Around the houses


It’s been a funny old day, as Arkwright would observe at the end of Open All Hours. Here are the main talking points – many of which you’ve already been discussing elsewhere on this site.

In the Daily Mirror, Dean Wilson reports that Alastair Cook issued an ultimatum over the return of Kevin Pietersen.

Alastair Cook was ready to walk away from international cricket if Kevin Pietersen had been offered a way back to the England fold.

behind the scenes Cook represented the feelings of several players when he made it plain he was ready to give up his England shirt if Pietersen was brought back.

Cook has constantly referred the decision regarding Pietersen to the top brass above him, but after an apparent softening towards the Surrey batsman in recent weeks, he delivered the ‘us or him’ ultimatum, and left Strauss and Harrison with a clear choice to make.

Cook was savaged in Pietersen’s autobiography.

The pair fell out irreparably in Australia as the Ashes were lost 5-0 and Cook stood squarely behind the initial decision by Paul Downton to send Pietersen into exile.

What credence should we attach to this? Dean Wilson won’t simply have made it up, so the possibilities are that:

– Cook said this to Wilson himself (unlikely).

– It’s true, and an ECB figure was authorised to convey this to Wilson (very likely).

– It’s not true but someone from the ECB reported it to Wilson anyway, either to make trouble or to explain Strauss’s decision (quite possible).

Let’s assume it was the second scenario – Cook threw a tantrum and the ECB gave way. This was the very explanation we put forward on Tuesday for Colin Graves’s volte-face.

There is an argument that as captain Cook is entitled to veto a player he cannot work with – but only for a very good reason. And that reason must be disclosed in the public domain. Because it hasn’t, so we are entitled to draw our own conclusions. Cook has a petty and vindictive dislike of Pietersen, probably because he felt threatened by him, was unable to feel authoritative in his presence, and suspected him of designs on the captaincy.

The ECB’s ‘dodgy dossier’, remember, revealed that Cook ran to Andy Flower to blab about Pietersen’s impudence at the Melbourne team meeting.

Cook is a spoiled brat with a sense of entitlement who expects the world to revolve around his every whim. A commentator criticises him? Giles Clarke picks up the phone to stop it. Jonathan Agnew fraternises with Pietersen? Cook stamps his feet. Cook’s finally relieved of his ODI captaincy after a year of misery? He tells interviewers how hard done by he feels.

Pietersen may have the same qualities of petulance and self-absorption, but he’s punished for them, while Cook is indulged.

If Alastair Cook has a genuinely insoluble problem with Pietersen, he needs to man up and explain it to England supporters, in person – not hide behind Andrew Strauss and some codswallop about “trust”. If Wilson’s report is correct, Strauss was lying about the true reason for Pietersen’s exclusion.

Wilson’s story also strongly suggests the ‘new’ ECB are as cowardly and snide as their predecessors. On Tuesday they had every opportunity to say what they wanted to say, explicitly, to everyone. Instead they did what they always do – serve up meaningless waffle in public, and then plant the ‘true’ information in the press, but behind a shroud of innuendo and anonymity. It’s as if the hacks are deemed entitled to know the facts, but we are not.

When Pietersen supposedly issued a ‘him or me’ ultimatum over Peter Moores in December 2008, he was first demonised as a selfish trouble-maker, and then sacked for his insolence. If Wilson’s sources are accurate, Cook has done exactly the same thing – and been given what he wants.

Was Cook really “savaged” in Pietersen’s book? The former was referred to as Ned Flanders and painted as a chicken for his shoe-gazing conduct at the sacking meeting. Does that count as savagery?

Wilson also asserts that:

Andrew Strauss has prevented a full-scale revolt at the ECB following his decision to leave the controversial batsman in the international wilderness. From Cook at the top to everyday ECB employees below, the strength of feeling against Pietersen at cricket HQ was enough to convince Strauss and chief executive Tom Harrison that a return was impossible, regardless of how many runs he scored.

But it is the revelation that other members of administrative staff – those who work in the offices – also felt that way which will shed more light on the decision.

A source close to the ECB said: “There are people who would absolutely have walked away rather than deal with Kevin again. He has made life incredibly difficult for a large number of people over the years and the idea that he might be back horrified them.”

Should this be true, the real priorities of the ECB are brutally laid bare. Teams are picked according to the fancies and prejudices of administrators, not on merit. All that matters is the contentment of managers – the officials specifically employed and remunerated for their skill in dealing with talent. The bosses are supposed to look after the players, not the other way around.

