The devil is in the detail: part one

photo (6)

Earlier this week you might have seen our open letter to Waitrose. We wrote to Mark Price, their managing director, requesting that as he uses his influence within the ECB, as England team sponsor. We asked him to tell Giles Clarke that England supporters feel betrayed, ignored, and disenfranchised.

I heard back from Waitrose this morning, and it was a disappointing response. Their press officer simply said she would pass the letter on to the ECB. She didn’t make it clear whether she’d run it past Price’s office, but I suspect not.

We need Price to see the letter himself. Whether or not he acts on it is his choice – but we want him to be able to make that choice. So I went back to Waitrose to gently press the point. When they reply, I’ll let you know what they say.

In other news, Wisden editor Lawrence Booth, also of the Daily Mail’ has popped his head around the door on Dmitri’s blog. Well worth a look.

Meanwhile, here at The Full Toss we’ve already taken two considered looks at Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography, in overview. Alongside the elegant and pithy review by Tregaskis is James Morgan’s study of the book’s key underlying narrative – the interplay between personality, emotion, and politics.

So we’ve talked about the macro. Now comes the micro. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll pick out a selection of the most interesting incidents, facts and specific information the book reveals (and thanks to Clivejw for his fine work already on this front).

Why? Partly because so much of the mainstream coverage of the books appears to be written by people who haven’t actually read it. They glibly flaunt second-hand opinions like two bores in a golf club bar.

There are, of course, some very honourable exceptions.

Here’s another reason: whatever you think of Pietersen, his book is unique. It provides an unparalleled insight into Team England and the ECB. No one else has provided such candid, authentic, and forthright testimony – unafraid to speak his mind, burn bridges, and piss people off. Sure, you might think he’s biased and exaggerates. But the ECB have refuted none of the facts.

The crickosphere became too hung-up on the book’s tone and overlooked a lot of the substance. Really, the book is less important for what it tells us about Pietersen himself than the light he sheds on what was going on around him.

Outside our little universe, the wider world has now moved on. But we won’t, and we can’t. Twenty four days have now elapsed since the confidentiality agreement expired, and still not a peep from St John’s Wood. They’re hoping that by keeping quiet everyone will forget about this. Our job is to stop that happening.

Anyway, to the book, and to start with let’s take a close look at a rather under-reported event.

Pietersen’s solo meeting with Downton shortly before he was sacked

Pietersen himself instigated this:

I had previously discussed the tour with Angus Porter [of the PCA] and we had decided that Downton would be the next stop. I called [him] up and said I thought we should meet. There would have to be debriefings after all that had happened in Australia, and as a senior player I felt the need to be in that loop.

Were there other reasons Pietersen wanted to see Downton? Reading between the lines, his motive was probably to counter what other people were saying about him. He clearly knew his England career was already hanging by a thread. But did Porter know something more specific?

Pietersen says:

I knew there were stories being told against me, so I had said to myself when I asked for the meeting that I would tell the guy everything. I wanted to speak to Downton about my relationship with Andy Flower, which had become a huge issue. It had been played out in the media and refreshed day after day with a steady stream of leaks.

In the meeting Pietersen confronted Downton about the ECB culture of leaking:

I said to Downton, let’s make sure that the discussion we’re having here doesn’t leave these four walls. He seemed offended by the very thought. How dare I even suggest such a thing? Aw, none of that, I said. I’ve been in meetings and the next day I’ll read a version in the media.

I do hope that when the Dark Lord finally emerges from the woodwork for an interview, he gets asked about this. Even if we have to wait until 2019.

During the meeting, Downton criticised Pietersen for his batting during the Ashes tour.

“[He] said he had seen the way I played – I hadn’t batted well. Careless. He saw the way he got out. Reckless”.

Pietersen then goes on to make a good point: what business was it of Downton, as an administrative employee of the ECB, not a coach, to critique his batting in this way, and at their first meeting? When did this become part of the England MD’s remit? We know that Downton later began to barge his way into selection meetings.

According to Pietersen’s account, Downton hadn’t seen his Melbourne innings, nor seemed conscious of it.

Given that Pietersen was series top scorer for England, what did Downton say to the other batsmen? In particular, what was his feedback to Alastair Cook (who made 246 runs at 26.40). Which adjectives did Downton apply to this dismissal, in the second innings at Adelaide?

But for me the most intriguing part of the meeting, as described by Pietersen, was this:

Next question from Downton: where do you see yourself in the future?

I would love to get ten thousand Test runs, and I still think I can offer that. I want to pursue that dream.

Hmm, he said, I would have preferred you to have said, I would like to help England win matches.

If I score ten thousand runs the way I am batting, England will win matches.

Well, he said, I still would have preferred you to have said the other thing.

