I hate Tuesdays. They’re normally the dullest day of the week. Unless they involve pancakes, or two-for-one pizzas, they’re a complete and utter bore.
This week was different though. Suddenly there was plenty to talk about on a Tuesday:
The England Lions fought back against the Cricketbok’s second-string, thanks to a headline-grabbing ton by some bloke called Jonathan Trott (the name sounds vaguely familiar).
Meanwhile Jonathan Agnew had half of Australia gunning for him after making remarks about sledging and Phil Hughes.
The Kevin Pietersen merry-go-round continued when KP and Ricky Ponting enjoyed a private tête-à-tête about cricketing egos. Except that it wasn’t private, and the comments were broadcast to millions of watching T20 fans.
And just as I thought this article was finally written, the ECB confirmed that Colin Graves will be the new ECB chairman with Giles Clarke becoming President. You can read the joyous news here (there’s even a picture of Clarke looking extremely smug). I’m sure Maxie will have something to say about this later … hold on to your hats folks.
We’ll start off our dissection of the news by discussing the Aggers situation. You can read his comments here.
Basically Agnew criticises the Aussies for failing to tone down their aggressive on-field demeanour in the SCG test; therefore they allegedly failed to honour the memory of Phil Hughes in the way they promised they would.
As someone who likes his cricket spicy, but thinks sledging does occasionally go too far – the prime examples being Michael Clarke’s remarks about breaking Anderson’s arm, and Jimmy’s unsightly spat with Jadeja last summer – I have some sympathy for Agnew’s position. However, I also think it was less than prudent to invoke Hughes’ distressing demise in a sledging debate.
We all know Aggers is a principled man who takes a moral position now and again; therefore I’m sure his comments came from a good place. However, it was probably unrealistic to expect the Aussies to play differently. I sense they were never going to fundamentally reappraise their approach to the game because of one freak accident (no matter how tragic). The soul-searching was always going to be a brief in my opinion.
While I’m slightly confused as to how playing a game hard (and continuing to sledge opponents) is a fitting way to honour anyone’s life – we’re not talking terrorism here so the ‘we refuse to let tragedy change our ways’ mantra isn’t relevant – I also feel it’s completely up to the Aussies how they honour Hughes’s memory.
If they think playing the game in exactly the same fashion – in the tough, uncompromising style that has won them so many matches (if fewer friends) – is what Hughes would’ve wanted, that’s entirely their business.
At the end of the day poor Phil was their mate. Alongside Hughes’s grieving family those Aussie players would have felt the tragedy more deeply than anybody; therefore they should do whatever they think is best. I don’t really understand the psychology but I’m not one of them. I’m not even Australian; consequently I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to condemn them.
One imagines that Aggers’s comments, about something that must feel very personal to them, would have provoked the response ‘what it got to do with this pommie b**t**d’? No doubt Aggers has the best interests of cricket at heart but it wouldn’t have seemed that way to the Aussie camp.
Now we come to the story that keeps on giving. I know some of you are bored of Kevin bloody Pietersen by now (I’m getting pretty bored of it myself) so you can stop reading here if you like. However, the fact remains that many people can’t help themselves from reading and commenting about the bloke.
Those who dislike Pietersen will ignore his conversation with Ponting today because it gives the pro-KP lobby ammunition.
And besides, they won’t believe any of it anyway because (a) it was uttered by Pietersen himself, so it must be a load of codswallop, and (b) his position was somewhat supported by Ricky Ponting – and he’s just a pouting, sour-faced, ungracious, Aussie troublemaker. The fact Ponting knows a thing or two about egos, knows most of the England players personally, and had extensive experience of playing against England for well over a decade will be deemed irrelevant.
I watched the exchange myself on Sky and I’ve made a transcript of sorts below. It doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already suspect – at least not those of us who have followed this story from the beginning – but Ponting’s contribution is noteworthy at the very least.
KP said England’s one-day captain Eoin Morgan “would love” to have him back in the team.
We kind of knew this already because Morgan has often said it’s a shame Pietersen is no longer playing for England. They’re obviously buddies.
When asked about a possible England recall, KP said: “Who knows? I don’t see why not. I’m hitting it OK and I get on pretty well with most of the guys in there, if not all of them”
This was a little mischievous as there’s sod all chance he’ll get a gig while Peter Moores is still around. KP obviously just wanted to tell the world that he gets on with most England players and wouldn’t be a problem in the dressing room … obviously he’s forgotten all about Jimmy, Stuart and his bullying claims.
Pietersen then went on to talk about his batting form and injuries: “I honestly believe that I’m batting as well as I’ve ever batted at the moment. I’ve got over my knee injury which is huge. Over the last 18 months I’ve just hated batting, just because my knee has been so sore”.
We get it, Kev. You played below par in the Ashes and during the IPL because you were injured – and you couldn’t have played championship cricket for Surrey last season even if you wanted to.
The propaganda war then continued: “The frustrating thing for me is that I’ll be sitting on my sofa watching a series and I’ll get a message from a couple of youngsters in the side saying ‘what shall I do tomorrow – how should I play … That for me is quite sad because I’d prefer to be standing at the other end, or training with these guys, saying this is how we should and shouldn’t do it.”
You don’t need to convince me, Kev. All the young players on the Ashes tour said you’d be missed. We believe you. Shame others don’t, as if they bothered to look it up they’d find all the comments from Root, Bairstow, Stokes etc staring them in the face.
And then it was Punters turn to talk:
KP: “Would you select me, Punter, if you were an England selector?”
Ponting: “I think you’d be in England’s best one-day team for a World Cup, yeah … I’m a great believer in having the right balance between youth and experience around big tournaments”
Soon the conversation turned to the egos within the England team:
KP: “I saw myself as confident in my ability and my training, confident in everything I did”. He then asked Ponting to nominate the most arrogant England cricketers he faced … he obviously knew what the answer was going to be.
Ponting: “a certain right-arm off-spinner … the man who fields behind the stumps … and “a couple of fast bowlers”.
I really wish people would stop bad mouthing Peter Such, Steve Rhodes, Devon Malcolm and Phil DeFreitas. They’re all very fine gentlemen.
The conversation then moved on to leadership. Pietersen identified Michael Vaughan as the best skipper he played under:
KP: “Vaughan was brilliant, the messages that he delivered were on key and he didn’t give out too many … he liked free spirits and understood players who could win him games … it was good man-management … you should treat everybody individually, try and get the best out of your individuals in the team … it takes all types to win games and you’ve got to get the best out of all types in all different circumstances. That’s leadership”
Translation: Vaughan was brilliant because he was the polar opposite of the woodpecker and that bloody mood hoover.
And finally, KP simply had to mention Strauss – the hero of the anti-Pietersen alliance. The only bloke who speaks the truth; the man who uttered the immortal word ‘c**t’, which is, incidentally, the only word on KP we can trust – presumably because it was said off-air, inadvertently, while engaging in a bit of banter with the one commentator who has an uneasy relationship with his unholy bigheadedness.
KP: “Strauss and I were tight buddies, really tight buddies, but then one gets the captaincy … bits and pieces went on and I don’t think he liked some of the things I said … (but) I actually think Straussy and I will be ok. I’ve seen him a couple of times on the golf course … we’ll be absolutely fine … I don’t think there are any issues there … things will be ok … Straussy is a good man, I love Straussy.”
So there you go folks. Even the guy who think he’s a c**t actually loves him to bits – and it’s only a matter of time before they kiss, make-up, and rekindle one of cricket’s most enduring bromances.
Debate closed, right?