The return of Caesar’s wife

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It was Tregaskis who kicked it all off.

Then came the replies.

I couldn’t resist adding my three penn’orth.

To which came the responses (one of which was surprisingly testy):

I defended with a very straight bat:

It’s a shame that both Lawrence and John appear to have taken it slightly personally, as I have never criticised either of them, on any platform, even when the latter swallowed-whole a complete load of bollocks about Kevin Pietersen’s hundredth-cap present (a still-unexplained mystery). Neither have I suggested that either allows their personal copy to be influenced by unduly close relationships with players or management.

But it does happen, and to suggest otherwise is naive. The incestuousness of cricket’s inner circle muddies the waters to such a murky degree that we, the poor old audience, struggle to tell where the press ends and the team begins.

Is anyone seriously going to suggest that such a close friendship between a broadsheet cricket correspondent, and a (then) senior member of the England management, would never colour what ended up being written in any way which wasn’t fully transparent?

And is it just coincidence that the Daily Mail’s Paul Newman is, in copy, so relentlessly supportive and admiring of Alastair Cook – and then we read this and this.

The miasma of toxic cosiness emanates much more strongly, though, from the broadcast commentary boxes than Fleet Street. Alastair Cook once referred to Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain as “one of my best friends”. On TMS, Graeme Swann openly refers to his close friendships with Cook, Stuart Broad, and James Anderson.

Bias not does have to be intentional or overt to be bias. I’m sure that both Hussain and Swann approach their commentary work with conscientiousness and the best of intentions. But they’re only human. Are they – is anyone? – truly capable of analysing their friends’ work with total detachment and objectivity, at all times? And can they express views which have not been influenced by unreferred-to off-record conversations?

It was reported today that Shane Warne and Alastair Cook have buried the hatchet, a further development since their telephone conversation last year, when they “sorted things out”, following Warne’s on-air criticism of Cook.

What requirement was there either to bury a hatchet or sort things out? Why was this rapprochement brought about? Cook is captain; Warne commentates on him. Why do they need to be on good terms? Do you ever read about Jeremy Paxman ringing up David Cameron so they can be buddies again?

Mainstream cricket journalists set great store by access to, and contacts with, England players – and these factors were at the heart of the argument put forward by Lawrence Booth and John Etheridge. It’s OK to get matey with the squad, so the logic goes, because the relationships generate good material.

But this philosophy too often leads them up a blind alley while simultaneously jarring with the appetities of the cricket media’s audience.

Where does access to players lead you? Almost always, to dull-as-ditchwater interviews with cricketers who are too young, too boring, too scared, and too PR-managed, to utter a single interesting comment.

What’s that you have? An interview with Ben Stokes, at a corporate event for Investec? Wow, that really will be an amazing read.

It was suggested on Twitter that I should stick to subjects I know about. Well here’s one. I’ve spent my entire life around fellow cricket-lovers – family, colleagues, friends, team-mates, online debaters, and bloggers. And I’ve watched my cricket from the same viewpoint as everyone else – on TV, or from the stands. So I know something about what cricket fans appreciate when it comes to media coverage of the game.

They/we enjoy (a) the action itself, (b) pithy, honest analysis and (c) truth. Like any audience, cricket watchers respect, and demand, truth. In terms of cricket punditry, this translates into a genuine, heartfelt opinion, based on evidence and experience which is made explicitly clear – as opposed to prejudice or innuendo. And when it comes to cricket news, it translates into the exposure of the real facts – which are not always the same as unattributed briefings, or off-the-record conversations, passed off as fact.

Ultimately, though, the real point is not whether cricket journalists are misinfluenced by their relationships with players and management, but the perception that they might be. Hence our return, as Tregaskis pointed out, to Caesar’s wife.

This is the point which Lawrence and John appear to miss – as does virtually every other member of the mainstream cricket media. Even if some recognise that readers will draw conclusions from their conduct about their independence and partialiy, all but a few feel it’s beneath them to do anything about it. On a broad level, this reflects the press’s general arrogance and sense of entitlement, a belief that their position alone confers unquestioned authority and demands unconditional respect. The idea that a discerning reader or viewer might not obediently lap up their every word, but instead question their authority, impartiality, and judgement,  is anathema.

