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.

 

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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?

The Ashes 2015: A review

So there we have it, the Ashes are done, the teams are exhausted and now it’s time to look back on the series.

The series got off to a bad start when the Australian team were held at border control at the Severn Bridge on the M4.  Protesting that “but we’re in England, right mate?” only seemed to make things worse, as Darren Lehmann asked the High Commissioner to issue a formal protest over the visa charge of £6.50 per head.  David Warner was seen looking baffled as explanations about the difference between England and the United Kingdom were made, and matters weren’t helped when Alex Salmond somehow got hold of Darren Lehmann’s mobile number.  Steve Smith was briefly detained due to an unfortunate mix up where they found his name on a watchlist, being released only when it became apparent he really did know nothing about rugby.

So it was a petulant team who finally arrived at the Holiday Inn, Cardiff. An annoyed Mitchell Johnson went off to check the pitch only to return after 10 minutes complaining that while very big, the ground was the wrong shape for cricket.  Given such a start to the series, the ECB felt it appropriate to mend some fences, and sent their best diplomat, Giles Clarke, around to smooth things over.  Rumours that Tony Abbott subsequently approached the USA about buying Trident can now be safely dismissed as untrue and entirely unrelated.

The morning of the first Test dawned bright and sunny, catching out Stuart Broad, who assumed the first day would be rained off and turned up late.  A capacity crowd of at least 750 were in the ground eagerly anticipating the toss.  It’s probably after this point that England fans noticed things starting to go wrong.

Certainly being 65-6 at lunch wasn’t in the plan, though journalists were quick to highlight how brilliantly Cooky batted for his 14 runs.  Indeed, Stephen Brenkley received a British Press Award for his 3,000 word treatise on how he played and missed “with aplomb”.  Straussy wrecked any chance of a Pullitzer by calling the committee “c****s” (except in the Guardian, where they printed it in full – Selvey saying it was the “moment of the series”) for their outrageous decision to exclude it from consideration on the grounds of not being American.

Joe Root was exceptionally careless to be timed out, and his protest that he was waiting for that tall South African bloke to go in at four cut little ice with the critics.  England did at least improve a little after lunch, with Jos Buttler skilfully marshalling the tail before being left high and dry on 2 not out.

As would be seen throughout the summer, England were far from out of it.  With hindsight, making Anderson bowl from both ends all day probably didn’t help his longevity in the series, but it wasn’t until Edgbaston that the umpires had to step in claiming that crawling to the crease on hands and knees was slowing the over rate down too much.

Yet with Australia teetering on 372-5, Stuart Broad spoke to the team at length during tea, berating his colleagues for failing to follow the plan.  Thereafter things went much better, as Brad Haddin was in all sorts of trouble to the short ball, finally being put out his misery for a mere 137 with 19 sixes.

With an uphill battle to save the game, Cooky strode to the middle.  A dazzling array of plays and misses and edges through the slips led to criticism that Michael Clarke had failed to learn the lessons of 2013.  Mike Gatting on Radio Five took one look at the wagon wheel of the innings and concluded it was ten past one and went for lunch, wondering why he had such a craving for marshmallow covered in chocolate.

England fought valiantly, and nearly got away with the draw.  Anderson and Wood were left with a mere 193 overs to survive and got 4 balls into that before Wood was wrongly given out lbw off his fetlock – Stuart Broad having blown the reviews claiming that his leg stump wasn’t on the ground at all.

It was a chastened team at the presentation, Trevor Bayliss being seen muttering to himself while reaching for a pack of Benson and Hedges.  Cooky spoke well about not executing their skills, learning from the game and taking the positives – particularly Stephen Brenkley, who he felt was the right kind of journalist with the right kind of newspaper.

In the Sky Sports studio, Atherton confused Shane Warne by saying that England were losing to win, although Warne’s response was sadly edited out by the ECB Media Compliance Committee producer before anyone could see it.

Media reaction was swift and merciless.  Mike Selvey wrote that the main problem was that Adil Rashid was causing discontent in the camp by scoring an unbeaten century and taking 23 wickets for Yorkshire on the same day, while Paul Newman wrote that Kevin Pietersen’s “morning, lovely day” tweet had divided the dressing room, with born and bred Lancastrian Jos Buttler taking particular exception – his reply of “It is, isn’t it” being scanned for underlying hatred.

