Time to Move On

They say moving on is hard to do. They’re wrong. It’s bloody hard. But, alas, we must. Moaning isn’t fun anymore and it won’t do us any good – unless someone, somewhere, does actually have a plan to storm the barricades at ECB headquarters.

The uncomfortable truth is the ECB have got away with their dastardly deeds and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s not the first calamity the ECB have overseen and it won’t be the last.

What’s more, now the initial anger has relented I can actually see the logic in their decisions. I cannot agree with how they’ve gone about things, but I can at least see some kind of rationale.

Let’s look at things from Paul Dowton’s perspective: there was no viable alternative to Alastair Cook as captain. This might be a terrible state of affairs, but it happens to be the truth.

Once the captain wanted Kevin Pietersen bundled into a rocket and launched into outer space, what was Downton supposed to do? He couldn’t fire the captain so firing KP into orbit was his only option. The status quo was untenable.

Downton couldn’t tell us the truth about KP because the truth was too uncomfortable to utter publically: “Cook is weak, but he’s the best we’ve got; therefore the best player must be sacrificed”.

This is probably what Downton thought but he couldn’t announce it to the world. Instead he implied some kind of cultural schism that couldn’t be reconciled. What would you have said to the media instead? It was a tricky one to say the least.

What’s more, political factors cannot be ignored in all this. Pietersen’s face didn’t fit with the ECB stooges, Downton knew this, and he didn’t feel comfortable, in his first day in the job, sacking the captain to preserve the career of a batsman his employers and co-workers didn’t like.

None of this is ideal, I grant you, but you can see why it happened. Sometimes we are all hamstrung by circumstances and no gnashing of teeth can change things.

It’s all very well for bloggers like me to write how much they dislike Cook – I still do, and will probably always think he’s somewhat overrated – but if it’s a choice between a 33 year old batsman or a 29 year old one, one must be practical.

What’s more, where does my dislike of Cook actually come from? It’s my hang-up, my prejudice, and it’s probably really unfair. By all accounts he’s nice guy. And I’m an intolerant miserable git with one per cent of his talent (if that).

And then we come to Moores … I cannot agree with the decision to appoint him but again, I can see why the decision was made.

The ECB know how they’re perceived across the land (and the world). Much as we like to portray them as aloof, arrogant fuddy duddies, they’re not entirely stupid.

Giles Clarke might act like a ponce, but he’s an incredibly smart man – and one hell of a negotiator and politician.

Meanwhile, James Whitaker is an intelligent, dignified man. He was a distinguished player and captained lowly Leicestershire to the country championship twice in 1996 and 1998. He knows what decisions will be popular and which ones will not – he wouldn’t have taken the decision to sack Pietersen and appoint Moores lightly.

When it came to appointing a new coach the ECB were hamstrung by two factors (a) the IPL, which ties up the best coaches with rickshaws full of dosh and (b) the fallout of the KP debacle.

They couldn’t tell the world the real reasons for sacking Pietersen, so they were powerless as the fans revolted and the international cricket community sneered. What coach worth his salt would want to walk into that mess?

The reality is only five credible coaches actually expressed an interest the job: Moores, Giles, Newell, Bayliss and Robison.

There were compelling reasons to disregard all these candidates. Moores was a failure first time round. Giles was an incumbent failure. Newell has been in county cricket for a long time and probably won less than he should have done, and Bayliss was Australian (which wouldn’t feel right).

That left Robinson as the only remaining candidate, but his appointment would’ve made no sense because he’s essentially Moores light. Why eat low calorie chocolate when you can eat the real thing?

Given a choice between what the makers of South Park would call a giant douche and four turd sandwiches (please excuse the crude metaphor) the ECB put its faith in the giant douche. They called him ‘the best coach of his generation’ at the press conference, but what were they going to say?

“Hello everyone, we’re a little bit embarrassed to introduce you to the new / old England coach, Peter Moores. He was the best we could get. Depressing, isn’t it”

Moores was the best candidate willing to accept the job. I’m sure of this. What’s more, he does have his supporters. Many, many people in the English game think highly of him.

It’s an inconvenient truth for the naysayers, but highly respected observers like Mike Atherton, Ian Botham, Nasser Hussain, plus experienced journalists like Mike Selvey, George Dobell and yes, Jonathan Agnew, have some very positive things to say about Moores.

