What to expect from Kevin Pietersen’s book


How many times during the last six months have we heard the phrase, “when Pietersen’s book comes out in October…”.

October is no longer very far away. His book will be published on Thursday 9th of that month, and we should expect a newspaper serialisation – presumably in the Telegraph – to begin the previous Monday, the 6th.

The date has a double significance. Pietersen is free to publish because the confidentiality agreement he signed with the ECB will have just expired. This means the board itself will be free to tell their own side of the story, without Paul Downton having to apologise afterwards.

The veil of secrecy is about to be lifted. In theory, this will be the moment of truth. But what should we expect?

The big question relates to how candid Pietersen is prepared to be. What will he be prepared to say about his own conduct, but more importantly, that of others?

There are two ways of looking at this. Little Brown, Pietersen’s publishers, and David Walsh, his ghost-writer, will understand that for the sake of credibility and sales the book must deliver red meat in three main areas: losing the captaincy, text gate, and his sacking. If Pietersen is reluctant to speak, why would he have written a book – and at the first opportunity?

On the other hand, he might reason he has more to lose than gain by settling scores and righting wrongs. His long-term reputation and business interests (commentary and academies) are best served, perhaps, by a show of discretion and magnanimity.

The following are the questions I for one would like to ask him. They all relate to key areas of the mythology around Pietersen. Much of his reputation derives from assumptions made about the events they concern, even though few if any genuine facts are in the public domain.

– Is there any substance to the allegation that your departure from Nottinghamshire reduced the club to a state of chaos?

– Did you try to undermine Peter Moores, prior to the ‘tour report’ e-mail?

– When you wrote that e-mail, what brief had Hugh Morris given you? What did you say about Moores? Did you issue an ultimatum? Before stripping you of the captaincy, did Moores give you the opportunity to heal the breach with Moores?

– In early 2012, what was the true nature of your contract discussions with the ECB? What did you ask for? What was the response? How different were your requests from others’?

– What is your understanding of the provenance and operation of the KPGenius Twitter account?

– What did you say in the text messages, and to whom? Did you delete them, and if so why?

– Why, as it appeared, did your relationship with Andrew Strauss break down?

– Do you know why you were sacked? What is your understanding of the incidents, and changes in relationships, which led to that decision?

– What happened at the Melbourne team meeting?

– Why was a confidentiality agreement put in place?

How many of these questions will Pietersen address in the book? As well as the factors mentioned above, there are two other reasons why he might disappoint.

First, he may not actually know all the answers. For example, he might have been as baffled by his sacking as we were.

Second, he could well be far less interested in these themes than us. For scholars of Pietersen, the texts are the definitive mystery of his career. But for Pietersen himself, because he’s always known the content of those messages, they are totally unmysterious, and therefore vastly less interesting.

Whatever Pietersen says or doesn’t say, one thing’s for sure – he can’t win.

The reality is that most media opinion-formers have a blind hatred of Pietersen. They will twist his words to serve their own agenda.

When he admits to mistakes, his enemies will say, ‘see, I told you so’. When he denies allegations against him, they will say he’s lying. When he points out that others were also to blame, they will accuse him of bitterness, malevolence, and toxicity.

When he skirts around a subject (perhaps to protect others) they say his silence proves guilt.

There is only one Kevin Pietersen. He has no influential allies and is hopelessly outnumbered. Ranged against him, bayonets fixed and rifle-sights trained, are the massed ranks of the ECB and its sympathetic press. He will be blown to smithereens.

Many leading cricket journalists react tartly to the idea that (a) they are biased towards the ECB and against Pietersen and (b) they happily print bullshit fed to them by Lord’s.

They are either in a state of denial or lack self-awareness. Do they really believe Pietersen’s book will receive a fair press? That they will approach it with open minds?

John Etheridge, the Sun correspondent, deserves a great deal of credit for entering the fray on our comment boards last week. But I found it hard to accept everything he said.

John denied that the ECB leak to journalists. He also seemed to deny an in-built anti-Pietersen agenda. But then he proved the exact opposite:

August 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm

When you say the PCA represent every other player including of course Cook, are you implying that Cook was directly involved or even present at any meetings?

August 28, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Cook was at the meeting when Pietersen was told he was being sacked. Whitaker and Downton were also there. This is the ‘captain weasel – he looked at the ground and said nothing’ meeting as described by Piers Morgan. The counter version is that Pietersen flounced out after four minutes before Cook had a chance to speak.

