The 2019 Outside Cricket Power Cut List

The Cricketer Magazine has decided to do another Power List, of the great and the good in the game of cricket and ranking them in order of said power. Once again we appear to have been sadly overlooked on the entirely spurious grounds of being completely irrelevant to anyone of importance. Lists matter particularly to those who think they might have a chance of being included, as they scan desperately up and down upon publication and react with feigned indifference as they realise their name is missing. The magazine has approached it differently this year, by inviting people not completely barking mad to judge it, which is extremely disappointing from our perspective, given that The Cricketer Editor putting himself at number 39 a few years ago (doesn’t time fly) provoked us into doing our own – once we’d recovered from laughing.

So here’s our own Power Cut List, comprised of those who genuinely have influence and have made a monumental balls of everything, those who just annoyed us, and those we really like and have desperately tried to find something to have a go at them about just to be contrary. If you’re on this list, sorry. If you’re not on this list, not sorry. Or maybe the other way around. It’s completely capricious, and is very much a team effort – so you won’t know who to blame except us as a collective.

There is no particular order to this list, just whoever the editors decided to have a crack at first. As before, we fully expect return fire – that is after all the point of it.


This year’s recipients:

Jonathan Agnew – Currently (but for how much longer?) the mainstay of the BBC’s Test Match Special coverage. Has skin thinner than rice paper and is known to respond to any criticism by chucking his toys so far out his pram that they reach orbit. Has an extraordinary command of basic Anglo-Saxon that has yet to reach the airwaves, placing him behind Andrew Strauss and David Gower in the Inadvertent Public Broadcast Swearing league table – though miles ahead in the Twitter DM equivalent. Still has legions of adoring followers who can’t quite bring themselves to believe that delightful Aggers may not be as charming as first appears. Best friends with Jonathan Liew.

Malcolm Conn – Australian “journalist” (stroll on, that’s stretching it) about as likely to be fair to England as the ECB are to invite us over for a cup of tea. Constantly banging on about England players born overseas while going very quiet when Australian examples are quoted back to him. Still in therapy after England won the World Cup but known for upholding his role as a fearless interrogator of Australian cricket through consoling Australian cricketers caught cheating, to the point there was genuine confusion over whether he’d been appointed as Cricket Australia’s media liaison officer / press conference bouncer in the wake of Sandpaper-gate.

Michael Vaughan – Some people are born to lead. Some people are born to follow. Michael Vaughan is one of those rare individuals who manages to achieve both, often at the same time. Frequently speaking on any topic, bravely ignoring any questions about a lack knowledge or forethought. Despite this, somehow not the most annoying commentator on TMS.

CDFB46CF-6283-45BF-A4C6-6799A1B5AB77

Sir Geoffrey Boycott – I’ll be the first to say that the honours system is archaic, random and illogical. Even so, the ennoblement of such an objectionable individual as Boycott really sticks in the craw. Rebel tourist, violent convict, and utterly without empathy for other people. An all-round terrible human being. Despite this, somehow not the most annoying commentator on TMS.

Phil Tufnell – He turned being a mediocre spinner (having a worse Test bowling average than Moeen Ali, Jack Leach, Monty Panesar, James Tredwell to name a few) into being famous. Lacks any kind of insight in cricket commentary outside of possibly how a spin bowler should try to be economical. His bosses apparently overlook this tragic lack of talent, and he will almost certainly be a big part of the BBC’s TV plans next year due to his celebrity status. Despite this, somehow not the most annoying commentator on TMS.

Graeme Swann – The most annoying commentator on TMS, which is saying something. The nonstop stream of forced banter is like an ice pick being stabbed in my ears. No doubt a big part of the BBC’s big plans for their TV coverage next year, which could see Swann become the new Danny Morrison. I do not mean that as a compliment.

CE22F25A-4C4C-4160-862A-7C381A3029B4

Jonathan Liew – One day there will be two people left in a press centre and one taxi. At that point maybe Jonathan will contemplate the bridges he burns. While he’s up there in the talent stakes when it comes to writing, he lapses into Ronay-isms, being more in love with his own work than the job he has to do – in search of THE angle. While picking fights (and yes, having them picked back) with the doyen of the blue rinse set is possibly a public duty, appearing to be a dick doesn’t help. But that’s the place he’s chosen to be, and in some ways its admirable because he does hold truth to power. I wonder, though. If you write for an online-only publication, aren’t you really a blogger in disguise?

Eoin Morgan – England’s World Cup winning captain who happens to share his disdain of red ball cricket and the County Championship as much as his paymasters at the ECB. Led the revolution in the ‘new brand of white ball’ cricket that has proved far more successful than any other previous brand in England’s history but has still remained loyal to the ECB’s ‘dressing room harmony’ mantra. Likely to become a T20 gun for sale in the near future, which is fine unless you want him to perform with the bat in any big game. Former pen-pals with Oliver Holt, who has seemed to go a little quieter now that Morgan is demonstrating his true worth by parroting the ECB’s line in support of the Hundred.

Paul Newman – Being chief cricket writer of the Daily Mail is an interesting place to be – he’s been there a while and shows no signs of moving on. Head of an establishment sport at a snarling outlet like the Mail is going to be tough for a chap who by all reports we hear is a pretty decent fellow – a consistent line we hear from his colleagues. That is until you have a pop at one of his talking points, when he can snarl and spit like, I don’t know, an irate blogger. He’s been less of pest recently, but retains his place on our list for works past. The anti-KP, pro-ECB, Cook fanboy stuff. I have no idea why that rubbed me up the wrong way. He’s on Mount Cricketmore for a reason. Then I realised he isn’t. Oh well.

David Gower – Now ex-presenter of International Cricket on Sky who is keen to blame ageism rather than the fact that he has been mailing it in for the past few years. On his day, Gower is still a joy to listen to and it was a little bit of a tear-jerker watching his final exit on Sky. Why have Sky got rid of him? Well maybe, in his own words, he “hasn’t got a fucking clue”. May be a safe pair of hands to anchor TMS if the BBC tire of Jonathan Agnew’s late night tirades, certainly unlikely to call anyone a c*nt in public. Has a penchant for fine wine, light aircraft and the odd shocking apartheid comment.

The Hundred – The behemoth which is casting a shadow across the next year in English cricket. People seem to be either of the opinion that it will solve all of the game’s endemic problems or destroy half of the professional teams in the country. The truth is probably more bland, but still damning: It’s going to be a bit shit. The level of play will be marginally above that of the better county T20 teams, the coverage will be nauseatingly bad, and the expenditure by the ECB on largely pointless things like fireworks and other gimmicks would make Croesus blush.

img_6007

Elizabeth Ammon – Let’s be clear here, being a woman in such a historically male dominated world as sports reporting isn’t going to be easy, nor should she have to put up with the pretty vile abuse she receives from all too many just because she’s a woman and therefore in their tiny minds incapable of understanding or commenting on cricket. It’s idiotic, moronic and says far more about those knuckledraggers than anything else. But it does not mean there is a general immunity from any kind of criticism whatever, nor that there is much moral high ground in being utterly outraged that other people might hold different opinions to her, especially on county cricket. Has blocked us on Twitter, for something so minor we couldn’t remember what it was, but it’s her right to do that, and was met with a shrug.

The IPL – Seen as the original evil curse in the eyes of the England management team, it has now become ‘the learning place’ for England’s white ball specialists. Somehow the answer to all of English cricket’s ills despite the fact that the tournament has mainly been designed to make MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli look amazing in the eyes of the Indian public. Expect at some point soon for another 10 teams to be added and for the tournament to last almost half a year before the Chennai Super Kings win it again. Known as a haven for some of the most cringeworthy cricket commentators around. Has a propensity to have “exciting” final over finishes on command. You wouldn’t bet on that every day, would you?

Barney Ronay – There is a trend in cricket writing, actually sports writing, where the author is actually writing to be told how dashed clever he is – if they were ice creams, not only would they lick themselves, they’d smear themselves with chocolate sauce before doing it. There are plenty in that genre, but Barney is among the best/worst exponents of this craft. If craft it is. The point of his articles, and his tweets, aren’t to inform, to report, to entertain you, to perhaps give you something to think about. It’s about “how damn good am I” and “look what angle this pseud has come up with”. It’s the over-weening self confidence and attitude that gets me – it’s snarking at those who disagree, bemoaning those who don’t worship his brilliance, and yes, annoying the hell out of a recreational writer who knows a charlatan when he sees one. Have a nice day Barney.

David Lloyd AKA Bumble: The main reason for why the mute button was invented. Bumble likes to cast himself as the man of the people and he has proved his case, if that means endlessly parroting the ECB’s agenda and refusing to answer any questions on anything that remotely matters to cricket fans. Establishment through and through, despite his protestations, and very happy to leave his morals at the door in favour of still clinging onto his Sky gig even if he somehow makes Shane Warne sound lucid in comparison. Desperately trying to appear hip with all the success of a 70 year old heading over to Ibiza in skinny jeans, a glow stick and an LP of Andy Williams. His mascot races, books and Bumble specials (see the Kings Road video if you fancy trying to rip your eyes out of their sockets) are about as funny as genital warts but far more painful.

28D3F8FF-EF72-4C5C-A27A-F2D4073E334F

Andy Bull – Guardian journalist/writer who popped up on our comments this year after some mild comments from one of our number, and it being helpfully pointed out to him by someone. Thanks for coming Andy. It was nice to hear from you. You spent ages on your little self-justifying tome, links and all, but impressions count, and I don’t remember you sticking it to the ECB when they needed it being stuck to. Then we might just have avoided this Hundred nonsense if you, and the rest of the press, had opened their eyes and seen it as the preview for ECB treating the hoi polloi like shit. But you live in your reality and I’ll live in mine. What MFing Side You On?

Sanjay Patel – Chief polisher of the turd that is The Hundred. Speaks like a politician, in that every statement seems to be a combination of wishful thinking, half-truths, and blatant lies. As such, probably the favourite to succeed Tom Harrison if any company would be prepared to offer the current ECB chief executive more than £700,000 per year.

Tom Harrison – I saw the other day someone who will remain nameless say Harrison deserves his £700k because it’s the going rate for snake oil salesman, lying three faced pricks, selling polished turds in Management Speak Bollox (MSB), while alienating pretty much most of the existing customer base, who just happen to be in charge of a sport. It’s especially worrying when that individual not only sticks his snout in the trough with incredible pay increases while his sport shrinks, he believes he’s been placed in this position to save us from ourselves and to save the sport. His modus operandi? 1. To blame and call names – the Obsessive County Cricket fan – they felt his misplaced ire. But if you are the architects of the dire problem…. not a bad word – Giles Clarke and the preceding shit show are not to be mentioned. 2. Think of an idea, run with it, sell it, ignore the peasants, secure patsy interviews and deny reality. Copious mentions of stakeholders, partners, pathways, culture and “the game” do not mean you. Love or loathe the incumbent at Number 10 but the PM gets paid 20% of this rate. Harrison is a liar, a dissembler, a fraud, a charlatan, a zealot, an idiot, a bully, a clown. But hey. £700k is the going rate. Downton must be sick. He would have been worth millions.

Colin Graves – AKA CostCutter Colin. He is still here as Chairman of the ECB somehow. I don’t think even Colin Graves can believe he is still here, but there he is still giving out Silver bats, awarding Ashes Test Matches to Headingley (no conflict of interest what so ever of course) and appearing on high profile presentations. Thankfully, it appears that his contract extension also contained a mute button, so he is unable to insult the counties or any other international opponent England might have to face in the near future. Will probably receive an OBE in the near future from our archaic class system as a forward thinking entrepreneur. Proud owner of a brand new cupboard under the stairs at the ECB’s HQ.

harrison&graves

Paul Farbrace –  If the sky darkens and one of the 30,000 evil characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows up to take over the world (honestly, I can’t be the only person to watch these things saying “Who the hell is that, then?” every ten minutes), good old Chuckles would seek out a camera, laugh a few times and tell everyone that Iron Man just needed to execute his skills a bit better. It’s not a bad approach to life, and given some of what he’s been through probably reflects well on him to point out the inherent unimportance of sport. Even so, just once in a while a serious answer would have been nice.

