Welcome to the Press Tent your occasional dose of snark, cynicism and sarcasm lovingly brought to you by Cricket365.
Old Man Yells At Cloud
It’s been an enormously distressing week for the Press Tent as we come to the terms with the fact that one of our earliest cricket-writing heroes, Matthew Engel of Wisden and Guardian fame, is now a full-on, harrumphing, “in my day” dinosaur.
We don’t want to tear it to pieces too much because it’s just too painful for us, and his reductive, one-eyed rant is at least well-written unlike its spiritual cousins that clog up the Telegraph’s Premium section.
And in truth we’d already spend a decade coming to terms with the fact Engel was no longer one of us when he spoke of expanding cricket to new countries as a “menace” in his Wisden editor’s notes. You can quickly go off a man whose problem with the 10-team World Cup is that it’s two or three teams too many.
But this lengthy whine is beyond the pale. While there are a million reasons to worry about cricket, this is not what the piece is about. Not really. It’s a whinge that things aren’t like they used to be and nothing more.
It goes wrong from the very start as Engel draws a frankly bizarre contrast between the 108-Test career of Geoffrey Boycott, who played in the olden days and is therefore good, and the “less enduring” 104-Test career of Kevin Pietersen, who played in the modern era and has made lots of money and is therefore bad.
The sainted Boycott, Engel tells us, played 414 first-class matches for Yorkshire, 108 Tests for England and “only bits and pieces for anyone else”, which we suppose is as good a way as any to gloss over the trifling irrelevance of a rebel tour to South Africa and subsequent career-ending three-year ban.
Pietersen, meanwhile, has – gasp – played for several (officially sanctioned) Twenty20 teams around the world because he’s a professional sportsman who wants to make money. Again the manner of how the England career ended is elided, the fact that it was cut short by the ECB’s spite rather than KP’s sordid lust for T20 meriting no mention.
“I don’t care about the St Lucia Zouks,” declares Engel from his ivory tower of bitterness. Okay. But maybe they care in St Lucia.
Satire Dies Again
It’s been a tough year for satire, with the real world frequently churning out hilarious/terrifying news that utterly spikes the satirists’ weapon. The Thick of It is barely a decade old; it’s already impossible to imagine making something more ridiculous than the actual government. And let’s not even get started on America.
And so, then to cricket, where Salman Butt has been lamenting the spirit of cricket after his WAPDA team lost by four runs when lanky number 11 Mohammad Irfan, his head literally and metaphorically in the clouds, was mankaded by quick-thinking Peshawar bowler Taj Wali.
It’s a great mankad in its own right. But it also made SALMAN. BUTT. say the following words with his actual mouth.
“What’s the point of this law when the winning team isn’t proud and ashamed instead?
“We had a great game, fully competitive throughout four days, which saw both teams’ fortunes fluctuate. And suddenly this mankading spoiled it. Sportsman spirit should have been the top priority but the game didn’t end in a proper way. What’s the point of this law when the opponent team despite winning apologises to us?”
You almost have to marvel at that combination of lofty piety and dizzying lack of self-awareness.
Interesting piece on cricinfo this week about how much money international cricket captains earn. We particularly enjoyed the graphics that represented this in handy visual form with giant Steve Smiths and Joe Roots and teeny tiny Graeme Cremers, and then tiny Steve Smiths and genuinely massive Cristiano Ronaldos.
Yes, interesting enough but relatively unremarkable really. Steve Smith, Joe Root and Virat Kohli earn more money than the other international captains. But then Faf du Plessis got involved. But did they overestimate or underestimate, Faf?
— Faf Du Plessis (@faf1307) October 20, 2017
Sponsor of the week
Sticking with Twitter and captains and the fact we’ve all got to make a buck, Eoin Morgan this week announced in an entirely normal and natural pair of tweets that he was “Delighted to announce that I am now a proud ambassador for @odendaadiamonds They offer exceptional quality with great attention to detail.. ..all of this at a fraction of the retail price. Here’s to a bright future”
It’s easy to titter, and this is admittedly a particularly guileless example of the genre, but Morgan is far from alone in this kind of thing. But we do worry about that “attention to detail” given that they, according to their twitter bio, offer “semis precious jewellery”.
Hashtag of the week
From the website that brought you #susanalbumparty comes Cricket Australia’s impossible-to-misunderstand Ashes hashtag #beatengland. Hats off to whichever soon-to-be-ex member of the social media team managed to sneak that one past senior management.
Read of the week
Everything has Nazis in it these days, up to and including the White House, but this has Nazis and so much more.