So what’s next? An update…


Last weekend we discussed the future of relations between disgruntled supporters and the ECB.

How do we make our voice heard? How do we get our questions answered? How do we – to use Giles Clarke’s phrase – move on?

You can see the original post here.

The most suitable first tactic, it seemed to me, was to request an interview with Clarke. On Friday afternoon I sent this e-mail to ECB press chief Andrew Walpole.


Andrew responded the following day:

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I then replied briefly to acknowledge his e-mail, before sending him this, yesterday evening (Thursday):

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I’ll let you know what he says.


  • So the head of corporate communications doesn’t do comprehension and appears unable to sign off an e-mail in grammatically correct fashion.

    It really is a charming little vignette.

  • So the ECB response to your request was a giant middle finger. Not really very surprising. They do it in a pompous reply dripping with contempt. They point out they are very pleased with the support they have had from the public. (Translation into English means …..we know you bunch of outsiders are not supportive so piss off.)

    Then they boast about how pleased they are with Cook. Knowing full well that we outsiders are not pleased with him. I think you are wasting your time Maxie. Even if they would lower themselves to talk to you they are not going to budge from their positions. I’m surprised they did not say how delighted they are to have Flower back in the fold, just to rub it in.

    What this proves, and what we have always known is they don’t think there is a problem. Time will tell if they are right. But the cretinous booing of KP at the one day final last week shows they have enough sheep like followers not to bother with us.

    • I suppose it’s natural they’d like to point out that many people are supportive of Cook. What I’d like them to address is why this has taken a huge PR effort on their behalf, and why so many still remain disgruntled.

    • His response is encapsulated in the term “cricket public”. I think we know exactly who he means: those who (to quote an old post on your blog) “shut up and keep buying the tickets”. They react to a horrible, scratchy 95 with “rapture” according to Selvey. They don’t mind the prices, don’t mind being fleeced by Sky, didn’t even notice Swann’s £20 gaffe, and quite possibly see themselves as superior to other cricket fans. What Guardian regulars know as the westcorkthinktank argument, in other words.

      I expect this person was partly responsible for defining people who aren’t part of the “cricket public”, back in February.

  • So the head of “corporate communications” is unable to communicate, lacks basic comprehension skills,,and appears to be illiterate. All of this makes him eminently qualified to act as the tool of Giles Clarke and Paul Downton. I hope you will print this email, frame it, and hang it in the smallest room in the house.

  • The response would be laughable if it was’nt so sad. They have no intention of putting themselves in the firing line.

  • They may be giving us “the finger” but we are still being pests and nudging their consciences ( if they have any ).Interesting how Flower is never mentioned anywhere.The Invisible Man!!

  • Maxie, I realise this is an English centric blog albeit with an American spelling checker but you should take it international and request an interview with the snivelling little turncoat Wally Edwards of Cricket Australia.

    Hell who knows you may be able to plumb the depths and in the nadir of your journalistic efforts try for an interview with the truly vile Srinivasan.

    The downside if you achieve any of these interviews is of course that no amount of carbolic and hot water would relieve you of the smell.

    keep stirring the pot.

  • To coin a phrase “They just don’t get it” do they. Talk about out of touch, head in the sand etc etc.

    They are happy with the support Alistair Cook has received in recent Test series despite the woefully poor Test attendances this year and the very large numbers of divided/disgruntled fans on social media. Dear oh dear!

    Just reinforces my view that they really are not interested in the fans…


    Hello, Alice Cook speaking

    Oh hello Alice it’s Andrew Walpole head of corporate communications. Everything ok? Good! Look we have done a cracking great deal with Hello magazine,(sorry, I mean we have invited them) to come and do a 17 page spread about you and Alastair. You know the the type of thing? ‘Down on the farm with the Cooks.’ Anyway they want to come round and take lots of photos.

    (Alice) “Everything’s a bit of a mess I am afraid”

    (Walpole) “No problem, we want it to have that homely feel. Can we have some shots of you and Alastair in the kitchen. And if you wouldn’t mind putting out some Waitrose bags on the table. Just scattered about. I think they have an offer on organic English beef at the moment. Could you have that prominently displayed. Perhaps Alastair could been seen eating a plateful of home made Beef Wellington. Do you know how to Cook it? We can send round one of our fine ECB chefs if you want. I am going to send over a picture of Paul Downton taking a catch at Lords in the 1980s. Would you be a dear and put it on the wall. Next to the fridge will be fine. Also, could we have some pictures of Alastair in the barn? Cuddling a little lamb sitting on a straw bale would be nice.”

