Friday, May 18, 2007

For Whom the Bell Tolls

I referred in the post below to Ian Bell's maiden article in the Guardian earlier this week. For those of you who haven't yet clicked on the link, it contained these fascinating observations: -

"We owe the spectators some good cricket and we owe it to ourselves"

"We all need to draw a line under the events of the winter, but at the same time it's important for us to learn from what happened"

"It would be foolish to underestimate them, even if they are on the inexperienced side"

"It's exciting to think that I've got the chance to put it all into practice again in the next few months"

"It's just important over the next few days at Lord's that we set the tone for the summer in everything we do"

It reminded me of this: -

CRASH - It's time you started working on your interviews.
NUKE - What do I gotta do?
CRASH - Learn your clich├ęs. Study them. Know them. They're your friends. Write this down. "We gotta play 'em one day at a time."
NUKE - Boring.
CRASH - "Of course. That's the point. "I'm just happy to be here and hope I can help the ballclub."
NUKE - Jesus.
CRASH - Write, write -- "I just wanta give it my best shot and, Good Lord willing, things'll work out."
NUKE "..."Good Lord willing, things'll work out."

Surely, when he was given Bell's copy, the Guardian Sports editor must have realised that there was a problem, and that the average Guardian reader is expecting something more than anodyne drivel over his toast and marmalade.

Ok, maybe I'm being unfair on Bell. After all, there are far worse examples of sportsmen writing articles in the press. Read any of the tawdry efforts of most professional footballers in the tabloid press and you suspect that they have written originally in crayon and that the school leaving age has suddenly been cut to seven.

The frustrating thing is that a test player in Bell's position has an insight into the game that we lesser mortals can only guess at. For example, in the article he mentioned that the players tried really hard, but it just wasn't happening at the World Cup. Well - Why was that, does he think? Has it ever happened before? If so, what did he do to get over it? There will be thousands of people who would be genuinely keen to know this sort of stuff, rather than banal ramblings about 'Harmy' and 'Straussy'.

Then there's the opportunity to really get inside the game. For example, what's it like facing Shane Warne in Test match with a ring of chattering close catchers? Forget the anodyne cliches about just having to stay focused and concentrate' What's it really like? What really goes through your head? What do the Aussies really say? What do you say to your batting partner between overs? What do you say to the fielders?

Admittedly it was Bell's first column, so hopefully things might improve as we go through the summer. After all, he's always a slow starter! You don't need to suddenly metamorphosize into John Arlott overnight - just try and be honest and write stuff that you think people might actually want to read. Easier still, write stuff that you'd want to read.


Anonymous said...

Too much honesty would get him fired.

From the English cricket team. You can't be too candid. Imagine you're going through a really tough tour of Australia and there's personality clashes going on, and the team's not a happy place to be, and there's all of a sudden a junior member of the team giving readers back home a candid insight of what was going on.

These insights are best saved for retirement.

I agree that Bell's piece was boring but it can't be any other way. Athers wrote a great column on this conundrum during the Ashes, and he basically felt that they aren't worth the guff. (Another reason why you should read the Torygraph online!)

Anonymous said...

Here's Ather's column

Mark said...

Obviously you need to be a bit circumspect about what you write, and not to break team confidences - but surely anyone with more that a couple of brain cells can come up with something more interest than the garbage Bell churned out?

(Good link - well worth reading)