Cricket is a multi-billion dollar sport, run by politicians, and awash with skulduggery. It demands ruthless, serious journalism from inquiring and tenacious minds – not lazy, pub-chat, matiness, Ironically, John and Lawrence are two of the most intelligent and broad-minded operators on the circuit, both possessed with the acuity to understand where people like TFT and Dmitri come from, what motivates us, and and why we bang the drums we do.

So I hope they and their ilk can come to appreciate why “doing their jobs” involves maintaining a perception of independence and detachment. Cricket has to play by the same rules as every other branch of journalism. Despite what they say, Laura Kuenssberg simply doesn’t go on golfing jollies with George Osborne. And only in cricket would you see a photo like this.

 


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Maxie Allen.

72 Comments

  1. There’s a lot of truth in this, and it applies not just in cricket. In racing, for example, unless a journalist maintains good relationships with the leading jockeys and, critically, trainers he/she doesn’t get invited into the inner sanctum : end of career.

    I suppose in the end it comes down to balance and journalistic integrity. There’s no doubt in my mind that some – Selvey, for example – got that badly wrong during and after the KP debacle.

    Incidentally, you mention Paxman. But it was he who personally went to Peter Mandelson’s house, that very night, with a letter of apology after Matthew Parris stated on Newsnight in an interview with Paxo, that he (Mandelson) was gay : it doesn’t happen just in sport!

    • You’re doubtless right about Selvey, but I don’t think Paxo delivering a letter of apology to Mandelson was the same thing at all. I would characterise that as a one-off event, and a response to a pretty unusual and unfortunate incident, rather than evidence of a routinely cosy relationship between politicians and journalists. I can understand how the BBC wouldn’t want to piss off a figure like Mandelson over something which was not in the “public interest” or anything to do with his politics or his actions as a member of the government. Like him or loathe him, he had a right to his privacy and a right to expect a public service broadcaster to respect it.

  2. John Etheridge and co are a complete bunch of comedic Strauss es. No John, we aren’t laughing with you. We are laughing AT you (particularly after the KP cap codswallop you served up last year)!

  3. Fair enough – though how much muck-raking is for them anyway when the players are so dull, unworldly, media prepped(!!!!) and terrified of the ECB? Best for the journos to join in and enjoy the lavish, free-ride on the gravy train. Ok – an exclusive privileged club which doesn’t encourage high standards or skill if you “play along”. Bit like the pre-ordained members of the England team. the.

    And how different is this to back in the day CMJ being so connected/of such influence he knew the Test squad before it was announced and could get his charming, right background player from a southern county picked for a couple of Tests before it was quietly admitted he was rubbish after all? Yes, I am looking at you, Ed Smith, among others

  4. Bedford School plays no part in the way one particular correspondent writes about one particular player.

    Honest.

    And to ask anyone to believe, for instance, that certain prominent ex-players completely failed to be even remotely objective about “excellent choice”, and “debonair diamond”, Paul Downton, insults their intelligence.

    2014 was a monumental debacle of bias and axe-grinding, to be frank. We ended up in a situation where Kevin Pietersen is a bigger villain than Giles Clarke.

    Thanks for that.

  5. Quite right. The parallel with Westminster journalists is spectacularly ill-timed given the esteem they are currently held in; then again self-awareness and reflection aren’t qualities I associate with contemporary journalists: its all about the access.

  6. My thought is that cricket was once a great game. Reporting on it meant understanding the game. It didn’t much matter if you were too chummy with the players. Maybe Snidswallop from Derby didn’t get to play test cricket because Surrey/MCC/Yorkshire dominated things, and that filtered into the press box. That meant Douglas Gologotha-Holmes got the nod. Well, Snidswallop was a few bob the poorer, felt a bit cheated and went back to glazing that winter.

