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?
Very entertaining James!
It’s been a week for cricketers coming out and saying what they think (KP/Punter, Broad, Gayle, Lumb). Long may it continue…
Oh Great one James. Made me giggle. I do not like Tuesday now since I read the piece about Clarke being made President. Bloody hell James, will England Cricket ever get rid of him and the rest of these miscreants at the ECB? I just don’t get it. I am changing Bob Geldof’s song to: “I don’t like Tuesdays. I wanna break ooh ooh o the whole ECB down!”
Thanks for the giggle tho.
Pietersen is disloyal; the worst thing you can be in a team game.
You are completely right Kevin
Without a doubt.
Good article and I agree about Aggers. I think it really isn’t his call to say what the Aussies should and shouldn’t be doing. I can certainly see them wanting him to mind his own ‘Dressage watching’ business. (I think he may get a bit of ribbing from the Aussie camp about this).
I’d be far more interested in his thoughts on Downton’s role in the whole KP shambles. maybe his thoughts on restructuring the T20 in the UK (or not) and Giles Clarke’s ill fitting jackets.
Wasn’t Michael Clarke supporting his batsmen against the rather foul Jimmy Anderson or doesn’t that matter??? Aggers isn’t principled he’s a middle class arse
I think Clarke made the comment when Anderson was batting.
yes, I stand corrected Anderson was narking Bailey and Clarke stood in – doesn’t lesen my point about Anderson being a bully and totally, unacceptably foul
Here it is:
And here’s Clarke’s – rather reasonable and sincere – response.
You are right James. Clarke did make the comment when Anderson was batting. Poor dear Jimmy.
You have also missed out the bit where Pietersen was asked WHY he was sacked by the ECB and Pietersen said he didn’t know and still doesn’t know – somewhat selective rhetoric here – and I’m not a Pietersen fan ….. mischief maybe by Pietersen but at least give the full account
[…] burning on here throughout the day. It’s been another wonderful day in the world of cricket. James has done his piece on The Full Toss, ahead of me again as I’m a bit tied up during the day at the moment, so don’t propose […]
and to conclude I will repeat the comment I made on the previous post –
… and you want to support this lot of crooks?
dear oh, dear
so now we have one of the finest players of thegame, a modern great… supporting KP and showing the reality that is Swann, Prior, Broad and Anderson.. Not to mention that he thinks KP should still be playing..
Please please please can we fire the ECB.
Re Trott: one of George Dobell’s three predictions for 2015 was that Trott would be opening on the West Indies’s tour and that has moved closer, not only with his ton but with Lyth, Lees and Robson all not making runs.
Dobell’s other two predictions were that Anderson will retire from international cricket by the end of the year and Loughborough will be renamed Bluffborough. I’d be fairly confident one of this will also come true but not, alas, the right one.
I think the arrogant keeper must have been Jack Russell..
Good call re: Trott. That will happen.
“the man who fields behind the stumps”… classy and dismissive.
El Presidente Giles Clarke – why? Just why?
Wouldn’t be surprised if most Aussies have no clue who Agnew is. Seems to have gained a level of importance unwarranted by his limited achievements.
Enjoyed the Ponting/KP thing. Refreshing to listen to cricketers having a chat rather than interviews.
HEAR HEAR! This from the man who called us England supporters a whole load of names not fit for human consumption. Now has the cheek to preach about the Aussies. If he was still on Twitter I’d tell him. You have to admit Aggers has more damn front than Brighton Beach.
Agnew does have a bit of a presence in the world of Australian cricket, as he commentates on ABC Radio during England’s tours out here. So he isn’t a complete unknown (just mostly).
I would also argue that Agnew is one of the most prominent voices of English cricket broadcasting. Even if a large number of Aussies don’t know who he is (and I’m not saying they don’t) his words are significant because he’s well known in England. I suppose it would be a bit like Bill Lawry criticising the England players.
I realise that James and the KP haters will never acknowledge this but the on – field questions to KP about tactical decisions have been interesting. If chef had been on the other end he would have had to phone a friend.
James here. I’m a KP hater? Not me. I’ve tried to be balanced and I’ve said many times that I disagreed with the sacking. I don’t think he’s a angel though.
Good on you James.
Aye? Have you been reading all the pieces on here from James? You are very, very wrong. If you want to see real KP haters then have a look at Mike Selvey, Derek Pringle and that other one Paul Newman. Now they really are the poison makers when it comes to KP.
I am sad to learn that Mike Marqusee has died. His take on KP would have been interesting
As far as the “tone” of the game at the SCG…Australia had already gone through the soul-searching part. You could see it during the Adelaide Test.
Kohli copped a Mitch Johnson bumper right on the coat of arms on his helmet during the first innings. Half of the Australian team ran up to see if he was OK. Kohli waved them off, his body language portraying annoyance. The game went on. By India’s second innings with the bat, the concern from Australian players for any injured batsmen was back to normal.
By the time they got to the SCG, it was the 4th Test and both sides had the measure of their opponents. It was also a full month after Hughes’ funeral, which was the real emotional release for most of the Australian Cricket Team. The SCG Test was less about mourning Hughes than it was about making note of the significance of the location and event.
I thought the most interesting quote was from Ponting:
“I heard from an England player that all the quotes and things you had to say in your book are 100% correct”
Thanks for this Tristan. Whether ‘bullying’ occurred or not, we know for a fact that England had a team meeting about bowlers shouting at fielders during the Ashes; consequently KP’s accusations were not a complete fabrication – something the anti-KP lobby consistently ignore. Whether one calls it ‘bullying’ is simply a matter of opinion.
I think Punter was having a laugh. Sent him up brilliantly. Maybe that’s because I see KP as a bit of a loon. Sorry folks. Sorry KP.
Well I suppose you can rationalize anything if you’re desperate enough..
You never said a truer word!
Unfortunate comments from Agnew. In Clarke’s eulogy he said that Hughes’ spirit would remain with the Australian team. It is only Agnew’s inference that this means “no more sledging”. And it is only based on this interpretation that he can claim the Australians have reneged on that pledge. The Australians didn’t actually say that.
Either way, I think Agnew’s promise to “throw that speech back at the Australians” is unfortunate. He’s entitled to make an argument about players not behaving themselves on field – the Australians aren’t the only side who sledge, you know?
But do you really want to “throw a eulogy” at someone? That doesn’t sit well. It doesn’t seem like a very decent thing to do, especially when Agnew is demanding higher standards of decency on field.
Exactly. I don’t think most people interpreted Michael Clarke’s eulogy as some sort of promise to play a gentler, kinder, less sledging form of cricket. I thought it was about Phil Hughes having been a tough but good-humoured competitor who appreciated the chance to play for his country and played the Australian way, and that would be remembered.
And surely it was about Hughes’s own ‘spirit’ rather than that somewhat nebulous ‘spirit of the game’?
I hate sledging, but this really seemed like a tactless and unnecessary intervention from Jonathan Agnew.
I remember reading at least a couple of pieces in the Australian press pondering whether cricket would become a kinder, gentler game in the wake of Hughes’ death – so there was some specific linkage to on field behaviour, and I think (to be fair to Aggers) that’s what he was picking up on.
But – and this is the issue I think – that linkage was never made by any Australian players. It was a construct of the press. So Aggers is criticising the Aussies for his own interpretation of things – one that the players never shared.
