Who Has An Agenda Now? The Second KP War Begins


What a shame. As someone who is desperately trying to stay neutral in the Kevin Pietersen argument – as I said in my piece last week I have no strong feelings about him either way – I didn’t think the row would become so spiteful so soon. Instead, one seemingly pro-ECB journalist has come out with all guns blazing already. And sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it’s a gun loaded with cheap shots.

The journalist in question is Paul Newman, who has just written this incredibly provocative piece asking Pietersen a set of loaded questions, many of which are below the belt, on the basis that KP has allegedly refused interviews ahead of his book launch – something Pietersen immediately denied on Twitter.

There are so many things wrong with Newman’s article that I don’t know where to start. The tone is set in the very first paragraph when he asks Pietersen why he fell out with people in South Africa (I thought it was positive discrimination and the quota system, but maybe that’s just me), Nottinghamshire (where he fell out with Jason Gallian, who was sacked as captain the same year KP left), Hampshire (I thought it was something to do with living in London), and finally Surrey.

The last one is news to me. Surrey said a couple of days ago that his contract had simply expired, they’re in talks about another deal, and the fact he’s not on the payroll means the ECB can’t fine Pietersen over the contents of his book. I also remember Alec Stewart praising KP in the media several times this summer. Perhaps I imagined it?!

Newman also suggests that Graham Ford, a personal friend of Pietersen’s, has also become exasperated with him now. Did you know that Moira is the most popular girl’s name in Lithuania? As we’re pulling dodgy facts out of thin air, I thought I’d come up with my own.

Newman’s next question references the PR battle in the media. We’re told that Cook has received support around the grounds – that old chestnut – while KP was booed at T20 finals day.

I’m getting incredibly bored with this argument. As everyone knows, test grounds have been half full this year. The malcontents simply stayed away. Attendances at cricket grounds say a lot more about the state of English cricket than a few morons booing. Ricky Ponting was routinely booed at English grounds. We did it because we respected and feared him.

Anyway, now we move on to textgate – the incident that turned so many against Pietersen (including myself for a lomg time). Pietersen was clearly out of order when he texted players in the opposing team, but what about the broader perspective? Newman obviously ignores this for reasons we can guess.

Textgate came during a summer when KP was in dispute with the ECB over his wish to retire from ODIs, some of his teammates were making fun of him on twitter (remember the unsavoury KP Genius account?) and the person he messaged was a close friend and IPL teammate.

What’s more, no journalist ever saw these messages. The story was leaked to Neil Manthrop (via a telephone call) who then proceeded to tell his mates in the press box.

The fact is that Manthrop himself never saw the texts, and we have no idea how accurate the information Mathrop received was (given that it presumably came from someone in the South African dressing room who had a vested interest in disrupting Engand’s plans).

All of this is ignored in Newman’s piece. Instead he simply asks Pietersen why he failed to show the messages to the ECB. Err, because he’d deleted them, Paul. Wouldn’t you have done the same immediately after doing something boneheaded in the heat of the moment?

Just for the record, I’ve called plenty of people doos (and a lot worse) over the course of a summer. It usually happens when one of them runs me out. I usually apologise and we move on – even if I say it out loud and one of the opposition fielders can hear me.

The other questions in Newman’s article continue on their merry, agenda filled way. Newman asks why KP didn’t give Cook a chance to explain why he was sacked (the story goes that Pietersen walked out of the meeting as soon as he was told the news).

I found this question particularly odd. In what way, in this situation, is the person doing the sacking the victim? One can only assume that Newman himself will be full of sympathy for his editor if he himself is ever sacked for writing articles like this one.

Furthermore, what exactly was there to say in the situation described? Downton told us everything we needed to know when he admitted that the strong leadership (that had kept Pietersen engaged) in previous years no longer existed after the Ashes. What could Cook have said? “I’m sorry, Kevin, but I don’t like being criticised so you’re out?” I’m sure it would have been a very productive meeting.

Of course, Newman’s article makes some decent points. We all know Pietersen was no angel. But it’s the style in which he goes about it, and the selective use of evidence, that gets under my skin.