    (Alice) “Would you like pictures of Alastair riding his tractor”

    (Walpole) “That would be fantastic, real action shots. Probably not a good idea to have any pictures of the lambs going off for slaughter. And also can we keep the trailer with KP is a c**t written on the side out of the way? Can you hide it round the back of the barn? Oh, one final thing, is your SkY dish on the roof? If so can we have a picture of you and Alastair standing in a position in front of the house, with the sky dish very visible? No, I don’t think we need to have Alastair up a ladder. A bit obvious. Anyway lovely talking to you Alice, any probs let me know.”

    Thanks Andrew

  • The ECB is bound to support a captain that has won the latest test series against India despite the failure at Lords and will not expose itself to a journalist who’s main aim is not to interview but to embarrass. You simply don’t replace a winning skipper. The problem that they (and you) have is finding a better alternative at test level and, most importantly, bedding him in prior to the next test series. I agree that Cook is not the man for the short form of the game and I would replace him with Eoin Morgan. That could be done right away, especially after such an abysmal performance in the recent one-dayer. In fact, I would not have him in the team at all for the World Cup.

    • “You simply don’t replace a winning skipper.”

      Apparently you don’t replace one who’s just been thrashed 5 – zip by Australia either. Nor one who gets beaten by Sri Lanka in a home series for the first time ever. Or follows that up by getting beaten by India in their first overseas victory in, what, three years?

      You have a good point, though. You don’t replace a winning skipper…and if you put up with defeat for long enough, you’ll eventually come up against a team more incompetent than yourselves and, well, you don’t replace a winning skipper.

      • Like everything else in life, it’s all about timing. He should not be in the World Cup Team and the defeat this week proves it. The timing is right to replace him as captain and player in the one day side. They missed the boat after Sri Lanka because they did not have an alternative and this remains a problem.

            • You think they’d be worse than Cook? They’ve all captained and shown ability for it. This ‘no alternative’ meme is tired received wisdom. In my opinion.

              • I can tell you what I would do at test level because the options are limited. I would select a specialist captain as an interim measure whilst Joe Root is maturing. To make him captain at this early stage in his England career could backfire big time. I would drop Cook and send him back to his county. I would bring Robert Key in from Kent. He has had England experience, is a great Kent captain and has one of the best cricket brains in the country.

    • Hi Peter. Glad to have your input. Keep stopping by. Just to defend Maxie, my co-editor, the interview he did with Jonathan Agnew was completely fair and gave Aggers every chance to put his views across without trying to trap / embarrass him. If Giles Clarke was to do an interview with us, I imagine Maxie might ask a few challenging (but fair) questions, but would give Clarke every opportunity to put across his views. Maxie is an experienced TV and radio producer, so he would handle the interview fairly and professionally. I just wanted to make that point.

      • I have no doubt he would, but Giles Clark has nothing to gain and everything to lose on this one. I am not defending him in the least, but if I were him, I wouldn’t do it. I imagine that he will keep his head down.

    • Peter,

      You’d replace Cook with Morgan?

      Why Morgan?

      His ODI form is actually pretty lousy. One century and, 4 50s in the last 17 matches – that’s the tour to Australia, West Indies, Scotland, Sri Lanka, and now India – is not good enough from a guy we thought would be a lynchpin of the side.

      Let’s not repeat the mistake of giving the captaincy to a guy whose place should be under real threat.

  • Have so much enjoyed reading this blog since discovering it a couple of months back. Insightful and well written articles, and the comments are just as interesting. Please keep it up Maxie et al, you provide a great alternative to the ‘established’ press corps.

    • Many thanks, Rev (or Baz) – very much appreciated and I’m glad it comes across that way. I must stress that the blog is team-work – James or I (and several others) knock the ball downfield, and then everyone else piles in for a kickabout. If you like this kind of thing, I should also recommend Dmitri Old’s blog, and Pavilion Opinions.

      • Thanks Maxie I answer to either! :-) Yes I have seen Dmitri’s and will seek out Pavilion Opinions too………

  • There is no doubt that the ECB are worried. In their efforts (sic) to re-engage with the fans they have today wheeled out Alex Hales to once again (93rd time) confirm that Alastair Cook is great, a great batsman and great captain, enabling a great team spirit and confidence to exist. I reckon the only player not to have publicly endorsed his captain in this way is Jos Buttler but maybe he’s on next week.

    What is this elaborate nonsense all about? Who in their right mind would accept this constant accreditation in the condescending manner in which it happens? What does this repetative rubbish say about the ECB and more importantly about Cook? The ECB is fast becoming a parody of itself so why bother asking them anything?

