Ashes diary: knocked over by a Gus

Let me pick up on a news-line from the Ashes aftermath which has generally gone under the radar. Forgive me if the guys at Being Outside Cricket have already sunk their teeth into it.

I’ve recently written quite extensively on the subject of vindication. There are three key threads in the narrative.

One is the backlash aimed at the public by the establishment: the sense that the great unwashed now deserve their comeuppance. We were wrong, we were wrong to question their judgement, and now we must pay the price.

The second is the notion the Ashes victory justifies everything everything which went before, absolves everyone of blame, and leaves those responsible heavily in credit.

The third is that England’s triumph is heavily attributable to the administrators, rather than the players who actually did the business on the field.

Our posts have generated a fascinating and thoughtful debate on our comments boards, and we thank you all for your contributions. Some of you make similar points. Others are sceptical. Isn’t this just paranoia, you often ask. Why can’t we all simply move on?

Here’s a striking example of why the vindication-meme is all too real. It also demonstrates exactly why we struggle to move on: the establishment themselves will not, at least until they’ve had their pound of flesh.

Speaking to Radio Five Live shortly after England won at Trent Bridge, Angus Fraser, an England selector, said:
What has been said or written about Cook, Strauss and Whitaker has been harsh and personal. There’s a bit of anger.

But there is also huge satisfaction. I’m delighted for Cook and Strauss, who took a lot of stick for the decisions he made.

Jimmy [Whitaker, as chair of selectors] is the one at the front so he gets named-checked all the time. Quite rightly you are under inspection, because you are there to do a job properly. But when people are making judgements on your character, knowledge and whether you are in touch with the game, you sit there and seethe.

Sometimes success brings more relief than joy, or satisfaction from proving people wrong.

So there you have it. The overriding emotion of the England selectors is…anger. Anger directed at the public. Anger at those who dared criticise the conduct or character of the people who run English cricket. Anger at anyone with the temerity to question their judgement and decision-making. Anger at England supporters who irreverently expressed their frustration at a year of defeat and decay. Anger towards people who should have shown greater deference.
Fraser’s remarks softly echo the notorious ‘outside cricket’ press release. In both cases, in the face of legitimate criticism, the ECB responded not with sympathy or recognition, but in scolding terms of rebuke, self-pity, and retaliation.
All along we should have been feeling sorry for those poor old selectors and administrators.
By Fraser’s logic, fans were wrong to complain when England lost to Holland and crashed out of the World T20. Supporters were speaking out of turn when they blamed the selectors for the test series defeat by Sri Lanka or the struggles against India. And when England were humiliated at the World Cup, and failed to beat either West Indies or New Zealand, it was bang out of order to pin any of this on the people in charge.
While England lurched from one disaster to another, the selectors called up Sam Robson, who wasn’t good enough; Chris Jordan, who wasn’t good enough; Gary Ballance, who wasn’t good enough for long enough; and Jonathan Trott, who was no longer good enough. They continued to pick Matt Prior when the only suitable arena for him was an operating table, not a cricket field. They lacked the nerve to try Adil Rashid in the Caribbean. Of the eleven selected for the Lord’s test against Sri Lanka last year, only five survived to take the field at Trent Bridge two weeks ago.
In 50 over cricket, the selection panel got every major decision wrong. Alastair Cook was persisted with when all cricketing common sense screamed otherwise. Alex Hales was overlooked until it was too late and then messed about with. Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara were hokey-cokeyed and mis-cast. They couldn’t decide whether James Taylor was good enough or where he should bat. The bowling “attack” was homogenous and sterile.
And after all this, says Fraser, how did we dare question whether James Whitaker, who played one test match, and Mick Newell, who played none, were in “touch with the game” or had enough “knowledge”. When despairing supporters vented their dismay, Fraser “sat there and seethed”.
What impudence it was to doubt whether Whitaker had a firm grip on events, even when his phone went off during TV interviews, he seemed unable to answer simple questions, or remember whether or not he’d spoken to Colin Graves.

It was Whitaker, during the Pietersen affair, who stamped his authority on proceedings with such reassuringly unambiguous public utterances as:

Unfortunately I’m not in a position to reiterate what reasons there have been. What I can say is that there’s a group of players there looking forward to re-energising this team, going forward with different values, re-evaluating the culture of the team. There are issues but at this stage I am not at liberty to suggest in what areas the situation has altered from the beginning of the winter.”

