The Press Tent returns and we open with an apology to the West Indies, we are sorry we didn’t believe in you, you glorious gentlemen.
West Indies cricket – an apology: exclusive to all papers
Recent coverage of the West Indies cricket team, including such descriptions as “the worst Test match team I have seen in more than 50 years of watching, playing and commentating on cricket,” “embarrassing”, with “no belief that they could compete, let alone beat England” and “a minnow, a makeweight, a lead drum in freefall” may have led readers to believe we thought West Indies were rubbish.
This belief may also have been fuelled by our assertion that “this series could be one of the saddest for Test cricket” and that “Test cricket desperately needs two divisions and this series against West Indies is proving that change has to happen now” and “they are playing for the right to be invited back.”
We now accept that this is not the case and are happy to make that clear.
When not calling the West Indies the worst Test match team he’d seen in 50 years, Geoff Boycott (for it was he) kept himself busy in Birmingham discussing two of his favourite topics: himself, and his lack of a knighthood. Which, as we know, he’s not bothered about, which is why he almost never mentions it constantly.
Usually, Boycott’s ‘poor me’ laments about the knighthood he doesn’t have and, please remember, isn’t bothered about AT ALL actually, focus on how unfair it is that he hasn’t got a knighthood that he isn’t bothered about just because of the trifling detail that he was convicted of beating up his girlfriend in France. I mean, come on, it was almost 20 years ago.
This time, though, Boycott found a new yet equally offensive angle. The reason Boycott doesn’t have a knighthood that he’s not bothered about is… because he’s white.
Finally, someone has been brave enough to speak out for rich, old white men who for too long have been held back just because of their race and gender. Well done, ‘Sir’ Geoffrey.
Speaking at a Q&A at Edgbaston, Boycott noted that knighthoods were handed out “like confetti” to 11 West Indian cricketing knights. “Mine’s been turned down twice,” he grumped. “I’d better black me face.”
Never mind the fact that 13 English Test cricketers have been knighted, the most recent of which was Sir Ian Botham in recognition not of his remarkable cricketing feats but rather his tireless and vast charity work. Never mind the fact that many of those West Indian knights were awarded their titles by their islands rather than the British crown.
No, Geoffrey would have his knighthood (that he’s not bothered about) by now if only he hadn’t suffered the cruel misfortune to be born English and white, the two greatest barriers to gong-collecting.
Belatedly realising he might have gone too far as a shitstorm raged, Boycott – or his advisors – at least had the grace to tweet a proper apology rather than a “sorry if you were offended” cop-out.
The BBC, for their part, called Boycott’s remarks “clearly unacceptable”, before accepting them and allowing him to continue as Test Match Special’s harrumpher-in-chief.
As a final, crowning turd in the bowl, The Sun’s Rod Liddle, in a column that also described Churchill as only “largely wrong” in believing Africa and Asia to be populated entirely by savages, decided dear old Boycs was in fact right.
Well done, everyone.
Of course, West Indies’ stunning win at Headingley wasn’t the only big upset in the Test world this week. Over in Bangladesh, plucky Australia got within 20 runs of a rare victory in Asia.
Steve Smith’s side could take plenty of positives from the guts and fight they had shown in running a side far better suited to the conditions so close.
And as a result, coverage in the Australian press was universally upbeat. Well, it was either that, or nearly all of the coverage had apparently been filed directly from the year 2006 and that Bangladesh’s entirely predictable victory therefore represented something of a seismic shock. One of the two.
The best and most baffling piece of all came from the angry, confused mind of Fox Sports Brett Geeves who, like a toddler denied his favourite toy, resorted to lashing out and soiling himself.
You get an early taste of the nuanced, balanced analysis that was to follow in a headline that shouts that Australia deserve their “disgusting taste of misery” after losing a really close Test match to a very good team.
But it gets really weird, really fast.
“This is their moment,” Geeves muses on an undeniably famous win for the Tigers. “Perhaps it’s the moment that triggers a generation of the nation’s youngsters to explore cricket, and not themselves.”
What? We mean… what? We can’t lie, even as Geeves’ obvious fanboy distress was growing in the early pars, we remained wholly unprepared for a wanking jibe aimed at the youth of an entire nation.
He goes on.
Bangladesh, he graciously concedes, “thoroughly deserve to celebrate this one all the way through to the start of the next Test — some 96 hours of boozing away.”
Again, here at the Press Tent we’re left with only “What?!” It’s rare for us to be left genuinely open-mouthed in disbelief, but hats off to Geeves who has managed it not once but twice in the space of 100 words.
Read of the week
We keep putting Donald McRae stuff in here. But if he keeps interviewing cricketers, we’ll keep doing it. This is just a stunningly brave, raw and revealing interview from England World Cup hero Sarah Taylor. “Blind them.”