    • Swann’s having a witch hunt now apparently? The pre-publication day dripfeeds are becoming so obvious and laughable now!
      Etheridge made an appearance on these worthy pages t’other day. Call me an old cynic and conspiracy theorist if you like, but, my gut reaction to that event was that he was sent on a mission by the ECB to obfuscate and misinform and plant little seeds of doubt within the blogosphere?

      • Dave, I don’t think the ECB gives a tinkers cuss about KPs book. Why should they? KP is never going to play for England again. That issue is now settled. Everything in the book will be denied, and the media will help out the ECB by running defence. No doubt the ECB has a few anti KP stories up its sleeve which will be planted with the ‘reliable journos’ (which right now is most of them)

        Even If KP can land a few good punches it is not going to amount to a row of beans. Why? Because England turned the Indian series around. That is why there was so much crowing and triumphalism. They just had to get to the end of the summer without complete meltdown. If England had lost to India and then KPs book had come out, the public would have been more interested. Cook will lead England into the Ashes next year. By this time next year KP will be a forgotten man.

        As for today, the big issue for the ECB is fighting to save Cooks job as one day captain. And if he loses the captaincy, he loses his place in the team. Which is why we get the comical stuff Lanky Is talking about. Hales coming out and swearing undying allegiance to Cook. But what happens if England lose all 3 remaining one day matches against India? That is what the ECB is worried about.

        • “But what happens if England lose all 3 remaining one day matches against India?”

          Match scripting is the answer to such woes, as mentioned in an ‘Indian Perspective’ earlier.

        • I agree Mark, to a large extent, but, what the ECB are doing is “conditioning”’s not unlike assertiveness training, if you repeat the same thing consistently, then you get your point of view across! The old “stuck record” theory.
          They may well condition many of the cricket loving populace to such a degree that any of KP’s revelations may well be blunted? I am 100% confident KP will land a few telling blows, that will not go unnoticed on this, and many other blogs, and by astute journos, those that are left?
          I’m sure that none of us will ever lose sight of the fact that Cook must be the most overtly (and covertly) shined, polished, and, dare I say it, flowered up captain, in the entire history of cricket anywhere?
          As you so rightly opine, he is made out to be a cult, an iconic figure, beatified, deityfied, held up to the great unwashed as the very pinnacle of Englishness, and the ‘right sort’ to lead the side to glory!
          My own incisive analysis leads me to the following conclusion…WTF? Why?

          • “WTF? Why?”

            He’s the Face of the Brand. Like the meerkat in the insurance commercials.

            We wouldn’t have the brains to buy the cricket-flavoured product without a recognisable lovely charming Alastair to be the walking incarnation of everything that’s great about ECBWaitrose cricket. Now would we?

            And you can’t suddenly take away the Face of the Brand. They tried it with the meerkat, it was a flop.

      • Reposted from Dmitri’s blog…

        Although it is a good thing generally to see writers like Etheridge participate on blogs like this and TFT I find it somewhat disingenuous as well.

        He could come out and say what he finds wrong or incriminating about the picture in question. He suggests that there are many reasons which one day the ECB may reveal but haven’t yet for the dismissal of Pietersen.

        He says that everything we have read about Pietersen is true and he says that the ECB don’t leak.

        It’s still all innuendo and the old I know more than you because I have sources that you don’t but no of course I couldn’t possibly say anymore, a chap just doesn’t.

        What he says may be true and Pietersen is a total prick who deserves water boarding at traitors gate. But until such time as he and others like him are prepared

  • “Apparently you don’t replace one who’s just been thrashed 5 – zip by Australia either.”

    Have any Test cricket captains ever, anywhere in the world, lost 5-zip previously and not faced any questioning whatsoever???!?!?

    I find it incredible that Cook’s never been questioned by anyone about this thrashing, and also, why Downton thought that the only thing to deal with when he went to Australia was KP? Never mind the mountain of other things that had and were still going wrong (e.g. Trott, Swann, 3 broken giant fast bowlers, 80 page diet, bowling, batting and fielding all over the shop, etc. etc. etc.).

    What the hell is going on???

  • Damn, I’ve got it!!

    “terrorists ‘highly likely’ to attack UK, warns David Cameron, as threat level is raised to severe” reads the headline


    “Graeme Swann says today Alastair Cook must still go, with him in the side England are like a two-litre diesel in an F1 race”

    No wonder ECB are worried!!

  • Thanks, everyone, for your excellent comments, and for taking a real interest in this theme of approaching the ECB. Sorry I’ve not been able to respond to comments today – too tied up with the day-job!


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