May 15, 2009

England cricket

Cricket's latest ghost writers

Martin Williamson

At the start of the English season, Lawrence Booth wrote on Cricinfo about the country-wide culling of cricket writers. The sports desk of the Daily Telegraph was among those to trim back, but satirical magazine Private Eye reports on how it has tried to disguise the fact.

The more alert of its readers would have noticed a new batch of writers treading the county circuit of late The only thing, Private Eye claims, is that many of them don’t seem to exist.

For a number of years the bylines of Nelson Clare and Austin Peters have appeared regularly to cover for occasions when the paper had nobody covering overseas series (on one occasion bemused readers noted Peters covered matches in Sydney and Colombo on the same day). However, this time it’s closer to home.

“It’s a glorious wheeze,” the Eye claims, “take some agency copy, stick a fake name on the top, and hey presto, a cricket page which costs almost nothing.”

It might not have come to light had the same bylines been used to cover reports on sporting events hundreds of miles apart on the same day. For example, one reporter was apparently covering Somerset at Taunton and also reporting on the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield.

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Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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