1000 not out


Today we’re going to do something we only rarely indulge in here. We’re going to talk about ourselves. I hope you’ll forgive the self-indulgence.

This is the 1000th post on The Full Toss. It’s a landmark which has taken us nearly five years to reach. And here in the TFT office the celebrations are already in full swing. James has already donned his party hat, I’m putting out the bowls of nibbles, and Tregaskis is opening another bottle of Tizer.

The site originally grew out of the 2009 Ashes, during which James and I regularly took to Facebook to vent our spleen and offer unsolicited opinions on the talking points thrown up by the series. From this badinage followed the idea of going about it in a more formal way, via our own dedicated forum – a blog – specifically written from the armchair perspective of people who follow English cricket and support the England team.

It would be unapologetically partisan, but also try to focus on the particular things which mattered to us, and our cricketing friends – those who care about the English game, and “our” side, who fork out for tickets and Sky subscriptions, but have no say – and barely a voice – in how things get decided.

We wanted to provide a complement to the professional cricket press, who, notwithstanding their technical insight, playing experience, and closeness to the action, usually failed to see things from a punter’s point of view.

Events of the last nine months have graphically illustrated the gulf in sensibilities between those, as we now call it, “inside” and “outside” cricket. But such was evident even then. As we know, the bulk of the mainstream press operate within an incestuous and privileged bubble. They write about their mates, and much of the time, for them. They haven’t paid their own money to attend a cricket match for years, if not decades – perhaps never.

We wanted to articulate how the game looks outside from that cosy little world. I can’t say we’ve always done so effectively – and I’m sincerely not fishing for compliments – but that at least was the idea.

We were hardly inventing the wheel, nor claimed to. There were already in existence dozens of cricket blogs, although not quite as many as now.

James and I launched the The Full Toss on 16th December 2009, to coincide with the start of the England series in South Africa. Somehow the first few weeks of posts have since disappeared from the server and are now lost to posterity. But here’s what survives from early 2010, much of which reads rather naively in the harsher light of 2014.

Contrivance To Cock Up: What The TV Review System Tells Us About Cricket

England Heading Into Unchartered Waters With Captain Cook

England’s South Africans – The Ultimate Ringers

The ECB’s New Friends At Conservative Central Office

It’s Just Not Test Cricket

Since then we have followed the England team through two Ashes victories and one apocalyptic defeat; seen them attain and then lose the number one ranking; witnessed triumph in India and evisceration by Pakistan in the UAE. Along the way we’ve ended up back with the same England coach who was sacked before the blog even began.

Many of our one thousand posts have attempted to chart the other main theme of the last five years – the ECB’s systematic emasculation and disenfranchisement of the English cricketing public. Ticket prices continue to soar. The barbed wire of TV rights deals confines the game ever more securely from the prying eyes of those who can’t afford Sky. The self-appointed mandarins of Lord’s tighten their grip on a personal fiefdom operated purely to serve their own ends. Meanwhile, the majority of journalists choose to side with the establishment against their readership. Move on, pipe down – you know the script by now. Never before have our voices counted for so little.

All this was brought into the sharpest focus by the events of February 4th 2014. Life would never be the same again. But with it came a new and specific sense of purpose, not only for all blogs like ours but everyone ‘beneath the line’, including Twitter and newspaper discussion boards. It fell to us – a collective ‘us’ – to ask the difficult questions and point out the inconvenient facts, as few ‘above the line’ had the wit or inclination to expose the corruption and lies behind the greatest English cricket scandal in generations.

We’ve never argued that The Full Toss represents all English cricket followers, but I think we can say it’s about an awful lot more than simply what James and I write. At the heart of this blog is what you say, on the comments boards.

Our posts are only the starting point for your discussions, insight and knowledge. We are hugely grateful to all of you, not only for taking the time and trouble to read and contribute, but for your wisdom, thoughtfulness, passion, and attention to detail. You provide a vast quantity of information and observation which both provides much of the substance of the blog and feeds directly into what we write next.

Have we – all of us, on this site and elsewhere – made a difference? It’s very hard to quantify. Giles Clarke and Paul Downton are still in post. The mainstream press largely still don’t ‘get it’. But here and there our sentiments poke through the clouds.

