March 30, 2013

If it's spring it must be time for county-cricket moaning

But who's doing the hating?
35

Ah, springtime. Birds are twittering. Trees are blossoming. Hayfever-ridden children are wiping their noses on the sleeves of their school sweaters. And the first crop of articles complaining about county cricket's lack of attention is in full bloom.

Every year about this time, we witness the same colourful pageantry. A cry goes up from the depths of the shires, and cricket journalists harken, like old huntsmen hearing the blast of the beagling horn. They close Angry Birds IPL, put aside their expenses claims, and immediately set to work bashing out 1000 words on "Why Oh Why Oh Why Doesn't County Cricket Get More Coverage?" or "Why Oh Why Oh Why Do People Keep Knocking County Cricket?"

English hacks seem ever vigilant against the deadly threat posed by county-cricket haters, like militia volunteers in the backwoods of Wyoming permanently poised to defend the Republic against the return of King George III and his evil Redcoats.

Yet be-wigged 18th-century monarchs intent on stealing the freedom of Americans are conspicuous by their absence these days, and so are the marauding hordes of county-cricket-hating barbarians from whom we are told the shires need defending. Exactly who is knocking county cricket? I haven't read a single English writer brave enough to suggest that perhaps the county stuff is, well, how shall we say, just a teensy-weensy bit dull.

A lot of this springtime agitation is not completely selfless. Birds like to embellish their treetop abodes at this time of year, and cricket journalists would also like to make their nests warmer and a good deal more feathery. In the old days, county cricket offered many congenial opportunities to follow the doings of Nowhereshire or Yawnchester, penning regular match reports, the details of which could not be disputed since no one else was there.

But that way of life has gone the way of other archaic bits of civilisation like thatched roofs, penny farthings and politicians resigning when they do something wrong. Why oh why oh why aren't newspaper proprietors paying men to sit in the sunshine in pleasant parts of England writing down what they see? Perhaps because not enough readers are interested. We might, from time to time, want to know the score. But we can get that on Cricinfo.

If modern cricket journalists were a little more Neville Cardus and a little less Dan Brown on a bad day, they might be able to offer us something we couldn't get from a mere scorecard. But cricket writers don't write like that anymore. With a few notable exceptions, they are as grimly professional and bland as the interviews of the cricketers whose voices they record on their little machines. So we aren't really missing anything.

And don't forget to look out for the other seasonal piece that every cricket writer has up his hard-drive. Like the sound of the cuckoo, it is a sure sign that the English spring has arrived when you find yourself reading your first IPL denunciation. You know how it goes. Pyjama cricket for silly teenagers…threat to the game…India too powerful…is Shane Warne still in it…damn silly team names…end of civilisation as we know it...

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on April 1, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Thanks all for taking the time to comment

    I particularly enjoyed Ian Burnett's contribution, although I'm not sure who he's referring to by 'you lot'. Perhaps he could elaborate?

    Thanks also to Peter for the kind words. This is Page 2, so it isn't really the place for making arguments, but I enjoy both writing and flowers, so if my writing tends towards the flowery, then I'm happy.

    To those of you who wanted me to name names, I am far too polite, and have no desire to engage in personal attacks. Besides, taste in writing is a subjective thing. I find much modern cricket journalism bland, devoid of poetry, wit or invention. Much, but not all. I prefer my cricket writers to evoke rather than merely report. This is, of course, an opinion, not an argument.

    Harriet, I do enjoy a nice cup of tea, but jam on your crumpets? Surely not. I did experiment with jam on a hot cross bun last week, but I'm not sure it was quite the thing. Each to their own, I suppose.

  • CricketCoachDB on April 1, 2013, 21:27 GMT

    I'm not sure that I agree with any of what Mr Hughes says. Is he saying that less newspaper coverage of cricket is a good thing? County cricket is marginalised, when it once had a decent broadsheet coverage. You might find the reporting style dry but not all of us do. And we can get the scores of Cricinfo, eh? Nice little bit of promotional work there! This isn't journalism, it's an advertisement.