This leaves critics like us in an awkward position: we can either accept they know better than us or concoct some kind of conspiracy whereby journos and broadcasters are only being nice to Moores because they have to (to preserve their access to England press conferences and keep the sponsors happy etc). Much as conspiracies are fun, they’re usually wrong.

I think the obvious point is this: the ECB were in a terrible mess at the end of the Ashes. They probably wanted to appoint a new captain but they couldn’t. They probably wanted a better coach, but again they couldn’t. At least they didn’t appoint bloody Giles.

Which brings me back to the title of this post: it’s time to move on. I’m going to find it harder than most to support an England team led by two men I dislike – two men who make me cringe when I see them talk on camera – but what choice do I have?

I’m not going to start a revolution (and neither are you).

I’m not going to support someone else (and neither are you).

I enjoy watching cricket far too much to become disengaged and ignore England’s matches until Moores is sacked and Cook is back amongst the rank and file (and I suspect you do too)

What’s more, I have a cricket blog to run, and not everyone agrees with the cynical, negative view of English cricket we’ve articulated in recent weeks.

In the words of Peter Moores, and every other cricket coach England have employed in recent times, it’s time to take the positives.

I’ll give you one now: Paul Farbrace is a gem. What’s more, appointing an assistant coach is a good way to prevent burnout without resorting to split coaching teams for tests and ODIs (which didn’t work).

Whenever Moores needs to take a break (and let’s hope it’s often) Farbrace can step into the breach. This gives scope for rest and recuperation while ensuring continuity.

Maybe the ECB are geniuses after all?*

James Morgan

* no they aren’t



  • All very true Morgsie – whatever we think of the events of the last few months, and the incumbent captain, coach and management, we have no realistic option but to put them behind us and move on. We aren’t going to stop watching England, and there’s no alternative team to get behind (unlike football and rugby, even I can’t play my Scottish heritage card and support the Jocks instead). Even so, I’m still going into this season more disillusioned with cricket in general, and England in particular, more than any time I can remember.

  • Well said… although I can’t help feeling a massive sense of relief now that you’ve finally taken this pragmatic stance. Genuinely love this blog, but was slowly starting to dread coming on it to read yet more depressing articles about he-who-must-not-be-blamed…. (I say depressing because I agreed with most of them but hated the constant reminders!)

      • Much as I like comparing Downton to Hitler, the fact is that nearly every single person that’s met him is damn impressed. Even Sir Ian Beefiness, probably one of the most antiestablishment pundits, was highly complimentary on Sky the other day. At what point do we accept that he isn’t all bad? Although I do say this through gritted teeth.

          • I don’t think anyone has ever questioned the character of the man, but his impact in the role previously left a lot to be desired, and the results were, if you’re being incredibly kind, aggressively mediocre. The only true test will be results this time round. Bollocks to all the nonsense about Englishness and reconnecting. Just win games, and win them well.

            • To quote one Derek Trotter “au contraire”. I do question the character of a man who was definitely part of an operation that put out a press release telling you, and me, and any other man, woman or child that pays to watch this fantastic sport we love as “outside cricket”. Of all the characters in this tragic play, he’s the one I’m most annoyed about, and yet has been given a free ride by the press (who are quick to acclaim how approachable he is).

              • The deceit was surely because he couldn’t tell the truth i.e. that Cook is a crap captain, he couldn’t handle rogues like KP, but he’s unfortunately the best we’ve got. This kind of talking around issues happens in all sports all the time. A football manager can’t say “Heskey is shit, but I’ll keep picking him because all our other strikers are rubbish”. They dress things up.

                I admit that the phrase ‘outside cricket’ was clumsy, unfortunately and revealed the arrogance of the ECB, but has anyone stopped to think that what he really meant was “people outside the dressing who don’t know exactly what’s going on and aren’t privy to all the information”.

                I just think that people hate the ECB so much that they’re interpreting absolutely everything they do or say through a warped prism. It’s impossible to give anyone a fair hearing if the judge is angry. I’m just trying to be more objective and try to see the other side, no matter how weak it might be.

