January 15, 2014

A sportsman's naivety is part of his magic

The media wants constant access to players, and insights and honesty from them, but this desire can only cheapen the experience of sport
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Indulge me a splash of global economics before we get to the serious question of cricket. My theme is the imbalance between inflated surface value and underlying reality - and how that imbalance can have serious long-term consequences.

In 2006 the measured economic output of the world was $47 trillion. In the same year, the total market capitalisation of the world's stock markets was $51 trillion - 10% larger. And the amount of derivatives outstanding was $473 trillion, more than ten times larger. In other words, the spin-off industry - finance - that is derived from the actual economy had become ten times bigger than the underlying economy itself.

"Planet Finance," in Niall Ferguson's phrase, "dwarfed Planet Earth." With size, clout followed, as finance established a hold over government and policy. The financial services industry, once a utility that sustained other industries, had learned to serve itself instead. We know how that story developed: crash, crisis, recession.

A similar trend is happening to the relationship between sport - real sport - and the sports media. The sports media, which once served sport by bringing it to a wider audience, has become the master of that relationship. Sport now addresses the question of how it must serve the media far more often than the media asks how it might serve sport.

I am arguing, to a degree, against my own interests. Part of my living is derived from sports broadcasting and sports-writing - this column, for example. But I hope I am close enough to my playing days, and sufficiently detached from the whole scene, to observe independently how sport is evolving.

Here are some concerns I have about the relationship between the media and sport. First, there is an assumption - no, an imperative - that sportsmen will be at the beck and call of broadcasters and print media. Secondly, this hunger for access and "personal insights", far from settling at an appropriate level, increases voraciously. When television cameras are allowed into the dressing room, it is only a matter of time, surely, before they begin following athletes into the bathroom. Thirdly, sportsmen are constantly called upon to explain what they do, as though the creative art of self-expression through sport follows a road map that can be fished out of a pocket and draped onto the screen. Fourthly, the familiar clichés that athletes fall back on in interviews are subsequently held against them, the classic "gotcha" approach of people who imagine that is how "tough" journalism operates. Fifthly, all this is sustained by a big lie: that when athletes reveal themselves constantly they become personally popular and the game is enhanced as a whole.

I challenge all of those assumptions. At the very least, I think that the balance has swung too far (though it will surely swing further still). Let me take each of my concerns in turn.

The expectation that players should be interviewed immediately before, after and now even during the match, is absurd. I thought we had reached the nadir with professional tennis' pre-match interview in the corridor on the way out to court. If you are fortunate enough not to have seen one, let me summarise pretty much every exchange: "Really looking forward to the match, he's a good player, but I'm just thinking about my own game right now." But, inevitably, T20 cricket easily plumbed new depths by attaching microphones to players when they are in the heat of battle. At this point cricket veers away from legitimate sport and approaches a circus act. To administrators and broadcasters who say, "But look how many Facebook 'likes' it inspired", my response is that wrestlers/actors in faked American wrestling get a lot of social-media attention, too. I am safe, I trust, in assuming that cricket does not aspire to become the new wrestling?

There is a demand for "insights" about what it feels like to be out on the field. Imagine the reaction if they admitted the truth - that they sometimes feel bored, scared, lonely and unmotivated?

The vast scale of the sports media has the effect of hardening rumour into historical truth. Since rejoining the sports world as a commentator, I have noticed how a scrap of gossip can be passed around behind the scenes until it reaches the status of an established fact. I've also watched how a few strong voices in the media - especially legendary players - have the power to make or break careers that are hanging in the balance.

Meanwhile, the content of the actual historical record - the ubiquitous athlete interview - is often criticised as bland and clichéd. That is understandable. I certainly switch off when losing captains, after each defeat, promise to "work harder". (As an aside, an athlete's ambition should not be to work harder, but to work optimally hard - after that point, more work becomes counter-productive, a failure of nerve.) But the wider issue is that clichés evolve for a very good reason. They are a form a self-protection. There is a demand for "insights" about what it feels like to be out on the field, insights which athletes quite rightly are very reluctant to offer. Imagine the reaction if they admitted the truth - that they sometimes feel bored, scared, lonely and unmotivated? And that is not a criticism - the same emotions are felt by elite performers in the arts and indeed in all businesses. No wonder they prefer to stick with the usual clichés. It is a compromise position for everyone involved.