This a typical example of the pointless kind of sneers aimed at Pietersen. As if the only reasonable thing to do after being sacked was hang around for a chat. What was Pietersen supposed to do – take Cook out for a pint?

And if the ECB don’t leak, as Etheridge argued, then how – as Downton, Cook, and Whitaker are all ECB employees, and there was no one else in the room – did that information reach the journosphere?

The way the ECB-media-Pietersen matrix functions is also crucial to one final element of the autobiography’s fall out. How will the board itself respond to the book’s revelations? As Paul Downton has already twice said that “there is no smoking gun”, and that Pietersen was fired “for cricketing reasons”, including disengagement and “disinterest”, what specific allegations can they make which won’t contradict their existing lines?

I only hope – vainly, perhaps – that the ECB puts its side of the story in an upfront and transparent way, via interviews or a press conference. The fear is that, instead, they will slyly, and anonymously, drip-feed poison. If we read many sentences along the lines of “there is a feeling within the ECB that Pietersen…”, we will all despair.


  • Good piece Maxie.

    I’d like to know what made him publish ‘that interview’ in 2012 retiring from one-day cricket and what happened for him to ‘un-retire’.

    I don’t see Pietersen as a hero or villain, he was fantastic entertainment and great to watch, but as with most players of his era his time’s ended, albeit enforced, I just hope his book leaves him with enough dignity for his rightful legacy to remain.

    It must be pointed out that over the past few weeks I’ve found few journalists supporting Cook as ODI captain/batsmen most of whom calling his selection into question, which I think is fair (and blatantly obvious).

    • Thanks, PoP. Yes, I also hope he retains the dignity which allows his legacy to remain. But he has his work cut out. The booing he received at the T20 final tells you how much mythology has triumphed over facts to paint him, in many eyes, as the pantomime villain. It’s strange how his reputation rose in the first few months after being sacked, but has now soured.

      • What I can’t understand as regards to KP is how the ECB , Sports Writers and the sheep that follow them can paint him the way they do but away from English cricket and in other cricketing countries he is thought of as decent ,respected ,caring and much liked.Why the difference in attitudes?

    • Not that anyone cares, but I too am sick of the lies and smears being spread by journalists and the ECB against KP. So sick that, after 40 years of being a loyal supporter through thick and thin (mostly thin), I no longer listen to TMS (utterly sick of Agnew) or follow England at all anymore.

      • Many years ago, I realised there was no point reading “newspapers”. What they print isn’t news – by the time their rags hit the street, we already know what’s been going on in the world via TV and internet. So mostly they are filled with opinion, critiques and made up stuff. I’m quite capable of forming my own opinions, love blogs like TFT and Dmitri’s for perceptive take on cricket and, if I want nonsense, I’ll go down the pub and listen to the barman.

    • Thanks, Dennis. I hope you’re right – the more candid he is, and the less is swept under the carpet, the more likely that – eventually – there will be some kind of resolution to this mess.

  • I feel the ECB are actually frightened of KP.This can only come about because they have treated him so badly and have told so many lies since 2009.They have been influenced and led by AF who has carried a hatred for KP to this day and I would dearly love to know why.The lack of morality within the ECB amazes and disappoints me.They are after all the head of English cricket It will be interesting to see how they handle the information that comes from KP’s book.I believe KP to be an honest young man ( perhaps a little too honest for his own good ) so they will have a problem denying what actually comes out in print. We shall see!

    • Thanks for this, Julie. Certainly it all stems back to the captaincy debacle in January 2009. It often gets overlooked that Hugh Morris refused to answer any questions about what happened. My analysis has always been that from that point onwards the ECB aggressively distrusted Pietersen, and resented him for his upstart insolence. In turn, Pietersen became paranoid – he was sacked for no real reason and betrayed by the ECB – which caused him to make mistakes.

  • Agreed Dennis. KP’s character is to tell it as it is (or whatever he think the truth is). This is what’s got him into trouble throughout his career, and I certainly don’t expect him to stop now. If he can’t win, as you say Maxie, then what has he got to lose? I think there will be more than enough juicy bits.

