So what’s next – part three


Here’s an further update on our approach to the ECB to interview Giles Clarke, its chairman, about relations between supporters and the governing body.

For the background, see here and here.

Last Thursday evening I sent this follow-up to Andrew Walpole, the ECB’s head of press.

photo (1)

The next day, he sent me this reply:


That’s probably the end of the line as far as that idea goes. So in terms of getting our views across to the ECB, and holding them to account, what could we do instead? Any ideas?


  • I’m sure that there’s nothing for the ECB to worry about as all this palava will more than likely blow over in a month or two..
    Ok a year at the most..
    Or maybe a decade..

  • I think there is a lot of momentum in the media calling for big change in the ODI side including dropping Cook, perhaps they’ll do the job for you?

    I’ve been wondering over the past few days how telling (or not) the overwhelming ratio of Indian:England supporters at the ODIs is.

    All I can say is at Trent Bridge in the test series the English supports made up approx 80% of the crowd (ground was pretty much full for 5 days btw) in the recent ODI it looked like 70/30 in India’s favour (sounded like 90%!)

    So is it disillusioned supporters / A greater appetite for tests / week day scheduling / spent up supporters at the end of the summer

    Or all of the above… one things for sure is I’ll never get used to the roar of the crowd when an English wicket goes down in England.

    • Prince,
      I’d say those attendance figures reflect precisely the weighting given to Tests and ODI’s by each respective set of fans and (at least subconsciously) by the players. And that weighting is probably made worse by the ECB’s continuing insistence on scheduling ODI’s after the Test matches, rather than before – where they could at least be seen as an appetiser rather than an afterthought.

  • “Thnks for the offer Maxie, but the answer is still no.”

    Well he could have admitted that in the first e mail he sent. Instead of the snotty ,too clever by half (which sums up the ECB) reply he came up with.

    As to what can be done? Don’t buy the £80 tickets. Cancel your Sky subscription. And don’t shop at Waitrose.

    Most England fans will not want to do some or all of those things. But I’m afraid it is the only language they understand. Though Ed Smith does not work for the ECB I think his article is a good reflection of how the ECB sees most of us.

  • If as they say they are having regular interaction with supporters on their own website, social media sites and the 12th man supporters club can you give us details of these contacts so that we the “outsiders” can come in from the cold and interact with them ? Do you think you will get a reply to this question ? If you do then we can all have a go at them in their own “backyard”.

      • Maxie, why not contact him through the channel that he’s suggested?

        You can join 12th man on the ECB website for free, or you can contact them via facebook.

        As long as the questions and points are put forward in a reasoned and non-abusive manner, then you would imagine that there is a duty to answer them.

        That way, we will see how they handle critical questions put through their channels.

        What needs to be avoided though, is some of the more abusive terms that are put forward by some that post on this site, because then you will just reinforce the ‘fringe idiot’ tag. If they don’t answer properly, or just fob you off, then you can go back to him directly and challenge him. I imagine they won’t answer direct questions about KP within the confidentiality timeframe.

        He’s opened the door, I suggest you walk through it….

        • Hi Hamish – I wouldn’t say he opened the door as much as directed me to the tradesman’s entrance. His point was less to invite me to use their Facebook page than to argue that they already engage with supporters’ views.

          But you’re right in some ways, and their Facebook page is worth a try.

          I just posted this comment:

          “Hi there – I have a question for Giles Clarke. When the ECB referred to “people outside cricket”, on 9th February this year, what exactly did you mean? Can you define the difference between people inside and outside cricket? In which category are supporters? Thanks in advance for your reply”.

          When I hit return, Facebook said my comment was posted. But it’s not visible on the timeline. Where does it go? And will anyone see it?

          Re 12th Man – I draw the line at that. The aim of this blog is to be independent, and to do things reasonably journalistically. I’m not joining a fan club in order to be able to ask questions.

      • Thanks Maxie.
        I have just had a look at the “Facebook” page and judging from the comments about Cook’s capabilities it would appear that even though they prefer to rely on their own social sites the ECB treat the posters there with the same contempt as they do everyone else. As to the 12thman thing that is described as giving “exclusive” ticket priorities so would seem to be another “closed” shop , not for the great unwashed to part of.
        So it would seem they just don’t give a damn.

