Rob Steen
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Sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Were the good old days really better?

Let's break it down to a few parameters and try to make an objective analysis

Rob Steen

March 20, 2013

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke asks for a review, Australia v South Africa, first Test, Brisbane, November 9, 2012
The stakes might be higher these days, but the DRS has struck a blow for honesty © Getty Images
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Technology or human eyesight? Helmets or bare bonces? Covered or uncovered pitches? Back-foot no-ball law or front? Arlott or Bumble? Does any breed of sporting spectator spend quite so much time as we cricket folk when it comes to debating the merits of the way we were and the way we are? Granted, our baseball and boxing counterparts in particular might scoff at such a suggestion, but they haven't seen their game repackaged as three distinct products.

"Before the Fall? Reflections on cricket in England during the 1950s" is that sagacious social historian David Kynaston's contribution to an annual lecture series at Lord's. A prolific author and academic whose books range from Austerity Britain to W.G.'s Birthday Party, Kynaston uses ten criteria to compare past with present: aesthetic, meritocratic, competitive, craft, excitement, personalities, sportsmanship, walking, crowd behaviour, "mattering", and coverage. Overall, he concludes, "it comes out pretty even".

Loath as I am to take issue with such an esteemed chronicler - and bearing in mind that I had yet to celebrate my third birthday when the 1950s ended - this strikes me as a perfect case of nostalgia overshadowing, if not fact, then assuredly common sense.

Given that we are six weeks away from the 50th anniversary of the most far-reaching of cricket's innovations, the limited-overs game (90 years, it should be noted, after the first knockout cup event was abandoned after a solitary match), now seems an apt moment to stand back and reflect on how far we have come and whether, on balance, we have advanced. Most of Kynaston's categories will do nicely, although it feels reasonable to merge walking and sportsmanship (is the former not an intrinsic, if extreme, aspect of the latter?).

Before we begin, let's reel back to a revealing Daily Express survey from that summer of '63: the "Better Cricket Competition". Readers were invited to make five suggestions to improve the County Championship, then the planet's lone competition for full-time pros. The judges - Alec Bedser, Doug Insole and Norman Preston, editor of Wisden - assessed 2000-plus entries, from whence came sundry proposals: overseas players, Sunday play, promotion and relegation, over-restricted first innings, more overs per hour, 15-pace run-ups, rewards for faster scoring, leg-before decisions to dissuade pad-play, and eight- or even ten-ball overs.

The more sensible of these would soon be woven into the first-class fabric, though it is intriguing to note that the judges were unanimous in insisting that the most pressing need was the elimination of time-wasting. In this respect, at least, it seems fair to say that cricket in 2013 lags a vast way behind 1963, though whether this matters is another kettle of cod entirely. It certainly didn't seem terribly important to those who completed the recent public surveys conducted by the ECB and Cricket Australia.

And so to the Kynaston Test. Not unnaturally, some of his sub-divisions permit more objective analysis than others. So, for all that he rightly deems it to be "somewhere near the core pleasure", let's dispense with the aesthetic, the "sensory aspect". The way he sees it, much has been lost through the arrival of "helmets, garish-coloured clothing, umpires no longer in white coats, sponsors' markings on the playing arena" and the "continual noise and exaggerated celebrations" of the players; such preoccupations will strike younger generations as profoundly old hat, not to say downright petty and daft.

Meritocratic
Fifty Aprils ago marked the start of the first English season to be unencumbered by the distinction between shamateurs and professionals: all hail the new meritocracy. Now, thanks to the multiplicity of formats, the ultimate meritocracy is with us: not only can even an Afghan earn a penny or two, you can have a disobedient body, like Shaun Tait does, and still put in a fruitful day's work by bowling four overs. Today: 2pts

Competitive
In the 1960s the average Test total was 323; over the past ten years it has been 350. Yet before we get too carried away with this apparent widening of the gap between bat and ball, the rise in scoring rates (from 2.49 runs per over to 3.27) has compensated handsomely for the reduction in the number of overs per day, the upshot being that the ratio of conclusive results has soared from to 53% to 74%. Throw in the fact that standards are far more uniform - while only England, Australia and West Indies were regular winners in the first period, this year alone has seen New Zealand take a one-day rubber against South Africa and force England to follow on, India all but reverse 2011-12's 4-0 loss to Australia, and Bangladesh trade 600s with Sri Lanka - and it's another no-contest. Today: 2pts

