An Angry Letter to the Guardian

Posted: September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

I know I have been gone a long time and it is likely to be longer before I grace this forum again. Unfortunately this is not a cricket piece but a letter I wrote to the Reader’s Editor of the Guardian.

It regards an opinion piece by Roger Lord, former UKIP candidate, which veered into homophobia and rape jokes at the end.

Anyway the letter is below and makes my feelings pretty clear:

Dear Mr Elliot

I write regarding your opinion piece by Roger Lord, “Nigel Farage deselected me after years of friendship – who could trust him now?”

When surmising the sense of betrayal felt when Farage replaced Mr Lord on the ballot paper with former Conservative Party member Mr Douglas Carswell, Mr Lord wrote the following:

“Apparently if you fit the bill he will slip you into the position of his choice. Now that Douglas Carswell is Nigel’s bitch, he will perpetually be picking up the political equivalent of prison soap. Trust me on that one”

It severely concerned me that the Guardian agreed to publish Mr Lord’s opinions unedited given the implicit homophobia and explicit mockery of victims of rape. While I believe that Mr Lord has the right to make his opinions in the manner that he feels most suits him, I do not believe that any publication should permit him to make comments such as those above unchallenged. This is especially important when they are made at the expense of some of the most vulnerable people in society.

I genuinely hope that in future any further such pieces are more considered in their content and not published without more careful review.

Yours sincerely

Alec Paton

Well, that miraculously turned into a thriller.

For the first 2 days the joke was on the bowlers. On the third it was a test for the patience of the watching audience (Kumar Sangakkara’s brilliant century aside) and then yesterday afternoon another English batting collapse caused quite a hike in blood pressure, salved slightly by Gary Ballance.

Then for most of today it was case of “will they, won’t they”, with Matthew McConaughey playing the role of the elusive English win. Sadly it was not to be. In spite of Jimmy Anderson taking 4 wickets and some brilliant bowling at the death from Stuart Broad, it all came to the final over.

Broad bowled two perfect balls in that over. The first ball that hit Herath’s glove after he had taken it off the bat but was given anyway raised the collective blood pressure while the 5th sent it through the roof. Pradeep was caught plumb if front but was subsequently saved by the thinnest of nicks. By some miracle the final ball of the match was edged to slip but failed to carry.

So it was the a match that spent four days like listening John Major explaining the history of import tariffs in French Guyana suddenly ended the closing scenes of the Godfather, all rising crescendos and religious allegories.

With the series going up North to Headingley, all eyes will be on which team can best Marshall it’s resources and force a victory from events.

Joe Root posted his first ever double century in tests today.  This is good news for him personally and at the very least encouraging news for England’s batting.

As I type however it is England’s bowling that has to answer some pretty tough questions.  Currently Sri Lanka are 90 for 1, looking to go nowhere especially fast and likely to post a highly competitive score themselves.  This is probably a good thing as their last visit to these shores brought about a second innings score at Cardiff of 82 all out.  The weather then ensured that neither team would get within grasping distance of victory in any other match.

The bowling today has been decent without anyone dong anything special.  Being a Lord’s pitch, this might be because some days it feels designed to sap the will of bowlers, fielders and anyone foolish enough to watch.  Root is undoubtedly a very good batsman but for much of the second half of his innings there was decidedly little actual threat from any bowler.  I hate to rain on his parade as he played through some of the trickiest parts yesterday but currently the pitch has lost some of the pace it had yesterday morning and there is bugger all spin to help Moeen Ali.

Less than 2 days in to the match it seems a little premature to start fearing for a draw but unless one team or the other does something either exceeding brilliant or unbelievably moronic…

And this is how cricket is expected to fight off the attentions of the Soccer Crowd.

Tonight’s post focuses on a problem that has plagued the England test team for much of the past year and will likely trouble them for the foreseeable future: England’s continuing need for the middle order to bail out the top.

In the 2013 Ashes, England relied upon Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell to bail the team out of whatever nose-dive it had found itself in.  There is nowhere to hide for Alastair Cook’s men from the fact that numbers one through three still have failed to score any real runs.  The last century scored by the top three was the Lord’s Test last July, when Joe Root was reprieved on 8 only to go on to score 180.  Admittedly by this point the match was already dead thanks to a brilliant century from Bell and an Australian first innings collapse.

Thankfully Bell, Root and new boy Moeen Ali contributed some punchy runs to the cause and now it’s up to Matt Prior to settle once and for all that he still has the touch that brought him so much success from 2009 until March last year.

