstow reached a hundred for Yorkshire the exact moment Jos Buttler edged Johnson to Peter Nevill and has been in purple form all summer.

But it wasn’t long ago he was discounted for Test cricket because of a problem against the short ball.

The Romans may not have minded one-sided contests in the colosseum, but unless Bairstow has overcome his apprehension against the bouncer it would be cruel to pitch him against Johnson in this mood.

There will be advocates for batsmen like Alex Hales and James Taylor, but neither has done well for Nottinghamshire in red ball cricket this season.

James Vince, from Hampshire, has been on the fringes of England selection and can pull well, but like most young players he is the spawn of T20.

“The spawn of T20” being spat out like it’s vile. David Warner is the spawn of T20. One could argue Virat Kohli is. Our wicket-keeper made his name in T20. Why the bile, Degsy?

I thought I’d also highlight this magnificent piece of muppetry that I want to stick on a plinth and polish every day:

In another era Ben Stokes would have been dropped for sheer stupidity after he was run out by Johnson, a dismissal that would not have occurred had he the whit to ground his bat.

Stokes is a huge talent but will never fully realise it while he refuses to engage his grey matter in the sporting process.

There it is. Right there. What is wrong with English cricket. People who write this absolute fuckwittery retain paid positions.

Australia now have all their batsmen, Clarke perhaps the exception though he did make an unbeaten 32 setting the target, and all their main bowlers, confident and firing.

Suddenly, the woes of the world are England’s — a feeling Cook and some of his players know only too well when it comes to Ashes cricket.

A week is a long time in cricket. So it is in cricket writing.

Do you want more?

How about this from Day 2 of the 1st Test:

It looked like hopeful thinking until Smith, who came into the series with some serious plaudits about being the best batsman in world cricket, got in a horrible tangle and poked the ball to Alastair Cook at short mid-wicket, instantly transporting England’s captain into the realms of tactical genius.

Yes. Good captaincy, good field position, snark at Smith, job done. Smoke blown up Cooky’s backside. Lovely.

Next – how about Derek’s marks out of 10…

I think some of this is accurate, but some of the digs…well….

At the moment he looks jittery at the crease and is not watching the ball, a problem Mark Ramprakash, England’s batting coach, also suffered from when uptight, which was most of the time.

No personal vendetta there given who he replaced, Muppet?

But 128 runs in his last 12 Test innings suggests chances aplenty and the selectors should move on.

Remember, there are no replacements. So drop him (Bell).

He has tired quickly during series before and it may be that back-to-back Tests hit him hard.

Someone check that out with Root. Thought it was technical issues and opening/ number 3 in previous series v Australia, but swear he got a big hundred in the 5th test at The Oval last year, didn’t he? Where’s this nonsense come from?

Three ratings for Stokes, a supremely gifted cricketer though one you would not necessarily want in your pub quiz team.

Being in your pub quiz team = a requirement for great test teams. You snob.

Trouble is idiotic tendencies do overcome him, like his naive run-out in the second innings where he failed to ground his bat despite being well in.

His dismissal did not make a difference to the result but its carefree nature was suggestive of a team who does not give a fig about losing and England supporters won’t tolerate that.

You see, the one thing I think about Ben Stokes is that he doesn’t give a toss. All that anger and rage in him, shows up his lack of giving a toss. What the effing hell is this muppet on about? He made a mistake running between the wickets. Jesus. It’s hardly a death penalty offence. But no, he’s a bit rough round the edges, a bit angry, a bit not my type, so the lectures rain down on him. Stokes had better watch out, because they need a new KP, and he’s prime candidate.

Blue-eyed boy, literally and metaphorically. Or at least he was until his star began to wane to the point where he has made just two significant Test scores (fifty plus) in his last 11 innings.

More famous in the last Test when he walked, Adam Gilchrist-style after nicking off to Nathan Lyon, but wicketkeepers have always been strange beasts. His ‘keeping has been decent enough but he needs to deliver a telling knock soon.

This is drivel. Pure drivel.

Another with two ratings but another cricketing schizophrenic. He carried the home side’s attack manfully on an unresponsive pitch (at least for England’s bowlers) yet he appears to have excused himself from getting stuck in with the bat.

His shot-a-ball insouciance, when England could have done with some hard grind, was inexcusable except in the second innings when the end was nigh. A classy Test bowler but a vaudeville act with the bat.

He’s resorting to madness now.

Wonderful stuff. As I say, I miss him. Like a dog misses fleas. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The more you read of this, the more gems. Some more from other articles…

The other predictable outcome was that Ian Bell is too good a player not to make a major contribution, eventually, having been in deep torpor since last summer.

I’d love thepoetseye to do a job on that shite.

Then there’s talent spotting:

Smith came into the series being lauded by his countrymen as the greatest batsman currently in world cricket. He made 33 in each innings but to this observer he looks too fidgety to be worthy of such a grand claim. His dismissal yesterday, to a ball many would have done well to reach, does not suggest the inner calm possessed by the true gods of batting.

Most of us got over those reservations a few years ago. Here’s what Smith is….. a quick learner. Also, it’s not just the Aussies claiming that title, the ICC rankings seem to concur. Maybe we should have the Muppet Rankings instead.

A few days later…

Smith, who brought his hundred up with a pull for four off James Anderson, played the more fluent innings, if anyone that fidgets as much as he does at the crease can be so described. His shuffle across the stumps is one of the more expansive trigger movements in the game but despite his head moving as the ball is on its way he meets it with the middle of the bat so often that England’s bowlers started to wear that put upon look and pose the rhetorical question of whether this was really a home Test?

Still on about the fidgeting…. how does he do it, you can see him asking himself.

Quite what Cook could, other than rotate his bowlers and hope for a mistake from the batsmen, was not obvious. He needed to dry up the runs and build pressure but none of his bowlers was able to achieve that.

Genius. “Ah, eff it” captaincy.

The last time England took only one wicket in an Ashes Test was Headingley in 1993. On that occasion Australia went from 307 for three to 613 for four. After the match, which England lost, Graham Gooch resigned the captaincy something Cook will not be doing should the same fate befall his team this time.

Not really sure what the point of this was other to mention two England captains from his county.