  • Keep batting on Maxie, you and James are doing a brilliant job, because as far as I’m concerned you are the voice of English Cricket. It seems to me that many cricket lovers find this board,and the opinions expressed on it, resonate loud and clear, rather than the oily, weasely, corporate bullshit emanating from our “Lords and Masters”

    • ps….is it me? I’m just starting to get the sense that our beloved cricket “journos” are realising they’re backing the losing horse? At the end of the day, what can’t speak can’t lie, and the humiliating defeats we have suffered will not be lost on their readers?
      We live in hope…..

      • Excellent point Dave.

        We know a few of the journos didn’t believe A. Cult should be leading the one day side. Some of them even expressed this opionon at the same time they were trotting out TINA for the Test captaincy.

        But when the test team turned it around and beat India they all got caught up in the triumphalism of the great victory. 17 page puff pieces, and profiles of Buzzlight Year as the greatest living Englishman, and Darling Alice. Never forget Alice.

        When the One Day side was announced they were all cowed and Lilly livered. They didn’t want to spoil the greatest party, celebrating the greatest victory in England’s history. Some are now starting to jump ship. Agnew is one, while all the time making it clear as far as the Test team goes he is still a staunch TINA supporter. Botham is not a journalist but he looks like he is going to self combust soon listening to Lord Gower trotting out his Pro Cook pro ECB line.

        Trouble is getting shot of the captain is not enough. They have to get rid of Brent as coach too. Otherwise it will be the same old stale fare.

  • If I’m right , the ECB is part of Sport England, which is a public body within the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Funding is obtained via the Treasury and the National Lottery. Whilst it doesn’t appear very easy to find out how the ECB gets funded it is more apparent how they use the funding. Maybe they don’t want the people to know that there is public accountability here. For this lackey to suggest that there are ‘prefered’ people with whom he /ECB will talk is typical of people who assume the power but refuse the responsibility. Public money funds the ECB so they are accountable to the public – so come and talk to us – what are you afraid of????

    • It’s an independent and autonomous body, separate from Sport England, although they do receive some SE funding. Their annual report for 2013/14 doesn’t provide much detail about the public funds they receive. The Sky money appears to account for the largest element of their income.

  • Nice try Maxie. Mr Walpole is basically saying, the ECB only has interaction with supporters via channels they control!

    Good external stakeholder management for you?!

    Re Lanky’s point – Do a FOI request to Sports England regarding the amount of funding the ECB gets, etc.

    • I think both bodies might say the SE money is hypothecated for community cricket grants. However, the point is now how the ECB spend the money (although everything they can fund from elsewhere is a penny less they spend of their own money) but that because they receive public money, they are therefore publicly accountable.

      ECB themselves are exempt from the FOI Act.

  • I can only agree with the comment above re the Facebook page and leave thoughts there. Also bombarding them with emails and correspondence until they see what we think. Mark you I have tried that approach with the BBC over a particular issue and they ignore you. But worth a try

  • Interaction with supporters through “social media”? Oh yes – the fantastic “ask Moores” Twitter day when the ECB found out just how letting a modicum of control slip can get the sort of response that they would not wish to receive. They won’t be doing that again….

    This response is so dumb it makes me laugh. What better way for the ECB to appear to be doing something than talking to a well-known sceptical blog, and doing a short half hour interview? If it went wrong, we (I mean the great unwashed) would be seen to be being unfair when they’d gone half way to making amends.We’d be seen to be even more unfair than we do now, and that’s saying something. If this side made the slightest mistake we’d be lambasted. This Head of Comms job appears to be more about avoiding communication than embracing it. It’s outdated, outmoded thinking. It sit beautifully with the Sun King’s court concept.

    I want nothing to do with an officially sanctioned Supporters Group. In my experience such organisations have leaders who become very attracted to the position they are in rather than the representational role they are given. Not saying that is what is happening with this group, as I wouldn’t know them from the Red Hand Gang (in itself showing how prominent they are), but it wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t do official bodies any more.