    Now cricket is show business. The administrators (and probably the players) want a commercially successful product. The media owners are complicit in that. Sky, the beeb, the G., all need to sell the product for their own gain. But, it means that cricket journalists need to decide which side they are on. They can say, well, lets have a high quality west end show. It will have energy, skill, excitement and their role is to hype it up and to keep the malcontents out of the team/under control. That’s bad for Compton/Carberry/KP etc but good for those who fit. Alternatively, they can resist it. Then they need to be critical, but doing that means understanding much more than cricket. It requires seeing the decisions made in terms of the politics of making money. I know which I want, but then again, I’ve never got west end shows.

  7. Lawrence Booth on

    Maxie, I agree that independence matters. But I wonder – at the risk of confirming your theory about the “general arrogance of the press” – whether you’re not making more of a round of golf than you should be.

    Actually, rounds of golf – my first with players (and there were only two, and they weren’t even in my foursome) in 17 years as a cricket hack – are not about securing future access, since almost all interviews nowadays are pre-arranged, more’s the pity. (I share your frustration with carefully styled interviews and tedious press conferences.)

    They are about getting to know people you write about on a regular basis in an informal setting, hopefully with the benefit of being able to write about them a little more intimately or authoritatively next time. On that score, you may say we fail: fair enough. I’m just explaining why it may be of use to a journalist scrabbling around for a different angle.

    On another note, is a round of golf worse than, say, a journalist taking a player out for dinner? How else are journalists to get behind-the-scenes information if not by going behind the scenes? Why wouldn’t we want to find out more? If others perceive this to be wrong, I’m sorry to say there’s not a huge amount I can do about that, except to continue to write as fairly as I can.

    I sense your frustration with the way the game is reported. I share some of it myself. But if I cut myself off from meeting contacts outside the usual press-conference charade simply because I was concerned about the perception of others, I’d be doing readers an even greater disservice than already appears to be the case 🙂

    • I get both sides of the argument and, Lawrence, I think you’re a decent guy trying to do the best in a difficult job. There is though, and I accept you can’t say so publicly, a huge problem with some of the cricket correspondents running their/their mates agenda.

      John E came here last yr promising clarification on a demonstrably false report: reneged. Think about how that forms our views.

      Pringle: myopic to a degree that requires a new dictionary definition of the term.

      Selvey: well I better not say much other than he is now (but previously respected) just a typing joke.

      I know it’s your livelihood and can understand why you wouldn’t want to but, deep down, you must recognise this?

    • Hi Lawrence. I’m Maxie’s co-editor here at TFT. Thanks for taking the time to engage with us. It’s much appreciated.

      I guess perceptions are something you can’t control. All journos have different styles but the good ones write with integrity and objectivity. As long as a professional is doing this, I really don’t care where / how they get their info. It’s what they do with it, and how they present it, that matters.

      I guess some supporters feel this hasn’t always been the case with some of your colleagues, but I still think there are a lot of good cricket writers out there though – yourself included.

      The problem, I guess, is that there’s still a lot of cynicism around. It’s a shame. In some cases I think it’s justified, but in others I think the perceptions / suspicions are unfair.

    • Thank you for your comment, Lawrence. You have chosen an apposite moment for your debut appearance at TFT (of which, more later).

      I accept your point about the over-inflation of the golf. Looking back, I don’t think I argued this piece particularly well.

      What I took away from the Twitter discussion with you, Treg, and JE was a disagreement less about the golf itself than the broader issue of perception – why perception of detachment matters, and how easily it can be squandered. And this was the point I was essentially trying to make here.

      Clearly, if all that ever went on was the odd round of golf, there would never have been the backlash against the cricket press during the last 18 months by sceptics of our persuasion.

      But I think you can see how, in overview, we’ve sensed so keenly that the cricket media, en masse, is bonded far more strongly to the people it writes *about* than the people it writes *for*.

      There are of course exceptions. And in general, it’s the professional journalists on the cricket circuit (the career hacks), who have the nous and experience to maintain both a detachment and a healthy scepticism of cricket’s incestuousness. The same cannot be said, alas, for many of the ex-players in the press and commentary boxes.

  8. Thanks to Peter T for an excellent tweet. The ensuing responses have brightened up a dull day.

    Short of phone hacking, journalists need access and contacts to do their jobs properly. Cricket is a smallish world. Tours are long, people are away from home and friendships are bound to be formed and some joint activities shared.