It’s just a bit ugly, isn’t it?
Agnew should make his argument on his merits. Leave Hughes out of it. That’s opportunistic and just really on the nose. And stop pretending that the big bad Australians are the only ones sledging.
On the KP situation, have just posted this on Dmitri’s.
I am actually quite enjoying KP’s antics at the moment he is showing himself to be quite entertaining with his undoubted and fully intended sh*t stirring. Found a further example of that last night whilst flipping through the channels and game across an interview between KP and Jontie Rhodes the great SA fielder and bat.
Jonti to KP
It must have been hard for you when you first went to England what was it like.
It was very hard being a South African in an English dressing room is not easy. As you know we tend to be straight talkers and that does’nt go down to well in a place where they WORSHIP MEDIOCRITY.
He is having fun and causing all sorts of conniptions at the moment
That’s true and it’s not surprising given the circumstances, but he is also showing himself for who he is. He is disloyal and
trying to unsettle the team even now.
I’m sure the new President will sort that out, hey?
Pff! KP will always go his own way. And that is fair enough if he is prepared to cop the flak that will always hit a non conformist. A smattering of dignity would make the world of difference to his case.
Disloyal how, and to whom?
I am somewhat surprised that , after being fired for no apparent reason, humiliated, denigrated by all and sundry (yourself included) lied about, you expect the man to be loyal. Loyal to what or who?
He repeatedly states that he would like to play for England again. If that is true I take it that he should still have the best interests of the team at heart.
Loyalty to England and loyalty to the ECB are two very different things. The England team are most definitely under the ECB thumb, just look at the fact the England team travel with PR handlers, for instance. It’s a sports team, not a UN delegation.
With all due respect, that’s fairly nonsensical.
It’s one thing to proscribe behaviour from someone actually in the team – quite another to expect someone who has been turfed out (in a manner utterly unprecedented) to quietly disappear in order to avoid embarrassing those who have done the turfing.
As for ‘unsettling the team’, I need only point you to this morning’s emphatically unsettled performance.
(And if some fairly innocuous stuff from Pietersen is going to bother them, then they might as we’ll not bother even playing Australia.)
Delighted to see the team’s very ‘settled’ performance today. Very pleased to note that KP’s words had no unfortunate bearing on anyone other me. Gratified to learn that anything KP might say is no longer of any importance as he is not in the England team. It was all a bit of nonsense, to be sure.
Delighted to see the team’s very ‘settled’ performance today.
Amazing the difference removing a deadweight can make to our limited overs performance.
Ouch Nigel! Ouch. So unkind. Poor dear Cooky.
He’s loyal to the most important cause: winning matches.
Slavish devotion to things you genuinely believe are damaging the chances of winning matches? That’s just stupidity.
Time and again in team sports we’ve seen senior players and the stars of the team stand up and enforce change. It happens. It should happen. Top sportsmen are not meek and pliable children.
Hopefully the entire England team are bereft of slavish devotion to anything. Of course players should speak out if they find something that is detrimental to the success of the team and I’m sure they do. The Pietersen issue it seems is wider and deeper than that.
What if the impediment to success is the coaching team or the tactics they’re employing? Who would be confident enough to go against the guys above you after all that’s happened? Isn’t that the core of KP’s downfall?
Speak out in “private” and have it leaked to the bosses or the press. Speak out in meetings and have it put on your record and used against you. Speak out after you’ve been sacked and have people confuse cause and effect.
That book was the work of someone who’d been forced out, and I doubt he really believes there’s any way back. The War on KP hasn’t stopped though, so I’m not surprised he’s still having his tuppence worth. Personally, while I believe there’s a few coaches (not just in cricket) who’d see reintegrating KP (again) as a challenge they’d put heart and soul into, I don’t believe English cricket right now is the natural bedfellow of such a coach. Hence the “outstanding coach of his generation” being given his second chance, and all the power being upstairs.
If you believe he’s doing this to unsettle the team, well, all I can say is I thoroughly disagree with you. That’s not really what his personality is like, that much should be obvious. If you think he’s being disloyal to England then sorry, that’s a two-way street.
You make good points. I think if there is an issue with coaching/management it all depends on how it’s done. KP speaks out and good on him for that but it’s not just a matter of addressing coaching issues here. Judging by his book he regularly wanted special privileges for himself that were being denied to the rest of the team. He had serious blind spots and please don’t ask me to specify because I am on holiday and don’t have the book.
He and Morgan are obviously buddies. He didn’t need to repeat Moggy’s assertion that he would like to see KP in the team when as a newly appointed England captain he is on the eve of his WC preparations. He is bound to be questioned about it and he has more important things to think about. It’s an unnecessary distraction that KP has put upon the England captain, the team and supposedly, a friend.
Telling that the young players are still phoning him for advice the evening before a match is likely to go down like a led balloon with the coaching staff. Questions are bound to be asked, if not ‘hands up who did it’? No doubt it will be unsettling for them. Obviously players takes tips and advice from experienced players but a ‘phone KP policy’ will never go down well with the management. Even if it’s true that is something else that Kevin Pietersen should have kept to himself out of respect for those players and team harmony.
Bizarre. What you’re describing is the unreasonable behaviour of the England management, and yet you’re blaming KP for it.
He didn’t reveal any conversations with Morgan. His following comment revealed as much; it was just a hope, a belief. It was not based on anything Morgan told him.
“Even if it’s true that is something else that Kevin Pietersen should have kept to himself out of respect for those players and team harmony.”
Respect for team harmony? Bloody hell, that’s rich. Some people seem to want it both ways – to sack KP and humiliate him, tell the world he will never be considered for an England team under any circumstance (a fine way to treat England’s leading run scorer), but then expect him to worry about team harmony.
As you say, it’s perfectly normal for young players to seek advice from someone of the experience and calibre of Pietersen. If you’re suggesting that will have negative consequences for the players that strikes me as a serious problem with the management, not KP.
The entire KP situation is one of a conflict between management and himself. It is impossible to disregard that in any way. None of us ‘outside cricket’ know the truth of the detail in this, but I take the view that there is bound to be fault on both sides. I am neither an acolyte of the ECB nor a KP hater. He is an irrelevance to me until he pops up again in some contentious way.
He still professes loyalty to the England cricket team and expresses a wish to play for them again. That being a given, team harmony should be of significant concern for him.
That’s neat. It perfectly bars any criticism of the team or coaching staff, or indeed anything that might change the status quo, because “team harmony”.
Team harmony didn’t seem to matter to the Aussies at their best.
I feel haunted by my use of the words ‘team harmony’. Been bitten on the bum for it so many times that I wish I could have thought of a different way of making my point. As it happens the team did very well yesterday and it seems that anything KP might say is of total irrelevance to them. They probably didn’t even notice. So it was all a nonsense on my part. Apologies.
“Team harmony” has always been the favourite stick with which to beat KP. It’s great for a witch-hunt because virtually anything can be detrimental to ‘team harmony’ if you want it to be. Now, apparently, saying you want to play for England is detrimental to team harmony. Incredible. Straight from the ‘looking out of the window’ school of prosecution.
Don’t be silly now. Wanting to play for England again has nothing to do with unsettling the team. There were other issues.
Again, such as what?
When asked, he said he wants to play for England and thinks the new captain would like him in the side.