It is tricky to say. Only that people who are negotiating will know that but all I’m very optimistic about doing … is to reinvigorate and reignite the passion going forward to play for England and win back the country because I feel that some of that enthusiasm from cricket followers has diminished during the winter.

If the ECB and their hench-men really wish to move on, why is Fraser’s leading emotion the “satisfaction [of] proving people wrong”? Why is he delighted not for England supporters and the nation, but for himself and his colleagues – at the vindication of their decisions, and the avenging of the “stick’ Andrew Strauss received for re-sacking someone without proper explanation, the day after he scored a triple century?

English cricket’s mandarins portray themselves as the victims of the piece, because in their mind, the narrative is neither about the team, nor the cricketing public, nor the game itself, but their own selves. Cricket exists solely for their personal fulfilment and gratification.

That Angus Fraser has fallen into this self-regarding trap is a source of sorrow. I’ve always had huge affection for him – as the unsung hero of Barbados 1994, as a fine if unlucky England servant, as a Middlesex legend, and as a wise, wry, and generous, observer of the game. I usually really like Angus Fraser. But as David Banner might have said, I don’t like him when he’s angry.


  • Re James Gary Ballance Whittiker – his sole shining light of selection was GARY BALLANCE, as he likes to Gary Ballance tell us Gary Ballance in that Gary Ballance interview that Gary Ballance has gone Gary Ballance well now james, hasn’t it? You arse

  • Of course, Lyth has achieved an interesting position as a selection as a Test match opener, too; lousy technique and doesn’t score any runs. Still, the players like having him round the dressing room, like a mascot or good luck charm. Or a pet. And the selectors have endorsed that one, Gus.

    But if I were Gus I’d wait till those selected get through the UAE and SA with their dignity intact. After all, if it went wrong, who could possibly be to blame…?

  • Maxie,

    You read your conclusions in to your evidence post hoc. You leap from a quotation from Angus Fraser that ends (after a break in the quotation): “…sometimes success brings more relief than joy, or satisfaction from proving people wrong” to your conclusion that “…there you have it. The overriding emotion of the England selectors is…anger. Anger directed at the public.”

    This isn’t even a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, but rather seems like a full-blown misrepresentation. Angus Fraser seems to have been saying that in the post-victory moment of success, the selectors’ reaction was closer to relief (at having avoided the failure that would have been likely to have generated further opprobrium) than the simple joy that they might have been expected to feel at witnessing such a singular and unexpected victory.

    The “anger” that Angus Fraser refers to previously in your quotation is the anger of selectors who have been criticised harshly and personally and in such a manner that their characters and their motivations seem to have been impugned and maligned. The “anger” that he refers to is the anger of men unjustly criticised on a personal basis rather than disagreed with on a professional basis. An “anger” I would understand and sympathise with and, I suspect, an “anger” that many who have taken on a public role with a sense of duty and pride might understand if and when they have been personally castigated for professional failures that they have tried their level best to avoid. It is quite clearly NOT an anger directed at the general public as you suggest.

    Then, yet again, you descend in to a rehashing of the Pietersen affair which you conclude by decrying the grounds on which the selectors’ and the new Director of Cricket might have felt some vindication “…for re-sacking someone without proper explanation, the day after he scored a triple century…”

    This really ought to end. I think that the “anger” Angus Fraser mentions, rather than spewing out over the general cricket-loving public, instead should be focused more precisely on articles like this and their progenitors. Which I and perhaps a few others who are prepared to accept that people dedicated to a cause and trying mightily to “get it right” may often make mistakes along the way without giving rise to outlandish conspiracy theories and personal invective that seeks to undermine the resolve and objectives that such people might have brought to their difficult tasks.

    Jeese. You know what? It makes me angry.

    • I remember Gus’s comments at the time as being focused on the Ashes victory as a vindication of the administrators, and how angry himself and his colleagues were at the criticism directed at them. Maxie’s quotes above seem to me to back up my memory – to “seethe” is surely to be angry, and Gus is at the least saying that one of his main emotions was satisfaction at proving people wrong. If those people aren’t the England fans who believed the administrators were making the wrong decisions (which was nearly all of us), I don’t know who they could be. Obviously you have a different interpretation.