England v New Zealand: 4th ODI review

At least in the one day series we get the decider that all that has gone before merits.  And given how this sequence of games has gone, who knows what will happen.

England will of course be praised heavily for an astonishing run chase, exceeded in terms of runs only four times in history.  But it was more than that, it was that England plainly could have chased down another 50, 75, or even 100.  They were that in control they had 7 overs and 7 wickets still in hand.

It’s not so long ago that New Zealand setting 350 to win would have made the second half of the game academic, and by not too long ago, we can say about 10 days.   The turnaround has been astounding; not the turnaround in results, it is 2-2 after all, but in attitude and approach.

Amid the delight at seeing England play like this, it cannot be overlooked how much of an indictment this been of various previous managements of the England team.  Peter Moores will certainly be shifting uncomfortably at what he’s seeing (in truth, given that he’s that kind of man, he’ll probably be absolutely delighted because it’s England), but it isn’t and shouldn’t all be laid on his shoulders.  One day cricket has been like this for a number of years, and at no point until this series have England even attempted to play this way.  A whole bunch of them should be looking at themselves in the mirror.  And not just coaches either, the people above them, the selectors, some of the players, all of them carry the responsibility for the wasted years of trying to get just enough and hoping it will do.

Alastair Cook led that side, and led it in a way incompatible with how the game is now played.  It is completely inconceivable that England would be playing in this style under him.  Throughout the build up to the World Cup, those who pointed this out on a regular basis were dismissed as know-nothings, bilious inadequates, fools and knaves – even anti-England.  But they were right.  They were absolutely, incontrovertibly right.  An acknowledgement from the self-appointed great and good of that reality wouldn’t go amiss, and nor would a realisation that maybe, just maybe that even if you don’t agree with them, they have an opinion which has value.

I’m not going to hold my breath it’ll ever happen.

By way of contrast, some credit has to be given to those selectors who insisted on retaining Eoin Morgan, when he was in a dreadful run of form, and many were calling for his head.  They backed him, and to the surprise of many, re-appointed him as one day captain.  You see, when credit is due, it is given.  Another thing for them to learn.

In amongst the pleasure at seeing England play like this, there cannot but be a feeling of anger at the missed opportunity the World Cup represented.  These players are by and large the ones that were called for, to give England a chance of competing.  They haven’t suddenly become a great side, and there will still be ups and downs ahead.  The point is that allowing the team to have a chance was the thing.  They didn’t give England a prayer.  And that is not acceptable on any level.

During the World Cup, some people went as far as hoping England would lose.  Some people?  By the end I suspect it was a lot of people.  They didn’t do so because they liked seeing England get hammered, they did so out of despair that anyone would actually get out of their stubborn, ignorant, antiquated mindset and pay attention to what was going on in the world game.  This change is precisely because the World Cup was such a shambles, that it shocked even the ECB out of their complacency.

It remains to be seen whether Morgan’s clear desire that England continue to play without fear survives the inclination to conservatism that remains.  Today England set about the target with furious, but controlled aggression.  It’s only a few days since England were bowled out for 302 batting first and the conservative sirens were telling them that if only they’d been more restrained, they’d have got 340.  Their attitudes are obselete.

In defeat, New Zealand once again showed themselves to be a class act.  When Morgan was dismissed they were quick to congratulate him, likewise Root at the end of the game.  Perhaps the most thoughtful, kindest and most considerate action was at the conclusion of the match.  It was Steve Davis’ final game as an international umpire, and to remember that and invite him to lead the New Zealand team off the pitch said a lot about how they play the game.

England were magnificent today.  I can’t remember the last time I wrote that.  Long may they give themselves the chance to be magnificent – even if they sometimes fall short.


Publish and be damned

As has been said before, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about – and that’s not being talked about.  It is of course hardly surprising that Dmitri’s posts didn’t meet with approval, yet the particular nature of said disapproval cannot be ignored.  The content was dismissed without qualification, and without reference to what it said.

John Etheridge then supported his friend:

And further saying:

There are a whole number of issues surrounding this.  The first thing to say is that I have nothing but respect for someone defending their friend.  Irrespective of perceived rights and wrongs, it’s the EM Forster principle, and I wholeheartedly approve.

If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.

But there are wider issues here.  Firstly Derek Pringle’s dismissal of the whole piece on the grounds that Dmitri writes under a nom de plume is precisely the kind of playing the man and not the ball that he receives so much criticism for.  Derek Pringle is not unpopular as a person, because as John says, he might be a decent bloke – Mr Etheridge himself is popular amongst his colleagues.  But his writing is, and the criticism that is directed towards it is based on that.  Whether it was his endless, tiresome and extremely personal anti-Pietersen ranting which was exceptionally personal, not based on cricketing merit, or his prediction of England winning 11 out of 17 Tests, his record as a cricket journalist invites the criticism it has received.

And let’s directly address the point about using a pseudonym.  My real name is accessible on here because I work for myself, and thus everything I write I am happy to have attributed to me.  It’s nice and easy because ultimately I’m only responsible to myself, and can do that.  Dmitri cannot because of his work, he is not a journalist and does this for fun, and for free.  He is not anonymous in his employment in just the same way as a journalist is not anonymous in his or hers.  To try and make the comparison when journalists are paid to be known in public for their work is ludicrous.   Their identity is their currency – being anonymous would make their job interviews somewhat problematic.  It’s after all why they are on things like Twitter in the first place, to promote their own work.  And that’s fine.

Nor was it a complaint about journalists having their expenses paid to travel, and seizing on that is a straw man. The issue at hand is the dismissal of the blog as being anonymous and therefore something to ignore – which is not what Mr Etheridge himself said, it must be pointed out.  John Etheridge whether one agrees with him or not has never tried to make that argument and didn’t here either. It’s an argument that is constantly made, whether it is below the line comments or Twitter comments, and avoids the question constantly.  People who take the trouble to write comments in the newspapers or in places like this tend to be cricket tragics, who care enough about the game to want their voice heard.  Those people aren’t paid to do so, they pay to do so, indeed while the question of how comments reflect a wider view is up for debate, newspapers allow it because it directly benefits their bottom line.  These commenters are working for the newspaper, unpaid.  They also buy Sky subscriptions, they buy tickets, and many of them travel abroad following the England team, spending thousands of pounds in the process.  The very idea that such people can be dismissed and ignored as a lesser voice is insulting on the one hand, and downright stupid on the other.  Journalists are not inherently a superior voice to be listened to ahead of those who support, and it’s nothing but arrogance for any of them to believe so.