And so the second Test approached.  With four days between matches, Andy Flower intervened, sending Jimmy Anderson on a walk from John O’Groats to Lands End as a warm up.  It certainly had an effect, and England were an entirely different side. After an unfortunate injury in the warm up, where Ian Bell was shot with a champagne cork from a local miner on his day off, England had to make a late replacement.  A mystery player known only as Kay PeesorryQueueoopsmadeamistake was firstly drafted in, before Director Comma Cricket Andrew “Straussy” Strauss leapt up from his sedan chair, saying the accent was a bit iffy.

Winning the toss, Australia were soon in trouble.  David Warner was arrested for starting a fight with some of the schoolchildren present, his defence that he thought it was Joe Root sledging him not being accepted by the local magistrate.  Anderson ripped through the top order, using the conditions to good effect as the ball rolled down the slope.  Numerous swipes in vain saw the batsmen bowled time and again, while Shane Watson was lbw.

After such a troubled and controversial start, relations between the teams improved thankfully, Ryan Harris crouching low, putting an arm around James Anderson, adjusting his oxygen tank for him and offering him full use of his knees. Alastair Cook then picked up a suspended ban for not completing the 90 overs in the day as an hour’s delay ensued with the crowd helping the two bowlers back to their feet.

With England feeling in the ascendant, they went on the attack with the bat.  Ben Stokes destroyed the Australian bowling, pinging them to all parts for 260 not out – though quite rightly the press focused on Cook’s admittedly fine 84.  Their partnership of 260 was a sight to behold. England’s dominant position was enforced as the tail wagged, and Jos Buttler reached the heights of getting to 4* before the innings closed.

Darren Lehmann, clearly unimpressed with Australia’s efforts, called for a traditional Aussie approach, and certainly Warner’s day release from custody attached to a ball and chain indicated his words had gone home.  Despite the enormous first innings deficit, they attacked.  There was a slight hiatus when Warner hit the ball attached to him into the pavilion by mistake, but since it landed in Giles Clarke’s champagne George Dobell was seen to laugh so hard he had to be taken to hospital.  In his absence, Jarrod Kimber simply added 350 to the Australian score on Cricinfo.  Peter Moores rang up the ECB Sky pointing out that the data didn’t add up, but unfortunately no-one there could remember who he was, and so Australia got away with it.  Malcolm Conn was the first to react tweeting “That’s for Bodyline, you filthy pommie bastards” before writing an article titled “No offence”.

With England set 200 to win, Cooky decided to get out his inner funk.  Graham Gooch had pointed out that he was far more vulnerable to getting out if he batted, and so taking that on board, reversed the batting order.  Channel 5’s highlights included a 24 minute section of Simon Hughes in the tactics truck moaning with pleasure at the genius of the idea.   England scraped home, mostly thanks to Anderson’s 99.  It got tense towards the end as Australia fought back, but fortunately Jos Buttler stood firm, finishing 6 not out as wickets tumbled around him.  The captain scored the winning run, and was promptly knighted by a grateful public.

With the series so finely poised, it was a great shame that the next two Tests were washed out.  No refunds were given to spectators, as it was considered that highlights of the 2005 series on the big screen were now to be assumed as being part of play.  Some complaints were made that the series as shown was incomplete, but the ECB’s PR department pointed out that the last day of the Oval Test had been sadly cancelled in 2005 and they’d not missed anything.

For the denouement there were a few debates to be had in selection.  Mitchell Johnson had made himself unavailable after Brian May had called him up for the forthcoming Queen comeback tour, but Lehmann had rubbished criticism of the timing by stating that Australia had endless stocks of interchangeable Mitches and the side wouldn’t be affected. With England wondering about their batting line up, the selectors were seen in discussions long into the night.  A conclusion was reached when Straussy Strauss was seen carrying a trowel and smiling as plaintive Afrikaans cries were heard behind a bricked up wall.   England had one other question mark over their side, as Wood unfortunately fell at the fourth fence at Haydock two days before the game, but having been given a clean bill of health by England assistant physio Jimmy Herriot he took his place in the stalls for the start.