For example, Newman asks why Pietersen fell out with Strauss, Cook, Flower, Prior and before that, Moores. “Can they all be wrong and you be right”?

However, once again the broader context is ignored. For starters, most senior players wanted Moores removed all those years ago, not just KP. As for Flower, Strauss, Cook and Prior, they’re all good men, but they were all part of the leadership group that had started to lose matches regularly. It could be argued that senior players have a right to voice an opinion when things are going spectacularly wrong.

What is more, after the Ashes debacle, Tremlett, Root and Stokes all said they didn’t have a problem with KP’s behaviour. The former even expressed his delight that Pietersen was joining Surrey. In addition, two men Newman claims were against KP, namely Carberry and Swann, also offered staunch defences of Pietersen’s conduct in Australia. Why doesn’t Newman mention all this?

As someone who has become extremely bored with all the sniping of the last eight months, I had hoped (probably naively) that KP’s book might bring some kind of closure. I was hoping for a little forensic examination of the evidence (whereby wrongs on both sides would be exposed) and then we could all eventually, belated, finally, move on.

This rather childish article by Newman, however, suggests the opposite is set to happen. The name-calling will escalate, the analysis will become ever more personal, and objectivity will become all but impossible.

As I said a few days ago, I’m an Inbetweener when it comes to Pietersen. The issues I have with English cricket at the moment have little or nothing to do with him. I’m quite happy we have Gary Ballance and Joe Root in the middle order rather than Trott and KP. Unbalanced polemics such as this one, however, are pushing my sympathies in the opposite direction than Newman intended.

I’ll leave you with just one final thought. Over the last few months the mainstream media has constantly reminded us that Alastair Cook has endured an unprecedented personal, vitriolic hate campaign directed towards him. Has he? I have read nothing, absolutely nothing, in the mainstream media that is anywhere near as critical of Cook as this unedifying polemic against Pietersen by Newman. Indeed, by resorting to such a tabloid approach, Newman has become (nearly) as bad as the tweeting idiots the media so reviles.

How on earth are we supposed to ‘move on’ when another war is so obviously starting? At least we know who fired the first shot this time. It’s all incredibly sad.

James Morgan


  • I posted this on Dmitri’s blog this morning after reading Newman’s vitriolic abuse.

    ” I have been stabbing you in the back with unproven rumors, innuendo and in some case downright lies and now you have the effrontery to refuse to give me an interview (whilst all those knives are in your back). How dare you. I am from the press and whether I character assassinate you or not you must respond to my demands.”

    This is about the only paragraph that this mail clown would appear to have left out.

    It really beggars belief that Newman can even consider that KP would answer his questions. The man has an over inflated opinion of his own self importance.

  • I used to read the Mail because of Keith Waterhouse, Lynda Lee Potter and the superb sports journalist, Ian Wooldridge. Sadly, they are all now gone. I continued reading the paper for some time but it has deteriorated so much I gave up. I would love to have been able to read what Wooldridge thought of all this.

  • Congratulations to Mr Newman in proving what we always said. Namely he is not a cricket journalist, but an ECB mouthpiece.

    As you say James there are bigger issues in English cricket other than KP. But Newman acts as a warning to young players like Root and Balance. Don’t upset Dear leaders Cook and Moores or their real boss Flower. Otherwise you will find Newman’s Stassi tactics feeding the public with slurs and smear stories. Just look how he ran negative stuff about Ian Bell at the very moment people were calling for Cooks head after the poor start to the season.

    If this is the sort of human vermin the ECB prides itself in partnering with, and leaking to, I am very glad I’m “outside of cricket.”

  • It’s an awfully written piece, but the sentiment I agree with KP has many questions to answer. I’ve promoted my blog on it on here, but when you tot them all up the bloke has so many negatives, which I wish his fans would condsider.
    I was always pro KP during his career mainly because he excited us and was special. Now he’s gone and we can evaluate, was he actually worth it? (http://njhcricket.blogspot.co.uk/)

    Would any other player have survived 2012?

