Never mind the cricketers. Think of us

The worst result of England’s dire winter has just hit me: the media response from the non-cricket-specific outlets. We are firmly back to the 1990s and it’s fairly sickening.

In the glory days of 2005 (if you can remember that far back), England’s victory silenced the doubters and the ignoramuses. They didn’t have any basis to slag the sport off; England were winning, and cricket was cool. All change. England are losing and cricket is for losers. Cue the dry-witted script-writers jumping all over England’s three-wheeling bandwagon with predictable, bland, pointless tongue-in-cheek remarks.

“And the third day’s play gets underway at 10.30 tonight – IF YOU CAN STAND IT – on BBC Radio 4 Long Wave,” reads the news reporter, with a smarmy ‘I know what I’m talking about; England can’t play cricket’ look on her face.

“Dark days for English cricket, then. But how’s the weather? Over to Mike Smugplank, hello Mike.”

“Oh hello there, yes, well England’s cricketers may not be enjoying the sun in Sydney and I’m afraid it’s not looking much brighter here either”

Oh how witty and clever – not to mention topical! Please change the record. You are not funny or remotely clever. And England’s so-called national sport, foot****, is still awarded the undeserved privilege of the news reader saying: “If you don’t wish to know the score, look away now”. Oh, come off it.

It’ll spread like a virus. Every comedy show, ever stand-up in London, every unimaginative script writer and bored subeditor on a daily will be trying desperately to fit in a mention to England’s failure as a cricket team. That’s fine, but for God’s sake don’t do it with a smarmy grin on your face!

And here endeth the first rant of 2007.

Where to watch the Ashes…in London

A plea for help from Srivaths who writes:

I saw your “Where to watch the Ashes in Hong Kong” post. I have a better
question for you. Where do I watch the Ashes in London? I’m a student from
India and moved in just recently and the sky box(or whatever it is called) is
broken in our student dig. I don’t think the pubs will be open in the mdiddle
of the night. Any ideas?

Damn good question, and I have no idea. Londonshire closes at 11 and woe betide anyone who walks within three feet of the bar. There must be somewhere, though, that can cater for the fans. Naturally you should all buy a crate of beer or decent malt, go home, get to bed, open the laptop and read the marvel that is Cricinfo dot com. But I appreciate you’re not all as sad and tragic as us.

Where to watch the Ashes…in Hong Kong

Stephen Anderson writes:

Eighteen months of waiting to answers one question. Will England keep The ASHES?

Not bloody likely

Some people feel that Australians are ageing and are not quite the ruthless
killing machine they were. Let’s see! We all watch how the Aussie went out
and just cut up all the opposition at the ICC cup.

What ever will happen the last major sporting event of 2006 and the first of
20007 will be on live @ The Kangaroo Pubs WAC- LKF & TST THE HOME OF THE ASHES

Aussie Steve Anderson

A selection of breakfast shall be available each morning with Champagne brunch
each and every Saturday & Sunday mornings.

The Kangaroo Downunder Bar & Restaurant
54-62 Lockhart rd
Wan Chai
2139 3111
For more info call
Stephen Anderson
9326 9138
The Kangaroo Downunder Bar & Restaurant
53-55 Chatham rd South
3175 8928

The Kangaroo Bar & Club-LKF
Level 2,”The Winner Building”
39 D’Aguilar St. L.K.F.
2138 6578

The only pool table in LKF

Well, there you go.

Aus broadcasters court Mick Jagger for coverage

The Australian television company Channel 9 are in talks with Mick Jagger who, they hope, will make “cameo appearances” for their coverage of the forthcoming Ashes. Brilliant.

I am more a Beatles man than a Stoner – my mate is a huge Rolling Stones fan – so I’ve never been into his music much. But anyone who likes cricket as much as he does (apparently he requests live feeds of any cricket which is being played whenever he’s on tour) must be a damn fine fellow. Thinking of him commentating on the Ashes I’m reminded of that fabulous series Stella Street, a spoof show depicting a whole load of celebrities all living in the same street. These included Michael Caine, Des Lynam, Sting, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Jagger. And Phil Cornwell, one of the most underrated impersonators to have drawn breath, did a brilliant takeoff of Jagger. Get it, it’s superb.