That doesn’t mean that such criticism is always deserved.  In my own case, I was exceptionally critical of Nick Hoult a few years back, believing his articles to be nothing but rehashes of Derek Pringle’s.  For whatever reason, a flowering of his output, the additional responsibility of becoming the main cricket correspondent, or the development of his own sources, his writing in recent times has been excellent.  When the facts change, my opinion changes with it.  Quite simply, I was wrong about him and for what it’s worth he gets my apology.  The only purpose in so mentioning that is to counter a suggestion that this place is nothing but an attack on cricket journalists, because it isn’t at all.  Good ones get lots of praise.  At the Guardian Ali Martin has been a revelation, and demonstrated the wisdom of that paper giving him the break which he is now repaying in spades.

In my own line of business, I do indeed have travel expenses.  The difference is that I am not contemptuous towards those others on the aircraft on holiday, because they have paid for it themselves, and they, ultimately, pay my wages.  Without them I don’t have a living.  What Derek Pringle did by dismissing the post as being written by a “nom de blog” was to consider someone who ultimately paid his wages as irrelevant, not for what he said, but because of who he is or isn’t.  And make no mistake, cricket supporters do in  the end pay the salaries of cricket journalists, because if they don’t go and don’t watch, then the press won’t publish articles on it, and they won’t have a job.  How many tiddlywinks correspondents are there?

Now that doesn’t mean that any journalist has to agree with what is said by any one of us, but the piece in question detailed Dmitri following England around on tour, with the thousands of pounds spent accordingly.  Pringle might not like what was being written, but an unwarranted attitude of superiority displays a complete lack of awareness and rather inflated sense of self. The same applies to the criticism about the Barmy Army.  They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who actually paid for their tickets and dislike it have the right to object.  Those who are paid to be there do not, when those in the pleb seats have spent thousands of pounds of their own money to be there. The criticism that has been directed at him has been on the basis of what he has written, not who he is – a standard he has singularly failed to apply in his own articles on far too many occasions.  There is more than enough there to be criticised after all, and that has been repeatedly detailed on here and elsewhere.  He can defend himself based on that if he wishes, but the point is he doesn’t.  He doesn’t have to of course, it’s up to him.  But he can’t then complain when people respond on the basis of his writing.

What a good journalist will do is to hold those in power to account, without fear or favour.  It’s precisely this that Derek Pringle gets criticised for, given his output has been nothing but attacks on one player, without ever asking the questions that needed to be asked.   It is possible to be critical of more than one side of the issue; a complete failure to do that is what marks out the propagandist.  The conduct of the ECB has been shambolic for the last two years, yet rather than offer up even the slightest criticism of that, instead it’s been nothing but praise on each occasion.  The style of cricket the ODI team have played in the last two matches should be an indictment of the manner the team was run for many years – yet few have joined the dots and recognised that their own support of the incumbents throughout that time might not have been correct.  The simple reality is that the nasty Dmitri has been a lot more correct in what he has said than most of the mainstream cricket journalists.  I’m sure that does grate, but it remains true.  Has he been right on everything?  Of course not.  But consistently questioning, observing and refusing to be blinded by bullshit is all a person can ask.  It is to the shame of a number that Dmitri’s posts on here have been of a higher critical standard than  many in the cricket press.

The press journalists have a job to do, the problem is that many of them simply haven’t done it.  The ongoing FIFA debacle was partly prompted by a journalist doing his job exceptionally well.  Andrew Jennings spoke about the behaviour of the press corps, and much of what he said was as damning an indictment of the cricket press as it was the football one.  No one is suggesting the ECB are remotely in the same category, but it doesn’t mean they are above reproach or above being questioned.  The failure to do so has been the biggest failing over the last twenty-seven months.  One of the worst parts is the use of Kevin Pietersen as a straw man in this; you don’t have to like him, you don’t even have to disagree with his exclusion.  But what you must do, if you are a journalist, is question everything.  Now, when it comes to this, the response is so often that they have tried and not received answers.  I rather suspect their political correspondent colleagues would find that amusing as a justification – can you imagine any of them faithfully reporting the government line just because the No. 10 spokesman didn’t answer?

“When I looked into the IOC, I discovered the president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, who was universally sucked up to by the sports press, was a Franco fascist. He thought the wrong side won World War II.”

Giles Clarke might not be a Franco fascist, but anyone in such a position who says that “Alastair Cook and his family are very much the sort of people we want the England captain and his family to be” should not remotely receive the deferential treatment he often does.  If that were an isolated example, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  It isn’t though.  Repeated statements of lofty arrogance fail to be challenged, to the point where the new “Director, Cricket” can say to a cricket correspondent “I don’t need to spell [the issues] out for you Aggers” and not be asked to spell them out for those listening, presumably because they aren’t considered sufficiently important.

“Reporters are moving away from me as if I’ve just let out the biggest smell since bad food. Well, that’s what I wanted. Thank you, idiot reporters. The radar dish on top of my head is spinning around to all these blazers against the wall, saying, ‘Here I am. I’m your boy. I’m not impressed by these tossers. I know what they are. I’ve done it to the IOC, and I’ll do it to them.’”

The very name of this blog is “Being Outside Cricket” and of the journalists only one to my knowledge has even referenced that simple insult which came from the ECB in any of his writings – Jonathan Liew.  The usual response is that it was a dig at Piers Morgan, not anyone else, but it needs repeating that Morgan plays club cricket and goes to watch England.  If he is “outside cricket” then so are all the hundreds of thousands up and down the land who play and watch.  This simple point seems to be beyond the media, who have fundamentally failed to even acknowledge this wasn’t the brightest thing to say, and which still hasn’t even been “clarified”, let alone apologised for.   It’s a minor offence in the conduct of the ECB, but is entirely symptomatic of the embedded nature of the cricket press.  You are meant to be writing for the public, it might be an idea to consider the interests of that public rather than your mate at the ECB.  That doesn’t mean writing hagiographical articles about a new MD handling things “with aplomb” when it’s blatantly obvious it’s been a car crash, and then pretending that it didn’t happen a year later when it all goes horribly wrong.  Perhaps even an acknowledgement that those horrible below the line people might actually have been right in the first place could be a start.  If that sounds as dismissive of the cricket press as they are about the bloggers, it shouldn’t do.  The point is that cricket journalists are needed, but they aren’t doing their jobs.  Why do they imagine that places like these attract attention in the first place?

