Here’s Vic Marks on Alastair Cook:
“It is not a fresh phenomenon for the nation to debate whether the right man is in charge but this has seldom been accompanied by such vitriol – at least on social media”.
I like Vic, both as a writer and broadcaster, but I wonder if Twitter and Facebook have come along a little too late in his career. He’s fallen, as so many do, into the obvious trap – of regarding social media as an autonomous entity with its own consciousness, rather than simply an expression of what people think (which is generally what it actually is).
When Vic says vitriol on social media, what he actually means is vitriol by many England supporters.
But what counts, or doesn’t, as the authentic view of “real” fans depends on the point you want to make. Vic goes on to remark that:
“At the games there was a discernible groundswell of support for Cook – he received a remarkable standing ovation when reaching 50 at Southampton”.
Cookites love on to harp on about the Ageas Bowl ovation. This moving display of emotion, they try to convince us, demonstrates that true supporters (as opposed to us waspish irritants on blogs) remain obediently in adoration of our Dear Leader.
What they fail to point out is that the ground was barely half full for most of the match. What did all the empty seats say? All summer crowds were poor. What does that tell you about the grass roots’ relationship with the establishment and their captain?
There is another point in play here. Alastair Cook will drop his toast butter-side-up and everyone will show sympathy for his rotten luck. Kevin Pietersen will do the same, and then be accused of deliberately trying to ruin the carpet.
The idea that, of all people, it’s Cook who gets the vitriol on social media is completely ridiculous.
Earlier today, Kevin Pietersen Tweeted:
WAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! MY CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT EXPIRES AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT…
Test Match Special then posted the Tweet on their Facebook page. Here are some of the responses:
The overall thrust was that (a) Pietersen is a c*** (no reason given) and (b) what a cheek he has in finally telling his story after being sacked without explanation and then coerced into silence. How dare he write an autobiography!
There were a few supportive comments, but they were vastly in the minority. The level of aggression, pure hatred, and ingratitude, are very saddening.
Kevin Pietersen is the highest scoring batsman in the history of English cricket. Just think about that for a moment. He also made twenty three test centuries, and 8,112 runs at 47.28. And yet many England supporters wish – violently – that we’d never had him.
Why? If you boil down his alleged misdemeanours, there is actually nothing on him of any substance. And his critics know this, deep down. They don’t hate him for a few texts or a messy attempt to miss some ODIs. No, they revile him for his alien attitudes. Pietersen was nakedly ambitious. He wanted success and made no apology for his desires or achievements. He lacked self-effacement.
None of those characteristics go down well in England. We prefer modest types who fail to brash braggards who win. Pietersen is hated because he unsettled us, scared us, took us out of our comfort zone. His swagger held up a mirror to our national self-loathing, and we didn’t like what we saw. He was the flash guy at uni with the sports car and hot girlfriend, but you preferred to hang out with the boring loser who made you feel good by comparison.
The Facebook comments above demonstrate why the England cricket team will never again become world number one. We don’t want to win. It’s too scary. We’d rather lose, so we can feel sorry for ourselves. Who would we rather have? An insipid yes-man like Alastair Cook, who polishes his blazer buttons nicely and doesn’t scare the horses? Or someone reckless, exciting, and unique? No contest.
As Pink Floyd said (and, I know, I’ve quoted this before), hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.