Dearth of Gentlemen

I love my Ipod. It’s one of them 160GB classic Ipods. I bought it just before Apple, in their infinite wisdom thought that they were obsolete and decided it was all about those silly “minis” or “Iphones” or whatever. But I love walking out of my house every day, on the way to work, having the shuffle on for the 23k tracks there are on there and wondering “what will today throw up”? I mean, it’s not all great. ITunes is the spawn of satan, but you can’t have everything.

Anyway, I was walking into work and the news had broken a little before of the team for the World T20. I was checking the phone when the Carly Simon song with that well known Nile Rodgers riff came on. It’s as if the Ipod had the same thoughts as me. Why?

As I said on Twitter this morning, I am not a three year old. I knew he wasn’t going to be picked. If the people out there are dense enough to think that then they aren’t worthy of reading a single piece on here. But I still thought. Why?

After a work function in Park Lane, I rambled down Oxford Street, passing Grosvenor Square, looking at the building, thinking about the future. I was there to purchase my wife’s Valentine’s present (hope she likes it) and then wend my way home. On the bus I caught up with some of the correspondence on line, read some of the tweets, and felt like shit, to be honest.

Got to the station, and boarded it. Still head full of “what should I write”. I Whatsapped Chris and told him I probably wouldn’t be on tonight, and I probably shouldn’t be. Then, near the end of my train journey came on one of my favourite pieces of music of recent times.

It’s “And I Will Kiss” by Underworld. Or as it is better known worldwide as that music from the Pandemonium portion of the Olympic Opening Ceremony. And it takes me back. I’m an emotional sort, and that piece of music still brings a little tear to my eye. It is immense. It has everything in it. It was played when our country was being portrayed to the world. And it made me immensely proud to be British. It filled my heart and soul with a joy I can’t express. I wished my mum and dad were here to see the ceremony and hear the music. My brother, no lover of that thing, texted me to say it was amazing. He doesn’t say things like that. No matter what anyone else out there thought, my family loved it.

It lasts 19 minutes, and I’m listening to this music and just getting overwhelmed by it as I always do. Yes, a little alcohol might have assisted, but it generally doesn’t matter. And I go back to when it was released. A week before textgate and all that nonsense. While we were getting humped by South Africa and the scapegoating was in full effect. I thought of Andrew Strauss getting upset that KP was fraternising with key South African players, and then thinking “what do you think Ian Botham would have said to Strauss if he moaned about him being too close to Viv and Joel?”. But that’s by the by. It’s all moot now.

And the thing is that the swelling of pride in my country, the love of the music, the joy of the sport, ended. Two weeks of Mo, Vicky, Chris, Greg, Jess, Brad, Laura et al, and watching, in person, the GB women’s basketball team run the eventual silver medallists, France, so damn close, and then it was gone. Sure, it’ll all be repeated in Rio later this year, but it won’t all be here again. While that was going on, England’s cricket team went off the effing rails. The contrast was stark.

And I Will Kiss will remind me, did remind me of that. How, on the one hand, the country rallied behind the participants, not knowing personalities, not showing suspicions, but enjoying sport, while our precious cricket lot got into a spat and started leaking like a sieve. Like it always did.

And that brings me to the present. I really don’t like the ECB. They run the game like a fucking old boys club. There’s snobbery. There’s cowardice. Overall, there’s arrogance. They know that out there there are many, many cricket fans who would love to see the dust settle between the ECB and KP. There are a lot that don’t, but their needs have been more than catered for in the last two or so years. The dust isn’t settled by saying “sorry old chap, sorry you’ve cancelled a £200k contract on a wild goose chase, and made us look like muppets, but hey, how about a little part time job as a matter of goodwill?” but by being honest. Telling us what the trust issues are, not “I don’t want to get into that” which has been far too easy on them. But again, that’s for another day.

They know there are many KP fans out there. Their attitude towards them this week has been downright insulting. Eoin Morgan’s “that’s from me” without so much as an explanation was bad enough. Anyone who thinks I overdid it on the Outside Cricket Day yesterday, that’s why. It’s contemptuous. Then for Bayliss to say “his name never even came up” put the tin hat on it. So that’s that then. And you want me to put money in your coffers to watch you lot? I doubt that this even entered their mind. I find people with these sort of attitudes just don’t think like that. What can I say….

