Schism – def. is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination.
Around 15 months ago, after the acrimony of Summer 2014, I mentioned on HDWLIA that the divide between the supporters of the Cook side of the argument and the KP side of the argument, if we can simplify matters here, had shown no signs of being bridged. At that time the former were firmly of the view, exhorted by a compliant press, that the moves by Downton and co to rid themselves of the turbulent KP were absolutely correct and that the team, and therefore, by extension those running it, needed our support. On the other side, those of us sick to death of hearsay, rumour, gossip and leak, having our most exciting player removed from the scene with nothing to say why (those cursed lawyers) also had the Big Three Stitch Up to get our teeth into.
I may not be a totally unbiased member of the jury, but I think the latter bunch absolutely slaughtered the other in the debate. We’ve been down the road about what we got right many times – most notably Downton and Moores – but there’s no doubting we got people talking in our own way, and got some terminology out there to guide us. You know, that “outside cricket” thing that won’t go away.
I thought, at the beginning of 2015, there was hope. A new head of the ECB, a disastrous World Cup that used up any goodwill anyone should have had, some moves towards a settlement of divisions with KP. It looked hopeful that the divide, which was becoming a chasm, could be bridged. But could it really? Because, as we know, the strength of feeling out there against KP, and that’s what it is only about to those on the other side of the debate (what else is there, that we are a grumpy bunch? That I offend the misuse of the Question Mark Society?) is immense. Absolutely immense. Not in quantity, as the unscientific polls show, but in sheer venom. By the end of 2015’s summer, and the Ashes win, the divide was becoming wider, not narrower.
Now this blog has been accused, on a number of occasions, of being spiteful and nasty. It’s been accused of being full of guesswork. Tonight it has even been accused of being a “bunch of oddballs” and not “real cricket fans”. You know, that might be what you think, but I doubt it. We give a toss. I didn’t spare criticism of Alastair Cook during those times for in my view, he deserved to be criticised. I fail to see how any sentient cricket fan could watch a series losing storm of nonsense like Day 4 at Headingley and not be moved to paroxysms of rage. It was woeful. Whether it was entirely him, his bowlers or Moores, it was extraordinary. There was anger at performance as well as anger at his appearance as being, in part, responsible for the exclusion of KP.
Bloody hell, I’m not saying I’m without sin here, without going overboard maybe, or said everything in the way I wanted to. But here’s what I do. I understand the frustration some have with us, keep harking on about bringing KP back, keep mentioning when he’s making the basis on which all selection decisions, with extremely few exceptions should be made, look a joke (the other side of the debate taught me many ways to discount an innings of 355* in first class cricket), keep saying what we’re saying. I understand people telling us we should move on, that this is a fight that’s over, that he’s never coming back so “get behind this new exciting team”.
I make one request tonight of those on the other side of the debate. Why do you think we’ve not totally embraced this new future? Do you seriously think it is man-love for one player? Because if you do, you are not the intelligent people I give you credit for.
The schism remains, and will continue to do so. I feel cut adrift from England cricket, I feel betrayed by the authority that runs the game, both in terms of domestic teams and on the international administrative stage, and it shows no signs of abating. It’s both sides to “blame”, whether you like it or not. Where there’s no signs of meeting in the middle, we’ll continue being torn apart.
Have a think, next time you question our support for the game. Have a think. Because I’ve never questioned yours. Just your judgement. As you, on the other side, no doubt do with ours.