On a relatively quiet day, thought it was worth a look through the papers, most of whom are reflecting on Yorkshire’s triumph in the county championship.
In the Observer, Andy Wilson looks at how England, and the ECB, can exploit the White Rose county’s success. One of the most intriguing aspects of Yorkshire’s current strength is the political dimension: their chairman, Colin Graves (the Costcutter magnate), is also the ECB’s deputy chair, and now heads the board’s commercial committee.
“That has led to speculation that Graves could be the man to end Clarke’s long spell as ECB chairman, which began in September 2007. But the pair would now seem to be allies rather than rivals. Graves has always seemed the type to call a spade a shovel, so the tact and restraint he showed when asked about the ECB’s refusal to allow Yorkshire’s captain, Andrew Gale, to accept the Championship trophy from him on Friday must be seen as further evidence that he is now inside Clarke’s tent”.
Clarke has an uncanny knack of getting awkward people – genuinely or potentially – inside his tent when it suits him. Suspicion still lingers that he intervened to stifle Shane Warne’s criticism of Alastair Cook. It would certainly be interesting to discover who engineered the famous phone call between commentator and captain.
But to return to Yorkshire, and Wilson:
“It is the future of Jason Gillespie that is fascinating. He has made a comparable impact at Headingley to that of Darren Lehmann, a fellow South Australian, in international cricket, and promotes strikingly similar values, urging his Yorkshire team to play positive, attacking cricket, and to make sure they enjoy themselves in the process. Gillespie would therefore seem an obvious fit for Lehmann’s Australia set-up, but that underestimates how happily his family are settled in Yorkshire”.
But rather than join Australia, what about Gillespie for England? I’d be interested in your views on this. Personally, as an England supporter, I would love to see Gillespie replace Moores as our coach. The former is everything the latter is not, not only for the reasons Wilson mentions but his fine international playing career and vast experience of success.
Could we accept an Australian in charge? We didn’t have a problem with either Zimbabwean who did the job. Most of us would have been pleased had Gary Kirsten replaced Flower. Is an Aussie really so much different? As Gillespie seems so happy at Headingley, though, would he really want to work for people like Giles Clarke and Paul Downton?
In the Sunday Telegraph, Scyld Berry also looks at the Yorkshire-England trade-offs, in particular how the county’s batting can solve the perennial problem of Alastair Cook’s opening partner.
“Whether England’s next opening batsman is Adam Lyth or Alex Lees, however, is not a question they can answer until after England’s A tour of South Africa in the new year, when it could boil down to a short-term solution in Lyth, 26, or a long-term solution in Lees, 21.
“Together Lyth and Lees have been the foundation of Yorkshire’s success, an opening pair comparable to Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton in the late 1930s. In the 15 championship matches to date they have put on six opening stands of 50-plus, one of 100, one of 176 against Nottinghamshire last week, one of 270, and one of 375. It is the template for Test success.
“Lyth has translated into first‑class runs the obsessive desire which drove him through his youth to commute from his native Whitby to Headingley.
“Lees radiates the calm authority of such a born leader that he was captaining the Yorkshire Academy soon after he joined at 16, but he has more to learn than Lyth, being five years younger, especially against spin”.
I wonder, though, if Berry is asking the wrong question. Given Alastair Cook’s test form since the beginning of the 2013 Ashes, why should only one of Lees and Lyth play? Why not both?
In the Independent, Michael Calvin lambasts the ECB for their insipid response to Moeen Ali and Boo-gate.
“The ECB’s sustained refusal to respond to the prejudice to which British sport’s most powerful role model was subjected by Indian supporters in the final T20 international of the summer is an act of corporate cowardice which casts doubts on their fitness to govern.
“The reticence of the ECB to engage with the sensitive issue of an England player, being openly booed as a result of his religion and family heritage, has inevitably been linked to their subservient relationship with Indian power brokers, whose financial and political influence shapes world cricket”.
Even as an unrelenting critic of the ECB, I personally find this theory a little hard to swallow. Not that you’d put Giles Clarke past anything when it comes to keeping the BCCI sweet, but would India’s top brass really take umbrage at an English condemnation of Ali’s abusers? Interesting, though, that he was quick to order England supporters not to boo Ricky Ponting in 2009.
Keep an eye out, too, for Calvin’s nifty but gratuitous dig at Kevin Pietersen.
Finally, on Cricinfo, Tony Cozier reflects on West Indies reaching the landmark of their five-hundredth test match.
“That so many exceptional cricketers, among them the finest allrounder the game has known, should have emerged from these minuscule territories remains one of the unlikeliest stories in international sport. It is all the more fascinating that, in spite of their political, geographical, cultural and racial differences, they should have come together, from the first tentative venture to England in 1900 to the current series against Bangladesh, as one West Indies team”.
As you’d expect, it’s a wise and elegant piece which looks at the causes of Caribbean decline and the impact of recent structural reforms. I doubt I’m the only England supporter who feels cricket is so much poorer without a strong and vibrant West Indies team as a force in the game. So when Cozier writes that “the planned reorganisation of their domestic structure should help the region recapture some of the glory it enjoyed in the past”, I really hope he’s on the right track.