      I do have some sympathy for the administrators thinking that they know better than the fans – most of the time, compared to most of the fans (and I certainly include myself in this), they do. Problems arise when they make decisions that are demonstrably wrong, and refuse to justify or explain those decisions. Again, this is not a case where two groups of equal power have fallen out; the media, the ECB and the cricket administrators are on one side, and their anger and resentment is aimed at a group of previously loyal, in some cases fanatical, England fans. If the former group are insistent on re-writing history, the latter can’t be expected to just shut up and let them do it.

      And if Gus wanted to condemn the abuse that’s been hurled in every direction over the past two years, rather than to attack those who disagree with him, then his words were very ill-chosen.

    • This comment is spot on. The journalism on this blog is questionable at best and permeated with an obvious, ill conceived and often irrelevant agenda.

      • ‘The journalism on this blog’. Do you think it’s rubbish when we publish articles praising Cook and Strauss too? You obviously don’t drop in often.

        • Nick – I did have a different interpretation I have to say. It sounded to me as though AF was “angry” with the commentators and pundits who denigrated the selectors and administrators who had been trying their best to get things right rather than an all-pervasive “anger” against fans who had despaired of the development of a winning side. What struck me above all was the sense of dejection that he conveyed – which considering the proximity and scale of the victory England had just achieved sounded downright tragic to me. In this context (and if you have the time and inclination!) you might also want to listen to Dominic Cork’s interview of Angus Fraser from talksport the day before yesterday (16th August).
          Angry? No. Dejected? Certainly.

          Maybe I have misinterpreted tone and context, but I didn’t hear anger directed at the fans and the great cricket-supporting public, just despair at the pundits and commentators.

          • If Gus genuinely thinks that England’s selectors and administrators were criticised overly harshly by the media, then that’s bizarre. I’ve never seen a failing team being given so much unquestioning support by the English media, in cricket or any other sport.

        • James

          I don’t think it’s rubbish to produce articles praising Cook and Strauss, but I do think it’s depressing to still have to read about the termination of KP’s Test career as some sort of Establishment conspiracy all the time.

          I read his book (not an easily digestible read even for fans) and immediately and sadly concluded that he could not play for England again – and I had loved his batting and appreciated his presence in the side previously. Who on Earth was responsible for convincing him to pen (or have penned) such a miserable offering I do not know, but it was absurd, embarrassing and self-destructive and it precipitated his inevitable denouement. More Malvolio than Othello sadly. But ’tis done. Or more accurately perhaps: ’twas done.

          Your position on KP should no longer (if it ever did) define your view of the state of English cricket or the potential successfulness of the Test side. It should no longer be a critical factor in the determination of every supporter’s (or “follower’s”) “loyalty” to the game.

          It seems to me that we should celebrate KP’s future successes (in whatever flavour and location of the game he plays in) but I’d be very happy if I never read another word about the painful if predictable course of his departure from and failure to be re-selected for the English Test side.

          As they say in gritty dramas: “end of….” I think. I hope.

          • The book was the final straw for many of us. Many of us stopped caring at that particular point in time, it was foolish, badly advised and put the final nail in the coffin.

            I fully respect that this is the work of two fans and they can write what ever they want, and I don’t need telling that I don’t have to read it.

            I come here for the cricket, and for James’s excellent posts on the cricket.
            Long may THEY continue.

            As for Maxie, we’ve had many conversations about the agenda he denies having, but strangely keeps pushing.

          • My position on English cricket isn’t defined by Pietersen at all. I’ve said many times that I wish the debate would move on. For some people, however, this is impossible. I think you and I should respect that.

            The truth is that every time Maxie writes something about this subject the debate and traffic on this site goes up (and exceeds anything I write). This tells me that some people still want to talk about it. Some people will inevitably get fed up with it all, but those articles aren’t really for them.

            It’s impossible to please all the people all of the time. If I were you I’d just skip the articles you don’t want to read and stick to my stuff. We do try to produce something for everyone. I hope this explains.

      • This is a personal blog with opinion pieces written by the bloggers on a voluntary basis. They’re not professional journalists and they can write about whatever they choose. Their ‘agenda’ may be ‘irrelevant’ to you, if so perhaps you should find other reading matter?

        Similarly, what is the point in writing ‘This really ought to end’? Maxie will stop writing about a subject when he’s no longer interested in writing about it, there is no ‘ought’ involved.

