The Mediocre Men: Graves & Harrison’s T20 Plans

Relative silence here doesn’t mean all is well with the cricket world. Far from it. The BCCI is trying everything it can to avoid implementing the Lodha Review despite being told by the Supreme Court to stop fannying around and bloody well do it. South Africa’s national team is now subject to the kind of government interference the ICC is supposed to be intolerant of. Pakistan still haven’t played a home test match in Christ knows how long and should not have been allowed to bring Mohammad Amir to the UK for their tour. Australia have been exposed as being bloody awful against spin and just given the kind of stuffing Yates would like to give Bonnie Langford. Andre Russell is allowed to play cricket despite allegedly missing three drug tests. And Giles Clarke is still president of the ECB.

All is definitely not well with the game.


Today is T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston. Yates has been a few times and generally enjoyed it. Memories include Mascot Races, Dominic Cork bottling it in a semi-final v Surrey, the smell of burning pork as the plastered brigade in the Hollies stand get barbecued by the beating sun, a trip round the Warwickshire museum reminding of youthful days and watching the badly burned wobbling around New Street Station trying to figure out if they’ve missed their trains home.

It’s generally a fun day at a ground that’s fairly easy to get to. Unlike certain grounds whose name sounds like a hospital receptacle one urinates in there are regular buses back to the city centre and said trip is also walkable if you’re so inclined and sober enough to navigate the crossings by the Bristol Road. It’s usually very well attended and the Edgbaston staff are well used to handling the folk who turn up.

Yates wishes the finalists in the T20 Blast all the best. It is not the T20 Blast which Yates has in his sights. It’s the ECB. Again. This time their plans for a City based T20 league.

These plans are motivated by envy and greed. The love of money. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that “the love of money the root of all evil”. Anyone who has seen the excellent Death Of A Gentleman will surely recognise this in the events that led to the “Big Three” carve up.

Just as a guy who cops sight of a gorgeous and unattainable woman, gets a massive case of the horn and does everything he can to satiate his lust for her, so Tom Harrison and Colin Graves have seen the lights, pizzazz and advertising opportunities gained by the IPL and BBL and want some of that for themselves. Just as the compulsive porn viewer fwapping into Kleenex obsessively ends up with a twisted view of sex so have Graves and Harrison got things arse about face here.

Let’s be practical – Australia and India are very large countries. They have large cricket stadiums – Indian stadia can pack in 30, 40 or even 50000. No cricket ground in England or Wales can manage that. Australia and India have generally reliable and predictable dry stretches where games can be scheduled. Is that true of England? Then what of ticket prices? If county membership won’t count for anything in terms of a discount then you’ll struggle for people coming to more games at £30 a ticket.

Don’t give me that crap about expanding the game into new areas. If it’s stuck on Sky where are the new viewers going to come from? It’s all about selling sponsorship and advertising space.

But they seem determined to push through a city based league idea. George Dobell (as ever) nails it in his piece.

Will the projected financial figures be published for public review? I doubt it very much considering there’s been talk of gagging clauses in the initial discussions between the ECB and counties. Screw transparency seems to be the modus operandi here.

There will need to be teams created, brands designed and publicised and a financial governance model developed. Which teams will be created? Each T20 league needs at least one team with a daft name. Mumbai Indians (hardly going to be Mumbai Saffers or Mumbai Geordies now is it?), Guyana Amazon Warriors (without a single Amazon warrior in the team). Romford Faketans came to mind but Romford isn’t city sized.

If it needs to be something with good sponsorship potential, how about Birmingham Brummies? Sponsored by one of the biggest names ever to come out of Birmingham.

No, not Cadburys. Bigger than Cadburys and massively iconic.

Black Sabbath.

With Tony Iommi as a team co-owner.

How awesome would it be to see Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott walk out to open the innings accompanied by the doom laden intro to Black Sabbath? Or if you want something a little more crowd friendly we could go with War Pigs (Yates was at both nights of that Reunion tour in Brum and it was amazing). Sabbath logos on Birmingham shirts, Goth cheerleaders, every 6 greeted with the “Oh Lord Yeah!” from War Pigs, every decision going against a Birmingham player greeted with “You b******s!” from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Birmingham and West Midlands folk love their heavy metal so the engagement and synergy would be massive. And the chance of another reunion concert, this time at Edgbaston some time in 2018.

There’s been mention on Twitter over the years of a South London franchise called the South London Visigoths. In the post-Brexit country we are now in, how many people (beyond the Star Trek:TNG reference) know (or admit to knowing) what the hell a Visigoth is? Would Visigoths be welcome in post-Brexit England?

If we’re going to go with something folk will recognise and which has easy branding then how about the South London Confederates? The whole Dukes Of Hazzard thing is a readymade image. General Lee cars driving around, guys in lumberjack shirts, cheerleaders dressed as Daisy Duke, cries of “Yee-haaaa!” for every 6 hit, umpires dressed as Boss Hogg and soundbites of James Best’s Roscoe P Coltrane for every wicket falling. So much merchandising around this brand, like this example (thanks to @Look_In_Mag for the pic), the potential for products is huge.

If we’re ok with KSL team Western Storm calling their fans “Stormtroopers” then there shouldn’t be much complaining about South London Confederates. England Womens’ Captain Heather Knight has said if anyone comes to a KSL game the Storm are playing dressed as a Stormtrooper she will be impressed and come to meet them.

When Yates thinks of Stormtroopers it isn’t the white clad Imperial crap shots that come to mind. More the brown shit clad members of Hitler’s SA. The original Stormtroopers. With the current climate in world politics, the asshattery of Donald Trump and the resurgence of anti-immigrant racism post-Brexit, it really doesn’t seem smart to invoke the Stormtrooper name right now.

