Archives for posts with tag: cricket

I went to interview Peter Moores this week. He seemed more relaxed than when he was with England which is hardly surprising since he’s the coach of the county champions and it was late November when the only results that matter in the bleep tests.

But even so he seemed a fraction less intense than I remember him, though no less enthusiastic. I had to wait a while for him to finish a net session (the 2012 season is five months away) and he was scampering around doing, chivvying, fixing, suggesting like the battery-powered PE teacher he’s always been.

Most counties, from what I gather, focus on fitness in post/pre-season until the new new year when the bats and balls come out and everyone breaths or wheezes a sigh of relief. But Lancashire, or those that were there, were practising their cricket skills and had been for several hours by the time I got to Old Trafford in early afternoon.

You’ll be able to read more about this in a forthcoming issue of The Cricketer but he interestingly and impressively self-critical about his 20-month period as England coach that ended in the night of the long emails in January 2009.

He reckons he dived in too hard and too fast with England. He was given the mandate by the ECB to make some fundamental changes, mostly to do with physical preparation and conditioning. And of course the England side of Andy Flower (appointed by Moores) is the fittest, hardest-working group ever to wear the three lions. But at the time, with some still basking in the diminishing glow of 2005, not everyone was as receptive as they might have been.

There is a fine line between instruction and inspiration and one can read between the lines of comments of various senior England players about how they appreciate “being treated like adults” in the current regime.

One has to hope that Flower is sufficiently detached to recognise when “being treated like adults” slips into laziness or complacency as happened in the last days of Duncan Fletcher and happened in Australia as the great empire crumbled.

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Mostly this blog will be about cricket, or sport at least. But I can’t let this Clarkson business go. I happened to be watching The One Show (rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle etc) when he was on and his comments were so searingly, blindingly, categorically obviously not meant to be taken seriously.

Even if you despise him for all he appears to stand for and can’t help but be roused into anger, the best thing you can do is sigh and ignore. All that the teeth-grindingly, po-faced, grandstanding responses from union leaders and some panellists on Question Time is alienate the vast swathes of Middle Britain who aren’t card-carrying union members but sympathise with the cause of the strikers (and also like watching Top Gear).

And on top of that you elevate Jeremy Clarkson into an even more ludicrous celebrity cult whose utterances, however nonsensical or outrageous, are somehow to be taken seriously and pored over. And on that bombshell …

 

“Are you on an earner?” asked a former England captain of a current England player in the Lord’s media centre this summer. The player was off-duty in the sense that he wasn’t playing in the game but he was on-duty in the sense that he was wearing the badge of a sponsor doing some glad-handing with competition winners and generally doing what brand ambassadors in these uber-corporate times.

The question made me wince. Not because I have some puritanical objection to players endorsing brands to supplement their earnings. It was the casual cynicism that got me.

Of the many strands of awfulness that cricket’s fortnight in the dock has exposed, the naked greed of the individuals involved is in many ways the most worrying and the hardest to police. It is a universal vice and manifests itself in many forms.

A few years ago friend of mine used to work on Manchester United’s official club magazine. One of the leading players of the time returned my friends call regarding a pre-arranged interview. The player then insisted that my friend phoned him back again so that he didn’t have to bear the cost of the call. This was a senior, very well-known Premier League footballer who would have been earning tens of thousands of pounds a week.

You can still be corrupt even if you’ve never thought of throwing a match. Agents can still be vile and dodgy even if they don’t lean on their clients to bowl a pre-arranged no-ball.

Sportsmen of all kinds love a punt. Some have even been known to bet on themselves, perish the thought. Legal gambling doesn’t stop it being a highly corruptible influence. “It matters more when there’s money on it,” was Skybet’s advertising slogan for a while. Interpret the double, triple meanings as you see fit.

The ECB recently hooked with a betting partner to add to their portfolio of official endorsements. It feels like they’re on potentially dodgy ground but then they know all about that. Regardless of what was later to become of Allen Stanford the biggest stain on Giles Clarke’s chairmanship of ECB is the entire lack of acceptance that the Stanford episode in any way sold whatever remained of the game’s soul. Once money becomes the sole point of the arrangement of sporting fixtures then the game is up.

It is the administrative greed that creates the fertile ground for corruption. It seems to be taken entirely for read these days by governing bodies that generating income is their primary or even only raison d’être.

And all the anti-corruption units in the world will not solve that fundamentally corrupt mindset.

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