        • Good comment Z

          It must be said that TFT and BOC is filling a huge gap in “professional journalism” within the media.

          Over the last months the MSM often reverted to writing biased opinion pieces (like Selvey, influenced by his close association with Saker / Flower / etc.) under the umbrella of journalism and “truth” (trust me I know something you don’t), getting very personal (pesty fruit fly) and reverting to censoring comments BTL that pointed this out.

          The MSM avoided addressing various issues in the ECB (Selvey & ICC3), as well as very clear “puff pieces” on the likes of Cook, Downton etc. that felt like sponsored propaganda.

          Let us agree to disagree on some issues, but well done to TFT, BOC, and journalists (DOAG) in keeping a critical debate going. Long may it live.

      • Piers – I’m sorry you feel that way. We endeavour to put forward our honest opinions, and analyses of events, as a starting point for a discussion. This is a blog, not a newspaper, but nevertheless we do try to be factually accurate, and when resources allow, uncover new information.

        As I allude to below with Xan, we at all times welcome contributions from any TFT reader who would like to write a post for us. We actively encourage the submission of contrasting and opposing views.

        If you don’t mind my recent posts to your taste, you will find plenty else to read here. And listen to, as well. I’d recommend James’s interview with Jarrod Kimber about DOAG:

  • I thought they were strange comments from Gus at the time. In his defence he’s always been a very sensitive soul. I remember Charles Colville used to wind him up a treat on Sky during Gus’s time as a summariser.

    It’s possible to read too much into Gus’s comments as he’s probably just sticking up for his mates – and who doesn’t get slightly annoyed by criticism – but it does show that his perspective is rather warped i.e. It doesn’t matter how many cages were rattled, or how bad the last 20 months have been, because the team finally won something.

    It’s this pretence that the Ashes win came from some grand master plan (even though they changed the coaches and the style of play on the eve of the series) that winds me up a little. I don’t resent them spinning a line to make themselves look better, it’s just that some idiots actually believe this nonsense.

    • Exactly. Had this victory been achieved with Moores at the helm and the likes of Ballance, Woakes, Plunkett and Jordan leading the way, Gus would have every right to vent his irritation. Had Lyth been our leading run scorer and Rashid the leading wicket taker… Not that he’d have managed too many overs, the selectors could bask in their glory for the rest of their days. My wife could pick a team with root and broad in it and she knows nothing. (About cricket obviously) A little humility wouldn’t go a miss. How would the fans react if joe root was dropped for dubious reasons…. Sorry my ramble meter’s straying into the red….

    • Maxie, I didn’t hear the interview, so can only go on what you’ve quoted, but as far as I can see Fraser says he was a ‘bit angry’ at what he saw as ‘personal and harsh’ criticism of Cook and Strauss – hardly qualifies as anger being the ‘overriding emotion’.

      As for the ‘seething’, it’s fairly clear that it was having his character and integrity called into question that have rankled, then he’s probably entitled to ‘seethe’. James questioned his ability to be impartial when he was appointed in cases like Eoin Morgan because of his Middlesex connection.

      In addition, show me anybody in the world that is involved in a very publicly criticised decision who doesn’t feel varying levels of relief / vindication / satisfaction at proving others wrong when that decision comes off – it’s the most natural feeling in the world, isn’t it? Probably more so in the light of the personal attacks and insults – just look down the comments section here and the use of terms like ‘insufferable prick’ and ‘arse’ which are repeated on most TFT articles. The genuine concerns of real cricket fans like you get lost amid the filth posted by those whose knowledge of cricket is restricted to a Piers Morgan ‘Captain Weasel’ tweet, and I’m fairly sure Fraser’s talking about that segment rather than genuine cricket fans.

      I know you feel strongly about this Maxie, but it seems at the moment that you’re on a mission to trash anybody and everybody connected with the England set up because of the incompetence and duplicity of Paul Downton last year.

  • How splendid to see an employee defending his employers and praising his boss. Who’d have expected it?

  • I don’t really understand the relevance of this quote to the article – his comments seem pretty innocuous (and probably justified). And I can’t understand where you’ve inferred all the stuff in the following paragraph from?

    This honestly just comes across as venting – as if any excuse will do..