That Ali looked so relaxed at this level has added a little gloss to a day that was marked mostly by “more of the same”.  He certainly outperformed the other newcomer, Sam Robson: the fourth man to partner Alastair Cook since Strauss’ retirement 2 years ago.  In many ways he now has an easier job, he only has to be sufficiently better than the man who wasn’t quite good enough to replace the man who wasn’t quite good enough to replace the man who was never going to be as good as Andrew Strauss.  The job as short to medium term England opener is there for the taking, it’s just going to take someone to wrap both fingers round the prize.

I wrote in something approaching irony that English cricket would rather announce a mix tape than take any concrete steps to increase access to the sport.

Exhibit 1: There is sweet fuck all cricket being played by the counties on. Saturdays across the season.

Exhibit 2: Ticket prices rarely have any relation to what people can actually afford to pay in many parts of the country.

Exhibit 3: A month into the season and exactly 1 county championship match has been broadcast on television.

Exhibit 4: No fucking games have been or will be shown free to air on television this season.

Every time someone at the ECB wonders what more can be done to raise the profile of the English game or improve attendance at matches someone should hold these facts in front of their faces and scream at them that they can complain about the profile of the game or they can take concrete steps to rectify it.

Here’s one idea they can have for free:

Impose a use it or lose it policy on Sky Sports. Any county matches in any of the 3 formats that Sky don’t show on either a full channel of a red-button service they lose to one of the other broadcasters, free of charge. Because Sky have paid all this money for it and either it’s worth them making proper use of it or it’s worthless and belongs to all of us.

I don’t care anymore, I just want someone to show this sport the proper fucking respect and let’s be honest, it won’t find that anywhere in a mix tape with fucking Ke$ha anywhere on it.

There are all manner of exciting things happening in the highest echelons of the ECB.

The first thing to note is that the ECB has responded to how little attention the county game gets by decisively doing nothing to increase mainstream coverage of the championship but instead releasing a mix-tape.  Apparently the best way to get the world’s attention is to treat us like a 90s teenage girl that they wish to woo.  

I can barely even write about the thing, let alone listen to it.  While it was never going to be furturistic, innovative or even interesting it could at least have avoided Ke$ha and Pitbull.  Only Somerset’s choice of the Kinks is worth spending any portion of your life listening to.  And I can’t even make any great claim to being some kind of expert in this particular artform.  I have made more than my fair share of the things throughout the years.  One of mine opened with Emperor’s The Eruption followed by Girls Aloud’s No Good Advice.  I have put songs by New Found Glory, Lostprophets and The Ataris on tapes before, which are just some of the selections I’m willing to share with people.

The other thing to attract our attention is the announcement of England’s limited overs squad.  It looks almost identical to the same squad from last summer only with considerably less KP and slightly fresher faced bowlers.  Frankly if England’s brave new era is basically to pretend that we’re not going to notice it’s just the old era but without one of the best reasons to tune in there the they should not be surprised if people fail to you know, tune in.

Of course brave new eras rarely spring up overnight and rarely do they do so in the best of circumstances.  South Africa and Pakistan both had to embrace bold new eras because their captains got caught with their new leather jackets’ pockets full of illicitly obtained pound coins.  Australia had to undergo one when Kerry Packer stole their players.  The most painful reason for rebuilding a whole team happened twice, in the aftermaths of both World Wards.  In contrast with such circumstances, a bit of a playground spat with your most successful player hardly seems such a justification to be contemplate complete overhaul of an otherwise broadly, if intermittently, successful squad.

How much can benefit can be gleaned from a cricket match between Scotland and England? In early May, in Aberdeen and amidst the weather problems that present themselves at such times?

Things could be worse of course. England could have lost. Given that the game was shortened to 20 overs a side it could have ended in the kind of embarrassment that the visitors haven’t endured for a good 6 weeks or so.

There were some upsides for both teams. Scottish cricket got a boost and as players they acquitted themselves well, especially in a game where both sides could be forgiven for dropping their intensity. The team from South of Hadrian’s wall got a chance to prove that the management don’t only care about India, Australia and the size of their bank accounts. They still mostly care about India, Australia and the size if their bank accounts but they do have some outside interests.

Of course the real winner of the night was Michael Leask, who smashed a 16 ball 42, an innings of utter insanity that lit up a dull drive on a drizzly evening that if it had not ended when it did could have been enough to drag his team to victory.

There is a feeling around the game that now England have a victory under their belt they can start to pick up a few more. Of course Sri Lanka will be a tougher proposition, playing in circumstances hopefully far removed from last Friday.