Alastair Cook scored a fine hundred, causing Aggers to squeak for an hour on air, so overcome was he.  Pope Francis resigned, David Cameron announced to a hushed Parliament that he was giving way to a much better man, with a much better family, and the US Congress passed what became known at the Cooky-wooky Act allowing foreign born Gods people to stand for the Presidency.  Perhaps the greatest tribute of all came from Geoffrey Boycott who stated to a shocked nation that he was nearly as good as his granny.

England were certainly confident having scored over 400 (Jos Buttler 8*) but Australia weren’t out of it by any means.  Chris Rodgers had escaped from the McCarthy and Stone sheltered accommodation where he was staying, and set about clearing the deficit.  There was one flare up when he accidentally trod on the umpires toes going for a second run, and Stuart Broad squared up to him asking if he was having a go at him.  Rodgers quietly pointed out that it wasn’t the square leg umpire and calm descended, but it was an awkward moment.

A mid innings collapse (Shane Watson, lbw 0) left Australia with a small deficit, and England were back in to bat.  A hush descended on the ground, punctuated only by the occasional South African accented “let me out” heard in the direction of the OCS Stand.  Cooky-wooky-woo-wah headed out to the middle and as one, they all rose and sang the oratorio from Handel’s Messiah – fortunately the ECB had been prepared and issued all spectators with lyric sheets as part of the Conditions of Ground Admittance.

Ben Stokes was the star of the innings, having sneaked out to bat when no one was looking.  Paul Downton – special guest of the ECB – was overheard to say that this bloke looked rather good, and why hadn’t he been around when he was MD?  Giles Clarke was equally confused, having seen no reference of Cockermouth in the Independent Schools List.  Joe Root gave valuable support, making Boycott declare unilateral independence for Yorkshire during the tea break, while Jos Buttler’s quickfire 9 not out added to the swelling total.

With Australia set 300 to win, the game and the series was in the balance.  All was going well for the visitors, with England’s bowlers unable to take a single wicket.  Fortunately for them, Shane Watson ran out 6 batting partners and burst into tears in the middle.  With the tension building, Australia 9 down and with victory only a hit away, there came that moment.  And we all know what happened then.

@BlueEarthMngmnt

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.

@BlueEarthMngmnt

Revelation

Thanks for thelegglance for filling in the match report duties last night. I got home quite late (this work stuff is getting a pain) and by the time I did, the match was all over. Quite good to have a couple of other cricket lovers around me in the office following the scores surreptitiously on cricinfo and passing updates. Think it might be a bit blatant to lop out the old Tablet and watch SkyGo in the office!

I saw the highlights and caught some of the reaction. It was a brilliant performance. Absolutely no doubt about it, but it should be noted that the new breed went 3 for 4 in terms of “failure”. Roy, who I have a real sneaking suspicion is not going to cut it at the top level (I think when you saw him face Steven Finn in the T20 last year gave you a clue), obviously copped a first baller. Hales also hasn’t delivered in the top spot, and must do so soon, while Sam Billings, who I think should play so that we have a ready-made replacement if Buttler gets injured if he proves himself, also didn’t do well. The most experienced of the new breed, Adil Rashid, of course had an absolute blinder. I’m sure all those who slagged him off for a performance in the nets in the WIndies are saying sorry now…… [sound of crickets]

The established players, Root, Buttler and Morgan were magnificent, and yes, as Vian says, it’s that attitude and approach we want to see. I don’t buy the “no fear” codswallop, actually. It’s rather easy when you’ve been given a clean slate to create a new “brand” (and hell do I hate that phrase) to play without fear. I don’t doubt Buttler plays pretty much without it, but let’s see Joe Root make a ton chasing a big total, rather than setting one. Let’s see how we react chasing 300. Let’s see how we react chasing 250 and losing three wickets for 50. I’m interested to see how we do in those scenarios. But yes, yesterday was a remarkable day. To go from 200 for 6 to 408 for 9 was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

I now know how far I am behind on century watch. Ben Stokes (Lord’s), Adam Lyth (Headingley), BJ Watling (Headingley), Adam Voges (Dominica) and today Shikar Dhawan (Fatullah) need to be documented. No promises when. but I’ll catch up (another early start tomorrow means I’m off to bed soon).

