Get The Popcorn

But an ECB spokesman later sought to clarify the comment, adding: “Colin Graves is correct. Nothing has changed – only players who are playing consistent high-quality county cricket and who are seen as a positive influence will be selected for England.”

I say. Did I miss that second part in Graves’s first statement….

The force remains strong.

Ali Martin was the reporter on The Guardian.

There’s a million and one things to say about this, but let’s try to be brief as it is a Sunday night and I need to be up for work in the morning.

This is an interesting development. We sort of know how this works. Someone puts something out there, the reaction isn’t as expected and they reel it back it in. You saw that with the Peter Moores interview in Sri Lanka alluding to Cook’s fate, then the Muppet Director, Downton, reeled it back in, before the coup de grace was implemented later in the week.

Colin Graves is not in charge yet, but don’t be fooled. Paul Downton managed to start his job before he was officially in place. Graves is running the show, or at least he should be. The comments he made today were out of the side of his mouth, saying he’d back the selectors etc.but also trying to distance himself a little from the excommunication by saying if KP did “this and that” he may get a look-in.

KP adroitly jumped all over that, and within a few hours the ECB threw Graves under the bus and propped up the crumbling edifice. Make no mistake, they have undermined the new CEO. So if one was a conspiracy theorist, one could say there was a power play at play in the ECB. You can’t tell me that leak of the “think the unthinkable” document wasn’t done for some purpose. This is an organisation rotten to the core in its upper echelons, and it needs rooting out. Graves isn’t some white knight, but don’t tell me this isn’t the old guard keeping the new upstart in check.

“Positive Influence.” How about Downton and Clarke for two abide by that? The ECB brand is seen as toxic. Toxicity is not positive influence. These two have presided over a disastrous year where they have been dismissive of the public, ignorant of the facts, and contemptuous of feedback. They exude the arrogance of the infallible, when they have feet made of clay. Their appointment of Moores and backing of Cook was evidence of their brilliance in their own minds. Cook was sacrificed as ODI captain a few days after his MD backed him. Moores is living on borrowed time, with Cook probably really cheesed off over the ODI nonsense.

Graves is going to regret not ditching Clarke, and you can mark my words on that one. He might need to look at Downton, but goodness knows what he has to do to get the chop.

An organisation that amazes, continues to do so. It’s bonkers. We “outside cricket” sit here and just think “we’ve not been proved wrong yet by these clowns.”

Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr Mike Walters

Downton has been pottering around in New Zealand scolding accomplished ex-England captains with “agendas” to lay off Moores and get behind the boys, which only goes to prove he hasn’t got a clue.

Win a few cricket matches, and the hounds will be kept on a leash. But don’t expect the travelling media corps to stage a line dance in grass skirts and pom-poms as cheerleaders for garbage, mate.

Read more here….

Sounds just like him, doesn’t it?

But Mike is coming in off the long run…

You cheerfully sacrificed England’s record scorer in all forms of the game, Mr Downton, and you appointed this bloke as coach. The day of reckoning is near when you will have to justify your abject leadership.

To date, your regime has produced a home Test series defeat by Sri Lanka when England should have won 2-0; an atrocious performance at Lord’s against India (when Alastair Cook’s bowlers squandered first use of a pitch greener than a stag night hangover); a fine comeback to win the series 3-1, although the Indians played like a side who couldn’t have cared less at Old Trafford and The Oval; firing your one-day captain days after publicly promising to stand by him; and this nuclear blow-out at the World Cup.

Don’t forget, the England and Wales Cricket Board drove a coach and horses through the fixture schedule, and heaped back-to-back Ashes series on their players, to accommodate six months of build-up to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. It’s worked out well, hasn’t it?

The Art Of Illusion

It got the ears up, didn’t it. It got KP onto The Verdict. It got people talking less about the debacle of our bowling and fielding performance.

KP has been thrown a lifeline.

Or has he?

We’ve had experience over the past 18 months or more about the ECB-speak. What is and isn’t being said. In the old days, we called this sort of examination in minute detail of every word Kremlinology. Now it’s dullard corporate speak. What does Graves mean when he says KP needs to play county cricket to have a chance of a selection? What does he mean by this key line:

“The first thing he has to do if he wants to get back is start playing county cricket. The selectors and the coaches are not going to pick him if he’s not playing, it’s as simple as that. At the end of the day it’s down to the selectors and coaches and what they feel is best for English cricket. They will make the decisions and I will support their decisions.”

So it is down to the selectors – a coach who doesn’t want him if everything we believe is true, a captain that probably doesn’t, senior pros that don’t, a couple of selectors who don’t and a Chairman who is adamant he doesn’t (by his utterances) all under the auspices of a line manager (his description) in Downton who has nailed his credibility to the decision last February. If it is left up to them Pietersen is never coming back. If the decision is truly their’s then Graves will support them.

The hope comes from Graves being a new broom, that’s all. While this isn’t the unequivocal stuff that has come from the halls of Lord’s before, it is also odd that the timing is this comes on top of another performance of incredible incompetence overnight. One could, if one was being cynical, say that this is a neat diversionary tactic. A bloody stupid one, because the main thing people seem to be saying is this fatally undermines Downton – as if the performances in the World Cup haven’t damned that strategy enough to destroy this man’s ill-fated tenure – and I can’t believe that was the intention.

Of course, the anti-KP faction will latch on to the interview where he says he won’t pull out of the IPL (and why should he trust these liars) and say that it was the bowling last night (and largely over the last year or so) that was at fault not the batting, so KP isn’t the difference. I’m not saying this for one minute, but you are the lot being diverted, not me. My eyes are clearly on what happened last night, and what happens in the ECB hierarchy, not your personal parlour game over whether KP would have won us any of the games so far. More on that when we are finally eliminated from this tournament, because we still have a chance, even if it is remote now.

The usual supsects can do their usual thing. The elephant remains in the room. The strategic direction these clowns set is now reaping its own reward. But throw the remaining deluded people the KP meat to slabber over as an illusionary tactic isn’t big, isn’t clever and after the nonsensical leak earlier in the week, not even that good a piece of news management.

Happy to hear your views. Are you of the same cynical mind as me….