When it comes to ex-pros in the press box, three is the magic number. The Guardian’s Mike Selvey won three England caps. So did Jonathan Agnew, Ed Smith and Dermot Reeve.
Vic Marks has the bragging rights, as the proud owner of six test caps, while Simon Hughes and Mark Nicholas never troubled the TCCB milliners.
Sitting just outside the main pack is Steve James, now of the Telegraph, but formerly of Glamorgan, who opened the batting for England in two tests.
James is notable for regularly engaging with commenters ‘below the line’. Much of what he writes is well-judged and perceptive. But his piece yesterday on the Pietersen book-fallout throws up some provocative talking points.
His essential thesis is that English cricket must learn from their counterparts in rugby. He commends Stuart Lancaster and the RFU for rebuilding the England team ethic and restoring the side’s reputation.
He knew what the English rugby public thought. He knew he had to reconnect with them. The England cricket team and the ECB must do the same now. They have brought much of this upon themselves.
We’ve been here before. I welcome James’s recognition that a problem exists and needs solving (although I’m not sure which part of it they didn’t bring on themselves).
As a cricket lover, though, I’m wary of the rugby model – as advocated earlier this year by Giles Clarke, Paul Downton and our Dear Leader themselves.
I’m unconvinced that rugby union is less elitist and more democratic than cricket. Its target demographic appears even narrower. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
And on the playing front, Lancaster’s side have still won no major prizes.
James also looks at Pietersen’s bullying allegations.
So we have this bilious book, and its damaging accusations about the dressing-room culture. Of course, they are exaggerated – anger does not do detail – and in no way represent the real picture. How on earth could England have become the best Test team in the world in such an environment?
But they do possess elements of truth that need to be addressed. The issue of bowlers humiliating butter-fingered fielders – and it is humiliation – has always troubled me. Flower tried hard to curb it, but did not do so totally.
That needs to be eradicated immediately, even if it means going to extremes. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad may have to control their ire at dropped catches and make conciliatory beelines for miscreants. And do it time after time until the message is carved into the cricketing public’s consciousness. But it has to be done
It’s good that James acknowledges the need for action. Too many others prefer us to bury our heads in the sand. Pietersen’s bullying claims, I would agree, are light on detail and feel slightly exaggerated in their portrayal. But there may be specifics he could not publish, either for legal reasons, or for fear of harming the victim. As a former England captain and veteran of 104 tests, his word has to count for something.
Do England’s successes during that time argue persuasively against the existence of a bullying cult? The team had their fair share of failures, too. In the last years of Flower’s tenure, more debutants failed than succeeded. It was not an easy team to assimilate into. Two years since Strauss retired, England still haven’t found a replacement opening batsman.
Two of James’s points were always likely to stir the pot. On the ECB’s refusal to explain Pietersen’s sacking:
Dignified silence has now correctly ensued.
We’ve discussed this topic so extensively of late that I won’t delve into it again, save to ask this: what is dignified or correct about lacking the courage to explain a momentous and hugely divisive decision which triggered a virtual civil war in English cricket?
The other was contextualised by an account of players’ financial losses from England’s early rugby World Cup exit in 2011.
Kevin Pietersen has written a book and it has painted an equally horrible picture. And the problem is that too many people believe it to be the absolute truth.
This has money at its root, too. The crux of Pietersen’s discontent is the lucre. Playing for England alone was not enough for him. His head was turned by the Indian Premier League, and he was not satisfied with a slice of that. He wanted more that that. And he wanted to miss England matches to gain that much larger slice.
Quite rightly, Andy Flower refused. Thus spurned, Pietersen’s dislike of his strong-willed and utterly admirable coach quickly turned into festering enmity. It was that simple.
Anyone spot a few elements missing from this picture of the Flower-Pietersen feud? The fall-out from the loss of the captaincy? The leaks, the briefings, the victimisation and the double-standards? Has James read the dossier of Flower’s obsession with petty non-misdemeanours?
If as supposed the pursuit of money had toxic effects on Pietersen, it’s worth looking at what was going on around him.
Only five tests into his career, the ECB removed cricket from terrestrial television and sold it to Sky, for a deal now worth a reported £65 million a year.
In 2008, Giles Clarke warmly greeted Sir Allen Stanford as he stepped down from his helicopter on to the Lord’s outfield. Posing with a perspex box containing $20 million in cash, the pair announced a five-year deal for lucrative T20 exhibition matches. In the end, did the leftover money go, as promised, to Chance To Shine, or the counties? Have a wild guess.
As Dmitri Old points out today.the ECB’s sponsor culture has left England players all but unavailable for interview outside promotional appearances. In 2014, a year when the Board have kept silent on the big questions, they have strenuously promoted their ties to Waitrose and Buxton Water.
Meanwhile, the ECB’s ever-increasing fees to test-host counties have raised the price of match tickets comfortably beyond £60.