But there is a cost in recycling half-truths and untruths, however understandable they might be. It tampers with a sportsman's deepest need: to play with authenticity and naturalness. DH Lawrence was not a noted sportswriter. But one of his aphorisms, in Studies in Classic American Literature, captures a central truth about sport.

"An artist is usually a damned liar," he argued, "but his art, if it be art, will tell you the truth." Now change the word "artist" for the word "sportsman": "A sportsman is usually a damned liar, but his sport, if it is real sport, will tell you the truth."

We should not blame sportsmen for using clichés to evade the truth. Sportsmen are an adaptive bunch, quick on their feet, and they have learnt to say things that appease the media, while trying to protect their true feelings from the spotlight. A sportsman, like the artist, seeks authenticity. Being forced to analyse his work in public makes that search for authenticity much harder. "If I could say what a painting meant," as Edward Hopper said, "then I couldn't paint it."

The same applies to sport. Sport is not all about the execution of a pre-arranged plan. There must always be room for instinctiveness, space for your true voice to emerge. Being able precisely and truthfully to answer the question "How will/did you approach the game?" is not a sign of strength or preparedness. It is a symptom of over-prescriptive narrowness.

One day, I hope, we will accept that sportsmen do not always know what they feel. And that their naivety is part of their magic. As Matthew Arnold wrote in this untitled poem:

Below the surface-stream, shallow and light,
Of what we say we feel - below the stream,
As light, of what we think we feel - there flows
With noiseless current strong, obscure and deep,
The central stream of what we feel indeed.

Ed Smith's latest book is Luck - A Fresh Look at Fortune. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AsherCA on January 16, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    Spot on Ed, I have often laughed at an oft-heard comment from fielding captains / bowlers before they take the field - Bowlers will bowl in the right areas. If you are bowling to a rampaging Dhoni / Sehwag / Peterson / Ponting / Tendulkar / Jayasuriya / Afridi / Lara on a dead-as-a-dodo wicket & your bowling speed is less than 140K's, What is the right area (I personally don't think a right area exists - whatever you bowl can go out of the ground. As a result, field placements also become meaningless) ? Similarly, if you are bowling on a seaming green-top / pitch that turns almost square / pitch with inconsistent bounce, there is almost no wrong area.

  • jay57870 on January 17, 2014, 4:31 GMT

    Ed - Spot on! In his book "The Great Degeneration", Niall Ferguson writes: "We are living through a crisis of the institutions that were keys to our previous success ... as a civilization". While his focus is on "Planet Finance", his warning applies to threatened institutions like the media & civil society as well. Which makes Ed's well-laid concerns about the decay in the media-sports relationship a valid argument. Take the News of the World (NoW) tabloid. The expose of the spot-fixing scandal in 2010 by undercover NoW reporters shook the cricketing world: guilty players were sent to jail. While all this was playing out, NoW itself was the object of a much bigger "gotcha" investigation by British authorities. Engulfed in a huge phone-hacking, bribery & corruption scandal, NoW had to be shut down after 168 years of operation! At its dead centre is media tycoon Rupert Murdoch & his News Corp media empire! It has shaken up Britain's power structure, leading to a crisis of faith!

  • jay57870 on January 17, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    Yes, the media-sports balance has swung toward a disproportionate concentration of power in the media. In the reporters' ruthless pursuit of scoops, the privacy of sportsmen is compromised. Yes, such an imbalance can have serious consequences. Look at the countless celebrities, public figures & citizens who were harshly victimised by the NoW tabloid misadventures. A judge-led public inquiry blamed it squarely on the "culture, practices and ethics of the press". Murdoch admitted to a cover-up, was reprimanded by a parliamentary committee. Over 40 people - senior editors, journalists, public officials, etc - have been arrested or charged. It's not over yet. These are hard lessons cricketers must heed in media interviews: no harm in "using cliches to evade the truth". So what if sports fans are turned off & turn it off? Use the remote or "unlike" button. A boycott might even neutralise the media & restore the balance. Yes: "A sportsman's naivety is part of his magic" indeed, Ed!