    • He was worth it, in absolute spades!!…a million dollar asset, according to Ashley Giles…..also now gone!!…..I was privileged to have watched him, probably the most talented English batsmen ever, in his time!! If the ECB’s team model is compliant, conservative, forward defensive, educated at a “good” school, and having a nice family, and being the “right sort of chap” then they can stuff it, as far as I’m concerned!!

    • I doubt very much that anyone else would have survived 2012 but he was a supreme talent. Personally, I would not have had him back at any price. Extenuating circumstances do not wash with me. If you have a lick of integrity and worth of character there are some things you do not do. I could have just possibly overlooked one text sent in the heat of the moment but not a series of them. No matter how much of a flawed genius he might be, that is the sticking point for me.

    • “Would any other player have survived 2012?”

      But it was the ECB who decided to have him back. If they thought what he had done was so bad why didn’t they sack him there and then,and say good riddance?

      But they had had him back because they still felt he had something to offer. ( or they could exploit for their own needs) And they were right, because he scored a fantastic hundred in India, and another one at Manchester in the Ashes last year. (Without which we would have lost that test match.)

      England got a lot out of KP. It’s a pity so many fans don’t appreciate it.

      • I recognise KP’s blistering talent and the success that he brought to the England team. I understand your appreciation of his brilliance and I am happy to acknowledge that. I have no problem with anyone being different, an individual, or a thorn in authority’s side, but I value loyalty and full on commitment at all times when it comes to playing for England.

        • Jenny you are absolutely right to have your own opinions and I respect them even if I don’t agree with them.

          There are many who feel what KP did in 2012 was so bad he should never have played again. But the ECB chose not to do that. They had him back. That is hardly KPs fault.

          You talk about loyalty and commitment “at all times” to England. Well that’s fine, but it is a very high bar to achieve. How many ex England players at the ECB walked out on England and went to South Africa in the 80s? Are they really the right people to be judging loyalty to the England cause today? Is Matt Prior showing loyalty to England when he is playing clearly unfit? As he did this summer. Dropping catches because he couldn’t move quickly enough. Is that loyalty or selfishness? Did England show loyalty to Ian Bell when some one past on damaging data to Paul Newman? Did England show much loyalty to Onions when he topped the bowling averages but wasn’t picked for the Ashes? Why did the ECB sack KP and Peter Moores at the same time? If what KP did was disloyal, why not stick with Moores?

          I am not for one moment suggesting that KP is not a very difficult person to manage. But Michael Vaughn seemed to be able to do it. But then he was a much stronger captain, and better leader of men. If your criteria for an England team is loyalty first and talent second I’m afraid England won’t achieve much. Unfortunately that seems to be the blue print Flower wants to encourage.

        • I haven’t seen any loyalty towards KP by the ECB? They have broken their own self inflicted “gagging” order and told unsubstantiated stuff about KP, i.e. interview between Downturn and Aggers. As said below, I never saw this sort of vitriol shown towards the players who deserted England to make a lot of money on the Packer tours of SA during apartheid. I’d call this an unprecedented attack on one player out of all proportion.

          Loyalty? The ECB wouldn’t understand the word “loyalty” not even if they fell over it.

          • Annie,
            I’ve seen this comparison to the different reactions re rebel SA tours and KP made a few times. It’s not a fair comparison because you’re talking about different eras with different rules and expectations of media engagement. If those rebel tours were made now, in this era of twitter and blogs and anything-goes BTL comment, those players would be slammed from pillar to post. The vitriol heaped on them would be just as great, if not greater, than that heaped upon KP. Modern media turns most debates up to 10 in a way that never happened in previous eras.

            • I think questioning the response of the ECB to the players who toured South Africa is fair enough. They seemed far more upset by Packer and World Series Cricket.

              “I never saw this sort of vitriol shown towards the players who deserted England to make a lot of money on the Packer tours”
              Really? Pity Tony Greig isn’t around to comment on that. Not sure about Snow, Underwood and Knott, but Greig received a ton of abuse. He said in an interview that one of the reasons he emigrated to Australia was the abuse his family received in England (though I suspect a bigger reason was that Packer offered him a job for live)

              • You do have a valid point about Greig. Didn’t Greig actually cop it because he was not ENGLISH? And of course it was the first tour. However a great many other players went on the tours such a Gooch and Gatting. My point is that when the media get stuck in to KP some of these very people who are jumping on the bandwagon with chants of “disloyalty” are not reminded by the media of their own former “disloyalty!” It’s the hypocrisy of it that makes me angry.