Of course, if you are paid to cover cricket, you don’t ever get to see the world in which that public live.  Journalists don’t end up missing anything up to a session queueing for a pint, journalists don’t have to shell out for dreadful food at an extortionate price.  Journalists don’t have a terrible seat crammed in which costs anything up to £100 for the privilege of a day’s backache.  Even football journalists write about the lot of the supporter more often than cricket ones.  When was the last article any of them wrote about it?  When you have a former Test cricketer expressing astonishment on air that Test tickets are a lot more than £20, and it being viewed as amusing not scandalous the disconnect is entirely clear.

It goes further.  Only Scyld Berry in the English press made a point of repeatedly attacking the ICC stitch up recently.  It might not be the most glamorous of subjects, and a defence that the newspaper wasn’t interested would be a reasonable one.  But Mike Selvey instead went on air saying he didn’t understand it and wasn’t worried about it.  That’s no excuse, it’s your damned job to understand it and worry about it.  Even if you then write a piece about why it’s a wonderful idea and not to fret about it.

So obviously all I have written is correct and can’t be argued with, right?  No.  And this is the point about engagement.  You can disagree with every single word I’ve written and tell me why I’m wrong if you’ve got as far as reading it all.  My opinion is just that, it’s not an objective truth.   What I won’t do is try and tell you that I know more than you, but I can’t tell you why.

Everyone knows that a journalist will have sources they can’t disclose.  That’s hardly the point.  No journalist worth his or her salt would try and defend criticism on that basis, it’s simply arrogance.  The thing is also, that the assumption that they know more than those criticising isn’t always true.  That thought appears not to have crossed their minds when talking down to the masses.  I’m not a journalist and have no desire to be one either.  But I know enough about honour to be absolutely certain no blog post of mine will contain a reference to something I know but can’t tell you.  It’s treating anyone who reads like an idiot who can only be spoonfed the information I choose to convey.

It’s an interesting statement.  I wonder if Hughes and Newman have the same view about the masses who bought their books?  I’m one of them in the past, so gentlemen, since I helped provide you with an income, does that still apply?  Ever heard of Gerald Ratner?  When you have such contempt for the masses, don’t be surprised when the masses have the same contempt for you.  Did it even occur that anyone reading that would think twice about buying another book?  How did your publisher feel about rubbishing prospective customers?

One of the defences of such points of view is that as former professionals, they have an insight into the game that the plebs do not.  And yet it’s interesting that this particular line only seems to apply to the preferably passive readership.  I wonder how John Etheridge or Nick Hoult would feel about this particular point if it was applied to them.  Being a cricketer and being a journalist are two separate things.  And then let’s take it further, if it were true on any level, then a Mike Selvey has no right whatever to talk about batting and no right to talk about batsmen on the grounds of lack of knowledge – certainly the drivel that’s routinely written about wicketkeeping by those who palpably know nothing about it is a case in point.  A good club level batsmen would be much much better than he was, and therefore his perspective is far superior, right?  Which is precisely why Selvey calling one of England’s best batsmen of the last forty years “a pest, a fruitfly” is deserving of such contempt.  Whether you like him or not has no relevance, because if you invoke the right to say it on the grounds of having been there and done it, then you deserve having the comparison of playing merits made.

And by the way, that’s why you won’t hear a word of criticism from me about Derek Pringle the player.  He was good enough to play international cricket, which means he was a bloody good player and a lot better than me.  That he wasn’t quite good enough to be a truly successful international player is beside the point.  He was a terrific cricketer by any measure except the very highest.  As was Mike Selvey.  What it doesn’t do is entitle them to pontificate as though their word is law and the “masses” have no value.  Not unless they want to then admit that the view of a Kevin Pietersen (or an Alastair Cook, or an Andy Flower) is inherently superior.  Somehow I doubt that would go down well with them, and nor should it.  Their view has as much merit as anyone else’s, and no more.

John Etheridge made the entirely correct point in his defence of Derek Pringle that were we to meet, we might get on and like each other.  That is of course entirely true, and the corollary of it (which he swiftly acknowledged) is that the obverse is also true, they might even quite like us – although I was mildly amused at the certainty that we’ve never met these people.  It’s not the point. The criticism of them is not of their person, it is of their professional output.  Just because a person might be likable doesn’t for a second provide any kind of justification for what they say.  The criticism over the various blogs and the various comments below the line have been often entirely valid.  I understand why they don’t like it, few people do like being criticised, but it doesn’t make it any less astute or accurate.  There are of course some who will simply throw abuse, and that’s no more acceptable or justifiable when it’s in the article or in the comments.    Using those as a crutch to dismiss all rational questioning is the problem, especially on the grounds of saying that criticism from those they “respect” is ok.  That cuts both ways.

The cricket media as a whole have had a dreadful couple of years, abrogating their responsibility to question, criticise and remain objective.  The ECB is English cricket’s government, and the press have on the whole singularly failed to hold them to account, preferring instead to focus on petty personal dislikes and remaining inside the tent, and thus being the ECB’s useful idiots.  It doesn’t apply to all and the ones who have done well do not need to be listed because they know who they are; deep down all cricket hacks will have a fair idea of whether or not it is true of them.  Defensiveness is often indicative of personal dissatisfaction in all walks of life.

The most infuriating part of it all, is that as a body, we need them.  But we need them to be journalists.  British journalism runs the range between the worst and most scurrilous there is, right up to the very best, most incisive anywhere.  There’s been far too much of the former, and nowhere near enough of the latter.  Everyone wants to be noted in their chosen career and I doubt being held in contempt by many of those they supposedly write for was the aim when they started out, they had visions of being Andrew Jennings.