  • My thought on this is it’s a bit unfair to blame the selectors for the world cup. They sent quite a decent squad although they could have rested more of the old and tried some more new players. But I don’t think it was their decision to suddenly bring in ballance at 3 and move Taylor to 6 or to take new ball from woakes or not to give Hales a good run in the team.

    I too wish we could move on. I wish that while we keep badgering about dreadful people in charge of world cricket and some of the bad things about English cricket we acknowledge that the team deserve massive support and congratulations for what they’ve achieved this summer and that includes cook for being more receptive to new ideas or whatever else he’s done to improve his captaincy.

    As someone else said expecting ecb to explain KP affair is like asking Tony Blair to admit he was wrong over Iraq. Won’t happen sadly.

    • Agree re: your last paragraph. But to extend the analogy (maybe to breaking point) for some long-term Labour supporters the Iraq war, and the lack of contrition or self-examination after it, meant they left the Labour party. Just as some people, including myself, are no longer England fans as a result of the past two years.

      No team deserves support (although I agree that the current England players are very likeable) – supporting any sports team is inherently ridiculous. We’ve all moved on, it’s just that some people have moved to a position where they still follow cricket, but no longer support England (I don’t know whether this describes Maxie). It’s hardly the end of the world.

      • Yep me too. No longer support England after 40 + years) but like some of the England players a lot (and still love the game).

  • Maybe I am too old to matter but in the 70s, when results were bad, Alec Bedser (a giant of the game) did not appear on TV screens and plead for support. And when things went well, he didn’t come on screen and excoraiate the fans and say he was right all along. he was the selector.

    Sadly now I have to add Gus Fraser to the idiot category, along with Gooch, Gatting, Moores, Flower, Whitaker, etc. I want to see them under the heavy roller.

  • Dont really see where Fraser says he’s proven the cricketing public wrong tbf. He says certain members of the administration have endured personal attacs on their characters based on professional decisions they have been associated with.

    That’s the issue I have with a lot of the writing on here – the views espoused in the articles are presented as being the voice of the English cricketing public, when theyre just the opinion of two fans.

    • “We are hardly the first cricket website to represent this perspective, which is why we stress that The Full Toss is only a voice. Nevertheless, we sense a slight gap in the market.

      There are two particular inspirations. Firstly, the blizzard of debate and cricket chatter on Facebook and Twitter during the 2009 Ashes – the way a friend would post a provocative status update, about strategy, selection or predictions, and everyone else would then pile in with their two penn’orth. Our aim is to bring those discussions together under one roof.

      Secondly, our growing sense that cricket insiders and professional journalists, for all their indispensable expertise, sometimes misread or overlook the emotions of ordinary followers. ”

      That took 10 seconds, after clicking on ‘About TFT’. The second point happens to have become far more significant recently, for what should be obvious reasons. If you just want orthodoxy, if dissenting views are a bit much for you, and if you’re happy to see them misrepresented, or for people like Maxie to be described as “lunatics”, “numpties”, “fringe idiots” or “a baying mob” (all genuine quotes from paid journalists and broadcasters, in the plural and therefore NOT referring to to the usual convenient bogeyman), there’s always Mike Selvey, Paul Newman, Ed Smith, Sky TV or TMS.

    • In sorry Ralph but I have to object to that last comment. Read our bio. We never claim to speak for all England cricket fans. We are ‘a voice’ not ‘the voice’. And we do speak for some fans, which is why this blog sustains its readership.

      Maxie and I also have different views. We argue about things ourselves. We certainly don’t have a monolithic view, and we publish stuff by all kinds of writers. In fact I wish we had a lot more guest writers as it takes a lot of work to keep things going.

  • Ralph

    Try reading…

    ” But when people are making judgements on your character, knowledge and whether you are in touch with the game, you sit there and seethe.

    Sometimes success brings more relief than joy, or satisfaction from proving people wrong.”

    Notice he said “proving people wrong”.

    let’s see what you said: “Dont really see where Fraser says he’s proven the cricketing public wrong”…so he did delight in proving people people wrong but got more delight in being an insufferable prick.

    • Isn’t calling somebody an ‘insufferable prick’ exactly the sort of pathetic and personal insult that Fraser was referring to which has made him angry.

  • Root, stokes and the bowlers turned up and won the series, cook improved his captaincy enough to not go defensive anytime, not that the bowlers gave him a reason to.
    Not to mention the shambolic Aus batting display and the many players carried into the series despite being past their expiry date.