    Re: John Etheridge, I think the key word he used was ‘flounced’. Had he used a more neutral word like ‘left’ the meeting, or even ‘walked out’, then I don’t think there could be any suggestion of bias. However, I don’t think it’s fair to criticise the bloke too much on this because he was simply trying to give the counter view. He was basically saying that the counter view is that KP flounced out, and not necessarily that he himself would subscribe to that view.

    The key point to all this came later in John’s comments. I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but from memory he said something like 99% of what we hear about KP is true, and there are even more stories not currently in the public domain. We have no idea whether this info is accurate or not, but just to play devil’s advocate for a second, what if the mainstream media IS right? And that KP was a complete arse and deserved to be sacked.

    Because we both have a rather anti-ECB position (and our prejudiced pre-dated the KP sacking) I think we both have a tendency to disbelieve most things they say. But what if they actually had a point this time? There is no debate they handled things very badly (they are, like most sport governing bodies in this country, generally useless) but we must at least contemplate the possibility that KP was justifiably sacked.

    …. Which brings me back to the main point. I suspect KP will have one account of events, and the ECB a completely different version. It will simply become a matter of who you believe. And as in all matters like this, people will believe who they want to believe, and the debate will go on forever.

    • James,
      You beat me to it. KP will have his version of events and the ECB will have theirs. Those who have already made up their minds (which include Maxie and most commentors on this blog) aren’t going to be swayed. Maxie’s already got his defence in for any anti-KP rebuttal – it’s all a conspiracy and no one can be trusted.
      It might be. Who knows?? What we all have in common is that none of us were there, in any of the meetings, so we’re all guessing. Not that you’d know that by the ferocity with which some of this guessing is put forward as gospel.
      One thing I do know is that fall outs happen, in sport, in business and in life. And when they do, it’s usually management that wins and the individual that walks. Gooch and Gower. Brearley and Edmonds. Roebuck and Botham. Clarke and Katich. Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham (and SAF and Roy Keane for that matter). Seen from that perspective, there’s actually not much unusual about the KP saga. Personally I’m more inclined to be grateful for the nine years and 104 tests of brilliance that we got, rather than to tie myself in knots in a fruitless search for the “truth”. He fell out with management and got the sack. He’s not the first and he won’t be the last.

      • Spot Kev.

        As far as I can see all the prejudice & scapegoating appears to come from a few bloggers who, like us, were big fans of KP & were disappointed by the Ashes loss in the winter.

      • You’re probably right that it came down to something as simple as a fall-out with management. But England aren’t a private club. They’re a national team, and supporters deserve explanations. What was the nature of the fall-out which meant his place in the team was no longer tenable?

        • They are all valid questions but the definitive answers we just don’t know (and perhaps never will) so it’s difficult to draw conclusions which is why I’m frustrated in the absence of absolute fact people have formed a hard baked stance which is impossible to soften.

          Too much has been said and written, let’s get back to the cricket and bashing our ODI team!

          • Totally agree – and that’s the nature of these he said/she said pissing contests, isn’t it? This is a divorce essentially and like most divorces it doesn’t lend itself to a simple black and white judgement. Divorces are usually messy shades of grey with both sides usually at fault but also feeling aggrieved. Twenty years after mine I still couldn’t tell you “exactly” what caused it and KP/Cook’s is no doubt the same.
            People say they want an explanation but they don’t really. They just want further evidence to support the opinion they’ve already come to. It’s a fool’s errand.

    • “We have no idea whether this info is accurate or not, but just to play devil’s advocate for a second, what if the mainstream media IS right? And that KP was a complete arse and deserved to be sacked.”

      To a great extent, that was the real significance of the KP silverware story. Etheridge’s comments echo the general theme from a lot of journalists: ‘if you had the access and the knowledge I have you’d realize that what you hear (what I tell you) about KP is true and, in fact, there’s plenty more which we’re just too discreet to print’.

      Regardless of what he said, a lot of this stuff is spoon-fed. When there’s a report of a row involving three or four people in a room, the source was someone in the room, not a convenient passing steward or ‘an onlooker’, as The Sun always has it.

      Most of these stories are he said/she said. They’re one person’s side of an argument, a contract negotiation, a poorly judged joke, a Blackberry Instant Message, or whatever. They’re not verifiable and come down to whom you believe.

      But now remember Etheridge’s words:

      “I was given what I thought was categorical information which turned out to be untrue.”