He also said that, when young former team mates have asked him for advice in the past he wished he could offered that advice from the other end of the pitch or in the nets, instead of via text.
This apparently is a crime against team harmony. I don’t think it’s me being silly. I think a bit of perspective would be worthwhile.
I agree with you about the need for a bit of perspective.
Loyalty is a two way street. If KP has unsettled the team with his words then the ECB have unsettled England Cricket BIG TIME! There is need for a damn big broom to sweep out all the miscreants at the ECB including, Downton, Moores and Flower Whittaker and the selectors. I won’t hold my breath that this will happen. Given the carve up in order for Clarke to keep power and money grabbing at international level, it is unlikely that the rest of the ECB incumbents who caused this mess will be shown the door. As a commenter on the Guardian said: The ECB doesn’t give a toss about what the supporters think. Giving Clarke this position shows just how much the County Chairmen don’t give a toss for the paying public. It doesn’t bode well for the re-ignition of the Counties. Still we will see when Clarke actually peddles off! Gutless management and gutless Chairmen. Loyalty? ECB has no sense of loyalty to anyone but itself. Those in and around the ECB are just “all innit together!”
The ECB and the team of players representing England, many of them youngsters still finding their way, are two separate things.
Surely, the restructuring of English cricket, the renewing of the rules and complete change of constitution to enable all the boys to have a place at the top table is in the best interests of team ‘harmony’ going forward into the third or fourth new era in the last twelve months…???
I really hope they bloody well keep Cooky as captain for the Ashes, after all he’s still learning how to captain and it wouldn’t be fair not to give him a full go now would it?
Have to agree here. One player tells the management they are barking and he is treated to the worst type of bullying I have ever seen. KP has been humiliated. His character and personality has been trashed around in the gutter by the ECB and its mates. This was from start to finish a management fiasco. IMO this state of affairs would never have happened if Vaughan had been captain. Not in a million years.
I always enjoy your posts Annie but on this I need to remind you that KP was not slow to trash and humiliate people himself. It’s in the book!
I don’t have the book to hand but Flower and Prior for starters.
Then ‘he wasn’t slow to trash and humiliate people himself’ doesn’t make sense. He was very slow. The book came after a litany of ill-treatment which dates back to 2009.
Classic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc.
No idea as to the meaning of your last line but I agree you make a valid point. Think I need to plead guilty to an unwarranted slur on the character of KP and offer an apology.
After this, therefore because of this.
As in, KP’s book can’t in any way be used to excuse the abuse he received before the book was written.
There is obviously some good in KP, indeed Brearley said there was a lot of good in him, but I will never see him as an angel.
does that last bit mean ‘rewriting history’ for one’s own convenience?
Pretty much, yes. I’ve heard the logical fallacy used so many times in relation to KP it should be the subject of a study.
When asked for a reason – any reason – to justify the sacking, so many comments boil down to ‘Well look at how he’s behaved since he was sacked’.
I agree with you on this but who lit the fuse? Of course KP would have been better off staying silent and keeping his own counsel and letting the other bozos hang themselves! All the time there was supposed to be “silence” on both sides there was nothing but character assassination from PR disaster man Downton & his mates. What did they all expect? As for unsettling the team, they need unsettling out of their slumbers if they expect to get anywhere anytime soon. KPs stuff should spur them on. Nothing like getting your act together.
I do agree with you about Downton talking out of turn and casting aspersions. He should be sacked.
For what it’s worth I think all the issues with KP and the management come down to this: England’s tactics and methodology under Flower (bowl dry, work hard, ask the computer etc) were not working any more. Pietersen told them in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t working – and he was probably not very diplomatic about it. I’m glad he told Flower what he did, because somebody bloody needed to. However, I wish he’d gone about it in a more diplomatic way. Had he done so, he’d probably still be playing.
Is giving the management your honest opinion, bluntly, a sackable offence? Flower said yes. A lot of fans say no. I’m not going to mention the players in all this because I think it’s pretty clear now that none of them had a problem with Pietersen (except Prior of course).
You are right about the issues with Flower methodology and the all round Ashes disaster, but conflicts with KP began years before than that. Difficult players have been accommodated one way or another. There was obviously a straw or more that broke the camels back as far as KP and Flower were concerned. Unfortunately it seems we will never be privileged or trusted enough to know the exact reasons why.
What a good post James. Says it all. Basically no one is allowed to challenge the management about its methodology even if the team is losing big time. Management should all go every single last one of them. They won’t listen to us of course as we are all “outsiders!” Clarke says this and now has the big job he wanted. You couldn’t make it up. Chris Gayle wouldn’t have stood a chance in England.
Totally agree with this post.
To answer your question – “Is giving the Management your honest opinion, bluntly, a sackable offence?” – I think it depends if you make a habit of it, and whether you’ve got any other strikes against you.
We’d had the Moores fiasco – so a fall out with one coach. Now Flower – another coach. He’d lied – by his own admission in the book – over Textgate, and fallen out with his captain. Relations with Prior – the vice captain – were poisonous. None of them were deal breakers on their own (hence Downton’s “no smoking gun” comment) but taken as a package? I’d say anyone who falls out with 2 coaches, a captain and a vice captain in a 5 year period is going to be on very thin ice.
I might be over-simplifying things but that’s how I’ve always seen it – if you fall out with too many people who are in charge in any environment, eventually you’ll get shown the door.
“We’d had the Moores fiasco – so a fall out with one coach. Now Flower – another coach.”
He didn’t really fall out with two coaches, though, did he? The way you write it makes it sound as if they were separate issues.
Going back, Moores – with Flower as his deputy – was running a failing team and Moores had ‘lost the dressing room’, as football cliche has it. Vaughan, Flintoff, Harmy, Stauss et al have all made it fairly clear they could not get on with Moores and didn’t want to work with him.
The ECB asked KP to write a memo with his suggestions for turning the team around – which included replacing Moores and Flower – and the ECB leaked it, then used it to sack KP.
As if that weren’t bad enough, they then appointed as coach the very man KP said should be sacked. I mean, how could anyone foresee that might lead to problems…?
It seems reasonably widely accepted Flower’s animus towards KP dates back to that memo.
Surely the best way to deal with this dilemma is to not to call on the coach to account for his failures rather promote him ( Flower) to position of god – oops, they have
In total agreement with you there. Flower should have been sent on his way after the Ashes. He should have been held accountable.
I can guarantee you that the ECB would have seen them as separate issues.
I have a lot of sympathy with KP over the way the captaincy issue was handled – but the reality is that he lost the argument. The ECB backed the Moores/Flower model over KP’s opinion. That’s a judgement call they had the right to make – and in the light of the next 2 or 3 years results, they were probably right.
In a business environment, if you lose a major argument at senior level, you resign and go and work somewhere else – but of course you can’t do that in international sport.
But once he lost the captaincy KP becomes an “employee”. If he doesn’t like the boss he has to suck it up like the rest of us – and clearly he didn’t do that.
Which, frankly, only goes to support the suggestion the ECB had it in for him. The Moores debacle was entirely of the ECB’s making and completely unnecessary.
“If he doesn’t like the boss he has to suck it up like the rest of us – and clearly he didn’t do that.”
Strauss’s take on that is quite interesting. He says the opposite; that KP slipped back in to the ranks remarkably well and made what should have been a difficult situation (Strauss becoming captain due to KP being fired) surprisingly easy.