A handful of journalists have read what you say, here and at Dmitri’s (of whom more in a moment). Are any pennies dropping? A feature of this last year has been the way social media and the blogosphere are referenced ATL more frequently than ever before.

Several of those correspondents, for example David Hopps, Nick Hoult, and George Dobell, are sympathetic. But in the case of the dismissive ones – think Derek Pringle and his keyboard warriors – why do they mention it all unless, albeit only subtly, they feel challenged? Or is this self-flattery? Either way, you can only doubt the ECB notice or care.

Nevertheless, as TFT prepares to blow out 1,000 candles, it’s time to say a few thank yous. Firstly, to our team of writers – not only the inestimable Tregaskis, but everyone else who shares their work with us: including Tristan Haddow-Allen, Garreth Duncan, James Hindle, Andrew Allbury, Vivek Seth, Philip Chapman, Girish Menon and George Curtis.

Then come our most regular commenters, and I hope I’ve not missed too many out here. In no particular order: Clivejw, Arron Wright, Mark, Simon H, Simon K, Ian RSA, Annie, Zephirine, Matt Butcher, The Other KP, Elaine, Emasl, Teece, Goose, Hamish, Big Kev, Ironballs McGinty, An Aussie In Switzerland, Ron Walaron, Northern Light, Dave, The Other Dave, Vanessa Campbell, Jennyah, Nigel, Rav Roberts, Peter Clatworthy, Paul Baldwin, Jeremy, Dennis, AB, Metatone, Critihas, Mike, Nick, Benny, DLP Thomas, Metatone, Man In A Barrel, Wrongunatlongon, Grenville, Keyser Chris, ZeroBullshit, Julie Gould, Doug, Josh, John English, Rooto and Markmywordz.

Huge thanks also to our great friend and blogging brother-in-arms Dmitri Old, for all his succour, advice, and inspiration – as well as opening up the The Full Toss to wider audiences through his readership.

So what’s next? The essence of a cricket blog is the cricket itself, a point I’m sure James would like to make. Indeed, he would probably reflect on the last five years with different emphases from mine. And of cricket there is plenty during the next year: the Sri Lanka ODIs next week, the Australian tri-series, the World Cup, tests against West Indies and New Zealand, the Ashes, and tours to Pakistan and South Africa.

In a year’s time, will Alastair Cook still be captain? Will the Ashes have returned to English soil? Or will the entire edifice have collapsed?

And as for the politics, Giles Clarke’s term of office as ECB chair expires in the spring. Will this toxic vandal attempt to prolong his destructive reign yet further? Will Paul Downton ever speak in public again? Will the ECB finally be held to account for the Pietersen affair? And will this blog ever wave the white flag? To answer that question, I’ll paraphrase something Dmitri once said: as long as they keep doing what they do, we’ll do this.

Maxie Allen


  • Wonderful, just wonderful! Keep it up boys! I see you, Dmitri, and others as the true voice of the English Cricket fan, the voice in the wilderness of disenfranchisement, that grows ever louder! I, for one, will support you all the way!

  • Happy 1000th.Hope you have enough breath to blow out the candles.Without you this KP loving avid follower of cricket would probably have no hair and have the screaming heebee jeebees .A brilliant article,just a continuation of your past work.This Aussie lady must also say thank you to all the wonderful people who follow you and write such interesting comments.Our future will I’m sure be bright.Let’s all hope England’s is too.And as for KP , I still haven’t given up!!!!

  • England’s Test opponents since your launch on 16 December 2009:

    Australia 15
    India 13
    Pakistan 7
    South Africa 7
    Sri Lanka 7
    New Zealand 5
    West Indies 3
    Bangladesh 2

    “Big Three” 28 (47.5%)
    The Rest 31 (52.5%)

    In the 59 Tests before your launch (May 2005 – August 2009):

    Australia 15
    West Indies 11
    India 8
    Pakistan 7
    New Zealand 6
    Sri Lanka 6
    South Africa 4
    Bangladesh 2

    “Big Three” 23 (39%)
    The Rest 36 (61%)

    England batting averages:


    And bowling averages:


    Congratulations. I’m glad you’re here.

      • That was actually James, wrongly logged in as me.