There’s little worse than a feeling you’ve let yourself down.


Adelaide to Perth

Telegraph Cricket Editorial

It was a lovely sunny morning in Adelaide. We were mightily depressed, after the events of the day before. We’d been through the mill, watching England fail to see out the day and Australia clinch the second test. The four of us were bidding farewell to a city that had seen a fair bit of drama. I’d seen what self-confidence I had in the wake of my parents (both of them) deaths in the past 18 months had been destroyed. But it was time to leave Adelaide, and my wallet was left there too.

We arrived at Adelaide Airport, ready for the flight to Perth. We were a bit late, as the Western Australians had done something funky with their times. We gawped at the stars in and around the queue. Adam Gilchrist was whisked through (but he wasn’t on our plane) while Gladstone Small and Phil DeFreitas were in the queue behind us. Oh look, there’s Tim Abraham from Sky, and look, there’s Simon Barnes….

As we boarded the flight the sheer hilarity was apparent. Sitting two rows behind us were CMJ and Derek Pringle. Oh yes. So while we were squeezed up on a Qantas cross-country flight to Perth, so were CMJ and Pringle. However, let us remember. We’d paid for our seats.

What’s the point of this recollection, some of you may ask? None really. Just the juxtaposition that there was I, paying some fair sum out of my meagre resources, while on the same flight were the pros. The men paid to write, paid to watch cricket, paid to comment. It’s something that drives me a little. The little man with no say, other than being a cricket nut who would follow his team to the other end of the earth and not have our lamentable performances ruin his holiday, against the grizzled old pros, who owed their whole livelihood to the game, and now made money out of not participating.

This memory, of that Qantas flight, smacked me between the eyes on the way home tonight. I try, as a rule, not to write while under the influence of alcohol, but tonight I will make an exception. I should not get annoyed, but when I’m personally attacked, in an impersonal manner, I’ll fight on my behalf. The source of my ire is this:

Some of you picked up on it. I saw it at lunchtime. The mere fact he’d copied in numbers 1,2,4 and 5 in the pantheon of shame from last night had meant he’d decided to call me irrelevant. How absolutely hilarious. The reason for my irrelevance is, according to what I infer from the tweet in my honour, my anonymity. My hiding behind a supposed pseudonym. Well. old chap, that’s a shame as I’m sticking behind my nom de blog, as you call it, for now. The problem is that me, and the people who comment on the posts we painstakingly, and lovingly, write (and I know I speak for Vian on this too) are doing for free, for fun, for enjoyment and for the love of the sport, what those paid to write are singularly failing to do. We are arguing our case, cogently, persuasively, forcefully and passionately. The other thing is that, on too many occasions for comfort for people outside the cosy press chain, we get things right. While you anointed Peter Moores as the best coach of his generation with a tide of cosy copy after his appointment, there were deep, deep reservations on here. Were we wrong? While you blithely accepted the dismissal of KP, and absolutely believing it was a storm that would die down in no time, you’ve been proven wrong and you still can’t stop the furore, even now. While you lot fellated Paul Downton for his aplomb, who were calling him an absolute disaster from Day 1? After an ODI batting performance many of us only dreamed of seeing from an England team just two days ago, who thought that Cook should be opener in the World Cup just a few months ago? I could go on, but then I’d be accused of nastiness and guesswork.

Pringle has been a source of my ire for many a year. His casual snideness in his articles has grated. There was plenty of anti-KP nonsense, plenty of chipping away, and a dismissal of those sad people who actually pay to watch the game in many of his dismissive responses I’ve seen down the years on Twitter. There’s a reason he was #1 for many years in my most loathed journalist posts.

It takes a special type of genius to come up with this (lots more here):

All the ingredients to turn this Investec Test series from korma to vindaloo are in place: a chilli-red ball, a spicy Old Trafford pitch and some hot and sour players, most notably James Anderson and M S Dhoni, India’s crusading captain.

Yes. I remember that brilliance.

You see, I’ve never claimed to be something that I’m not. I went years in the wilderness, writing for love and for enjoyment of the life I have and rage at those who seem to want to do me or my friends down. I’m in a job I like, but get no respect from anyone outside our bubble, but get my head down and do my thing. I do things like this because I enjoy the game of cricket and am in despair at what has happened to the game I love (and I don’t believe I am the font of all knowledge, or always right). I treat my readership with respect, and although we have a few ups and downs, I get thrilled that people feel this blog is a place to visit. I’ve met some good people, got the inside track from some in the reporting game, and value all the commenters on here. Unlike the likes of Pringle, I don’t take them for granted, don’t believe I am always right, and I listen and read what they say. I was chuffed when Vian wanted to write on here, and thought it a real filip for all I’ve done.

And, like it or not, pal. I’m not irrelevant. I think our hit rates on here, without the benefit of a cushy gig on a national paper are amazing. And just when I might have doubts about my posts, or what I’m doing on here, I get my copy of this month’s Cricketer magazine.

“To disenchanted class warriors the superficial evidence – public school, university degree and an accent which clings defiantly to its aitches – would have seemed irrefutable. But Strauss…..has long shown his loyalties lie not with the old-boy network but to the game of cricket.”

Read that again. Please. Me? My beef was over the use of the word trust when he called the same person he excluded a cunt. I’m really sorry, but cling to your fucking aitches all you like, you muppet, but that’s my problem. He’s the establishment candidate because the ECB is the establishment. He was earmarked ages ago for this role. He courted it. You choose to deny that all you want, but that point is not irrelevant.

Pringle is a cause of the rage. When we wanted him and his ilk to find out what was going on, and to tell his readership why and how, he cocked us a snook. He let us down. He chose his loyalty and now he can stick with it. He can call me irrelevant all he likes, but my irrelevant blog, from nothing, got a whole page in this year’s Wisden Almanack without going all out for it. I’d blogged for years. I did it for love. I did it because I care about the game. And I’ll continue having a pop at you lot when you let us down. Wisden was a nice surprise, but also a tribute to those who made HDWLIA what it was, and have gone even further with this place. Pringle and his ilk had their readership handed to them on a silver platter. I had to fucking work at it. Hard.

I get angry because I am a fan of the game. No doubt some journos are. But we are different.