This dynamic underpins the reality of the campaign against Pietersen. While the ECB and their allies propagate the myth he causes division and corrosion within dressing rooms, little evidence for this exists – as illustrated by the testimony of Michael Vaughan, Chris Tremlett, Monty Panesar, and many others, including Andrew Flintoff, who this week stated that Pietersen was not “not even in the top ten” of the most difficult players he’s encountered.

What the ECB really mean is the conflict between Pietersen and the organisation itself. This is what they loathe about him – his refusal to know his place, or to respect their authority, and his insistence on answering back.

Even Ian Bell said today, on the record:

He does make any team stronger. I don’t know what’s been said between Colin Graves and Tom Harrison and Andrew Strauss and Kevin. I played ten years with Kevin, and we both went through highs and lows and won a lot of cricket together. I enjoyed my time with him.

Obviously there were certain things going on. I didn’t see it. I don’t think the players saw it in the dressing room. Whether there were other things going on behind closed doors, I don’t know. To be completely honest, in the West Indies and throughout the winter there’s been no conversation in the dressing room about any of this stuff. The only time people see it is when they read about it.

We can only feel sympathy for Bell, another victim of the ECB’s evasive cowardice. By refusing to provide straight answers, they force innocent members of the squad to face the music and answer impossible questions.

Bell spoke with dignity of losing of the vice-captaincy:

I was disappointed, because I’ve enjoyed the two series that I’ve done. We’ve also got to start looking forward as well, and Joe Root is an England captain of the future, there’s no doubt about that. I understand the decision.

Although the selectors have usually been loyal to Bell during lean times – although far so slavishly as to Cook – he has been cruelly undervalued. While the promotion of Joe Root makes cricketing sense, it reflects the pervading attitude towards Bell – of a chattel to be rinsed of his runs, then disparaged and overlooked. When, last year, he was finally discussed in public as a potential captain, out came the famous ‘team-building’ slur, transmitted via a co-operative Daily Mail journalist.

If other rumours prove correct, Strauss-gate has led to the inevitable, and decimated the field of candidates prepared to consider the England head coach position vacated by Peter Moores. Both the Guardian and Telegraph report that Jason Gillespie is dismayed by the prospect of a circumscribed role, constrained in team-selection and strategy by fetid politics and the interference of busybody managers.

Should Gillespie reject the job for these reasons, what an indictment this will be on the ECB’s ruinously masochistic fixation with ego and control over pragmatism. No coach good enough for the job, by definition, will demean themselves as an ECB patsy and lapdog.

For his pig-headed bigotry, Strauss could yet pay the unconscionably heavy price of losing, in Gillespie, the best coach England may never have.

All this strife has overshadowed the news that at least one player, and maybe two, will make their test debuts next week against New Zealand. Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth will open the batting. Durham’s Mark Wood may receive the third pace bowler slot. As cricketers, good luck to them both. Unsurprisingly, Adil Rashid  – the uncapped twelfth man during the West Indies tour – is dropped. To steal a Vic Marks quip, he must make bloody awful tea.

Finally, a word about our comments board. Comments are the heart and soul of The Full Toss. The posts we write ‘above the line’ are only a starting point for the analysis, insight and knowledge you provide below. Many of you pour huge amounts of energy and expertise into your contributions, for which we are always very grateful.

But these have been a very testy couple of days. Emotions are understandably running high, but I can’t help but feel a line has been crossed. James and I want this site to be a welcoming place, where everyone feels comfortable taking part. The idea is to harmlessly let off steam: to debate English cricket and the people who run it – not to discuss each other. No one should be criticised merely for holding a view, however much it goes against the grain.

This is a delicate subject to address without appearing to finger a particular individual or take sides, which I most certainly do not want to do. Let me put it another way. We are determined never to moderate, censor or pre-approve comments, because that way hell lies. On a purely practical basis we don’t even have the time. But there is an obvious quid pro quo.

The ECB’s poisonous conduct has debased and degraded English cricket, but I suggest we try to rise above their level and be the better man. The soul of our game needs all the friends it can get. And speaking of friends, it’s been far too long since we recommended you to the work of our brothers-in-arms at Being Outside Cricket. This piece by The Leg Glance is a must-read.


  • English Cricket is split in two. You have the pro ECB’ers who follow Cook and the ‘move on’ mantra, and then you have the other side who are now so angry with the ECB, Cook and co that they want justice and to see people fired.

    It will be interesting to see viewing figures, participation figures in saturday league cricket this year.. I suspect all will be down adn that will be mainly the fault of the ECB, Cook, Graves and Strauss.