Dominic Cork – A marginal inclusion, which might upset him if he gave a crap. The former all-rounder who got on everyone’s nerves, and resident of Stoke City’s car park during transfer deadline day (until Stoke got relegated), his most notable achievements this year have been getting Derbyshire to T20 Finals Day, and a Verdict (sorry Cricket Debate) in the wake of the first Ashes test defeat, with Charles ‘n’ Bob where he acted as if Tom Harrison was holding his nearest and dearest hostage. And no, I’ve not forgiven him from his anti-KP outbursts, of course I haven’t.

Mike Selvey – Highly successful ex-International Bowler (with a grand total of 3 caps to his name) and ex-Chief Cricket Correspondent of the Guardian before they finally saw sense and kicked him onto the street, not that he is bitter at all. Well known to have skin which is about as thick as water and a Twitter account in which he is now able to spout the same rubbish as he did when he was at the Guardian, with slightly less adulation than he feels is deserved. Currently enjoying a stellar campaign as President of Middlesex County Cricket Club, who are reversing backwards faster than a Michael Vaughan opinion. He doesn’t make decisions but acts like he does until called on them, and then says he doesn’t. Clear? A marker of cards and well versed in quoting unnamed sources, which naturally the public don’t deserve to have access to, because, well he is the Lord of the Manor and knows better than all you plebs. BOC still mourn the day he decided to abandon the construction of his blog, because it would have been bloody hilarious. Still sending love letters to David Saker when last checked.

Don Topley – Harry Gurney ideas, with a more human face. Not seen anything, ANYTHING, about the Hundred he doesn’t like. Doesn’t seem to contemplate that it will possibly be the death knell for the county he played for, and the county his son currently plays for. But we recognise the sacrifice, Don, and no doubt Tom will thank you someday. Maybe the ECB need your help. And yes, I do remember that catch at Lord’s. Those were the days.

Michael Henderson – There is, in every form of work, the example of someone who is there for reasons you can’t really understand – a totemic reminder of days past maybe? At the Cricketer Michael Henderson is still given writing gigs, still paid for his opinion, still earns from his contemptuous snobbery, and no-one seems to understand why. It is (for my good fortune) the only place I see his work these days, and its not pretty. Whether it’s barely concealed dislike of others (as the last one was), or snobbish references to the right kind of people in his eyes, or some stupid outdated cultural reference that has no bearing, no relevance, other than to act as some “upper being” spouting to the unwashed, it angers nearly every month. Yet it’s still printed. How did he get away with the September piece? If it hadn’t got mass objections, I guess it tells you a lot about the readership of the Cricketer. An anachronism in a world with pretty shitty people writing isn’t a good place to be. Go, in the name of God go, and take your poison pen with you. You can reference some opera singer as you push off out the door.

1286020A-C10E-441F-951D-BD6B95177160

Simon Hughes – He’s always rubbed me the wrong way, from the first time I saw him on Channel 4, being referred to as ‘The Analyst’ when the insights he gave were about of the level I’d expect from club coaches. Still using the name about 14 years after he presumably last provided regular analysis on TV seems like taking the piss, quite frankly. He loves the sound of his own voice, is arrogant without much justification, and is hilariously poor (given his nom de plume) at offering even the vaguest analysis of any tripe the ECB sends him. His editorial policy is questionable to say the least, and his podcast is like being stuck in a lift with the three most boring people on the planet for an hour. Nice guy though.

Nasser Hussain – Ex-England captain and one of the most frustrating presenters in the game. There are times when he can be thoughtful or downright spiky which can really add to viewers enjoyment in watching the game, just look at his piece about Root’s technique with Ponting during the Fourth Test or his series about Cricket in Mumbai, which was fascinating. However there are other times he either feels compelled to spout the ECB’s prologue or is so banal that he makes Botham seem cutting edge. Having a Daily Mail column isn’t helping things much either. Supposedly has a big nose and is tight. Wow. The japes they have in the Sky commentary box are just wonderful.

Robert Key – In life it is all about being in the right place at the right time. As a T20 commentator, he’s tried to balance analysis and bantz. Recently the former has been pants, and the bantz has been rank. For this, it appears promotion as a junior David Lloyd for test duty beckons. I suppose someone has to, but is this really the best we can do? And yes, I am bitter that every time I saw Kent play Surrey, this man made my life a misery.

David Warner – For Australian cricket to make such a pig’s ear of the Sandpaper affair that it caused twinges of sympathy for Warner in this parish was quite exceptional. That he’s managed to make himself about as popular as an itch down below is rather beside the point. The mood lighting, arm around the shoulder (literally) poor ickle Steve and Cameron press conferences contrasted wildly with the way Warner was thrown in to a barely disguised hostile one. He then confounded expectations by refusing to dish the dirt (dammit) but instead acting contrite and providing the waterworks fully expected of Australian cricketers caught with their hands in the cookie jar. New gentle Davey didn’t last particularly long, though longer than all of his innings lasted in the recent Ashes series. Last seen trying to get out of Stuart Broad’s pocket.

65AE47FC-2410-47EB-8CE3-0CD5FA08E225

Geoff Lemon – A number of things amaze me. Michael Henderson writes articles for the Cricketer. Martin Samuel thinks he can write about cricket. Today’s rap artists compared to Public Enemy. Jason Roy as a test opener. You get the picture. Geoff wrote a book. It won lots of awards. Never shy to march out of step from received wisdom, I thought it was (for large parts) utterly atrocious. A Jarrod Kimber tribute band, playing tired old metaphors and similes, attempting to be Gideon Haigh. But everyone else loved it. His excoriating takedown of Channel 9 was a career highlight – but that was a long time ago. I didn’t think Steve Smith’s Men was a highlight. I make no apologies. Perhaps Rusty might tell tales on me for saying so.

Jonny Bairstow – England stalwart who is known to throw his toys out of his pram every time anyone suggests that he isn’t quite a good enough keeper and has a gap in his defence so large that you could fly a jumbo jet through. Currently trying to do his best impression of James Vince by making 20 odd before attempting a shot that Stuart Broad would be embarrassed with. Known to be about as bright as nightfall in the Sahara Desert.

Ed Smith – Someone from a public school who inexplicably gets a job for which he has no experience or track record, despite being banged to rights for plagiarism in his former role. You can tell if England are ahead in a game or not by whether Sky’s cameras can pick Ed Smith out in the crowd. In fact, it’s arguably more accurate than WinViz. His one shining success in terms of Test selection was Jos Buttler, who averaged 24.70 this summer. Generally speaking, a lot more misses than hits in his selections so far.

41842608-1104-4467-95DF-B6066D7E7E7A

James Taylor – Someone from a public school who inexplicably gets a job for which he has no experience or track record. On the plus side, no one seems certain about what his role actually is, apart from almost always being pictured with Ed Smith. About as interesting as watching paint dry in interviews.

Sir Andrew Strauss – Strauss appears to be the man getting all of the credit for the men’s World Cup victory. He hired Trevor Bayliss, he was in the selection meetings, he explicitly made it the priority for English cricket. That’s fine. But it also presumably means that he’s responsible for the bad things too. England’s Test team, for example. Their lacklustre T20 record. The backsliding of the women’s team from the heights of 2017. Aside from all that, it’s difficult to forgive him for his disastrous launching of The Hundred. It’s genuinely incredible how inept it was. Essentially telling existing cricket fans that it wasn’t for them because “mums and kids” were the priority. Insulting those mums and kids by saying that the only reason that they didn’t already like cricket was because they were too stupid to understand it. Truly, this belongs in a textbook teaching students how not to promote a new product.

Harry Gurney – Started out at Leicestershire and yet wants to get rid of or demote the lesser counties so that ‘top’ players like him can get more money. Not awash with self-awareness, bless him. I had to check to make sure he didn’t attend Radley College, because his approach to winning friends and influencing people is remarkably similar to that of Andrew Strauss. Has more Twitter followers than you or I, so there.

Martin Samuel – Putting Martin Samuel on cricket duty is a public affront to decency. It would be like your humble author being tasked to write about ballet (a load of skinny people dancing on their tippie-toes to some god awful tosh music). When the Ashes comes round, old Martin pulls the Oiliver (deliberate typo) Holt stunt of saying “I’m a SPORTS writer, dammit” and gets to unleash some putrid shite onto the Mail website; a forum awash with the stuff. What the proper cricket writers must think of this oaf, the cricket equivalent of the hippos in Fantasia, or any hippo actually, being let loose is anyone’s guess. I await the “Samuel on Stumps” anthology book or live tour announcement any day now. It’ll be a ripper. Cricket writing needs Samuel like a fish needs a sunbed.

FB76CF9A-5E76-4F0D-989E-64F1096E4FFF

John Etheridge – Chief Cricket Correspondent for the Sun. I genuinely don’t think there’s any more I need to say. After the events of this week, I wonder how he can remain. I suppose getting paid a small fortune travelling the world watching cricket is, as Chicago once sang, a hard habit to break.

Shane Warne – Aww mate, you’ve got to be prepared to lose in order to win. Warne is like one of those individuals in the pub who keeps banging on about the same opinion for as long as anyone will let him. I reckon even Warne tires of his own voice at times. Used to be known as the best leg spinner ever, but now more synonymous with plastic surgery, terrible banter and frequently bedding younger women. The bastard. Soon to become the head coach of the new Hundred franchise at Lords, which will no doubt massively upset many of the MCC members. A small win for us fans who will have to put up with this turd of a competition.

Virat Kohli – A character that divides opinion. In India they adore him, but not like they adored Sachin and still do Dhonut. Outside of India, most appear to think of him as a flash, gobby, unsporting oik. Me? I am worried about his neck. He hurt it instead of playing for Surrey. I still wonder, to this day, how Guildford would have coped. Will probably end up with 80 ODI hundreds, we’ll remember none of them, and no-one will care.

MS Dhoni – AKA Dhonut. Is to run chases as I am to work deadlines. Whereas in my younger days I had the stamina to pull rabbits out of hats, deliver work from nowhere and get the job done, now the sands of time have prevented me and I have to start the task earlier or fail. There’s a lesson MS. Unfortunately when I fail, I get a bollocking from my bosses. When Dhoni fails, his fanboys and girls threaten anyone who dare question the great god Donut with fates worse than death. Like watching Dhoni ramp the run rate up to 12 an over, and manufacture T20 games to go to the last over. I have absolutely no reasons to question anything here. Really I don’t.

Tim Paine – Has a reputation as a nice guy, but this is very much relative to his predecessors. Still allows gobby shits like Wade and Lyon to mouth off at the opponents, and still cheats if he can get away with it. The most annoying thing for me was his insistence on handshakes before games. His team gets caught cheating, everyone else piles in about all of the (objectively worse) other stuff Australia had been doing for years, so why did they think they could force the opposition teams into a PR exercise like that.

Nick Knight – In keeping with his status as the most vanilla of broadcasters, I had to go and check what I’d said about him last time. It mostly consisted of him saying “would you believe it?” repeatedly, and that’s absolutely dandy, because since Knight just repeats “would you believe it?” all the time, it seems appropriate to do the same to him. Would you believe it?

Angus Fraser – Grumpy former England and Middlesex bowler and now even grumpier special guest on the Verdict. Spends most of his time looking like he’d rather be anywhere else than on TV and responds to any questions he’s asked with the look of someone who has been asked to recite the first 200 numbers of PI with someone standing on his testicles. Currently overseeing the complete demise of Middlesex as Director of Cricket, which has proved to be a veritable banquet of mirth for 2 of our editors and yet has made another of our editors very sad indeed.

