On the Front Foot: If the critics are abused, what happens to rational debate?

 

Few centuries in the history of cricket were accorded such acclaim. When Andrew Strauss, the England captain, reached his 20th Test hundred on Friday the genuine feeling of universal jubilation was matched by the outpouring of relief. Strauss was perhaps the first cricketer whose form, or lack of it, was the subject of perpetual debate and sniping on the social networks.

Its prominence there led to greater scrutiny in more traditional forms of communication such as television, radio, newspapers and plain, old-fashioned conversation. There was an unpleasant aspect to the debate, which may inadvertently have increased the pressure on Strauss and have set an unfortunate precedent.

Those who sought legitimately to question his form were castigated, often anonymously and usually on Twitter. It rubbed off on the England team, so that a player as senior, articulate and well-rounded as Graeme Swann described the treatment of Strauss as a witch hunt. Strauss's lack of runs took on a life of its own well beyond the field. This sort of coverage of sport, probably of life, is with us to stay.

Strauss had made one Test hundred in 50 innings, his average during that period was 32.75. Crucially, England then lost four Tests in a row last winter. Not to have questioned Strauss would have been the wrongdoing. And all those who did the questioning were as desperate as the man himself for another hundred.

The one-eyed support he received, which may have demonstrated the deep appreciation for his inestimable contribution to English cricket, was much more unhealthy than the constructive doubts being expressed. It was also downright nasty and rude at times, an immense downside to modern sport.

Aggers versus the Twitters

Shortly after Strauss removed the monkey from his back came news that one of the Twitterati's leading practitioners had quit.

Jonathan Agnew, ace broadcaster for BBC Test Match Special and top chap, decided he had had enough of the idiots who sully the networks with their odious presence. By yesterday morning Aggers had rescinded his decision.

A jolly good thing too, because the wretched entity needs amusing voices like his rather than the malicious creeps who would seek to dominate. David Lloyd, Bumble of BSkyB, left for a few months, tired of the insults and offensive language. He has returned in style, trying to ignore the dolts, and it was Bumble who led the quickly formed committee at Lord's which persuaded Aggers to return.

Samuels the secret weapon

Marlon Samuels took his 20th Test wicket in his 38th match when he had Kevin Pietersen caught behind in England's first innings at Lord's.

A star man to have in such a short victims' list, you may think. But Samuels has also had on his CV – and no need for embellishment here – Michael Slater, Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Justin Langer, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid (twice). Who said occasional off-spin was dead?

Samuels' average for these wickets is 72.85. Only one other bowler in Test history has taken 20 wickets or more at a higher cost. Ian Salisbury, the England leg-spinner, took 20 in his 15 Tests at an average of 76.95.

Crashing the IPL party

There was a sense of schadenfreude when it emerged that the Indian Premier League were under investigation for spot-fixing and illegal payments. It has long been said that the tournament was open to infiltration by ne'er-do-wells.

That much became apparent when the after-match parties became as important as the match. The Board of Control for Cricket in India have acted quickly by suspending five players. But the damage is done, and all the guff talked by foreign players about the magnificence of the IPL may be questioned more diligently in future.

IPL audiences have fallen for this fifth version, and the standard of play, which should be the key to everything, has fallen slightly more.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor