As cricketers around the world woke up on Christmas Day and inspected their sacks (no euphemism intended), some were delighted whereas others were, well, disappointed to see that their stockings were as empty as the stands at an inaugural Hundred fixture.
The problem for cricket’s bad boys is that Santa sees all – every failure, every indiscretion, every inappropriate sledge, and every off-field shenanigan. There’s no escape from the festive judge and jury.
So who was naughty and who was nice in 2019? TFT can exclusively reveal all …
Naughty – David Warner
Unfortunately the big sinner of 2018 didn’t improve his ways in the subsequent 12 months. He was as unpleasant as ever – despite pretending that he was a reformed man – and his performances with the bat were devilish. Saint Stuart had Warner on toast during The Ashes, and his form only returned when he returned down under to his natural abode – a place of fire and brimstone populated by like-minded hooligans.
Nice – Ben Stokes
From bad boy to boy wonder. Unlike the aforementioned Warner, Ben Stokes learned his lessons and turned into the nicest boy in Christendom this year. It just goes to show that a leopard can indeed change its spots. Ben’s stocking was chocked full of ‘Miracle Of Headingley’ videos, a couple of trophies, and a copy of Halo.
Naughty – Colin Graves and Tom Harrison
Telling fibs (or not revealing the whole truth) to the Department Of Media Culture & Sport is akin to lying to Santa Claus himself. And nobody gets away with that. This gruesome twosome were very much in the dog house this year for crimes against domestic cricket. Their stock is at an all time low and their stockings didn’t contain a sausage.
Nice – Jofra Archer
It turns out that the big bad wolf is actually a good guy. Jof fitted seamlessly into the ODI and Test teams without affecting that (in)famous team culture one little bit. Who’d have thunk it? Santa has promised him untold riches in 2020. But all he really wants is a few pitches with pace and bounce … unlike those turgid Kiwi affairs.
Naughty – Alex Hales
Santa gave that snow globe to Alex last Christmas in good faith. Unfortunately some unscrupulous souls seem to think that he snorted the contents. The truth is that we’ll probably never know precisely what recreation drug Alex took. I just hope he can redeem himself out and come back strong. He’s a superb white ball batsman and I love watching him play.
Nice – Steve Smith
Santa was torn on this one but apparently you can’t argue with sheer weight of runs. Was booed off the park during the World Cup, but by the end of The Ashes the jeers had turned to cheers. A role model for both gingers and hamsters everywhere, Steve Smith is living proof that looks are meaningless. In other words, he’s the antithesis to our plastic popular culture.
Naughty – Sky TV
Sacking David Gower was a big no. It’s like Santa sacking the head Elf. Sky’s problem is that they’ve sacrificed knowledge and charisma (see Lynam, Des) for a more blokey feel. But this is cricket not Top Gear. Nobody really cares what Ian Ward and Rob Key, who played a handful of Tests between them, think.
Nice – Kane Williamson
This bloke could be a Jedi. He’s serene, skilful and seems incapable of losing his temper. Took the bizarre ending to the World Cup final with unfathomable class and good grace. If that was me I’d have got on the first plane to Dubai and burned ICC HQ to the ground.
Naughty – Chris Silverwood
Five seamers? FIVE bloody seamers? Krusty The Clown could pick a more balanced XI.
Nice – James Morgan
Do you know how much stick I got at home for writing this on Christmas day? I stole 5 mins here and there while my wife screamed “put that bloody blog down”. I managed to fit this in amongst opening presents, reading my kids stories, cooking lunch, washing up, making tea, opening champagne, pretending that cheap red is actually at Chateauneuf-du-Pape (they can’t tell after 5pm believe me). I deserve a bloody medal for this crap – which is why my stocking was full of goodies.
Happy Christmas y’all.
Appreciate your hard work on the Blog, James. Always a good read. All the best!
Many thanks :-)
Thanks for your efforts, James. Your thoughts are always wises and enjoyable. Happy new year!
Thanks for all your work on this blog, James. It’s one of only two places these days (George Dobell on CricInfo is the other) where we can get to read informed opinions about England selections. Back in the 1970s, every Sunday paper seemed to have a weekly column about what changes might be made to the England squad for the next match. But those days are long passed. We’re lucky now if we even get to hear who’s been selected.
Excellent blog – thanks for your work!
wrt – today’s efforts. Did anyone else notice that Sam Curran was bowling about 5 mph faster than ever before, according to the speed gun: I saw one clocked at 139 kph = 86 mph. (Worryingly, none of the commentators seemed to notice – at least not when I was watching.) This is absolutely amazing – from medium-fast to verging on fast in the space of a couple of months. I’ve never seen anything like it, but presumably he is only just reaching his physical maturity. The result was his best test figures ever and, for the first time, he looked like a player who deserves to be picked as a frontline bowler.
I’m afraid I can’t agree about splitting Warner and Smith. They’re both tarred with the same naughty brush for me. They got caught and received a slap on the wrist, the only difference being Warner came back and had an horrific Ashes run, largely against Broad, and Smith found a rich vein of form, accompanied by whatever luck was going. Neither are kids, they’re both family men and set a piss poor example. However they responded to the challenge of a comeback was immaterial to me. If it’s in your character to do what they did then it doesn’t magically disappear at their age. They were at the forefront of a culture that actively encouraged that sort of win at all costs behaviour. I never cheered either during the summer and certainly celebrated the fall of either’s wicket with alacrity.
What a nasty man you are Marc. Get off the Aussie case and try Stokes who caused actual physical damage to another person,
I wouldn’t mind betting that ECB paid the guys injured out.
The hot blooded spur of the moment actions of Stokes cannot be compared to the cold blooded premeditated actions of Warner and Smith.
I am not justifying Stokes behaviour but as a bloke I understand how easy it is to get caught up in these sort of things without thinking too much about the consequences. Same cannot be said of cheats.
If we were to get hot under the collar about every act of violence in principle how many well respected men over the years could be judged in the same way?
The fact remains the Aussie win at all costs culture, actively supported by a Smith and Warner, is an anathema to any game and a little more important than a few punches thrown in a fight.
“Little more ….than a few punches thrown in a fight”? Gee whiz, what planet are you on?
As it happens I still think Stokes in something of a yob but he has shown a good deal of contrition and his speech on being awarded SPOTY was good in a number of ways (not least, by being short).
Presumably you have never forgiven Atherton (and never will) for his dirt in the pocket incident?
Planet reality mate, when was the last time you saw a fight outside a pub?
Stokes did nothing more than thousands of others do pretty consistently. There was no serious injury and if it hadn’t been Stokes the incident wouldn’t have warranted any publicity.
Stokes was acquitted. It’s important to point that out.
Tell your missus to keep her nose out – you are more valuable to us than you are to her… Only joking! Thanks.. to both of you.
Thanks Andy. At least you guys appreciate me ;-)