Ian “Wardy” Ward – “Great question Wardy”. If you are looking for a point where the scales tipped from my eyes, that was it. The arch-enemy, the zealot with not-a-lot, the establishment money guzzler, with so much to defend (Tom Harrison), treating his TV interviewer with contempt by using his nickname – and the interviewer smiling away. Pat Murphy, for one, would not have stood for that crap. Wardy’s post-match interview technique has turned from probing and incisive, to “why are you so great”. And now he’s reportedly moving into Gower’s seat as presenter. While good with Masterclass, the perils are there, the warning signs are flashing, the whispers of being too close to the players are louder and louder. Let the new era, or error, begin.

img_6010

Steve Smith – One of our number proudly points out that as far back as 2010 he insisted to all and sundry that Smith was destined to be a Test player of repute while everyone else was laughing themselves silly at his bowling being smacked around the park and his batting was all over the place. His batting is still all over the place of course, but with the difference that no bugger can get him out any more. This startling insight and genius punditry would be more notable were it not for said writer also insisting that David Warner wouldn’t last 15 Tests. Has infuriated everyone all summer for managing to have a technique similar to a drunken crab while selfishly refusing to get out to anyone. Eventually won around the English fans to the point that he got a standing ovation as he walked off after his second innings dismissal at the Oval, which at least had the benefit of shutting up the more sanctimonious short memory Australians who treated booing as though it was the worst crime since Bodyline. Which they’re still whining about 90 years on come to that.

Joe Root – What happened to you Joe? Just a couple of years ago, you were a young cheeky chappy with a grin fixed on your face and the enviable problem of scoring too many fifties. Now you look like you’re ten years older, you’re more likely to get a duck than reach a half-century, and your captaincy is almost making us long for the halcyon days of your predecessor. What have the ECB done to you?

E4910855-CB5A-4CBE-8735-504F5A0D2A30

Trevor Bayliss – Ex-England Head Coach who had as much interest in county cricket as the rest of the editors do for Kabbadi. Played a key role in changing the mentality of our white ball approach and deserves credit for helping to win the World Cup; however Test Cricket always seemed a bit of an after-thought for him. Likely heading for a career coaching various T20 franchises across the World. Liked very much by the England players but don’t ever try and pull his shorts down as Mark Wood found out. Should be knighted for services to scented candles, whale music and yucca plants.

Kevin Pietersen – Officially branded a “genius” by Sky TV, five years after said “genius” was sacked so we could pick Gary Ballance, and keep a crap captain in power. I haven’t been as offended by a replacement since Technotronic turned up at a PA, and neither of the two main protagonists showed up. Anyway, said genius still has all the media etiquette skills of the animal he is trying to save and sometimes he should can it, but hey, he’s interesting, annoying and you’d still watch his greatest innings over any other English player not named (possibly) Bell or Gower. And I annoy my wife no end with the “Because they’re my mates” impression from that Sky documentary, which amuses only me. Rumours are Tom Harrison wants to appoint him as PR head to convince sceptical county fans that the Hundred is great. If Carlsberg did piss-takes…..

KP Birthday

Stuart Broad – Fantastic Test bowler and even better comedian on the pitch, Test cricket would be a lot poorer without his various celebrappeals and complete lack of understanding of how DRS works. At one point, he was considered England’s next all-round great, but was in decline before getting hit in the face by Varun Aaron and since then his batting has looked like it has been based around the Devon Malcolm school of batting (he has a higher test best than Mark Waugh!). Has finally learnt how to pitch the ball up after 10 years of trying and now has his own rental space in David Warner’s head.

Jimmy Anderson – Legendary England swing and seam bowler who has transformed himself from wild tearaway to metronomic grumpy wicket taker par excellence. Has an end named after him at Old Trafford which probably represents the greatest achievement any male could wish to obtain, though I may have slightly misunderstood what that’s about. Has reached the point where his cricketing prowess allows the great and the good to defend him even when he’s not behaved particularly well on the field, a privilege reserved to a very few. Subject of complaints that he hasn’t had a knighthood when batsmen are queueing up for them. Made an observation in the documentary The Edge that had one of our number falling off his chair at the known for certain brazen hypocrisy of it.

Glamorgan – One of just three counties not to develop a single men’s England Test cricketer in the past 10 years, but the only one which hosts international games and a men’s team in The Hundred. It would benefit English cricket immeasurably if they split off to become the Welsh national team. It probably wouldn’t damage the development of Welsh cricketers either, to be honest.

Sir Alastair Cook – It has been a contention of mine that the single most divisive figure in English cricket in the past decade hasn’t been that batsman who was sacked, but rather a batsman that was extraordinarily backed. In being forced to be the face of a regime who treated the supporters as the bien peasants, Cook took up the cudgels and milked it, and in turn got the love of an entire media gang. The Cook era is a key one for English Cricket. It’s not about his stats, it’s about what he stood for, either intentionally or not. Backing Alastair Cook became a matter of faith, a matter of your applicability to be a real CRICKET fan. You had to love him. Or else. I can’t be humorous, or wise crack about this. This was a cult, with the dullest leader imaginable. As long as Outside Cricket has breath, Cook will be here. The handsome prince of English cricket. The cult leader of the insipid. The face of the ECB. Jonathan Agnew’s BFF. Records be damned.

2A002065-E8C9-4D3C-8DC2-834C5554CD94

The T20 Blast – So called mediocre tournament that the ECB is desperately trying to get rid of despite growing crowds and fan affiliation. Supposedly can only attract mediocre white ball players such as AB de Villiers, Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Rashid Khan, Michael Klinger, Mohammed Amir and Faf du Plessis to the tournament. Likely to eventually be phased out for something the ECB management team designed on an empty packet of fags between lunches, because they know better than the fans after all. Still not enough women and children for the ECB’s liking.

Somerset – Lesser county somewhere near Wales that was last in the national headlines for King Alfred burning some cakes. Worth pointing out that he went to Somerset to hide from an entire army looking for him. And succeeded.  In more recent times the 14 residents of this backwater have not only discovered Twitter, but have launched a takeover, leading some to the mistaken impression that they’re important. Currently playing Minor Counties, probably.

Cricket Highlights on 5: I reckon a highlights programme with commentary from Michael Vaughan, Graeme Swann and Mark Nicholas would probably make kids have nightmares about the sport and certainly not want to pick up a bat unless they were able to use it to hit said commentators. Certainly not one for the casual fan as it’s the first and last programme I will probably ever watch on that channel.

New Zealand cricket team – On this list primarily because they’re so damn likeable, even in the cruelest of defeats. Imagine the howling from the England camp and press if we’d have lost in such a manner.

Russell Jackson – For one day only, this man made himself look an idiot. But he didn’t keep it to himself.

pexels-photo-413195

Dean Wilson – Poor old Dean, he so desperately wants to leave his position as Chief Correspondent of the Mirror to become the next ECB head of communications. So much so that he is happy to trot out any old rubbish the ECB gives him. Was referred to as a journalist during lunch in a gathering at the 5th Test, which is probably the first time that has ever happened. It is well known that being the Chief Correspondent of the Daily Mirror is more akin to be deputy train manager of the Island line in the Isle of Wight. Likes a free lunch or five.

Piers Morgan – Unaccountably left out of the last Outside Cricket list due entirely to the ineptitude of the writers. Chief cheerleader for Kevin Pietersen, which is about as useful as having Katie Hopkins appear as a character witness. Acknowledged in the KP documentary that this may not have been entirely helpful, which is probably the only occasion he’s ever come close to an apology. The blog will be forever grateful to him for infuriating those Inside Cricket sufficiently that they responded by giving us our name, and then leading one idiot to publicly say that we were his online agents. One of our number has played cricket against him on a couple of occasions, where he increased the sense of outrage by coming across as a fairly pleasant bloke. Totally unacceptable.

Gordon Hollins – Ex-Chief Operating Officer of the ECB and now Managing Director of County Cricket (haha), Hollins is still there owing to the fact that he now resides in a small basket next to Tom Harrison’s bed and has stopped soiling the carpet. Over qualified for the role as an ex-Commercial Director at Durham CCC, which naturally didn’t stop him from taking a steaming dump on his former employer. Wheeled out when either Tom Harrison or Sanjay Patel have more important things to do like meet a sponsor or count their money.

A1F0BE78-6A80-47C2-9BB3-555AA8B09ECB

Sam Morshead – Erstwhile digital editor of the Cricketer, who has shown exceptionally poor judgement by failing to include himself in the Cricketer’s own list, breaking all convention and tradition, and thus showing himself to be far less of a man than Simon Hughes. Has feet of a type last seen in the Lord of the Rings, and looks a bit like Frodo too, come to that.

Jim Maxwell – Legendary Australian radio commentator who is a welcome visitor to these shores every four years – or more frequently as the ECB and Cricket Australia determine for financial cricketing reasons. Has rarely put a foot wrong on air and is a pleasure to listen to. Makes this list by virtue of the fact that he quite plainly cares vastly more for the health of English cricket than most of his English colleagues, and is not shy of saying so, and he liked and commented on one of our tweets (we’re so shallow). Good on him, but while it says a lot about him, it says far more about those others that this is the case, and that’s pretty scandalous in itself.

Middlesex – Every single Middlesex player and member seems to be a champagne-quaffing, tweed-wearing, Waitrose-shopping stereotype who looks down on Jacob Rees-Mogg for being too common. Despite their ostentatious demonstrations of wealth, including their own official diamond merchants and Porsche dealerships, they still can’t afford their own ground and have to rent one from someone else. This is fair enough, considering London prices, but you would think that they would be able to find one which was at least level. I would certainly complain to my landlord if I was living in a property with a lopsided floor. That a professional (and international) cricket ground has this issue is, quite frankly, embarrassing. More worringly, ex-Middlesex players seem predisposed to finding other jobs in cricket once their playing careers end. They tend to be jobs which they lack the experience and talent required to do it fully, which means that people (including us) notice them: Administrators, selectors, coaches and journalists. No sector of English cricket is untainted by Middlesex. Of the forty-ish ex-cricketers in this list, at least ten played for them. One of our editors is slightly less than impressed with this entry.

Mark Robinson – He deserves enormous plaudits for taking the England women’s team to the heights of success, culminating in a thrilling World Cup win in 2017 at a packed Lord’s. Thereafter the team went into reverse faster than an Italian tank, and by 2019 Australia weren’t just beating England, in England, but were handing out a a thrashing game after game. Another lauded when successful by Lord, but excused when the wheels fell off (the players fault, natch). Resigned his position as a result, thus demonstrating a degree of integrity scarcely ever seen in ECB circles and certainly not from those who slashed the investment in the women’s game and sacrificed the successful and growing Kia Super League on the altar of the Hundred.

Remember him? We have tried to forget…

Mark Ramprakash – Former England Test Player and England batting coach, who managed to make a huge mess of both jobs. His main achievement as coach was to bring down the England batting unit’s average to around his career Test average and whose mess is now being tended to by Graham Thorpe. Firm believer in accountability, as long as it is not his accountability being questioned. Likely to end up in ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here’ this year.

Jason Roy – I understand that professional sportsmen have a lot of self-confidence. That it may even be part of the job. Would any great, unlikely, unbelievable sporting moment if the people involved weren’t absolutely convinced that they were 100% certain to triumph? Even if the chain of events to get there was so improbable that their belief was verging on delusion. But, even acknowledging this, how on Earth did Jason Roy think he could be England’s Test opener?