    On the subject of impartiality I would like to quote Byron on the matter of his memoirs. “…but not impartial – no, by theLord! I can’t pretend to be that, not while I feel.. But I wish to give everybody concerned to opportunity to contradict or correct me.”

    Should cricketing journos not be given the same licence?

    Another point Maxie, is that as a blogger you can write exactly what you think. I’m sure working journalists do their best to do the same, but they also have editors, sub editors, and management who have papers to sell to a particular market.

    I read the reports of the day’s play from TFT and Cricinfo and don’t see much of the MSM unless it’s brought to my attention. I do enjoy following @the_topspin @johnsuncricket @Cricket_Ali and @NHoultCricket on Twitter, because their pieces are good and they often have news either before or as it breaks.

    It’s impossible to be perfect and hard to be entirely impartial. There are views that we might share and others that get up our noses but that is to be expected in life.

    It would be good if all sports journalist could be more investigative and have the confidence, or even the permissible legality, to write what they find, but it is slightly outside of the remit of their jobs in the MSM. In an ideal world things might be different. It’s sure to be a long time coming.

    Good to see you back Maxie with a well argued and well written piece, as always.

    • Well said Jenny.
      This blog and the even more hardcore BOC have some conspiracy theory that just doesn’t exist.
      The great sports correspondents have always been close to their leading men, Murray Walker virtually lived with Mansell, David Coleman idolised Linford Christie. They told the stories of the athletes, and the game they play.
      Journalism is a completely different animal all together. There’s a couple in cricket doing great stuff, Gideon Haigh and George Dobell, if there’s anything to be found they’ll find it.

    • All that’s fine – but the bollocks, and I mean utter agenda-driven bollocks, that has been written by a number of MSM journalists for the last 2 yrs is wholly unacceptable. That’s, I think, is Maxie’s point rather than your platitudes.

  9. I replied to Tregaskis. Match reporters (which these fellas are) are completely different to journalists. I couldn’t care if they sleep with the management, they are there to report on the cricket.
    Journalists find out any juicy stuff , which in cricket is few and far between

  10. I don’t care if a journalist/ex-player is friends with a player they’re writing about, as long as they make it clear. The recent Vaughan interview with Joe Root (http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/joe-root/index.html) was all the better for openly coming from, and commenting on, a long-standing acquaintance and mutual admiration.

    I like gossip as much as the next cricket fan and I’m fine with a journalist saying “Can’t tell you who told me this, but I had to spend long and tedious hours in the hotel bar to get this nugget of info.”

    I don’t mind if I read an piece that essentially says “I haven’t been able to get a damn thing out of the team, all the shutters are down, the official angle is this and they’re sticking to it like glue – make of it what you will.”

    What I hate is the pretence of objectivity when the writer either has an agenda that can be spotted by the proverbial blind man on a galloping horse or is simply relaying supplied information.

    I don’t like a TV commentator persistently praising a player who’s represented by the management company the commentator part-owns, but presenting the praise as the fruit of careful and objective appraisal of all the other candidates.

    I don’t like journalists writing comments that claim to be their own expert, considered judgment of a player or situation, but are then, oddly, offered by several other journalists in almost identical terminology that rather resembles numerous statements issued by the team’s PR person.

    • I absolutely agree, zeph. You’ve said it better than I could.
      I don’t think the debate has arisen because of some rounds of golf, leading to readers suddenly claiming “but you’re losing your objectivity!” It’s the general dissatisfaction with some / a lot of the press over the last couple of years, leading us to say “it’s because you’re all embedded”.
      We’re working backwards from the result to the cause – sadly – rather than extrapolating conclusions from photos and tweets.

    • I think the “I’ve been told the reason X happened, but I’m not going to tell you what it was, why or by whom” stance from some journo’s is what is most worrying. If you know say, if you don’t, say. Don’t try & come across as someone above us plebs who aren’t in the rarified atmosphere of “in the know”.
      Because as time goes by, it turns out all you were saying was bollocks.

      Has anyone yet come up with an official reason what misdeeds KP got up to? I mean, it’s 2 years past now, surely someone from the ECB can leak it, or is it as always been suspected, a hatchet job by flower, an incompetent Downton, a spiteful Clarke & a supine Cook?