Flower, on the other hand, seems to have made KP’s life particularly difficult from this point on.
Why do you think Moores’ sacking was entirely the ECB’s making? I agree in one sense. Asking KP’s opinion was a bit like the old political adage – never announce an enquiry that you don’t know the answer to!
I remember Strauss’ opinions on that, and you’re right – but from KP’s book it seems clear that the entente had begun to break down even before the end of that first West Indies tour – and it only got worse after that.
I’ll wait until I hear Flower’s version of events before I form an opinion as to who had it in for who. KP doesn’t bother to hide his contempt for Flower, that’s for sure.
Well, it’s a litany of errors. They appoint a captain they don’t really want and a coach who was unsuited to international cricket.
By the time they asked KP to write that memo, the senior players were finding it hard/impossible to work with Moores and the team’s form was declining sharply. Rather than beginning an enquiry they didn’t know the answer to, I think the memo was the opposite; asking a question which they very much knew the answer to: get rid of Moores.
They ask KP to write a confidential memo with his suggestions for improving the team, which he does, then goes on holiday. For one reason or another, they then leak it – the part that attracts attention, of course, being the bit about the England captain wanting to replace the coach and his deputy with someone better – rather unpleasantly, it was put about at the time that it was KP who had leaked it.
Now, KP was clearly naive, but I don’t see how he created this situation. The alternative to saying what he did was lying, or accepting the team would continue to be crap when he had an opportunity to make a change.
They tacitly agreed with KP by sacking Moores, but they also sacked KP.
The quotes from just after the sacking are interesting.
“The ECB knew when they gave Kevin Pietersen the job, they knew from his history what sort of guy he is, that’s why I thought they gave him the job. He’s going to be in your face and question people and take people on and they must have known that eventually it would come to a clash between Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores.”
“The ECB have fudged this. I think they’ve known for a very long time that there’s been a situation and they’ve allowed it to escalate and they’ve allowed it to get into the media. If the ECB had mediated and tried to sort out the differences between the two characters, it might not have got to this situation.”
“I’m in a bit of shock. I thought one of them would go because the pair didn’t get on and see eye-to-eye.
I’m surprised both of them have gone, but what really worries me is what’s going on in the dressing room. There are obviously factions – some in the Pietersen camp and some not.”
There are dozens more, and it seems pretty clear from them the ECB knew exactly what was brewing and just let it happen.
Now, let’s be kind and say that’s just an enormous balls up, lesson learned, won’t happen again.
So what do they do next? After their ‘worldwide search’ for a new coach, they appoint the one bloke in the world they know has a beef with KP. After emerging relatively unscathed from one situation with a player and coach who don’t get on, they decide to pair a player who’s smarting from being sacked with a coach who knows his best player tried to get rid of him and doesn’t think he’s up to the job.
Brilliant. How could that go wrong?
It’s an interesting one.
My thinking always was that they never wanted to get rid of Moores, and only had to because they’d lose their best player otherwise. But then KP said in his book that he would have been happy to go back to the ranks and play under Moores – so that blew that theory.
But if they disagreed with Moores enough to sack him – why hire his man as a replacement? And why rehire him now?
None of it made much sense at the time. Still doesn’t.
Well quite. Just as with KP’s sacking, all quite unnecessary and handled in the worst possible way. It took a considerable amount of talent to do so many things wrong in that situation.
“It’s pretty clear now that none of them had a problem with Pietersen”
You can’t be serious about that?
The senior players’ opinion of Pietersen varied from irritation to outright loathing. Strauss, Cook, Swann, Broad, Prior, Anderson, Bresnan all disliked him. All least four of them genuinely despised him. They still do.
Of course, the players could not say so publicly but anybody who spent time around the team knew their private views. Most members of the team management felt the same about Pietersen.
Even Bell, who is part of Pietersen’s management company, was no fan by the end.
Morgan made it clear on Sunday that he doesn’t want KP in his team and the idea that all the young players ring Pietersen the day before games for technical advice is pure fantasy.
Kevin is having plenty of fun winding up people. He must know there is zero chance he will play for England again – if he doesn’t he is delusional.
A very interesting post as always. Thanks for taking part in these discussions. Adds another dimension. One that is closer to the action.
But… he’s disagreeing with the public comments made by people even closer to the action…
All views from all quarters are welcome. Helps to find that elusive balance. Things can be taken in so many ways. For example, Swann made the comment that KP’s behaviour on tour had been exemplary. At least while Swann was still around. By that remark was not saying ‘I like KP’. He made his views very clear on the recent Not Just Cricket broadcast. So did Jimmy in a more understated way.
Ah, OK. “Not having a problem with KP” isn’t the same thing as “not liking KP” to me. I don’t really care if teammates like each other, as long as they’re able to work together effectively.
Of course. It’s the same with any diverse group of characters needing to work together and co-operate for the common good.
“Morgan made it clear on Sunday that he doesn’t want KP in his team”
Well Mr Etheridge until such time as you actually explain your fairy tale about KP’s returning gift, which you did promise, I am not certain that anyone really gives any credence to what you think or write. I know I don’t.
I am with you Ron. Mr. Etheridge dodged all my questions about the gift despite promises and has shown himself to be untrustworthy.
Seconded. John did promise to as well, and conspiciously failed to do so.
And this is still closer to innuendo, rather than actual facts
” Mostly, however, it was because he was regarded by the establishment (and even some of his more obedient fellow pros) as an impossible bugger whose genius simply wasn’t worth the hassle. Inspired more by financial reward than status, he gave up county cricket in 1903, content to slum it in the Lancashire leagues, earning a prettier penny.”
To be specific, what did Morgan actually say? You tweeted:
“Morgan on KP on Sunday: “Decision made a year ago that Kevin was not part of English cricket…he didn’t come into my thinking as captain.””
Recognizing KP is not available for selection is not the same as not wanting him (not that he does, necessarily, just that they’re quite different things)
Only recently Morgan said:
“I think it is unbelievable in a way, because certainly he could still be playing cricket for England quite easily,” Morgan said. “It is sad in a way to think that probably the best cricketer I have ever played with is not playing [internationally] any more.
“A guy I have had huge respect for, for a very long time and learnt a huge amount from isn’t playing probably as much as he should be.”
Which sounds rather less emphatic, to say the least.
I’m really tired of John Etheridge (and Selvey as another example) telling us how it is off the record.
I’m really tired of being told that the truth is only spoken in whispers and that all that is and was said in public was mere PR – and then being expected to believe other public statements because JE says so.
If JE can’t see how this damages his (JE’s) credibility, it’s hard to take him seriously.
James (the author) here. Thanks for joining the debate John, but I cannot take your word on this. As a member of the public, who was never a massive KP fan and has tried to be impartial on this issue and only make up his mind after seeing the evidence available, it is entirely logical to think that few (if any) of the players had a problem with Pietersen.
Since the Ashes tour finished, Stokes, Carberry, Root, Bairstow, Panesar and Tremlett have all come out and said very positive things about Pietersen – particularly the way he helped them out and was generous with his time (yes, even those the media told us that Kp had badmouthed).
Of the players you claim disliked Pietersen at the time of his dismissal, Swann said his behaviour was exemplary in Australia, Broad said he wanted KP in the T20 side (as did Giles) and was famously photographed partying with him in Adelaide, Anderson has kept quiet and avoided saying anything unpleasant on BT sport and Strauss was long retired.