    Anybody else taking credit for this victory is laughable and needs a reality check.

    Top order batting is still dodgy at best apart from cook and root i cant see others earning their place.

  • Xan,

    Many thanks for your comment. May I make a suggestion? Why don’t you write a full post for us, outlining your views in more detail, plus anything else you would like to say? I would extremely happy to publish it as an article here on TFT. In fact, I would welcome and appreciate it.

    My email address is maxie@thefulltoss,com

    But to respond to your comments myself.

    At the very least, Fraser’s remarks amounted to a remarkable utterance by an official of a sporting administration: an expression of anger at public criticism, and expression of pleasure in proving wrong those supporters who criticised their conduct. Even if he’d thought it, he shouldn’t have said it.

    You almost seem to argue that the ECB deserve automatic deference, respect, trust, and support, by dint of their natural authority and position. That we should give them the benefit of the doubt. That we should assume they act in our best interests.

    Far from it, I would say. Fraser, like other ECB mandarins, has deliberately chosen to push himself forward into a paid and privileged position in public life. As such, he and his colleagues must be scrutinised and held to account.

    Just because someone has played for England, and now has a fancy title, does not necessarily mean they know what they are doing – nor that they are more intelligent, are more knowledgeable, or have better judgement, than the likes of you or me, outside the tent.

    As an example, you would be very hard pressed to find an England supporter who thought it a good idea to re-appoint Peter Moores. We all said if would lead to disaster. The ECB said otherwise. What happened? Likewise, Cook’s ODI captaincy.

    What you call a conspiracy theory, I would describe as a sober analysis of the evidence. Can you really reflect on the Big Three deal, or any of the DOAG agenda, and conclude that the ECB is an altruistic and philanthropic body motivated only by a sense of duty to the good of cricket?

    You refer to a rehashing of Pietersen – I alluded to the affair in only one sentence of this piece, and simply as a response to Fraser’s own reference.

    But while we’re on the subject, if you think – and I’m not sure this is your point – that what I care about is whether Mr X or Mr Y bats at four for England, I beseech you to think again.

    Your discussion about his book suggests you miss the point. The book is an account of what happened, written afterwards. It does not retrospectively justify the way the ECB behaved six months earlier.

    The reason why the affair still has traction is that the ECB committed gross misconduct and got away with it. They lied. They connived. They deceived. They trampled over common decency in the name of self- interest. They did it yesterday, they are doing it today, and they will do it tomorrow. It is of a piece with their administration of TV deals, grassroots funding, match-allocation, scheduling, ticket prices, the Big Three. They are all part of the same problem.

    Since those events last year, nothing they do or say can now be trusted, and that will never go away – even if the original incidents have become boringly over-familiar.

    This is why the ECB’s words and actions must be held up to the light, and why I continue to do so.

    • Well said, Maxie. The ECB don’t deserve credit for England’s 2015 Ashes victory, it’s down to the players (especially Root and Broad), Cook’s somewhat improved captaincy, the Farbrace-Bayliss coaching style (especially improved catching), the more relaxed dressing room atmosphere created under Farbrace-Bayliss and some of the players themselves, Australia’s inept batting in the 3rd and 4th tests, Bayliss saying he wanted pitches which helped our bowlers more after the Lord’s defeat. But the ECB want all the credit.

  • But when people are making judgements on your character….you sit there and seethe…

    So what was this from the England Director of Cricket, if not a judgment on character ?

    “No one has ever doubted Kevin Pietersen’s ability as a player. He has been a phenomenal player for England over a long period of time. His record stacks up to anyone in England cricket, and he should be very proud of that. But over months and years, the trust between himself and the ECB has eroded.”

    • And is it any wonder trust has eroded when a player is unambiguously offered possible route back, chucks in a lucrative IPL contract, scores a triple hundred only to realise he was told a pack of lies?

      And why has Graves suddenly turned mute after the ‘mediocre’ comment? Who is pulling the strings? So many questions the MSM will not ask.

      Keep sticking it up ’em Maxie. I’m 100% with you

    • And some more on judgement of character:
      Fraser, who is also director of cricket at Middlesex, told talk-SPORT:

      “There was a lot of controversy at the start of the year about whether Kevin Pietersen should be picked or not.