              • “Outside cricket” may have been aimed partly at Piers Morgan – which is even worse. Their response to thousands of supporters’ dismay was just to focus on one man who’d been embarrassing them. I’d be more inclined to take your view, James, if the ECB had publicly recognised how pissed off everyone is. Downton or Clarke could have addressed the public and said “look, I know you’re upset with us, and we regret that, but we’re trying our best for the team, and as employers we just can’t publicise everything which happens in private”.

                But what have they actually done? Giles Clarke gave us orders in the third person: “England supporters must move on”. Downton hid away and briefed hacks in private. When he eventually surfaced, at the Moores presser, he thanked his newspaper friends for turning up, but did not address one single word to supporters.

              • You ask why they didn’t say: “look, I know you’re upset with us, and we regret that, but we’re trying our best for the team, and as employers we just can’t publicise everything which happens in private”.

                I imagine they didn’t do this because quite a lot of people agreed with the decision to fire KP. The supporters were by no means unanimous. Pietersen has always been a polarising figure.

                The other explanation could be that they simply misread public opinion. They are, after all, complete muppets who are out of touch with ordinary fans as you say.

              • James,

                All the straw polls in the immediate aftermath pointed one way. Now, they weren’t scientific, but there was decided unrest. The ECB gave off the impression that they didn’t give a toss.

                Just for information purposes, I really didn’t give a stuff about the ECB before all this, but when I’m told someone is great (Downton) when all the public evidence suggests the opposite, then I’m even more on my guard. Since then their arrogance and contempt has made me angry beyond comprehension to the degree that I would much rather see Downton and Giles removed more than KP reinstated.

  • Excellent and very fair blog.
    Hope a lot of the disgruntled fans can take this as inspiration.
    The international summer has started, whether we like the XI and the coaching staff or not, these are our boys and they are representing our country on the field.
    They need our support


    • You’ve summed up my feelings exactly – whatever our differing opinions on recent events, we are all united by being supporters of the England cricket team. Bring on SL & India!

  • Great article James, sum’s up my thoughts exactly…

    “Much as conspiracies are fun, they’re usually wrong.”

    Great to see so many of our batsmen in form for their counties cos let’s be honest they haven’t been in nick for 2 years (inc. Pietersen and Trott) and dare I say, seeing S Finn blowing teams away again.

    The biggest concern far above who is coach, selector or head of ecb is who is Swann’s replacement? Granted, County Cricket in May is not the best time to Judge but who are the viable candidates? Having said that looking at our opponents in the summer it’s tempting to pack the side with pace.

  • We don’t have any quality spinners. That’s the brutal truth. The drop-off between the best specialist spinner and Moeen Ali is so slight (in pure bowling terms) that I would simply play Ali as an all-rounder. Best overall package. It’s not exactly ideal, but Ali is now a frontline bowler for Worcs and we could do a lot worse.

    The Cricketboks have proven that you don’t need to have a world class spinner to be successful. It helps a lot, but it’s not the be all and end all. What’s more, the best England team of recent times (in my opinion) was the 2003-2005 side. Giles was the spinner back then, and he was no better than Ali.

  • Re: Ali that’s very true and he’s certainly a better batsmen… what Giles and England did benefit from was A Flintoff as their 4th bowler and no. 6 bat. If Stokes develops into this role then a defensive spinner batsman would do the job.

  • The idea that Cook is the only choice as captain doesn’t seem right to me. He’s an awful captain – are you seriously suggesting that someone like Bell wouldn’t be able to do a better job?

    • Afraid so, yeah. By all reports Bell has no aptitude for captaincy at all. He’s never been in the running for the captaincy of any of the England teams during a long career (much as I love his batting). The only possible alternative is Broad, but he didn’t look very comfortable in the recent limited overs fixtures and the idea of him being in charge of DRS referrals is quite worrying.

      • Not to put too fine a point on it, but what aptitude for captaincy has Cook shown? 100+ Tests and he’s still dreadful at it.

        Bell is Warks captain at the moment, isn’t he? Seem to recall the papers being generally impressed with how he marshalled his bowlers and fields.

        It doesn’t have to be Bell; I just think that Cook has been given all the time in the world and still isn’t any good at it. Time to take a punt on someone else.