Meanwhile, Vaughan, Flintoff (who also supposedly hated KP according to the media when they were playing partners), Simon Jones and Harmison have all very publicly said they think KP is either a good bloke or was sacked unfairly / incorrectly.
In no way does it sound to me as though most of the people in the dressing room hated him. It would have suited their purposes to support the ECB’s line and reveal how difficult life was with KP in the team if it was true. This is an extremely logical way of looking at things.
The only evidence us punters have that KP was a nightmare are opinion pieces by some journalists – writers who have reported so many things that have since been proven untrue (according to the likes of Carberry etc). Can you blame us for being cynical? Once one or two stories (which do not involve direct testimony from first hand sources anyway) prove to be untrue, how can we believe anything these journalists write? Meanwhile, there is plenty of direct testimony from players supporting Pietersen.
I hope this explains why I think what I do.
Good work, James.
James, you only need to read KP’s book to know that he could be a nightmare.
This is definitely true. And it’s telling that almost all of the people willing to defend KP of their own accord were ones who had no authority over him.
I do think he presented a headache to the decision makers, be they captain or coaches or upper management. I cannot see how that translates into being a hated presence in the dressing room, even with his oblivious egotism. Not least because I cannot believe for a second that there weren’t people utterly tired of the shit coming from other players, too!
Well, Vaughan shared a dressing room with him until 2009, and continued to see him almost continuously for the rest of his career.
2009, of course, will likely be remembered as the pivotal point in his career. After his sacking and the way the ECB began to behave towards him, KP’s form and (alleged) behaviour took on a slightly different colour.
I have read KP’s book and I see a difficult opinionated character, but not one that was unmanageable. Duncan Fletcher managed ok. Plenty of players got on with him. I’m sure Shane Warne could be a nightmare.
Thanks for commenting. You deserve respect for making the effort and I hope anyone who addresses your comments does so politely.
That said, you might be one of the more honest journos around but people aren’t willing to simply take the word of insiders anymore. That’s gone, mate.
Clearly, in the aftermath of KP’s sacking, the press were tapped up and compromised. To deny that is like peeing on our legs and telling us it’s raining.
If you think that’s unreasonable: Why was KP sacked? Why has the ECB not offered a real explanation? Why have you and the rest of the cricket press not demanded one?
This happened nearly a year ago and the press still hasn’t extracted a substantive explanation of events from the ECB, even though the ECB insisted they had a story to tell, but couldn’t divulge it because of a confidentiality agreement.
How can that be viewed by punters as anything other than a complete failure of the cricket press to ask the most pertinent questions? It’s the epitome of bad journalism and smacks of a press more in thrall to the established order than to their readers.
Instead, the refrain is ‘let’s move on’, as though the mistakes of the past need never be examined. That’s what failing governments do when they want to spin a bad story. The whiff of bullshit is unmistakeable.
It’s not good enough. And I’m sorry but you can’t simply pivot from that to telling people ‘this is how it is’ and demanding they take you at your word.
You ask some very good questions. I do hope we see a response from John. It’s brave of him to come on here in the face of much press hostility. There are things he could explain in the interests of a good all round understanding.
Good evening John,
I have often wondered who were the senior players and management figures that Paul Downton consulted before ending Pietersen’s career. Ashley Giles publicly endorsed him as a million dollar asset, which is hardly code for let’s sack the bugger. I rather suspect it was quite a narrow, self-interested group with quite narrow opinions. As a matter of interest, do you know who Downton consulted and how many of them were truly independent of Andy Flower?
Of the players you mention, Strauss retired in 2012, Swann retired mid-series, Prior was dropped mid-series. Bresnan was hardly a senior player and had a peripheral role in the winter Ashes. Broad’s public pronouncements suggest ambivalence rather than dislike. That’s a ramshackle and dissipated group and hardly representational of the dressing room as it stood in Sydney.
In my experience every workplace is caught up in a complex matrix of individuals and cliques that either like or dislike each other. This is not front-page news and does not feature in any HR manual of projected characteristics employees must avoid. I do not see any story here.
On the flip side, a great many Ashes players have publicly supported Pietersen. In addition to those mentioned by James, I think we can add Root, Trott and Stokes. Compton is as relevant as Strauss. We can all pick the episodes that make up the chapters of the story we want to tell.
Off-the-record conversations are undoubtedly invaluable as a means of feeding real information into the public domain. Equally, they can be a suspect mechanism for unattributable point scoring and petty revenges. The challenge for the journalist is to distinguish between the two, and this is where many of us feel the true story has been lost.
I have re-read Eoin Morgan’s comments, and I am fairly clear he did not say he did not want Pietersen in the team. He said “the decision was clearly made a year ago that Kevin was not going to be a part of English cricket moving forward. The decision was made quite clear the day I was announced as captain and he didn’t come into it.” Morgan is simply explaining in a passive tense that the decision had been made [by Downton], it was underlined again for him when he was made captain, and the matter was outside the scope of his authority. This is not at odds with Morgan’s consistent position that personally he would be happy to have Pietersen in his team.
I do not expect Pietersen ever to play again for England. I think he is probably having some fun tweaking the nose of the ECB when the opportunity arises. After a rather sordid political sacking and an unseemly whispering campaign against him, I hardly blame him for playing to the gallery. Let’s face it, there would be no entertainment value whatever in Pietersen’s little pricks and prods had the ECB not shown itself to be a completely pompous buffoon.
I suspect that the battle lines on Pietersen were drawn up several years ago, and though recent events have heightened opinion, I doubt they have changed many minds.
I’d echo in great part Tom Sturrock’s comments above.
Reading your post, my instinctive reaction is to ask – did the players you mention tell you all this themselves, or did someone (eg Paul Downton) tell you (or a colleague) on their behalf?
In the public domain we have umpteen first hand tributes to Pietersen, on the record, from players. We have virtually nothing to the opposite effect beyond a few words from Prior and Strauss calling him a c***.
As Tom says, like it or not and rightly or wrongly, the cricketing public will no longer attach any credence to unattributed gossip.
Why, because every smear against Pietersen has been proven to be false (Taylor, Carberry) or ridiculous (windows) and almost every BTL ‘conspiracy theory’ has been shown to be correct.
The game has changed. The old world no longer exists.
Absolutely correct Maxie. Perhaps Mr. Etheridge will now start answering our questions instead of dodging them.
I don’t think you can dismiss the one against Taylor so lightly. KP admitted he told the powers that be he didn’t rate Taylor, in his book. And if you want something on the record, listen to the “Not Just Cricket” Xmas podcast. Taylor is a guest and admits that KP was his hero growing up – he follows that by saying (something like – I can’t remember the exact words) “they always say, you shouldn’t meet your heroes”.
It’s a fair point, but he seemed to be just referring to the Headingly Test specifically. (during which KP’s life was in meltdown and he was about to have his career ended – may not have been the best company) He says ‘Yeah, we had a bit of a chat out in the middle. Off the pitch, not so much’. He’s sitting between Anderson and Swann and Swann is quite openly laying in to KP at the time. Taylor doesn’t seem to want to say too much at all. He seems quite aware of an anti-KP vibe. When asked who his hero growing up was, he says: ‘er..I don’t know how this’ll go down…but..er..Kevin Pietersen’. Later he expresses discomfort at answering a question about KP. Didn’t seem an entirely open forum.