    • Personally, I suppose I would rather feel anger than apathy. By being such a bunch of scumbags, the ECB have ensured that I will be following the tests this summer (although have cancelled Sky/won’t be buying tickets) and hoping for 0-7. Really can’t believe it!

    • Do have a look at Nick Hoult’s piece in DT. He says Cook did issue an ultimatum – on behalf of himself and others? It’s blackmail pure a simple. Boycott has tweeted that if these is so then Cook should be sacked.

      Hoult also reports that members of the board are seething at the KP fiasco. They are livid that such a decision was made by Graves & Clarke when it should have been the whole board. It seems that the Board feels this is an “own goal” and will further alienate the fans. Doesn’t bode well.

      Finally, this made me laugh out loud – and let’s face it there is not much to laugh at – a tweet from fan to Boycott.

      BilyUsInAdEq @BilyUsInAdEq

      Dear @GeoffreyBoycott can you lend us real cricket fans some rhubarb to stuff up the @ECB_cricket management and captains arses? – Thanks ;)

      Geoffrey Boycott retweeted BilyUsInAdEq

      I’d willingly give you a bucket load!

      Boycott is really fired up. He’s really telling it like it is. The usual suspects won’t like it. Luv that man.

  • “So Alistair – I allow for the possibility that KP might get picked this summer if it all goes tits up, and you say you’ll resign the captaincy and flounce off back to Essex?”
    “That’s right Straussy. He made Alice cry, you know. And he told Andy I was a rubbish captain in the Winter”
    “You do realise that if you do that, people will just think you’re a shallow, spineless cipher who couldn’t captain an under twelves tennis team, let alone manage a bunch of elite sportsmen to realise their potential on a cricket field?”
    “Him or me Straussy. Him or me”

    The next part of the exchange we know. And if Andrew Strauss was half of the manager or person we keep being told he is, he would have said “Go on then Al. I’m calling your bluff.”

    For the record – he didn’t.

    • Interesting article Simon. I wasn’t sure Cook’s stock could sink much lower but he’s certainly proved me wrong. Any doubts over being mollycoddled have been laid to bare.
      The hypocrisy of Strauss aledgedly lying about the consultation with Cook, if proven to be correct, should mean him being relieved off his duties, particularly in light of the stance taken on TRUST being so important.

      • As Boycott retweeted:

        ‘Excellent Article: KP ensures Strauss endures the shortest honeymoon period in history”

        Maybe the shortest tenure as well. It could be good that such things are exposed as it shows just how corrupt and hypocritical these people are.

        And this
        @GeoffreyBoycott sir do u think @KP24 will get a chance to play for England in future? Or his England carrier is over?

        Not a cat in hell’s chance with Strauss in charge. Wrote that a week ago, Andrew getting his own back.


  • “Cook is a spoiled brat with a sense of entitlement who expects the world to revolve around his every whim.”


    Cook’s refusal to play with KP demonstrates that Cook is not fit to be captain (surprise). Downton already acknowledged he’s too weak to deal with Pietersen — the blame for this of course being instantly shifted to KP, and this just re-confirms it. He’s useless on the field, weak off it, and has now cost the team its best player.

    And what’s point of all those backroom staff if they threaten to walk off the job as soon as they’re asked to deal with Cook’s pathetic sensitivities.

    This has also weakened Cook’s already piss weak status within the team. How is he going to tell his batters to front up to the Mitchells if he’s too weak to even deal with the mere presence of Pietersen?

  • Maxie, superbly written and sadly summaries the farcical situation spot on. I would add that I can genuinely see a summer where the England captain is booed and jeered. There were splatterings of it at selected times last summer but I feel this resentment towards him has shifted up recently. This really would reflect how far the divide has grown.
    Whilst Dizzy is the right guy I would be amazed now if he took the job. Yorks have structured his work load and commitments so he can take up the Strikers role. The coaching job is a hospital pass and I would find it embarrassing and disrespectful to have to watch a guy as good as Dizzy report into Strauss. I fear the role is reputation destroying and the moment things go wrong I would expect Strauss and Cook to put on their Teflon coats.
    Good luck to Lythy but he is going into this test with very little prep and form. Whilst he may be short on match practice, I’m sure he now makes a mean rum cocktail! Sympathy for Rash who has been messed about and sums up England appear to have given up on developing a front line spinner.
    Finally well said re the content and tone of the board here. There are some on here I disagree with but often enjoy exchanging over different viewpoints.

    • “Good luck to Lythy but he is going into this test with very little prep”.

      One f/c match in three months?

  • Confounded auto correct. Trying again. Really meant to say I detect an eerie parallel with the mess stifling Formula One.