Craft
Uncovered pitches might have asked more of batsmen (and commensurately less of bowlers) but immeasurably more is demanded of today's practitioner. Who knows whether undimmable titans such as WG, Bradman or SF Barnes would have been so adaptable, but there is no question that Hashim Amla, Marlon Samuels and Graeme Swann are as effective over 20 overs and 50 overs as over five days. 1pt apiece

Excitement
Two words should suffice: "Virender" and "Sehwag". Or "Kevin" and "Pietersen". Or "De" and "Villiers". Or, if we're being thoroughly modern, "Shikhar" and "Dhawan". Or, if we're being meritocratic, "Lasith" and "Malinga" or "Saeed" and "Ajmal". Put it another way: when those of us who can remember that far back try to recall feeling excited while watching the game half a century ago, the options are generally confined to "Garry" and "Sobers". It helps, of course, that we can now trust our own eyes rather than parrot the word of others. Today: 2pts

 
 
Does cricket matter more than it did? In numerical terms, given growth in population, communication technology, access to games and ICC membership and funding, of course it does. But is it healthy for an essentially trivial pursuit to matter more?
 

Personalities
Comparing characters from different eras is even more ludicrous than comparing Jonathan Trott and his distant ancestor Albert (though we can at least claim with some confidence that Albert, the only batsman to clear the Lord's pavilion with a single blow, was the more aggressive). Again, greater visibility predisposes us to favour the likes of Shane Warne, but this is counterbalanced by largely unpublicised stories from an era when sportsfolk were less closely monitored and hence able to get away with more.

Hugh "Toey" Tayfield is justly celebrated as the greatest of South African spinners, but it was a complete revelation to me to learn, this very week, not only that he was a rampant womaniser who died penniless and largely forgotten in a hospice, but that during the 1960 Old Trafford Test he had been due to appear in court for allegedly failing to repay a £230 loan ("He was a slow bowler and even a slower payer" quipped the prosecution lawyer). We know Sobers and Ted Dexter would have been "personalities" in any era, but given the greater rewards for notoriety today, Tayfield might have met a very different end. 1pt apiece

Sportsmanship
You could be forgiven, here, for concluding that higher stakes and more frequent fixtures have left today lagging miles behind yesterday, but is that truly the case? "Long after the unenterprising cricket of this Test is forgotten, people will talk of two incidents which brought to a head the question of whether batsmen should 'walk'." So attested Basil Easterbrook in Wisden of the 1965 Newlands Test, referring to Eddie Barlow's decision to ignore two appeals for catches (both rejected) and Ken Barrington's self-ordered exit following a thin nick that eluded detection - arguably the least profitable act of vengeance in the game's history. On the other hand, the capacity of the DRS to expose the truth economists has sired, if not a revival of this most honest (if class-ist) of sporting customs, then certainly a few more incidences than I can recollect witnessing in previous decades. 1pt apiece

Crowd behaviour
Of the 11 riotous contests Ray Robinson analysed in The Wildest Tests, one was played in 1933, the others in the first quarter-century after the Second World War. Had he completed the book in 2002 rather than 1972, he would not have had many to add. Sure, there may be less inclination to applaud the opposition, but add comfier seats, more efficient policing of drunkenness and better protection from the elements to the joie de vivre of the Barmy and Swami armies, and there seems little reason not to believe things have improved. Today: 2pts

Mattering
Much the trickiest category. Does cricket matter more than it did? In numerical terms, given growth in population, communication technology, access to games and ICC membership and funding, of course it does. Kynaston disagrees, citing the rise in matches, freedom of player movement and alternative leisure activities alongside a decline in the ritual nature of the fixture list and a tighter focus on city-centre venues. But is it healthy for an essentially trivial pursuit to matter more? How often in days of yore did a bad result convince Indians or Sri Lankans to kill themselves? Yesterday: 2pts