      This was unusual in that it was a story which had a physical object as proof of its truth or otherwise. It couldn’t be put down to one person’s interpretation of an incident. Either KP had his silverware or he didn’t. Etheridge’s faith in his source in this case (and the lack of any attempt to verify the story before printing it) should serve as a reminder when taking him on trust that 95% of stories about KP are true.

      Were all those other stories based on ‘categorical information’? The one time one of these stories was held up to scrutiny it turned out to be bollocks.

      • True Tristan. It’s always good to keep in mind that a particular story turned out to be false. But we don’t know how many of the other stories were false, or indeed true. Maybe Etheridge believed his source because this source had provided plenty of other stories that actually turned out to be 100% accurate.

        • Sorry, if I wasn’t clear enough. The point being, these stories can vary rarely be proved accurate or otherwise, let alone 100%. They are essentially hearsay, one person’s version of a meeting, a row, a contract negotiation.The strength of the story is based on the source, not the verifiability of the information. From the subject’s point of view, it’s very hard to prove a negative.

          This was one of the rare occasions the story/claim had a definitive ‘proof’ element, and KP didn’t hesitate for a second to use it.

          As Maxie’s pointed out before, there are an awful lot of stories about KP which are held to be gospel, but when you really look at them either there are no facts to support them or the truth is somewhat different from the commonly held belief. The one time a source is held up to scrutiny they’re found to be peddling lies. I see no reason on that basis to give them the benefit of the doubt regarding their previous efforts..

      • “Were all those other stories based on ‘categorical information’? The one time one of these stories was held up to scrutiny it turned out to be bollocks”.

        Quite. Was this story the exception or the rule?

    • “The key point to all this came later in John’s comments. I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but from memory he said something like 99% of what we hear about KP is true, and there are even more stories not currently in the public domain. We have no idea whether this info is accurate or not, but just to play devil’s advocate for a second, what if the mainstream media IS right? And that KP was a complete arse and deserved to be sacked”.

      John E said “most” of the stories – he didn’t put a number on it.

      If conclusive proof emerges that Pietersen was a terrible villain – well for a start it means Downton was completely misleading us when he said, twice, there is no smoking gun.

      Secondly, it would make little difference to the main argument, which is about the public being kept in the dark and expected to toe the line. Pietersen’s enemies expect everyone to simply agree that he’s a total bastard without having ever felt the need to advance any evidence. If facts emerge now, why couldn’t they have done so years before?

      It will not emerge, surely, that Pietersen had hit someone or been taking drugs. The only genuinely explosive charge against him I can imagine is that he attempted to unseat Cook.

    • Very well put. I think you are right. It all boils down to who you believe. I hope I’m wrong but I suspect that the ECB might maintain a ‘dignified’ official silence in response to KP’s book. I hope it’s not so, because if light can be shed on this unfortunate kerfuffle it has to be for the best. It has not been a happy summer with the cricketing community at each others throats, not to mention poor Maxie getting himself so upset. Hoping it can all be laid to rest.

  • For what it’s worth I think the 2012 texting/BBMing incident will be described in light of the extended contract negotiations, the details of which kept mysteriously appearing in the press.

    I can’t see him seeking to settle scores with England players but, I think he will stick the boot massively into Hugh Morris & Giles Clarke though, especially about the manner of his sacking as captain.

    What he says about Moores/Flower will be interesting and might be one area where he feels he can be candid.

    At a guess, re his untimely sacking I’d imagine he’ll just play it fairly straight and refer only to his performance versus other batsman and express a general bemusement and sadness.

    His public persona is generally to be positive, so I’d be surprised if we got an Andre Agassi/Tony Adams style expose of professional cricket.

    He’ll probably express a view that English players be encouraged to play IPL, that our one day tactics are 20 years out of date.

    I suspect it will be 90% vanilla with some the only confrontational bits being about people who won’t affect his options after the end of his playing career.

    • Mike – this strikes me as a very plausible and likely analysis. He’ll be much wiser to concentrate fire on management than players, and in truth, what he know of the main flashpoints all concerned management.

      Re the texts, people rarely see it from this perspective: if you were working with a bunch of people who deliberately, repeatedly, tried to diminish and embarrass you, in serial fashion, would you never moan about this to a friend?

      • Think he had got to the stage in that “happy “dressing room where he had to talk to someone he trusted.. Who else but his long time friends.Unfortunately his privacy was not respected. Story of KP’s life.

