Cricket has a knack of delivering an anti-climax at the most inopportune moments.
Everything about the build-up to this match legislated for a resolution of tension and hype. Alastair Cook was under immense pressure. England were desperate for an commandingly orthodox test victory. MS Dhoni and his tourists has their own questions to answer. And Andrew Strauss’s vocabulary malfunction had ratcheted the tension levels to near breaking-point.
This was supposed to have been the match in which one of two things would happen. Another England defeat, and the levee would break, while a confident winning performance would dispel the storm-clouds mostly from sight.
Instead, we have an entirely different outcome – a peculiar non-match, storied by tail-end heroics – which has left all the major questions unanswered and done neither captain any favours.
There could still be a result today, and England’s brace of late wickets rendered the plot-lines spicier than they might have been. The most likely outcome, though, is not so much a draw but a Kafka-esque stalemate of surreal pointlessness.
Barring implosions or fireworks today, this test will obviously be remembered for one remarkable tenth-wicket stand, and one remarkably remarkable one.
Let’s spin through those records once more. Root and Anderson’s 198 – who’d have begrudged them another two runs? – was the highest last-wicket partnership in 137 years of test history. Anderson’s 81 was the highest test score by an England number eleven, and the third highest of all time.
And thanks to Kumar and Shami, this is the first ever test in which there have been two tenth-wicket century partnerships, and where both number elevens have made a half-century.
The entire concept of tail-end Charlies is unique to cricket, and gloriously so. There is no other sport which involves players prominently performing a role they’re not particularly good at. It’s the equivalent, in football, of putting the striker in goal for a penalty shoot-out.
A player like Monty Panesar is no better at batting than you and me, but still has to face Mitchell Johnson and make the best of it. So when a tail-ender not only makes runs but changes the course of the match, there’s something delicious about the homespun subversiveness.
In other news, and as James alluded to on Friday, Guardian cricket correspondent Mike Selvey continues to ruffle feathers.
The central theme of recent months has been the distinction between ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ cricket. Selvey is one of quite a few mainstream journalists who believes he and his colleagues are ‘inside’, along with the administrators at Lord’s. while those of us who just follow the game belong ‘outside’.
As this Tweet indicates, if you hold a view strongly opposed to his own, you can’t simply be someone who expresses an honest opinion in a sober and reasoned manner. Instead, you must be an extremist and a yob.
Excellent sensible piece by Dobell on cricinfo re Cook which the fringe idiots with their carefully orchestrated hate campaign should read.
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) July 9, 2014
Then things started getting tetchy.
@jackbyrne91 my case rests.
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) July 9, 2014
Here’s the rub: Selvey knows more about what’s gone on than we do. Or so he believes.
@xpressanny really? im afraid you have no idea of what has gone on.
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) July 10, 2014
Selvey and the rest of the press pack are briefed off the record by the ECB (and some of the tales turn out to be pure fiction).
@njhcricket @voicefromstands @xpressanny if you are told things in confidence, you respect that don’t you?
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) July 12, 2014
Neil Harris asked a pertinent question:
@njhcricket @voicefromstands @xpressanny difference between being told things in confidence and being told confidential things.
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) July 12, 2014
Thing is, the hacks ‘inside’ cricket won’t tell us what they’ve been told, but expect us nevertheless to take their word for it and defer to their authority.
I tried to put this point directly to Selvey. His response says it all.
@thefulltoss @njhcricket @xpressanny you can please yourself
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) July 12, 2014
“@xpressanny really? im afraid you have no idea of what has gone on.”
To me, this quote sums up the ridiculousness of Selvey’s position. He is a cricket journalist. His job is to inform, yet he seems to take pride in not informing people about the very thing he’s paid to write about.
If Annie (and the rest of his readers) have no idea what’s gone on during the KP affair, then he has utterly failed, he has no purpose. He’s a porn star with impotence.
Mike Selvey On Paul Newman’s page.
‘Social Media was a good way to pass on information. But the trolls, idiots and know-nothings make it unpleasant. So I’m out of here. Sorry.
Paul Newman: great shame but I don’t blame you!’
I asked PN why MS thought he had the right to say that about people who didn’t necessarily agree with him. Wasn’t MS being just as insulting? I asked him to come on and discuss it on The Full Toss blog with one of the guys. I thought someone like him would jump at the chance. Guess what? I’ve been blocked by PN?
So we cannot ask questions of them but they can be call us trolls, idiots and know-nothings who make things unpleasant for them? The irony totally lost on MS. PN doesn’t want to be asked such questions about their attitude to genuine cricket fans and then uses the ultimate you will not speak again to me? So much for PN telling us that he didn’t mind reasoned debate!!!
