Durham “agree” to jump through latest hoop

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England v Australia ODI at the Riverside (CC licensed by Steve Parkinson via Flickr)

Given that this particular hoop is suspended directly over a barrel of excrement, one can only wonder what the alternative was.

We predicted that Durham wouldn’t be relegated or penalised more than 45 points for their ongoing financial troubles. We were correct, but only on the basis of the ‘or’. The county will start next season 48 points adrift in division two. If that weren’t enough, it is the third penalty – the withdrawal of Test cricket – which bears all the hallmarks of a piss-take.

For those that don’t know, Durham were instructed to develop a ground capable of hosting Test cricket to secure first-class status in 1992. This was despite the fact that at the time only 11 of the other 17 counties could boast such a thing.

Obviously, this cost them a bomb. The situation was then compounded when the rules surrounding allocation of international fixtures changed and they found themselves bidding for matches against counties in wealthier, more heavily populated areas.

This is why we deployed the word ‘piss-take’ a paragraph or so ago. It’s one thing to force someone to do something. It’s quite another to later punish them for doing it. At the very least, the punishment seems disproportionate. Elizabeth Ammon for one believes the decision relates to the T20 reforms. She’s said she’s doing a piece for tomorrow – although motives can be hard to prove.

So where does this leave the Durham cricket team? With other counties ransacking their squad for useable parts, they may have been relegated next season anyway, but the points penalty is tantamount to a two-year sentence.

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for a player like Keaton Jennings. He spent most of the season persuading people he was too good for division one, but now finds himself in the tier below, struggling to convince himself that the team even has anything to play for.

Presumably he will have a release clause in his contract, as will several others. Life in the faeces barrel may not hold much appeal.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Postscript:

    1. Postscript Two:

      Might this also have an impact on attendance at Durham matches? From their perspective, they’re essentially playing friendlies all season.

  2. Crap, I’d forgotten about Jennings. What about when he averages 60+ for two seasons in a row and isn’t selected (cf.: Sam Northeast)? What then? Another move to Surrey?

    1. We’re betting on a release clause. Think he’s only just signed a new contract and the scent of division two was already in the air at the time.

  3. I can’t work out whether this was all terribly well-thought-out by the ECB. Or just terribly thought-out by the ECB.

    But my fear is the former.

  4. I find it a little hard to believe that the cost of a ground built before half of Durham’s players were born is the sole reason for their debt.

  5. I note that today’s warm up match is billed as being between a BCB Select XI and an England XI.

    Yet in the small print the match is described as 14 per side, 11 batting, 11 fielding.

    I’m not surer whether I approve of such makeshift warm up matches at all, although I can see the argument for giving lots of players some time in the middle…


    …that is not a match between XIs, is it? It is a match between XIVs, XI batting, XI fielding.

    I realise that this problem of nomenclature is less important than either:

    * the proposed ECB City T20 tournament which (at if the possible worst excesses remain in the proposal) threatens to disembowel the central weeks of our test and county summer;
    * the draconian relegation and points deduction imposed by the ECB upon Durham CCC to prevent it from going (to coin a north-eastern term) mechuleh.

    Truth is though, I am confused and unclear what might otherwise be done to solve those two big ECB dilemmas, whereas the itsy bitsy nomenclature problem is easily solved, simply by not referring to such teams as XIs.

    So forgive me if I continue to obsess about XIVs being referred to as XIs. ECB – sort it out.


    1. Correct, Ged – it seems a quick win among the potential cricketing quagmires/clusterfucks you mention above.

      That match link brings to mind another nomenclature issue. Has Bairstow, JM always been referred to by the nickname ‘Jonny’? Or is this a latest change? Flintoff, Andrew was never known as ‘Freddie’ for scorecard purposes, iirc.

    2. The literal meanings of lots of terms – particularly abbreviations – are lost through frequent use, but surely people still know what XI means?


      Do they think it means ‘team’?

      1. The BCB Select X (where ‘X’ is a variable used to represent any number from XI-XVI or even more) have so far used VIII bowlers in the first XXXVI overs.

        For whom is this supposed to be a warm-up match? Are the BCB Select X preparing for a major tour of other Select Xs?

  6. All these crucial issues aside: apparently TMS isn’t covering the Bangladesh ODIs, for no readily explained reason. Anyone listened to Guerilla Cricket before? Any good?

    1. Guerilla Cricket is the lot that used to be Test Match Sofa, I believe.

      I rather like their commentary and Daisy is quite a fan. Especially useful if you are in places where the BBC rights do not extend – for example last time England were touring India and we were in Egypt. Or this time when England are in Bangladesh and the BBC aren’t even at the races.

      The “cricket book in an unusual place” picture linked below was taken while we were listening to “Guerilla/Sofa” test match commentary there. Rather too many Wankhede jokes for my taste. No doubt they’ll recycle those jokes again when England play there in December.


      Happy to help.

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