Alastair Cook, Pietersen’s captain since September 2012, has throughout his career participated in a string of high-value commercial endorsements, including Austin Reed and Slater & Gordon.
Pietersen’s batting coach, Graham Gooch, a former England captain and selector, abandoned the national side from 1982-84 to earn money from a rebel tour to South Africa. Mike Gatting, another former captain and now president of the MCC (which has a vote on the ECB board) did the same in 1989.
At the inception of the IPL, the ECB protected the Indian league’s integrity by banning English-registered players (including overseas cricketers) from appearing in the rival Indian Cricket League.
Since then, Pietersen is one of a total of ten English-qualified players to feature in the IPL. The others are Eoin Morgan, Michael Lumb, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara, Dimitri Mascarhenas, Azhar Mahmood and Stuart Broad. In the 2014 IPL, ten Englishmen, including Luke Wright, Alex Hales and Samit Patel, hoped to take part but went unsold at auction.
Pietersen never asked for leave from test cricket (unlike Gooch, Botham or Stewart before him). He was hardly the first to quit a one-day format. He was ambitious and wanted to earn big money, of course. But in the modern day environment of English cricket, could he be blamed? And was he alone?
And speaking of controversies caused by money, the West Indies’ mounting problems are a dreadful worry for everyone who cares about cricket as a true global game. We’d welcome your thoughts on this, too.
Interesting article Maxie. Well worth remembering that Steve James wrote, ‘The Plan’. A enjoyable read about how England went from being the worst in the world to the best. In particular, how this was done with the back-room staff.
A lot of focus is given to the Fletcher and Flower, and I think it’s fair to say, James is a big fan of both.
If James is being critical of KP, I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.
Does him recognising the good that has been done by Fletcher and Flower mean that he is automatically anti-Pietersen? It is possible to recognise the positives of both parties in this debate….
One of the massive successes of England since the low point of 1999 was the structure that was put in place for the national team, through the introduction of central contracts.
That process meant that players became ‘England’ cricketers rather than county cricketers. It had massive benefits, taking international players out of the treadmill of county cricket, allowing them to be fresh for international commitments. To do that, there had to be a more structured support staff, given that they spent most of their time with England. There is now a much better pathway between under 19s, England Lions and the top team. That all requires a certain amount of infrastructure and support staff. Has it become too unwieldy? Probably, but in the main it works very, very well.
Looking at England’s performances since the lows of the 90s, I think a lot of credit has to be given to Fletcher, Flower and others involved in that process for the many, many successes that have come through that system.
I know you like to be the contrarian here, Hamish, but do you have an explanation for the meltdown of December 2013? I mean, if the role of the coach is to get the best available team on the park in the best condition to play cricket, what exactly went wrong in so many areas? Did Flower make any mistakes? Who bears responisbility for the selections that failed? Who bears responsibility for the injury management? Was it all KP’s fault that so many people were unfit to play? What did Flower do to improve the situation?
I don’t ‘like’ to be the contrarian, but I have a contrary view to the puerile attitude that if a journalist ever has anything good to say about Flower, Fletcher, Cook or anybody else who is seen to be on the ‘opposite’ side to Kevin Pietersen, then their opinion is not valid because they either:
a. are a mouthpiece for the ECB
b. bear some kind of grudge against Pietersen
Do you remember the 90s – with batsmen like Atherton, Stewart, Hick, Ramprakash, Thorpe, Hussain and with bowlers like Gough, Caddick, Fraser, Cork and others, England were a rabble and won just 26% of tests in that decade while losing about 40%.
Can you say that the crop of the last 10 years are markedly better than what went before in terms of talent?
What has changed is how well England are prepared for test match cricket, and if you look at the last 10 years, they win over 40% of matches and lose about 25%. The infrastructure is excellent, and if Steve James gives credit to Fletcher and Flower for their not insignificant roles in that process, then I wholeheartedly agree with him, which is why I object to the comment that his views can be taken with ‘a pinch of salt’.
For the record, I don’t think that money was the ‘crux’ of the issue with Pietersen, but it certainly did play a role in the fall-out. While I don’t agree with Steve James on this issue, I don’t dismiss his views.
As for your question about December 2013, the problems that team were facing had been masked by Bell’s brilliance in the summer. After a 3-0 victory, everybody thought the Ashes in Australia were going to be a cakewalk, and I don’t think anybody foresaw how well Australia, particularly Johnson and Haddin, were going to play, and how badly England were going to play, KP included. Good sides unravel, just like the Indian side of 2011 unravelled in England and needed surgery, so too did the England side. It’s hard to drop a ton of players when you’ve just won an Ashes series 3-0.
The real problem, and the real area of ECB culpability, is the relentless international schedule. The players, and coaches, were mentally as well as physically shot.
Steve James has in the past often been sympathetic to and supportive of Pietersen. Which is why his deliberately simplistic ‘money’ explanation comes as a surprise – he’s made a summary judgment without explanation.