I’m sort of reading two books at the same time – one an old paperback picked up in Hay-on-Wye and the other on the Kindle. I’ll do a book review of both when I’ve finished them, but there’s something remarkable about both. Put To The Test, by Geoffrey Boycott, is a frank view of the Ashes tour of 1978-9 – the Packer-decimated Australian team – when Boycs himself had a pretty poor tour. The frankness is in his comments on his teammates. He praises, and he criticises when he sees fit. It’s the sort of book we would never ever see now.

The other is The Plan, by Steve James. What is remarkable is the thing that seems to be lacking throughout this book is, well, a plan. It’s a series of anecdotes and events bundled together to tell the reader what, I don’t know. There are interesting bits, of course, but I’m befuddled by it, to be honest. I’ve actually no idea what it is trying to achieve. It’s all over the place.

I know I’ve promised, and the Bogfather reminds me, a press hall of shame piece. The fact is, I’ve really cooled on the idea for now. I wrote numbers 1 and 2 on holiday and then just lost the will, to be honest. I’m thinking of putting it to bed now until the annual readers awards at the end of the season, when you lot get to contribute to the voting. I don’t know why I can’t be arsed, but it just happens. For the record, though, my top five were:

1. Mike Selfey

2. Paul Newman

3. Derek Pringle (yes, old habits die hard)

4. Simon Hughes

5. Stephen Brenkley

Jim Holden had an Andy Ganteaume effort to pierce the top 5 on the back of one putrid article but would have been number 6. Henderson was in the running, thanks to detritus in the WCM. Ed Smith was also a live one, as FICJAM angered in his own patronising way. You know it is a tough field when John Etheridge is falling down the rankings, and the tenth was a pick from Chris Stocks, who I think may not really qualify for this, Malcolm Conn (for future crimes) and Aggers himself. Have I left anyone out.

Here is the citation, as written for number 1, back in May.

1. Mike Selvey – This has been a close fought battle, with at times Pringle and Newman edging ahead. But Selfey’s twitter contributions just about nail it, and he sealed the deal with the tweet that anything he said on there wasn’t an invitation for a conversation etc. In other words, unless I “respect” you, sod off. He’s not exactly got social media to a tee.

It’s the arrogance I can’t stand. The “I’ve been there, I know what’s going on and you don’t” approach. You are a journalist for crying out loud. You should be duty bound to tell us. I’m not a journalist, don’t want to be one, and therefore if someone tells me something in confidence then it remains that way because I have no responsibility to anyone other than myself. You have a responsibility to the people you report to.

Every column Selfey writes is met with increasing howls of indignation. It’s not so much now that we are banging on about KP, but it’s the closeness he appears to have to the hierarchy in charge. Selfey was on Moores before anyone else when it came to the selection of the new coach – many might interpret that as a scoop, most of us interpreted it as a Flower/Downton plant. If Selfey has criticised Cook at any length, I’ve missed it. If Selfey has criticised any of his favourites, then, again, I’ve missed it. His writing on international cricket is driving much of his audience mad. It’s made worse when we see the start that Ali Martin, fresh from The Sun, has made, and we can see the potential.

However, what clinches it is the way the negative views of Selfey below the line are moderated. There’s clearly difficulty in accepting that the people you write for are turning on you, and I am sure that’s tough to accept. Instead of listening to some of the more well-meaning stuff, Selfey has seen this as an excuse/reason to become more indignant, more churlish and even more set in his ways. I think he’s past the point of giving a hoot about who he writes for.

It’s funny, because Selfey’s writing has little impact on me any more. He doesn’t raise the levels of anger that Newman or Pringle, or to a lesser extent Brenkley do. But it’s the sneering contempt he appears to have to people who love the game and are incredibly frustrated by his reporting that clinches it. The suspicion is that Newman is doing much of what he does because of who he works for. Selfey doesn’t have that excuse. That’s why he’s numero uno.

Oh go on, I wrote Newman’s one as well….

Paul Newman – It would be tempting to rank Newman number 1, but I won’t. He still has a way to go to match the champion’s sneering contempt for those he is informing. What Newman does worse (or better depending on how you see it) is to provide copy that is so skewed, and at times so batshit insane, that you sit there and think “someone’s telling him to write this, they must be”.