  • If the ECB have a decision to make you can guarantee they will get it wrong. Alastair Cook’s name is now mud with a lot of cricket fans. I wonder if that will translate into ill feeling at the grounds. The more information that comes out, the more Cook looks like a petulant, spoiled man child. The Aussies must be splitting their sides laughing at all this going on with two months until the first test.

  • There would be situations where acting badly towards backroom staff would become so unacceptable as to justify dismissal, even for a star performer (see Clarkson, J). However, stakeholders in whatever enterprise you were looking at would then be entitled to be fully informed as to exactly what has happened to justify such action. I guess being outside cricket none of you (I’m Australian so am automatically disqualified) count as stakeholders.

    • That is the most sensible comment that I have seen on here for months.

      A source close to the ECB said: “There are people who would absolutely have walked away rather than deal with Kevin again. He has made life incredibly difficult for a large number of people over the years and the idea that he might be back horrified them.”

      There is a serious question here. Are fans and the rest of the general public entitled to know every jot and tittle of what has gone on over the years within the governing body of England Cricket, or not?

      In my view this is the question that is causing so much heat rather than light,

      Although I am not an ECB employee, and have had my issues with them over the years, I have had to deal with them from time to time. I therefore come into contact with some players and members of staff. I couldn’t care less if I have to tell them which end is up, and I have done so on more than one occasion.

      The statement above highlights a very difficult situation at the ECB.

      1. This is not a Cook/Pietersen issue although it is contributory.
      2. This is not a Strauss/Pietersen issue although that too is contributory.
      3. The incoming chairman very quickly found out how serious the situation is.
      4. The structure of the ECB includes the Chairmen of each and every county cricket club. These very successful business people are not idiots.
      5. The ECB retains a team of top lawyers who have advised them about what they can and cannot say about the Pietersen issue.

      If you do not agree with the above then don’t just complain or get personal with me. Deal with the issues and say what you would do, step by step, if you were the Chairman of the ECB.

      • If I was ECB chairman:

        1) Sack Cook as captain for issuing ultimatums. He would still be available for selection as a player – if he chooses to walk away that’s up to him. Stop the involvement of the captain in selection (like Lehmann did with Clarke).
        2) Appoint a stopgap captain (Bell or Anderson) until Root has more experience. Make Root ODI/T20 captain now.
        3) Declare Pietersen available for selection but also warn that there is no automatic place for him and there may not be an immediate middle order vacancy.
        4) Reform the selectors – county coaches should not be selectors. Sack Whitaker for serial incompetence. I can’t suggest an immediate replacement but this is what they are paying head-hunters for.
        5) Alec Stewart would have been director of cricket (no ‘director, cricket’ nonsense). That’s from the known candidates – I would expect a genuine head-hunting exercise to have unearthed rather more. Look for new head-hunters if not.
        6) Say thank you and goodbye to Andy Flower.
        7) Say thank you and goodbye to these support staff who can’t work with Pietersen (if they exist).
        8) Say goodbye to Giles Clarke.
        9) Look for a new coach confident that there were be more applicants for the job with these other measures in place. Split the Test and ODI coaching roles to entice Gillespie.

      • Peter, the ECB leaks like a sieve. We don’t have to guess the nature of the charge-sheet against Pietersen – we have seen the dossier, and it’s ridiculous. I don’t believe that there is information helpful to the ECB’s case that isn’t already in the public domain, and I struggle to understand on what grounds you do believe that.

        Think about it – who could he have made life “incredibly difficult” for apart from the players and coaching staff? Has he demanded a Health and Safety audit at Loughborough? Gone through the workings of the HR department with a fine tooth comb? Insisted on a root and branch reform of the post room? The England team are on tour for most of the year, what was he doing, making nuisance phone calls to the ECB kitchens from his hotel bedroom? There are three people currently employed by the ECB whose life he has made difficult, Cook, Strauss and Flower. One of whom was only re-employed this week.

      • 5. How do you explain Paul Downton’s understanding of the terms confidentiality and agreement then?

      • Given the number of England players who have stepped up recently to say that they have no problem with Pietersen, and he’s a great player, etc, I think we’re entitled to know who these mythical ‘walk away’ characters are.

        Their number looks to be increasingly limited, and cast a great deal of doubt over the ECB’s public pronouncements, which could generously be described as contradictory.

        No, we don’t want ‘every jot and tittle’. We would appreciate something other than the cloud of obfuscation and innuendo.