      All aided by certain journo’s with a place at the table, who had axes to grind & didnt play Golf with KP ?

  11. I think the problem is not that there are cricket journalists who are chummy with the players, it is more that there is a serious dearth of cricketing journalists who possess an ounce of skepticism in their approach to what they are reporting. (And as for investigative nous, forget it.)

    There’s room for all kinds of journalism; it’s just that cricketing journalism skews so adulatory and credulous that it’s frequently an insult to readers intelligence, and there’s very little to counterbalance it.

    There’s no harm at all in the odd round of golf, IMO, looked at in isolation.
    But when that round of golf is emblematic of the way we perceive cricket reporting, then you’ll get tweets like that of Tregaskis… and overly defensive reactions to them.

  12. I stopped buying and reading newspapers many years ago. The reason is that once you relied on the press for information but, in the modern era, you get opinion. I can form my own opinions. Selvey (for example) may well hate KP and adore Cook but I don’t want to pay money to read about it. Give me facts.

    I shall happily keep posting a recent Mori poll that revealed the professions least trusted by the public are:

    1. Politicians
    2. Journalists
    Etc

    I quite respect Lawrence Booth. Most of the others are nobodies doing a job to please their editor or friends in high places and a waste of space.

  13. As you’re so keen on ethics, Maxie, I assume you’ve asked Emma Agnew if she minds you using the picture which she took? Even the much despised (by you) MSM ask the permission of the person who took, and tweeted, a picture before using it.

    • If it’s been posted on Twitter, it’s public domain. Interesting though, do you ask permission of people when you tweet images? Because rank hypocrisy tends to piss me off.

      Just saying.

      • My view is that when you monitor the personal Twitter account of a cricket correspondent’s wife, to try and find material with which to attempt to disparage her husband, the shark has been well and truly jumped.

        • A bit like telling a cricket correspondent that you know who is “behind” another blog when you know nothing at all. I call that lying.

          • Which part isn’t true? It was tweeted by Emma Agnew on 15th June last year and then used the same day by ‘journalist’ ‘Damian Reilly’ (he who had hundreds of tweets before selective deletion) here https://twitter.com/DamianReilly/status/478291072796598272
            So my statement that it was Emma Agnew’s picture is 100% accurate. Involving families of cricket correspondents is, as I said earlier, jumping the shark. If you’re comfortable with doing that then it says more about you than it does about Emma’s personal picture. None of it good.

            • Pam. I sense you’d like to make this (and us) into something it isn’t. We do not go snooping on twitter to find these things. That was your insinuation, and that’s what’s false. We’ve even had contact with Aggers about this photo in the past I recall.

              I don’t mean to be rude, but you have a strange grasp of perceived morality. You’ve been on our blog lots of times questioning our motives. Each time you’ve been entirely wrong. Last time I recall it was something to do with us trying to make money. It was insulting and just plain wrong.

  14. I felt this was a very thought provoking contribution from Maxie and also thatLawrence Booth’s equally thought provoking response reflected that. However I then saw on Twitter an exchange between two of the commenters on this post. One of them said and I quote ‘Oh dear. Maxie & Dmitri are on a tirade over nothing. They should just elope and inflict their misery on each other, Leave us alone’ This set alarm bells ringing. I wondered, am I in in Stalin era Russia and attendance on these two blogs is compulsory. I musn’t be the first to stop applauding Comrade Maxie or Comrade Dmitri or else I will disappear into the Gulag. But then the thought occurred to me, and I’m old and struggle with social media, is this an example of trolling?

    • Amused Dmitri is brought into it, who hasn’t said a word. One might think people are smearing others for no reason.

      Surely not. Only the lowest of the low would be so pathetic as to do that, right?

    • Alan, you are welcome to your views. At least you can voice them here.

      Such comments regarding Mr Selvey is not tolerated at the G. As Giles Clarke did not take well to Mr Booth or Mr Mani critizing the ECB. I wonder what reminds more of a Soviet style regime (as does what Zepherine calls “identical terminology” in the reporting…). Or being termed as “outside cricket”.

