The Lazy Narrative

18th September 2018

Day 1 of Somerset’s last home game of the season saw the Taunton pitch return to its old reputation of being a batsman’s paradise, or more correctly a bowler’s graveyard. But apparently this is the sort of pitch the ECB and sections of the media want counties to produce.

That set me thinking, isn’t this sort of pitch equally unsuitable as the last Taunton pitch. Neither has/will be subject to censure but both have, so far led to a very uneven contest between bat and ball.

Of the eight championship games in this current round three seem to be weighted too heavily toward the batsmen and 4 toward the bowlers and one (Leicester) about right. Of course we won’t know for sure until tomorrow when Somerset, Derbyshire and Sussex bat but it seems that way at the moment.

It seems from this distance that Somerset had ensured that there was no possibility of the pitch coming under scrutiny as its predecessor in the Lancashire game had. Which to be honest, given the end of season we now find ourselves in, is both sensible and laudable. 

But during the morning’s play at Chelmsford, Worcestershire had been dismissed for 94 in 25.3 overs (Porter 7-41). Flipping through twitter at lunchtime the tweet of a certain cricket journalist made me really sit up and take notice.  

At 11.17 am (with Worcestershire on 32-6) our correspondent tweeted, “no messing about at Chelmsford”. Which is interesting when you consider this “impartial” observer was falling over herself two weeks ago to condemn the Taunton pitch and Somerset County Cricket Club concluding with reference to the pitch that Somerset, “might have been taking things a bit too far though.”

Further evidence of this correspondent’s lazy narrative was a tweet last Monday on the first day of Glamorgan’s game against Gloucestershire when Glamorgan had collapsed to 27-5. The accompanying tweet said, “doing a bit at Cardiff then.”

I appreciate we live in an age where writers are judged by the responses and interactions they get. This particular correspondent has 39,900 followers and is responsible for 206,900 tweets and it seems feels the need to tweet on an hourly basis even when they have nothing to say. This is a correspondent who clearly doesn’t adhere to the Richie Benaud principle of only saying something when your words can add to the picture.

But am I the only one who is incredibly frustrated to the point of anger that people who are being paid by, in this case The Times and the BBC to report on cricket can get away with such a lazy narrative.

I am constantly aware when I write for the InCider that, if I haven’t been present at the day’s play I need to report my impressionof events rather than pass judgement. Surely we should insist that these standards apply to those who are paid to report on the game?

It needs to be said that there a lot of cricket writers and commentators I admire whose opinion is well-reasoned and who are careful to establish the relevant facts. But there are many, unfortunately who are happy to go along with the lazy narrative for quick clicks and “follows”.

And this is where the social media age we now live in gives us an opportunity to do something about it. I am making a commitment today to, politely, respond to such tweets from now on. To question the basis of their opinion and, where appropriate seek clarification. 

I suspect all that will happen is that I am blocked on social media by these users, that seems to be their normal mode of operation where anyone dares challenge their opinion, but we shall see.

I’ll report back……

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