Introduction: THE LAST FEW YEARS HAVE BEEN PRETTY GOOD TO THIS SWEARY BOGAN AUSSIE WHO DIDN’T FINISH HIGH SCHOOL.. AT 27 HE WAS SECOND IN CHARGE OF A PARKING GARAGE (THAT HAD TWO EMPLOYEES) AND NOW AT 36 HE HAS FOUR BOOKS, A RADIO SHOW, A FILM AND HE WORKS FOR ESPNcricinfo! Here is our conversation with him
I suppose it all inspired me, and I certainly wasn’t the only kid that was born in my cricket club, but I am the one still playing the game, and travelling the world to write on it. So it probably all inspired me.
GREEN TEAM: All the eras you witnessed, which one you consider the best one so far?
JARROD KIMBER: I am only 36, so era wise, I haven’t seen that many. But the late 70s to late 90s is the best era of cricket ever in my opinion. It was the first time teams like New Zealand, West Indies, India and Pakistan could rise to the top of cricket. It was the first time Sri Lanka was allowed to play at all, and they won a World Cup in the same era. It was the first time we saw Zimbabwe, and we welcomed back South Africa. And teams like Kenya showed us that there was a world beyond what we thought the cricket world was. Women’s cricket finally became something that people noticed as well. Belinda Clark’s double hundred in an ODI made it harder to ignore at least. The cricket was also of a spectacularly high nature. Batsmen didn’t dominate; almost every team had a bowling attack with a great bowler or high-quality new ball attack. Fast bowling dominated the start, spin the end. Wicketkeeping evolved. Fielding became weaponized. I was probably too young to appreciate it, but when I wrote a history of the game, you realised how much great cricket, and significant moments in the history of the game, came right then and there in that era.
GREEN TEAM: How you made it into the field of journalism? and what motivated you acquire it as your profession?
JARROD KIMBER: After film school I started a film production company with some friends, and it was going ok, but there were plenty of times when I had no work coming in. I was giving my friend some advice on his basketball blog, and he said I should do a cricket one, and I thought it sounded like a good idea. Within six months the bastard monkeygate series between Australia and India had grown my blog massively, and one of those new people was a guy called Ed Craig, who was the deputy editor of the Wisden Cricketer magazine. He told me I could make a career from this if I moved to England. I tried at first to get some work in Australia, but it went nowhere, and there were other reasons why I wasn’t happy with my film production company, so I just moved to London on hope. And Ed was right; I could find work in the UK. Not much, but a bit, and at that stage, my site was pretty big, and I made a decent amount from online advertisers. I never really wanted to be a cricket writer or a journalist of any kind. But I had spent years not being very good at things, and I was pretty good at these things. And I loved cricket, and writing, so it all fell together. Almost nothing that has happened to me is my idea, or through planning.
GREEN TEAM: What challenges you faced to reach this far and how was the whole journey?
JARROD KIMBER: I’m not a former player, I didn’t know anyone in the industry, my grammar was terrible, I’m not a trained journalist and at first I had to fit it all around running a business and then I had to work out how to make enough money to survive. My blog started in 2007; I got my first full time job in cricket in 2012. It’s not easy to get in, it’s not easy to stay in, it’s not easy
GREEN TEAM: What is your most memorable moment (s) from the days back when you stepped into this?
JARROD KIMBER: I contacted the MCG after I had been blogging for a couple of months and said I’m here for all the shield games, writing this blog about Victoria, can I get internet access. I didn’t even think I belonged in the press box, so I didn’t ask for that, but they gave me the wifi details. Here I was at my home ground, one of the greatest sporting stadiums in history, and I was allowed to use their facilities to write. It was massive for me. But I remember heaps of moments like that. Stepping into the Oval pressbox for the first time. Sitting next to Gideon Haigh the first time in the Lord’s pressbox. Interviewing Rahul Dravid. Getting stared at by Steve Waugh after he hated my question. Asking my first press conference question of Ricky Ponting. They are all great. In 2014 I was back at the MCG for a Test, and I was doing some commentating for the ABC. It was already a huge moment for me to be doing any work with them at all, but now I was going to commentate from the ground my dad first took me to when I was six. The one place that no matter how my life was going, always made me happy, and I was going to describe the cricket for people. The MCG commentary boxes are all next to each other. So in mine, Jim Maxwell was commenting below me. The first box next to me had Ian Chappell, Dean Jones, and Glenn McGrath. Next to that was Harsha Bhogle and Sunil Gavaskar. They were all about to do, or were doing, what I was now getting ready for, to go to the microphone and talk cricket. They were all legends of the game, on the field, or on the mic. I was just some guy who happened to live on a train line that passed the MCG on the way to the city, just happened to have a father who loved cricket so much he became a coach after he played, and was lucky enough to have a mother who was a library technician. I wasn’t a legend, or even that well known, but here I was at my favourite place on earth, getting to commentate a Test Match, and do what the legends were doing. It was about eight or nine steps to get to the front of the booth, but it felt like it took a lifetime.