Other times Taylor’s been quoted as saying either they get on fine, or it was a small incident and it doesn’t bother him.
Either way, it’s always struck me as an incident which was blown out of all proportion and rather typical of the double standards the players were held to. I frankly wouldn’t believe the rest of the team hadn’t also made disparaging remarks about teammates and other players. Every dressing room I’ve ever been in was just continuous slagging of whoever was batting in the middle or conveniently out of earshot. I’d be staggered if the England dressing room was any different.
I agree with you that the incident is minor and should be mostly disregarded – but I wanted to point out that I think Maxie is incorrect to say that it has been proven to be false.
For what it’s worth – and I think others have said this – I think KP’s problem in the dressing room comes from his dealings with some of the senior players. Carberry and Tremlett have both expressed support, but they’d be peripheral voices in the dressing room – and I’m not sure he would have got much (if any) support from Cook, Prior, Anderson, Broad or Bell. We’ll probably have to wait until they start releasing their autobiographies to find out :)
Just one more thing to add. Taylor and KP exchange banter on twitter. Certainly doesn’t seem like there’s a problem there at all.
I don’t see the Headingley event as bring so minor. I was watching that test match and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw Taylor trudging off to the Pavilion on his own while KP walked off together with his South African friends. I felt hugely embarrassed. It’s a scene that has remained etched on my mind. I’m very pleased Taylor has been able to deal with it so sensibly and so well and that is what matters most. However, it does not reflect well on KP and it coloured my view of him at the time.
Yeah, I think he was referring to an interview in which Taylor effectively said it was all bollocks; he and KP were mates, nothing happened.
It’s an odd one, because in other interviews he just says he heard a rumour he said something but he’s not bothered, in one other he says something along the lines of people have always said things about me (and my height) water off a duck’s back.
Either way, I find it a whole load of meh.
The senior players thing is different. There have always been rumblings that Swann, Prior, Broad, and Anderson formed an unpleasant clique. A lot of new players seemed to find it very hard coming in to the team, but then were very reluctant to talk about what went on. When Compton is finally past being theoretically picked I imagine he might have an interesting story to tell.
Trott too, one day.
To be more accurate, the complaint was that KP slagged off Taylor publicly. Some people even reported it was in front of Taylor.
KP claims it was a private conversation with Flower.
I have zero problems with senior players expressing misgivings to management. I have a big problem with people lying, though.
Sorry not to reply before, Kev. As said below, the allegation was that Pietersen had traduced Taylor either to his face, or within his earshot. As Taylor has confirmed, this did not happen.
Pietersen’s account – which no one has contradicted – is he was critical of Taylor in a private conversation with Flower. And if so, what’s wrong with that? Hardly someone he would “admit” to.
“The senior players’ opinion of Pietersen varied from irritation to outright loathing. Strauss, Cook, Swann, Broad, Prior, Anderson, Bresnan all disliked him. All least four of them genuinely despised him. They still do”
Even if that is true, only Anderson and Broad are in the one day team so who cares what the others think. Who do you think would have a bigger impact in the World Cup – Anderson, Broad or KP?
ECB apologists and Kevin Pietersen haters will not like this but I do not see any reason why Pietersen should cease his criticism of the ECB and its employees. He has ample justification for it.
As for Jonathan Agnew, he is a pompous fool as I said here when he attacked Tregaskis. I don’t care for sledging but Agnew really should have found a better way of expressing himself.
Can I just say how good it is to see Ian Bell shaking off his recent anonymity and making a big century against decent bowling in the second warmup game.
If he can carry that form into the World Cup the England might just have a sniff.
I have to say, I wrote to the ECB asking for a full and proper account of the reasons for the sacking of KP – here’s the reply
Thanks for your email, nice to hear from you
We can¹t say anything further to what we put out in our media releases
The ECB do not deserve the support of the many thousands of followers of English cricket. They see all as interfering little busy bodies who have no right to question their behaviour, their morality and their desire to get rich quick off the back of whoever is foolish enough to support them. I will not be spending one penny of my hard earned on English cricket unless and until the current band of miscreants depart – by then it maybe too late. I did not know that looking out of a window, whislting and ‘appearing’ disengaged were criminal offences in the UK.
The EC B is contemptible and stupid and I wholeheartedly recommend everybody to stay away from English cricket for as long as it takes to bring the shabby ediface to its knees. The time for talking is long over
Indeed! The ECB is contemptible. I am not even sure that new man will deal with the existing problems in England Cricket. Let alone deala with the wasters working, supposedly, inside the ECB. If the County Chairmen haven’t the bottle to deal with this mess head on then England Cricket will continue to ramble on in the same mess.
Annie, I think a lot depends on what has really gone on behind closed doors. If Clarke has been told that the price of his Presidency is that he keeps out of the everyday running of the sport altogether, then there may be hope for change. If he’s still going to be floating about expecting Colin Graves to do what he wants, it’ll be a disaster. Especially as we still have Andy Flower as the eminence grise lurking around.
What the new ECB senior management needs is to be able to say: “We know things have been royally screwed up and now it’s going to be different” but they can’t say that if the same people are still there justifying their actions and demanding loyalty.
[…] UPDATE – John Etheridge put a comment on TFT after James contended that no player had a problem with Pietersen. It’s quite […]
THANKS for all your comments everyone. We have a good debate going.
Just a reminder to keep it civil. It’s good that people like John Etheridge and Aggers have come and commented on these threads, and they’re entitled to their opinions just as we are to ours.
In the interests of diversity we’d like to make sure that all opinions are welcomed and encouraged.
As an expat Aussie, what I find most bizarre is the attitude towards KP from many in the press. John Etheridge above seems positively wetting himself with glee that KP won’t be playing for England anymore. What on earth did KP ever do to him?
You lost your best player because the management didn’t know how to deal with him. Regardless of whose fault it is, why on earth is that a cause for all this gloating and smugness among so many of you fellows? You lost your best player for heavens sake!
Have you gone mad?
I said something similar on Dmitri’s blog. It’s that part I can never understand, and that confusion drives a lot of the rage.
The converse, of course, is that we’re expected to swallow the endless nonsense about Cook being selfless and decent; keep quiet when Selvey condones Strauss calling KP a “c**t”; disregard the possibility that men of “utmost integrity” such as Cook, Strauss and Flower have ever had a base motive for anything in their lives; ignore the inconsistencies James points out; ignore the timeline of the Flower “ultimatum” stories and partial backtracking that came between Sydney and the sacking; fully accept the burial of KPGenius even while Agnew points out all the links between Broad and ‘Bails the Badger’, and even when England’s most capped Test cricketer gives an interview that casts doubt on the official line; believe that Flower “plateaued” in his final year when his penultimate year included a series whitewash and a home defeat; etc etc.
The entire affair has been largely presented to us with all the nuance and sophistication of a Scooby Doo cartoon. KP Bad. Cook Good. Flower God. It really is plain insulting, whichever side of the fence you’re on.