        When the new Director of Cricket has called publicly (and whether or not is was inadvertent is irrelevant) the man he’s gone on to bar from selection a “cunt”, I think we are entirely in ordering questioning the disinterested nature of his decision, most particularly as his justification for it was couched in the vaguest and untestable generalities.

        To think otherwise, and with the greatest of respect to your beliefs, is credulous in the extreme.

  • I posted a comment t’other day that I see the Kiwis and Aussies batting and bowling for us..the bog standard English cricket lover, in order to reclaim our game back. I will be cheering them on vociferously as every wicket and every dot ball will strike into the heart, if there is one, of our dreadful administrators and their ilk!
    I never thought, two years ago, that I could ever in my wildest imaginings ever utter those words, but, by God ECB you’ve done it for me!!

    • Mickey Arthur had a good record with Australia until that tour of India and is well regarded by some good judges. When he was SA coach he would have been used to negotiating some tricky board politics.

      The image of ‘homeworkgate’, however misunderstood it is and it is, is so deeply entrenched good luck to the ECB trying to sell his appointment should they choose him.

  • Five seamers and no Rashid in the squad.

    Can anyone tell me what the point was in dragging him out to the West Indies – other than to prevent his playing for Yorkshire ?
    One almost gets the impression the selectors are deliberately trying to destroy his confidence.

  • Beautifully written as always, Maxie. I wholeheartedly endorse your closing words. I’ve always thought it pretty cool that we – cricket lovers all, whatever our opinion – can usually debate/argue without crossing the line. Keep up the wonderful work both of you.

    So – while you know I’m normally totally with you on KP – I’m going to argue the (full) toss just for the hell of it.

    Your starting point is this: “Wilson won’t simply have made it up.”

    Why not?

    I don’t know Dean Wilson. I’ve never heard of him as a cricket writer. Never considered the Mirror as a source of cricket info. He doesn’t refer in his article to sources, either inside or outside the team. In fact the whole piece kind of smells of, well, guesswork.

    You guys have been great at highlighting the hypocrisy of professional cricket writers (Agnew, Selvey, Pringle) and their reliance on ‘sources’. Might it not also be reasonable to take Wilson’s article as somewhat, erm, untrustworthy?

    • Sorry – forgot to add this from the Wilson article: “KP went out with all guns blazing after flying into a four-letter text rage at England and Wales Cricket Board’s new chief executive Tom Harrison and his former Test captain Andrew Strauss.”

      Really? That doesn’t sound consistent with how KP has handled the whole thing over the past 18 months. And I would have thought Harrison would have been pretty quick to highlight this if it were true.

      • “I would have thought Harrison would have been pretty quick to highlight this if it were true”.

        Looks like he just did – how else did it get into a newspaper?

      • Thanks Gonth/Paul.

        As I said in my second post, Wilson’s talk of a “four-letter text rage” just doesn’t sound right.

        And from Hoult’s article:

        “What has been going on behind closed doors is that it was Alastair Cook who barred Pietersen’s return by threatening to resign as England captain. Cook is understood to have told the ECB his position in the West Indies at which point the board’s stance on Pietersen shifted. They then began speaking to candidates for the director of cricket job who were told, if not in direct language, that they would have to somehow manage the Pietersen issue because Cook will not have him in the team.”

        Again, really? Even allowing for the ECB’s total fuckwittery that would be unheard of. It would mean the ECB allowed the England captain to dictate not only who should/should not be in the England cricket team but also who should/should not be the director of cricket. In the 30odd years I’ve been following English cricket, that would be a first. No, that would be extraordinary. Especially with that captain coming off a 1-1 draw with a “mediocre” Windies and 0-5 in the last Ashes.

        To be clear, I’m a KP fan. I believe he’s been royally screwed. I believe the ECB wanted Strauss as director from the start (the right family, see?). I believe Strauss decided to back Cook over KP, largely for personal reasons. I believe that’s insane, hypocritical and an abuse of most English cricket fans. Worse, I believe it’s an abuse of any cricket player or cricket fan who wants to see the best players play cricket for their country.

        But I look at both the Wilson and Hoult articles and question them. Are they true? Or are they simply journos looking to fill the vacuum at KP Day+2?

        I guess I wanted to put across a contrary viewpoint: TFT rightly holds journos/the ECB to account by questioning what they say and the evidence they offer to support it. It’s reasonable to hold TFT to the same standards.

    • Hi Beggers,

      Thanks for your very kind words.

      On the Wilson-veracity front, I copied him in when I Tweeted the link for the post, so it’s there for him to read and respond.

      I don’t think I’ve taken what he said as gospel – I invited people to consider its credence and used phrases such as “let’s assume” and “should this be true”.

