Posts Tagged ‘Mr Justice’
The question has to be faced. To a group of blokes for whom cricket has been a big feature of their lives, it is an unthinkable question. But it has to be faced, and quickly!
When Mr Justice Cooke was passing sentence on the Pakistan players found guilty of cheating in the Lords Test, he remarked that the very name of cricket used to be associated with fair dealing both on and off the field. ‘It’s not cricket’ became an adage used by vast numbers of people, many of whom had no interest in the game. When I was a youngster, and a very poor player, cricket was an example for life. In those days you walked from the wicket the moment you felt the slightest nick as the ball travelled in the air to keeper or slips. It was a matter of honour. And if you fielded near to the boundary and knew that the ball had touched it before you grabbed it, you signalled a boundary to the umpire.
It all sounds old fashioned and goody-goody now doesn’t it? But that is how it was . I once shared a dressing room with someone known to be light-fingered, but even he dare not risk the contempt of his peers by cheating at cricket. Someone once described the game as religion in action, it was apt.
Over the years those standards have dropped. Even England’s leading batsmen wait for the umpire’s finger even though they know that they are out. Even England’s fielders claim catches that they know have touched the turf. But, as far as we know, our national team is guilty of nothing worse than lower standards of sportsmanship.
The fixing practiced by Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammaid Asif was appalling, and represents a huge threat to the future of a complicated game that is clearly vulnerable to so many ways of cheating. In this specific case, the aim was not so much to cheat their opponents but the bookmakers, for whom cricket is a massive industry in Asia. Their agent, Mazhar Majeed, took huge sums of cash in exchange for providing details of three balls which would be bowled as no-balls (front foot over the line). His promise was kept.
Unfortunately for him the person he gave the cash to was a reporter for the News of the World. Once the promised no-balls appeared as promised it didn’t require Sherlock Holmes to prepare a prosecution. But, as the Judge inferred, one would have to be very naive to imagine that this was other than the tip of an ugly iceberg.
The most worrying aspect of this affair is that it took a tabloid investigator to expose it. The anti-corrution squad of the International Ctricket Council (ICC) was nowhere to be seen. If only half of the boasts made on film by the crooked agent are true the practice of fixing specifics bits of action in top matches is prevalent. The game is, it seems, riddled with the cancer of corruption.
Already cricket lovers are casting their minds back to possibly suspicious actions. The top batsman who made a poor defensive stroke, the three batsmen out to a ‘hat-trick’, the fumble in the field, the crazy run-out, the no-balls..the list of possibilities is a long one. Of course, even international stars make mistakes, but suddenly we ask ourselves if they were mistakes. And remember that the result of the game might not be the fixing target, it could be incidental.
In his column of this morning, former England captain Michael Vaughan looks back and wonders if all the matches he played in were quite what they seemed. He recalls the Test against Pakistan in Karachi in December 2000. Pakistan had the match in the palm of their hands but suddenly collapsed from a strong position to leave England with a tiny target. Vaughan recalls what seemed ” a very surreal atmosphere, a feeling that there was something odd “. Or was it down to a “dodgy wicket”? This sort of speculation will pour forth over the coming months, not least in the New Year when England meet Pakistan again.
Vaughan agonises about the seemingly magnificent 169 scored by Stuart Broad in the now tainted Lords Test. At the time we hailed a new Freddie Flintoff, now we wonder if the bowling was sub-standard as individuals concentrated on what they had to do to fix a whole series of no-balls. One thing is for sure, the mounted trophy will have been moved from the centre of Stuart’s sideboard.
The ICC now faces a massive challenge. I for one have no wish to pay good money to watch international matches that may well be as dishonest as professional wrestling. Already the sense of longing for next season has been replaced by a doubt as to whether what we see will be real or faked. Already we are hearing stories of players from across the world being threatened with appalling retribution should they decide to tell all.
Most first class umpires and referees are former top players and they have to be the first line of defence. Not all matches are televised and their notes must cover all ‘unusual’ happenings. But that is far from enough. The ICC must come up with a watertight method of match reviews. Personal checks of bank balances and the like will not help, if a player can cheat on the field he is hardly likely to have a conventional Barclays account.
Most of that is my guesswork, I simply don’t know how the game can be brought back under control. All I know is that every cricket fan in the world is right now asking his or herself if there is any longer any point in watching or supporting cricket.