        • If Bell really is a better option than Cook, don’t you think the players would have put his name forward instead of Broad, Cook etc. He’s never even been vice captain. That honour has gone to various people through the years (prior, swann , Trescothick to name a few). Much as we don’t like it, those in the know (which includes people we like as well as dislike) think Cook is the best option. If Cook isn’t the best option, and isn’t popular with the team, then please explain why he IS captain without resorting to conspiracy theories we have no evidence for.

          I am one of Cook’s biggest critics, but even I have to admit that he’s captain for a logical reason (even if I disagree with that reason). None of us really knows what goes on behind closed doors, but until there’s a mutiny against Cook I have to assume he has the backing of the team – no matter how much his tactics suck.

  • We are a broad church here at TFT, and much as I understand your logic, James, I cannot agree with many of your sentiments. For one thing, the phrase “move on” reminds me of Giles Clarke’s very unsavoury command to England supporters, and for that reason alone I cannot countenance it.

    I would argue that you cannot move on when there’s been no kind of resolution. To move on, quite simply, is ignoring that any of this happened and allowing the ECB to get away with it.

    To remind you, since February the ECB have sacked a very important player and their only explanations have been meaningless (and erroneous) waffle. They have dissembled, obfuscated, and quite frankly, told lies. For example, does that dossier of KP’s 50 misdemeanours actually exist?

    Their attitude to supporters oscillates between apathy and outright contempt. All they care about is what Waitrose and a few journalists think.

    At no point have they done anything at all to recognise supporters’ disquiet and hurt – instead, they keep telling us to shut up and keep our noses out of their business.

    They have also appointed a coach who was fired for being useless the first time, hired two selectors who have conflicted interests, and expend all their energies on persuading us to shop at Waitrose.

    Cricket does not belong to the ECB, but they think it does. They are a private company, funded entirely by, but entirely unaccountable to, us, the supporter base.

    At the moment, I am beginning to think of the England team as actually the ECB team, because nothing about the way they operate is representative of the everyday cricket following public.

  • Everything you say is right Maxie. But what’s your plan? Just disengage from cricket and support someone else? There’s sod all we can do, and moaning about the same thing forever does nobody any good and actually puts quite a lot of people off.

    Nothing in life is perfect, so why not just accept the ECB are muppets and get on with supporting the players in the team we still like. We all still have great affection for the likes of Bell, Anderson etc and I really hope the likes of Ballance, Stokes etc have long prosperous careers no matter who the coach is.

    If you have a plan to wrestle cricket away from the ECB then execute it, and I’ll support you 100%. But I doubt it can be done. The whole system (including the counties etc) is too entrenched.

    At some point we have to confess that we don’t know it all, concede there’s two sides to every story, contemplate the fact we might be wrong about certain aspects of the issues (or at least recognise things aren’t always black and white), and get on with life. And when Cook / Moores screw up don’t worry, I’ll be the first on their case, believe me!

    • I disagree. There is something you can do.

      Don’t go to matches. Cancel your Sky subscription. Or if you actually MUST go to games, boo like crazy whenever there’s cause to do so (Cook on the big screen, shots of ECB hierarchy etc). Continue to express heartfelt opinions and displeasure towards the ECB BTL on national newspaper websites. Hell, write to Waitrose and say you won’t be shopping there anymore because of its association with a corrupt, pernicious sporting body.

      Ultimately the ECB don’t care. They know that regardless of how they behave, people will pay through the nose to watch a sub-standard England team nurdle and prod around, or bowl dry at superior teams until they’re bored into submission.

      The only thing that would really hurt them is if there was an appreciable drop in revenue. It won’t take too many half-full grounds and plunging shirt sales for them to start to worry. I wonder how much continued failure the public will stomach before that sort of thing occurs?

      It’s why I think we’ve seen a remarkably conservative selection for the ODIs and T20 games. There’s no reason to bring Anderson back into the T20 team, for example, save to try and buy a result. The ECB know that public support is incredibly fragile – that the generous supporters will be willing to suspend their disbelief and get behind a failed former coach, incapable, uninspiring captain and callow team initially in the hope that results will be delivered, but if they aren’t forthcoming, I daresay that will ebb away.

      In all probability, we’ll knock off Sri Lanka in very helpful conditions. If India turn up and play like they did last time, we’re quids in again. I rather hope the ‘good’ India rock up and give us an absolute pasting though, much as it pains me to say it.