  • njr1330 on January 17, 2014, 3:00 GMT

    No player speaking to the Media, tells the truth any more. I remember the Golfing legend Arnold Palmer being interviewed. Palmer was known for his attacking style and dislike of practice. The reporter asked: 'What advice would you give to a young player...?' The great man thought for a few moments, and said: 'Thrash it, Find it ... then Thrash it again'!!

  • Rowayton on January 16, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    It's interesting that David Warner, discussing Trott after the first test, got in such trouble for saying what he actually thought. (I suspect England got so upset with Warner because half of their team probably privately agreed with him, and felt guilty about it.) Warner's response was basically - OK, I have taken advice and in future I will talk in meaningless cliches. I agree with Ed's basic point - cricket players are good at playing cricket, and that's what I want to see them do, I don't care if they're interviewed or not. If I want to hear a speech I'll listen to Barack Obama or somebody.

  • 1ofakind_testcricket on January 16, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    Really enjoyed all of the points in this article and agree wholeheartedly with your premise. Your fear of the cameras entering the bedroom has unfortunately already occurred - the day after Australia won the fifth ashes test there was printed in the papers a full half page photo of Warner lying in bed with the urn (replica) sitting on the mantle above his head - I found the picture to be a little off.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 16, 2014, 2:14 GMT

    Spot on Ed. There used to be a saying 'A picture is worth a thousand words'. Apparently having already viewed 6 hours of pictures we need a synopsis from the combatants. Inane questions answered with vague innocuous answers, none of which matter to your own interpretation of the actual event that you watched or will watch. It's a ridiculous circular arrangement between event organiser and media. If you want us to promote your event, you need to give us more access to allow us to increase our output, which will in turn promote your event more. That'd be fine, but now in the 24/7 news cycle we have rabid journos trying to get an exclusive byline with intrusive questions which do not enhance anyones credibility, all mostly side stepped by banal answers. Apparently the brainwashing has had an effect because some public believe they deserve access to dressing rooms and insight into players personal lives, that they would believe intrusive if asked of themselves. Sad society!

  • on January 15, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    Great article. I think captains should prepare two speeches - one for a win and one for a loss. Once they've read out the same speeches at several post-match conferences in a row, the media might start to back off a bit.

  • McGorium on January 15, 2014, 21:50 GMT

    @Nutcutlet: Nice try, but false equivalence. I playing cricket to entertain myself is not the same as I playing cricket for *someone else's* entertainment in return for remuneration. I don't think that's a particularly difficult concept to grasp, but let me belabour the point: Dolphins don't make a career in play, sing, dance to entertain their brethren, who then feed them in return said performance. I'm not arguing that art & entertainment is useless; those are your words. I'm arguing that professional or career entertainers do not produce something that's of utilitarian value (i.e. valuable to the free market). The market remunerates sportspersons for the viewership (i.e. potential customers) that their performance brings in, not for excellence in sport itself. And therefore, the sportsperson must defer to the needs of the market if he/she wishes to make millions. Constant media exposure is a necessary part of this to keep these viewers involved (and comment on such articles!)

  • its_just_cricket on January 15, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    Great essay! It's ironic, in a sense, that you as a part of the media, are being honest to encourage players to do the same. I wonder what the broadcasters have to say about it though. Cricket boards aren't necessarily encouraging players to open up either; they fine players upon crossing 'the line'. Isn't that why they employ media managers? I suppose it's a system which works as per definition. The way it's defined on the other hand ....

    If you really want some honest press conferences, look no further than San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich. He hates them and doesn't hide that fact. I highly recommend looking him up on Youtube.