You are right to say that support for/opposition to Pietersen should not irrevocably define a journalist as belonging to a camp, but if they have close relations to some of the main characters in the narrative, that does change their perception.
I don’t know a great deal about SJ’s links or otherwise to Flower. But consider a hypothetical situation. Imagine a good friend of yours was in the news, for contentious reasons. And then a newspaper asked you to write a journalistic piece about the story, but not in the guise of a friend but a correspondent. Would you be able to empty your mind completely of any preconceptions?
As for the 2013/14 prep, I agree that the relentless schedule was a major factor – crucially, the fatal decision to stage back to back Ashes.
We all have pre-conceptions and biases based on our experiences – it’s what informs our opinions of people – Steve James is employed to write opinion pieces – he’s given his opinion.
Many would suggest that you don’t approach this whole topic without your own pre-conceptions Maxie. You detest the ECB and Andy Flower as a coach and believe Pietersen has been conspired against – every piece you write comes from that standpoint. That’s fine – I don’t entirely agree with you, but you’re putting forward your opinion.
Maybe Steve James does believe that money is the crux of Pietersen’s issue – because one of the keys to the IPL is the ridiculously high wages on offer, and the IPL was a key factor in the fall-out between KP and the ECB. Many people would read Pietersen’s book and see the focus on all the controversies rather than the 13,000 runs he scored as an England batsman as a way to sell more copies.
Is it such a leap to think that Pietersen’s actions are driven by money?
There’s a difference between a pre-conception and a view one has come to based on a great deal of experience from a certain perspective.
As an follower of English cricket, yes, I hold the ECB in very low regard – but I didn’t use to. My opinion is based on their actions over the last few years, but particularly since February.
I used to hold Flower in very high regard, but to mind he has been discredited by aspects of his conduct which have come to light during the last year.
In both cases, my stance is drawn from information in the public domain, and nothing else.
Steve James, of course, will have his own opinion based on what he knows, but the crucial difference is that he may, or may not, be influenced both by what people say behind the scenes and by personal contact with some of the primary or secondary characters in the story.
I have never met or spoken to either Andy Flower or Kevin Pietersen, or in fact any of the protagonists. in James’s piece he does not state the ‘money’ incentive as an opinion, but as a fact, and he does not explain what brings him to this conclusion.
From what we know of Pietersen, viewed through the prism of information in the public domain, it is of course very reasonable to conclude that Pietersen was to some extent influenced by opportunities to make money.
But that’s not the point. What’s at issue is whether he was more influenced by money, and cared less about serving the England team, than anyone else involved in the story.
For me, the case is far from proven.
Do you remember the 90s – with batsmen like Atherton, Stewart, Hick, Ramprakash, Thorpe, Hussain and with bowlers like Gough, Caddick, Fraser, Cork and others, England were a rabble and won just 26% of tests in that decade while losing about 40%.
Can you say that the crop of the last 10 years are markedly better than what went before in terms of talent?
They may have had “talent” but Atherton played 115 tests with an average of 37, Hick played 65 tests with an average of 31 and Ramprakash played 52 tests with an average of 27. One reason England have done well in the last 10 years is that the opposition is much weaker than it used to be. There were some very strong Australian, West Indian and Pakistani teams in the 1990’s (hence those averages)
With regard to the last Ashes series, maybe every-one in England thought it would be a cake-walk but most of Australia thought they were going to win. (but only Glen McGrath thought it would be 5 – 0). The feeling here was that 3 – 0 flattered England and they would struggle on hard, fast wickets. All though he doesn’t get the credit, it was reported in the Australian media that it was actually Mickey
Arthur’s plan to play Mitchell Johnson in the return series for exactly that reason.
Hamish, I don’t think the 90s produced a rabble as you claim. Look at the quality of bowling attacks compared to today. Pakistan had Wasim Akram & Waqar Younis. West Indies had Ambrose & Walsh. South Africa had Donald & Pollard. Australia had a number of vey good bowlers, including McGrath and Warne. Sri Lanka had Murli. The opposition was much stronger in depth.
As you allude to, what changed in England was central contracts, which gave the England management the chance to rest players. Particularly bowlers. 2005 was the first real example of that. (Plus McGrath standing on a cricket ball)
The interesting thing about Cooks greatest moment the Ashes in 2010/11, it was probably the worst bowling attack I have seen Australia produce. Of the 3 tests England won, Ryan Harris missed 2 because of injury. This is the series that Johnson could not land it on the cut strip, and the Barmy army sang their famous song “he bowls it to the left and he bowls it to the right” except of course in Perth, where he got it right and England lost in about 3 days.
I don’t agree that nobody for saw that England would lose in this years Ashes. Anybody who watched last summers Ashes could see the matches were much closer and the Aussies had worked out many of our batsman. Boycott said all through last summer England are not as good as they think they are.