The meeting throws up several questions. By this point, had Downton already decided to fire Pietersen? If so, why have the meeting? To look for things he could use as justification? If not, did the meeting influence his eventual decision?

According to the ‘due diligence’ dossier, at some point in January:

AF [Andy Flower] was asked for his view on whether KP should form part of England team re‐building process. AF said that AC [Cook] and the Vice‐Captain would struggle to re‐build the team with sufficient unity or strength with KP involved.

As Pietersen himself observes:

Paul Downton, watching his very first test in his brand-new job, opted to study me exclusively and concluded that I looked ‘disengaged’.

Is Downton claiming that he was watching me when I was in the outfield? Why would he do that, if not in order to gather evidence to strengthen a case that somebody must have already made to him?


  • There is one of the contributors on Full Toss who sadly seems to be madly in love with Pietersen his infatuation is beyond belief & I urge his family to get help for him, its as if this was written by Piers Morgan it is absolute drivel, writing to Waitrose & demanding that the ECB sees things his way, I mean seriously, just how deluded is he ?

    Seriously Pal nobody gives a damn what you think about the Pietersen sacking or that you hate Alastair Cook so just grow up & one last thing stop claiming things like Pietersen’s book gives a unique insight into the England dressing room, it doesn’t, It is a mixture of untruths and exaggerations, the claims about bullying were exaggerated just so the paper he did an exclusive deal with had a headline. It’s all about headline grabbing and making money, nothing else and you need to be a complete idiot to fall for it.

    • Small point Jim. In fact more than one.
      That article was written by one of the guys who runs the blog. So – don’t read it if you find his opinions so painful.
      If nobody cared what he thought, none of us would be here.
      Last thing – telling someone whose opinion you disagree with to “grow up” – well, it’s a bit, wouldn’t you say….juvenile?

    • Well I’d sooner be accused of infatuation with Pietersen than be a courtier of Flower, invoking Piers Morgan/describing supporters of England’s leading run scorer as “odious”/spending two years hinting that Pietersen has done terrible things without offering a shred of evidence, while casually insulting anyone with the temerity to demand evidence/invoking Piers Morgan again/telling everyone Pietersen was motivated entirely by money while ignoring a stampeding herd of elephants in the boardroom/fawning all over a coach whose record started falling off a cliff nearly three years ago/oh, errrr, if all that doesn’t work, should I refer to Piers Morgan yet again?

      Not saying you’re a courtier of Flower, Jim, but if you think Pietersen’s the only one who’s been shovelling industrial quantities of shit since 2009, you’re woefully mistaken.

    • Seriously Pal, (good Glesga crack thaaat)
      ” nobody gives a damn what you think” . If you apply this statement to yourself then it would be the only accurate and sensible comment in your entire statement.

      ” It is a mixture of untruths and exaggerations”, this would also describe the gist of everything you say unless of course you have definitive proof to show where Pietersen lies.The more realistic view is that your comments reveal your bigoted dislike and ignorance of matters KP and like most of his detractors, when asked for examples will answer with the statement “everybody knows’, “it’s common knowledge”. The wonder of people such as yourself is that you actually believe the tripe that is force fed you by the ECB and their acolytes in the press.

      If only you had enough intelligence to think for yourself and ask the questions of the ECB that matter to REAL supporters of English Cricket. The primary questions being “why were we so bad in Aus” , ” what are the real reasons behind KP getting the boot”, ” why are thinking supporters of cricket treated with such disdain by the ECB and the press”.

      Answer any of these conundrums and you might earn the right to be taken seriously on this forum.

    • Mr Goddard
      Funny how your sort routinely invoke Piers Morgan and at the same time give a conclusive demonstration that they share his many unappealing characteristics!

    • Ooh err missus. So KP wants to get money from IPL? At least he asked for permission from the ECB to do so. Unlike all those pillars of the England Cricket establishment who deserted England for “filthy” rand and bugger England!

      And seriously Jim I am interested in why KP was sacked in the way he was sacked. And seriously, no one on here is “madly in love with Pietersen” – perish the thought and that is just so infantile. Just as “you hate Alastair Cook” has not been said on this thread.

      Sadly, I think you have dropped into the same “trap” as journos: Support KP means that one “loves KP!” Criticise Cook for his poor batting and captaincy and one “hates Cook!” Never ceases to amaze me how many times this same old drivel is churned out! At best your attack on Maxie and The Full Toss is naive and spurious to say the least. At worst is is disingenuous!

      Due to KP’s batting and the excitement he engendered with the crowds that came to see him, brought in a great deal of “filthy lucre” into the ECB. Meanwhile Mr Clarke has power and money grabbed millions from his deal with Sky and of course his ICC wholesale take-over! There’s a really good headline for you: ‘Giles Clarke power and money grabbing extraordinaire” — The ECB denies the next generation seeing International Cricket.’