Coverage
There is, of course, no comparison here whatsoever, whether in depth or breadth or even - because we see and know and understand more - quality (literary worth, again, is strictly a matter of taste). At the risk of sounding as disinterested as a mongoose pronouncing judgement on a drunk and disorderly cobra, the range and geographical sources of the voices on this site surely supply incontrovertible proof that we've never had it so good. Hell, if the residents of the Tower of Babel had co-existed this peacefully, we'd all be speaking Hebrew now. Today: 2pts

Final score: Today 13, Yesterday 5

Let's face it: nostalgia simply ain't what it used to be.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Yuji9 on (March 23, 2013, 1:28 GMT)

We might find that half the batsmen around today would never have even taken up batting if they were first introduced to it without helmets - obviously the batsmen of yesteryear played with less protection and less return for their shots compared to the bats used today - most batsmen today don't their helmets off even to face spin at both ends - if, as small boys they first tasted batting on uncovered wickets with no helmets, thin pads and bats that jarred the hands if not timed correctly, then many of today's big hitters may not have taken up the craft at all in the past. Back then you couldn't swat at Larwood/Lindwall/Hall and get six off top edges and many of today's pampered batsmen may refuse to bat in such true 'Test'ing conditions. Back then batsmen felt pain if they couldn't bat whereas today they get away with poor technique. Batsmen are hit in the head more today and would die in past series such as Bodyline or vs Windies teams of the 70's-90's with the techniques of today

Posted by BillyCC on (March 22, 2013, 23:10 GMT)

Evolution-adjusted, there is not much difference between cricket today and cricket in the past. There were more hardships back then to adjust to, and there are more physical skills and demands today to adjust to. Structurally, the main changes compared to the past are: technology in batting, bowling and viewing, professionalism vs amateur, and global access. As to whether today is better than the past, I think the answer lies in how old you are. The older generation would prefer the simpler past, the younger generation prefers today's pace.

Posted by   on (March 22, 2013, 1:06 GMT)

I remember as a youngster the attraction of matches in the 60and 70's. They were rare and exciting. Glued to the radio was the next best thing. The roar of the crowd made you wait in anticipation for the commentators dispense. The demi-gods fashioned from hard knocks and for paltry compensation played for love of sport and country. But the main reason was the garrish gait of the cricketers and the way they stood up to the missiles that were delivered. Without the armory, the game can be played by almost anybody qualmlessly. It took aesthetic strokes that kept the ball rolling on the carpet adhering to the cardinal rule of avoiding proffered catches. The mastery, skills and sportsmanship is lacking. Its sad to say, I seldom watch the games, even on free TV. Today its a lucrative individual business. It's the sign of the times -- what a shame !!!

Posted by landl47 on (March 22, 2013, 0:57 GMT)

I certainly think that cricket today is more entertaining than it was in the early 1960s when taken as a whole, although obviously there were players and situations then that were very entertaining. Scoring rates are up and draws are far fewer now in test matches. However, to suggest that only Sobers provided excitement is of course nonsense. The 3 Ws, Wes Hall, Fred Trueman, Ted Dexter, Richie Benaud, Harvey, to name but a few- all great to watch. The subcontinental teams, then only India and Pakistan, hadn't produced the kind of thrilling players they subsequently have, so the pool of players was more limited, but later in the 60s the great South Africans Richards, Procter and the Pollocks emerged, as exciting as anyone could want.

Oh, BTW, Rob, I must have missed the match this year in which NZ forced England to follow on. They did outscore England by 293 in the first test, but since England batted first they could hardly be forced to follow on.

Posted by Nerk on (March 22, 2013, 0:51 GMT)

Comparisons like this are always ridiculous. This is because things are always relative to the context they are in. Today, we expect the ODI run rate to be around 5.75 and 6 an over. Ten years ago, 4.5-5 would have been considered good. Does this make for more exciting matches? Not in the slightest, because the expectation of the audience is different. The only thing about cricket that doesn't change is the drama. A close match where a team needs 100 to win with 5 in hand, or a series locked at 1-1 with a match to go would be just as exciting in the 1950s or 1850s as it is today. Times change, and the people change with it, so in the end everything just balances out. What hasn't changed is that cricket is a brilliant sport! Long may it continue.

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (March 21, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Cricket is a unique team game. It's the only game where successful minimization of the opponents scoring doesn't get rewarded with any wins.