4FBBEB4D-1F9E-406D-B3D0-9629CCAFAF74

Pavel Florin – Romanian superstar cricketer who managed to move from figure of fun to cricketing icon faster than a Jofra Archer bouncer. His enthusiasm for the game is boundless, the faint whiff of condescension from those approving of his efforts mere moments after laughing at them unmistakable. Undoubtedly a welcome voice in terms of spreading the word of cricket beyond its traditional boundaries, which is one reason the ICC wouldn’t dream of making use of him. Cannot be forgiven by any club cricketer anywhere around the world for having a Cricinfo profile when we do not.

Andy Nash – Most akin to a reformed smoker lecturing all around him on how appalling it is that other people are partaking. Former Somerset Chairman and ECB board member whose trenchant opposition to the Hundred would be slightly less confusing had he not been part of the group that passed the idea in the first place. It may well be that this is an entirely unfair reading of events, since the opacity of all ECB decision making is such that voting records don’t necessarily mean agreement. Nash is now reduced to shouting from the sidelines about how terrible it’s going to be while absolutely no one Inside Cricket engages him. He is (of course) correct, but he is now experiencing the kind of cold shoulder to his views experienced over many years by that tiny, unimportant group of people called cricket fans.

AB De Villiers – Like the guy who turns up at your annual Christmas Party unannounced after having left the company 8 months ago, AB did exactly the same at the World Cup as there weren’t any 20/20 leagues going on at the same time. Well known for bouts of extreme tiredness that can suddenly be cured by a large wedge of cash being waved in his face. Expect the same thing to happen at the next World Cup unless the Albanian Professional T20 league are offering big money.

Mr Maximooo – AKA Vinny Sandhu, the hugely excitable commentator of the inaugural European Cricket League. Took to shouting “Maximooo!” extremely loudly when a six was hit, which was highly amusing at first, but started to grate somewhat in a tournament that turned into a real life version of Stick Cricket, with virtually every ball disappearing out of the park. To his credit, he acknowledged that point afterwards, and his clear love of what was going on endeared him to a small but increasingly dedicated audience watching cricket being played purely because the players loved the sport, and so did the commentators. A Celebrity Death Match with Danny Morrison beckons.

Nope. Still not a clue. The halcyon days of the ECB!

DAB Radio – Needs a particular entry in here simply because for years we’ve been told that digital radio is the future, that we all need to chuck our analogue receivers out, and that having DAB in the car is far better than some crackly old signal on 198 LW. But here’s the problem: It’s shit. It’s monumentally, utterly shit. Any journey undertaken that involves travelling more than 50 yards beyond Broadcasting House involves more drop outs than the first year of a media studies course. On one occasion, I managed to miss two England wickets in the period while it was searching madly for a signal while driving on the motorway, which says a hell of a lot about England’s batting, but even more about the utter pup we’ve been sold as a viable means of listening. I don’t know who was responsible for this complete shambles, but I’m going to find out and write a strongly worded letter – mostly because if I say it on digital radio they’ll only hear the first two words before it cuts out again.

World Cup Super Overs – Anything that is designed to be finite and then fails to be so, thus making the decision of the winner on the number of boundaries scored is always going to get on our goat. Interestingly enough those who whinge about it most aren’t our Kiwi friends but legions of Indian and Australian fans, who didn’t actually make the final. Ca’ Plus Change.

Lawrence Booth – Glory-hunting Manchester City and Northants fan (possibly a unique combination) who occasionally writes nasty things about the ECB in his sideline as Wisden Almanack editor. Has a fairly routine Daily Mail column that still looks like Shakespeare next to Martin Samuel’s cricket forays, but disappears between January and April on a long holiday.

BOC Rushmore v2

Kumar Dharmasena – ICC World Umpire of the Year 2018, which is about the most damning statistic about the health of umpiring in our international game. More known now for giving shocking decisions and a complete lack of understanding of the rules of cricket. Somehow makes us pine for the days of S.Ravi, who he has miraculously made to look like a competent umpire.

Ricky Ponting – Sometimes in life, you get to meet your heroes. And all too often they show that they have feet of clay. Disappointment is often the result, a bad memory to taint the good ones you have. Imagine then the even more acute disappointment to be found when Ricky Ponting decided to go entirely the other way. He had been a monumental pain in the arse as batsman and captain of Australia, partly because he was so bloody good, and partly because he was combative, fantastically bad tempered and insistent that he defined where the line was while the rest of the world rolled their eyes. His appearance in the commentary box this summer was therefore a massive disappointment – not because he was bad, far from it. Instead he was engaging, witty, brilliantly incisive and came across as a thoroughly all round good egg. This. Is. Not. Good. Enough. We want our Australian enemies to be the bastards we always expected them to be, not to turn out to be delightful. That Mitchell Johnson had rocked up and been equally engaging merely made it worse.

Derek Pringle – Why me? Why do I have to write about this person? What have I done? Other than the wikipedia article, which we talked about last time, and the fact he’s written a book that I’ll wait until it gets to £0.01 on Amazon secondhand to buy, and that he’s some bon viveur now used for those talking head pieces on Sky, and that he’s the Chief Cricket Writer at the Metro, what else is there to say? I’m warming to him? That I shouldn’t have been mean about him? Hell No. HELL NO.

Ellyse Perry – You could say that she was the female equivalent of Steve Smith in terms of her complete dominance over the England team this summer, but it’s not quite true. She is better at bowling than Smith. Has done absolutely nothing wrong and is a powerful standard bearer for women’s cricket. Unfortunately, she’s both a bloody good player and Australian, which in itself is grounds for excommunication.

Sheldon Cottrell – Ok. We get why he does the salute and, as reasons go, it’s not a bad one. The only problem is that it’s been done before (and in an infinitely funnier manner) when Marlon Samuels did it to Ben Stokes and got away without having the bat wrapped around his head. There’s merit in it as long as you’re first, and he wasn’t.

Kumar Sangakkara – A batting career similar to Steve Smith but with attractive shots already marked him out as a cricketing great, but in retirement he’s managed to improve his standing even further. Firstly by doing Sky masterclasses that are so impressive Sky daren’t repeat them 30 times a day, and second by quite pointedly doing commentary that ignores David Lloyd’s banter and talks about the game itself. Has a delightful habit of pausing for a few seconds after a fellow commentator has talked about wicket-keeping to make it abundantly clear he thinks they’re talking bollocks. Sangakkara then goes on with all the skills of a diplomat to explain why. At this stage the suspicion is growing that this is all too good to be true, and at some point he’s going to rip his face off and reveal he’s the leader of an alien invasion.

Innocent Bystander – Bestriding Twitter like a gambling colossus. Friend of the blog (we think) and all round top contributor to social media. If there’s an irrelevant, gobshite T20 league in the world, and it’s playing, he’ll be on it, making the readies – watch out for the Kazakhstan regional T20 any day now, and IB will be on the Almaty Matters, while his bete noire will be favouring the Astana Stammers. Very convinced of Australia’s position as self-appointed arbiter of world cricketing etiquette, he doesn’t, at all, go on about it.

Michael Clarke – One of the list of Australian cricketers who highlight the difference in approach between Cricket Australia and the ECB when dealing with the “shit bloke” problem. In the wake of tragedy he conducted himself with a dignity and sense of leadership that caused many cricket followers of all nationalities to assert with awe that they’d happily follow him to the gates of hell, and has since then steadily eroded the goodwill by the simple medium of absolutely refusing to shut the fuck up in the commentary box. In decades past Richie Benaud used words sparingly and when he felt there was something worthwhile to say. Clarke observed and learned from the example of Benaud, but unfortunately by misunderstanding the brief and assuming that every single one of the silences needed to be filled. It is deeply impressive to be so much the anti-Benaud that grown men have been known to weep, or worse still, turn over to TMS to listen to the witterings of Graeme Swann instead.

Ben Stokes – England’s best player across all 3 formats who has basically piggy backed the rest of the England team this summer in the Ashes and in the World Cup. Victim of a horrendous piece of gutter journalism from the Scum, which he handled both intelligently and maturely. Still barred from enjoying the bright lights of Bristol’s glorious nightlife due to a small misunderstanding.

img_6008

Mo Bobat – The ‘behind the scenes’ driving force of Ed Smith’s currently highly successful selection policy. After all, it is mandatory to have such a resource to rely on to pick a successful white ball opener who has never batted for over 2 sessions in a red ball game and a plucky, if not quite talented enough 33 year old county specialist for the Test team; That’s why he is paid the big bucks after all. Well known to do a “chuckles’ in that he suddenly appears in the papers when all is going well, yet suddenly goes missing in action when they’re not. Last seen in Teesside building a wooden canoe for reasons not currently known.

Ian Smith – There was a period fairly early on in the World Cup final when Smith was on commentary with Michael Atherton and Michael Holding. There followed half an hour or so of cricketing nirvana, as the three of them talked with intelligence, humour that didn’t veer into slapstick, and deep insight into the game of cricket that was an unadulterated pleasure to listen to. His calling of the super over was commentary brilliance, and made everyone regret his departure at the tournament’s conclusion. So what is he doing on this list? Well he still can’t pronounce fish and chips properly and I’m sorry, but that’s enough reason for anyone.

Simon Kuper – Have you read that Ed Smith interview? Have you? Any pretence of remaining a hard hitting journalist evaporated in the opening stanza. “Ed Smith, England’s chief cricket selector, has been irritatingly over-blessed by the gods: brainy, courteous, a former England batsman, admired author and well-dressed man. This morning he strides into a King’s Cross café in sunglasses and a wound scarf that scream Saint-Tropez, 1963.” But it gets better when he asks the startling naive: “Today is day four of the fourth Ashes test. Shouldn’t he be in Manchester watching England-Australia?” The correct answer is “Because they were about to lose the Ashes, and he didn’t want the cameras on him,” you pillock. The easiest answer is usually the best one, Simon. Call your next book Cricket Against The Plagiarists. Instead of worshiping one.

Peter Lalor – The fact that everyone knows about Lalor for the fact that he got wrongly charged an exorbitant amount for a beer at the Malmaison in Manchester rather than for anything he has ever written about says a lot about his journalism. I mean who has $99,000 AUS in their account? My card would have spontaneously combusted at 1/10th of that cost.

Matt Prior – Cycling guru who used to be fairly handy with the willow and gloves for England. Has kept a fairly low cricketing profile since retiring from the game, low enough to avoid making an appearance on the KP documentary because he found it too difficult, though The Edge was apparently worthy of his input.  Resurfaced recently to quite gloriously provoke Shane Warne into a fantastically Australian response that reasserted their national obsession with telling everyone else where the line is and (even better) managed to get Chris Adams caught in the crossfire.

Denis – Cricket “writer”, shit stirrer and now a government spokesman for Pakistan. The world of cricket writing takes you to curious places, curious situations and curiouser outcomes. Does he still write a blog? I have absolutely no idea. We might spell his name wrongly one day, too.

Bob Willis – It remains the case that England having a bad day or (better still) a catastrophic day gives cause to wishing to tune into the Sky Cricket review just to see how Uncle Bob will respond to it. He rarely disappoints, providing significant entertainment with a generally epic rant that causes no end of amusement. Tends to be less comfortable when Charles Colville asks him a difficult question or (worse still) reminds him of something he’d said previously that contradicted it entirely. Given the ruthless culling of Gower and Botham, his time in the chair may be somewhat limited but he remains worth having just for the baleful sneer usually aimed at England batsmen who fully deserve it.

Scyld Berry – There is a place in cricket and in journalism for the gloriously bonkers hack who switches between acute insight and the most unadultered bullshit, seemingly at will. His player ratings are the stuff of legend, particularly during the Cook era where the sainted one managing to put his shoes on the right way around was generally worthy of an 8. Hasn’t quite got the hang of Twitter where people have been known to answer back to his tweets.