  • Andre2 on April 1, 2013, 13:59 GMT

    To InsideHedge. Thank you for your comment ! I do not like T20 at all ... because it is too short (duration) ! Call it IPL or BBL or English T20 or Carribean T20, I do not like it. With Test matches and 1st class cricket, each team is playing TWO inns (most of the time). There are some elements of strategy, the game can change direction, after day 1, you do not know who will win, you can have some nice surprises and you have time ... to comment with friends, to discuss. With T20, you turn your head to do something else ... and when you come back, 70 runs have been added for the loss of 4 wickets ! Too fast.

  • on April 1, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    In my college days in India there was lot of coverage of County cricket in Indian news papers and we used to talk a lot about county cricket. 10 years gone, things has changed, we can hardly see the likes of Viv Richards, Botham, Sachin playing in counties. Now International cricket has got more palyers with very few STARS

  • on April 1, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    I hate IPL and I am an Indian. All those cricketers wearing dresses like clowns and the cheer girls dancing to horrible loud Bollywood music after every boundary or after every wicket!!! Andrew, surely to each their own, but if being colourful means cricketers playing in those bright pink flannels, then I do prefer the old school colourless county stuff!!!!

  • Wild_Type on April 1, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Great stuff Andrew! Looks like your article about this dull, characterless tournament has brought its supporters crawling out of the woodwork in all of their arrogant, surly glory. Their overblown sense of superiority and seething resentment forged in the cold wetness of the English summer, watching the skies darken and rain intensify as all hopes of getting a game slowly ebb away. Also enjoyed the gratuitous yet typical IPL bashing in the comments. Did they even read that last paragraph?

  • on April 1, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Q: Why do some IPL players comand such high prices? A: Because they're big test stars in their home country.

    Q: How did they get to play test cricket in their home country? A: Because they cut their teeth in their county/regional/state system.

    If English county cricket (and the same problem exists in other countries) continues to experience dwindling support from the media, fan bases, especially children, will disappear and you IPL fans won't have any players to cheer on.

    County, State and Regional cricket is a factory for international players. Knock it too much in the media and you'll eventually kill the game. The problem is the game's administrators are blinded by money and fail to see the wider picture all too often.

  • InsideHedge on April 1, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    @Andre2: Your hatred and paranoia is a reflection of your insecurity. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to enjoy county cricket without having to hate anything, let alone the IPL which is played in another country altogether. Do you hate the FLT20 or whatever it's called in this country?

  • on April 1, 2013, 0:11 GMT

    As a Pakistani cricket fan, I have great memories of growing up with county cricket. It's always been a thrill to see some of the world's greatest become even greater by honing their craft in England. Beyond that, the game itself is accessable and represents a nice relaxed 'old-school' day out for those of us who can't afford to go to the expensive international cricket.

  • Dale_Pain on April 1, 2013, 0:04 GMT

    We like your county cricket here in SA. T20 cricket can be alright, but not very memorable. The 4-day and indeed 5-day game has had a better 12 months than the short attention span version of the game.

  • on April 1, 2013, 9:54 GMT

    Thanks all for taking the time to comment

    I particularly enjoyed Ian Burnett's contribution, although I'm not sure who he's referring to by 'you lot'. Perhaps he could elaborate?

    Thanks also to Peter for the kind words. This is Page 2, so it isn't really the place for making arguments, but I enjoy both writing and flowers, so if my writing tends towards the flowery, then I'm happy.

    To those of you who wanted me to name names, I am far too polite, and have no desire to engage in personal attacks. Besides, taste in writing is a subjective thing. I find much modern cricket journalism bland, devoid of poetry, wit or invention. Much, but not all. I prefer my cricket writers to evoke rather than merely report. This is, of course, an opinion, not an argument.

    Harriet, I do enjoy a nice cup of tea, but jam on your crumpets? Surely not. I did experiment with jam on a hot cross bun last week, but I'm not sure it was quite the thing. Each to their own, I suppose.

  • CricketCoachDB on April 1, 2013, 21:27 GMT

    I'm not sure that I agree with any of what Mr Hughes says. Is he saying that less newspaper coverage of cricket is a good thing? County cricket is marginalised, when it once had a decent broadsheet coverage. You might find the reporting style dry but not all of us do. And we can get the scores of Cricinfo, eh? Nice little bit of promotional work there! This isn't journalism, it's an advertisement.