I always enjoy hearing who will be commentating on the Ashes. It’s such a big deal for TV companies that they’re desperate to out-do eachother and steal a celebrity name. The only Australian I know of who Sky Sports have recruited is David Boon. Imagine Boon and Jagger…that could be fun. Boon, Jagger and Tony Greig would be even better!

Sweater Kittens at the cricket

Watching so much cricket, as we do, you quickly realise the differences between broadcasting companies around the world. BSkyB in Britain are, on the whole, very professional and slick – albeit a little too slick at times with constant references to the other programmes airing on Sky Sports 1-100…

South Africa’s production methods, on the other hand, are a different story entirely. It’s patently clear the cameramen have other things on their minds than cricket; several times during a session they’ll zoom in on the most attractive (or most naked) girl for a few seconds, before their director screams blue murder at them through their earpieces. Anyway. Enjoy the video below.

BBC claw back lost ground

So, the BBC are going to broadcast highlights of the Ashes this winter – an interesting development as it appears to have come from nowhere. Sky, who were awarded the rights from the ECB almost exactly 12 months ago (earning the English board a reported £200m) – a decision which caused the ECB to hide under the table, with just their greens for comfort in the Anderson shelter. The doodle-bug passed by, though.

Initially I was angry at the ECB – angry at Sky, too. But it’s not Sky’s fault they have the money to beat off the competition; it’s also the apathy, or disinterest of certain other broadcasters, which ended free-to-air cricket. I wonder now if the BBC are starting to regret it.

At the BBC’s Sports Editor’s blog, the director of BBC Sport, Roger Mosey says:

Now, before anyone says it: yes, we’re talking today about highlights and not live cricket on TV. The question of live cricket returning to the BBC is something we’re keeping under review for the future when the contracts next become available.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but “…something we’re keeping under review for the future” is either a typo or suggests the Beeb are almost certainly going to bid for the rights in 2009. When I first read it, I thought Roger said “keeping under wraps” and it still smacks of that.

A criticism, though. With the greatest respect and understanding of the arduous task a TV scheduler must have, the decision to air the highlights a mere couple of hours before the next day’s play is ridiculous. It’s almost not worth having them at all. If I was just a fan and not writing about the game, I’d still sign up to Sky in spite of the BBC’s highlights gesture.

I remain a fan of the Beeb though. Their website is outstanding; they’ve grasped Web 2.0 and are breaking new ground each year. It’s just a shame that they spend more money on makeover shows like What Donkeys Shouldn’t Wear At Christmas rather than what the public really want: live sport.

Anyway, it’s very much a moot point and outdated too. Sky have it, so get over it. They’re ploughing a lot of money into the English game, too.

Cricket on Channel Five

Cricket on Five
So, the first Test is upon us in a matter of days. This time tomorrow, Jon Lewis will be even less knowingly underbowled (probably); Sky will be wheeling out their trucks and TV monitors (and waking up Bob Willis from his slumber; “over rates. over rates. always the slow over rates”) and, more interestingly, Channel Five will become only the third terrestrial TV station in the UK to show cricket highlights.

Pleasingly, they’ve chosen a good spot – 7.15 pm. As good as Channel 4′s coverage was, they rather shot themselves in the foot with their highlights which were, frankly, dreadful. Half-an-hour of highlights is all very well, but not when the anchor man – Nicho! – speaks over most of the action. In a moment of particular boredom one day, I timed the actual cricket. There was 2 minutes of intros and over a minute at the end, not to mention the 2/3 minute advert-break in the middle. Worse still, they rarely stuck to one timeslot. It was sometimes on past midnight! Good one – yeah, that’ll draw the viewers in. The pervy freaks looking for soft porn must have got a shock when they heard the less-than-seductive tones of Simon Hughes talking about the lack of a fine leg or worse, pulling a bowler into the confectionary stand (and out again).

Anyway, Five have recruited The Great Nicho (Mark Nicholas), Sir Geoff (Geoff Boycott) and Mr Trucky himself (Simon Hughes). A fine team, that. In fact, so fine, I’m almost inclined to say it’s a shuper team, in honour of Richie Benaud who quite honestly deserves a post all to himself. This is the first summer since the Jurrassic era that Britons won’t have his quiet, understated musings in the background while they make their tea; pick up their shopping; shout at the kids or whatever. Worse still, we don’t get to hear Choo for Chwenty Choo again. Travesty upon travesty. Console yourselves.