    • “This Head of Comms job appears to be more about avoiding communication”

      This is the sort of job that I need..

    • Welcome back from – on current form – Europe’s leading cricketing nation.

      I suppose in fairness to Andrew W, he can’t make Giles Clarke do an interview, and he might know from experience that it would make him look foolish if he even suggested the idea. I doubt that working for Clarke is particularly easy.

      Also, there is a fairly strong argument that the ECB chair has better things to do with his time than give an interview to an obscure amateur blog rather than a mass audience outlet.

      On the other hand, it would have been a great chance for the ECB to do something a bit different and show supporters he’s genuinely interested. Had we actually got the interview, anyone who cares about this kind of thing would have got to hear about it and had a chance to access it.

      Andrew W’s reasons for declining are a little unsatisfactory. They only want to engage with supporters through channels they control.

      As for the 12th Man club:

      From what’s on their site it seems to be more like the Dennis The Menace fan club than a supporters organisation – you know, the kind of thing comics had, when for a 50p postal order you received a furry Gnasher badge and a free comic at Christmas, or something.

      It does not appear – correct me if I’m wrong – to be an outlet for discussion or the conveyance of views and experiences, with committees and representation.

  • Do what most tree huggers do and picket, picket Lords on match day – arrange a flash crowd to demand Giles Clarke to poke his head up and answer questions, not give staged interviews, but answer real questions from real people (the fans).
    Football fans have a strong say in the running of their club, and as we have seen in the past, the fans can be rid of players, managers and Chairman with relative ease if they feel strongly enough about the performance or form of individuals. Seriously, what football club would put up with Giles Clarke as Chairman, players form or bad coaches (managers)?
    Some might say different sport different culture – rubbish, a fan is a fan and the fan who pays their money, makes their choice has a say and should be heard. Period.

  • If the ECB is independent then it should not have ANY public funding surely – what is the role of Sport England then????- I want my money back – and don’t think Lottery money isn’t just another form of indirect tax. Seems like not giving them a penny is the only power supporters have.

  • The tide is definitely turning. Over at The Mirror, Mike Waters calls for Cook’s replacement and…well, I’ll just quote the headline. I’ve quoted extensive excerpts on Dmitri’s blog, but Waters certainly doesn’t pull his punches. Welcome to The Mob, Mr. Waters:

    England’s latest trip down Misery Lane must lead to Cook’s departure, Morgan as captain and KP’s return

    In my view, the return of KP will not happen, as it would mean humiliation for Downton and make Moores’ position very tricky to say the least. Nor is it, arguably, the right move for England now. Sadly, I get the sense that that boat has sailed, not just because of the threat of KP’s book, but also because of Pietersen’s lack of cricket this year. But at least there’s some vindication for us “keyboard warriors”, “fringe idiots,” “muppets” etc. “outside cricket.”

    Mike Selvey’s silence in the Grauniad has been deafening, though to be fair, he has been calling for Cook to step down from the one-day side, while being incredibly snotty about anyone who criticizes him, Downton, or anyone else at the ECB.

    Stephen Brenkley in The Independent is beyond recall. No link, the headline of his latest article is all you need to read: “Sack Alastair Cook? If anyone can sort England’s problems, it’s him.” Anyone remember the Iraqi Information Minister? At least he was funny, Brenkley is just demented.

    • Sorry for this comment only belatedly making it online!

      The Brenkley piece is here:

      He argues that Cook is uniquely placed to restore the ODI side’s fortunes without offering any rationale or precedent.

      Re Mike Walters – he is probably unique in Fleet Street for his hostility to the ECB top brass and sympathy for Pietersen. At the time of Pietersen’s ‘reintegration’ after text-gate, he was I think the only journalist to deride the pomposity and arrogance of Giles’s press conference, and point out that the ECB – having accepted Pietersen neither abused Strauss nor conveyed tactics – had in fact nothing on him.

      There are some choice lines in yesterday’s piece:

      “Any pretence that English cricket’s repair job, after the carnage of last winter, had moved beyond sticking plasters over gaping wounds has been exposed.