      I don’t think I’ve ever suggested that any journalist has invented a story, whatever their stripe. That would be a huge call. Paul Newman has few admirers in these parts but I’ve often remarked on the accuracy of his sources.

      The real question, I suggest, is who gave Wilson the Cook line, and why.

      Does it reflect what really happened? Or is someone at the ECB using it as an excuse?

      The organisation has been so dreadfully slated that they must have felt the need to get a story out to try to justify excluding Pietersen. Typically they seem to have done this by nudge-nudge-wink-wink rather than saying it to our faces.

      The ECB may be so deluded as to think we all still adore Cook, and by saying ‘Cook wanted it’, we’ll all go “ah, OK, fair enough”.

      In reality, as ever, they’ve just made it worse.

  • Why did they think it would go better this time around? Why did no-one tell Strauss that Pietersen’s innings changed things, and he had to rethink? Why did they decide to back Cook? Guilt, that others had put him in a situation he was incapable of dealing with, in order to protect their own necks?

    There’s an account today of the Labour election campaign, which includes one of their media team watching Ed unveiling his stone on live TV, without any prior warning as to what’s been planned; throughout the broadcast he just sits in the office and screams and screams. There must be someone at Lords with the self-awareness to be doing the same thing. Harrison, Graves and Strauss have just arrived, and they’re already doomed. Hopefully.

  • Cook started the whole sorry thing off by setting KP up as the fall guy for the Ashes whitewash. He organised that infamous team meeting following which he reported what KP said to Andy Flower. Cook had obvious reasons for targeting KP: KP would have beaten Cook to the most runs scored by an English batsman and would have made scores such that Cook would never have overtaken him. Also KP spent time with younger team members sharing his considerable cricketing experiencing and sense. Cook is just jealous of Kevin’s talent. I have never seen Cook play (even before his appalling loss of form) with the fluency and intelligence that Kevin displayed at the Oval on Monday.

    • And yet it was Alistair Cook who was the main instigator behind Pietersen’s return to the Test team in 2012. Not quite the response of a man who was jealous of his talent.

      • That was probably because he knew he was Captain and that he needed KP for Test. He is certainly slyer than I gave him credit for.

      • There have been contradictory accounts of who instigated Pietersen’s return in 2012. Some have asserted that it was Flower, who in spite of his personal dislike for Pietersen realised the team needed Pietersen’s batting in order to succeed. Although Cook has been given credit for it, in the context of the many ‘inner steel’ type attempts to portray Cook in a good light you have to wonder if it actually was him.

        • The issue of Jonathan A reporting that it was Flower’s call to bring back Pietersen has caused this blog some friction in the past.

          In the days following the Pietersen book, Agnew put this to Graeme Swann at a Q and A session, if I remember correctly. Swann replied by saying it was “only because he had to”.

          It’s also been suggested that Giles Clarke made the call.

          More plausibly, as has also been suggested, the ECB had no choice under contractual and employment law, as they didn’t have enough evidence on Pietersen to do much else. His book revealed that the ECB demanded he hand over his phone for forensic data analysis. Rightly he refused.

          I find the idea that whoever reinstated Pietersen should be feted as a hero of magnanimous compassion completely ludicrous. He only sent a few private text messages, for goodness sake.

          At the risk of raking over very old coals, do you think Pietersen is the first international sportsperson ever to privately let off stream about a troublesome team-mate with a friend who happens to play for another team?

  • If cook thinks it’s been a tough year, he ain’t seen nothing yet. The next few months are going to be hell. All his own doing. He blames us, KP, graves, anyone who has spoken against him. He allowed his “friend” strauss to lie for him on live TV to cover for him. He is a pathetic little weasel who should resign immediately. I would advise KP not to be sucked into mediation meeting with cook, he doesn’t have to, he is not to blame. That lies entirely with cook. He should be the one to grovel.

    Not only has he cost us matches, but other players careers have been damaged because cook doesn’t like them. He has caused enormous embarrassment to strauss, Graves, and may have cost the team the chance of having a great coach in Gillespie. How much more damage does he have to do before they will deal with him and say enough is enough. Come on ECB make the right decision for once.

  • Zaltzman is in good form:

    “Firstly, it is hard to envisage how the ECB could have handled the Pietersen re-sacking more incompetently, other than by imagining them handling the original Pietersen sacking and turning the volume up slightly. Perhaps they could have drawn the saga out a little longer, picked Pietersen for the first Test, and then, just as he walked onto the Lord’s outfield to resume his engrossing, undulating international career, released a trapdoor in the outfield to send the opinion-splitting batsman plummeting into a secret tiger pit deep underneath St John’s Wood. Although even that would at least have had clarity and finality. As it is, he has had career doors firmly slammed and very slightly opened in his face this week. “

  • Firstly, thanks for the link at the end!