What we now know, thanks to the leak of the ECB dossier (not KPs book) is that the England coach was spending all his time trying to undermine one of our best batsman with endless leaks and silly mind games. Flower inherited a workable management system. Bu under him it mushroomed Into a system that has become bloated with endless back room staff, and Svengali coaches who think they can micro manage every aspect. Like 87 page diet sheets, and constant fiddling with bowlers actions.
It’s the tail wagging the dog….is what it is!!
I think you’re actually agreeing with me – my point was that the introduction of central contracts and the infrastructure that had to be set up to manage players that became full time England players rather than county players that played for England has been a success, and the head coaches that have managed that have to be given credit for their role in a process that turned England cricket teams from a disorganised group (a rabble) of talented players that turned up two days before test matches into a well-prepared international side – particularly in terms of the bowlers.
As for the bowling attacks, McGrath, Lee and Gillespie played the bulk of their cricket after 2000 (Warne about 40/50%), for Donald and Pollock (who played about 70/75% of his cricket since 2000) read Steyn (IMO SA’s best ever), Philander, Kallis and Morkel (Ntini played most of his cricket after 2000 as well), Murali, Harbajan, Ajmal, Kumble, Shoaib Akhtar, Zaheer Khan, Mitchell Johnson (on his day) – these guys are no mugs. The only attacks that are significantly weaker are the Windies and to a lesser extent Pakistan because Wasim and Waqar were so awesome,
As for the ‘Svengali’ coaches, which bowlers’ actions have been constantly fiddled with? Anderson went from bit part player pre-Flower to England’s most successful wicket taker of all time, Stuart Broad, Graham Swann and Bresnan have all been successes – the evidence doesn’t back up your claim. Finn was an exceptional case who needed major work because he kept hitting the stumps.
The batsmen haven’t exactly done badly either – Bell went from under-achiever to England’s best, Cook and Trott have been successes. In fact, only KP’s average is significantly less than it was pre-Flower – maybe he shouldn’t have refused to take those throw-downs……
It’s true that KP’s average has fallen markedly since Flower became coach. However, rather than take a cheap shot at KP (admittedly a good one) couldn’t you argue that Flower failed to get the best out of a potential match winner? I would never claim that KP was England’s best player but he was, and for good reason, the player that opposition sides feared the most and his record could have been so much better.
With regard to Cook, Bell and Trott, their averages have also fallen over the last few years. I would also dispute that Bell is England’s best – he had a great home series against Australia but it has been back to business as usual since then ie looks pretty then gets out.
I think the ICC Test Batting Rankings are a good way to look at how a batsmen has performed over time as they give recent performances more weight as well as considering the strength of the opposition attack and also how many runs were scored in a given match (ie ease of batting). The ratings of both Bell and Trott have fallen since 2011 (Bell did have a brief improvement after the 2013 Ashes). Cooks rating has fallen since 2012. KP rating has actually stayed pretty steady since 2010. So much for those throw downs……….
With regard to the bowling, I think the coaching staff have quite a few questions to answer. Firstly they have failed to find a good 3rd seamer (although I will concede that injuries have been a problem) Most would agree they have failed with Finn but they also failed to get the best out of Dernbach. I know he is a bit of a pantomime villain but he had some skill to work with. The bowling coaches must also take some blame for taking the big 3, Tremmlett, Rankin and Finn, to Australia. Broad has improved and is now an excellent cricketer but if the ball is not swinging Jimmy is still very hittable – hence an average of 35 outside of England. The bowling tactics in recent times are also curious. Plunkett bowled well for Yorkshire when pitching the ball up but when he plays for England he is told to bowl half-trackers. And worst of all, the Sri Lankan quicks out-bowled our guys – again by pitching it up and aiming at the stumps.
but….the schedule was a matter of public record and yet all these coaches and support staff did not realise it would take a toll on the players? in other words, this is just a sham of professionalism…accumulate a mass of support staff and then just work the players into the ground, regardless. And if the coaching staff were also burned out, then what the hell was going on? I’m sorry, Hamish, but your defence of the set-up does not work. Either they were pros or they are just a bunch of megalomaniac tools.
The coaches didn’t set the schedules that had England play 30 tests and 40+ ODIs between Jan 2012 and Jan 2014 (SA played a more sensible 19 tests in the same period). Blame the ECB for that, not the coaching staff.
‘Megalomaniac’???? Delusions of grandeur, lust for power, extravagance. How does this apply to the support staff?
“The coaches didn’t set the schedules that had England play 30 tests and 40+ ODIs between Jan 2012 and Jan 2014 (SA played a more sensible 19 tests in the same period). Blame the ECB for that, not the coaching staff.”