Andy Flower – I honestly thought he had left the ECB but he has instead being maintaining a “dignified silence” ( © Paul Newman). One might infer that he was staying quiet until there was a single English cricketer who had been improved by their time at Loughborough or the Lions team under his tenure. Zero successes in five years is a pretty remarkable statistic. Perhaps he’s enjoying his new celebrity after the release of The Edge: A documentary about his time in charge of the England men’s team and how he drove several players to their physical and/or mental breaking points. Still inexplicably employed by the ECB to prepare young and promising players for international cricket. Still waiting for that first success story too.

img_6006

Gary Ballance – It’s ironic for Gary to be blessed with such a surname when balance and poise are the two things he severely lacks at the crease. If you believe Twitter, you’d have thought that England had left out the new Brian Lara rather than a chubby Zimbabwean whose foot movement looks like he has 2 bricks attached to each boot. Dropped twice owing to the fact that his pads are an even bigger target than Shane Watson’s.

Chris Silverwood – Has somehow managed to persuade Stuart Broad and the rest of the English bowlers to pitch it up in useful conditions, which is something that many have tried and failed before. Naturally this is totally unacceptable behaviour and will harm his chances of becoming England’s Head Coach massively despite leading an un-fancied Essex team to the County Championship. Will probably be let go in the next England revolution for a bowling coach who wants to put the wind up the opposing batsmen.

Wisden Cricket Monthly – Here’s a funny thing. During the World Cup, the bulk of the writing staff for this prestigious magazine appeared to have been seconded to the ICC’s own official World Cup site. Let’s just say that their reporting on the ICC’s machinations in future will be treated with considerable caution.

Mexican Waves – Probably one of my biggest bugbears. Just watch the bloody game that you’ve bought overpriced tickets for and drunk ridiculously expensive pissy beer. Anyone who is found starting one of these should have the choice of facing Jofra Archer in the nets for an hour without a helmet or becoming Simon Hughes’ full time secretary. That should cut them out in next to no time.

Twitter Pseuds – You know how this works. A player strokes a cover drive off a reasonably decent bowler, in a televised match, and it’s not enough, by heaven it isn’t, to say “cracking shot”, it’s “I want to take that cover drive for dinner, wine it, dine it, and take it to a luxury spa for a three week getaway in a tropical paradise”. That sort of shit. That sort of nonsense. There are many culprits, BR isn’t just the former initials of our national railway and VE isn’t just the day the world celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany. Yeah. At least our Twitter feed is funny!

Guardian Below The Line – BTL. A haven for the unaware, over praised, self assured, convinced of their own brilliance, and masters of fawning over Lord, Victor and any other writer who gets their well-heeled juices flowing. While some of this parish still venture into this land of one-eyed, where the blind is king, it has been avoided for many a day by those keen to maintain sanity. Blogs are for ruffians they say. Scoundrels. Bilious Inadequates. Non-county cricket fans. There are no think tanks in Southern Ireland, ECB fanboys can speak and thrill themselves, and the beat goes on.

Sky Cricket Channel Subscribers – Not all, but you know the kind. The one who pays THEIR subscription, and when a world-scale event gets to a Final, and is put on free-to-air for long-term benefit, complains that they have paid their subs, so “Why should those who don’t pay when I do, get to experience what I have paid MY MONEY for”. They proliferated on the Guardian which, as self-awareness goes, is either miles ahead of your time or you are a weapons grade idiot. They think the bigger picture is their Sky bill, and THEIR sacrifice for English Cricket. After all, “it’s only a cup of coffee a day to subscribe”. Really. I have two espressos a day, and they cost 60p. Where the hell are you buying your brew, you gullible twits? And that’s not a day pass on Sky, I can assure you. I don’t hear the moans about Sky not picking up all available overseas cricket, endless repeats of Masterclass and their own series, and Legends of Cricket. No. Don’t let the hoi polloi in, whatever you do. I PAID for this.

Sky Subscribers who don’t have access to BT Sport:  The last away Ashes highlighted a particular breed, the smug tossers who have a Sky account, but who don’t have a BT one. All of a sudden they started complaining and whining about having to pay for cricket, even though it was, to use their above justification, just a coffee or two a day. It wasn’t just ordinary people on Twitter either (you can always find someone to complain about something). It was journalists and even the ECB piling in to object to a broadcaster other than Sky daring to show England play cricket, and finding that they might have to spend a bit of their own money to do so. The lack of self-awareness was astounding, as though the aristocracy had been denied their particular wine supplier because Laithwaites (oh my, shudder) had hoovered up the contracts. Some might say that being that wedded to thinking Sky were the good guys was somewhat instructive about where their loyalties lie, but we couldn’t possibly comment. Oh, ok we will – it was frankly embarrassing.

Miss Me Yet

Paul Downton – We simply couldn’t have an ‘outside cricket list’ without the man who helped give us our ‘nomme de guerre’. Sorely missed for his press conferences, interviews and any other time he was on TV as he made the rest of us look like Professors of Classics from Cambridge University.

Marnus Labuschagne – Labooscayne, Labuskakne, Laboochange, Laboochanya….oh sod it.

Near Misses:

Isa Guha – Erstwhile commentator who has managed to break up the laddish banter on Sky. Announced that she will be the lead presenter on the BBC’s Hundred coverage – Why Isa? Why?

Ali Martin – Chief Cricket correspondent for the Guardian who has restored the their cricket coverage to something resembling normality after his predecessor got moved on. Still won’t meet us for a beer mind and definitely needs to do something about that beard.

Matthew Wade – Australian gob-shite whose mouth is far more talented than his ability on the cricket field. England allowed him to score 2 centuries in the Ashes to cement his place in the Aussie squad. You’re welcome Australia.

Giles Clarke – The original cockroach who has finally been turfed out of the ECB. Responsible for many of the ills befalling English Cricket.

A Simply Charming Man – Still My Favourite GC picture…

Jofra Archer’s Twitter account – It’s all getting a bit tedious now isn’t it.

Michael Holding – Often seems more interested in what is going on in the horse racing than on the cricket field; however he brilliantly put the execs at Sunset & Vine in their place during the World Cup. One of our number met him at Lords this year and can confirm he is a top guy.

Peter Moores – Former two time England Head Coach with a penchant for nicking the best players from smaller counties. Hasn’t stopped him from being relegated twice mind. So much for the English coach of his generation. Likes data.

Ashley Giles – New Director, England Cricket. Given the benefit of the doubt as he is still new in post. Nailed on to make the list should we ever do another one.

Andrew Miller – Only to remark that one of our editorial board thinks the sun shines out of his rear end and that he should write more. Have we forgotten someone?


This list is arbitrary, unfair and the result of the four of us having to wait a few years before we could have our views expressed on certain individuals (outside of our tremendous Glossary, of course).

If you’re on the list and are offended, then good, our work is done here. If you aren’t, you are either too good, too dull or now too irrelevant for us to write about.

The Editorial Team….

Advertisements

Don’t Worry Be Happy – Unhappy Outside Cricket Day

“From the heart
It’s a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothing’s strange
People, people we are the same
No we’re not the same
‘Cause we don’t know the game
What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved let’s get down to business
Mental self defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
To make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be”

Fight The Power – Public Enemy

By happy chance the 9th February, what we call Outside Cricket Day, coincides with the start of a test match. This in a test series that has tested the patience of many in the blogging, journalistic and punditry community. One that has social media scratching its heads – were we really this arrogant, did we think this could not happen – but one that is defying explanation. But as much as I love cricket, and love test cricket in particular, there’s something that rattled my cage more than any England collapse, and indicated to me that nothing has truly moved on since 2014.

For me the series was “marred” with a lunchtime interview held between Sky’s Ian Ward and the ECB’s Tom Harrison – that conversation was referred to in Sean’s piece yesterday and please read it if you haven’t had the chance.. If you want to know why (a) I called this blog Being Outside Cricket and (b) why the name is as relevant today as it was then, then sit back and relax and watch Ian Ward lob marshmallows at an ECB honcho who calls his interviewer “Wardy”, thinks everything is “fantastic” and then goes on to basically tell everyone that he has evidence to suggest the Hundred will work, and you cricket fans know nothing. Oh, and we won’t show you this evidence. Presumably because we are too stupid to interpret it. It was the dancing act of a charlatan – a leader so unsure of the ground he stood on that he convinced us, or at least tried, to say he was on the summit, and we were the plebs at the bottom of the mountain. It should have fooled none of you. Just as the infamous press release five years ago today should not have fooled you. But to some it did. Or ignored it wilfully because the arrogance suited their prejudice.

I have little idea how many are relatively new to this blog, or don’t recall How Did We Lose in Adelaide – my largely (until 2014) ignored forerunner. But the Outside Cricket quote comes from the magical 2014 press release excoriating those who had the temerity to question the dropping of Kevin Pietersen and the motives behind it (because the ECB had imposed gagging orders – the idiotic muppets – and KP’s side agreed to it), and labelled them as some voices “outside cricket” (I’ve referred to a number of posts, and linked them below). Outside cricket became a meme. A rallying cry. A thing to enrage and insult. It didn’t take long to find out the brains behind it.

A scan of the Cricketer’s Who’s Who from the mid-eighties revealed a quote from one Paul Rupert Downton about a life outside cricket, so we put two and two together as to the mastermind behind this release. As a tool to get their point across – that Piers Morgan should shut his trap – it was spectacularly dumb. He brought all the other cricket fans at their wits end under an umbrella of “Outside Cricket” as if we were the tiresome riff-raff with no stake in the game, and rather a noisy hindrance from the real priority of making money, and consolidating power. The inference being that if you weren’t a player, a coach, a manager, support staff or a bloody administrator, you weren’t “Inside Cricket”. You were an unperson. After all.

“But you must know it was about Piers Morgan” said the useful idiots, including some of the media. Loathe him or despise him, Piers Morgan plays club cricket, loves the game (one of us knows that for absolute certain), and has an opinion. The only difference is that he is given a megaphone to voice it, and often, as part of his whole raison d’etre, he does it to self-publicise and to get a reaction. Other than that, he’s me, he’s you. He’s Maxie. He’s Danny. He’s James. He’s Sean. He’s Chris (who has played club cricket against him). He’s every one of you who voices his opinion on the game on Twitter. We may not like him, but he vocalised a lot of our anger. You may loathe what he stands for, but you are, and have been, lumped in with him. Outside. Not really a cricket person. Buy your tickets, pay your subs, and shut the hell up. A more careful crafter of the message may not have given the game away. But the phrase wasn’t a one off. As we’ve showed. To the then director, or whatever he was, viewed cricket as insiders and outsiders.

We followed up a lot on these issues – I spent most of the year doing it and like to think I got outside cricket into the mainstream. In 2014, Maxie also led the charge. I admired the bloke’s sheer gusto and he kept me going – a beer I had with him a few months in was as valuable a session I had had. I work a lot on confidence. James wrote some bloody good stuff then too, which I loved because it was what we were doing. Chris and Arron were doing their thing on below the lines on the Telegraph and Guardian. I was getting insults, but there was a feeling of being in a group that really cared. But Maxie inspired the troops. He’s still missed.

I passed on the Outside Cricket day last year, because I actually felt more outside than ever after the Ashes and the quite mad reaction to a dead rubber double ton – and the fans of the game who disagreed with me. I’m human. Alastair Cook was partly a poster child for the Outside Cricket debate, and that played a part. The whole farewell stuff was interesting in that context. For some, it was the establishment telling us to reward one of their own. For some it was a bridge too far. He was certainly feted. He divided people almost as much as the true victim of 2014. But we always, well I always said, that it was never just about KP. It was about an attitude. A state of mind.