    You’ve raised a whole series of interesting questions there. I do think it likely that Strauss wasn’t lying in what he said, except by omission. I’m sure he feels exactly what he said, that there is a trust issue between him and Pietersen – but what he did was not mention the Cook angle at all. I don’t blame him either, that would have caused the kind of uproar we see tonight. Quite why he thought an organisation as leaky as the ECB would never let the cat out of the bag is somewhat naive.

    It’s a really good point about the him or me ultimatum. If true, it is indeed identical to the one attributed to Pietersen in 2009, and the double standards are there for all to see. What I find intriguing is that by specifically appointing Root to the vice captaincy, they’ve provided a ready made alternative for the first time. TINA no longer applies, meaning Cook is actually weakened somewhat irrespective of the Pietersen issue. And that makes, again, if true, the whole strategy – if we can call it that – peculiar.

    The other thing about the Staff, Admin issue is that someone at the ECB plainly thought talking to the press about this would help bolster the decision to exclude Pietersen. If you ever want an illustration of how insular they are. That really is it.

    • “I do think it likely that Strauss wasn’t lying in what he said, except by omission”.

      Either the reason is trust, or it’s Cook, or both. If it’s either of the second two, then Strauss was knowingly saying something false.

    • Pietersen’s ‘ultimatum’ seems to have been nothing more than a desire, a suggestion. He was asked his opinion of how to improve the team’s fortunes and one of his suggestions was getting a better coach (which seems to have been a pretty popular sentiment within the team, Strauss included). There’s absolutely no evidence he threatened or even intimated he might resign if he didn’t get his way. He was asked an opinion and he gave it.

      Cook’s accused of something quite different, an actual him or me/us ultimatum. For what it’s worth, I think he was just as unlikely to quit as Pietersen..

  • Is it possible to copywrite the phrase “Cook Fails Again” because I think we may hear it alot in the coming months and I’d like to make some money out of it.

  • MAXIE…….Whilst I believe we all respect your opinions and journalistic qualities might it be a little better if you compounded your articles to a readable size? This one took me two and a half days!!

  • KP fell out with SA cricket, then Notts, then Hants, then England (twice), and both the ECB under Downton & now under Strauss have decided that they don’t want him as part of their team.

    So clearly they’re all wrong, and KP is in the right? Look for the common denominator…it’s pretty clearly KP.

    I suspect legal advice (or legal fears) limit what those in & around the team are prepared t say about him i public at the moment, but who knows what may come out in the future.

    Will this squabble reduce the number of people playing league cricket, as someone writes? Really? Can’t see it myself…Just hot air!

    • Legal advice is Mike Selvey’s argument, and it feels like a lame cop-out. If the ECB disclosed reasons which are true, what is the legal problem? More likely, surely, the real reasons – Cook is too weak to live in the shadow of Pietersen, personal grudges – are too embarassing for them to state in public.

      Pietersen did not fall out with SA cricket – rather, he chose to try his luck elsewhere where his chances seemed better, and received an irresistible invitation from Clive Rice. He did not fall out with Hampshire. With England, there is no evidence he fell out with the team, but with the people who ran it. But that’s not really the point. The point is proper disclosure and explanation. If they’ve got a good reason, then say what it is.

      • The question of what happened at Notts is rather more nuanced than our bird-handler has acknowledged. Pietersen was fiercely loyal to Clive Rice as Notts’ coach – as Simon Wilde says in his excellent book (just short-listed for sports’ book of the year) Pietersen tends to be too loyal to people he believes in, not the serial disloyalist of MSM imagining.

        Pietersen did not have an easy relationship with new coach Mike Newell (who I think, but I might be misremembering this, left Pietersen out of some early games – supposedly on merit). There was the kit throwing incident at the end of the season. Jason Gallian has always refused to discuss that in any detail. Pietersen played on at Notts for another season and topped the batting averages. Gallian was removed as captain. Pietersen wasn’t and isn’t faultless but who sounds the main offender there? In the workplace if someone vandalizes another’s property is that okay? There are also quite a few players on the circuit who have played for a number of counties (Trego, Carberry, Will Smith, Panesar, Lumb) and it doesn’t seem to be held against them in the same way.

