So. Where were you when you heard the news? Me? I was outside the Shakespeare’s Head pub in Holborn and my good friend had shown up. He was on the phone when I saw the first blog message. Incredulity struck, but it was true. I reacted, then felt a little guilt. Should I be cheering a man’s sacking, when it meant bad news for someone else? I then had what little joy I might have had ebb away to anger. Anger that we’d had to put up with someone so out of his depth for so long. Anger that he’d had that attitude throughout of unchallenged intellectual superiority and his boderline patronising nature. Anger that he’d been seen through after five minutes by many on here. Anger that we’d been sold a pup by the ECB hierarchy and more importantly to me, by the print media. The print media which lambasts this site, and people like me for indulging in “guesswork”, of not being close to the team, of not following them around professionally. They took the you-know-what out of us. Damn them. Damn all those who looked down their noses at us. We were right. He was not up to it. We are right about Moores. We are right about Whitaker. Most importantly of all, we are right about Andy Flower. Yet there he resides.
Now what? The news appears to be that Downton is being moved on and his post has been removed from the ECB hierarchy to be replaced with something called the Director of Cricket. Lord alone knows what that means, but people seem to be indicating that Whitaker is for the chop tomorrow and a whole new structure will replace him. Shed no tears either for the speak your Gary Ballance machine if he goes, as he’s been a laff-a-lympics when he’s had to front up to anything resembling a sentient questioner. I’m not that impressed with this from Harrison if truth be told because the structure is being used as a fig leaf for two utter failures.
So what now? Downton gone leaves a huge hole for me to fill, but there’s plenty more where he came from. The replacement list is full of holes, but I think we need to know what the role is before people are put forward. I’ve not had time to read this exercise in shifting sands.
Here’s what I do know. We handed the keys to the kingdom to Paul Downton. His first major move was to speak to Andy Flower. Before we knew it, Flower had gone as coach and been shunted into a role he appeared to be lobbying for. Then he sacked Pietersen and entered into a ridiculous confidentiality clause, which he broke a few months later. He held a press conference where he came across to me as a buffoon, but to some of the agape media as a latter day seer. If the warning signs weren’t flashing then, they had to be after his Agnew interview. But no. After a period in hiding, he re-surfaced in a Sky hack-piece, and was then hidden under the stairs. We then had to endure his backing of a lame duck captain, especially in the ODI game, and his disastrous intervention in the ODI series in Sri Lanka was the crowning glory. Or so we thought. Because then came his post-World Cup media blitz, which was staggering. By then, most of the media had seen the light. I say most.
Because some still don’t. We know their names, we know why they don’t. Their enemy’s enemy has always been their friend. Pietersen was banished by this man. For many this seems enough. They get to keep stirring the pot, getting the clicks on their website, yet still get to be the offended patron at KP’s misdemeanours. If any of them actually think a man who didn’t have a clue what social media was when he took on the job (his words) is still a fit and proper man to be in charge of our team, well….
I hope Harrison undertakes a review of ALL his key decisions. The appointment of Moores actually being more of a priority than Pietersen. The maintenance of a role for Flower arguably being more than that. To sack a man after a year indicates you have no confidence in him at all. So look at his key decisions and act on them.
In tabloid style let me go through some of Downton’s best moments:
- Sacking KP. Oh yes. For reasons unclear, but something to do with being disconnected. You make a big decision like that, you need to explain yourself. Constantly avoiding the question makes you look a fool.
- Outside cricket. Given he used that phrase in a 1985 Q&A for Cricketer’s Who’s Who, it seemed to be something he would have said. Way to get a meme started.
- Difficult Winter – Oh yes. Losing 12 out of 13 to your main foe is just “difficult”
- The press conference – Alastair Cook being told that he wasn’t strong enough to captain KP seemed rather amusing. Of course that was our spin. Other saw aplomb.
- The interview – SO good I got multiple posts out of it. Where do you start? Read this. The read this. Then read this. And then there is this. Once you’ve done that, read my conclusion.
- Who can forget his interview round in Sri Lanka. Backing the captain, then presiding over his sacking a few days later, all the while refusing to answer any questions on KP. Good lord.
- Then there was the side to be reckoned with going into the World Cup. That went well.
- Then the media blitz post elimination which struck all the wrong notes, had him wondering how T20 cricket had impacted, and played “it weren’t my fault” cards all over the place.
There’s enough for this evening. No background research, no looking at other things, just an instant reaction. Have your say, read Maxie over at TFT, read the papers/online news columns, and we’ll reconvene.