Aaron, I have to agree that one of the most contemptible pieces of journalism I have seen in the last year was Selfie’s condoning of an ex-England captain calling a former colleague a ‘see you next Tuesday’. This is a misogynist comment at the best and whilst I am sure many work colleagues have thought and said said word about each other, to have a journalist from a national newspaper celebrate it’s use (and the glee that Selfie takes from the confirmation of Strauss’s view of KP is clear) is disgusting.
If a footballer were to be caught using this word (maybe Gary Neville referring to an ex-colleague on Sky) they would be hounded out of the media. Yet Strauss retained his position, and the media have virtually celebrated it’s use as it confirms their inbuilt bias. A few years ago Gideon Haigh noted that whilst KP was one of the most professional cricketers he had come across the attitude of the English media presented him as an awful individual which was in stark contrast to their portrayal of that stout English yeoman Flintoff. He noted that they ignored the bad and depicted him as loveable everyman.
Over the past year the standard of journalism regarding the ECB and it’s machinations has been appalling. The standard of the England cricket team (particularly the fielding) and its ordinary captaincy, ordinary coach and ordinary performances have passed with barely a murmur. All to reinforce an extraordinary decision to ignore a whitewash, promote the coach and captain and sack the highest (ever) run scorer. This is whilst almost completely ignoring the ICC carve-up.
I am only disappointed in myself that I bought Ashes tickets for this year.
Agnew, what a ***** (sorry James but there it is).
To use the red raw wound of the recent death of Phil Hughes and then to conflate the eulogy by Michael Clarke just to post some click bait about sledging is to wallow on the floor of the moral low ground.
Contemptible, arrogant has been. Previously he roused me to towering indifference now he’s worth the same kind of kicking I reserve for the likes of Selvey.
Well you’ll enjoy this then:
It’s the non-apology apology in which British people have come to specialise.
None of it deals with “I have that speech [a funeral eulogy] tucked away ready to throw at Michael Clarke and the Australians.”
What a weasel worded piece of dross. And to echo a comment i wrote on the Guardian;
Why do the people who constantly recycle the ‘Clarke, Anderson Affair’ conveniently forget to include the lead up to this occurrence which gives it context?
It couldn’t possibly be that they don’t know what happened to provoke this especially Agnew because we all know he has his fingers on the pulse don’t we.
The only possible reason I see for not citing the whole incident is to willfully mislead people into believing that Clarke in an unprovoked fit of rage threatened Anderson for no good reason.
Agnew, not just a ***** but a liar to boot.
“Why do the people who constantly recycle the ‘Clarke, Anderson Affair’ conveniently forget to include the lead up to this occurrence which gives it context?”
Which is why the clip of the incident I posted higher up the thread includes the lead up.
Yes I knew you had done that and I wasn’t referring to you at all. :-)
But in the endless retelling of this the people posting start and finish with Clarke’s response. It’s tedious in the extreme.
in Australia this is known as a Claytons apology.
Several years ago a non alcoholic beer was introduced in Australia called Claytons and marketed as ‘the beer you have when you’re not having a beer’.
Several years????? The adds with Jack Thompson came out when I was a kid which, rather depressingly, makes it close to 40 years ago.
But saying several decades ago is such a depressing admission.
I can’t recall hearing any sledging on a cricket field worse than what Agnew said with that.
Is it a case of hypocrisy thy name is Agnew?
I don’t want to defend Agnew because I think he’s a ******, However, there was a bit said / written by the Australian media prior to the Indian series about how the Australian players were going to make an effort to improve their on-field behaviour so it’s not something that Agnew made up or simply misunderstood. (I’m struggling to remember specific examples but I’m pretty sure Robert Craddock said as much on “The Back Page”)
It’s been interesting following the varied reactions to KP’s appearances in the BBL commentary box. I think the more he talks the more likely we are to get a glimpse of the real man. I have often wondered if KP’s problem is that he can’t read people and as a result is sensitive to what people say to him whilst being insensitive to other peoples feelings. For example, he recently asked Gilchrist how can you walk when batting whilst appealing for something you know isn’t out when keeping. I got the impression that KP was oblivious to the fact that Gilchrist was pissed off. It’s a fair enough question for a private conversation but out of line when mic’d up on national TV. KP, however, seemed to see it as just friendly banter.
I think its called Boycott Syndrome. A condition that affects suçcessful England batsmen with divisive personalities who take pride in telling it straight regardless of other peoples feelings but are quite thin skinned when the reverse applies.
I tried to post something exactly the same – but a bit longer! – last night :)
The more I look at it, the similarities in character between Boycs and KP are remarkable. Both outwardly confident but inwardly insecure. Both direct – but seemingly oblivious to social subtlety or nuance. Both claiming victimhood – but leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. And as you say, both claiming to speak the truth – but unable to accept the same in return.
Leo McKinstry’s book on Sir Geoffrey is a good read and I’m sure I remember the author commenting that it was unsettling to hear the same man described with such devotion by those in favour and such loathing by those opposed. There’s a quote on the back from a Boycott childhood friend which says “it’s a good job Geoffrey wasn’t a politician, or he might have blown up the world”. I reckon exactly the same could be said of KP.
Oh – and it’s probably no coincidence that they are both central figures in two of English cricket’s most bitter civil wars.
Now that you guys have pointed it out, I can’t believe I didn’t see it myself
Very interesting post. Much to think about. Will put the Boycott book on the wish list.
Forgot to put my name on my original post re Boycott Syndrome…
Kev is right re the civil wars. In the 70’s my dad and me were both slightly obsessive Yorks supporters. I thought Boycott walked on water but my dad wanted him banished to Lancashire…
Just goes to show how given a bit of time it all comes out in the wash.
It’s been commented on before. Boycott himself has had quite mixed reactions to KP – sometimes very scathing, sometimes (more latterly) very sympathetic, with a hint of self-recognition.
I think there were more similarities than you note. Both men had a dedication to training and practice which was both admired and somewhat resented by their teammates.
Neither man drinks, which might seem a small point, but it has the effect of setting them apart from the group. Being quite awkward characters, I doubt they needed any more separation.
Botham was a man who seemed to particularly clash with Boycott. All the stories of their clashes have Boycott as the humourless prig and Botham as the dashing hero bursting Boycott’s pompous bubble:
“”He never stood a chance,” admitted Botham. “What have you done, what have you done,” Boycott muttered as it dawned on him he was out. Botham’s response – allegedly, “I’ve run you out, you ****” – has gone down in folklore. “I couldn’t look at him,” Botham added. “I cracked up and had to go for a walk around the back of the umpire.””
But in many of them, like the run-out story, he comes across as a charmless bully. It’s not so much that he ran him out, it’s more that he takes such pleasure in repeatedly telling the story, of humiliating a great player and former England captain then, and humiliating him again every time he repeats the story.
I’ve observed Botham at close quarters a couple of times, such as once in the Lord’s media centre at the end of a day’s play. When Botham goes to dinner, everyone has to have dinner. When Botham wants to have fun, everyone has to have fun with him. When someone doesn’t have the same idea of fun, they find themselves on the end of Botham’s ‘banter’. Famously his response when someone disagrees with him is “Well how many Test wickets have you got?”. And he’s a man who likes to have a gang, playing to the crowd. He doesn’t seem to like spending time on his own, and he doesn’t understand people who do.
You can see how a single-minded, socially awkward character – with an almost autistic lack of appreciation for the self-deprecation and humour – could find himself on the outside in the forced bonhomie of touring sports teams. He set himself up to be mocked and we laughed along with the mockers.