Because, old son, I paid for my tickets. I earned my money and chose to spend it on the sport. You’ve got paid. I’m an amateur, and I paid attention to my audience. You were paid and ignored yours. Still, only 9 wins out of 12 to go, eh?


326 Not Out – Part 1

Not Wanted

For some context, and a piece that sums up my views on KP, try this.

Where on earth do you start on a day like this? Let’s set the scene a little. As some of you know, I’m on holiday (vacation out here) in a place called Cape May, New Jersey. It isn’t the Jersey of Springsteen, with the New York overspill or the refineries and factories. It isn’t the Jersey Shore of TV infamy, nor is it Atlantic City, where I’ve been today, but a quiet, sleepy seaside town, with one side on the Atlantic Ocean and the other on the Delaware Bay. I’m 200 yards from the sea. It’s lovely.

So you’ll understand that I wasn’t up with the lark this morning, and rather enjoying a lie-in. I awoke, at around 2pm I think, UK time to be greeted with a number of comments on the blog remarking that KP had made a century. “What a lovely start to the day” I thought, and then chuckled to myself that those haters would be tripping over themselves to diminish it. Also, taking the game situation into context, Surrey really needed those runs, and needed more. What did I do though? I tweeted

Lawrence Booth got back to me (he didn’t know how the day would end up)

I responded…

I calmed down a little, and had a little walk, and came back to see the Pietersen machine rolling along, allied to a tail that didn’t give it away. 150 was up…. and I was busy working out what he needed to make to get the average over 100 if he got out (188). When he passed that, the next target was 200, and so that was passed. By now the joy was let forth. I never believed he would get back to smashing any attack around for these sort of scores. A century or two would be ignored, because, well, anyone gets them. But a double is not easily ignored – as Sky Sports pundits and hosts kept saying “if KP churns out a double hundred or two, then what…” As I left the house with a spring in my step and a little joy in my heart, I got on my international sim phone and followed the score up the Garden State Parkway. 220, 240, 255 (past his best score), 270, 290 and then….300.

Now, I don’t care what standard you play, but 300 is nothing to be trifled with. It is not to be ignored. If this were a player who had shown no aptitude for test cricket, had tried and failed, or was a promising youngster, maybe there’s an excuse. That isn’t what we are talking about here. We are talking about a test cricketer of proven ability, who not that long ago was making very decent centuries (anyone forget his Old Trafford hundred less than two years ago?) and had answered his critics by coming back to first class county cricket, a format that he doesn’t particularly cherish, and he’s smashed it everywhere. 326 not out. Ignore that.

I was so happy, I should have popped into the Golden Nugget and put money on 24.

So, I’m wandering around the shops and left the international phone in the car. Treated myself to a couple of things, and then went back to the car. As we’re crossing Little Egg Harbour, I saw the TMS Tweet.

And I went ballistic. Absolutely fucking ballistic.

You may have seen my twitter outpourings, but if not, just go on there and look for @DmitriOld . The ECB had chosen this moment to announce that they were not picking KP for England again. Ever. This would not happen. Not in a blue moon. No chance. Cut off without a prayer. Brought hope forward by intimating he had a chance, and when he stuffed it back at them, they said “no, sorry”.

Make no mistake, for all the weasel words we’ve heard since, where there has been some suppsoed back-tracking, we’ll get a restatement of Andrew Strauss’s position tomorrow (the one we read about weeks ago, and why we so opposed his appointment now) which will be all about building teams for 2019 blah blah blah and that KP will be 39 by then. If you fall for that old pony, you’ll fall for anything. They are blocking his way, no matter what. There will always be a reason not to pick him. If he followed this 300+ up with another monster score in his next outing, it won’t matter to these idiots, for idiots are what they are that they would rule out a monster talent returning to monster form. It IS one innings, and it IS just part of the road back. But this lot want to block it for what? Personal reasons? If he’s the best batsman, in form, in the country, you play him. It really isn’t that complicated. Let me effing well repeat that. IT REALLY ISN’T THAT COMPLICATED.

This is the ECB in a nutshell. Cricket is meant to be exciting, it is meant to be fun to watch, it is meant to thrill as well as enthrall, to appreciate graft and genius in all its forms. It’s not a bloody game won by management consultants, self-help books on army drills and team-building nonsense. It’s won by talent, it’s won by attitude, it’s won by seizing the moment, not ticking some Belbin Analysis or a team leader assignment on a marines assault course. This team we have now can be as together as it likes, but it collapsed like wet cardboard at Headingley last summer after an abject display by its captain. It hooked its way to a loss after another abject bowling display at Lord’s v India, and despite a turnaround which has been praised as if we’d turned into the Invincibles, we went to the West Indies and collapsed in a heap in Barbados. They are so together, they collapse in a heap in synch. I’m not saying KP makes you immune to that, but it also doesn’t mean that these batsmen are set in stone, no matter how much they say they are. If I could have a pound for all the times someone says to me “who would you drop?” then it would have paid for my shopping today. That’s not the way to look at it. It is “who are the best batsmen in the country?” If the answer is KP, then Ian Bell, Gary Ballance or Joe Root will just have to get over it.

Which is all I want. Pick our best team. Pick our best players.

Watching some of the jealous muppets on Twitter is sickening. Honestly, they act like the Katie Hopkins of the sporting world. Muppet Pringle, a man who got the sack for not reading the runes it appears, had this absolute gem, which in its brevity sums up why English team sports are absolutely Donald Ducked.

Principles over PR? What is he on about? Principles…. oh yes, they’ve worked so far. We backed a captain who took two years to make a ton, and has little or no tactical acumen over and above chuck it to Anderson and Broad and hope it works. We’ve had principles that Cook is sacrosanct in the test arena, and for a while in the ODI arena, and will work to the detriment of English cricket and hamper preparation for major events by backing him until it’s too late. Yeah, principles. Teams with principles are usually rigid, inflexible, and bound to them. Principles means authority rules, so shut the hell up.

Meanwhile, making 326 not out in a county game, I suppose, is PR. Jesus wept. Oh, and there’s a dig about tweeters too. Genius.