GREEN TEAM: The art of humor was developed between the career or you’re gifted with this talent?
JARROD KIMBER: My mum can be quite inappropriate at times, my dad is pretty well known for his dad jokes, my nan had a filthy sense of humour, and it just seemed everyone in our life was always telling a joke. I’m not a comedian; I’m not an expert on joke structure or improvisation, but I do sometimes say or write things that make people laugh. That was all done to how I grew up. . There wasn’t a topic too dark for our family not to take the piss out of. I remember when my Nan died, and she played a huge part in my life, I was 17, I was given a beer, and we sat around the kitchen table and made fun of her. It sounds mean, but I’m not sure we could have honoured her more beautifully. At my grandfather’s funeral, my cousin and I get up and essentially did a comedy routine. It’s just a part of who I am.
GREEN TEAM: How do you feel when you see younger people with total enthusiasm and passion for cricket trying to become a part of cricket journalism family, and they show full dedication but couldn’t succeed?
JARROD KIMBER: I haven’t seen many show full dedication and not succeed. I wrote four pieces a day, mostly unpaid, totaled well over three million words, wrote a book, started a podcast, and then started a web series, tried a comic book on cricket, wrote another book, made a documentary, and did online commentary for free, and all that after moving to a country I couldn’t afford. I haven’t seen many people put that much in, and not get a job in cricket. You have to work harder than the professionals, see more cricket, meet more people, read more stories, than anyone else. Now all that doesn’t guarantee you will make it. And I feel the same for someone who doesn’t make it as a cricket journalist as someone who doesn’t make it as a Test player. It’s hard to watch. But there are usually reasons. And sometimes you give advice, but people don’t quite get it, and sometimes they aren’t ready to hear it. It is a tough industry, there aren’t many jobs, and people are going to miss out. But if you want to make it, you’ll try anything, and won’t give up.
GREEN TEAM: What message and tips you would give and suggest to the people who are stepping into this and are badly in need of guidelines?
JARROD KIMBER: There are too many for this answer, so may I refer you to this piece https://medium.com/@ajarrodkimber/giant-lizard-theory-aa78dc1126a8#.c9qy5s7wi for most of them. The most important for me is working hard. When I was making a web series, unpaid, during the Ashes of 2010/11, I was up editing and uploading until two or three AM, and then back up and ready to go to the ground for 930am in the morning. The professionals weren’t working that hard, but it was that web series, Two Pricks at the Ashes’, that ultimately got me a job with ESPNcricinfo. Had I not done it, I don’t think I’d be working for cricinfo now.
GREEN TEAM: How much you’ve been attached to Pakistan Cricket Team? Who’s your all time best?
JARROD KIMBER: Pakistan cricket was the form of cricket that opened my eyes up to other ways of playing that just weren’t Australian. I loved the West Indies as well, but they didn’t have leg spinners. There was just something about the Pakistan team of the 80s and 90s that I saw that captivated me. And they just became a vital part of my cricket life. I have achieved pretty much everything I want to achieve in cricket, but I still haven’t seen a Test in Pakistan, and I won’t feel like I’ve finished my career until I have. Mushie is my favourite. The first crush is the one you never truly give up.
GREEN TEAM: If you’re given the charge of whole Pakistani Cricket structure, what things you will change/improve on priority basis?
JARROD KIMBER: Pakistan needs a director of cricket. Someone who makes sure that everyone in Pakistani cricket is fit, from the lowest First Class player to the Test Captain. That all those players have the best access to a professional cricket set-up, coaching, diet, psychology, tactics, everything. The entire system needs to be lifted up to a professional standard; this current cricket team should be fitter, better equipped, someone like Sohail Khan shouldn’t be coming into the Test team and be physically exhausted after one day of bowling. You can blame the individuals, but it is the system that allows this. Look at Imran Tahir. He is a Pakistani. When I first saw him, he was a quality bowler, but perhaps the worst fielder I have ever seen, he was bowling fit, but not athletically fit. Look at what years inside the South African system has done to him. His fielding level is now three times better than when he became, he looks and moves more like an athlete. That is what a professional sporting structure does for a person. That is what the entirety of Pakistan cricket should be aiming at. And that is why you need a director of cricket to oversee the entire game. In modern cricket, it is more important than a coach or captain.
WE THANK JARROD KIMBER FOR HIS TIME!