  • Forgot to mention that the contents of the book may depend on whether he thinks he has a 1% chance of playing for Eng again. Hugely unlikely, but if Cook and Moores/Flower went after next year’s Ashes, I suppose there’s a tiny tiny chance he might appear in the T20 team or something (big maybe). Would the ECB overrule any new coach who might want to pick him? Probably but not definitely definitely.

  • In regards to John Etheridge, he came on this site to respond to something I had said. Which was that he was running defence for both Cook and Swann. Swann had made remarks about England’s one day tactics, and had called for Cook not to be in the side. Etneridge tweeted a bland response about how Cook and Swann were best mates, and a if they had a drink together everything would be fine. He also pointed out the bleeding obvious, which was (it was not easy for Cook after losing by 133 runs.) I thought this was bland defensive nonsense. He came on here to point out that it was he who put the question to Cook about what Swann had said. This was the question that caused Cook to respond about “a so called friend.” Etheridge said far from running defence he was ” stirring the pot.”

    Now this is all fine but there are 2 problems. First, while I welcome Etheridge asking a tough question, where has he and the rest of the cricket journalists been for the last 12months? Second, and probably more importantly Swann is now on the payroll of The Sun Newspaper. So Etneridge was in effect repeating a point that had been made by his now new paid colleague. (I don’t now if Swann writes his own column or is it ghost written by another Sun journalist?) Does john Etneridge have to wait until he is sat in a high chair, and spoon fed a story from a former player, and now Sun newspaper columnist before he can ask a stirring the pot question?

    Seeing as the question got such a pity, and arrogant response from the England captain you wonder what might have happened if the journalists had asked some other stirring the pot questions over the last 12 monthperiod? While I welcome John Etheridge coming on here to defend himself . I am afraid he lost me when he claimed the ECB does not leak.

    • Thanks for your interesting comments, Mark, as always. Apologies I don’t have time to go into them all.

      “I am afraid he lost me when he claimed the ECB does not leak”.

      I’m sure John said that in utter good faith, but it was certainly a bit hard to swallow. Where, then, do all the umpteen stories about inner wranglings comes from? Pietersen’s contract negotiations?

      Perhaps the ECB leak to a third party conduit, rather than straight to the journosphere.

      Or maybe they don’t deliberately leak; they just employ a large number of staff who will hack into the bosses’ emails and flog stories to the press.

      What the ECB certainly don’t seem to do is investigate how stories emerge. When Pietersen’s Moores e-mail was leaked in January 2009, what action did they take against whoever saw that e-mail and passed it to the press?

      I think also that journalists are happy to take semi-verified stories, and hearsay, and present them as truth. For example, the text messages. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I’m aware no journalist ever actually saw those messages. They (and it was probably Neil Manthorp) were just told about them.

  • I hope Pietersen doesn’t pull too many punches – he is going to be damned whatever he says and I don’t agree with James that there is any chance he might play for England again. I also hope he keeps his criticisms to people’s actions rather than their characters but given the character assassination he has received it would be understandable if he fired a few volleys back.

    A few additional questions to Maxie’s I’d like to read something about:
    1) What is the attitude among the ECB and the players to the IPL? (I suspect this had a bigger role in what happened than has been acknowledged)
    2) What is going on with England’s fitness and medical regime?
    3) Did you try to get Andy Flower sacked as batting coach when you became captain? Your enemies have claimed you did.
    4) Why are the ECB so against senior players ‘picking and choosing’ their formats? (I also suspect this had a bigger role in what happened than has been acknowledged).
    5) Why didn’t you play any CC this year? Wouldn’t belting Essex for 150-odd have been fun?

    A final thought: the event that seems most comparable to the Pietersen affair in my English cricker-watching history was Tony Greig and Packer (much more than Gooch/Gower). Both concerned an English cricket hierarchy trying to maintain control (which is where their real bitterness comes from in my view) and both concerned brash South Africans who really seem to rub something up in a certain type of English constituency. Is brashness really the worst crime in the universe? Is that god-awful fake self-deprecation that we get instead really so preferable?

    • Thanks for these excellent comments, Simon.

      “Is brashness really the worst crime in the universe?”

      In England? Yes. You can drink-drive, tour apartheid South Africa, turn up for nets drunk, and all will be forgiven. Strut and swagger a little? Curtains.

      “I also hope he keeps his criticisms to people’s actions rather than their characters but given the character assassination he has received it would be understandable if he fired a few volleys back”.