If the coaches know that the team needs to play 200 days of international cricket in two years (plus warm-ups and domestic games) then they need to adjust their approach accordingly. They should have:
1) Increased the pool of match-fit players with international experience
2) Rested (rotated) key players from time-to-time, even at the risk of annoying the sponsors
3) Paid closer attention to ongoing injuries and provided proper care (Pietersen’s knee, Trott’s illness, Swann’s elbow, Anderson’s rib)
Personally I also think they should have looked to play 5 bowlers more often, to reduce the workload on the strike bowlers and also to give valuable experience to the fringe players to ensure they were ready when required. Whilst there were many times when the extra batsmen was needed and 5 bowlers an unaffordable luxury, I think England have been far too rigid in applying the same strategy regardless of the situation/conditions and there were plenty of games where they missed a trick in not bringing on young potential. This came to a head in Australia this year where our four senior bowlers were under-par due to injury and none of the potential replacements were match-fit or experienced enough.
The coaches are duty bound to send out their best side to win a match – how would you feel if you forked out the fortune that it costs to go to a test match and didn’t see an England 1st team?
Which series were players to be rested for, SA at home, India away, NZ away or either of the Ashes series? Not like there was a Bangladesh in there.
As it was, they used 28 players in tests (38 across all formats) over the two years, so there definitely was a level of rotation in there. Bairstow, Taylor, Samit Patel and others were all played. In all 11 players made test debuts and 17 players made debuts across all forms of the game – seems like a fair amount of rotation going on. However, the coaches jobs are to win international matches
Pietersen’s had time off for his knee injury at the end of the NZ tour and for the start of the summer of 2013. Were they going to rest him for the Ashes? I’d be wary about commenting on Trott’s illness – nobody knows enough about stress related to make an informed judgement about his state of mind.
It’s very easy to be critical in hindsight.
“The coaches are duty bound to send out their best side to win a match – how would you feel if you forked out the fortune that it costs to go to a test match and didn’t see an England 1st team?”
If I fork out a £100 for a ticket to watch a game to be played 6 months from now I don’t want to arrive there finding all the best players are out injured because they’ve been run into the ground. But you take your chances. I paid for my Rose Bowl tickets before Pietersen was sacked ;-)
“Which series were players to be rested for, SA at home, India away, NZ away or either of the Ashes series? Not like there was a Bangladesh in there. As it was, they used 28 players in tests (38 across all formats) over the two years, so there definitely was a level of rotation in there. Bairstow, Taylor, Samit Patel and others were all played. In all 11 players made test debuts and 17 players made debuts across all forms of the game – seems like a fair amount of rotation going on.”
Off the top of my head Bresnan should not have gone to India or Australia. Anderson should have been rested for NZ away, Swann should not have gone to Australia. Finn, Meaker, Woakes, Kerrigan, Panesar, Patel should all have played more. I’m not saying these are easy decisions but our best bowlers have been run into the ground and the result was a 5-0 drubbing. Now the decisions are even harder. The ‘rotation’ that happened was mostly batsmen being replaced due to poor form. If bowlers were dropped it was through injury. I can’t think of many occasions during the Flower era when a front-line bowler was rested from an international match.
“Pietersen’s had time off for his knee injury at the end of the NZ tour and for the start of the summer of 2013. Were they going to rest him for the Ashes? I’d be wary about commenting on Trott’s illness – nobody knows enough about stress related to make an informed judgement about his state of mind.”
I’ve been reading Kp’s book. He makes some harsh comments about the lack of support he got from the ECB over his injury, and the lack of sympathy when he was playing through his injury. He was accused of malingering, and left without support after major ankle surgery. He had to go home in a tax. The taxi driver had to help him into his house for heaven’s sake. How did this happen with the army of ‘support’ staff the ECB have? Trott’s illness was well known to many senior players and management. He was ill, he should not have been in Australia and I don’t see that we should tiptoe around the failings of the ECB just because it’s an illness of the mind he was suffering from.
These are mainly opinions made with the benefit of hindsight.
what would have been the reaction had Anderson not gone to New Zealand and the series was lost?
International cricket is about winning, not about rotating. If there are bowlers of a similar standard they can be swapped in or out, but who do England replace Anderson with?
Again, don’t blame the coaches for the crazy schedule.
I agree Tom. The coaches knew the amount of cricket that was going to be played and should have planned accordingly. To get back to rugby union, Clive Woodward managed to build a squad of 20 or so experienced guys with which to play a tournament of 15 a-side matches. He did that by diligent forward planning and ok it helps that you can use substitutes in rugby.
The English cricket team is struggling at the moment to pick 11 players. It doesn’t help that they arbitrarily jettisoned 1 man. Never at any time in my cricket-watching experience – it goes back to 1969 – has the bowling cupboard been so bare. Brearley and co could choose between Willis, Botham, Old, Lever, Dilley, Hendrick – all bowlers of similar levels of achievement in international cricket (if you make allowance for matches played etc). Now, it would be a total disaster if Anderson did not play a match. Given the amount of cricket they will probably expect him to play, it will be a miracle if he does not break down at some point next year. and what then? Who is the replacement? We have no idea. Woakes? Jordan? Stokes? Whatever happened to Tymal Mills?