  • Nobody gives a damn Jim?
    I think you’ll find that you’re wrong.
    I do for a start.
    And I dare say a few others.
    You’re wrong about this.And you’re wrong about a whole heap of other things.

  • This is just too funny. This Downton idiot is even less professional than Flower.

    The whole interview reads like a 2012 sketch.

    • It reads to me like a schoolmaster trying to tell off a pupil. “So, Kevin, where do you see yourself in the future?”

      “I want to be a world-famous cricketer and get ten thousand Test runs, sir.”

      “Hmm. I would have preferred you to have said, I would like to help the school win matches. You know very well that our motto here at St Giles’s is esprit de corps first and foremost.”

      No doubt KP was supposed to say “Yes, sir, sorry, sir” instead of answering back.

      Hard to believe it was a conversation between two grown men.

  • For all these “untruths” and “exaggerations” there hasn’t exactly been a lot of proof to the contrary? Just saying…..

    Have a lovely weekend, Jim.

    • And assuming that Pietersen’s recall of Downton’s question is accurate, the wording of “where do you see yourself in the future?” overwhelmingly invites a personally-orientated answer.

  • “Seriously Pal nobody gives a damn what you think ”

    Well pal, you obviously do since you are on here spouting ECB talking points.

    Nothing funnier than someone who says this……”one last thing stop claiming things like Pietersen’s book gives a unique insight into the England dressing room,”………And then immediately gives his own unique insight into the dressing room.

    How do you know what the dressing room is like? How do you know if bullying took place? I see you managed to get the obligatory Piers Morgan reference in. Is this the the new ECB drinking game? “Piers Morgan.” DRINK!

    3 out of 10. Could do much better. Jim has a tendency to believe anything he is spoon fed by the ECB gutter media. Needs to think for himself a bit more.


    • “How do you know what the dressing room is like? How do you know if bullying took place?”

      Oh that’s easy Mark. Just a glass against the wall and have a damn good listen!!! LOL.

      Such a good point Mark. How many journos and/or ex players have said the same about what went on in the dressing room? It must have been bloody crowded in that room to get all those people in it aye? As I have said, ad nauseum, the ones that broke the “sanctity” (as Prior put it himself!) of the dressing room was? KP? Of course not. It was Cook & Prior! It was they who broke the secrecy in Australia. But we mustn’t let the ex-journos et al lies get in the way of that little TRUTH!

  • I see Trott’s been called up by the Lions. A cynic might suggest that carrot is there to shut him up.

    Also interesting that the performance squad will be accompanying England to Sri Lanka and will be managed by..Andy Flower.

    • How interesting. You are a cynic THA, and you can add me to the list! That is a damn big Carrot aye? The ECB certainly do not want him to tell the world and his wife that bullying existed. Clever but I am not sure it will work in the long term.

  • Maxie! Please don’t be put off by the inane comments of Jim Goddard here or those of James Allen on the Waitrose Letter post. Hate blinds people to truth. You are doing an excellent job repeatedly highlighting ECB’s failings and deserve applause not abuse. :-)

  • The people at the ECB belong in a Tudor court. Plotting, spying, entrapment, interrogation, and then public execution. (Figuratively speaking)

    Downton “Hmm, he said, I would have preferred you to have said, I would like to help England win matches.” ………………. Translated into Tudor means……”your loyalty to the King Is being questioned”

    How was Flower helping to win matches when he is devoting his time into putting his best player under 24 hour watch. Creating situations where a player can entrap himself. And compiling dossiers to be used in evidence against him.?

    It’s almost as if the whole Ashes tour was written off just so they could rid themselves of this uppity South African. And at 4-0 down a senior ECB courtier flies in for the final test to sign the death warrant.

  • It’s Downton who has the answer to the future question back to front. If I were conducting a performance review on him at, say, JP Morgan and Downton responded with “I would like to help the company make more money”, I’d tell him not to be so vague and focus on personal targets e.g. Win more contracts, reduce operating costs (specific initiatives to be offered), improve customer satisfaction by 10%. I find his approach in dealing with a senior employee quite inept – unless it didn’t really matter what KP answered as he was already condemned.

  • Good piece.
    I’ve said over on Dmitri’s site that it really bothers me how journalists have ignored the thing about injuries.

    We know other players have been played injured – sometimes because the staff fail to restrain them, sometimes because the staff pressure them into it. We surmise from the injury rate that due care and attention is not being taken.

    KP gives insight into all these issues, insight that should lead to more questions being asked of Team England. Why aren’t the journalists asking these questions?

    (I’ll note that they never ask Arsene Wenger in depth either, but they certainly raise it with him much more often…)

  • And Damien Martyn was on the receiving end of an awful LBW decision by Steve Bucknor… swings and roundabouts…


copywriter copywriting