But as we enter 2019, the messages that the powers are conveying may not be as obvious, but they are still there, and alive and well. Their focus isn’t emanating from the strangely silent Colin Graves, who appears to have undergone a removal of his voice box, but from Tom Harrison. I dubbed the guy an “Empty Suit” from the first time I heard him. He came from a sports management firm, he had TV rights backgrounds, he had played county cricket. At least he hadn’t waltzed in from a career in stockbroking. But from Day One, and certainly after the Day of Trust when KP was finally excommunicated, he was on thin ice. His attitude to the new competition, and to the county fans who don’t need the weatherman to tell him its pissing down, has been cut from the same cloth as the Giles / Downton days. “I know best. I don’t need to explain it to you. I have evidence, you can’t see it. I am responsible, you are not. I want to innovate whether you like it or not. I appear to believe I am the font of all knowledge.” Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

So while we burn as Tom Harrison fiddles, and while county cricket gets the blame for not producing test cricketers, so as a reward gets even further downgraded, let us remember that what mattered back on the original Outside Cricket press release was inner sanctums, leaking (by players, certainly not by management, who were like a drainpipe with holes), team culture, ethics, trust, and the best of all…. questioning the rationale of the decision making at the ECB. How very dare you.

Chris has written a number of times on how the recreational game is not even on the ECB’s radar – not counting the involvement of children via the schemes trialled – and there are many passionate defenders of the county game out there doing their thing, appalled at its marginalisation, disgusted at it being sabotaged, repelled by it being blamed when the England team goes wrong.

We are aghast at the muddled thinking in the test team at the moment (I genuinely don’t buy that you have to prioritise one thing over another) so an awful lot of eggs are being placed in the World Cup basket (anyone who thinks the third test selection is clarity should call their doctor on Monday morning). Any decent organisation knows that concentrating risk onto one unpredictable entity is a recipe for disaster, but that’s what the World Cup appears to be. Maybe they believe home advantage will win the Ashes. It would be very foolish not to question the ECB’s rationale, wouldn’t it, with their track record of ignoring setbacks and jumping at any success.

Years of invisibility, caused by short-sighted greed, behind a paywall has meant the cache of a World Cup win is needed to kick-start their precious Hundred. There’s no other strategy in play. We’ve won the last two Ashes and it didn’t push the needle, no matter how hard they seemed to try. The farewell of Cook was responded by the BBC TV SPOTY jamboree virtually ignoring it, no matter how hard Agnew tried, no matter how appalled he was at the snub. Instead of us being Outside Cricket, maybe cricket itself is on the outside, and the way back is not a clear path. Acknowledgement of the errors of the past would be nice – it would show some humanity – but it might be a bit too late to do anything about it, other than desperation. And desperation is not the hallmark of competence. Or of the ability of that entity to insult anyone.

So commemorate the day, remember the rubbish we’ve put up with, and recall how our questioning of the rationale employed, such as it is, by the ECB has been carried out by a clown show including Giles Clarke, Paul Downton, James Whitaker, Colin Graves and Tom Harrison. If you are content with this, I admire your fortitude. To me it looks like a load of overpaid, over-egoed, over sure of themselves, know-it-alls who think the only evidence you need is their word. I’m not saying we have all the answers. But acknowledging the questions from us, and all those on social media who so deeply care, would be a start. We really have never been anything other than outside to them.

Proudly Outside Cricket.

The piece ends here, but I did add some extra information below from the time. Three blog posts. One from me, one from Wrong ‘un at Long On, and one from Maxie. Call it the notes to the piece if you want. I call it vital context.

—————————————————————————————————————

And don’t come back….

 

Below are a few excerpts and pieces from the day (and just after) itself. They are well worth re-reading, even if I say so myself. I miss both the other two writing.

Appendix to piece – “Know Your Place” – 9th February 2014 (from How Did We Lose In Adelaide)

KNOW YOUR PLACE by Dmitri Old

I stumbled across a Tweet from the Cricket Magazine, suggesting that a Press Release from the ECB was imminent on L’Affaire KP. Muppet Pringle seemed a little put out that his Sunday afternoon was being disrupted, as was the terminally annoying Jeremiah Agnew. As 3 pm passed, there was no Statement; Pringle then questioned who said it was 3pm? Leveraging his sources at the ECB, who have been leveraged quite a bit in the last few weeks it seems, Pringle announced a couple of deadlines later in the day. When the statement finally arrived on the Twitter feed, all the cricket bloggers, eager for news, were matched by the press, who seemed somewhat tired of the whole process.

Anyone not paying attention to this saga can’t get the real time feelings this wait exposed. We’d seen the Sky Sports programme, where Steve Harmison gave a player’s perspective, as a man who shared a dressing room with KP, against a journo and Bob Willis, who has decided KP is just the sort of charismatic maverick, tired of authority and false prophets, that he obviously never held against Ian Botham. The same old arguments rehashed. The establishment side saying KP can’t be trusted, the counter view being he should be managed better.

Then there was the poll on Sky – 87% or so saying it was wrong he should be dropped. This is not something on which only one side is passionate, and thus skewed. The comments against KP are every bit as vicious as those supporting our batsman and attacking those who made the decision. Less than 1% of those commenting know anything about KP other than what they’ve seen in media controlled settings or how he carries himself on the field. He hasn’t said a word, other than a couple of tweets/facebook posts since his sacking, yet is accused of waging a media assault on the decision. Whichever way you look at it, those who are the paying public who have spoken out are miles more in favour of him being kept than ditched. In the absence of a sackable offence, which is being played down by all and sundry, then we are left asking “can’t we at least try to keep our best batsman” (and no, no, no – Ian Bell is not better than KP. Please stop that now.)

So, with baited breath we read the KP statement from the ECB. And to a man, the blogosphere were gobsmacked. It wasn’t that this was never going to say anything that would dump on KP. Strauss had played a not too subtle card earlier in the day with his “lack of trust” speech, which was absolutely no way encouraged by the ECB, former colleagues and or anyone linked with Team England. Despite the floods, I’m sure he’s very happy talking to the Flowers. It was several of the more hissy-fit statements, and a couple of belting statements that had gasps of derision from the cricket blogging fraternity.

First – the future:

However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.

We MUST invest in our captain Alastair Cook. England only sack captains these days if they rock the boat. Literally in the form of Andrew Flintoff, who copped it after Fredalo, and figuratively in KP’s case. Being a laugh, or having a forceful opinion is grounds for sacking. Being widely condemned as clueless, unadventurous, and out of his depth in Australia is not reason to sack the captain. A captain needs full support with everyone pulling in the same direction – yes, everyone loves Michael Clarke in the Australian dressing room, just ask Shane Watson – and because KP might think that the winter’s farce was down to an overbearing coach passed his sell-by date, and a dutiful captain out of his depth, that’s it. As Ian Chappell said yesterday, if players weren’t making comments about Cook’s captaincy, they were doing the team a disservice.

Following the announcement of that decision, allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England’s players.

This is the bit that really riles me and my ilk. Outside cricket here is a catch-all for the ECB to rather peevishly have a go at Piers Morgan. Number one, the ECB should just ignore a man who feeds off the oxygen of reactions. Secondly,by casting a tent over the ECB, the players and those in the press privy to these going ons, you are not inside, you are outside. As someone, rightly, said, four days before this announcement Paul Downton was “outside cricket”. There in lies the true inner feelings that the ECB have stated loud and clear. Pay your ticket money, your sky subscriptions and shut the fuck up.

Secondly, with this bit, is the laughable line about attacking the rationale for the ECB’s decision-making. James Whitaker’s laughable first interview as Chairman of Selectors didn’t exactly put the doubters to bed about his integrity, ability and decision-making skills. A controlled interview he failed to control, a phone going off which the ECB have got mad about with Sky because they broadcast the interview as live, and weren’t totally in compliance with their demands, and evasion and obfuscation hiding behind legalities was not an auspicious start. Downton has said nothing in front of a camera. Cook has gone to ground. Flower has been quiet sorting out his new role. Giles wants the England job, so isn’t going to be talking. In the absence of anyone talking, we’ve basically been asked to trust an organisation that is keeping on in some capacity the coach that lost 5-0, is backing the captain that lost 5-0, and sacking a player who scored the most runs for us in Australia (albeit, at a poor average). I watched the collapse at the MCG on the 3rd day that handed the game to Australia. I saw player after player play stupid shot after stupid shot. If I’d have been KP, I’d have been pissed off, given the light shining on him at Perth. The rationale? How can we question it, when all it seems to us is that KP’s a bit awkward, and we don’t want our lame duck captain to be any more lame than he already is.

But then, I’m outside cricket.

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.

I’ll reproduce my Tweet when I get the chance. This is hilarious. The ECB is a source of so much stuff it is untrue. Players leak all over the place. Freddie Flintoff, not a man I have a ton of time for, tweeted that if this was such a source of angst, maybe they should have fired Duncan Fletcher and some of his team-mates for their comments about him in 2006. The fact is that we all see the stories out there which go something like “The Telegraph understands that….” or “The Mail can exclusively reveal that…” These are players and officials briefing out of school. For the ECB to get pissy because KP told Moron before the announcement that he’d been fired is hilarious. It seems that instead of players and officials leaking about a fiery team meeting, they are somewhat interestingly, putting the blame elsewhere. KP hasn’t said he slagged off Flower. Moron is accusing Prior and/or Cook of doing it. Or are Muppet Pringle, Mike Selvey and Paul Newman integral parts of Team England? Has anyone extricated Nick Hoult from the ECB canteen yet?

Whilst respecting that principle, it is important to stress that Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who have all been singled out for uninformed and unwarranted criticism, retain the total confidence and respect of all the other members of the Ashes party.

You need to back Cook, and yet feel KP won’t. Who thinks he won’t. None of the players seem overly fussed. Graeme Swann, and reportedly Stuart Broad, hardly two founder members of the KP Fan Club, have said KP has been fine. Cook said he should go on for quite a while on Boxing Day, and then Ashley Giles called him a Million Dollar Player. Only when Cook was questioned about KP’s future later on in the tour was the temperature changed. To say that our criticism is uninformed, is because you’ve not informed anyone about what he’s done that’s so heinous that you need to ditch your most attacking player. Whether this criticism is unwarranted, frankly, is not for the ECB to judge. Again, one can’t get away from the smell of the educated officer class telling the plebs to shut the fuck up.

If KP has done something so terrible, then have the courage of your convictions and fire him. You’d have no shortage of media lickspittles to do your bidding. Because you can’t produce a smoking gun, you let us decide what the motivation is when you say nothing. To me it seems that you back a yes man like Cook, who is insecure because a popular (with the people) maverick like KP, not frightened to open his mouth when things go bad, and instead of saying get on with it, you’ve thrown the best batsman out with the bathwater, and instead of strengthening Cook’s position, you’ve made him look weak. The conclusion is that KP was a customer to hot for Cook to handle. Instead of this being an indictment on Cook (and Flower’s) leadership, you treated it as time to part. Yet again, we are the only cricketing nation who doesn’t give its top players a chance to bow out on their own terms unless they are good little boys. As was rightly said, somewhere on line, if Shane Warne were English, he’d have been booted out before 200 wickets. We can’t produce another Ian Botham, because one “gin-swilling dodderers” remark would have him out on his ear.

This statement was all about Know Your Place.

The citadel needs to be stormed. Not for KP, but for the next talented player with an opinion and ambition.

============================================================

Appendix 2 – Wrong’Un At Long On (of this parish) has more of the press release – and his comments:

It has been a matter of great frustration that until now the England and Wales Cricket Board has been unable to respond to the unwarranted and unpleasant criticism of England players and the ECB itself, which has provided an unwelcome backdrop to the recent negotiations to release Kevin Pietersen from his central contract.

“Unwarranted”? ….”unwelcome backdrop”!?

Those negotiations have been successfully concluded and whilst both parties remain bound by confidentiality provisions the ECB would like to make the following comments.

“successfully”!!!!?!!!

The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade. He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman.

FACT.

However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.