In reply to Hamish’s point about Anderson and how Flower resurrected him, the bowling coaches were responsible for wrecking Anderson’s action in the first place – that is why he had that period of not playing for England. The ECB coaches had wrecked his action. He had to go back to Lancashire to learn how to bowl again.
I agree that they have tried to bring in players such as Bairstow, Taylor, Samit, Compton, Carberry etc. I would not call that a rotation policy – more of a revolving door policy. Strauss has not been replaced, nor has Collingwood. It does not appear to me that they have had a considered succession policy at all. Now they have had to replace Pietersen and Trott as well. Maybe Ballance and Root have it in them to play major innings against the best bowlers in the world. It seems like a big gamble to me especially given the way that Harris and co dismantled Root’s technique in both Ashes series last year. So just to throw away one man who has shown he can score runs against good bowling seems the opposite of risk-averse to me.
Of course the coaches did not set the schedule…but they knew the schedule as soon as it was published and are culpable of doing what seems to be nothing to mitigate its easily predictable effects.
Damn good piece Maxie. Absolutely right. I was furious when I read Mr James’ piece this morning. Like you Maxie I question the money being the “crux” of Pietersen’s raison d’être! Bloody cheek.
This bit really got me going:
‘This has money at its root, too. The crux of Pietersen’s discontent is the lucre. Playing for England alone was not enough for him. His head was turned by the Indian Premier League, and he was not satisfied with a slice of that. He wanted more that that. And he wanted to miss England matches to gain that much larger slice.’
And presumably you have some evidence for this statement, Mr James? And this was unlike England Cricketers who scarpered off to South Africa to get some “filthy lucre” or that case “filthy rand?” It’s as though KP is the only player ever to keep on playing and earning a lot of money? Why the hell shouldn’t he? So what if he wanted to play in the IPL – one of the most exciting tournaments in the world. I do not know about any dodgy deals happening in IPL. Quite a few of our players wanted to play in IPL this year but weren’t chosen. I don’t see any of the press getting on the backs of all the Aussies and South Africans and West Indians who have been playing in IPL for a very long time.
And before any of the usual suspects start moaning on about my being a “KP lover” nothing could be further than the truth. It is the utter hypocrisy of journos & ex players that really makes me angry. Methinks there is damn lot of jealousy in the establishment. That is the real “CRUX” of yet more of this rubbish Mr James.
And later down the thread I mentioned about Mr James not jumping on Swann’s back for doing a deal with a large betting company. That presumably is not about “filthy lucre?”
I am just so angry with these people. When are these people going to look into the dodgy dealing by Mr Giles and selling off our national game to the highest bidder. Not going to do that. His friendship with Mr Flower seems to have completely over taken his ability to see the wood for the trees. Utterly despair of these people.
It seems to be a constant theme amongst journalists who wish to denigrate Pietersen that he is motivated by money more than any other player. For the life of me I cannot see where the evidence for this is. As you point out Maxie there are other things that have contributed to his actions over recent years. To my mind this is entirely down to the IPL. The only difference between Pietersen and other England players is that he has been far more successful than most at the annual auction which apparently is a sin in itself!
Exactly. jealousy is a terrible thing
Steve James (2014): “The crux of Pietersen’s discontent is the lucre”.
Steve James (2012) ” I think I quite like [Pietersen] because he is everything I wasn’t as a cricketer. Deep down we’d all probably like to carry off that sort of cockiness and naked ambition.But it is just not an English sort of thing to do. Little wonder he was so disliked in the shires”. (‘The Plan’, p.188)
Excellent piece Maxie. The hypocrisy coming from planet ECB and their groupie media is breathtaking. The current England captain looks more like a NASCAR racing driver. He has so many sponsored labels and stupid branded hats to wear.
Great point about the South African rebels. The fact so many of these people are now at the top of the English game shows what the authorities real feelings about those tours were. Money for old rope, perhaps.
By the way on the topic of media ex players with a few test matches. This is a belter from Mike Selvey’s Wikipedia page. Selvey played only 3 tests for England.
In 1976 Selvey made his debut at Old Trafford. He took 4 for 41 in the WI first innings, and 6 for 152 in the match, but still ended on the losing side as England were beaten by 425 runs.
“He only played two more Tests and failed to take a single wicket in either of them, in part due to Alan Knott dropping a routine chance from Roy Fredericks in his second test at the Oval in the same year, the West Indies went on to make 687 as England were blunted by Viv Richards’ 291.”
Poor old Alan Knott, if he hadn’t dropped that catch we would have had the new Dennis Lillie on our hands!!!
4 for 41 in one innings and 6 for 152 overall . . . so a marvellous 2 for 111 in the second innings?
Yeah, that Alan Knott, he really wasn’t very good was he? To deny us the majesty of a ten year Selvey England career.
(Thanks Alan. God knows how insufferable he’d be if the alternative reality had bitten….)
In regards to the rugby side of his argument.
