ANTON RIPPON reports on another cut-back to regional newspaper coverage of the county game
Lionel Bart summed it up perfectly when he wrote: “Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be.”
The sports journalist’s trade has changed much in the last few years, but we never thought we’d see the day when one of Britain’s oldest newspapers decides that one of England’s oldest first-class cricket counties is no longer worth the bother of a dedicated writer.
From the end of this season, the Birmingham Mail – and its stable mates the Birmingham Post and Sunday Mercury – will no longer have even a part-time cricket writer covering the affairs of Edgbaston-based Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
The position currently held by Brian Halford has apparently been made redundant
Halford is widely admired for his cricket writing, and his book The Real Jeeves – The Cricketer Who Gave His Life For His Country and His Name to a Legend was shortlisted for this year’s Cricket Society/MCC Book Of The Year Award,
We are quite used to newspapers cutting their staff – that is now an almost daily occurrence – but the decision of the Birmingham Mail not to replace Halford with even a part-time cricket writer must be a worry. The newspaper is reported to be concentrating its future sporting coverage – and budgets – on football.
We understand that Warwickshire – recent T20 winners and now Lord’s finallists in the major county one-day tournament – is sufficiently concerned to have arranged a meeting between their chief executive, Colin Povey, with the newspaper’s editor and sports editor.
Mark Baldwin, chairman of the Cricket Writers’ Club told sportsjournalists.co.uk: “We are appalled by the news that the Birmingham Mail is, apparently, about to dispense with daily, eyewitness coverage of Warwickshire cricket.
“Brian Halford, the cricket writer who is being made redundant, has done an outstanding job for many years in covering the fortunes of Warwickshire, both home and away. Of course, he is not the first regional cricket writer to find himself surplus to requirements in recent times but it must be a massive worry for English cricket – and, as a club, we have already alerted the England & Wales Cricket Board about this development – that a county as high-profile and as successful as Warwickshire will now apparently find themselves without dedicated coverage in Birmingham’s leading newspaper.”
Earlier this year, the CWC brokered a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board to part-fund coverage of county championship matches, after PA Sport announced that they were no longer going to staff such coverage at the grounds, cutting the agency’s use of around 20 regular cricket stringers. It is not yet known what arrangements will be made for county championship coverage in 2015.
The Birmingham Mail editor, David Brookes, who is also editor-in-chief of Trinity Mirror Midlands, has so far not responded to our request for a comment on the situation.
- The SJA is the largest member organisation of sports media professionals in the world. Join us: Click here for more details
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Sep 15: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill GC – Book your place now. Non-members very welcome
Thu Dec 11: SJA British Sports Awards, sponsored by The National Lottery, at the Grand Connaught Rooms