      “The blazers at Lord’s would respond to your house being flooded in biblical storms by declaring a hosepipe ban.

      “These are the blithering Colonel Blimps who decided, four years ago, that English cricket’s best preparation for a 50-over World Cup was to abolish 50-over matches in county cricket and replace them with a 40-over competition.

      “As we suspected all along, dumping Pietersen on the altar of dressing room harmony may have got everyone singing from the same songsheet. But instead of original Beatles classics, England are churning out dreary Westlife cover versions.

      “It’s not helpful (criticism) because I’m going to be captain in this World Cup,” blustered Cook. Sorry, old son, but it’s not Swann’s job to be a cheerleader for English cricket in his capacity as a Test Match Special pundit. Real friends are honest with their mates, no matter how painful the truth.

      “And before the national side became a cosy cartel, instead of the best XI representing a nation, it was not usually down to the captain to decide whether he continues to lead the team”.

  • This is the headline on the cricket page in the Independent……

    “Sack Cook? If anyone can sort England’s problems, it’s him. ”

    Brinkley goes on

    “In extremis, a state which some observers suggest has been reached, the selectors could opt for Joe Root, who is still finding his way, or James Vince, who has never played for England but has had some success in leading Hampshire’s Twenty20 side. There is indeed always someone else but it is equally wise to be careful of what you wish for. If anybody can turn this round, Cook can.”

    What I wish for Mr Brenkley is that you would stop writing this horse manure.

    • Who is calling for James Vince to captain the side? I mean, seriously.

      In the test team Cook merited a place. I’m of the view if he wasn’t captain the only thing that would have kept the wolves from the door in the current scenario is that no-one else has cemented the second opener slot.

      In the ODI team he doesn’t merit a place. If he batted through 50 overs what is he going to score against top class opposition? 140? Even Strauss, who gets a bit unfairly criticised for his batting, passed 150 in ODIs. Cook doesn’t have a second gear.

      Therefore Brenkley is arguing that he merits a place as captain using the TINA principle Maxie or James outlined before for tests (I’m stealing that). I mean, you have to laugh at how brazen that is.

      Cult. I have the correct spelling, I can assure you.

        • I am afraid I can’t take credit for TINA Maxie. It is quite well known. Particularly in politics. The neo liberals and Thatcherites use it a lot to claim there is no alternative. So no surprise the ECB would play the same song.

        • I seem to recall that the late Norman St John-Stevas coined the term TINA for Margaret Thatcher back in the 1980s. Much the same time as she wowed the party faithful with her “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.”

          Just as the C of E is said to be the Conservative party at prayer, I guess the ECB could be said to be the Conservative Party at play.

          • “Just as the C of E is said to be the Conservative party at prayer, I guess the ECB could be said to be the Conservative Party at play”.

            What a perfect, and resonant, analogy.

          • I have no doubt that The Hon Lord Morris of Handsworth will be delighted at being accused of being a member of the Conservative Party at play. Let’s keep party politics in an arena where it is sensible and appropriate shall we?

      • Dmitri, Mark Butcher said on Cricinfo yesterday that as far as the ODIs are concerned you pick the best 11 players, and then find a captain from on of them.

        England , because of their conservative , traditional approach to everything have the prestige test captain as one day captain. So we have had Atherton, Nasser, Vaugh, Strauss, Cook. Not very successfully as I recall.

        But that also might be that they were also top order test match players. Remember Nasser when he was pointing to the number 3 on his back?

        Oh the good old days ,when the cricket media actually criticised the England Captain if they thought he was wrong. Happy days.

        • In this instance, Cook is now struggling to hold the media. They find is easier to distance themselves from him in the one day context, because they have the life-raft of their support for him in test cricket as an escape route.

          Cook’s unsackability lies, in this case, not with the press, but with Downton, who has bet all his chips on Cook. To relieve him of the ODI captaincy will be the beginning of the end, as he well knows.

      • In 2011-12, in four successive ODI series played in England (2), India and the UAE, Cook had the following scores:

        5,48,119,95*,31, 4,80*,23,12,50, 60,0,3,10,60,137,102,80,4.

