As 2016 slowly closes, we thought we would stay clear of doing a mournful and bleak summary of the Year That Should Just Piss Off. We’ll leave that to the professionals. Instead, fuelled by the Christmas gin, we’ll look forward to the new year of cricket, which will be a springing lamb to replace the decaying cadaver of the past 12 months. Let’s face it, Trump is going to be a Big Bash League kinda President (you really want to hate it, but it’s fun and makes good copy) and all we really understand about Brexit is that it’s an awful portmanteau and it may eliminate Kolpak players, and therefore, in a classic case of the law of unintended consequences, Northamptonshire.
Turning instead then to 2017, and the next in our short line of articles in the Things We (Would) Like To See series. Cricket in the past few months has generally been fascinating, with Test cricket taking the spotlight rather than ODIs (we may have missed some of these, but isn’t that the point?) and T20s. Yes, England have largely been an embarrassment, but that just makes this blogging lark easier. Nonetheless, there are plenty of things that we would love to see happen at some time in the next 12 months.
It must be an odd time for the bosses at TMS. The internet, social media and mobile technology have combined to reduce the average cricket fan’s reliance on the radio to hear what is happening. Consequently, at times, the TMS brand appears to be foremost a twitter account retweeting inane comments, secondly an interactive live blog and only finally a sports commentary.
In terms of the commentary, it is no longer essential. This is partly due to the personnel currently employed. Earnest Ed Smith shows that being a swot doesn’t make you a good commentator. In India Blowers regularly thought that Ashwin was bowling to Ashwin (he is still an institution, but he can’t cope with live ball-by-ball stuff these days); Geoff Boycott now sounds like an impressionist doing an impression of Geoff Boycott. Vaughan and Swann ought to be good, but are too deliberately wacky and try to make the commentary a two-man job, upsetting the rhythm of the main commentator.
We’ll revisit this in due course, but if TMS continues to move towards more listener/follower interactions and less attention to its original service, it risks becoming meaningless. Cricket needs good coverage on the radio, and TMS currently does not provide it like it once did.
We don’t think DRS will ever be perfect. But we don’t strive for perfection. We just want all the technology to be available, and we don’t want captains having the luxury of multiple opportunities to use it. Get rid of the allowance of replacement options after 80 overs, and reduce the prospect of referrals being done on a whim.
The selection of Gareth Batty for the tour to Asia should have been an international joke. In achieving absolutely nothing positive, it ranks alongside Darren Pattinson and Boyd Rankin/Chris Tremlett in 2013/14 as recent blunderfucks. James Whitaker and his selector comrades deserve all kinds of flak.
It is more telling however, of the ineptitude of the England set-up when it comes to young spinners. An impressively long list of spinners have regressed having been touted – or picked – as future internationals. Just what is Peter Such doing? And can he bugger off and do it at the Australian academy instead please?
Whenever a series ends and it is revealed that Kumar Dharmasena has a 99%+ accuracy rate, we die a little. It is incomprehensible that the elite panel comprises only 12 umpires, several of whom regularly make howlers. Even the simple stuff seems hard to do: they are by and large useless at enforcing what they alone can – over-rates, the use of substitutes and on-pitch attitudes, for example.
What’s even more telling is that it is the ICC who protect the umpires by confirming their consistently good decision-making. There ought to be an independent panel responsible for reviewing umpires and recommending action to improve the game for players and spectators alike.
Dear Sky Sports – there is absolutely no need to give him airtime, let alone use him as a commentator. It’s sad that one of the few cricketers recognisable outside of the cricketsphere is such an arse, but an arse he is, and an arse he will always be.
If there is one thing we love, it is Shane Watson reviewing a plumb LBW decision. If there is a second thing we love, it is seeing an England cricketer in an advert – for it means England actually have players good enough to be recognised by the man or woman in the street. For the avoidance of doubt, the mini-adverts for the companies who sponsor the television coverage don’t count. Nor does the betting advert that seems to feature Saj Mahmood.
Joe Root would be a natural choice to feature in a Morrison’s advert (like Andrew Flintoff before him), Ambre Solaire must be desperate for Jonny Bairstow to continue his run of form until the Ashes and surely Alastair Cook would be a logical replacement for Beefy and Lamby as the face of the British meat industry.
Preferably to rant about James Whitaker.
Preferably to fight the ensuing lawsuit, thus enabling 51allout to carry on regardless.
We have long stopped looking at Google Analytics, and have cooked the polls to register a million votes, so we don’t really know how (un)popular this blog is. We may have had to cancel the podcast due to other commitments, but our twitter account remains strong; our heart however, remains in the website. Thanks for reading – both of you – and have a great 2017.