18.8.08

Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can't, Write About It

I thought this was interesting.

I agree with some of what Ryan says - Brearley and Atherton are both fine writers - but I think he might have been better off keeping his powder dry.

While it's easy to understand the professional journalist with a limited playing background being frustrated by the rapid advances of those who could really play the game - especially if they think they can't write - it seems a tad hubristic to set yourself up, as Ryan appears to have done, as some sort of arbiter of journalistic quality and taste.

For a start you leave yourself open to the sort of comment which appears after the article from someone who clearly doesn't think much of Ryan's writing either, and, if you're talking about cricket, I think it's ill-advised to get superior with an ex-Test cricketer. Because, at the end of the day, they've been there and done it (even if they can't describe what they've done very well), while you never did and never will. No matter how much cricket you've watched you're always going to come up short against someone who's played the game at the highest level, even for the briefest period. And many people who follow the game, but who may not be connoisseurs of cricket writing, will set more store by the opinions of someone they've seen play than those of someone they've never heard of but thinks they can write well.

My favourite cricket writers - Alan Ross, David Frith, Gideon Haigh, Scyld Berry, Andrew Miller - don't have a Test cap between them, but I wouldn't dream of dismissing the efforts of many of those who do, especially the superb Ed Smith.

Now, where's my thesaurus?

4 comments:

Jrod said...

The dude has a point, anyone who has ever read Sangakarra's ghostly blog would agree, but it takes some testicles to mention Orwell in a article where you are questioning other peoples writing.

Brian Carpenter said...

Cheers, jrod. I've never seen Sangakkara's blog so I must try to look it out.

DreamDancerGirl said...

To a large extent I agree with what the guy has said - the evidence from articles and from the commentary box shows that most players don't make the transition to journalist entirely successfully. Atherton, Ed Smith and a few others are exceptional.

Applying the same principles to the commentary box would be interesting - I imagine Berry and Haigh would be able to hold their own against Botham et al.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks for the comment, and sorry it's taken me a while to respond. I've been away. Overall I think I agree with Ryan more than I disagree, but felt that he came across as a bit arrogant and was too dismissive of what some ex-players (as you say, Atherton and Smith are the best English examples) can offer. It seemed as though it was mainly a couple of articles in this year's Wisden that had particularly annoyed him, and those he singled out - by Ian Healy and Andrew Strauss - were both by people who, as far as I'm aware, don't do a lot of writing. Healy mainly commentates and Strauss mainly plays (although I believe he does write a non-ghosted column for one of the papers).

Good luck with your blog.

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