    • Neil, I thought your blogpost was a reasonable attempt at objectivity but I really hope that neither you nor Pam ever finds yourself in a position of responsibility, where you have to manage difficult people and conflicting objectives. I would also love to see jenny defending herself at a tribunal for dismissing someone for sending text messages whose contents are unknown to her. Perhaps I am wrong but I would like cricket to be administered by the kind of standards that prevail in the rest of society

    • “Now he’s gone and we can evaluate, was he actually worth it?”

      A question that could only occur to a monstrous ingrate. Was it worth winning our first Ashes series for 18 years? Was Mumbai 2012 worth it? Was seeing Dale Steyn hit back over his head for six worth it? You bet it was worth it.

      Clicking on the link to your blog? Not so worth it.

    • KP may have many questions to answer but I do not remember the players who deserted England to go to South Africa during apartheid having such demands made on them. Many of whom have sat in judgement on KP, and KP never deserted England they deserted him. No matter what one might think of KP – I am not a huge fan – no one can say that KP didn’t put his heart and soul into playing for England.

      Oh and as for the title of Mr Newman’s piece that KP refused to give interviews before the publication of his book, is, in fact, a lie! KP has already given an interview to Paul Hayward at the Telegraph. He is also going to give an interview to George Dobell – who tweeted about it today. George said that KP will tell the truth “he always does!”

      I feel offended by all these ECB lackeys who think it is okay to tell downright lies. At the moment the Daily Mail is moderating every reply Mr Newman’s article. There is only 3 replies anyway. So presumably one might imagine that his article is not seen to be worth the paper on which it is written. Daily Mail looking to be sued perhaps? Never mind about Moderating the comments. I think the Daily Mail should have “moderated” Mr Newman’s article. I would sue Mr Newman if he had said all that about me with no evidence. Unbelievable stuff.

  • On Paul Newman:

    You cannot hope
    to bribe or twist,
    thank God! the
    British journalist.

    But, seeing what
    the man will do
    unbribed, there’s
    no occasion to

    – Humbert Wolfe

  • Let’s face it, journos like Newman have nothing to do for a few weeks, except browse through their Alastair Cook photo collection. KP’s book is a godsend

  • Without any irony, Newman writes ” Matt Prior… good, team-oriented … [with] the best interests of English cricket very much in [his} heart”

    This the man who played four Test matches when he was plainly unfit to do so. Matches in which he either assured the Management he was fit to play, or which the Management chose to pretend was the case.

    Two of the four games were lost. None won, until Prior stepped down after admitting he had never been fit all along.

    Yup, my kind of team player.

    • I would like some kind of an explanation for this. Surely players must be expected to pass some kind of fitness test, particularly after an injury. Who allowed him to play or passed him as fit?

      Matt Prior has given wonderful service for England. Let’s not forget.

    • Indeed. When Cook was making a mess of things didn’t Prior offer to take over? Hmm. Very loyal. Just the sort of player we needed in England. Less said about Matt Prior the better methinks.

    • Sportsmen /women frequently play with injuries. When asked about playing with an injury, the great cricket philosopher Ian Chappell likes to quote W. C. Fields – “Never give a sucker an even break” In other word, if you give up your place, you better be prepared to never get it back. Prior had Buttler breathing down his neck. He knew that if he took a break and Buttler did well, his own test career would be over. Prior playing with an injury had nothing to do with team loyalty – it was about prolonging his career. And that is just human nature.

      • Might be human nature but it is putting yourself above the team. If that is standard behaviour then people shouldn’t demand loyalty from others.

        It seems the ECB expects a certain loyalty from certain players but not others.