This is of course far from the first instance of cheating. But there can be no more whitewash enquiries, this has to be the last scandal, or the game so many love will crumble before our eyes, and quickly.
OOOOO JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR THE WEEKEND QUIZ OOOOO
This may be the new age of Kindle and Amazon but such developments have largely passed unnoticed by my allotment pals. Many of them are regular users of the local library and there are several reasons for this. They like the feel of a book in their hands, and many like the sensation of reading where others have read. Some can’t afford to buy books, and those who can prefer to experience the opening chapters before committing themselves. And , most importantly of all, most regularly search for non-fiction offering advice on anything from keeping livestock to joinery, books that one consults and returns rather than retains.
For them, and millions of others across the country, the news that a landmark legal challenge to a council’s decision to close half its libraries has failed is very bad news indeed. The case in question was focussed on Brent after the council there announced its intentions to close the libraries, including one, Kensal Rise, opened by Mark Twain in 1900. With the help of people like Alan Bennett, Philip Pullman and the Pet Shop Boys, a pressure group there raised funds to apply for a judicial review of the decision, saying the council had not properly assessed certain needs, thus breaching the Equalities Act and failing to comply with its duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museum Acts.
The arguments were rejecetd by Mr Justice Ouseley, hearing the case, who refused a judicial review. Within two hours of the pronouncement Brent Council boarded up half of its libraries and dismissed the staff. The result will be that for many residents a visit to a library will now involve a journey by car or public transport. For the elderly that probably spells the end of their regular treat, a local call to spend a leisurely hour or so selecting next week’s entertainment.
But it is not only the elderly who value local libraries. Young mums do too, especially those who can’t afford to buy an unending series of toddlers books, each of which becomes redundant as the months of early development pass. Many young people access libraries too, and there have been a number of initiatives over the past year or so aimed at encouraging reading. And many retired, but not elderly, folk also find browsing a pleasant pastime.
Most libraries now offer regular lectures on a wide range of subjects including local history, and most provide controlled internet access. They are in many ways the centre of local communities and many a student has reason to be grateful for the help and advice provided by staff, most of whom always strike me as being uniquely helpful in an age where service standards continue to plummet.
But one statistic stands out above all overs. Every survey of users shows that women are the major users of libraries. And it is women who, as reported in a recent blog, are deserting the coalition parties in droves. Opinion polls show that they believe that whilst cuts are necessary, it is men who are dominating the decision making and determining priorities. And most of the men are from the ranks of those with deep pockets, no name no Osbornes.
The result is that we see mega-costly projects like high-speed rail being nodded through whilst low cost facilities like libraries and local clinics are closed down. So far as town halls are concerned the public watches open-mouthed as executives are paid more than the prime minister and endless beanos are organised with so-called twin-towns. At national level the stories of the extravagent lifestyle of people like Fox and his friend Werrity continue to remind everyone that ours is becoming a society of the haves and have-nots. Admittedly Fox has now gone but he is still said to have done a great job as Cameron does his latest u-turn
Following this depressing ruling we can expect to see the shutters go up on libraries right across the land. An inexpensive but central part of every community will be lost for ever. Politicians are not noted for their common sense – you need look no further than Andrew Lansley for proof of that – and they are rushing toward a total alienation of large swathes of the female vote in the manner of lemmings heading for the cliff.
But who cares about politicians? No one. But many care for the presence of their local library and many will look back on Brent as the place where the strange death of English literacy and community spirit was triggered.
Some once said that a good book is a constant companion. It seems that in the eyes of those who rule over us a Werrity is even better!
JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR THE MIDWEEK QUIZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Even the hens seemed perky this morning. Perhaps their instincts tell them what our pin-up weather lady, Eno, tells us. For the time being we can forget frosts and very low temperatures and each week brings Spring just that little bit nearer. So morale is high on the allotment site for the time being, certainly higher than that of David Chaytor!
The MP yesterday achieved the unwelcome status of being the first politician to be put behind bars over the expenses scandal. With several more cases to be heard he will probably not be the last. His conduct amounted to no less than fraud but there are a significant number of other MPs and ex-MPs who are very fortunate not to be in the dock also. Perhaps that is why people like Cameron and Miliband have been noticeably reluctant to make comment?