        But I don’t disagree! Thanks, Arron – thought-provoking in many ways. If you took a straw poll and asked people to rank Bell, Cook and Pietersen in order for their average over the last five years, who (without looking it up) would rank Bell at the top?

        • That was a major point of one of my posts defending Bell a couple of months ago. The other thing that strikes me about the batting averages is that Pietersen, who would doubtless be top by a mile over the 59 Tests before your launch, is fourth, but only about half a length behind Trott. And, considering only those who were playing in December 2009, almost as close to Bell at the top as he is to Prior in fifth. Yet so much was written about his decline after 2008, with plenty of “antis” seeking to ascribe it to the IPL. As I said on the Guardian, a decline from a Denis Comptonesque average to a Thorpesque average is nothing much to moan about even in the broadest historical terms, yet it didn’t stop certain familiar voices trying to make something of it.

          I would liken it to an Indian moaning about (say) Laxman’s average being slightly below those of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dravid, while overlooking the vital importance of Laxman’s greatest innings.

          • Even if one accepts his form declined – and I don’t think he batted with quite the same consistency and confidence as before – what logic is there in attributing this to the nefarious influence of the IPL?

            Far more likely that – if there actually was a specific reason – it was the utterly destabilising and confidence-shattering loss of the captaincy. Perhaps in combination with the onset of his injury troubles – his 2009 Ashes were disrupted by the Achilles problem.

            Few players perform at exactly the same levels throughout their careers, and sticking a pin in a list of stats at an arbitrary point can throw up misleading narrative arcs. Just look at Cook’s form since June. 2013. Is this because outside reasons A, B or C – or just because he’s lost form?

            If it was true that Pietersen’s priority was the IPL, how would that explain an alleged test demise? If his aim was to maximise his IPL earning power, the logical thing for him to do would be to get even better at test cricket – because the greater your world status, the more likely you are to get the big bucks.

            And how, exactly, would a few weeks of T20 in India affect his form for the rest of the calendar year, every year for five years? It was a distraction? Cook had his benefit year in 2014; anyone claiming that was a distraction?

  • Congratulations on your 1000 !!!! Look forward to reading the next 1000 which hopefully will have news of England moving forward. ( although I don’t expect that too soon)

  • First post in a while…new baby in the house… great work chaps, remember following the 2010/11 series on here with great interest, summarising each days play discussing the talking points for those of us not hardy enough to stay up through the night.

    Keep them coming!

    • Hi – P of P – very sorry not to mention you in the thanks list! Your fault, really, for having a baby – I scrolled through a month’s worth of posts to note down the commenters, but you were absconding on paternity leave and hence absent.

      Many thanks for the kind words.

      • But I thought my comment and anaylasis was indellably written on your heart haha

        To save me the hassle of scrolling through the past months worth of posts… did anything happen of note in October? ;)

  • Firstly, congratulations indeed!

    Secondly, Does The Full Toss have an office of its own?

    Thirdly, I believe change is slow so don’t expect the ECB to take notice. If a campaign to boycott one test match can be organised, ideally at Lords, then it will have an impact.

    Fourthly, luck will play an important role for any success. If ECB’s cricket team have a good run in the world cup then all will be forgotten and forgiven and it will be business as usual.

    Lastly, from where does the ECB get the monopoly right to call their chosen men as the England cricket team. Its time for a Packer to make an entry.

    • Packer’s just bought my football team. Don’t encourage him to also buy my cricket team, even if it’s in need of new management..

  • My daughter was also born in 2009, so you share a very special Year One! No doubt as England struggle across Sri Lanka in the next few weeks, this will be the only place that I can find reasonable and reasoned analysis and comment on whatever debacle is unfolding in front of our eyes…. and that’s probably the best compliment I can give you all.
    Perhaps a guest article by Eoin Morgan for Christmas?!

      • Double snap! Perhaps it’s more that 2009 has a lot of important births. Congratulations at keeping it going and with quality for over 5 years.
        Just the moment to add my surprise and pleasure at getting a mention. It gives me a fuzzy warm feeling inside…

  • Congratulations everyone. I finished with club cricket a while ago, when Old Father Time said “enough!” So no more dressing room chat and no more setting the world to rights in the pub after the match. TFT and Dmitri’s place fill the gap superbly.

    There are other blogs out there. Most are rarely updated. The best are busy and the hard work and enthusiasm of the writers stand out.