      I think fundamentally I’m unwilling to raise the white flag.

      Because I can’t believe the solution to what transpired in Australia is dropping our best batsman, putting a few coaches belatedly out to pasture (but asking them to keep working with players all the same), promoting the head coach and re-hiring a failed one.

      Because I believe the ECB is running English cricket in the best interests of the ECB, not the English game.

      Because they killed off the one player who in recent years has done things on a cricket pitch no English batsman in my lifetime has done, and made the world’s best bowlers look hapless in so doing.

      • Brilliant response. Enjoyed it. There’s just two problems. A. Nobody will pay 80 quid to attend a test match just to boo, and B. You’re saying you want England to lose just so Cook and Moores get the boot. They’re not going to go this summer, no matter how bad results get, so I take it you’re prepared to write off the 2015 Ashes. I’m not. I’d rather win the ashes with a captain and coach who are winning me around than get trounced just so I can say ‘I told you so’ to those who actually want the team to win.

        Ps I’m rather enjoying this devil’s advocate thing – even if it means contradicting everything I’ve written over the last four months!

        • I disagree that Cook will not go regardless of the results this summer. Losing either test series would put him in an extremely vulnerable position. Bear in mind that he apparently seriously considered quitting at the end of the Australia tour, which (horrendous though it was) was one bad series.

          I don’t think he has full confidence in his own ability to do the job and needed a lot of behind the scenes support to persuade him to carry on, including (conspiracy alert) the removal of any threats to his authority. If, having had such support, he doesn’t deliver results in home series where we are favourites, his authority is going to drain away among team mates (some of whom have hinted unsubtly that they are unhappy with events since February) as well as supporters

          The absence of an obvious successor is a bit of a red herring because if you need to appoint someone you will identify them. I’d put Broad as favourite and Bell second, either of whom would not be worse than the incumbent.

  • Well, James it’s your blog and you are entitled to move on and do whatever you wish with it. Equally, we out here can take whatever stance we think fit. The reason there is so much complaining about what is happening with the England cricket team (as with other sports too) is down to the sheer frustration we feel from not being able to do anything about it.

    I haven’t been a “supporter” of the England team for a few years now. I go along primarily to watch good cricket and great cricketers showing their skills. Lost faith with England because of Miller’s “consistency is all that matters”, i,e, you get to watch players out of form and not worth the entrance fee, like walking wicket Collingwood in his last 2 years and our keeper imitating a frightened rabbit when standing up and the ball pops.

    However, county cricket is looking extremely attractive this year. We get to watch Tresco, Sanga, Read, Foster, Finn, Graeme Smith, KP, to name but a few, plus, if the selectors view of him is as daft as yours, the superb Monty.

    • I’m not going to start liking the ECB. I’m just going to stop talking about them and concentrate on the cricket . It’s a real shame you gave up on England a few years ago because you didn’t agree with a few selections and thought Collingwood should have been dropped two years earlier. You missed a few highlights (and a few lowlights).

      Don’t understand the Monty comment. I have a daft view of him? How do you mean? Not sure I’ve talked about him for a long time. He was good against India, poor against New Zealand and Australia. I would like to think he has a future, but it seemed apparent on the Ashes tour that the management had lost faith in him – in part because he had off field problems too. I respect this judgement because I have no reason to think the decision was made for non cricketing reasons. If they recall him, then I’ll respect that decision too. I might hold an opinion on how they treat Monty, and whether he’s worth a place in the side, but I won’t forget the value of my opinion (which isn’t much, as I can’t tell exactly what’s going on from my sofa).

    • Interesting comments, and many thanks – but just on one point: in our suggested XI fot the first test, we nominated Monty as the spinner.

  • Wanting the England team to ‘get a pasting’ because the management dropped your favourite player? Oh dear.

    Getting excited about conspiracy and heresy is one thing, as entertaining as it may be to read, but wanting your own country to lose is madness.

    The winters whitewash sealed the end of an era and there was bound to be an upheaval and subsequent decisions we agreed or disagreed with. Time will tell which of these prove to be justified.

    James, I fear we stand alone here.