At the trial Mr Justice Saunders told Chater that ” politicians hold a powerful place in society. Their behaviour should be entirely honest”. He went on to say that “the expenses scandal has shaken public confidence”. The learned Judge was perhaps being generous for the impression one gains is that public confidence has been destroyed.
This is a dangerous situation in a democracy and one hopes that there are enough honest and true members of the Westminster brigade with self understanding to begin the task of restoring faith. But the signs are not good. The new system of expenses is far from perfect but it ill befits parliamentarians to be creating an unholy fuss about it so early in its life. It would seems that many of the elected simply do not grasp just how low their reputation has sunk. And the lack of firm leadership is not encouraging them to consider it!
Whichever party is in power over the next few years faces a huge problem. It has to convince us that we must make sacrifices for the common good. That is never an easy message but when people near the breadline see their representatives with their noses in the trough it becomes an impossible one. When oh when will they realise this?
That is a hard question to answer, but it is hard to be optimistic. When the man in charge of finance is so insensitive to public opinion as to head off for a luxury holiday abroad over Christmas it doesn’t bode well. The days of don’t do as I do but as I tell you are long gone Mr Osborne!
BANKERS SHOW TWO FINGERS!
Remember Vince Cable declaring that “we have to take robust action on unacceptable bonuses”? So do I. But clearly he and the rest of the coalition have decided to leave well alone. And the bankers are having a field day!
The publicly owned RBS looks set to hand out £1 billion in bonuses. Barclays boss Bob Diamond got a record pay package of £63.3 million last year. The list is a very long one but it gives us a simple message. The government’s pleas for restraint have been swept aside and a grand total of £7 billion is on its way to the pockets of the people who created our financial mess.
Alastair Darling raised £3.5 billion through his levy on bonuses and there was hardly a protest. The new Chancellor has decided to rely on voluntary restraint and the bankers are openly sniggering.
It is a total disgrace. The City high-rollers are having the time of their lives whilst thousands of teachers, nurses and bobbies on the beat are receiving their redundancy notices. How can this be other than the greatest outrage of all time?
CRICKET SLEDGING CLASSICS; Merv Hughes was bowling to Javed Minadad when the batsman was heard to comment that Hughes was nothing but a fat bus conductor. Minutes later Merv hit the stumps and, as the batsman headed off, was heard to cry “tickets please!”.
Mike Gatting was the victim of a brilliant Shane Warne ball. Gooch was unsympathetic..”had it been a doughnut it wouldn’t have got past him”
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. The Daily Sketch 2. Nigeria
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. What was unusual about the actors in the 1976 film ‘Bugsy Malone’? 2. What was the name of Paul McCartney’s group in the mid-70s?
A book just out is an instant hit with a lot of the members of the allotment hut. For any book to arouse interest in the land of the ferrets is unusual, for a three-day old to be already thumb-marked is remarkable indeed. Even the Lady Gaga CD has been turned down, as Jack and Harry say told you so to attentive ears. They are our ‘vets’ (as in old soldiers, not ferret-healers) and for many a year whenever the media launches into the anniversay of the Blitz, Battle of Britain, VE day and the rest they always grumble that the mass demobolisation of 1945 has been wiped from the record. Most of us imagine that was surely a wonderful time of homecoming, parties and the joy of together-again lovers, but it wasn’t at all like that!
The book is called ‘Demobbed; Coming Home After the Second World War’ and is the result of extensive research by Alan Allport, an expert on the War and currently a lecturer at Prineton University. The author has accessed a wide range of archives including the Imperial War Museum, British Film Institute, Public Record Office and the British Library Newspaper records. He has also talked to ex-servicemen and relatives of some who are no longer with us.
As a prologue the author recalls the story of Private Cyril Patmore of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. In his belongings the Metriopolitan Police found a letter from his wife Kathleen. She was expecting the baby of an Italian prisoner of war and had written to beg forgiveness and to plead that, for the sake of their children, the couple resume their previously happy marriage on his return in 1945. There was no reconciliation. On August 4th 1945 Patmore stabbed his heavily pregnant wife to death in their house on Greenhill Road in London. At his subsequent trial his charge was changed to manslaughter at the behest of the jury, a decision that Mr Justice Charles was not happy with. He was worried that ‘the law of the jungle’ was creeping in to English justice. There were more such cases.