Newman’s 2015 hasn’t been that bad, to be honest. But he wins his place this high because of the occasional lunacy that he concocts and the historically awful stuff he wrote about Pietersen and the book, which even some of his travelling colleagues thought a little bit odd. There is a constant dig on here that we see everything through a KP lens, as if all that I write is predicated on the “KP should be returned to the England fold” line to take. I’d suggest that Newman is much, much worse in this regard. Just look at what he wrote at the end of the Barbados test re Moores. That Moores should get the Ashes gig because he was stopped before by another KP-induced controversy. What the hell has KP got to do with the loss in Barbados and the World Cup except the morons in charge explicitly excluded him?

Newman can’t let Pietersen go. There are constant assertions of “fact”… that KP’s sacking was wholly justified, without ever detailing why. When challenged on Twitter, he resorts to attacking the questioner with “if you don’t know why, you’ll never know” type comments. It’s another example of contempt for the readership. It does create a question in my mind, and I’ve discussed this with Maxie, as to whether this is an editorial line and Newman is working it to the hilt. It would make sense, although I have no doubt there is massive personal antipathy there towards Pietersen, and he appears the journalist that most gets under KP’s skin.

Of course, working for the Mail renders him at a disadvantage from the get go. Blocking me on Twitter when I’ve never tweeted him abuse, or much of a comment, is just childish. Supporting Jim Holden’s article was an act of such expected density that it didn’t shock. Having a little dig at your’s truly for being “nothing important” in a Twitter exchange with Simon Hughes was lovely, actually.

However, it is the bending of the message to suit the prevailing anti-KP rage that is hilarious. Before and after the World Cup, Newman was all for burying Moores. According to Newman, dropping Cook on the eve of the World Cup would result in a make-or-break competition for the unprove new regime. In the same article he then says they have 12 months to prove themselves, but also that a failure in the World Cup followed by stuttering form in the Caribbean and beyond would claim more victims due to the rancour that envelops them. Yesterday despite a World Cup that didn’t even reach “mediocre” on the Newman scale, he’s backing him to continue.

Because, the suspicion is that despite his clear disregard for Moores over the last few months, and the laughs at us for being obsessed with KP, Newman is close to Cook and much is written through that lens. That’s not on. It really isn’t.

I picked up some old Wisden Cricket Monthlys a while back, when Newman had the County beat for the SE of England. He was good. People tell me he’s a really good bloke. But this current stuff is wretched, easily fiskable, and lacking in critical thought, and driven by ant-KP dogma, inserted at every opportunity, relevant or not. But he’s not number 1…..

Until the next time. Hope everyone is well, and let’s see the ODI team keep the show on the road.

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.

Unpleasant

And don't come back....
You are either Inside, or you are guessing

It has been quite a day, hasn’t it? The line that the ECB spun last night, that the Graves position yesterday was not, in fact, an opening of the door, but merely a restatement of current positions is eroding before our eyes. Nick Hoult’s latest piece in the Telegraph seems to paint a very different picture, and even Selfey’s article gave the game away because he writes it as if there is a chance KP might come back before defending Downton et al. Other articles in The Guardian, here and here, intimate that the existing ECB line last night might be a little, er, premature. I don’t know – maybe someone really in the know can keep those of us outside really informed. Then we might not get so up in arms, eh?

There are clearly, it seems to us trying to figure out what the hell is happening through the prism of our journalistic corps, divisions in the ECB; differences of approaches and perhaps personalities and nuances to do with timing of posts being actually filled. Nature, and bloggers like me abhor vacuums. There’s something afoot, because we’ve seen it before. We remember how Cook was disposed of, the modus operandi of putting something out there, getting the reaction, and moving from there. We aren’t out of the World Cup, yet this looks like jostling for positions to me. The World Cup had better come right or there could be more of this on the way. In the absence of clarity, in the absence of the full context, we’ll try to fill in the blanks.

This blogger, as you know, has a job, watches cricket when it fits in with his life, and has many other things to do. I do not pretend to be a journalist, and I doubt you will ever find a claim to it on here, it’s not my job and I do this because, believe it or not, I enjoy it.

I’ve written on the sport I really enjoy and am thoroughly saddened by in the past year or so. I indulge in speculation based on comparing articles with what I hear, with what I’m told, with what I read, trying to cross reference where I can, but time is limited. I watch the sport, have a vast back catalogue of books, dvds, magazines and podcasts. I’m a cricket nut with not enough time. I also think I know a little, not a lot, about human nature. I am not friends with any cricketer. I hear gossip, much of it told to me by the way, by people who might know. If this is guesswork, then so bloody well be it. But it’s guesswork based on caring, based on looking and reading and trying to draw conclusions. You know, the sort of thing we all do.