Seriously, if a few folk decide to turn up to a Storm game dressed as Ernst Rohm and his associates (Yates is informed that there are places online where one can acquire accurate uniforms of that era) would the England captain really pose for photos with them?

Colin Graves has made no secret of his belief that the T20 Blast is “mediocre”. The same could be said of his term at the ECB thus far, and also of Tom Harrison’s tenure.   Were they a tag team they would surely be The Mediocre Men. With their current performances why should anyone believe any claims they make? Damn sure Yates wouldn’t believe anything claimed by any companies they employ to assess and promote this scheme.

The T20 Blast final will be between Northants and Durham. Not the teams Graves and Harrison would like to have seen competing for the trophy.

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Durham CCC Sponsors Harass A Photographer

Yates was working on a piece about sponsorship and branding then something came along which was deserving of its own post.  Yates was most annoyed to learn of the stupid behaviour of employees at Port of Tyne in threatening a photographer and film maker.  At the time of writing Port of Tyne have yet to apologise to the photographer their staff harassed.

“How is this related to cricket?” Yates hears you ask.

Port of Tyne are Durham CCC’s sponsor for the Royal London One Day Cup.


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Thieving Scum

Dear readers, those of you on Twitter might have seen, been followed, unfollowed and followed again by accounts claiming to be a County “Fan App”. There are 18 of them, one for each first class county. They look almost official, claiming that “[County name] Fan App is the best way to keep up to date with the club. Coming soon for iOS & Android!” but they were all created by a company called Spontly.

Did you know these “Fan App” sites have been ripping off content from sites belonging to your county club, other county club sites, the BBC and photographers? Here’s some proof:


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Death Of A Gentleman Review

For those of us deemed “outside cricket”, who follow the game and ask the awkward questions that have seen us branded with the OC monicker, Jarrod Kimber and Sam Collins’ Death of A Gentleman is confirmation of the slime, sleaze, conflicts of interest and corruption at the heart of cricket’s global governance. If you like or love cricket and aren’t aware of or up to date with the happenings in the game’s governance then you need to see this film. No ifs or buts, you must see this film.


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Bellendery In Extremis

Yates’ Latin teacher was a very wise man. Of course, this was something which only became apparent with the passage of time. One of the many wise things he said was that history repeats itself. Yates will go further and say that if history repeats itself in the same organisation just over a year later then the people in that organisation are imbecilic bellends of the worst kind.


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Change Is Afoot: Downton Sacked

Yates scared the people in the train carriage coming home yesterday as he shouted “Yes!” and fistpumped to his reading the news that Paul Downton has been sacked from his role at the ECB.

After several months of highlighting Downton’s failings the question any of us would like answered is “What tipped the scales?” What finally made Tom Harrison make the right but overdue decision?


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The Parable Of The Poor Director

Some years ago an organisation made a director level appointment.  There was the usual top brass bullshit and business buzzword bingo as part of the introductory PR spin.  Big things were clearly expected from this new director.

It wasn’t long before this director’s significant flaws came to the fore.  The first major decision made by this new director was based entirely on his own prejudices, refusing to present an honest justification and completely ignoring the existing excellent and continuing performance of the organisation.

Other decisions were also flawed, appointments made crucially so.  The organisation’s performance, brand and reputation were being damaged by a supposedly safe pair of hands.


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Brand Toxicity

In a week when the Evening Boris sported the headline “Toxic London” it’s appropriate to explore Brand Toxicity.

When does a brand become toxic? What turns a brand from successful to shithouse?

Here are a few thoughts:

  • When it treats its customers with disdain
  • When it takes customers for granted
  • When it mocks customers
  • When it treats customers as lower forms of life
  • When it is dishonest towards customers
  • When it fails to adhere to standards expected of them such as openness and honesty
  • When results and performances show continuing or declining levels of acceptability

Previous, current or ongoing good works rarely matter when a brand starts to turn toxic, as any headline writer will tell you.

Ask Gerald Ratner just how destructive to your brand becoming toxic can be. One supposed joke about his products wiped a high profile brand worth £500 million off the high streets. Why? Because Ratner mocked his customers.


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An Open Letter To Colin Graves And Tom Harrison

Dear Colin and Tom,

I don’t envy you the tasks you guys now face.  You take up your roles at the ECB with the national governing body looking greedy, petty, obsessive, controlling, incompetent, mendacious, out of touch and snobbish.  Most importantly the ECB has alienated a lot of people and smeared an imperial shedload of faeces on its brand over the course of 2014.

If it weren’t for Ched Evans the FA would look better than the ECB right now.  That’s how bad things are.


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2014 Season Commentary Feedback

When prompted to e-mail the BBC and ECB with feedback on this season’s cricket commentaries, Yates sent one response to the BBC and a fuller response to the ECB.  Yates has previously expounded his support for the County commentary teams.

Praise is given where due but so is criticism.  If you’re new to DCTWO then please take it as read that as a Surrey supporter I am a big fan of Mark Church and Johnny Barran’s commentaries.    Some people (*cough* Michael Vaughan *cough*) would do well to embrace their Twitter presences and bring them to the commentary box – his recent tweets have been much better than his TMS output.   TMS in its current state is a vastly inferior product to what it used to be – it needs overhauling.

That said, so does anything in the ECB which Giles Clarke and Paul Downton have had anything to do with.

Yates is looking forward to reading KP’s autobiography.

Thank you to all involved in the County Cricket Commentaries during 2014. May you all winter well.


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