Of all the changes that the end of the long war would bring, the greatest was the return of the men that fought it. On VE day over five million Britons were in uniform and nine out of ten were men. Most had been in the army, navy or air force since 1941. Millions were abroad, a vast expatriate community of exiles scattered haphazardly from Norway to the Kenyan highlands to the fringes of Antartica. Over a quarter of a million had been continuously overseas for more than five years and even the ‘lucky’ ones who spent time in the UK were invaraibly billeted far from every formerly familiar face. These were not professional warriors and now that Germany and Japan were defeated the short-term citizen soldiers wanted to get home and to resume their apprenticeships, careers, love affairs or family life.
It was never going to be easy and historians express no surprise at what actually happened. Men were taken indiscriminately from office, factory, farm or school and were trained in the methods of modern warfare. They were sent off to fight and to kill, watched comrades die, and were then returned to a by now unfamiliar land as if they had just returned from holiday. Many were changed dramatically as people and even more were horrified at what they saw when they returned to the country they hadn’t seen for many years. Ex-POW George Millar spoke of ‘the awe that puts pink lenses before the eyes of the returning soldier ‘ falling from his eyes when he saw “a stinking stain of shoddiness, cheapness, graspingness and meanness”.
Many men grumbled that their wives had lost interest in them, many wives complained that the opposite applied. In reality many were unable to become resigned to starting all over. Yes, everyone agreed that servicemen had done their duty and suffered for it, but the civilian population too had gone through six years of gruelling war and, like many of the troops, were physically and mentally exhausted. One result was a more than tenfold rise in the number of divorce petitions; at the nation’s supposedly greatest, most longed for moment of reunion the family as a concept seemd to be on the point of collapse.
Historian David Kynaston has recently dealt in part with this subject. He talks of a “widespread sense of disenchantment” and adds that it was ironic that a society which had held together so well for six years of total war seemed to be “coming apart at the seams” at the time of victory. It didn’t of course, but the mood of vague dissatisfaction did prove to be a point of departure for a protracted sense of national decline throughout the next half-century.
I have always known from my pals the extent to which mass demobolisation proved anything but the dream of calendars crossed off year upon year. What the troops had been up to was unknown but the deeds, or misdeeds, of their wives and former sweethearts were quickly apparent. Then there was the resentment against men who had stayed in civilian ranks and benefited financially. And homes had become shabby. And American troops had been generous. It isn’t hard to picture what happened and it isn’t hard to imagine that formerly peaceful men now trained in the art of violence were a recipe for trouble.
I won’t go on for fear of spoiling your enjoyment should you decide to invest seven quid in the detailed and thought-provoking book. Suffice to say any understanding of the real World War demands it. When you read the wide range of works available on the war and its joyful outcome it is easy to build a mental picture of soldiers returning to a welcoming wonderland of yearned for joy. They didn’t and, sad though that is, it is good to know what really happened. Alan Allport has made a huge contribution to what we understand about the war that almost saw our freedom destroyed for ever.
POLICE WARNING SOUNDS RIGHT!
Police chiefs yesterday warned of an inability to handle the widespead public unrest that may well follow the announcement of draconian cuts so gleefully heralded by George Osborne and company. If the police numbers are to be slashed by 40,000 as many forecast the warning is likely to be an accurate one. Even at this late hour a rethink sees sensible.
But the again the Osborne team seems anything but sensible. Yesterday I saw what looked like a twelve year old called Alexander, who it seems is a Lib Dem minister, trotting out yet again the old tale about the economic crisis being all the fault of the Labour government. Everyone knows that it was a worldwide collapse caused by the banks. Yes, the previous government was wasteful but to keep on with childish political point scoring is less than helpful and if the coalition is to have any hope of selling its line that we are all in this together it should gag Master Alexander forthwith.
DO PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT, HOWEVER BRIEF ! EARLY ON IN THE SITE’S LIFE I GAINED GREAT PLEASURE FROM THE INTERACTION WHICH HAS DRIED UP. IT SHOULDN’T TAKE A MINUTE AND YOUR DETAILS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. MANY THANKS!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Turkey 2. Ayatollah Khomeini
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who played a gangster called Devlin in ‘Performance’? 2. Which Prime Minister’s wife published a book of poems in 1970?