There are a lot of hints to be gleaned when reading between the lines here. Nothing concrete, of course, let alone an example.

Following the announcement of that decision, allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England’s players.

“People outside cricket”, like Paul Downton was 3 weeks ago?

“Attacking the rationale of”…getting rid of your best batsman?

“Questioned without justification”…try seeing our best and most exciting player be sacked without justification.

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.

Clearly.

Whilst respecting that principle, it is important to stress that Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who have all been singled out for uninformed and unwarranted criticism, retain the total confidence and respect of all the other members of the Ashes party.

“Uninformed and unwarranted”!?!! 0-5.

These are men who care deeply about the fortunes of the England team and its image, and it is ironic that they were the people who led the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen into the England squad in 2012.

Oh, the cruel irony.

—————————————————————————-

A statement which can ONLY have been designed to add fuel to the fire. Nothing new therefore pointless and frustratingly uninformative, not to mention being really rather rude to anyone with an opinion which goes against the actions of the ECB.

I don’t necessarily want Pietersen back if he is going to be a disruptive nightmare which makes the 10 other players in a cricket team play shit. I do however want some form of good reason behind ditching our best batsman other than shoddy management. From the outside looking in, the combined trio of Flower, Cook and Prior had a lot more to do with the shambolic 5-0 loss than Kevin Pietersen, yet they are being backed to the hilt whilst Kevin Pietersen is the fall guy.

The ECB should treat it’s customers with more respect and either give us something or just shut up – Kevin Pietersen’s silence has played the situation x10 times better than they have. This is playing wildly at a ball they really should have left; it is a terrible start to Paul Downton’s tenure, another failure from Andy Flower, and hardly a strong chapter in Alastair Cook’s book.

===============================================================

Appendix 3 – Maxie in the Full Toss: (Full link to a modern classic) – https://www.thefulltoss.com/england-cricket-blog/shut-up-and-keep-buying-the-tickets-that-ecb-press-release-in-full/ )

“Allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England’s players”.

Herein lies the kicker, the real giveaway. “People outside cricket”.

Three little words which acutely betray the ECB’s insularity, elitism, snobbery, and self-interest.

“People outside cricket”.

Those may well be the three most revolting words ever uttered by a sporting body. Because what they mean is this: unless you are an insider – attached to the ECB, or an ally, or a sympathetic journalist – you’re not allowed to hold a view.

What is “people outside cricket” even supposed to mean? Who is entitled to define that? Does it mean anyone professionally engaged in cricket, or just players? Do retired players count? Commentators? What about Michael Vaughan and Steve Harmison – both critical of the ECB and no longer connected to it.

I’ll tell you who it certainly doesn’t mean: us. You might think that by following a county and the England team, and paying for the privilege, and expending our time and passion, that that makes us “inside cricket”. Oh no. We are the ignorant proletariat, incapable and unworthy of a valid opinion about cricket.

Those three words lay bare the ECB’s feudal despotism and egomania. They translate as: know your place. Keep quiet. Respect your betters. Just keep buying the tickets.

Many have deduced that this paragraph was aimed solely at Piers Morgan, but I suspect not. It is the ECB’s attempt to quell a rebellion – their canister of tear gas fired into a rioting crowd, their rolling of tanks into Tiananmen Square.

But if it indeed it was only about Piers, then how petty and self-indulgent of the ECB to use their statement purely to get their own back against a single critic, rather than actually provide supporters with  the answers we deserve.

And seeing how Piers is a regular England spectator and has played club cricket in Sussex all his life – is he really “outside cricket”?

In truth, the ECB are incandescent with rage at our insolence and disobedience, and in their fury, have resorted to blaming everyone but themselves. They never anticipated the deluge of anger and vitriol they received via social media. In response, the ECB’s PR operation – outraged at the scale of the insurrection and their loss of control – have performed the equivalent of running their keys down the side of Piers Morgan’s Jag.

==========================================================

A Simply Charming Man

Outside Cricket Day

Outside Cricket Day 9 Feb

I love an anniversary. I’m into that sort of nonsense.

You have to admire the timing of the latest nonsense. Eoin Morgan exclusively reveals to the Daily Mail that the door is shut on Kevin Pietersen. We knew it was, of course we did. For to say it isn’t would mean answering many, many questions more than reinstating him would. To reinstate him wouldn’t placate us, and would only enrage those who so “loyally” follow the team, and we can’t have them upset too. And, most importantly, it would require the authorities to say they were wrong. They might even have to profer a little apology. We’ve waited two years for that. We’ve waited two years for someone to tell us – you know us, the cricket fans who actually liked watching him play, who thought England teams on merit. Two years? Yes, two years today….. when those in charge told us truly what they felt.

It was a Sunday evening two years ago when the ECB and the PCA (and my God we must never forget that the PCA were co-authors of this press release. Never forget that) issued that infamous press release that gave the game away…

It is still there. On line. No remorse, no regret….

It has been a matter of great frustration that until now the England and Wales Cricket Board has been unable to respond to the unwarranted and unpleasant criticism of England players and the ECB itself, which has provided an unwelcome backdrop to the recent negotiations to release Kevin Pietersen from his central contract.

Those negotiations have been successfully concluded and whilst both parties remain bound by confidentiality provisions the ECB would like to make the following comments.

The ECB recognises the significant contribution Kevin has made to England teams over the last decade. He has played some of the finest innings ever produced by an England batsman.

However, the England team needs to rebuild after the whitewash in Australia. To do that we must invest in our captain Alastair Cook and we must support him in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen.

Following the announcement of that decision, allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England’s players.

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.

Whilst respecting that principle, it is important to stress that Andy Flower, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, who have all been singled out for uninformed and unwarranted criticism, retain the total confidence and respect of all the other members of the Ashes party.

These are men who care deeply about the fortunes of the England team and its image, and it is ironic that they were the people who led the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen into the England squad in 2012.

It is just a work of art. The Canaletto of condescension. Read it again and again, and the eyes still focus, laser like, not on their pathetic efforts to nudge-nudge, wink-wink their accusations against Pietersen, but on that phrase “some from people outside cricket”.

As usual, we will be accused by our critics of saying “well, you know they meant Piers Morgan so why do you get upset?” but that spectacularly misses the point. They cast the phrase “outside cricket” to mean anyone outside the playing, running and reporting of the game. Pure and simple. Morgan plays the game, watches the game and is a fan of the game. They knew that. Oh no. Don’t sell me that twaddle because I’m not buying. You can’t just pass off high-handedness that easily. We’ll have the usual eye rollers, the usual discounting of the views, pissed off less at the comments being made, more that we’re still making them.

I love that press release. It’s the petrol in my engine. Whenever I feel doubts as to why I write, I read this. The author, because, as we’ve seen from some little background research that the outside cricket phrase had been used by this key player, was spectacularly bad at his job and was removed (we’ll wait and see if the compo package appears in this year’s annual accounts, as David Collier’s appeared to be stated in the last one). We remember how those “inside cricket” said he had aplomb, was impressive, was helpful behind the scenes, while those outside were a little more careful in jumping to such lengths of adoration.

But what I’ve found in the last two years as that we’re no more inside cricket now than we were two years ago. The ECB felt a successful England team would be the antidote to the rage and fury, but it really hasn’t. Indeed, it is the ECB that leaves people less than keen on the team’s progress. The ECB of the Big Three stitch-up, something no-one should be interested in according to their man on the ICC top table. The ECB who thinks “trust” is a viable selection criterion. I’ll give them one thing – they’ve cured most of the leaking, which is nice, but I’m wondering if that is coincidence as it seemed to dry up a lot more once Clarke was shunted off to the ICC.

But there is hope. The ICC might be coming to their senses, and India may be a more receptive figure to change, which rather casts the remaining head honcho of the Big Three still there in a different, more challenging light. Death of a Gentleman played a small part in saying what many “outside cricket” fear – test cricket is dying, the game is run as a closed shop, and fans are there “to be monetised” (and never have a say). The journalists now feel a bit more reinforced now the test team has stabilised and won a couple of impressive series, but they still preach to us as mere neophytes, rather than lengthy watchers of the game, just like them.

So much made over two words. Oh yes. Because they spoke volumes. After all, you lot are still here after two years. It meant something. It still does. We are outside. We are not welcome. We are the irrelevant ones.

Two years on, it applies every bit as much as it did then. My thanks to Paul Downton. A legacy for a lifetime. Oh. And don’t forget the PCA. They agreed it. That’s important.

Wooden Outside Cricket Sign
And don’t come back….

Wolfy Blast

Before I start, let me point you in the direction of two excellent pieces I read today.

Andrew Miller’s piece on Alastair Cook (and thanks to SimonH for the heads up) is the sort of writing that the Cricketer misses. It doesn’t tally with all I believe in this saga, but it’s well put together, it comes across as considered, even-handed and evidential, and despite one use of “conspiracy theorist”, I’ll let Andrew off as his description of the “outside cricket” statement nails it. More on that below.

Also, David Oram’s piece on the ostracising of Reds Perreira and Tony Cozier, as well as Kenny Benjamin and Michael Holding, from West Indian commentary puts some of the below piece into perspective. It couldn’t happen here? Well, we had “something must be done” and the reported KP request. Who knows. Ruling bodies seem to think the sport is about them.

So to the meat of the argument.

As per usual I’m going to kick a piece off and not really knowing where it is going to end up. But the very minor events of last night, as a reaction to a post that had a brief shelf-life called “Hardly” was almost amazing, even by the standards of some of the stuff that had been seen in the HDWLIA days. A blog that was going slightly moribund as I tried so hard to get up for the Ashes had a rant laid down before it and I can tell you, by the hit rate, which gets the readers’ juices flowing and what doesn’t. I mentioned on a frank twitter exchange with someone we might know that I wrote what I did last night as a partial experiment. I wanted to see if I could still get the rage going, still see if it’s what the readership react to. It wasn’t contrived AT ALL, but it’s a piece I’ve avoided writing for quite a while now.

The fact is that the whole of the last 18 months has got me in a combative mood towards those that challenge me, and more, the opinions I hold. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a rebel of any kind. I am not some political animal who rages against everything. What does annoy me is being told what to think, told what I am thinking, told something without evidence and treated like an idiot. And yes, I don’t like being misrepresented, and in the case of last night’s post, I believe I misrepresented Lawrence Booth’s position. I certainly did not misrepresent Paul Newman’s.

The problem with the 140 character format is you can leap to your own conclusions and they may be wrong. The problem with the longer reading format is you can leap to your own conclusions on the basis of a couple of sentences. I am particularly touchy when it comes to the inside/outside cricket thing. After all, the blog is named after that phrase. To belittle its significance is, in a small way, belittling the premise of this blog. On that February day, and frankly you can stick all the excuses you want, a professional organisation has no excuses for it, the authorities, having sacked a prominent player, and told the paying public to just accept it, threw in a phrase “outside cricket”. We aren’t a bunch of muppets, we knew full well what they were talking about, and it was one man. But instead of calling him out, they thought they’d be clever. They could have said “certain individuals”, “associates of people involved”, or anything like that. No, they put in the phrase “outside cricket”. It may have meant one man, but it opened the window into their DNA. We’re inside, and if you’re not inside, you’re outside, which means shut the hell up, and butt out.

So many journos are rapid to emphasise the first part – the Piers Morgan part – as if we’re elementary school pupils who need education by constant repetition. No. Increasingly a number, not all, journalists need to have that method applied to the true insight on outside cricket. There is an attitude around that say we are too touchy about it, that it was clumsy, that it wasn’t meant as implied, that it was really all about one person. Well, they knew the storm it caused, and apology there has been none. If there was, I certainly missed it. The ECB acted like all arrogant, out of touch organisations do. It wasn’t going to admit it had made a mistake. Instead, they’d hope us shallow proles would be ameliorated by performances on the field and new fresh brands etc. (note – Andrew Miller says exactly the same in his excellent piece on Alastair Cook) In short, they hoped the team would dig them out and make us forget.