      Last week Ed Smith criticised Pietersen for his lack of magnanimity. But look at it this way: can you think of a sports-person who’s been the subject of so much personal abuse, often vicious, from all quarters, without having ever done anything truly despicable, but by and large kept his own counsel and dignity?

  • I am not expecting much from KPs book. Mainly because I agree with Maxie he can’t win whatever he says. If he pulls his punches he will be accused of ‘having nothing.’ On the other hand if he really goes for it he will be accused of being a spoiled brat and arrogant selfish non team player. The problem is he faces the massed ranks of the English cricket establishment. Which includes the vast majority of the cricket media. Who are almost to a man loyal servants of the ECB.

    I have always believed that the whole text gate thing ,and a lot of the problems that have effected English cricket was because of The IPL. When India created the IPL the ECB panicked. Suddenly they were faced with the possibility of senior England players going off to IPL and not being available for the start of the English season. Which would include Test series in May and early early June. It is my belief that this is what tempted ECB to get into bed with Alan Standford for the million pound matches in the Caribbean. Rightly or wrongly they thought this would appease some of the senior players. If they made all this money maybe they would not go to IPL. Well we all know what happened. England lost. So they didn’t get the money. But the cricket establishment behaved in exactly the same way as they had done 35 years before when Packer came along and threatened to break up world cricket. Packer offered the best players big money and the English establishment hated him for it. They also hated the players who made the money. Reading and listening to Aggers over this period was like listening to the same people who had attacked Packer. How dare these uppity players play for big money.

    KP wanted a slice of the action and who can blame him? But The ECB had one ace up their sleeve. Which was KP was the only senior player that the IPL wanted to pay big money for. Flintoff was also offered money but he had retired from Test match cricket. I believe had England had 4-5 players who wanted IPL contracts Andy Flower would not have been able to play hard ball as he did with KP. And of course Flower had a chip on his shoulder from KPs time as captain. So the ECB went nuclear. They would not find an arrangement which would facilitate these unique circumstances. In effect they said take it or leave it. And backed up by the cricket media who were both furious at this uppity South African, and also jealous (like some of his team mates) of the money he could earn went on full attack. KP was isolated and felt his private negotiations were being leaked into the media. He was even being ridiculed by a false twitter account that he suspected had connections with someone in the dressing room. Is it any wonder he found friends in the South African team? If England felt so strongly about it why did they not sack him there and then after the South African series, and say no way back ever? Because they felt they could still use him.

    • I think you’re quite right, Mark. This is a story about the development of the individual star cricketer and the fact that the ECB’s particular worldview makes it particularly panicked by that idea. And of course our calendar makes the IPL a special threat.

      I firmly believe that if Flintoff hadn’t been injured he would have been a major problem for the ECB for the same reason, His agent was known to be encouraging him to promote himself as an individual brand and a potentially free-lance player who would pick and choose his England appearances. And he was much more popular with both fans and media than KP. Fortunately for the ECB, Freddie fell apart before things could get nasty.

      Chris Gayle is of course another case in point.

      National boards are going to have to live with the new situation and understand that the top names will have a different relationship with their national team in the future. The days when a player was thrilled to get a few Tests and then retire to run a small village pub are long gone and these guys are earning big money and planning their own business careers.

      Like or loathe KP, he has always been in the vanguard of changes in cricket and this is the major change that he’s living through.

      • Agreed Zephirine!

        I really do believe that had there been 3-4 England Test match players who were being offered big contracts to go to the IPL the ECB would not have been able to play it like they did. Can you imagine if half the players in the test team had threatened to walk out if they didn’t get what they wanted? Your point about Flintoff is exactly right. There is no way they could have attacked the character of Freddie like they did KP.

        But is wasn’t just about availability for England matches in May and June. The ECB was also very worried about what effect this huge financial divide would have on the dressing room. Suddenly moden, Blacksmith style characters like Jessie Ryder, who can hit the ball miles would be able to earn millions more for a 8-12 over innings than Geoffrey Boycott like players.

        This issue is not going to go away. In part the stitch up deal by ECB and India and Aus is all about locking India into a system that does not allow them to extend IPL for longer periods. If India had not got what they wanted, they may have created IPL 2 which would have taken more players for a longer period away from national teams. Within cricket The IPL is a political freak of nature. You can’t blame KP for that.