But it seems that our ECB would rather follow this “play the game chaps” approach, rather than countenance that they might have made an error. In part 2, which I’ll write later, I’ll go on to all that. And the unprecedented reaction I saw on Twitter after that TMS tweet. This is a fire that just will not go out. The ECB, instead of dampening it down, seem to want to put petrol on it.

Notes and Queries

Over the last few days, the nation has gone into paroxysms of deep celebration, as England pulled off a mighty victory against an impressive West Indies team.  Few could have ever hoped for them to scale such heights of majesty, and fewer still to predict it.  No wonder the press have gone overboard about it all.

Or perhaps not.

It’s a curious situation.  In advance of the Test series, a certain member of the fifth estate was including three victories in his notorious “11 from 17” prediction for the next year, and many others were not much less gung ho.   That one may have been something of an outlier, but there’s no doubt at all that the response to England’s win seems entirely out of keeping to what had been expected to be a comfortable series win in the first place.

Is that a trifle churlish?  Maybe it is.  Certainly England arrived on the last day without having much right to expect a victory, and James Anderson bowled one of those spells to first create an opening, and then to ram home the advantage.  Equally, the West Indies were trying to do the right thing, by being positive and not getting stuck in a hole as England themselves have done so often, but they didn’t quite get the balance right – and some injudicious shots hastened their demise.

All of which leaves us where exactly?

England go into the final Test a match up, and it’s worth noting that Dinesh Ramdin has asked for a pitch with pace and bounce.  Had they got away with the draw in Grenada, you don’t need to be on the inside track of the West Indies team to recognise that’s the last thing they would have wanted.  Even so, that’s the prerogative of the home side, and it does mean at least that we might have some interesting cricket in Barbados.  The criticism of the pitch in St Georges was much overdone – essentially it was fine when England were doing well on it, and boring and turgid when they couldn’t take wickets.  So often, the domestic press are England’s worst enemy, trying to claim black is white and vice versa, and assuming the readership is either myopic or unintelligent. Hype is not necessary, it was a good win.

I can forgive Peter Moores for going a little over the top in his response to success.  He would have felt under severe pressure himself that final morning, and the relief of victory would have been keenly appreciated.

Of course, Alastair Cook has been praised to the skies, in the way we knew we would be.  Again, the written press really aren’t helping here with the hyperbole.  His final day captaincy was decent enough alright, but continual reminders that it was reasonable enough by the Sky commentary team merely drew attention to it being often otherwise.  The implication was quite clear, in Cook’s case being competent is worthy of having attention drawn  to it.  Since when has being competent been notable unless it’s not often the case?

And then there’s his batting.  He did look a little bit better in this Test compared to the first, where he frankly looked all over the shop.  Runs in themselves will do him the power of good, and will also give him confidence in his method.  But it’s still not the Cook of old; he’s fighting it constantly – his head remains too far over to the offside and he doesn’t look balanced in his shot.   Clearly the loss of Jerome Taylor to the West Indies attack was a huge bonus for him – but that’s the luck of the draw and few could begrudge him that.  So the runs were welcome – let’s be clear on this, to have a chance in the summer we need Cook back to his best – but nor do they merit an assumption that all is now well with him, because it isn’t.  Looked at benignly, it is a work in progress, and I doubt too many bowlers in Sydney and Auckland are panicking about their plans just yet.

Jonathan Trott may come under pressure for his place in the final Test, and this is not remotely fair on him.  He’s not an opener, he is a number three.  The jobs are not the same, not least because the number three has a bit more time to relax after coming in from fielding.  Having brought him back to do that role, to drop him after two Tests would be tantamount to ending his career having handed him a hospital pass and complaining when he dropped it.  Nor would it be particularly fair on Adam Lyth who would presumably take over.  He’d have a single Test and as we know, things can change when it comes to the home summer.  He’d be under pressure to score in this match, and fully aware that his predecessor had been dumped after two games.  Selecting Trott to open may well have been the wrong decision in the first place, but having done so, three Tests is the absolute minimum he should expect – and more reasonably he should get the New Zealand series too.

Of the other players, Joe Root is showing signs of being of genuinely exceptional quality.  Certainly there are bigger challenges for him over the coming summer than he’s faced in Tests the last year, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers on this.  He is rapidly becoming our key player.  And in that, he’s only just ahead of Gary Ballance, who has made a superb start to his Test career.  As an aside, when looking at a technical set up, Ballance is an excellent contrast to Cook at the moment – there’s no expectation of similarity of course, but Ballance is….well beautifully balanced.

Moeen Ali did not bowl well, and of course ran himself out for a duck.  OK, the run out happens, few have avoided the odd brain fade in their careers, and Anderson’s was worse.  His bowling looked reflective of someone who had hardly bowled, which is of course the case.  I note Nasser Hussain’s thoughts about it potentially being a reversion to the mean, and of course that is quite possible.  But a little premature to say so after one poor match post-injury.

Buttler’s keeping was overall excellent.  However, as Graeme Fowler observed, his gloves close at the time of the shot when standing up to the stumps.  That’s not good technique, and is something that Peter Moores himself ought to be able to have corrected.  Maybe he’s on to it.

Stuart Broad was a proper curate’s egg in this match, and indeed in the series so far.  His overall pace is way down, but he’s equally bowled some sharp and hostile spells.  He also seems to attract a lot of negative comment even though his form as a bowler has been very strong for England in Tests.  He’s more or less the only established player to come out of the Ashes shambles with his reputation intact.  He deserves time to get it right.

Ben Stokes showed promise.  That’s where we still are with him.  Likewise Chris Jordan.

And Anderson.  He’s not a great bowler, not by any stretch of the imagination.  But so what?  By definition hardly anyone is.  He’s a very fine, exceptionally skilled bowler who can occasionally be completely unplayable.  It should be enough and shouldn’t be a stick with which to beat him.

And then there’s someone who didn’t play, but became a topic of conversation – Adil Rashid.  Geoff Boycott talked about the situation whereby the selectors choose a squad, but that the team on tour is chosen by captain and coach.  And if captain and coach don’t rate a player, then there’s little point in them being selected.  I don’t wish to put words in Boycott’s mouth, as he chose them very carefully, but it seemed to indicate this was the position with Rashid, and perhaps that’s why Yorkshire requested his release from the tour.  England were right to rebuff them by the way.  The question of his selection and whether he ever had a chance of playing is a valid one, but the selectors having done so he’s on the tour and should stay on the tour.