      People were just saying you should pick your strongest side and that’s it. But those of us who work and live in a dressing room realise there is more to it than that.

      It’s about the character of the person, how they perform on the field, the scope for development — what sort of cricketer can they become and what they can give.”

  • There’s nothing wrong with a bit of anger. Anger at things not going right despite your best efforts, anger at being let-down by others, anger at being personally criticised when trying to do your best. Channel the emotion correctly and it can work for you.

    And as KP is once again being regurgitated all I can do is again refer you to his book which clearly demonstrates why Strauss doesn’t trust the bloke

    • I can see were you are coming from, a smart man looking to play the waiting game and see if ECB will give him a chance again wouldnt have return the book.

      But if the player believed he is truly out of the game and all sorts pf stories are flying about you in the media with nods and winks, wouldnt the player want to clear it up.

    • What (specifically) in the book shows he can’t be trusted – other than pointing out board incompetence? The guys he criticised no longer played for England (Prior, Flower). The comments about Anderson and Cook were very mild indeed, and no worse than a lot of what has been written by other former cricketers.

      On the subject of Strauss, KP is very honest. He admits he was a bit envious when Strauss was made captain, but overall the respect is there. He says Strauss is an establishment type, but why is that such an insult? He is. And he’s proud of it. In Simon Jones’s book he constantly refers to Strauss as ‘Lord Brocket’ as that’s what the players called him.

      The main criticisms in the book are reserved for the ECB. And there lies the problem. The ECB simply cannot tolerate criticism by an employee. They hate people who make them look bad. Which is exactly why they sacked KP as captain all those years ago. They didn’t care he was right about Moores (which is why they sacked the coach after all) but they sacked KP because he had the temerity to tell them they’d made a mistake. The trust issue is all about the ECB being nervous about having a maverick around who is likely to point out their numerous cock ups.

      I’d wager that supporters don’t care about ‘trust’ between a player and the board though. All they want to see is the best team. And I, for one, enjoy it when their mistakes are publicised because not enough people in the mainstream media hold them to account.

  • Maxie,

    Many thanks for your (9.21am) posting in reply to my nonsense. It is very generous of you to suggest that I write a full post, particularly as I have only just conquered the temerity of the unpublished and started posting so recently. I will take you up on your offer and try to write something cogent over the next couple of days, but I will be entirely content if you decide on reflection not to publish!

    In passing I have only one quick response to the many excellent points that you make in your posting. I did not mean to suggest that the ECB deserved our “automatic deference, respect, trust, and support, by dint of their natural authority and position…” On the contrary I believe that they need to be pressed and held to account on the important issues which our game faces. Rather, I meant to suggest that the individuals (such as Angus Fraser, even James Whittaker and others) who have been held up by commentators of all stripes on a personal basis as lacking in determination or ability to fulfill their rôles do not deserve the personal invective levelled against them (and which I believe to be the cause of the underlying “anger” discussed.)

    I think it is incumbent on anyone fulfilling the sort of office that Angus Fraser occupies to expect (and even benefit) from public scrutiny and criticism of the office and its results, but I do not believe that they should be subjected to personal abuse.

    For me (although I genuinely love the game and the characters and the drama of it all) it should be about the issues. I can accept that even those busily implementing plans that seem to me to be bizarrely misguided or inadequate do not deserve personal criticism and may even be trying to do what they believe to be what’s best.

    It may be as simple as whether you instinctively walk or defensively insist on staying at the crease. I fear that I’m a walker…

    • I hear what you’re saying, and ultimately we probably agree on more than we disagree. I don’t believe that every single ECB act is nefarious, nor that some of their officials aren’t individually trying to do their best.

      There is plenty of subjectivity in judging when professional criticism becomes personal abuse. I don’t think I abused Fraser in this piece – and you may not be suggesting I am – but rather, lamenting the corporate culture of the ECB which in this instance he is reflecting. As you can see from my final paragraph, I generally regard him very warmly.

      Shall we discuss your post by e-mail? I think it will make for a very worthwhile piece.

  • England have proved nothing in this test series Mr Fraser. Except what we already knew. If you produce English pitches that seam around even in the middle of summer. England can be world beaters.