    • I have always thought it was KP’s insistence in playing in the IPL was at the root of his problems. It did’nt help his case that few of the other England players at the time were considered good enough to be even invited to play IPL. Their out and out envy (he earned serious money which the others are unlikely ever to match) was obvious and they took every opportunity to malign him. There is also the hilarity of him not being “English” enough in view of the makeup of the current squad. (ZImbabwan, Australian, South African, Irish).

  • Great analysis Mark. I agree it was the IPL factor that set the ECB and KP on a collision course.

  • Has anyone yet managed to unlock the alleged riddle contained in the photo that Pietersen tweeted in response to Etheridge’s ‘returned gifts’ story (see Etheridge’s posts on the comments board below James’s ‘Start as you mean to go on” piece)?

    After poring over the image for days with my Alan Partridge oversize magnifying glass, I see little that is obviously instructive. Perhaps Etheridge was being mischievous or I am missing the bleeding obvious. I feel as though the spectre of Inspector Morse is standing at my shoulder and barking in exasperation, “Come on Tregaskis! Can’t you see it yet?”

    We know that the silver cap was presented to Pietersen before the start of the Gabba test in November 2013. We know also that the name inscription was incorrectly spelled as “Pieterson.”

    Everything else is presumption. I presume the ECB held on to the cap for correction. I presume the new or corrected version was mailed to Pietersen sometime after his return to the UK following the Ashes. Based on the prominence of the Parcel Force package in the picture, I presume the photo was taken on the occasion of the parcel arriving at his home and Pietersen opening it. This could have been any time after early January.

    The picture only proves that Pietersen received the cap. It does not confirm that he still had it at the time Etheridge sent his tweet. At the same time, why could Etheridge not just come straight out and explain his point instead of the smoke-and-mirrors intrigue? It is inconceivable that Pietersen would have denied the charge so publicly if he had, in fact, sent the cap back to the ECB. It would have been too easy for the ECB to catch Pietersen in a lie.

    The only thing I can think of is that someone at the ECB saw the commemorative cap at HQ after the presentation but before the inscription was corrected and leapt to the wrong conclusion. Motives aside, everyone thought they were telling the truth.

    I know that this is a bit of a sideshow, but it is irritating the hell out of me. I doubt the book will cast any better light on the matter, so before I have to bring in Robert Langdon, does anyone have a better solution to the Etheridge conundrum?

    To the book itself – if, as Maxie suggests, the book is to be serialised before publication, I would expect there to be some red meat on offer, if only as an amuse bouche to stimulate a feeding frenzy. Otherwise a vanilla serialisation will seriously undermine sales on publication.

    • “The only thing I can think of is that someone at the ECB saw the commemorative cap at HQ after the presentation but before the inscription was corrected and leapt to the wrong conclusion.”

      That was what I deduced, Tregaskis, a classic case of Chinese whispers. Mr Etheridge’s story was thus factual, if not exactly true. But he has told us that as a tabloid journalist he always found KP provided good copy and I expect it seemed like a useful little titbit to throw out to the waiting world.

  • “At the same time, why could Etheridge not just come straight out and explain his point instead of the smoke-and-mirrors intrigue?”

    Yes, why wouldn’t he?

  • Gooch turned his back on England to join a rebel tour to South Africa. The ECB may not be able to forgive brashness or a desire to play in the IPL but they welcomed Gooch back with open arms and even made him England captain.

    • They welcomed The South African rebels back with open arms because the English cricket establishment, and the conservative establishment never agreed with the ban on official South African tours in the first place.

      As has been well documented in Peter Oborne’s book about the Basil D’Oliveira afair…….’Basil D’Oliveira, Cricket and Conspiracy.’

      • Thanks for posting that – the behaviour of the ECB (including Bedser and Cowdrey) in the “D’Olivera Affair” should never be forgotten. Cricinfo has just posted an article about Bedser in which he is described as ” loyal, true, a wonderful friend, and while a tough competitor, he was scrupulously fair”. I made a comment saying whilst that was all true, he was also a supporter of apartheid and a member of the Freedom Association, which was at least in part funded by the South African Government, whilst chairman of selectors. For some reason, they decided not to publish the comment.

        • Don’t get me started on D’Oliveira. Makes Pietersengate look like the acme of fair play. It was presided over by Gubby Allen, whose main credentials were living next door to Lord’s and being the fourth seamer in the 1932-33 Ashes. His reward for that minor role in the series was to run English cricket. The bowler who won the series, Harold Larwood, was exiled to run a sweet shop in Blackpool.