  • I am unhappy with pretty much everything the ECB have done since the winter, but I think what separates myself and Maxie is a difference of opinion over whether the ECB are running English cricket purely for themselves or the health of the team.

    I can see the argument that the ECB do not respect the fans (I agree) but I don’t quite agree that they’re running things purely like a private club. I honestly believe they want the England team to perform to the best of its ability and win as many matches as possible – and I believe this is still the overriding aim of the ECB rather than personal vendettas etc.

    Just think about it. A successful team means more money, less criticism, more praise and an easier life. I therefore refuse to believe they’ve dropped Pietersen and persist with Cook as skipper for no reason other than prejudice and old school ties etc. It just makes no sense. If we’ve learned anything about the ECB over the years it’s that they’re motivated primarily by money and commercial concerns. They wouldn’t have taken the decision to drop the most entertaining player unless they thought it was necessary – not expose themselves the way they have.

    I think the ECB have made wrong calls at every turn, but I believe they’ve done them for the right reasons – or at least what they think are the right reasons. There may be a prejudice against Pietersen, but I believe it’s only a part of the decision not the main part. At the end of the day the ECB want England to win first and foremost. More glory for them.

  • James – when many of us feel the ECB is supping with the devil, while we are largely kept in the dark by a gagging order no doubt defined by the devil in the detail, you mischievously decide to play devil’s advocate. There is just too much devilry in this story.

    At least TFT embodies the spirit of cricket whereby deeply held but opposing opinions can be expressed passionately and with good grace.

    I agree with your start point that everything has more or less flowed from the ECB’s decision to invest in Cook as captain. In a BTL post in the Guardian back on 1 April, I concluded –

    “The truth that the ECB cannot and will not tell is that Pietersen was sacked because Cook was a fragile captain who felt more and more undermined as a leader with every defeat he presided over. For a neurotic and failing captain, no doubt every suggestion, shrug, squint and score by Pietersen took on the monster-like proportions of a revolt. The more Pietersen was seen to help the other players the more it looked to Cook that Pietersen was plotting a schism. The ECB pinned their colours to Cook so Pietersen had to go. Everything else – Cook’s captaincy escaping scrutiny, the leaking against Pietersen, the four-page dossier, the dissembling press releases, the toe-curling press conferences – all flowed from this miserable decision.

    “As England cricket plumbs new depths, with each rock bottom concealing a fresh nadir, the real story for journalists to examine is the wisdom and mechanics of the ECB’s decision to invest in Cook’s flawed captaincy at the expense of Pietersen.”

    I also agree that there is little we can do. Battle weariness has worn down the complaining combatants, the fellowship of truth is suffering fury fatigue. Now I know that this is just a sport, and proportionality is essential if we are to avoid losing all sense of perspective, but tyranny in whatever sphere will always seek to wear down the opposition until they have no more blow. The majority most likely care little for the politicking but just want to get on with enjoying the cricket. But for all the good it has ever done me, I prefer to line up with the philosophers rather than the pragmatists. Plato said, “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Edmund Burke said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” There is a principle at stake here that I believe in.

    Cricket is in a bad place at the moment. The current modus operandi of the ECB is, in many ways, a sideshow compared with the ICC’s carve up, alleged corruption in the IPL, and new allegations of spot fixing that threatens to engulf English cricket, too. I just wish that we fans could point to the ECB as a pillar of propriety as the sport is dragged down by vested interest, dishonesty and greed. Instead, the ECB makes it all too easy for us to tar them with the same shabby brush.

    I also think there is a huge leap between moving on through exhaustion and accepting that maybe journalists like Mike Selvey and Jonathan Agnew may have just been right all along. Any analysis of their reporting over the last four months will show they have slavishly followed the ECB agenda with their narrative increasingly lacking cohesion with every non-linear adjustment coming out of the ECB press office. I am also struck that for every on-message cricket expert, there were many more prepared to ask the telling questions, such as Vic Marks, Barney Ronay, Andy Bull, Paul Haywood, George Dobell and Peter Hayter.

    I know we do not know all the facts. But we are able to take a view on the information that does filter into the public domain, listen to what the protagonists have to say, weigh up their actions and form an opinion that deserves a little more respect than that given by the cricionados. Likewise, I have no idea what is really being said and done in the cabinet room and the great departments of state, but the system says that I can use my limited knowledge and opinions to vote the buggers out. I feel that while we have a voice, we have a duty to use it.