Why the anger? Well, a journalist today, who we all know, and I’ve been pretty civil to on here and, from communicating on social media I quite like, posted this on my Twitter feed.

My giddy aunt.

Here’s why I put a picture of Doug Ibbotson on my blog feed, (and it only really seems to appear on my dashboard, which you don’t see, and on blog posts copied onto Twitter) John. Because the edition of Wisden Cricket Monthly in around 1988 it comes from had it, and the thought that a journo today could have a photo like that as his identity pic, complete with pipe, amused me. Plus, as you say John, he was a damn fine journalist. As was David Foot. As was Neil Hallam. The brilliance of the county scene in those WCMs is a million miles away from what we get today in our cricket magazines. So maybe it’s a little nod to a previous era. And maybe, just maybe, a pic of an old journo with a pipe is pretty damn good. I’m not comparing myself to him, I’m not thinking I’m a journalist, and I’m certainly not meaning the use of the pic in any mean-spirited way. I do hope you are not implying that. And please don’t invoke the old “he’s more of a journalist…” stuff because I know he was. Because I’m not.

I’m sorry if you find this blog “quite unpleasant”. I plead guilty to this being guesswork in the main, because I’ve not pretended to be ITK. But you aren’t exactly playing by the rules on your side either.

I actually have a fair bit of time for John Etheridge. I’m surprised he picked on this as something to try to beat me with. Come on, sir.

Right, got that off my chest.

By way of a public service, I managed to capture some of the BTL comments from the Selvey article that got deleted. I have reproduced some of them here. If the author wishes me to take them down, then please let me know and I will be happy to do so. I stored a few others, but they haven’t been deleted yet.

Bag of smoke…
“That theme of course was Kevin Pietersen, the fruit-fly, the pest that will not go away.”
Don’t sit on the fence, Mike.
Honestly, it makes you wonder doesn’t it, about the supposed impartiality of so-called ‘journalists’? Since when was it acceptable to so nakedly express one’s opinions of a player like this? I suppose it beats the normal innuendo, but quite how Selvey thinks this sort of thing is acceptable is beyond me. It’s faintly amusing that he should be so hostile towards our best ever batsman (going on statistics…), whilst affording the current shitshower of an England team and its hierarchy every courtesy.
This bit too made me chuckle – could it be any more matey? Proof, if it were required, that Selvey is essentially a mouthpiece for Downton. What a puppet.
“Downton takes no offence, thinks it was merely something clumsily expressed and in no way malicious :but it is grist to the mill at a bad time.”

Bagsofsmoke again..

“…the fruit-fly, the pest that will not go away.”
Don’t sit on the fence, Mike…
Since when is it acceptable journalism for a correspondent to be so nakedly hostile to a player? I understand you don’t like the man, but afford him some respect, Mike, as England’s best ever batsman. You sound like Etheridge. Since when is this sort of journalism acceptable in the Guardian?
Ah, it all becomes clear. I forget that you’re essentially a puppet, a mouthpiece, for the execrable Paul Downton. Proof, were it required, that that is the case:
“Downton takes no offence, thinks it was merely something clumsily expressed and in no way malicious :but it is grist to the mill at a bad time.”
Gluck
How can His Lordship still be considered a journalist anymore? Is he angling for a job as ECB PR chief (and pray, how would we tell the difference?)
Sorry about the fonts going all over the place….
The Slogfather…
Well.. I’ve waited until now to become an ‘under’, as well as having been a long-term ‘outsider’… but having read this from ‘lordselfie’…
The reality is that the new (yet to be confirmed) ECB (or whatever the next name becomes) Chairman, has now rattled a few cages within the press…
Following on from this, it would/should appear, that the current Team management and overlords (DowntownShabby, MooresThePityful, ForGodsSake -er, HisGreasyGilesness and TheFlowerpotman) are being found out…
There is no team management, just jobsworth incompetence – but then we’ve known that for many a month…
Sadly, most of the mainstream press (with a few notable exceptions) have chose to ignore reality.
So us, being the (outside) meek, shall inherit this dearth…
Others were saved but remain, lots more I missed….

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.