  • Kevin Pietersen had admitted those messages were ‘provocative’. That’s enough. On the grounds of probability the are unlikely to have been sl

      • You are missing the point. Pietersen was absolutely within his rights not to show the contents of private text messages to his employer. Similarly, his employer had no right to demand to see private messages, especially on the basis of an unsubstantiated third-hand report in a foreign newspaper.

  • Let’s just start with the fact that Newman has already been proved a liar on at least one point: his claim that Pietersen has been refusing to give interviews to the cricket media in connection with his book. Not only has George Dobell tweeted that KP is scheduled to give one to him at cricinfo, KP himself pointed out that he has one scheduled with the Daily Mail itself. What is more, the editor of Mail Sport tweeted that she will be conducting the interview herself, and that Pietersen will be treated fairly and with respect! I think that tells us not only what a liar and fantasist Newman is, but how bitter and blinded by hatred he is: he didn’t even check with his own editor whether Pietersen had refused to be interviewed!

    But wait — it’s worse than that. Newman even emailed Pietersen’s publishers to say he wasn’t interested in interviewing Pietersen about the book!

    Kevin Pietersen ‏@KP24 8h8 hours ago

    In fact, when my publishers announced the book & invited such interview requests, you took the time to email them simply saying “no thanks”.

    There are other obvious lies in Newman’s piece, but this was perhaps the most blatant and easily proven.

    • Oh good one Clive. KP has already been interviewed by Paul Hayward. Newman was just pissed off. I’m surprised the Daily Mail allowed this piece to be published. It’s vindictiveness and lies is utterly breathtaking.

  • I accept that, but there is a point that you also seem to be missing. Those texts were the point at which trust went out of the window. It’s not easy to go forward, or to come back from that.

    • Trust went out of the window when team members started leaking information to a spoof web account making fun of him. Trust is a two-way street.

    • He is a professional cricketer. Where does trust fit in to his responsibilities? And in any case it goes two ways. Perhaps he might have expected his captain and employers to look into the kpgenius twitter affair. And you still do not know what was in kp’s texts. Good luck in front of the tribunal. If the ECB really did offer a compromise agreement, in the legal sense, it might be because they think they might have been on dodgy ground and wanted to prevent an expensive legal fall-out. Pure speculation, I admit but at least I am not grounding a dislike of KP on the basis of texts I have not read.

      • How can you have a viable relationship of any sort without trust? Agree it goes both ways in terms of the parody account, but the point remains.

        I don’t hate Kevin Pietersen. There are wide ranging issues here and I entirely agree that the whole thing has been very badly handled.

        • I don’t see where trust fits in. He is a batsman not an accountant or lawyer. He just needs to turn up and score runs. There are countless example examples of players who were not trusted by their team mates who performed at a high level. For example, Hadlee was openly disrespectful of his skipper Coney in ways that went way beyond texts that no one seems to have seen. Botham and Trueman at times refused to stop bowling. Si Barnes openly sulked if he was not given the new ball. A few texts is pitiful compared with these clear cases of dissent. If Flower and Strauss were unhappy with Kp’s attitude, if they were good managers, they would have discussed it with him. Not sacked him, reinstated him and then start to compile a dossier. That smacks of weak leadership. Of course, Strauss was going through a bad patch and probably should not have been the captain. Another case of weak leadership probably. And the same situations will keep occurring since exceptional players are sometimes stroppy strong – minded gits and we keep choosing feeble captains, managers and coaches

        • Players did have trust when Vaughan was captain. It all went out of the window though, as the team began to decline. Loyalty is something that should be cherished but certainly some of KPs team members showed scant loyalty towards him. it does cut both ways. ECB show no loyalty to anyone not even Cook.

  • Without wishing to trash 80% of print journalism, it is a sad fact that the peddling of lies, innuendo and cheap negative stereotypes in order to destroy somebody’s credibility, character or even livelihood is and has been the stock in trade of the tabloid press for more years than I care to remember.
    The surprise is that people are shocked by the behaviour of people who make a living from, to be honest, muck-raking, bile-peddling and as we now know often law-breaking rags like the Sun and the Mail. It may be shallow of me, but once a journalist stoops to the level of taking wages from those two esteemed organs in particular, I lose interest in anything they have to say.
    Ask any number of celebrities, or ordinary members of the public who happen to have experienced some tragedy in their lives what they think of their treatment by the tabloid press. I doubt you’ll get two good words to rub together.
    If that is the best the ECB can muster, and if that’s the company they keep, they haven’t just lost the PR battle, they’ve been routed from the field and several articles of the Geneva Convention have been broken as they tried to flee.