  • AsherCA on January 16, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    Spot on Ed, I have often laughed at an oft-heard comment from fielding captains / bowlers before they take the field - Bowlers will bowl in the right areas. If you are bowling to a rampaging Dhoni / Sehwag / Peterson / Ponting / Tendulkar / Jayasuriya / Afridi / Lara on a dead-as-a-dodo wicket & your bowling speed is less than 140K's, What is the right area (I personally don't think a right area exists - whatever you bowl can go out of the ground. As a result, field placements also become meaningless) ? Similarly, if you are bowling on a seaming green-top / pitch that turns almost square / pitch with inconsistent bounce, there is almost no wrong area.

  • jay57870 on January 17, 2014, 4:31 GMT

    Ed - Spot on! In his book "The Great Degeneration", Niall Ferguson writes: "We are living through a crisis of the institutions that were keys to our previous success ... as a civilization". While his focus is on "Planet Finance", his warning applies to threatened institutions like the media & civil society as well. Which makes Ed's well-laid concerns about the decay in the media-sports relationship a valid argument. Take the News of the World (NoW) tabloid. The expose of the spot-fixing scandal in 2010 by undercover NoW reporters shook the cricketing world: guilty players were sent to jail. While all this was playing out, NoW itself was the object of a much bigger "gotcha" investigation by British authorities. Engulfed in a huge phone-hacking, bribery & corruption scandal, NoW had to be shut down after 168 years of operation! At its dead centre is media tycoon Rupert Murdoch & his News Corp media empire! It has shaken up Britain's power structure, leading to a crisis of faith!

  • jay57870 on January 17, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    Yes, the media-sports balance has swung toward a disproportionate concentration of power in the media. In the reporters' ruthless pursuit of scoops, the privacy of sportsmen is compromised. Yes, such an imbalance can have serious consequences. Look at the countless celebrities, public figures & citizens who were harshly victimised by the NoW tabloid misadventures. A judge-led public inquiry blamed it squarely on the "culture, practices and ethics of the press". Murdoch admitted to a cover-up, was reprimanded by a parliamentary committee. Over 40 people - senior editors, journalists, public officials, etc - have been arrested or charged. It's not over yet. These are hard lessons cricketers must heed in media interviews: no harm in "using cliches to evade the truth". So what if sports fans are turned off & turn it off? Use the remote or "unlike" button. A boycott might even neutralise the media & restore the balance. Yes: "A sportsman's naivety is part of his magic" indeed, Ed!

  • njr1330 on January 17, 2014, 3:00 GMT

    No player speaking to the Media, tells the truth any more. I remember the Golfing legend Arnold Palmer being interviewed. Palmer was known for his attacking style and dislike of practice. The reporter asked: 'What advice would you give to a young player...?' The great man thought for a few moments, and said: 'Thrash it, Find it ... then Thrash it again'!!

  • Rowayton on January 16, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    It's interesting that David Warner, discussing Trott after the first test, got in such trouble for saying what he actually thought. (I suspect England got so upset with Warner because half of their team probably privately agreed with him, and felt guilty about it.) Warner's response was basically - OK, I have taken advice and in future I will talk in meaningless cliches. I agree with Ed's basic point - cricket players are good at playing cricket, and that's what I want to see them do, I don't care if they're interviewed or not. If I want to hear a speech I'll listen to Barack Obama or somebody.

  • 1ofakind_testcricket on January 16, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    Really enjoyed all of the points in this article and agree wholeheartedly with your premise. Your fear of the cameras entering the bedroom has unfortunately already occurred - the day after Australia won the fifth ashes test there was printed in the papers a full half page photo of Warner lying in bed with the urn (replica) sitting on the mantle above his head - I found the picture to be a little off.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 16, 2014, 2:14 GMT

    Spot on Ed. There used to be a saying 'A picture is worth a thousand words'. Apparently having already viewed 6 hours of pictures we need a synopsis from the combatants. Inane questions answered with vague innocuous answers, none of which matter to your own interpretation of the actual event that you watched or will watch. It's a ridiculous circular arrangement between event organiser and media. If you want us to promote your event, you need to give us more access to allow us to increase our output, which will in turn promote your event more. That'd be fine, but now in the 24/7 news cycle we have rabid journos trying to get an exclusive byline with intrusive questions which do not enhance anyones credibility, all mostly side stepped by banal answers. Apparently the brainwashing has had an effect because some public believe they deserve access to dressing rooms and insight into players personal lives, that they would believe intrusive if asked of themselves. Sad society!