        That is, in 19 innings he passed 50 nine times scoring 3 centuries. These are the strike rates for his significant innings in that period:

        48: 92.31 (52 balls)
        119: 83.22 (143 balls)
        95*: 126.67 (75 balls)
        80*: 126.98 (63 balls)
        50: 92.59 (54 balls)
        60: 95.24 (63 balls)
        60: 98.36 (61 balls)
        137: 96.48 (142 balls)
        102: 84.30 (121 balls)
        80: 81.63 (98 balls)

        This run of scores was a factor behind England’s no.1 ranking. Many teams would take it from one of their openers (the reason being that you can build a team of stroke-makers around such dependability); in none of them did he take more than half the deliveries faced. You claim that scoring a slow hundred results in losing the match. You would be right, of Cook’s first hundred in this sequence (England made only 246 and lost by 6 wickets). But his other two tons were match-winning innings on slow turners in the Emirates. And the 95* and 80* indicate that Cook is not necessarily a plodder, if in form. In fact his career strike rate is at the same level as Jayawardene’s, Sangakkara’s, and Michael Clarke’s – but I assume you knew that.

        As it happens, I’ve reversed a recently held view and thinks his position in the ODI team is now untenable. He isn’t the batsman of 2010-12, and won’t be again unless he gets a prolonged period rebuilding technique and confidence away from the international game (that won’t happen, and its partly his own fault). But if you wanted to make a case for his continued selection, you would look at this run of numbers. Better than anything Ian Bell’s ever delivered, that’s for sure. And I’m sure something of a surprise given some people’s impressions of Cook.

        • In 2011-12. You said it right there.

          If we are going to go back to stats like that, KP should be opening, Jade Dernbach should be providing the death bowling and Craig Kieswetter should be our keeper.

          Time has moved on and doesn’t, as you point out, mean he should be selected now. I’m not advocating a team of sloggers, but Cook’s inclusion doesn’t facilitate Hales, it hinders him, and only one of them has a substantial upside.

          Read Brenkley in the Independent for what is really wrong thinking. Look at Hopps on Cricinfo today, for what is needed more….

        • Thanks, Edward, for your very diligent research and thoughtful post.

          But as I think you yourself conclude, decent past performances can only count for so much when followed by such a long trough.

          In any other country, given the same resources, would Cook be regarded by the selectors as one of the two best opening batsmen in ODI cricket available for selection.

  • “Any ideas?”

    Why not nominate Clarke or Downton for the ice bucket Challenge and sneak in a few questions while they are a bit disorientated!

  • In case you didn’t see the sub-comment above….I’ve tried posting a question on the ECB Facebook page, but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere – ie it’s not visible on their timeline.

    Anyone else fancy having a try? I’d suggest keeping it to genuine questions so we can’t be accused of trolling.

    Here’s the link:

  • Not sure why my comment at 12:03 pm is still awaiting moderation while everyone else’s seemingly goes straight through. Mine have always done so up till now!

    • And that comment went through right away as well! Wonder what the problem is with the 12:03 comment, it still says “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Did I inadvertently type a banned word?

      • Hi Clive,

        Sorry about that. Just to explain – we do not routinely moderate or approve comments. They should go straight up without our intervention. Occasionally, WordPress holds back a comment if its logarithms suspect spam, and it e-mails us for manual approval, but in the case of your 1203 comment, we received no such e-mail.

        I’ve just been into the system, found that comment, and for some reason it had been held back. I’ve now approved it (and thank you for the comment) and it is now visible above.

        On closer inspection, I saw that a few other posts had similarly been frozen, including from Zepherine, Tregaskis, Reg and Arron and me myself. I think the issue may have been copying it more than one weblink, which was all those comments had done – there must be a hidden setting somewhere, which I’d never noticed in five years, which regards multiple-link posting as supsicious.

        I’ll try and fix that.

        Apologies for any irritation that caused, I’d like to stress again that we do not censor (except in obviously extreme circumstances) and comments should go straight up.

        If anyone has a similar problem again, please flag it up straight away – either in a separate comment, or e-mail me at, or Tweet us.

        We don’t want to waste your time or make you feel rejected!




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