We should probably mention Middlesex being relegated

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Trescothick knee-catching the SS Eskinazi (via YouTube)

In a way, Middlesex were unlucky to be relegated as they only finished two points off fourth place. In another way, they weren’t unlucky because Somerset, Hampshire and Yorkshire all finished with more points than they did, which is kind of the aim of this whole endeavour.

As title defences go, it was poor; worse even than Lancashire’s relegatory 2012 because they could at least point to almost equally bad batting the year before.

Middlesex and Warwickshire will next season be replaced by Worcestershire (somewhat surprisingly) and Nottinghamshire (far less surprisingly) in the first division of the County Championship.

Notts have certainly waved goodbye to the raw-deal-getting Chris Read in fine style having also won both limited overs competitions in 2017.


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. Only if penalty points were allocated via a lottery, rather than for slow over rates.

      The argument that the arrow stopped play incident prevented them from catching up rather overlooks the fact that they needed to catch up in the first place.

  1. Ah, but where do these teams go when “relegated”? And how is it chosen which teams replace them?

    Is it some kind of eldritch ceremony that summons them back from unbeing?

  2. For most of the season I felt Lancs were only a collapse or two from relegation. Also. Surrey. Two wins all season and very nearly came second. Just the one positive result at the oval. They’re the kind of pitches the ECB should be investigating.

  3. Now the international summer is wrapped up, I’m surprised in retrospect how much of a better showing the Windies put up in the Test series compared to the 50-over matches. I wonder whether it makes sense anymore to talk generically about the “limited overs form of the game” – the Windies are clearly a first-rate T20 side, but in ODIs England looked comfortably superior. The 20 and 50-over variants seem increasingly as far apart from one another as they do from Tests.

    1. Becomes black and white when it is crossed? What deceitful snake of a line is this that only reveals its true nature after the event?

      1. Dean Elgar is a very reliable interviewee if you happen to write a weekly newsletter lampooning cricket cliché.

    1. I understand what you mean without really feeling it myself – this at a time where some of England’s best ever players (a place or two in an all-time eleven perhaps, but a really good smattering of the top 50) are still playing.

      Though I’m not expecting a glorious Ashes. Can’t decide if that’s because the selectors mistimed their experimentation or if the problem is less their fault and more that an unusually high number of those given an opportunity didn’t really take it.

      As for Stokes, I guess you could blame team culture, or lax team management, but it does seem the action of one individual rather than an indictment of English cricket as a whole. We are also currently experiencing a post-Botham high in the number of genuinely international-class all-rounders vying for selection, so though there’s never a good time to lose your talisman, this realistically isn’t the worst.

      1. To be fair if the emotion refers to cricket in England as a sporting pastime and cultural edifice, rather than a few dozen elite players, I do think it’s pretty gloomy – but that’s a long-term prognosis rather than something immediate or recent. Even if they brought back cricket on free-to-air TV during the heights of summer-holiday boredom, I can’t see the young’uns turning on in their droves – far too much other stuff out there to excite them. And as a minority interest becomes an even-smaller-minority interest, its place in the cultural firmament, and its presence in media reporting etc, will gradually be supplanted by its sexier, faster-growing, more commercializable rivals (NFL, e-sports, martial boxing nonsense). You might know this better than me Ged, are there any perpetually frustrated Big Dreamer types in the world of real tennis who fantasise that their product, so obviously superior to common-and-garden tennis, is poised to take over the world? Yet who are puzzled that it never quite gets the oxygen of publicity that such growth would require?

        Years ago Sweden was suspended from the ICC – I think there had been some sort of row over whether the federation there was genuinely committed to the gospel of spreading the game, or if the largely Asian ex-pat players were basically gratefully pocketing the Cricket Europe grants as a surprisingly generous subsidy for their summer hobby. This led to some kind of split, where an Aussie guy spearheaded a rival Swedish federation (the cricket scene in Sweden didn’t immediately strike me as big enough to require or even permit two rival boards of control, so there is something of the Judean People’s Front about it all) who wanted to use the grant money to build the game up in the public consciousness until – by 2050 or so – Sweden was a Test-match nation and World Cup contender. Utterly utterly barmy, which was the delightful thing about it. Cricket is so way out from the public radar in Sweden that the idea it could become a national sport if a few dollars were correctly directed was obviously ludicrous. Yet on the internet you could read detailed plans for bringing it about – timelines, projections, targets, it read like the magnum opus of an overly keen management consultant. It was glorious stuff.

        Slowly but surely, cricket is unstitching itself from the cultural fabric of England. Naturally we are nowhere near the Swedish situation of widespread ignorance of the sport, but it is losing its grip on the younger generation, participation is falling, key events are gradually being erased from the national folk memory – and new memories not being laid to replace them, partly because it’s harder to remember that which you could not see. Nevertheless the sport’s governors and custodians believe it may yet be reinvigorated, restored in prime position to that hazy centre of national consciousness – the collective experience of an English summer. Cricket can grace again those long warm memories of a generation to come, so they believe, if only sufficient dollars can be found to fund it. There are management consultancy reports to prove it and all – projections and graphs and timelines and reassuringly specific targets. It is going to be glorious.

        After all, if you can’t buy a place in a nation’s heart and mind, what is the good of money?

      2. Yes, precisely, Bail-out, general morbidity,

        Unfortunately I agree with you – pretty much all of your words.

      3. You have more finely attuned thespian sensibilities than me, Ged, but I always thought that the Swedish cricket rupture could make a great play, perhaps centred on the ill-tempered meeting at which the split occurred. Tension broken by elements of farce and absurdity. There were also some fascinating questions at play of culture, migration, assimilation and racism.

        Promoting “development of the game” by penalising clubs who did not field a certain quota of locally-produced players would have disproportionately affected the Asian sides (who incidentally played a higher standard of cricket than the more mixed, more casual sides, who perhaps might find greater amusement and anecdotage value in “having played with a genuine Swede”) and the well-intentioned proposal to outlaw languages other than Swedish and English from the field of play, on the grounds this would alienate native Swedes from playing the game, had obviously sinister overtones. Moreover, it was using a sledgehammer to crack a screw – we probably don’t really need to crack open a screw, and there’s no obvious pressing need to make Swedes play cricket. Could the evangelists not see that a native Swede probably wasn’t likely to be interested in cricket in the first place, rather than the language barrier scaring him off? Besides, probably the best chance of developing a “local player” would be a Stockholm- or Malmo-born millenial with Pakistani parentage and fluent Urdu; do they not count as a “proper Swede”?

        (Incidentally the language proposal originated over the bridge in the more fertile cricketing territory of Denmark, where the transition from Jutland-born Ole Mortensen to Copenhagen-born Amjad Khan was indicative of a wider demographic shift that made some uneasy: a traditional albeit eccentric Danish pursuit becoming more linguistically and culturally impenetrable to the majority of Danes.)

        To cap things off, the financial incentives for this rather bizarre drive for “cricket development” in a corner of Scandinavia with clearly limited prospects as a cricketing power, were being laid down by empire-building bureaucrats in a country far away: intent on shading in more of their map of the cricketing world and, crucially for the commercially-minded, “developing new markets”. Somewhere from the remorseless chain of capitalist logic, that globalization begets greenbacks, we have risibly arrived at the dadaist end-goal of planting a funny old English game in some of this planet’s most obviously unsuitable locations. Some tricky, puzzling and even controversial contemporary issues that someone far smarter than me might profit from exploring.

      4. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts above there Bailout, informative and interesting.

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