  • on January 15, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    Great article. I think captains should prepare two speeches - one for a win and one for a loss. Once they've read out the same speeches at several post-match conferences in a row, the media might start to back off a bit.

  • McGorium on January 15, 2014, 21:50 GMT

    @Nutcutlet: Nice try, but false equivalence. I playing cricket to entertain myself is not the same as I playing cricket for *someone else's* entertainment in return for remuneration. I don't think that's a particularly difficult concept to grasp, but let me belabour the point: Dolphins don't make a career in play, sing, dance to entertain their brethren, who then feed them in return said performance. I'm not arguing that art & entertainment is useless; those are your words. I'm arguing that professional or career entertainers do not produce something that's of utilitarian value (i.e. valuable to the free market). The market remunerates sportspersons for the viewership (i.e. potential customers) that their performance brings in, not for excellence in sport itself. And therefore, the sportsperson must defer to the needs of the market if he/she wishes to make millions. Constant media exposure is a necessary part of this to keep these viewers involved (and comment on such articles!)

  • its_just_cricket on January 15, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    Great essay! It's ironic, in a sense, that you as a part of the media, are being honest to encourage players to do the same. I wonder what the broadcasters have to say about it though. Cricket boards aren't necessarily encouraging players to open up either; they fine players upon crossing 'the line'. Isn't that why they employ media managers? I suppose it's a system which works as per definition. The way it's defined on the other hand ....

    If you really want some honest press conferences, look no further than San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich. He hates them and doesn't hide that fact. I highly recommend looking him up on Youtube.

  • Nutcutlet on January 15, 2014, 20:12 GMT

    Apologies for my last post...Pls withdraw! He (McGoriam) was playing devil's advocate & I hadn't taken that in! Must read more carefully! Thanks, Ed.

  • Joll on January 15, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    Through interviews and the like, surely fans now realise most players are not that interesting, or even have that much insight into what they do. Although I am a cricket nut, I almost never listen to player interviews because they are so inane. To better understand the great game, I read articles by authors whom I respect e.g. Ian Chappell, from whom I almost always learn something. But I almost never learn anything from the players themselves. The media are too intrusive. They always try to gain an "exclusive" interview with some player or other. But I would rather speak to Ian Chappell about what has happened, than the player himself.

  • Cha_cha_Chaudhary on January 15, 2014, 18:44 GMT

    Couldn't agree more on the analogy with fake American wrestling coverage. I have been saying this to my friends for some weeks now but it's good to.see that someone like Ed Smith thinks so too.

  • rdmahale on January 15, 2014, 18:43 GMT

    This is legendary piece of writing. So true that no one dares to think or write. I have already read one of your books. Articles like this will make me buy everything you published. Long live Ed!

  • on January 15, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    The fact is, there is the romanticized element about sportsmen and women; we watch them and we wonder how fascinating these people are, these heroes of ours and often even role models. We *want* to know what they think, how they process, what makes them tick, we want to know why the hell they are so much better than use when WE play those sports! But as mentioned by Ed, they are sportspeople for a reason, ie. most simply aren't quite so articulate nor, to be honest, interesting, and that's just the way it is. So this miking up business I think is simply absurd, pointless, boring, repetitive, and I wish it would go away immediately. The gracefulness of a Holding run-up; the delight of watching a Martyn cover drive; the brilliance of these players says enough of a story as it is... we need no more than that. 99% of the time their utterances add nothing to their acts, in fact usually detract from them.