    • While I share your negative opinion of the Mail, I’m not sure it’s accurate to describe it as ‘often law-breaking’ – unlike the Murdoch papers and the Mirror.
      Which incidents were you referring to ?

        • I think the article is sailing very close to the wind in terms of its veracity. The title alone is a lie. So many “inaccuracies” in the piece that defies belief and evidence to the contrary. It is a piece full of venom. However Mr Newman parades his diatribe as FACT! He and the Daily Mail would deserve to be sued for what has been written. I am surprised that the Daily Mail has allowed this piece to be published. They may well come truly unstuck. The Sun certainly did when John Etheridge had his piece published saying that someone in the ECB had said KP had returned all his gifts to the ECB? That wasn’t true and Etheridge made a personal tweet apology to KP and then the Sun had to issue an public apology to KP. So it has happened before and could indeed happen again.

          I agree wholeheartedly with your initial Post NorthernLight!!!

          • John Etheridge did tell us to look VERY CAREFULLY at the photo though.. A few of us did look very carefully, but couldn’t find anything suspicious.

  • You are entitled to your opinion. Dissent within a team is one thing, falling in with the opposition is another. I’m sorry that you have no understanding if trust. That’s all I have to say.

    • Jenny, your views on trust do you great credit but you seem unable to apply that same argument for the KP genius account. If he was a sinner then he also was sinned against by certain team mates. You are dealing in semantics by arguing for one and not the other.

    • Hi. I did read that, but you seemed to skirt round it. Saying a lot of questions need answered doesn’t cut it. If you don’t like KP that’s fine, no problem with that but to highlight his failings and refuse to highlight others failings because you like them. Well you can see how that might be perceived.

  • Oh dear. I appeared to skirt round the issue in reply to that particular tweet because it was the second time that I had agreed the principle that the Genius account gave rise to an equal lack of trust. KP was sinned against OK. I prefer not to go down the road of likes, dislikes and hatred. I simply state things as I see them. I do not hate KP OK.

  • No matter what your line of work, everyone bad mouths their boss at some stage. KP is hardly the first player to bad mouth a team mate to the opposition. Back when I played (many, many years ago), it was quite common in the drinks session at the end of play and there was rarely any malice in it. Sending a text message to the opposition does seem much worse but I guess it depends upon what KP said and what his intent was.

  • James, I don’t think this should push you any way, as a rule of thumb I don’t think any DM article should… too many tabloid journalist and their sensationalist language involved in this debate.

    Stick as an inbetweener and keep your dignity.

  • In the Telegraph interview with KP ,one of the most telling comments.

    ” Because a player is what people go to grounds to watch. The paying public don’t go there to watch Andy Flower.”

    So true

  • Just heard former Kent capt say on SKy sport that it would have been tough in the dressing room for newbies and fringe players and that prior would be a hard task master. Also there was a clique with the bowlers. So KP IS telling the truth.

    Ps just called Sky to cancel my sports sub. When they asked reason, I gave it both barrels, they offered me a free package for a few months. I told them I didn’t want any of my money going to the ecb. BOOM.

  • Ian, so right. He really has plumbed new depths with that one. Perhaps I’m being naive here but why would the editor of said rag request an interview and then allow this hack to publish an article like that. Does editor not have final say on what is published.

    • Hi Vanessa,

      I doubt that they really care and they probably ion all reality don’t expect to get an interview.

      They’ll just use the request for one as another stick to beat Pietersen.

      Something along the lines of; Well we offered him the opportunity to have his say but he chose not to speak with us therefore he has something to hide or is running scared.

  • Thanks guys, that’s another portion of my idealism gone. I’m so glad I’m tucked away in my little haven in Scotland and don’t have to deal with low end people like that.


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