We like the way people are talking about ‘the draft proposal’ as if that’s in some way a unique label. The damn thing needs branding. We need some shorthand so that Cricinfo don’t have to invest a paragraph at the start of every article explaining what it is.
The other day, we said we’d written about whatever-it’s-called twice. The first article questions whether it would really be so bad if one of The Big Three (is ‘the big three’ enough of a thing to warrant capitalisation?) were relegated. The second’s just been published on Cricinfo. It’s about relenting and letting Australia, England and India do whatever they want in the hope that maybe they’ll learn from the experience.8 Appeals
No, not like that. There’s been enough of that. We’re talking about liquidation. The England cricket team isn’t currently making the repayments owed to its supporters, so rather than making the effort to come up with solutions, why don’t we just bin it?
That’s what we do when something proves awkward for us, isn’t it? We just throw it away in the hope that something better will materialise before us.
That’s a synopsis of our latest piece for Cricinfo. Happy Thursday. Cricket Badger will be back tomorrow, by the way – complete with quiz answers, once we’ve found where we put them and then copied and pasted them in.8 Appeals
We’ve done our usual Twitter thing for Cricinfo, but you’ll notice we haven’t mentioned Ryan Harris and his Al Swearengen style whinge about not being let into some casino. Nor have we mentioned Graeme Swann.
If you don’t already know, Swann’s receiving criticism for likening England’s Ashes defeat to being “arse raped”. He has apologised, saying that the comment was ‘crass and thoughtless in the extreme’ which seems a fairly accurate assessment to us.
However, when questioned by the Daily Telegraph, Yvonne Traynor, the chief executive of Rape Crisis, said:
“We are appalled that Graeme Swann equates a cricket match with the devastatingly serious crime of rape. It is the duty of people in the public eye to make sure that their own distorted views are kept to themselves and not shared with the general public. These comments lack compassion and intelligence and he should apologise to anyone who has suffered from this heinous crime.”
This begs a question. Why is it that when Alastair Cook says that Ashes cricket is ‘pretty much a war’ or when David Lloyd suggests that the opposition has been ‘murdered’ no-one sees it as anything other than hyperbole, but when an intelligent cricketer uses the word ‘rape’, some assume him to have ‘distorted views’?
You don’t have to know Graeme Swann particularly well to know that he is not in favour of rape. Chances are, he used the word precisely because it seemed somehow more severe than anything that implied homicide or genocide. Life-taking language has had its power eroded through frequency of use.
Graeme Swann’s crime is perhaps to have forgotten that certain words will be leapt upon, regardless of the true intent behind their usage. The only real difference between what he said and what professional writers say about sport daily is that society isn’t currently numb to the meaning of the word ‘rape’. Maybe he could have tested the water with ‘euthanised’ or ‘executed’ instead to see where we stand with those.39 Appeals
We’ve a growing problem with what might be called the ‘dissection of the nation’s cricket system’ piece. More specifically, we’ve a problem with the increasing readiness to publish such articles.
The state of the cricketing nation piece is when a writer draws far-reaching conclusions about the way the sport is run, based on the results of the national team. Typically, a prolonged run of poor results will lead to a dissection of both the domestic game and the elite system. The writer might also try and look at deeper cultural issues which might somehow be affecting what is being seen at the top level.
It’s a tough article to write, because there are so many factors and so many variables. It works best when you’re damn certain that something is very wrong. It works less well when your team just happens to have lost its last match and hasn’t actually been performing woefully for a prolonged period.
The reason why such pieces currently seem a bit flimsy is because a few months ago, they were being written about Australia and now they’re being written about England. If fortunes can turn that quickly, it probably isn’t down to deep-rooted, fundamental issues with the way the sport is being run in one country or the other.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t things which could be done better. It’s more recognition that the performances of 22 players aren’t the most accurate barometer when readings are taken over a short period. The state of the cricketing nation piece has become a knee-jerk response to a defeat. It’s like the thinking man’s “sack ‘em all” diatribe.
All of which is a vague and tangentially-related preamble to a link to our latest Cricinfo piece. It’s about the England team being old and past its best, even though they’re younger than the Aussies. It draws on some of the issues highlighted in state of the cricketing nation pieces, but it isn’t really about that. It’s mostly about little more than the fact that people often form opinions about cricketers based on their age without ever actually checking how old they are. That really irritates us for some reason.24 Appeals
Writing this kind of a website, there’s an optimum level of seriousness when it comes to bad news. Good news is hard to write about, but so is truly bad news like the current Jonathan Trott thing.
What’s easiest is a good old-fashioned display of incompetence. That gives you something to rant about as well as people to ridicule. It’s only funny to get so het up about sport if everyone fundamentally understands that it’s not really worth getting all that het up about. To some extent, the joke’s always on us.
But with Trott, what do you do? You feel like you should tackle the story because it’s such big news – but at the same time, the self-importance of the sport and its media aren’t in the foreground asking to be mocked.
We’ve done a piece for Cricinfo. It’s not about Jonathan Trott, but it’s linked.13 Appeals
We won’t do this regularly because that would be boring, but we thought we’d at least let you know how week one of Cricket Badger went.
We picked up a couple of hundred subscribers – most within the first day. More pleasingly, we will have about 20 per cent more than that for the next newsletter. This presumably means that people liked what they received and forwarded it.
In some senses, it doesn’t really matter how many people are reading. However, when you’re sending text into the ether it’s quite difficult to get a sense of how things are being received, so this amounts to good feedback. Thanks to all who have subscribed and double thanks to those who forwarded it.13 Appeals
It was a weekly email we wrote to promote a cricket magazine. Some people said it was funny. Other people didn’t say anything about it, but still subscribed anyway. A few people didn’t subscribe at all – but not many.