  • McGorium on January 15, 2014, 17:24 GMT

    All valid points, Ed, but let me play devil's advocate. Cricket (or any sport) by itself produces nothing of utilitarian value: it doesn't cure disease & famine, improve our understanding of the world, or quality of life (not directly, anyway). It belongs to the category of unproductive activities that productive people indulge in while they're being unproductive (i.e. free time). Film,theatre,music, art belong to this group. So, how then do we justify the multimillion dollar contracts that they command? The valuation of cricketers far outstrips their utility to society: even the money-grubbing banker does more :) Why? The media: ad and news. The most productive thing a cricketer does is to endorse coloured sugar water, because that produces more jobs and economic activity than chasing a leather ball ever will. They can only be effective brand ambassadors if they're in the news frequently, for positive reasons. It's the price you pay for $$ vs. working real jobs like players of old.

  • tickcric on January 15, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    I fully agree with you Ed.The relationship between sports and media has reversed and it is disconcerting to see. It becomes all the more apparent while seeing players having to give interviews moments after getting dismissed or to see media getting right to enter into the dressing room. Already there is too much media interaction in cricket. Associated with each match there is a pre match conference, toss time interview, post match interview & then post match news conference. I wonder what novel insight a captain is supposed to add in the post match conference after he has already done the presentation ceremony interview! What can we really expect from players other than cliches and prepared talks?

    However this overreaching couldn't be more unnecessary than it is today. Now players & fans, can and do interact directly with each other through social media platforms. No surprise that these interactions made by players out of their own will are much more lively and worthy for the fans.

  • cannonballsimp on January 15, 2014, 16:45 GMT

    Interesting article, and I agree that it is unfair to expect athletes to talk insightfully about their own performances. David Foster Wallace (like Lawrence, not a noted sportswriter) wrote a stunning essay ("How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart") in which he discusses athletes' typical resort to cliches to describe their performances, and their general inarticulateness: "The real secret behind top athletes' genius . . . may be as esoteric and obvious and dull and profound as silence itself. The real, many-veiled answer to the question of just what goes through a great player's mind as he stands at the centre of hostile crowd noise and lines up the free-throw that will decide the game might well be: nothing at all." He concludes: "There's a cruel paradox . . . that those who receive and act out the gift of athletic genius must, perforce, be blind and dumb about it - and not because blindness and dumbness are the price of the gift, but because they are its essence."

  • Iddo555 on January 15, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    I think the media have far too much power and particularly the ex ex player pundits in the media box. They often talk players up or down and in their own way try to influence selection. Carberry is probably a player who gained from this, He had a decent 20/20 year but did nothing in division 2 county cricket in 2013 but because of a lot of media hype found himself on the plane to OZ and playing in the ashes when in reality there were players who deserved to be on the plane ahead of him. Onions is probably a player who has suffered from bad press and what ex players have said. A few ex players in the media often talk him down as a medium pacer even though he not and no consideration was taken to him being leading wicket taker in 2013 county cricket.

    There seems to be more politics and propaganda in cricket than there is in a government election

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on January 15, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    Excuse me but I could not quite the gist of the article. Some1 please explain!

  • on January 15, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    If you ever want to hear a pointless player interview riddled with cliches, look no further than the interview with JP Duminy after his 166 against Australia in Melbourne. I quote verbatim " I just played each ball at a time"..." Staying in the moment"..."Understanding the processes that we need to follow to get to the outcome"

  • Kingie on January 15, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    Fantastic piece of writing again from Ed Smith. I agree that the conversations held with players during matches very rarely provide any insight, and I would much prefer to hear the views of the commentators themselves.

    But this does still not compare to the pre-match interviews with tennis players, which are downright awful. I would love for an athlete to actually speak their mind in an interview and tell the truth, without being publicly slated by the same media pressuring them for an appropriate response.

    Likewise any athlete who has just struggled, for instance a golfer who has suffered a poor round. Most of the time this struggle can't be understood or comprehended, so quite why they have a melange of journalists thrusting cameras and microphones into their faces in the immediate aftermath beggars belief.