    When the opposition are one of the worst Australian sides to ever come to these shores that helps enormously. The only flat pitch this series has been played on was at Lords, and Cooks England lost by over 400 runs. So much for proving people wrong Mr Fraser. In the 3 test matches England have won this summer Cook is averaging a shade above 22. So much for Cook as the modern Bradman. When you bowl sides out for 60, and 130 odd not much captaincy is required.

    I am willing to bet that if England were about to go to Australia this winter, with a similar Australian side , England would be hammered on fast bouncy tracks that offer no seam movement. Just like 2 years ago. I am further willing to bet that if England had sacked Cook 2 years ago, and retained Pietersen the results would have been virtually the same. KP would certainly have averaged more than 22 in the 3 winning test matches this summer that England have won. What the ECB have created is a cricket version of The Emperors New Cloths. Cooks new cloths we are told are cut from the finest cloth. In reality, he is but naked. So no change there then.

    • Helpful how all your bets are hypothetical and we will never know.

      Back in the real world – what did you actually predict the scoreline would be? If you had England to win, well done – because the vast majority certainly didn’t. So yes, they did prove a lot of people wrong in that respect.

      No one’s saying Cook has had a good series with the bat but who compared him with Bradman exactly? And come on – if you take out Smith’s best score this series his average would be very poor too. Nonsense approach to statistics.

      • My points are very much in the real world. I’m sorry you can’t understand them.

        England are very good on manufactured seaming pitches. Same as it ever was. What we are not so good at is on flat pitches that offer little seam movement.

        The media construct of this series , is that England have suddenly become a great team. And Cook a genius captain. My point is that as long as you can guarantee English pitches then fine. But as we saw at Lords if the conditions don’t help english bowlers they are no different than they were 2 years ago.

        Mr Fraser is implying that the changes of the last 2 years have been proved on this series. I say bollocks. Nothing has been proved or justified. Only That if you prepare English seaming pitches , England tend to bowl sides out cheaply. Anybody could have captained England this summer on these pitches.

        Cook remains the most over rated captain in English cricket history, a man protected by the ECB because he comes from the right type of family. And because the sponsors like him.

        • So I take it you did predict the result then? Most people didn’t see that coming, good for you. I’ll have to take your word for it though…

          I defy you to find one article which refers to England as “great” or Cook as a “genius” or Bradman-esqe. Presumably there should be loads if this is the media construct?

          Assuming England are suddenly a “great” team and assuming there is no justified optimism that England are improving at all seem to both to be equally erroneous positions, and neither would appear to fit with the evidence.

          • Like Mark, I had also thought that if England were off to Australia next, they would loose. ( not 5 – 0 but it would not be close)

            I rarely read the English press so I’m not sure if the word “great” has been used but this team have been compared to the 2005 team and a path to world number 1 has also been published so some people clearly rate this team highly. I admit I am always pessimistic about the England team but there would seem to be several question marks over the current side.

            And before you ask, yes I though Australia would win.

            • I think there is a middle ground though DLPThomas.

              I don’t think the team are as good as the 2005 team, and yes there are still question marks. I read the article about a path to world number 1 a bit bemused same as you. Why? Because I think beating SA and Pakistan away is a very big ask. But then – so was winning the Ashes – let’s not forget that Aus beat SA away not so long ago.

              I’m all for tempering excitement which gets a bit carried away, but let’s not flip to the other extreme either. So far this summer no one can deny that England have exceeded expectations – it’s not unreasonable to think they may continue to do so.

              • Australia did, as you say, beat South Africa 2 – 1. However, they had Johnson in full cry (22 wickets at under 20 and a strike rate in the low 30’s) I can’t see any of our bowlers doing that (though I’d would love Finn to do it) Also, South Africa lost Wayne Parnell in the first innings of the second test and then lost Dale Steyn in the first innings of the third test. Australia may well still have won the series but South Africa being a bowler short in 2 of the games made it easier for them.

                I agree that England have exceeded expectations and long may it continue. Sadly pessimism is in my DNA.


  • This is NEVER going away, is it? Heck, even Gower getting dropped over 2 decades ago hasn’t gone away and this (i.e. what happened to KP) is far, far more nefarious in many people’s eyes, including mine (and I loved watching Gower bat).

  • How on earth is Cook ‘overrated’ as a captain? I’ve never known a captain to be so heavily criticised, even while maintaining a fairly decent record. Even people who support him concede he is fairly limited


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