Limited overs "cricket" is like every other game.

Almost everyone (over 30 yo) agrees the cricketing standards of today are less than they were 20 years ago. Knowing this from their own eyes, they still believe that it's improving rapidly. Amazing !

Is the need to produce something for the audience, when there's nothing worth saying, improved by having 10,000 times more such production ? Back in the old days, only writers who understood the game were professionally writing about it. Opinions of those who'd seen more were respected, and cricket was still unique.

When Test cricket reverts to being an amateur game, I'm almost certain it's standards will once again rise. Once those too dull to make a living at anything else are gone, those with real lives (balance) and a zest for a bit of competition will return. Can hardly wait.

Posted by ygkd on (March 21, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

We should be a little more questioning of the higher scoring rates achieved today. First, the batsmen are no longer in mortal danger from bouncers. Second, bats are so much better. Third, the boundary is closer in. Fourth, pitch preparation has improved. Who can really say that batting today is so much better because scoring rates have gone up? Maybe the bowlers have just gotten worse? Or maybe, as I said, it's these other factors coming into play? I plump for that last possibility as the major cause of higher run rates. And yes, higher run rates can be better to watch, but let us not get too excited about shots being middled off the edge or mishits going for six. These do nothing to improve the game, but they do improve the scoring rates. Shots middled off the edge or mishits going for six: negative twenty points.

Posted by ARad on (March 21, 2013, 5:00 GMT)

Choose a particular narrow time, you know, like a year or two. Compare that to the current time. Limit the comparisons to certain categories alone because, well, because it was in a book. Score each category with numbers as if using numbers would create the illusion of objectivity. At the end, finish the comparison with a flourish as if a solid case has been very convincingly presented. Have I summarized the thought pattern that went into this piece??

Posted by Deuce03 on (March 21, 2013, 1:35 GMT)

The methodology is questionable. First off, it's declared that Kynaston's criteria will be used, but then one is immediately discounted altogether. Then a questionable matrix is used to devise the scoring thereafter. At times it reads a bit like "of course, during the Renaissance, they had da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Titian, Raphael and so on. But today, we have Damien Hurst. 1 point apiece."

If you think the game today is better than during the 60s, that's fine, but trying to justify it with these sorts of scoring shenanigans, especially with the minimal detail gone into, just makes the whole thing look predetermined and pointless.

Posted by Rowayton on (March 21, 2013, 0:10 GMT)

I frequently see people, such as in this thread highveldhillbilly, who seem to assume that because computers didn't exist there was no decent 'analysis' of players in the old days. This is just plain wrong. Here's a quote from cricnfo, in a 2009 article about Hedley Verity, by his former captain Norman Yardley, "I think the greatest pleasure Hedley got in his whole life was bowling to Bradman. No one who did not watch him closely can realise the time and thought he gave to working out a method of attack that would find a chink in the Australian's armour." So far as I'm concerned, the fact that you've got a laptop doesn't make you a better analyst of a batsman.

Posted by left_arm_unorthodox on (March 21, 2013, 0:01 GMT)

'Walking' is not sportsmanship. It is doing the umpires job for him. For reasons of consistency, of making sure the batters behave the same under pressure and when not under pressure, no one would walk. Let the umpires (and DRS if it is there) do their job.

Posted by ygkd on (March 20, 2013, 23:10 GMT)

The cult of the now: 100 points. Sorry, Mr Steen, but things are not all better in the 21st century. Some things aren't. Some things are. This article is not one of those better things. Indeed, I think it's a load of tosh. The cult of the now is just as bad as the dewy-eyed sentimentalism that this article seeks to reproach. The cult of the now gives us Tendulkar as a better bat than Bradman. Well, he won't be at age forty or thereabouts, that's for sure. Bradman could make hundreds then. Ponting Australia's second best bat? No chance. DRS better than dubious decisions? Of course. Modern bats better for the batter? Yes. Modern bats better for the game? Not sure. And that's how we should be about whether or not today is better - unsure. Because if we weren't there we don't really, really know anything like the full story. Do we?