          • Let me respond to my own comment and say that it is probably a bit unfair to say that Bedser (one of my favourite cricketers) “supported” apartheid. Let me rephrase it as he “did not openly oppose apartheid and was not in favour of sporting boycotts.”

            Whilst I don’t have the book to prove that this is true, I have seen it quoted more than once that in Gubby Allen’s Ashes Diary he wrote about the aborigines “They really are a ghastly sight and the sooner they die out the better.” Now he supported apartheid!

            When I first moved to Sydney I thought about visiting Larwood but it seemed a bit of an invasion of privacy so I never did. I would loved to have meet him.

            • Where in Sydney do you live, out of interest?

              Reminds me a little of the story Todd Sampson tells: a climbing enthusiast, he found himself in Auckland one day and realized Edmund Hillary lived there. Not believing he’d be in it, he flicked through the phone book and found his number. Gave him a ring and got invited for tea.

        • I’m disappointed Cricinfo decided to censor your comments. One or two people are beginning to say that the site is going down hill a bit. The dead hand of corporate control is showing its teeth.

  • Well, with only 4 hours to go to the end of the transfer deadline, I can truly say …. I haven’t bought anyone or anything….. saving all my pennies to buy Pietersen’s book. Hope it’s got lots of pictures….

  • Whatever comes out of this publication let’s just hope that Cook doesn’t take it too personally – I had a thought earlier, that Cook thinks he’s Charlotte Edwards, who scored another 50 tonight in the women’s T20 – he’s wrong, she’s far better than him!!

    • Thanks, Rev Baz. It’s a shame that Smith has increasingly become such a reactionary young fogey. Peter Oborne and a Observer journalist wrote similar pieces, all with bogus logic – concluding that there’s something honourable and noble in refusing to give up your salary despite being crap at a job.

    • Oh FFS:

      “Finally, the true nature of public opinion is easy to misunderstand. It is a serious mistake to think that we can measure the views of the majority whose opinions seldom register on social media. Early this summer, this column drew attention to how 20 per cent of the comments on the Guardian’s website come from just 0.0037 per cent of its declared monthly audience. In tracking the views of “the public”, we overestimate the representativeness of a tiny minority.

      “That point was underlined during the victorious third Test in Southampton, in which Cook made 165 runs (only once out) and captained a perfect England performance. The crowd took the opposite view to the newspapers that claim to represent England fans. Cook was cheered all the way to the middle at the toss, then greeted by a standing ovation when he returned to the pavilion 48 not out at lunch on the first day. The England coach, Peter Moores, conceded that he had never seen Cook more moved than after that spontaneous act of collective support. Another standing ovation followed when he walked off, having made 95. The atmosphere of the post-match victory ceremony was driven by deep respect for the England captain.

      “All of this warmth and considered hope (crowds do not encourage players whom they have given up on) stand in marked contrast to the anger that sustains easy headlines and Twitter storms. Yet who better represents the entire community of English cricket: a social media poll or the fans who lifted the England captain with their hearts and their applause?”

      He is only the latest hack to make this point. So did Selvey and Newman, and Etheridge here on TFT. They are just *desperate* to denigrate and diminish noisy critics of the status quo. Because we are hostile to their views and approach, we are a mob. Our position is worthless. But the spectators at Southampton, they represent the real supporters, apparently. How does he know that? The ground was nearly empty for most of the match.

      Basically, if you toe the line, you are represent real fans. If you criticise or object, you are just social media.

    • That’s one of the stupidest articles I’ve ever read. I’m not surprised it isn’t open to comments – the logic is so palpably flawed it would be eviscerated.

  • I believe (although haven’t had this 100 per cent confirmed) that Kevin’s book is being released on the same day as Roy Keane’s.
    It will be interesting to see which receives the greater exposure in newspapers and elsewhere.

    • Blimey – that seems a bit of a boo-boo on the part of the respective publishers. I’d have imagined they’d manoeuvre around that kind of clash.

      Roy Keane, Man Utd, and Alex Ferguson are all bigger box office, obviously, than anything cricket can offer, but Pietersen’s story is more recent, and involves more intrigue. The coverage might vary from paper to paper, depending also on the nature of the newslines.


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