      Thank goodness for TFL and BOC. Beatrice Evelyn Hall will be proud.

      • Boer I hope you realise I was facitiously making the point that the writer of that unpleasant remark about Maxie and Dmitri was not compeled to read their blogs. Personally I enjoy reading them. If I watched East enders for example and found it offensive, I wouldn’t watch every episode and then constantly make derogatory remarks about it on Twitter!

  15. Hello Maxie et al..

    You have connections to the media so I am genuinely amazed you think there is anything remotely sinister about a few cricket writers playing golf with members of the England team and management.

    First, the background.

    Ian Botham had booked some tee times at a course in Dubai on Thursday. There were spaces and he asked whether some of the newspaper guys wanted to play. Myself, Dean Wilson, Lawrence Booth, Mike Selvey and Nick Hoult went along. From England, there was Trevor Bayliss, Ottis Gibson, Ben Stokes and Alex Hales.

    All the names were put into a hat and drawn out to form two fourballs and a threeball. Afterwards, we had a few drinks and a barbeque.

    This in no way compromises how we report the tour. There have been many cricketers over the years with whom I’ve dined, drunk or played golf (it happens less frequently now, partly because tours are more congested, partly because players are treated more like sheep and partly because many players are now younger than my sons and don’t want to hang around with a 54-year-old!) and, genuinely, what I write has never been affected by those friendships or social interactions.

    It is our job to find out stuff and the best way to do that is to speak to players or management in social situations. When they relax, when trust is established, they are more likely to say things.

    It is one of the tenets of journalism – create and cultivate contacts.

    And it is one of the differences between bloggers and mainstream journalists. Bloggers write what they see and what they think might be true, journalists make it their business to find out the facts. We don’t get everything right but it is not for the want of trying.

    Some of the journalists you most admire on here – George Dobell, for example – is able to write with inside knowledge precisely because he has become close to influential players and administrators within the game. It’s pretty obvious, really.

    The notion that the Sun or Daily Mail are somehow in bed with the ECB is too laughable for words. We fight a daily battle for access, interviews, information, non-sponsored chats and so on. Sometimes, it all becomes quite heated.

    You mentioned political journalism. Well, the lobby system is alive and well. Drinks, dinner and information are shared on a daily basis by MPs and Whitehall correspondents.

    And cricket is probably unique in that reporters and teams are travelling together overseas for months on end.

    On the Pietersen cap story….for the umpteenth time, I decided that I couldn’t put a full explanation on a public forum. I have mentioned the background to a couple of people I met in person.

    Anyway, got to dash – another nets session awaits.

      • I’ve spoken to John about this over dinner and a bottle of wine. I’m comfortable with his explanation. However, it is an interesting point regarding closing out in public what he started in public.

        The best but of the whole thing was I alerted KP about it and told him to post the pic of the silver cap if it was bullshit. Which he duly did. Trust developed 🙂

    • John,

      Thank you for your comment. On the golf front, I’ll refer you to my earlier response to Lawrence. The point I wanted to make was about perception and detachment (I went into no detail about the golf and did not criticise either of you personally). As I said in the piece, I do not suggest that you or LB allow your copy to be influenced.

      You refer to my day job, but I think it’s actually *because* I work in (unrelated) branches of the media that I appreciate just how eccentric, incestuous, and self-indulgent, the cricket press can be (not all the time, and not every practitioner, by any means).

      I consume journalism of all kinds (and have worked in some of it) and have observed its various methodologies – and to my mind there is nothing to match cricket for its matey insularity, its condescension towards audiences, and its lack of detachment between subject and object.

      Of course I understand that journalism involves fostering contacts (this is where news comes from, I know) but there are different ways and means of doing things, and different tones to strike.

      In political journalism, yes hacks go for lunch with MPs, and so on, but in that field, the impression is not given of a jolly bunch of mates who share a bond. Pol corrs don’t call cabinet ministers by their nicknames. They don’t post photos of them guffawing away with the Home Secretary in a wine bar.

      I did not suggest that the Sun or Mail are in bed with the ECB. And in terms of finding out facts, blogs do do a little of this too – you might have seen our ticket price survey or our research into Sky Sports audiences and how the ECB spend their budget.

