Ashes news stories straight from a banal purgatory

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The Ashes sees a huge incease in the level of cricket coverage in the UK. A lot of it is very good, such as The Wisden Cricketer’s little guide, Battle For The Ashes, which comes free with this month’s issue. Some of it, like the Guardian’s over-by-over and TWC’s Story Of The Ashes, is downright exceptional.

A lot of other stuff is shit.

Over the course of the summer, you will see articles by writers you’ve never heard of before. They are taking up the slack. They will spell Alastair Cook’s first name ‘Alistair’. They might even put ‘Cooke’. Some will write about ‘Kevin Peterson’.

Then there are articles like the BBC’s ‘Pietersen wary of Aussie threat’.

Cricket journalists love complaining about how boring cricketers’ quotes are. The problem is that during the Ashes, it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone to say: ‘This article says nothing. Let’s not publish it.’

Highlights from the ‘Pietersen wary of Aussie threat’ article:

  • Pietersen reveals: “They don’t have Warne, McGrath, Langer, Hayden so they’re not going to be as good as [2006-07].”
  • He says they beat South Africa, so they’re not bad either.
  • He says it’s going to be a fierce competition.
  • He doesn’t think 2005 has any relevance on 2009.
  • He thinks England are going to have to play good cricket.

Don’t read the article. There’s nothing else in there. Tomorrow on the BBC, Michael Vaughan says: ‘England have a decent chance if they bat well and bowl well,’ while Mark Taylor says that ‘taking wickets will be key’.


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  1. Tthere must be some sort of game about who gets the first music reference worked into the headline on Strauss, Letter From America gag for Cooke, and, well, just about anything should Ian Bell play.

  2. I’ve long since grown tired of the Ashes reporting frenzy – particularly those “insert past-it cricketer’s name here” type articles.

    It’s like the journos rearrange the words from a previous article and republish. Have been itching for the actual, bona-fide cricket to begin for weeks.

  3. It’s all about taking 20 wickets.

    The team that wants the Ashes more will win.

    The team that keeps its bottle more than the other team will win.

    Glen MacGrath (aka Pidgeon) says the Aussies will win 5-0.

  4. We genuinely expect more from the BBC.

    This is a close cousin of tabloid football coverage.

  5. It’s the modern era that does this. Fewer interviews and players less nervous about their media profile would make these things more interesting. I wondered if these pre-series interviews have always been like this, so I checked. It seems that things might have been better in the past. From the BBC archive, October 1932:

    The England squad set off today for their Ashes tour. We caught up with the captain, Douglas Jardine, on the quayside as he was about to board.

    “What are your expectations for this series, Mr. Jardine?”
    “How will you achieve this?”
    “I’m going to bounce the shit out of them Aussie bastards, especially that Bradman twat. That should do it.”
    “Do you have the players to do this?”
    “I’ve got some working class northerers in the team. They’ll run as fast as I tell them, for as long as I tell them, and aim the ball wherever I tell them. If they don’t, I’ll have their tiny little houses knocked down.”
    “Is that properly within the spirit of the game?”
    “Who gives a fuck? I know I don’t.”
    “What about the relations between the two cricket boards, maybe even between the two countries?”
    “After I’ve finished with them, the Aussies will have a reputation for being snivelling whingers that they won’t be able to shake for decades.”
    “Do you think this will be an historic tour?”
    “You’d better fucking believe it. I’ve got a catchy name for my tactic already – I’m calling it Aussie Bastard Rib Breaking Blood Death Theory. Like it?”

    That’s the way to make cricket more popular.

  6. I agree entirely Bert – but maybe we’re all to blame for placing any sort of importance on sport…

    This week (or maybe it was last, i forget things sometimes) our Prime Minister apologised to France (the whole country) about something or other. Then their Prime Minister apologised to all of New Zealand (not individually, or if it was then I missed mine) because the thing that our PM was sorry about didn’t actually happen and it was all a Frenchmans fault so their PM was really ever so sorry about that.

    All something to do with sport. If none of us cared that much then we wouldn’t have been on the verge of war with the Frogs.

  7. From the BBC – “Harry Potter predicts England Ashes win”

    I didn’t read the article but I’m guessing there was a proviso for the series being disrupted by an army of the undead.

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