  • Pull your finger out… :-)

    I was about to call you a bunch of lazy so-and-sos and then remembered I started in January 2009, and passed 1000 in May! I must admit that this year rather skewed my postings to make me think I was working harder than I actually was.

    Your blog has been the benchmark for us curmudgeons, an inspiration for the intractable malcontents an overture for us outside cricket. Well done, and keep the passion burning, and thanks for the nice words.

    (BTW – Downton has spoken. See my blog later today. It’s not thrilling.)

  • Someone pointed out recently that FIFA is not the governing body of football, but a private members club for get rich quick merchants. The ICC is the same for cricket. But even worse on a domestic basis the ECB is no longer the governing body of English cricket. It is a private members club that operates to enrich its self, and a few appointed lackeys.

    Giles Clark is the Sepp Blatter of English cricket. What is worse is that the English cricket media have not held this organisation to account. At least the English football media have no truck with FIFA. That means it is left to sites like this one and Dmitri’s to point out the folly of the ECBs ways. A bit like the little boy in the Emperors New Cloths pointing out that the Emperor is not wearing a fine new cloth, but is butt naked.

    We are constantly told we are only interested in KP, but if that was true why are the media still propping up Cook as if he was a fallen lamppost? We seem to be small beer by the standards of the MSM , but if we are so irrelevant why do they keep whinging about our presence and opinions? I doubt we can change much, but I would like to thank this site for providing a platform for those of us who see things rather differently from the ECB sheep. Congratulations, and keep it up.

  • Great work!! Keep on keeping on!!

    The non-re-election of Clarke should be the aim, I believe. Much improvement might follow if that could be achieved. How can bloggers lobby County Chairmen? Do we know any?
    They may not be prepared to change the system much, as it benefits them financially, but they must surely see that the man is an embarrassment and long past his sell-by date. And very unwise indeed in his choice of business associates.

  • I am humbled to be among the named posters thank you and many congratulations on your fine blog.

    As a foreigner I sometimes feel my comments might be less then welcomed but everyone here from the writers to the commentariat have made this a joyous place to be.

    Again congratulations.

  • Congratulations to Maxie and James on your 1000th.
    Great commitment on keeping this blog going. Can I just say how much I have enjoyed your blogs and the posters, even though I don’t agree with all, they have been enlightening, informative, thought provoking and last but not least, extremely funny. Due to medical circumstances now beyond my control, I would like to say how much this blog has meant to me this past year. You have seen me through chemo, radiotherapy, depression and countless 3ams. I feel part of something good and something that has kept my fighting spirit alive. I have always stood up for the underdog and downtrodden and have never regretted it, even though it has cost me in the past.
    So great work y’all and keep it coming. Don’t let them away with anything. Thank you.

  • Many thanks to al of you for your very kind words – and for indulging us on this occasion!

    Vanessa – I can’t claim that TFT has healing powers but I’m glad we’ve been able to keep you amused during what must have been a gruelling time for you. All the very best from us, on that front.

    Zephirine – whoever the candidates, the chair election will be one of our biggest topics in 2015. If Clarke were to seek another term, I wonder if the blogging community en masse could persuade a credible figure to stand against him?

  • Heartfelt congratulations – and many thanks – for what is a great blog by any standard. I feel honoured to comment here and hope to do so again and again over the next 1000 posts. Bless you all – both above and below the line. :-)

  • Hello there Guys, thank you for the name check. It’s great to have a place to let off steam, especially on the one-whose-name-is-not-mentioned-by-the-ECB-and-it-must-be-true -because-Fleet-Street-tells-us-it-is! Being only a relatively recent reviewer of your excellent blog, it’s great to know I’m not alone in my rantings! here’s hoping for an Innings of 2000 Not Out!

  • Been away and/ or busy a lot lately, so have a lot of catching up to do both here and at Dmitri’s site.

    Congratulations on your 1,000 posts, and here’s to the next 1,000.

    I’m sorry I only discovered you (and Dmitri’s site) fairly recently. But better late than never, and these past few months you’ve helped me keep my sanity while the ECB has lost its own, along with its credibility, dignity, and any semblance of competence.

    A big thank you to Maxie, Tregaskis, James, and Mark and all the rest for the hours you put into this site.


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