Taking the word of Rob “cockroachofTwickenham” Andrew as the gospel is rather interesting, as it was him that brought in Martin Johnson, a man with no coaching or management experience & kept the same coaches as had failed under robinson & Brian Ashton (although Ashton managed to get to the final by shear bloody mindedness of the players). If my recollections of the build up to & the actual World Cup, England were a shambles that had a few good games every so often, they had breakdown tactics so antiquated & ineffective that against semi decent teams we regularly came unstuck as refs either gave penalty after penalty against us or just turned over was a regular occurrence.
The players picked were not the best. I mean Mike Tindall for gods sake
So it was basically poor management, outdated coaching, poor team selection, poor team management & poor tactics more to blame than “player power”, & I bet Nick Easter is fecking delighted to be name checked like that.
Also player power got them to the 2007 final after a dressing room coup if Iirc. So a bit rich to complain about 2011.
Also Stuart Lancaster was a stop gap measure who knew the players & younger players, but he still lucked into the job while the CockroachofTwickenham was desperate for a human shield after throwing MJ under the bus.
Is Rob Andrew “not popular”?
Rob Andrew is to Rugby aficionados as Giles Clarke is to us “outside” cricket.
Hi there AndyinBrum
A couple of points.
Mike Tindall did have some other impeccable credentials, I mean he was going to get married into the Royal Family LOL!
Also, as a Welshman brought up in the era of Gareth Edwards, JPR, Phil Bennett, the Pontypool Front Row etc, we were delighted to show the English boys up when we have Halfpenny, Shane Williams, Alun Wyn Jones,, James Hook, Sam Warburton etc. Unfortunately for us, Lancaster seems to bringing in the goods – witness the England v Wales Match at this Years’ Six Nations – unfortunately I did.
I Tweeted Steve J a link to this post. His response was a little mysterious…
No wonder Steve James is pissed off with KP.
ECB employees only open their mouths to change feet – no bloody wonder they are maintaining a “dignified silence”
The ECB have finally realised they were losing the PR war and so they have decided to change tactics and say nothing thereby depriving those “outside of cricket” of further ammunition. (If they do want to say something, they can leak it to their friends in the media.) In effect they are now fighting a war of attrition and whilst we should continue to fight, I think they are going to win. Mind you, if we lose 7 – 0 in SriLanka, it might get interesting again.
Pretty much agree with this sentiment dlpthomas. The ECB’s strategy will be to win the war, even if they lose the odd battle, and will thus play the long game! They’ve sent their foot soldiers out to do the skirmishing, in the hope that the opposition (us) will get “skirmished out” After all, there is only so much anger, angst, and chest beating that can be done until weariness sets in?
As I have opined previously we must, as an opposing faction to the policies of the ECB,.! remain completely focussed on our mission, which, from my point of view, is to continually expose the charlatans and chicanary of that body and hold them to account!
Organ’s like this, and Dmitri’s are great vehicles for the collective voice to vent it’s spleen, and hopefully do a goodly amount of effective agitating. Yet, somehow, we need to find the wherewithal and means to become even more effective and potent if we are ever to achieve our aim of holding those scurrilous buggers to account.
What it wil take to do that, I don’t know…but, what I do know is that in order to become more effective we must all be united on the premise that “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ECB!”
I can’t shout any louder, because we really need to stay focussed on that. They have basically removed cricket from the common man, and I, for one, despise them for their machinations in doing that!
Giles Clarke has been voted in as chairman 3 times by the counties which is the crux of the problem – they have effectively endorsed his tenure at the top of the game.
The problem is that the counties need the revenue generated by international cricket and the Sky deal. Much as I hate the fact that there is no test cricket on terrestrial TV, the coverage of county cricket is immeasurably better on Sky than it ever was before, and for that they have to be given some credit.
If you look at the models of rugby and football, most coverage is on Sky / BT Sport. However in those sports, the clubs have negotiated their own deals separate to the international game. Cricket’s problem is that very few are interested in the domestic game in England, so the Sky deal has been negotiated from the top down.
Excellent piece again, Maxie. James should be thoroughly ashamed of himself for reducing Pietersen’s motives to mercenary impulses. As someone wrote recently, he might on equally specious grounds be accused of cutting short his distinctly modest cricketing career in order to leverage it to further a career in journalism. I’m not a fan of the man’s writing anyway. He flaunts an air of intellectual superiority to hide the generally banality of his thoughts while sucking up to those in authority. “Here’s why the England captain’s tactics are much too clever for you plebs to understand” is the general thrust of his analysis. Give me a Boycott who knows what he’s talking about and tells you in plain terms any day.
Thanks, Clive (and to Mark for similar comments above).
What’s hard to swallow with MJ’s assertion about the money is the way he states it as bald fact, without any reasoning or evidence. Is this his deduction based on KP’s book, or on something he knows but hasn’t told us specifically?
Whether one likes or dislikes the IPL, its existence is a fact, and as the ECB gave it their blessing, they can only expect eligible players to want to take advantage. Even if your view is the IPL is distasteful, it doesn’t break any ethical code.