What perhaps most annoyed his teammates – much like Pietersen – is his habit of being right and, for all his arrogance about his ability, being able to back it up with performances. His stats really don’t lie; in an era when averaging 40 was considered a great achievement, Boycott finished with an average of 48, more than 8000 runs, 22 Test tons and more than 100 FC centuries.
As undoubtedly hard as Boycott could be to get along with for some, especially on tour, I imagine Botham could be just as hard for others, if not a lot worse, it’s just that his character serves the narrative better. The press had him as a hero, Boycott as a sourpuss figure of fun.
I can see parallels with the more recent team. For everyone who found Matt’s Prior’s sergeant-major control of the team ‘strong’ and the epitome of the ‘team ethic’, others found it overbearing, oppressive, and bullying. For everyone who found Swann’s jokes about his teammates amusing and ‘just banter’, there’s someone else who found them mocking, boorish, and abusive. I suspect the fabled ‘team ethic’ was really just whatever those two along with Broad and Anderson decided it was and ‘team harmony’ was largely about whether they liked you. So Pietersen, more senior than any of them – former captain, more Tests over a longer time and more success than any of them – found himself permanently on the outside, but fringe players like Bresnan were immediately at the heart of the team (and seemingly undroppable). Bell and, particularly, Trott always seemed to be on the outside too. The story of the ritual humiliation of Trott for a fielding error seems especially telling. I wonder how isolated he became on those long tours.
I’ve played in teams like that; where a clique of three or four players make everyone else feel like they’re back at boarding school. Talking about team ethic is really just a call to authority. Disagreeing with them is now disagreeing with the team. Players they don’t like are a ‘disruptive influence’.
I’m sure KP was often an extraordinarily aggravating person, but I also remember how the open mockery and humiliation of the man, often by his teammates, was cheered on by the crowd with the full support of the press. Which, along with Etheridge’s comment above, reminded me of a quote from another biography of Boycott – Don Mosey’s:
“by the time the side reached Christchurch [where Botham ran him out] the players were making no secret of their dislike of him… and the cricket correspondents largely despised him”.
The hero of the story is often decided by whoever tells it…
A brilliant comment Tristan. Well done. :-)
Excellent stuff, dude.
Listening to Botham in the commentary box always reminds me that you should never meet your heroes. I admire his charity work but he has become a pompous bore. I think a 21 year old Ian Botham would be horrified if he met the man he was to become.
I’ve never seen any video of the run out but I have always wondered did he really do it on purpose or has he simply taken credit for something that turned out to blessing in disguise.
Botham claims it was team orders (from the vice-captain, and the dressing-room as a whole), Boycott claims Botham, other than the actual run-out, made it all up and the story gets bigger every time he tells it. It’s all made more poignant by the background to it – Boycott had come back in to the side after his long exile. He had always been dismayed at being continually overlooked for the captaincy despite being arguably the best player, and now he was stand-in to the much less talented but more popular Brearley. It was an invidious position to be in; the tour wasn’t going well and he had made unpopular decisions. Worse, he was approaching 40 and was in dire form. When he went out to bat that day he was really struggling, humbled by his inability to perform, staring at a bleak future. Captaining England was his dream finally realized, and it had turned in to a nightmare. When Botham walked out to bat, Boycott apparently confessed to him how desperately he was struggling.
Maybe running him out was the right thing to do, but the glee in the story rather sticks in the throat, and the way the story is always told with Boycott as the butt of the joke, never considering his perspective – the humiliation of being continually traduced by this young kid, the insult to a great player, a whole touring party ganging up on one player.
There’s some other story about Botham stealing Boycs’ trousers and him having to hide on the bus. Oh how we all laughed. But, again, think that one through; a man approaching 40 having his trousers stolen by a 21 year old bully and having to hide from the press, and then everyone finding it hilarious.
Botham, of course, found himself on the other side of the press a couple of years later, and proved to be a bit less stoic than Boycott when it came to humiliation.
To a great extent I’m playing devil’s advocate, but I think it can help us see the present more clearly when we look back at the past and see the obvious narrative we were fed.
A fascinating piece of writing. Was captivated throughout. Very close to the truth I imagine.
I’ve often wondered the same. His book shows double standards to some extent, and I’m absolutely convinced that if KP met KP they’d hate each other. However, pro sport is full of egos, and the argument that Pietersen was impossible to manage and too disruptive to work with is disproved by one rather telling stat: he played for England over 100 times. They managed ok for 8/9 years (except the odd spat with the ECB, which is a separate issue to the dressing room) … and there lies the truth in my opinion. The ECB decided they were going to keep Flower and Cook after the Ashes, so they needed to throw the public some meat. The decision to blame KP, the bloke who’d been a pain in the bum to them for years, killed two birds with one stone … or so they thought. It backfired terribly.
I am hoping that for the next few weeks KP will just shut up a bit and get behind the team.
Morgan doesn’t seem exactly thrilled by his interventions…..
Why would he be? He’s got a World Cup to prepare for – the most important event of his career – and the last thing he needs is to be dragged back into the Pietersen circus. He’s got every right to be short with the journos – and even shorter with his so-called mate whose big trap caused all the trouble.
I completely agree
Those were my thoughts exactly. Didn’t go down too well. :-)
Oh dear! My heart bleeds for poor little Eoin. He would do better to practise his responses to the KP questions that are bound to come his way if England struggle at all in the next few weeks. Obviously no one in the UK media will ask but do you seriously think the Aussies will fail to pick the scab?
Great point. And this summer there were be an awful lot of opportunities for Australian journalists to ask annoying (but valid) questions.
If your boss fired you, would you still hope the company did well?
He was interviewed during a tournament he’s playing in. It’s how he makes a living since he was sacked. Or should he be obliged to hide away in a cupboard in case it offends the delicate flowers who sacked him?
The only reason it’s any kind of issue is because of his ability relative to the England top-order’s. If just about any other player – even Cook – said they wanted to be in the England ODI side it either wouldn’t attract any interest or would be very easily dismissed with ‘he’s not good enough/he’s not among the best limited overs batsmen in the country’ (as they said of Cook).
When asked about Pietersen they find it much harder to answer the question. If that causes them problems, it’s really not Pietersen’s fault, it’s a cause for a bit of reflection from those who excluded him. They might be able to persuade the English press to keep i line, but do you really think the Australians will be so accommodating?
Maybe, like Banquo’s ghost, I’ve come late to the feast, but that bit about Giles Clarke – I didn’t think it was April 1st yet – or have hitched a lift in the Dr’s TARDIS? – sadly, i fear all you guys telling me that’it’s for real – Scotty, beam me up please!
Nice triple header Andrew.
Oh and it’s not a dream.
Sorry but I can’t go with that. Obviously those selected to play for England have to co-operate with the ECB to a point. Do what is required of them, probably in the terms of their contract, but I don’t see them as ECB lackeys. In the main this is a team of young talented cricketers, selected to play for their country, trying to succeed and forge a career for themselves. Why undermine them or wish them to be losers because you have no truck with the buffoons who run the show?
Thanks for all your excellent comments about the Boycott-Pietersen parallels. Sorry not to respond individually – I was on holiday last week and now trying to catch up with hundreds of comments.
But I’ll try to return to the subject in a dedicated post when I get a chance.