    • As ever, Tregaskis, you put it better than I ever could. I could not agree more fervently with every sentiment, as I will elaborate on in more detail in a post this week.

  • I’ve just summarised my feelings on Dimitri’s blog as follows:

    I love getting on my soap box, and I can be an angry person sometimes. I was furious with the ECB over Pietersen and Moores, but the more pundits I’ve seen (and read) disagreeing with my point of view – plus a few personal friends I hasten to add – I’m slowly beginning to change my perspective somewhat (now I’ve calmed down a bit).

    There are some cricket pundits I loath, and some I love. I’ve seen plenty of people I admire say positive things about Moores etc over the last few weeks, and I came to realise that either (a) they’re lying on camera and not saying what they really believe (which is a bit of a conspiracy theory, or (b) I’ve got this one slightly wrong.

    The other option, of course, would be to argue that I know better than these doyens of the game (who have access to more / better information than me) but this would just be daft, wouldn’t it?!

    It’s interesting that you should mention George Dobell above. I think he’s a great journalist and he was one of the few prepared to call for Flower’s removal. I hate to say it, but Dobell has been pretty pro-Moores. Atherton and Hussain too. I respect all these men. It’s hard for me to consistently ignore the views of observers I respect without eventually altering my own perspective somewhat.

  • A poster said the England team is the “ECB team”. To be honest it’s the Sky 11 owned by Sky. All English cricket – England, domestic T20 (whatever it’s called this week) is behind a Sky paywall watched by those who can afford it. And Giles Clarke is a crook.

  • 1. “Let’s look at things from Paul Dowton’s perspective: there was no viable alternative to Alastair Cook as captain. This might be a terrible state of affairs, but it happens to be the truth.”

    Why isn’t Stuart Broad a viable alternative?

    2. “Once the captain wanted Kevin Pietersen bundled into a rocket and launched into outer space, what was Downton supposed to do? He couldn’t fire the captain so firing KP into orbit was his only option. The status quo was untenable.”

    They could absolutely have replaced Cook as captain. If, as you suggest, he demanded KP be sacked because he simply couldn’t handle him, then that is even more reason to look at the other captaincy options.

    Just imagine if, in the next 12 months, Cook is replaced as captain. Is that really so implausible? And, in that event, all this talk about ‘no viable alternative’ will sound pretty bloody hollow. It would be a case of axing KP to prop up a leadership group that maybe shouldn’t have been propped up. How will you feel about that?

    3. “Downton couldn’t tell us the truth about KP because the truth was too uncomfortable to utter publically: “Cook is weak, but he’s the best we’ve got; therefore the best player must be sacrificed”.”

    Again, why do you blithely accept that Cook is the only option?

    4. “It’s all very well for bloggers like me to write how much they dislike Cook – I still do, and will probably always think he’s somewhat overrated – but if it’s a choice between a 33 year old batsman or a 29 year old one, one must be practical.”

    Why are you so keen to be boxed into this choice?

    They could both play in the same team, with neither as captain. England would be better off.

    5. “This leaves critics like us in an awkward position: we can either accept they know better than us or concoct some kind of conspiracy whereby journos and broadcasters are only being nice to Moores because they have to (to preserve their access to England press conferences and keep the sponsors happy etc). Much as conspiracies are fun, they’re usually wrong.”

    You don’t have to be some wide-eyed conspiracy theorist to observe that those who are nurtured by the establishment might be more inclined to offer supportive views.

    6. “I think the obvious point is this: the ECB were in a terrible mess at the end of the Ashes. They probably wanted to appoint a new captain but they couldn’t.”

    They absolutely could have.

    • The majority of my post is now irrelevant as we now know it wasn’t Cook who wanted KP out, it was purely Flower (a coach who was leaving anyway) and the ECB (who needed a scapegoat). However, much as many of us think there are alternative captains to Cook, the fact is that the ECB don’t. They truly believe that Cook is the best option as captain; therefore, having formed this opinion, one can see where they’re coming from. Basically, they’re operating on the basis of a flawed perspective, but through this warped perspective, their decisions have logic.


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