  16. Hi John. Thanks for coming on here again. I do have a lot of sympathy for what you’re saying. We don’t live in a perfect world. I suppose we could get into a debate about whether objective truth even exists. I guess we’re all relativists at the end of the day.

    I just wanted to pull you up on one thing though. Bloggers do care what the actual truth is. It’s not just about opinion. We go to great lengths to find out what we think the truth is. Of course, we’re not best placed to access information first hand, but we can form good opinions based on the numerous and sometimes contradictory evidence presented by those who do have direct access to the protagonists.

  17. It has been really interesting reading a lot of the comments made here. It is clear that there is something seriously wrong with the independence of most broadsheet journalists in this country, whatever the likes of the defensive and arrogant Selvey say.

    One thing that I can say is that the events of the last year have practically ended my love of watching this game. I can never forgive the press for the way they joined in with the establishment in their vilification of Pietersen. I can’t support England until Cook is kicked out of this side – his role in that should never be forgotten and I hope (although it is looking increasingly unlikely) he will get his just desserts for the way he has behaved. I think it is important that blogs like this continue to challenge the establishment line constantly. One thing is clear – this is the one thing they all hate, being open to scrutiny and questioned for their behaviour. That’s why they keep telling us to “pipe down”.

    I agree with this article completely – in fact, I would go further. The establishment’s behaviour has bordered on North Korean levels of suppression of the truth and we need far far more articles like this to expose the mainstream cricket journalists’ toadying behaviour

    I would be interested to hear what James thinks can be done by the establishment to address this. It is immensely frustrating for us cricket fans that we seem to have absolutely no forum (other than one or two blogs like this) with which to challenge what is being said. It seems impossible to get any voice for us to say how we feel. If this was football, what had happened to Pietersen would have caused booing of the manager, the ECB being forced to answer questions as to why they had done it etc.

    Pietersen was the player that made me start watching English cricket again. I deeply resent the way he has been treated – without bringing politics into it, it is comparable to the Iraq war. The establishment got away with it and despite all the anger and marching, no-one has ever paid the price (at least not as we speak). I do feel there is a need for journalists outside the ECB bubble to push things much harder. If this means getting directly confrontational with Selvey and co, then so be it. You are the only voice we have and it needs to be heard much more than it currently is.

  18. I should stress in the above article that I mean broadsheet cricketing journalists – many journalists in other fields show remarkable professionalism and independence.

  19. Pingback: A Hornet’s Nest – Being Outside Cricket

    • Access to the players being now a marketable asset that’s sold to sponsors for as much money as possible, probably not.

      Bayliss and Farbrace themselves seem more forthcoming than Flower, though.

  20. One thing that I didn’t make clear and about which some might have made false assumptions.

    This game of golf wasn’t a freebie, it wasn’t hospitality from the ECB or England.

    We all (and that includes every journalist and all representatives of the England team) paid a green fee and some additional money for the drinks and barbeque.

    • John E: “journalists make it their business to find out the facts”. My god, can I sue for harm suffered to my belly which has just split?

      I’d agree investigative journalists make it their business to find out the facts. However, the MS cricket media have not made IT THEIR BUSINESS to find out the facts.

      They’ve made it “their business” to report whatever the ECB/Flower told them to report. Perhaps most importantly, you know this to be true; hence your reluctance to come clean about the KP returned cap story to ran an “exclusive on”. Sorry, but you’re full of ….
      Let me know when you (and others) return to actual journalism.

  21. Test match cricket on

    People know these journalists are prejudice and not objective because they are too close to the players/ECB. They’ll spin that they have to do it but in reality, they aren’t willing to do the hard yards and challenge. They are sheep.

    I don’t see it changing so tbh, I’ve accepted the game is dying and will eventually be dead at grass roots (save a few 2020 slap and tickle) and top level will just be a bunch of top tier doing series after series (the player quality will be lower but will ‘seem’ higher because stats will be broken,, after all, it’s easier for Cook to amass his runs now there see little to no ‘greats’ in the bowling stocks (and the odd one there is, is one played a max of 5 tests in a career anyway)

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