  • Nutcutlet on January 15, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    Absolutely, Ed. Another article that deserved to be written and then read widely. It explains why I never listen to post-match interviews or hold my breath over MoM awards, etc (which I don't like anyway). I realised that they were guff/media flannel long ago. It's all tissue paper and sometimes it's used to dress up an inferior product. Less is nearly always more... And whilst on this subject of guff, why do we have to have national anthems for international cricket matches? (The WIndies might argue that their 'national' anthem is the most meaningless piece of music ever - with good reason!) Cricket is not football when it's only once in a while that England (say) plays Brazil. The anthems have their place before winter team games and in the Olympics - nowhere else. It's another vacuous few minutes wasted. You'd think we had nothing better to do with our time.

  • fleetwood-smith on January 15, 2014, 10:47 GMT

    Great article Ed. Should be required reading for all sportsmen and over-excitable cricket commentators. The intrusive nature of Ch 9 commentary coverage is going too far - really don't want to know how players behave in the change rooms - leave some mystique!

  • Rexton87 on January 15, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    Brilliant article you have put in words which every sensible person feels and sometimes cringe. There is no need to interview players before and after each da's play. This devalues opinions and occasions and all you hear are the repeated cliches.When you expand column inches of space you soon need something to fill this up with. Media,Please tone down your approach and leave the spontaniety, flair and natural expressions to be the hallmark of sports and sportsman.

  • ballsintherightareas on January 15, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    I disagree with some of this. You say that powerful media pundits such as Boycott, Warne and Vaughan can influence player selection. T'was ever thus. If you remember English cricket in the 80s and 90s they had more influence than now. These days fans can criss-reference articles and voice their opinions, calling out the illogicality, inconsistency and general bad advice of punditry in the comments section at the bottom of their newspaper columns. I'm sure they don't read all, but don't tell me the pundits never read these from time to time or at least have the good comments pointed out to them. Players also have ghost-written columns in which they have a voice, and can communicate directly with fans by Twitter, videos, etc. Vive la digital media revolution, if you ask me.

  • on January 15, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    This throws a new light on "On And Off The Field". Or how Kent indulged in self-mutilation by backing the wrong horse. And not for the first time, or last time.

  • Bowlersholding on January 15, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Well thought out article and great insights. Ed Smith and Rob Steen, thanks for the consistently great work!

  • rizwan1981 on January 15, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Thought provoking article about cricket and the world of finance and the unregulated world of derivatives ( or to borrow a term from WARREN BUFFET, FINANCIAL weapons of mass destruction)

    I would like Ed to compare the intrusion of the media on cricket with say Baseball given that Ed spent a considerable amount of time with the NEW YORK METS researching his book PLAYING HARD BALL

    Back to the article , I doubt things will change in the future-The recent spectacle of the gaudy send off to Tendulkar is a classic example of the marketing/salesman taking over the sport- If this continues , the only cricket left will be the IPL carnival with cricketers forced to perform their best impression of a pantomime or being the best paid clowns in the world.

  • sray23 on January 15, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Very good points. For the life of me, I still don't understand the idea of miking up players DURING a T20 game. It distracts them and I would not mind if someone dropped a catch or missed an easy runout because they were too busy "chatting up" the commentators. It probably adds no value for the commentators too. I'm sure they would rather be commentating on the action on the field rather than making bland conversation with a half-interested player. It is actually becoming worse in Indian cricket, where a player's dancing an IPL party or awards night is becoming a more valuable TV property than the player scoring hard fought test century. I think a little mystery about a player is not a bad thing at all. What should be most important is how hard they fight on the field. That (at least for me) is the best spectable, way above how they sing, dance, talk or party.

  • on January 15, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    Lovely. This is wonderful.

