England November 18, 2009

King Giles and the monster


Giles Clarke, inventor of many valuable cricket laws © Getty Images

Life, friends, is a complicated, unsettling, sometimes dangerous business. We have to cling to what we know, to look to those truths that we can depend upon, which may not be for ever but which serve as useful beacons on the misty seas of 21st-century life. Fortunately there is one human foghorn in particular whose utterances always steer me in the right direction, away from the jagged rocks and into calmer waters. I am talking, of course, about Giles Clarke.

In the decades that have passed since he became ECB Chunterer-in-Chief, I have benefited enormously from his wisdom and even formulated some simple maxims to sum up his teaching. For example, Clarke’s First Law Of Cricket is a cornerstone of the English game. It states that if Giles Clarke declares his admiration for something or someone, then you can be sure that person or object is bad for cricket and entirely worth avoiding.

The elegance of Clarke’s First Law is that the converse also applies. Anything that gets old chubby cheeks blowing out hot air like a dirigible with a puncture is highly desirable and unquestionably good for the game. Only last week we witnessed a splendid pageant of colourful and spurious arguments as Clarke launched himself onto the airwaves to explain why the recommendation that the Ashes be on free-to-air television after 2013 was A Very Bad Thing. A Very Bad Thing Indeed.

Of course, under Clarke’s Law this means that it is A Very Good Thing. It has been easy to lose sight of this simple philosophical truth amid the barrage of disinformation and spin booming forth from the ECB’s media howitzers over the last five days. But like Luke Wright on his Test match debut, or a tabloid photographer trying to get a picture of Cinderella, we must keep our eyes on the ball. Though sultry Sky sirens such as Michael Atherton attempt to beguile us with their plaintive wailing, we must close our ears to it all and seek steadfastly for the truth by remembering Clarke’s Second Law of Cricket: Counties Come First.

This particular Law was born of a terrible truth. Deep down in the foul-smelling bowels of the ECB headquarters, just along the corridor from the Kolpak-cloning booth and past the boiler room where they store remaindered copies of Alastair Cook’s autobiography, is a yawning chasm of oblivion, the bottom of which is impossible to perceive. And a little way down into that unfathomed pit, clinging on precariously, is a hideous, slavering, 18-headed monster; deadlier than the Hydra and grumpier than Scylla with a migraine.

Each morning a Sky van delivers fresh sacks of currency notes, which humble ECB employees haul down to the basement and empty into 18 gaping maws, thus temporarily satisfying the beast’s appetite. But in 2013 there might be no more money trucks from Sky. After they have fed the young, the disabled and the women cricketers to the monster, what will the ECB do? Let the hideous beast starve, you might say. But Giles cannot. For long ago, he became King of English Cricket by making a pact with the creature. If he fails to keep it nourished, the magic will unravel and in a puff of hot air, he will turn back into a large, plump and slightly indignant rat.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on November 22, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    beowolf eh andrew?nice one but in this casethe 18 headedmonster needs to be kept alive andnourished...just tamed not killed :)

  • testli5504537 on November 20, 2009, 10:33 GMT

    Does this mean Giles Clarke has multiple personality disorder problems him being the King, human foghorn, wise man, teacher, old chubby cheeks, hot head, philosopher, King of English Cricket, a large plump slightly indignant rat? ouch ;)

  • testli5504537 on November 19, 2009, 4:02 GMT

    Quite good, actually, Andrew. From comments to previous articles, it might seem you have more detractors than fans. But, IMHO, your opinions often have a core of truth. I'm afraid that rest of the the slavering beast's tribe can be found in a similar cavern in the bowls of BCCI's office, where they not only continue to proliferate prodigiously, but have also set up a law firm to better handle the numerous pacts with the equally numerous Modis and the Shahs. Which explains, of course, why they are also imbubed with the Giles' First Law.

  • testli5504537 on November 19, 2009, 1:36 GMT

    Interesting..are you suggesting that the county governing structure is more like a Quango, interested only in enriching the administrators and not in promoting the game or nurturing talent?

    What would be an alternative to the current structure then? Or is this piece merely a rant that is to be ignored?

  • testli5504537 on November 18, 2009, 23:35 GMT

    Scary that the leadership for the game in this country is in the hands of bloated windbag like Clarke. His performance trying to defend the SKY deal on Radio 5 was one of the most pathetic things I've heard in many years.

  • testli5504537 on November 18, 2009, 21:15 GMT

    The ashes is as important to Australians and Englishmen as the Olympics. It should be protected on free to air so that pensioners and the like who cant afford pay TV can watch. Mike Atherton has become a bit of a mouthpiece for Sky latley, shame, he has some fantastic points.

  • testli5504537 on November 18, 2009, 19:00 GMT

    This hits the nail on the head. Unfortunately I doubt whether the beast wants to change. It needs slaying (or at least have 10 heads removed)

  • testli5504537 on November 18, 2009, 18:28 GMT

    Those of us who have followed Somerset for longer than we can remember can only shout 'told you so'. As Chairman of the county Clarke kept Somerset in the dark ages a publicity vehicle for his own ends. We were delighted when he left for the ECB job and not surprised when he nearly derailed the England team only rescued by the weak Australia Ashes team of 2009. Somerset are one of the best county teams currently and the revival began the day Clarke left.

  • testli5504537 on November 18, 2009, 18:02 GMT

    Woh..nice humour yaar(i mean friend if you dont mind..ofcourse)I follow almost very cicket writing posssible and i have found a lot of criticism towards this man and his colleagues....duing and after stanford series,KP issue,when Stanfod went missing,when he was arrsted..wonder whether hes just another inept and coupt official or thrs is more to it.... again good humour espcially the intro and the laws...:)

  • testli5504537 on November 18, 2009, 16:31 GMT

    A couple of questions:

    Would we even be having this conversation if England had been thumped like we were Down Under last time?

    How loud will the complaints be from the broadcasters when the next 5 home Ashes matches are all over (in my dreams by England of course) within the first three days of each match?

    Should all sportsmen and women be banned from 'writing autobiographies' until they are officially retired from the sport they are involved in? (Monty Panesar's first instalment is looking a bit sick now....)

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