Incidentally, don’t try saying his name if your moustache is wet. It has a tendancy to sound like the perfect chav-mobile for a chavette (Bitchy Renault). Stone the crows – why didn’t I think of that before? Someone get me Renault on the phone!

Anyway, the reason for this inane, banal stream of tripe – masquerading as a post – is Five just emailed me to say their site is now live. So go and look at it and tell them how wonderful you think it is, and also tell them what a wonderful blog this is and that you found their site because of the Corridor. And seeing as you’re being so generous, you might as well tell them how great you think I am (you can lie. In fact, please do).

The summer has begun. Incidentally, I went to the dogs on Friday (Wimbledon) – and what a brilliant night out it is. My mate had a bunch of coupons from the Racing Post so not only did we all get in free, we got a free pint to start proceedings and a free £2 bet. I’ll have some of that, oh yes. One of our crowd is particularly keen on the old gambling…not sure how much he won, but it was into the hundreds. Or so he told us…great night though. Masses to drink, masses of laughter, masses of shouting at dogs (and greyhounds) and “what colour’s number 3? what bloody colour is trap 3? Oh nevermind, that’ll be the dog at the back. At the back and on his back!”

Posting will be up on and off for a bit, as mentioned the other day. Scott’s around to keep it fresh and watered.

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Adam Gilchrist is very clever!

A number of Australia’s senior players were understood to have agreed to the prank as a one-off on the second day of the first Test against Bangladesh, to hit broadcasters in the hip pocket.

Television executives do not take kindly to free on-air advertising, and it was a clever tactic of Gilchrist to name team sponsors.

He was overhead saying “Get one for the boys at Travelex” or “Phone home on 3 Mobile” during play.

But the most clearly audible plug was heard after Andrew Symonds, nicknamed Roy, fired in a throw.

“That’s the one, Roy,” Gilchrist enthused.

“Plenty of energy … from a … Milo energy bar.”

A Cricket Australia spokesman said the players had concerns over the volume of stump mikes.

“It is the second Test in a row that (Australia) team manager Steve Bernard has requested the International Cricket Council match referee to ensure the international protocol of stump mikes are turned down when the ball is dead, and only turned back up when the bowler is at his run-up,” he said.

That is a clever tactic by Gilchrist to force the hand of television broadcasters. It would be nice to think that what is said on the field is all good clean stuff, but sadly this is not so, and probably never was so. International Cricket has always been played at a fairly intense level.

Restless natives at MCC

The egg’n’bacon crowd are not a happy bunch of campers, and Donald Trelford has penned a rebel’s manifesto.

I often wondered why the MCC gave up running British cricket, and it turns out they were forced to do so by the government of the day, in the interests of openness and transparency. Surveying England’s cricket fortunes since 1968, you would have to suggest it was a bad move even before the ECB sold out the British cricket fan for the Sky shilling.

Cricket video highlights

I found this from the BBC – Sussex have launched a TV website, where they plan to provide fans with highlights and clips of their games. What a brilliant initiative. Sky Sports do this on the games they cover (see here for more on that), and Surrey too have done something similar. So this is great news – Cricket is entering the modern age and embracing technology for its fans.

When I first got into Cricket 10 years ago – and it very quickly became an obsession as I vainly attempted to replicate Curtly Ambrose’s action! – coverage was really pretty awful. The winter tours at that time were starting to be covered by Sky Sports in Britain – but no one had Sky back then, unless you wanted a satellite dish the size of a small car clamped to your house. News excerpts on the radio; news video reports on the 9 o’clock news and the morning newspapers were all we could hope for. Brief analysis during the 60 second video footage on the news became an art-form as my Dad and I would both argue over whether Stewart was lucky or not to be given out LBW. Now though – just turn on your PC, and you have video highlights when you want it – brilliant.

Quick note for Aussies reading, and other Warne fans: he’s playing tomorrow, conveniently against Sussex, so you’ll be able to watch those highlights as of about 6pm BST.