  • MrKricket on January 15, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    It's funny to watch the BBL with the miked up players. The commentators are chatting away and even though they are former players they do linger on the player too long right up to the ball delivery sometimes. I saw Brad Hodge talking to Gilchirst and Ponting the other night. While talking Hodge took off his cap and put it back on again at least six times while talking. It was odd to watch and it obviously is distracting. It looked like he had a backpack for a microphone too.

    But as Ed says, it will get worse before it gets better.

  • VisBal on January 15, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Very well written article. I guess if there was less pre- and post-match analysis and soundbytes, the match itself would be more watchable and enjoyable.

  • GRVJPR on January 15, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    Finally something sensible to read about.

  • Ashgmenon on January 15, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Dear Ed, Sir Ed would be more appropriate....FANTASTIC article. Possibly the most overdue whiff of fresh air in the media for over a decade. Its tough to be the kid and call out the emperor for his new clothes and kudos due on that front. As a rampant consumer of the ever-increasing media invasion I've been guilty of clamoring for more. Your article makes me pause. I hope it does so for others to....!! Keep writing the truth. Cheers.

  • Micky.Panda on January 15, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    A few more hard specifics to illustrate his points would have improved the article.

  • Micky.Panda on January 15, 2014, 4:06 GMT

    A few more hard specifics to illustrate his points would have improved the article.

  • Ashgmenon on January 15, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Dear Ed, Sir Ed would be more appropriate....FANTASTIC article. Possibly the most overdue whiff of fresh air in the media for over a decade. Its tough to be the kid and call out the emperor for his new clothes and kudos due on that front. As a rampant consumer of the ever-increasing media invasion I've been guilty of clamoring for more. Your article makes me pause. I hope it does so for others to....!! Keep writing the truth. Cheers.

  • GRVJPR on January 15, 2014, 4:56 GMT

    Finally something sensible to read about.

  • VisBal on January 15, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Very well written article. I guess if there was less pre- and post-match analysis and soundbytes, the match itself would be more watchable and enjoyable.

  • MrKricket on January 15, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    It's funny to watch the BBL with the miked up players. The commentators are chatting away and even though they are former players they do linger on the player too long right up to the ball delivery sometimes. I saw Brad Hodge talking to Gilchirst and Ponting the other night. While talking Hodge took off his cap and put it back on again at least six times while talking. It was odd to watch and it obviously is distracting. It looked like he had a backpack for a microphone too.

    But as Ed says, it will get worse before it gets better.

  • on January 15, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    Lovely. This is wonderful.

  • sray23 on January 15, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Very good points. For the life of me, I still don't understand the idea of miking up players DURING a T20 game. It distracts them and I would not mind if someone dropped a catch or missed an easy runout because they were too busy "chatting up" the commentators. It probably adds no value for the commentators too. I'm sure they would rather be commentating on the action on the field rather than making bland conversation with a half-interested player. It is actually becoming worse in Indian cricket, where a player's dancing an IPL party or awards night is becoming a more valuable TV property than the player scoring hard fought test century. I think a little mystery about a player is not a bad thing at all. What should be most important is how hard they fight on the field. That (at least for me) is the best spectable, way above how they sing, dance, talk or party.

  • rizwan1981 on January 15, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Thought provoking article about cricket and the world of finance and the unregulated world of derivatives ( or to borrow a term from WARREN BUFFET, FINANCIAL weapons of mass destruction)

    I would like Ed to compare the intrusion of the media on cricket with say Baseball given that Ed spent a considerable amount of time with the NEW YORK METS researching his book PLAYING HARD BALL

    Back to the article , I doubt things will change in the future-The recent spectacle of the gaudy send off to Tendulkar is a classic example of the marketing/salesman taking over the sport- If this continues , the only cricket left will be the IPL carnival with cricketers forced to perform their best impression of a pantomime or being the best paid clowns in the world.

  • Bowlersholding on January 15, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Well thought out article and great insights. Ed Smith and Rob Steen, thanks for the consistently great work!

  • on January 15, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    This throws a new light on "On And Off The Field". Or how Kent indulged in self-mutilation by backing the wrong horse. And not for the first time, or last time.