Wednesday, 16 July 2008


Five Live's reporter at Lancashire's cricket match away to Hampshire lifted the lid on one of the little irritations which journalists often encounter - when the key player in a running story is made available for interview, on condition that he/she isn't asked any questions about the big story of the day. In this case it was Andrew Flintoff. Freddie had been working his way back to fitness while the England team failed to capitalise on an overwhelming first innings lead in the first Test against South Africa. The Five Live reporter, clearly frustrated, informed listeners that Freddie had initially been forbidden from answering questions from anyone bar the local (Manchester) media; then, when the rest of the press corps understandably complained, only questions about Freddie's fitness and Lancashire would be accepted. Questions about the fruitless travails of England's bowlers on a lifeless pitch at Lord's were barred.

It is of course up to the journalists as to whether they accept such restrictions. If a question is important enough, it is often worth tossing it in, regardless of any so-called ban.

What really surprised me about this particular episode was the presumption by Lancashire that Flintoff, an experienced hand at dealing with the media and a former England captain, could not be trusted to decide for himself which questions to answer, and which to sweep away to the boundary ropes.