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 20:11 GMT)

In my view, in terms of style, aggression, competitiveness, ability to perform in trying conditions and above all having a royal presence on field, no cricketer has come even closer to Imran Khan. He had such a powerful presence, that no one come even closer to him. Of course, Sobers is better cricketers in terms of statistics but in terms of performance and influence combined Imran Khan is comfortably ahead of Sobers

Posted by Cool_Jeeves on (March 20, 2013, 15:51 GMT)

Silly article, and a waste of time.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 15:25 GMT)

This is a read studied article.The comparison is really great however,I would have love to see some focus on the ' Golden Era ' of cricket.i.e.the days of Grace,Ranji Hill,Spofforth and Trumper. Yet it is a scholarly writing.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 15:11 GMT)

The only point where the yesterday scores two points over the present is "Mattering"... but I'd like to point out that the "alternative leisure activities" - Internet, cell-phones and access to countless modes of entertainment - is a reflection of the modern world. To ask as much of Cricket as in the past, we're essentially asking it to change the world around... which of course is ridiculous.

In spite of everything, Cricket is not just holding its own, it's getting even more popular and bringing more and more people into the fold. Yes, most series have been reduced to 3 and 4 tests to accommodate more limited overs games and yes, some teams, like Sri Lanka aren't playing enough tests... but when you consider the fact that we can now watch an Eng/NZ series or an Ind/Aus or a SA/Pak series anywhere in the world, of course, the die-hard fans are getting enough cricket... enough test cricket around the world.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 14:36 GMT)

OK I realise my mistake. I wasn't going back exactly 50 years. But let me try again "Neil " and "Harvey", "Graham" and 'Pollock", "Keith" and "Miller", "Dennis" and "Lindsay" (he might have been a bit later but so what, people sat up and took notice when these guys strutted their stuff).

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 14:09 GMT)

Sorry but I disagree with the "excitement" comparison you make. Two words should suffice "Viv" and "Richards". But add to that "Dennis" and "Lillee" and "Ian" and "Botham", and you pretty much trump what you came up with.--- Yesterday: at least 3 more points.

Posted by japdb on (March 20, 2013, 13:28 GMT)

Certainly more results and faster batting have lead to more interesting games/series. Players would adapt and be great in any era. Thought I seem to remember Bradman conceding that because of the better fielding standards (diving, chasing, few absolute duffers) he might average 10-20 runs less. But I think Bradman would have absolutely killed 20:20. Remember he got 100 in three overs once against a pair of decent grade bowlers. Ethics are the same - remember England bowling legside to a packed field to stop Harvey getting the runs in a test in 1953 - far enough but 'not really cricket'. If Harvey had played a bit of 20:20 maybe he would have improvised and won anyway?

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

I am not much older than Rob Stein but he is undoubtedly daft and prejudiced.

Posted by rajesh_singhSTM on (March 20, 2013, 12:31 GMT)

Well fact is as one gets older and his today's present becomes past (history) a person feels what has gone by is best. My Dad always thought the movies of his teenage days or before were best and I feel movies of my teenage days were better. Dad still swears by Chandrashekhar, Marshall, Garner , Chapells, Gower as players who were better. I feel Tendulkar , Akram,Warne , Dravid were better. However one cannot compare people of different era's and say who is better.

A 1990 Mercedes will always be top of its class , a benchmark of its era. But will it be fair to compare it with Mercedes of 2012 which has advantage of advanced technology. Similar fashion introduction of helmets, the way pitches are prepared and preserved, the use of advanced technology to understand a players weakness and strengths etc etc makes comparing people of two different era's irrelevant.

Posted by Hammond on (March 20, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

Sorry Rob, you just stereotyped the reason that Kynaston took up this challenge. I am of the opinion that Bradman clearly had- "A champion of one era would be a champion of any other era because he would be able to adapt his abilities to deal with the playing conditions of the time". I have no doubt that a Trumper or a Jessop would adore (and boss) a T20 challenge, or that a Lindwall or a Miller would make exceptionally fine ODI bowlers. What I don't see is modern batsmen being able to play Verity on a Brisbane "sticky", or any modern batsman being able to face Voce and Larwood with a Bodyline field without modern batting protection. The one real constant that I have absolutely no doubt about is that Bradmans test average would be the same whether he played in 1870 or 2030.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (March 20, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