  • Andre2 on April 1, 2013, 13:59 GMT

    To InsideHedge. Thank you for your comment ! I do not like T20 at all ... because it is too short (duration) ! Call it IPL or BBL or English T20 or Carribean T20, I do not like it. With Test matches and 1st class cricket, each team is playing TWO inns (most of the time). There are some elements of strategy, the game can change direction, after day 1, you do not know who will win, you can have some nice surprises and you have time ... to comment with friends, to discuss. With T20, you turn your head to do something else ... and when you come back, 70 runs have been added for the loss of 4 wickets ! Too fast.

  • on April 1, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    In my college days in India there was lot of coverage of County cricket in Indian news papers and we used to talk a lot about county cricket. 10 years gone, things has changed, we can hardly see the likes of Viv Richards, Botham, Sachin playing in counties. Now International cricket has got more palyers with very few STARS

  • on April 1, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    I hate IPL and I am an Indian. All those cricketers wearing dresses like clowns and the cheer girls dancing to horrible loud Bollywood music after every boundary or after every wicket!!! Andrew, surely to each their own, but if being colourful means cricketers playing in those bright pink flannels, then I do prefer the old school colourless county stuff!!!!

  • Wild_Type on April 1, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Great stuff Andrew! Looks like your article about this dull, characterless tournament has brought its supporters crawling out of the woodwork in all of their arrogant, surly glory. Their overblown sense of superiority and seething resentment forged in the cold wetness of the English summer, watching the skies darken and rain intensify as all hopes of getting a game slowly ebb away. Also enjoyed the gratuitous yet typical IPL bashing in the comments. Did they even read that last paragraph?

  • on April 1, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    Q: Why do some IPL players comand such high prices? A: Because they're big test stars in their home country.

    Q: How did they get to play test cricket in their home country? A: Because they cut their teeth in their county/regional/state system.

    If English county cricket (and the same problem exists in other countries) continues to experience dwindling support from the media, fan bases, especially children, will disappear and you IPL fans won't have any players to cheer on.

    County, State and Regional cricket is a factory for international players. Knock it too much in the media and you'll eventually kill the game. The problem is the game's administrators are blinded by money and fail to see the wider picture all too often.

  • InsideHedge on April 1, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    @Andre2: Your hatred and paranoia is a reflection of your insecurity. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to enjoy county cricket without having to hate anything, let alone the IPL which is played in another country altogether. Do you hate the FLT20 or whatever it's called in this country?

  • on April 1, 2013, 0:11 GMT

    As a Pakistani cricket fan, I have great memories of growing up with county cricket. It's always been a thrill to see some of the world's greatest become even greater by honing their craft in England. Beyond that, the game itself is accessable and represents a nice relaxed 'old-school' day out for those of us who can't afford to go to the expensive international cricket.

  • Dale_Pain on April 1, 2013, 0:04 GMT

    We like your county cricket here in SA. T20 cricket can be alright, but not very memorable. The 4-day and indeed 5-day game has had a better 12 months than the short attention span version of the game.

  • Hodmyl on March 31, 2013, 21:57 GMT

    Can't really disagree with his argument that county cricket is "dull." No competition that nurtured talent like Kevin Pietersen, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann could possibly be interesting. No excitement, drama, or thrills and spills there. Nothing, dull, dull dull. Can't wait for another six months of tedious, boring, cringeworthy cricket played by automatons and recorded by "writers" that do nothing but study a scorecard. Who knows, one day someone might offer this author a job writing about cricket so he can inform us all where we've been going wrong!

  • on March 31, 2013, 21:50 GMT

    Well Bob Willis was slagging off County Cricket on Sky TV the other day. The usual drivel. Once the structure has been sorted for the 2014 season most of the current problems will be resolved. A 2020 competition and a 18 game Championship season spread throughout the season.

  • on March 31, 2013, 21:26 GMT

    What a load of codswallop ! I know Cricinfo takes every opportunity to plug the over blown slogfest that is IPL but this is a ridiculous article. I know you're obsessed with the IPL but leave the bedrock of English cricket alone - we enjoy it, why should we care whether people in India enjoy it and if you lot with low attention spans thousands of miles away don't then tough !!. As expressed above - "dire, desperate stuff".