I’m not asking for him to be selected. I’m asking for some bloody openness and transparency. I’m asking for a cricket reporter, if there are still any out there, to do their damn job and get answers to the questions. TLG earlier made the eloquent point that this is about not selecting on merit. We’ve done that to death. This is about owing something to the supporters who wanted him back. Who want selection on merit. Who want to know what it was he did that was so wrong that he’s been blackballed and airbrushed from history. And no, it is not the book. That was not what got him sacked.

And so, when And I Will Kiss ended, this Ipod read my mind. As I walked down the hill to my house, there came on this…

Such a shame to believe in escape
‘A life on every face’, but that’s a change
Until I’m finally left with an ‘8’
Tell me to relax, I just stare
Maybe I don’t know if I should change
A feeling that we share, it’s a shame

(Such a shame)
Number me with rage, it’s a shame
(Such a shame)
Number me in haste
(Such a shame)
This eagerness to change
It’s a shame

The dice decide my fate, that’s a shame
In these trembling hands my faith
Tells me to react, I don’t care
Maybe it’s unkind if I should change
A feeling that we share, it’s a shame

Read more: Talk Talk – Such A Shame Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Good night all.

Move along, nothing to see…

England announced their squad for March’s World T20, making a late bid to match their previous and astounding heights of omnishambles over the last few years.  The selection of Liam Dawson, apparently on the back of a good Lions tour, is certainly eyebrow raising.  Trevor Bayliss’ swiftly made it clear one way or the other than if it all goes horribly wrong it ain’t down to him guv, by openly stating he hadn’t seen him play and that he was trusting the selectors.  The tone is so often the giveaway, and saying he was a good fielder “apparently” spoke volumes.  Of course, it’s not remotely Dawson’s fault, and he will be rightly thrilled and excited at his call up.  That James Whitaker stated it was on the back of the Lions tour may have been because it’s rather hard to state it was due to last year’s T20 blast when he failed to take a wicket.  Stephen Parry can count himself unfortunate.

Dawson may well go on to be a success, and there is nothing at all wrong with selections based on a hunch that the player will go well, but there is the suspicion that he will be little more than drinks carrier on this trip.

Broad too has been omitted, which rather makes his call up to the ODI series in South Africa somewhat peculiar, as he could have been given the time off to recover if he wasn’t going to be in the squad.  As it stands, and given he isn’t playing in that series so far, it seems pointless to make England’s key Test bowler hang around.

The selectors have managed to thoroughly pretend the various T20 competitions going on around the world don’t exist by ignoring Luke Wright.  England play too few T20 matches for there to be a pattern of international success to draw upon, and Wright is unquestionably a specialist in this form of the game.

And then there’s Kevin Pietersen.  His non-selection is a surprise to no-one, but the idea that England have six better T20 batsmen to draw upon is laughable.  It is thus a team selection for reasons other than cricketing ones.  Some will approve of that, many will not.  No one will be shocked, but the ECB once again are making it clear that teams are not decided on what players can do on the field.  They could have made the argument that they felt others would be more effective, which would be open to question, but a cricketing decision.  Instead they said that he wasn’t even discussed, and thus confirming the point that cricketing matters were not the focus.  As ever, the point is not about one player’s presence or otherwise, but what that means for all others going forward – if they don’t like you, then no matter how many runs or wickets you might take, you will not get in the side.

Some have suggested that England are amongst the favourites for the tournament, but the bowling looks somewhat thin for India conditions.  Even so, in competition cricket, they may well find a way, for not too many would have pointed to Ryan Sidebottom being so outstanding in the one global tournament England have ever won.  Steven Finn is in the squad despite his injury, and he is the one member of that attack shorn of Stuart Broad who looks a wicket-taker, his fitness is critical to England’s chances.

The fundamental objection to the ECB remains that they would prefer not to give themselves the best chance of winning something, in favour of internal politics.

As a statement of policy, it takes some beating.