Was Pietersen a mercenary, or did he just find it hard, like anyone would, to turn down large sums of money offered for a few weeks’ work? Would Botham or Gower have turned down the chance?
When you’re only ever one injury away from retirement, and the ECB are out to get you, it becomes more tempting still.
Pietersen was the only England player of his generation who was also a major IPL box office draw. How might history have been different had Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook been in similar demand?
I think the money argument goes a bit further – Pietersen’s actually the only England player apart from Flintoff to have given up the opportunity to earn a substantial amount of money in order to play for England.
A bit of googling suggests that for the 2012 IPL he was paid £750,000, a deal which would have been £1.3 mil if he’d been able to play the entire tournament – giving up £550,000. In 2009 he gave up £500,000. Other years seem to be a bit more complicated, but we’re certainly talking millions. Compare that to the £400,000 per year current salary for centrally contracted England players (excludes match and appearance fees – although the salary has gone up a lot recently).
Pietersen probably didn’t lose money by playing for England from 2009 onwards, and his IPL earnings were dependent on earlier performances for England, but taking into account lost IPL earnings he seems to have been less well off as a result of playing for England for the last five years than any other England player. If he was more motivated by money than his team-mates, he had a funny way of showing it.
I think the central contract’s worth quite a lot more than £400,00 now, Nick, even before match fees. £700,000 has been mentioned, but that was unsubstantiated.
That’s a very good point about Pietersen – “who does nothing without a commercial imperative” according to Mike Selvey. I suppose some journalists would consider that the ECB had done him a favour and saved him from his own destructive greed by enabling him to not earn as much as he was capable of.
The £400,000 was from this Financial Times article from June (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2301b8ae-f5bc-11e3-afd3-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3Grp1v6xg), but could be wrong/outdated – and it does estimate total earnings of £1 mil for the top England players after everything’s been taken into account, although that would presumably include sponsorships, etc (so not comparable to KP’s salary from the IPL). Interesting article in general.
One thing I haven’t seen substantiated is the rumour that the captain gets a significantly higher salary than anyone else. Anyone know if there’s any truth in this? Slightly undermines the idea that Cook’s desire to continue is solely due to his brave, manly fortitude.
Not sure how accurate it is…
Just to cheer everyone up, there’s an excellent ‘interview’ with Peter Willey over at cricinfo.
Able to get on with Botham and room with Boycott…
if only he’d taken up team management.
On Boycott: “When you get to know him, he’s all right. He tells it how it is”. Now who does that remind you of?
I’ve heard it before, but the fact that of the three matches in test history won by the side following on, he was involved in two of them – I still find tremendous.
Almost as good is that the 1981 Headingley and Edgbaston tests – two of the most amazing of all time – were the only two he played in which England won. This reminds me of Warren Hegg, who only played two tests, but both were classics – the Melbourne and Sydney games of the 1998/9 Ashes.
Isn’t it great to have some test cricket again today? And with players you can actually admire. Brilliant innings by Younis Khan today, showing old-fashioned patience on a slow wicket. That makes him equal with Inzamam as his nation’s leading scorer of centuries — 25. Curiously, the same number as Sheep has scored, but with Younis’s average five runs per innings higher. And with Johnson showing he can get wickets on the most unresponsive of surfaces, the game is nicely balanced.
Shame it’s not on TV anywhere – at least as far as I can see. Neither on Sky nor CA’s website.
…dodgy internet stream…
What, are you defying Giles Clarke, Clive?
I suspect what if forecast will come to pass; Clarke, Jonnno and co will have enough for an England batting like up of Cook, Robbo, Gaz, Belly, Rooty, Moen etc (though I suspect Mo will be “contributing from no 8. Depending on the numbers, the weaker players, Cook at captain, Moores and the Abbey will all likely go.
But what happens if the Abbey plays the trump card no on seams to gave noticed, that KP has even hightlghted on cricinfo yesterday: he has never been English, would have preferred to play for SA (though Jess will always be English, which is a relief, as will the kid – for now, of course). Now whether this is just KP “today” isn’t relevant, whether he’s just doing is to suck up to GS, MB, JK…
My feeling is KP knows England is done with him. His media and marketing value is zero. He can’t score a run and SOME people don’t like him. So why not bugger off back “home” where the media career and the millions would not have happened among South African media celebrities, but he can stil bleed a few bob today? And currently the SA media jet set is two members down.
So gone on, Abbey, put him in his place: remind the world that his flirtation with English cricket was only for fame and more lucre. OK, it won’t do much for how the ECB has behaved this year, but it should surely convince everyone KP is no saint. Which is fine. As long as he hadn’t played under a flag of media convenience)*
* I do concede that Strauss, Flower, Trott and Jordan are similary gulty, And that Graeme Smth, son of the Velt, has the benefit of an Irish passport. Cut it whichever way, you want, that Brit connection opens more doors than the Saffer one. Jo’burg or London? Erm…