  • on March 31, 2013, 21:11 GMT

    My favourite sporting moment was seeing Lancashire win the county championship on a dramatic final day at Taunton in 2011. The tension of that match lasted the whole 4 days and wasn't decided until the final hour. Phew. The ebbs and flows of the longer matches, set in the context of a long summer competition with over 130 years of history, are what make this the greatest sport for me.

  • on March 31, 2013, 19:52 GMT

    Have none of these posters ever heard of "tongue in cheek" ? OK Andrew isn't being original but that's the whole point, surely ?

    Why on earth do you think his blog's on Page 2, not Page 1 ? Get a life ...

  • on March 31, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    Like a nice cup of tea, crumpets with jam and socks and sandals, if you're not English, you couldn't possibly understand.

  • on March 31, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    Flowery language doesn't make a good argument Mr Hughes.

  • Andre2 on March 31, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    Sorry Mr Hughes, but I do not agree with you. I have liked what I have read last year about the CC, particularly from MMssrs Dobell and Hopps and some other gentlemen. I would like to read more IPL "bashing" on Cricinfo, but I think this is a too big ask for Cricinfo. Hopefully, good first-call cricket will be on again in 11 days. So far, I have appreciated reading the various reports about the "shires" : Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire ... May those articles continue to cover all 18 teams, else there will be little to read in Cricinfo for the next 10 days ! PS : I hate IPL !

  • eddsnake on March 31, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    Surely having this article as a headline piece on Cricinfo is an early April Fools? 'Dull game watched by grim writers', hmm, 'Dull, grim writer' would sum up Andrew Hughes very succinctly.

  • suve on March 31, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    "Springtime, Birds are twittering. Trees are blossoming": Are you kidding me It's bloody freezing in England and there is snow forecasted during this week. I'll stay at home and watch some IPL on ITV 4 thanks.

  • demigoat on March 31, 2013, 17:20 GMT

    Cricinfo really does have some excellent writing these days. None here though. Dire, desperate stuff.

  • on March 31, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    A writer "currently" based in England.......hmmmmmm. I wonder how much (or how little) County cricket you have watched; not enough, I'd wager, to give you anything other than a cursory glimpse of the ebb and flow of the Champoinship. What on EARTH gives you the right to bemoan a structure that has taken England to the top of the world rankings and is a great funnel for young talent to reach the international stage?

  • AshesErnie on March 31, 2013, 17:14 GMT

    Not one of your best pieces but since you ask who is knocking county cricket, the answer is the parasites of the ECB who schedule over half of the championship when it is usually too cold to watch and the TV paymasters. Of 20 rounds of championship matches, only seven will be completed in the summer months of June, July and August.

    As an example, Southampton will see a maximum of four days first class cricket between 15 June and 2 September while the schedule is cluttered with hit'n'giggle rubbish at the behest of Murdoch who needs something to screen while football has its short break.

    IPL - don't give a damn. Will laugh a lot when the bubble bursts...

  • Gascard_D on March 31, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    Few birds twittering, no blossom, no hay-fever, no articles moaning about lack of coverage.

  • on March 31, 2013, 16:36 GMT

    It's great that people have contrary opinions. i just think the author in this case is wrong.

  • on March 31, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    From a personal point of view, I would rather watch a day of county cricket than any one day stuff. I would probably even go so so far as to say that I would rather watch my county Warwickshire in the championship than England in a test match. The past few seasons have been incredibly exciting with incredibly entertaining climaxes with several counties battling it out to the last.

  • Rey23 on March 31, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    You know you can embed links in articles these days? If this moan is a response to some other moaning, the least you could do is cite the articles you're moaning about. Without it this has the impression of a straw man argument - complaining about people that only exist in your head.

  • on March 31, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Well congratulations because this is comfortably the worst bit of "cricket" writing I've read in a while. Full of the dull bland lazy platitudes it decries. Cricket writing is as good as it has ever been and the increased democratisation of cricket writing through blogging has given us the opportunity to access some wonderfully talented amateur writers.

    The whole article smacks more than a little of a whole potato field on the shoulder rather than anything worth actually reading.

  • on March 31, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    Is this even a serious article? Look no further than your own UK Editor, Mr Hopps, and his partner in crime Dobell - two incredibly informative, incredibly humorous and talented journalists well in the thick of the county cricket coverage.

    Quite fortunate that I'm about to go out...I could have taken this one much further.