        Pietersen gets on well with Surrey, got on well with Hampshire, got on well with England in the Fletcher/Vaughan/Flintoff era and has got on well with his franchises. There is a common element in Pietersen’s troubles and it is England under Giles Clarke and Andy Flower.

    • If falling out with teams brings you 8181 test runs at an average of 47 with 23 hundreds, then falling out with teams should be encouraged.

      Better to have a c**t who can bat than a mate who can’t.

    • Of course it’s part of the problem. This issue makes cricket unappealing to anyone new to the game and there are many current participants who are seconds from quitting. Things like this could very easily turn hem against the ECB, so cancel sky subscriptions and not take kids to local county games.. Boom, your audience is affected and future audience.. So continues the downward spiral .

      It’s not the only reason of course but if it pits 500 people off, that’s 500 more out of the game from a very much shrinking public already. Only the ECB lovers would argue against the need to it lose a single fan

    • “KP fell out with SA cricket, then Notts, then Hants, then England (twice), and both the ECB under Downton & now under Strauss have decided that they don’t want him as part of their team.”

      I really get fed up when people trot out this meme. It doesn’t stand up to any kind of analysis. And now, we are in the position where people with whom he is supposed to have fallen out are coming out of thed woodwork to say that he wasn’t very difficult to get along with.

  • ‘Quite why he thought an organisation as leaky as the ECB would never let the cat out of the bag is somewhat naive.’

    Or he’s not very bright. He’s always struck me as capable rather than visionary: a Sergeant Major promoted above his rank.

  • “Seems Mrs Miggins can’t abide young Mr Bradman. Threatening not to make the tea this afternoon”

    ‘Disaster. I had him penciled in at number 3’.

    • Bradman was unpopular with Keith Miller and others, but guess what? He could play so they set aside their differences for the good of the team.

  • If Lyth is brilliantly successful as Cook’s opening partner, will he be dropped to protect Cook’s image?

  • Interesting piece on HuffPo about the implications from a sponsorship perspective. Waitrose must rue the day they jumped into bed with the ECB.

    It’ll also be interesting to see what happens when the TV rights next come up for tender if viewing figures continue to decline.

    KP has many faults, but it’s amazing how he’s been proven right about many things – player burnout, the IPL, limited overs cricket strategy, and also the missed opportunity in the aftermath of the 2005 Ashes, the last time cricket was free to air.

    The ECB really is toxic, incompetent organisation. One hopes that history will judge Giles Clarke accordingly, and pin much of the blame for cricket’s relentless downward spiral in this country on him.

  • Elsewhere, I was looking through the latest ECB annual report. I’m sure you’ll be heartened by the section headed ‘Engaging With The Fans’.

    Despite our recent cynicism, the board have clearly identified the over-riding issue facing the English game: more ukulele videos.


    E CB’s social media channels are playing a vital role
    in helping the governing body achieve one of its
    main strategic goals – to encourage more people to
    follow cricket.

    More than one million new followers (1,038,524) have
    joined ECB’s social media accounts over the last twelve
    months which illustrates the enormous appetite for cricket
    in the digital sphere.

    Video is a key part of the ECB digital team’s armoury
    as it seeks to boost the game’s online following. The team
    created a host of eye-catching and engaging videos
    which were designed to bring out the personalities of the
    England players – and show the public a different side to
    familiar cricketing faces.

    Highlights included England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler
    trading tips with fellow England glove-man goalkeeper
    Joe Hart at an exclusive training/cum net session filmed
    at Manchester City’s training ground and Emirates Old
    Trafford; England fast bowler James Anderson and captain
    Alastair Cook going head-to-head in a darts exhibition
    match as a curtain-raiser prior to the World Darts
    Championship in London; and batsman Joe Root showing
    off his strumming skills on the ukulele.

    The digital team also used new and innovative
    technology such as GoPro and Google Glass to bring
    fans closer to England action than ever before. The small
    and compact GoPro camera captured dramatic pictures
    of Middlesex’s Steven Finn removing middle stump with
    a high speed delivery. While the Google Glass eye-wear
    gave fans an exclusive behind the scenes insight into an
    England training session.

    • I actually feel sorry for whoever wrote that. Must be an absolute nightmare trying to “boost the game’s online following” when the organisation you work for behaves so dispicably.

    • “The small and compact GoPro camera captured dramatic pictures
      of Middlesex’s Steven Finn removing middle stump with
      a high speed delivery.”

      Presumably much to the consternation of the bowling coaches, who immediately drew up a plan of remedial work on his action to ensure it couldn’t happen again.

    • another epic fail for the ECB.. Best sack this team also and get new employees.. they’ve failed completely


copywriter copywriting