When that didn’t work, we were marginalised. Attempts were made to make us look like idiots. False dawns were (and still are) exaggerated beyond belief. How many pieces do we see about bilious inadequate, the phenomenon of social media and the silent majority codswallop? It’s again, as if we are too stupid to understand. I see our hit rates for a month, and the number of visitors we get. I know this blog is seen by a very small section of the cricket community. Fine by me. While the message can be intemperate, maybe a bit OTT, from my behalf, I didn’t exactly get noticed by being all sweetness and light. Because to do that you become neutered. When an unreasonable party faces someone being aggressive, they tend to blame that party for being unreasonable. To divert attention away from their own failings. I’m really not like that. Nor are many of the readers here.

This is rare from me, but I do apologise to Lawrence, having considered my position overnight, for perhaps reacting in the wrong way to his tweets. If the first paragraph of “Hardly” had been more clear, maybe he could see why, but that’s not enough from me to justify my jumping the gun. I have to recognise when I’ve over-stepped the mark and over-reacted. Lawrence has been someone prepared to break bread with me, and I think using his tweet to post that item was not the brightest thing I’ve ever done. I can still see why I reacted to it the way I did, but I needed to stop and think. We should all learn along the way. I am not one who will let that Piers Morgan / Outside Cricket thing pass, but also Lawrence’s Wisden notes, his comments, and what he says to me along the way, I should have taken into account. My mistake.

There comes a point when you blog, and 18 months full on is pretty hard work, where you evaluate where you are. In terms of quality of writing, this blog is better than ever. TLG is a brilliant addition (thanks jofo), I love the panel stuff, I’ve enjoyed the memories work and others seem to enjoy it too, and at times it has been fun. But the mood that made this blog what it was is changing, and I’m wrestling with myself over whether we can have the success and feedback (struggling for the right word) in an environment like this. There is a “fear” (if that’s the right word) that this blog is a “bad times” blog and when success comes to this England team, as it will, can it function and survive?

This is not a blog that is negative for the sake of it. Seriously, believe it or not, it isn’t. It’s just that negativity brings the best out of me, and many of you. By negativity, of course, I mean critiquing bad results, bad administration, bad reporting not just being doom and gloom merchants. We enjoyed the ODI series that just went by (how could you not watching England bat like that) but instead of many of the print and TV journos who only jumped on the “we are out of date” bandwagon once the World Cup got underway, we’d been banging on about it for ages. Yet we are pilloried by insinuation if we are “not reconnecting with the team” or “falling in love with it”. I’m not. Nowhere near it. I’m pleased we played well. I’m effing livid we blew a World Cup and no-one did anything to change it beforehand. That’s in the past now. Doesn’t matter etc. Because if you think it did, you’d be aiming your laser missile at the ECB, who made Downton carry the can, and then his greatest coach of a generation.

From where I sit, I see much journalism determined by access. It was one of Brian Carpenter’s criticism of HDWLIA in Wisden (don’t get me wrong, I thought it was an incredibly fair article) that I maybe didn’t have an understanding of their pressures. Fine. I probably don’t know the realpolitk of modern sports reporting. That’s because I’m not a journalist. But what I see from the outside is not the stenographer that some of the commenters on here are seeing (and they may be right), but more reporting by access. Benny, I think, on here says that much of the press coverage now in newspapers is out of date by the time you read it, because bloggers get there first, or the internet has it all up. Yes, to a degree, but I was always one who wanted to read what others thought. Half the fun of a Newman column is reading his opinions, and then getting angry about them. The same with Selvey. But remembering that those people have vastly larger
audiences than us and are writing to be read by the fanatics and the casual fan. They have vastly more influence on shaping views than we ever will.

I’ve banged on about the Tyers Twitter Tendency – the inside knowledge what I can’t tell you plebs approach – for ages, but it grates. I wrestle with the fact I talk to a couple of journalists behind the scenes and do not report it here. Am I being a hypocrite? Probably, but this is because I’ve actually not been expressly asked to keep this stuff quiet, and I treat it as a relatively private conversation (I’ve shared a couple of things with my co-writer to be fair). These guys are dealing with the decision makers, and in some cases, are consulted by those decision makers (Downton freely admitted it). That’s where there’s a lack of trust, so that when we see the Outside Cricket line is about Piers Morgan, I get tetchy. That’s the ECB line. You are reporting the ECB line, because they don’t want to admit that’s how they think about cricket, and their public. My touchiness on this is my problem. You wouldn’t have read the stuff on this blog for
the time you have if you didn’t at least respect where it came from.

I will release the Hardly post without the bit referring to the Outside Cricket exchange which will make the comments look slightly odd. Apologies for the long-winded nature of this post, and it’s only touched the surface of what I would wish to say, but it needed clarifying.

Hardly

I was in good cheer when I read another tweet yesterday, and which I’ve seen in today’s amazing episode of The Cricketer Magazine.

I mean, seriously. I am getting to be seriously crotchety in my old age, but I hate this shit. I realise we live in a corporate world, where sport has to flog itself to maximise the revenues for its players and so forth. But Hardy’s doesn’t own the Ashes, and they aren’t some commodity that can be flogged to death to some corporate with ties to the sport as deep as a puddle. But no, let’s have it hawked out and retweeted by the players so they can earn a few more bucks. Let’s have all the interviews by England players sponsored so they can earn a few more quid. I even saw an advert on Twitter by Specsavers using the Ashes.

While I don’t doubt the sporting commitment of any of these players, there seems far too much of players hawking themselves to flog a bit of the sponsors wares and not enough actual proper engagement with the hoi polloi who follow them around. The team looks appallingly distant still. I get no more of a warm glow from Alastair Cook as I do from my neighbours on the other side of the estate I live on. I hate how sport has become a corporate vehicle, so it’s corporate first, second, third, fourth and so on, and the punter comes a distant last. The corporate pays and gets the finest seats, the best service, and fuck me blind, decent beer. We sit in the cheap seats, have to somehow manage to carry four beers in a paper/cardboard contraption that happens to break if it gets to wet to a crowded seat, with eff all leg room, to be bombarded by nonsense, have official rehydration breaks, have the most prestigious test series in the game paired with an investment bank every time it is mentioned over here (it was never the Cornhill Insurance Ashes, was it) and drink absolute piss masquerading as one of Paul Sheldon’s selection of “fine beers”.

Their priority is to make money – the players and the administrators. To soak the asset. If they see off some of the low earners or recalcitrant fans, well that’s just collateral damage. They probably wouldn’t drink Hardy’s wine, probably think Waitrose is a bit too pricy, wouldn’t have a scooby who Royal London are, think tap water is fine to drink, don’t use an investment bank and so on and so forth. Stuff ’em. After all, they are outside cricket.

Commercialisation is a growing annoyance, and don’t tell me the journos don’t think so. Agnew, for one, was livid he had to go through this “interview is brought to you by…” crap. The players seriously don’t help themselves when any interview they have is done under serious media management and only on the premise that they can hawk something for a few bob more. This tweet summed it up…

Which brings neatly on to Betway’s new “employee” in his Editor’s notes in The Cricketer…

“Alastair Cook has been called a weasel and a coward and other derogatory things. He does not deserve any of it.”

Ah. But calling someone who scored 8181 test runs a c–t is ok. Rah Rah. The article has decency all over it. Alastair is a thoroughly decent man. If you get a chance, read it. It’s like a bloody love letter. There seems no recognition that there is another interpretation of all this. That Cook has never truly explained the decision that he must have been party to to (a) exclude Pietersen and (b) as Dean Wilson reported, I believe, at the time, that he maintains a veto over his return. I call not explaining this as, yes, a form of cowardice. A form of weasel behaviour. He may have very good reasons, but I’ll bet he’s storing them up for a lovely autobiography somewhere down the line. Hughes, of course, conflates the cowardice line with actual facing up to quick bolwing in a marvellously ridiculous finale…

“He (Cook) is the antithesis of the men who say, “It’s the way I play.” He is constantly evolving as a player and as a leader and is about to confront the fastest attack and feistiest foe to visit these shores for many a year. So whatever you think of him, don’t call him a weasel or a coward.”

Bloody hell. Instead, we’ll just laugh at this piece of analysis (as previewed in comments below) in a tweet from Tickers.

Indeed.

I’m sorry, but Lovejoy, complete with stupid mug shot is at it again in The Cricketer…

“Obviously the above are moot points if England themselves have a divided camp and are still being forced to answer questions about the captain, opening batsman and other extraneous stories that refuse to die down. Alastair Cook must shrug off any worries about the hierarchy and apparent criticism from the media and get back to enjoying the role of prolific run scorer and team captain.”

Count the many ways this is laughable.

Supremacy

Oliver Holt has spoken. The Lord High Priest of Sports Journalism has given his view, and you, you vile proles, are not worthy. You have made him leave the glory of European football, the wonder of Masters Golf, the joy of worthwhile world sporting events, to make him comment on cricket before an Ashes series. And he’s told you to pipe down.

Here endeth the blog. Holt has put me in my place.

So, yes, it is easy to pick holes in Strauss’s decision on Pietersen. It is easy to say blithely that we should always pick our best players irrespective of whatever they may have done or the way they are regarded by team-mates.

It is easy to ridicule Strauss, but the hard fact is that mocking him is a simplistic way out of a complex, regrettable situation. The knee-jerk reaction may be to say he got it horribly wrong. Cold analysis suggests he probably got it right.

English cricket is in a mess at the moment. Everyone can see that. But it is entirely possible that if Strauss had brought Pietersen back, it would be in an even bigger mess.

Stories circulated last week that Alastair Cook would have quit as England captain if Pietersen had been recalled. Strauss hinted in a briefing with Sunday newspapers at Lord’s that others would have considered their futures, too. If KP came back, the England cricket team would have split in two.

Quite why anybody is surprised by that is a mystery. It is not long ago that KP accused Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson of presiding over a bullying culture in the England team. Bullying is an emotive subject. It’s not something you level at someone lightly. ‘It’s an awful word to use,’ Broad told me in Melbourne when we discussed the subject during the World Cup. Anderson and Broad have not simply forgotten it.

I was blind, but now I see. Once Holt pronounces, that is it. The end of the matter. The Supreme Court of sport opinion has now spoken.

Anyone fancy a revolt?

More later….

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.

http://www.wisdenindia.com/interview/england-tend-trip-plan-b-pringle/146929

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.

This Week’s Agenda

The World Cup starts on Friday night, with New Zealand v Sri Lanka, followed by Australia and England kicking off at 3:30 in the morning. Given it’s Valentine’s Day I don’t think we’ll be getting much in the way of posting on Saturday, but I’ll do what I’ve done in the past and get Game Threads ready for each match that I can.

I would strongly hope that as many of you as possible enter the competition. I might, or might not, offer a prize, but it won’t be life changing. I’ll tag the thread…

https://collythorpe.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/day-2-world-cup-competition/

I’m not one for previews, so you can look elsewhere for that, maybe at The Full Toss, although I have no idea of their intentions.

Tomorrow is National Outside Cricket Day. Perhaps you can tell me what the phrase means to you.

Piers and KP Outside

Each new blog post will be announced on Twitter under the new @LordCanisLupus feed.

Posting will not be as frequent as it was before, but I’ll try my best.

My thanks to all who have made it over here. Zero Bullshit lived up to their name by just going on to TFT and saying what he did. Like name, like nature. I want also to reach out to the old crew, such as Pontiac, David Oram, d’arthez et al to get them on here, as well as SimonH, SimonK, Rooto, Burly and all the rest. Spread the word.

As always, happy to have any other views on here. No-one really takes me up on it, but if you want to fill in some of my blanks, then so be it.