Like many things which are almost entirely about seeing Bob Willis on the train, it eventually had to end and we were quite sad when that happened. So sad, in fact, that we thought we’d bring it back and do it independently!
Like an idiot!
The newsletter is now called Cricket Badger. You probably know that’s another term for what the Aussies call a ‘cricket tragic,’ but we didn’t when the name was suggested to us. We just thought it was a great sport and a great mammal and went with it.
We’ve not done any ‘marketing’ yet. This is the official announcement. We thought we owed it to you lot to give you the opportunity to be in there from day one (which will hopefully be Friday).
You can sign up at the website. There’s a bit of an explanation over there as to how it’s not spam and a promise that we won’t sell your email to the mob, if you’re worried about that.
If you’re worried about the quality of the email, check out these completely genuine testimonials which have somehow appeared even though the first issue hasn’t been sent yet.
“The Cricket Badger email is better than finding some supermarket sandwiches which have been ridiculously discounted because it’s getting towards the end of the day.” – André Spéléologie
“I saw Tim Munton getting frustrated with a parking meter and didn’t have anyone to tell. Now I can tell Cricket Badger and they can publish my story, giving me renewed enthusiasm for life.” – Tangerine Chanderpork
“At least it’s short and only once a week.” – Jean-Pierre de Knackers
So what are you waiting for? Sign up, sign up, sign up.33 Appeals
We’d really appreciate a bit of feedback about the site. First, some background and an explanation as to why we’re asking.
We’ve written this website in one form or another since the start of 2006. We wrote just over a thousand posts on the old .blogspot.com domain and have added a further 2,300 or so here at .co.uk. That is quite a lot of writing and rather more effort than you might imagine because we’ve had to learn about managing a website along the way – something we’re still pretty ignorant about, if we’re honest.
Despite the ads, it is not an earner. This is not a complaint as such; it’s more an indication that we persist for other reasons. Basically, we enjoy it. We write something, then a few people leave comments and more often than not, the comments make us laugh. We once said to someone that you get the comments you deserve on a website, because your audience reflects you. We can only get away with saying that because we like what appears on our site. If we attracted a great heap of arseholes, we’d think that was a stupid theory.
The point is that this is the way we see the site, but we don’t know if you see it the same way. We see it as being a daily source of idle chat with the articles being mere hooks off which everything else is hung. But we’re not really representative of the overall readership, which is why we’d like a bit of feedback, if you’d be so kind.
As for why we’re asking this now, there are a couple of reasons. Websites evolve by necessity, simply because the nature of the internet evolves. We’ve been wondering for a while now whether the niche we used to fill still exists.
It used to be that the comments section of a website was where like-minded people would interact. However, that function is increasingly being served by Twitter. That site also serves as an outlet for shorter, punchier, of-the-moment writing, which was a large part of what we originally did here.
Partly because of this and partly because it just happened, we’ve taken to writing rather longer pieces here in recent times. We used to restrict ourself to a paragraph or two at most, but, for better or worse, we tore up that rule quite some time ago.
Longer pieces take more time, but more importantly, they seem to burn up more energy. Maybe it’s that or maybe it’s the fact that we’ve covered so many different topics already over the course of those 3,000-and-odd posts that we sometimes feel a bit uninspired these days. That’s no good to anyone, so we can’t have that. Write because you feel you have to and people can easily tell.
So what are you asking?
We try and add an article pretty much every weekday, because of the comments thing. We think of the site as being a regular, brief escape from the drudgery of work. However, we can’t write longer articles every day. Quite simply, we don’t have that much to say.
It’s also possible that we’re entirely wrong about how people use the site. Our cycling site has a lot of people who subscribe by email, but it doesn’t get many comments. It occurs to us that King Cricket has several hundred email subscribers and many of them never actually visit the site itself. What do these people want or expect from the site? We’d love to hear from you. Then there are mobile users. Maybe you’re looking for something different again?
We could ask whether you’d prefer occasional, longer articles or regular, shorter articles, but we’d prefer to keep this more open-ended than that. Are you interested in our opinions or do you only care about the bad jokes? Do you think there’s another way of working? Should we spend more time on Twitter making bad jokes and produce only occasional, longer articles on the site when we’ve really got something to say? What is this site for? We don’t want to lose all our readers because we’re ploughing a pointless furrow.
The final word
Bear in mind that at the end of the day we’ll do whatever the bloody hell we want to do. We’ll listen to what you say and take it into account, but if you start trying to meet expectations, you end up like a tired old rock band, endlessly performing your greatest hits to ever-diminishing effect.199 Appeals
Being as this website is pretty much written by one person and being as you read this website, it shouldn’t be all that outlandish to suggest that you read something we’ve written elsewhere. Yes, we know that the comments are the main thing here, but even so, surely something must have drawn you here in the first place? Surely?
We think this Cricinfo piece might count as actual satire. That makes us either a satirist or a satyr. We can’t remember which. Nor do we much care. Neither’s a great career move.18 Appeals
The Tour de France starts on Saturday. We’ll be writing about it daily over at our cycling site. We’re going to try and do one piece after each stage, which should be nice and manageable for busy, successful individuals like yourselves.
This week’s preview week, so if you’re remotely interested, now would be a good time to sign up for email updates. We’ve already covered the favourites for the points competition and the main contenders for the yellow jersey. The next few days will feature the lowdown on each of Chris Froome’s team-mates, a look at some of the most important stages and finally some advice about how best to follow the race.
Yes, we know most of you aren’t interested, but extensive market research has revealed that we tend to gain a bunch of subscribers each time we do this so we’re happy to tolerate the brickbats and opprobrium once or twice a year. There’s also a part of us that genuinely can’t comprehend why anyone wouldn’t want to know which Team Sky rider used to sell avocados off the back of their bike as a child.17 Appeals