  • Bearded_Lefty on March 31, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    i'm delighted that every single ball of the season is going to be live on radio, and long may it continue. Cricinfo, for all it's many failings, at least write long pieces on every day of action. Oh god i love (first class) county cricket

  • Hammond7249 on March 31, 2013, 15:54 GMT

    Dull? You obviously don't actually go to much county cricket, do you? The start of the season-bring it on. I can't wait.

  • cricmad81 on March 31, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    One of the funniest yet most truthful articles on cricinfo.I have observed this unique english phenomenon for a long time and somebody had the guts to take the mickey out of it.I bet english crikcet writers must be seething in agony and saying cricket writing is at its finest now.

    Also from an indian point of view i absolutely love the moaning and obvious pain of englsh writers about the ipl and their various attempts to ridicule it.Truth is ipl is here to stay and you can moan but we don't care.

    Kudos to the writer for this humorous yet honest piece.

  • jackmendel on March 31, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    I quite like sitting at Lords or the Oval on a warm summers' day, beer in hand with a few friends watching some county cricket. Perhaps people just have jobs? Perhaps 15 quid a ticket although not expensive is too expensive for regular attendants?

  • on March 30, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    I agree 100% with all the moaning. Every single word.

  • Pramod2179 on March 30, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    Andy you rock! Outside of the little island who is bothered about Shires and their matches. Except maybe good old Mr. Boycott from Yorkshire and his lovely comments on English cricket! IPL & India hmm... have the reporters on the island know heard of such irrelevant things!

  • Pramod2179 on March 30, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    Andy you rock! Outside of the little island who is bothered about Shires and their matches. Except maybe good old Mr. Boycott from Yorkshire and his lovely comments on English cricket! IPL & India hmm... have the reporters on the island know heard of such irrelevant things!

  • on March 30, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    I agree 100% with all the moaning. Every single word.

  • jackmendel on March 31, 2013, 15:49 GMT

    I quite like sitting at Lords or the Oval on a warm summers' day, beer in hand with a few friends watching some county cricket. Perhaps people just have jobs? Perhaps 15 quid a ticket although not expensive is too expensive for regular attendants?

  • cricmad81 on March 31, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    One of the funniest yet most truthful articles on cricinfo.I have observed this unique english phenomenon for a long time and somebody had the guts to take the mickey out of it.I bet english crikcet writers must be seething in agony and saying cricket writing is at its finest now.

    Also from an indian point of view i absolutely love the moaning and obvious pain of englsh writers about the ipl and their various attempts to ridicule it.Truth is ipl is here to stay and you can moan but we don't care.

    Kudos to the writer for this humorous yet honest piece.

  • Hammond7249 on March 31, 2013, 15:54 GMT

    Dull? You obviously don't actually go to much county cricket, do you? The start of the season-bring it on. I can't wait.

  • Bearded_Lefty on March 31, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    i'm delighted that every single ball of the season is going to be live on radio, and long may it continue. Cricinfo, for all it's many failings, at least write long pieces on every day of action. Oh god i love (first class) county cricket

  • on March 31, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    Is this even a serious article? Look no further than your own UK Editor, Mr Hopps, and his partner in crime Dobell - two incredibly informative, incredibly humorous and talented journalists well in the thick of the county cricket coverage.

    Quite fortunate that I'm about to go out...I could have taken this one much further.

  • on March 31, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    Well congratulations because this is comfortably the worst bit of "cricket" writing I've read in a while. Full of the dull bland lazy platitudes it decries. Cricket writing is as good as it has ever been and the increased democratisation of cricket writing through blogging has given us the opportunity to access some wonderfully talented amateur writers.

    The whole article smacks more than a little of a whole potato field on the shoulder rather than anything worth actually reading.

  • Rey23 on March 31, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    You know you can embed links in articles these days? If this moan is a response to some other moaning, the least you could do is cite the articles you're moaning about. Without it this has the impression of a straw man argument - complaining about people that only exist in your head.

  • on March 31, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    From a personal point of view, I would rather watch a day of county cricket than any one day stuff. I would probably even go so so far as to say that I would rather watch my county Warwickshire in the championship than England in a test match. The past few seasons have been incredibly exciting with incredibly entertaining climaxes with several counties battling it out to the last.