Who are these people who can call folk such terrible and offensive names and yet no one can challenge them about their behaviour. Just so disgusted with these people. Arrogant, condescending and patronising. Just how far does the ECB tentacles stretch?
For me this is not about KP it is, as James said in his piece, about the wider questions of what is happening in cricket. KP just tip of the very dark waters that run exceedingly deep, it seems. Utterly appalled by them all.
Thanks TFT for being so good and sane and willing to discuss these matters. Very grateful indeed.
I have a feeling that Selvey has a nagging sense in the distant back of his head that he may have backed the wrong horse. It might not even be a conscious awareness, just an uncomfortable feeling somewhere.
It reminds me a little of some of the talking heads and journos who heavily backed the Iraq invasion. They nailed their colours pretty firmly to the Bush/Blair mast and were often extraordinarily arrogant, rude, dismissive, and frankly abusive in the face of those who suggested that maybe invading Iraq wasn’t entirely the best idea.
There was a lot of the ‘if only you knew what I know’ and ‘just wait until you find out the real facts’ stuff. People who disagreed were dismissed as being agenda driven, ideologues, driven by hate, whereas they were on the inside. They knew.
When the unbearable awfulness of reality started dawning on even the pro-war mob, some of them gradually shifted their position to accept the facts and some of them chose to become ever more bitter and venomous. They had too much skin in the game, they had committed themselves too much. They had trodden on a lot of well intentioned people and dismissed them as idiots, vengeful hate-mongers, know-nothings. They hated them then and they hated them even more now for being right.
They also, of course, felt let down by the clowns they had venerated. They had believed in Blair and Bush and look at the mess they’d led them into – speaking of which, I thought it was quite a telling comment in the final day match report about the prospect of Kerrigan being picked at Lord’s:
“The selection of Simon Kerrigan, the Lancashire slow left-armer, in a 14-man squad for Lord’s is, frankly, bewildering, no matter how well “it has been coming out in the nets”. He got stage fright when he played against Australia in the final Test at The Oval last year and rest assured India would come at him with the same intensity in that knowledge.”
It was only a couple of days ago he was being extremely dismissive to the ‘know-nothings’ who suggested Kerrigan was due for a possible recall. In his best ‘if only you knew what I know’ manner he scoffed at them that Kerrigan was just there to give the batsmen practice against left-arm spin and there was actually no chance of his being recalled. Bet your house on it. Now I’m guessing he feels a bit silly and, in fact, hurt, and he really can’t face the prospect of all the “I told you sos” on his Twitter feed.
Writing in a paper does not make you a journalist. Selvey and his ilk are little more than the media mouth piece of the ECB. Anyone who considers him a journalist should read the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance Journalists’ Code of Ethics and think again.
“Respect for truth and the public’s right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. Alliance members engaged in journalism commit themselves to honesty, fairness, independence and respect for the rights of others”
Of course none of this applies to KP because he’s a c**t.
It’s unfortunate how the press has “dumbed down” over the years. I miss being able to read and learn from the intelligent and informed work of people like Cardus and E.W. Swanton. Selvey is little more than a thug. The Guardian’s cricket section is promoting Frank Keating’s book: “A collection of brilliant sports writing from one of the greatest and undoubtedly the most original and best-loved sports writer of his generation. ” I’m not expecting to see the appearance of a Selvey book described in such a manner.
I think you made Selvey leave Twitter.
In which Kafka novel or short story was there a stalemate?
Fair call – I used a lazy and cliched simile.
Wikipedia describes Kafka’s characters as “trapped, confused, full of guilt, frustrated, and lacking understanding of their surreal world…”
So not entirely off point ?
I should say that Kafka new a thing or two about certain people.
Anonymous – If you are seeking a chess manoeuvre how about Kafka’s Das Schloss (The Castle)?
An update – as you’ve all probably seen by now, Mike Selvey has announced, with typical grace and magnanimity, his departure from Twitter. Presumably this is in the wake of the ‘idiots’ backlash.
“Social media was a good way to pass on information. But the trolls, idiots and know-nothings make it unpleasant. So I’m out of here. Sorry.”
“KP just tip of the very dark waters that run exceedingly deep, it seems. Utterly appalled by them all.” Annie Weatherly-Barton
This is the important point. IT ISNT ALL ABOUT KEVIN. There are very many issues that are being handled appalling by the ECB and not covered by the so called mainstream cricket media.