For the West Indies, there are signs of promise.  Developing and struggling teams are always prone to a collapse, particularly when kept under pressure.  They were and they did.  But Brathwaite looked a proper Test batsman, Samuels batted mostly responsibly – well more responsibly than normal – and they fought hard.  There are some green shoots perhaps.  Let’s hope they sprout.

And so we move to the final Test.  A win and England can say they’ve done alright.  And they will have done alright.  You can only beat what’s in front of you.  A draw is problematic, and a defeat, well a defeat and there will be consequences.  England are a better side than the West Indies, even though they have significant problems of their own.  They should win, they ought to win.

And yet….

Definitely Not A World Cup Preview

This is the pattern folks. You lot get to comment all day (or at least until I get a mobile data package, or a wi-fi internet worth a light in the daytime) and I get to write something in the evening. Or if I’m really keen I might do something first thing. It also means that Simon or Arron get to break the world exclusives…

And by that I mean Derek Pringle, getting to tell us the story of how he had Javed Miandad stone dead AGAIN, in the Daily Mail. Now I know that one of their other main writers has a bit of a job on to get our favourite Yellow Book in on time, so there was/is a vacancy at the Mail for all the games our main man Newman can’t cover. So they’ve got Derek in to do his thing, we hope. Indeed, I pray…. This is like Christmas to me. Imagine, I thought I’d never get to fisk an article ever again with his brilliant prose in full effect, but not only might he be back, he might be forming an amazing double act with everyone’s favourite leak repository. This can’t get any better.

Yes, I saw Selfey doing what he does – that wonderful “I’ve heard this rumour” and then admonishing those who think this is pure gossip stirring into the bargain. Arron nicked my line – now Australia can experience what we have been for the last year or so.


Give me strength. The ECB’s media campaign, which Tickers is going to town on, has this sort of effluent on my feed. It’s absolutely mind-boggling awful. In this one, Ian Bell pretends to catch Paul Newman out of a burning building for leaking that story about his managerial skills, while two other stooges laugh about “Cook’s strutting jawline”. Or some other old tossery.

Nick Knight gives us the insight we know we need…–nick-knight-10039665.html

Because losing the key moments is a major strategic plus.

By now England know they can compete against the best sides in the world but what remains uncertain is whether they have yet learned to do it when it really matters. It is a problem of which unfortunately I have first-hand knowledge, for it afflicted the England one-day side I played in. You would look around the dressing room and see all these world-class players, yet when it came to big global tournaments we hardly competed. We did not win regularly enough to engender a winning spirit and although it’s sad to say so, did not really understand how to win. The loss to Australia in Port Elizabeth in 2003 is a perfect example. It was match England were winning, should have won, yet lost.

Because Knight is a one-day guru.

As always, I’ll remind you to fill in your competition entries before the teams are named for tomorrow’s opening game.

Keep the comments coming. At last, some proper cricket to look forward to.

365 Days Of Shame, And The Return Of A Legend

For all that we remember that press release for the phrase “outside cricket”, the real cherry on the trifle, the diamond encrusted monument in your own private courtyard, the beauty among the beast (get on with it – D.O.) is this little corker:

Clearly what happens in the dressing room or team meetings should remain in that environment and not be distributed to people not connected with the team. This is a core principle of any sports team, and any such action would constitute a breach of trust and team ethics.

Stop laughing at the back.

Our late lamented blogger, DO, went into it in some depth last year, and I’m not going to do the same now. But it does always help to remember the chutzpah behind it. This was written a month after Paul Newman was singing like a bird in an example of “good journalism” rarely surpassed.

For any of you new to this blog, and not aware of its ongoing themes, let me place before you Exhibit A, in the Hall of Infamy.

We Worship At Their Altar
We Worship At Their Altar

It appeared that the mysterious disappearance of Bottom Left had meant that a replacement may have needed to be found. As these four, by far and away, won the awards on DO’s site (yeah, let’s keep that split personality going) for wretched prose, the new entries seemed difficult to imagine. John Etheridge was one possible candidate, but his misdemeanours are not as offensive to most of us. Jonathan Agnew maybe, but I’m not as down on him as others, and this is my site.

It seems fear not, for beyond the horizon there speaks a man on Wisden India.

Hurrah! I am in a state of high excitement. Lady Canis Lupus (not that judge who got turfed off the enquiry) beware…

It is difficult to tell how much of a difference the switch has made. England were wallowing under Cook the captain, whose bad form with the bat was influencing his mood and decision making as team leader. Against good bowling sides in Australian conditions, they may yet come to miss Cook’s batting qualities, providing he had rediscovered his mojo. The cry by some for England, and other teams, to pack the side with hitters could backfire if the ball keeps swinging around as it has done in the tri-series.

Ah, how sweet. The Essex Mafia, the Chelmsford Cosa Nostra, the Ilford Illuminati, however you like to call them, stick together. We only had to wait for Cook to regain his “mojo” and for the captaincy to really flow from the tactical brain we all loved. I call it “magic beans”.

Like England’s fans, India’s supporters quickly become despondent. Tournament play is all about gaining confidence and your best players delivering at the big moments. If Virat Kohli, Rohit and one of the bowlers can find some persuasive form, the semifinals are not out of reach.

Only we don’t get despondent at those on the pitch, more the entourage off it, and towards those in the echelons of power and the press box. See your wibble on Cook above.

We take a break to comment on the preamble:

Pringle played in two World Cups – 1987 and 1992 – and, on both occasions, England made the final, with Pringle turning in impressive performances with the ball, especially in 1992.

OK. 1992 was pretty good. Let’s look at the potential for impressive performances in 1987:

Need to look up the victim.
Need to look up the victim.

Shared responsibility..

In 1987, we had the final in the bag until Mike Gatting played an unnecessary reverse sweep and we collapsed.

It’s a wonderful piece of Q&A, and may we see more of it.

My record only looks moderate in terms of wickets and, therefore, average. In those days, bowling dot balls was the key for bowlers like me, and you built pressure that way.

6.16 an over in 1987. You have to chuckle.