Slightly eccentric in its summations & points awarded, this analysis is fair enough to my mind. There is, however, one aspect of our enjoyment of cricket that has truly revolutionised the appreciation of the game in all its facets: the introduction of live TV broadcasting. Taken for granted these days, the world can now scarcely imagine a world without HD coverage with its instant replays (real time speed & slo-mo), magnified images of the ball fatally grazing the glove or the back-foot toe exposing a thread of white line behind it, let alone the delights of spotting a ghostly dot on the bat-edge, etc, etc. Overall, cricket watching was never this good (altho' India lags behind the rest of the world in some areas of hi-tech coverage) even if it's not had for nowt. We are better informed & can make more accurate judgements than was ever possible before this revolution. Whatever the standard of play, sportsmanship, craft, crowd behaviour, etc. we see it for what it is - for good or ill.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 10:05 GMT)

More to add in the list another point of difference can be the boundary size (at least for limited overs games)....This has in turn had a negative impact on the art of spin bowling. The art of flight which used to be the strength of any spin bowler has now been replaced by flatter trajectory, Doosra, wrong one etc. The classic spin bowlers is a past story now....

Posted by highveldhillbilly on (March 20, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

I would love to see how batsmen in the past would have coped with the analysis available these days. For all we know Bradman had a weakness against left armers that brought the ball back into him? These days weaknesses are found and exploited far quicker. Also would love to see Bradman's face the first time he saw reverse swing or the doosra. This is what makes comparisons across generations so difficult.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2013, 7:16 GMT)

We still play club games on uncovered pitches and sometimes its flat from ball 1. During summer there are no dew and when its prepared the thursday and the game is the saturday the sun had time to dry it out and then it's easy to bat on, so uncovered pitches does not always mean that its a dufficult pitch. Only when you get moisture around will it be sticky and tough.

Posted by Drifting on (March 20, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Agree with Pakistancricketisscrewed.

I (and I actually think many others) would love to see a 20/20 league with fast bouncy pitches, no helmets, limited protective gear, 3 bouncers an over, heck maybe even a shot for 7 when a bouncer is hooked/pulled/cut over the ropes. The 2 versions of red meat in cricket are dashing strokeplay and exhilarating bowling, but only the former has been monetized to date. And if the commercial appeal of the latter is successfully unlocked, it'll be a shot in the arm for test cricket too. Borrow a little bit from Packer.

Posted by Starboomber on (March 20, 2013, 5:58 GMT)

Let's face it: nostalgia simply ain't what it used to be....#enoughsaid

Posted by Kirti_Sinha on (March 20, 2013, 3:57 GMT)

We can discuss and debate and even conclude that cricket perhaps matters more today than 50 years ago. But what about the transformation from a beautiful game to a business enterprise. We have moved from a time when people used to play in front of packed stadiums, genuinely applauding every shot to a time when administrators are more than happy to play in empty stadiums as long as they get the TV revenues. The sound of crowd cheering a wonderful cover drive has been replaced by a loud, over the top commentary team.

The test series, where you see the best ply their trade, are increasingly being replaced by meaningless, substandard, gaudy t20 tournaments to increase the revenue pool for the boards. Yesterday, it was a sport meant for the masses, today its a business venture. Yesterday: 10 points.

Posted by SlingshotPace on (March 20, 2013, 3:29 GMT)

What about the 90's? When averaging over 30 runs as a batsman was actually challenging and respectable? Or when batsmen would actually have to use their feet instead of being able to swing through the line of any delivery without the consequence of it deviating enough to get him out? Modern batsmen are terrible and would not have lasted a single tournament as a test player with their footwork (ie Sehwag, Gayle, Pollard). Cricket today might be more accessible and exciting because of dancing cheerleaders and bright lights but the quality has dramatically decreased since the yesteryears.

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Rob SteenClose
Rob Steen Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton, whose books include biographies of Desmond Haynes and David Gower (Cricket Society Literary Award winner) and 500-1 - The Miracle of Headingley '81. His investigation for the Wisden Cricketer, "Whatever Happened to the Black Cricketer?", won the UK section of the 2005 EU Journalism Award "For diversity, against discrimination"

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