It is very revealing that on Sky’s cricket writers show a few weeks ago Selvey admitted he “did not understand much of the ICC business” that is an astonishing revelation for someone who claims to be a cricket journalist. Will he be changing his passport entry under occupation from ‘journalist’ to ‘ECB stenographer?’ And if not why not?
Selvey has become just another ECB pod person like most of the written cricket media. Parroting ECB talking points and hiding behind so called confidentiality. What is in it for him and the other ECB toadies?
When Mr Selvey wrote: “@xpressanny really? im afraid you have no idea of what has gone on.” Another poster asked him to spill the beans. Then Mr Selvey brought out the “confidential” card. Then asked if someone told you something in confidence would you pass it on? I said to him if he was told something in confidence then he shouldn’t have even mentioned at all. Quite apart from sport and politics, my life is taken up listening to very damaged people – or as a very dear man, Fr Ken Leech, put it: walk through people’s hell with them. What they say to me is most definitely confidential. If I went into a crowded room and said: “I know something you don’t know…” How would my lovely folk ever be able to trust me again? I certainly wouldn’t trust me!!! Even when I am listening to partners I don’t tell one what the other has said unless I am given permission. It is my code of conduct. I held a secret for over 20 years and never told a soul. Then it came up in a local newspaper and was pretty awful as I suspected it would be. I was asked why I had never told my friends. And I said: “I was told to keep it confidential…” But you could have told me? Yes of course I could but I didn’t.
In my opinion, Mr Selvey knew he had made a very poor error of judgement in telling the world and his wife in Twitterland that he knew the “secrets!” But how does he know what he is being told is true? He was foolish to say such a thing and I believe he knew he had been very unwise. So does a professional say “I hold my hands up and have realised I should not have said such a thing in public!” I would have had so much respect for him had he done that. But no, instead he went onto another reporter’s site and called the “outsiders” Know Nothings, Trolls, Idiots etc etc. “Poor me I am being hounded by these terrible people!!!” So utterly childish. Remember this is – supposedly – a professional sports reporter. I despair of such “game playing” by these people. We have had the same stuff from the ECB – lauded as wonderfully professional people – who have also acted, in my opinion, unprofessionally right the way along.
This is not just KP and that saga, but a damn sight more. As James put it all down so eloquently in his recent article. There are, indeed, wider issues here and a sense of a siege mentally coming from the ECB and all those that drip drip at the ECBs behest. I agree with THA so much. His points are so relevant here. People in the press have most certainly pinned their colours to the ECB mast. What will they do if they find themselves having been told half-truths, at best, and one huge bunch of lies, at worst? I think the undoing of the ECB, for me, was the wholesale power and money grabbing of the ICC. That said more to me about the kind of people at the ECB than the KP saga any day.
I had another unsolicited piece of abuse from one of Mr Selvey’s supporters today. And I have blocked him now. So far I have not, strangely enough, been blocked by Mr Selvey himself but have by Paul Newman for daring to ask why it seemed okay for reporters to be rude and aggressive towards genuine England supporters. He didn’t like it obviously. As I have said in other contexts. One needs to be very careful when pointing the finger as the finger can easily poke yer eye out.
Very sad indictment on our Sports press. Very sad indeed.
George Orwell says it all so clearly:
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” ― George Orwell
And that in essence is what is wrong with the mainstream cricket media. They have become nothing more than the ECB public relations dept. And it seems to have happened almost over night. That begs the question, why?
You can understand it of the Murdoch press which is married to Sky TV, and ruthlessly cross promotes everything. But why Selvey in the Guardian? or Newman in the Mail? or Pringle in the Telegraph? and Brenkley in The Independent? Surely you would expect a wider range of views from such a diverse range of newspapers and writers.
Ok they can all agree that they don’t like KP, and think it is time for him to go. But do they all have to agree that Cook is the right man to lead England when it is clear that he is not captain material? Do they all need to nod sagely at Giles Clark’s ludicrous defence of Cook that he comes from a good family? By the way ( Is this now an ECB criteria for future England captains? That they socialise in the right sections of society?) Is the England cricket team to become just another wing of Cameron’s privileged Britain?
And then we come on to the money. All that lovely ICC loot. Is no one even slightly a bit concerned in the ECB friendly media of what is being given away in exchange for that dosh?
There are big issues in English cricket. Falling crowds,rising ticket prices ,terrible wickets, ludicrous fixture lists, and the fact that the team is not very good any more. But hey, never mind, as long as the cricket writers are happy.
Interesting claim in the Mail that David Collier jumped before he was pushed. Also, apparently Clarke is not about to follow him through the exit door”>Clarke is not about to follow him through the exit door. Guess we’ll just have to keep sticking pins in that voodoo doll.