I drafted a piece for the blog on Monday (15th) and decided not to post it. I thought it was all getting a bit repetitive. But the Bogfather, through a comment in the post below, made me rethink.
You can sit up last night and watch people fall over themselves watching a tour de force by Brendon McCullum that was as fortunate as it was exhilirating and still be entranced by this sport. This was the test equivalent of my club side sh*tting it when someone started hitting the ball really hard. But watching it, communicating with the Tweeters you like, ignoring those that you don’t, or you think have really gone off the boil, and think this sport still has a ton to offer. So read this as someone who hadn’t watched the 1st day’s play last night.
The treadmill rolls on to a T20 series. England’s winter tour is reaching its denouement and all eyes will soon turn to an ICC tournament to be held next month in India. England have won one test series and lost one test series. They have won one ODI series and lost one ODI series. They have won one T20 series, so let’s see how this one goes…. there is a pattern there.
This blogger, though, finds himself in a different position than before. Previously there was true anger. A rage fuelled by my view that there was an injustice done to a player, and a contempt shown to the punters. While it was not about getting KP back, getting him back would have been a rapprochement of sorts. If it was just a T20 World Cup, then it would have been a sound cricketing decision. Of course the ECB would never pick him. Imagine what would have happened if he’d been a roaring success, like the time we won the competition. Leaving him out was by far the safest option. By the end of this farce the main reason I wanted him picked was to see the reaction of some of the resident obsessed online, more than the freak show another performance for England would be.
But there is not so much anger now. Not really. Oh, don’t get me wrong, the ECB have absolutely no right to think that I’m back on side, and all is right with the world. They are wrong if they believe that in finally accepting the end of KP in an England shirt means I’m back on the bus. They could not be further from the truth. They’ve lost me as an England cricket supporter.
This is a monumental achievement, and you’d have seen it coming from two or so years ago. Let me put into words the scale of this achievement. From a child I’ve loved the England cricket team. One of my commenters said how he used to listen to TMS on the overseas tours overnight, so that he was sleep deprived. I once sneaked a radio into a mock exam room to listen to the 4th day of the India v England test in 1985 (when it appeared as though we couldn’t get Azharuddin or Amarnath out). I started going to test matches, went on three tours (two to Australia, one to South Africa) when I had money, and tried to watch as much as I could. I recorded cricket for posterity, have most England tests on highlights since 2005 (having had to throw the rest out before due to compatability issues) and at times probably knew too many stats for my own good. I bought replica stuff, even as an older man who should know better, kept the stubs, the programs, the memorabilia. As you will know, I took photos, lots and lots of photos. The sport was one I played, I loved and still do. But England, I’m sorry, have lost me. If Adelaide 2006 happened now, I reckon I wouldn’t care. Back then, it was devastating.
This is running over “Schism” again, and I expect the same old same old. But I don’t care if this is repetitive. TLG’s excellent piece on the interviews with Cook last week put a lot of my concerns, a lot of what I had been saying, in context. Did you notice that the selection of an ICC tournament team did not merit a press conference with either the Chairman of Selectors (the man responsible for the selection of the side), any of his panel, nor with the Director, England Cricket (the man responsible for the team), the CEO (who was there when the decision not to go with KP was announced by Strauss) or the Chairman (he’s in Downton’s cupboard)? None of them thought this squad was worthy of explanation. If they did, I missed it. If the press asked, I missed it.
What followed was a soft toss interview with Cook. Only they will know, but that looked to me like certain questions were said to be off limits, so off limits they remained. This was preceded by Hussain’s Daily Mail interview with Eoin Morgan. I’ve seen mentioned that by saying what he did, Eoin Morgan has become a target for the KP fans. Apart from providing us with a great catchphrase, and that’s from me, this was an advance message sent by a captain who, as far as I am aware, is not part of the selection panel. At the time we were 2-0 up in the series and lots of wind was being blown into Mr Morgan’s sails. Six days later, and the series lost, such bravado, such confidence now looks like arrogance. I’m sad our captain, who clearly had no beef in the past with KP, nailed his colours to the mast. But I’m not berating him for it. I put it down to media strategy and such forth. Call me what you want, but you know I’m not going to be a million miles off (no way Morgan puts that statement out without clearing it first).
But this is all mere fluff. The other side of the debate is claiming the spoils. The other side never really cared about the main themes, seeming to concentrate on the one that drove them the most – antipathy to KP, antipathy to those calling for his return. For many, an explanation was not what was required. Ed Smith once told us that Alex Ferguson never told the public why he sold Beckham (he did, later). For some, they just wanted the whole thing to go away. Given our politics at the moment evoke the same response from me shows wishful thinking – you still have to deal with it.
We wanted to be treated as adults. As proper supporters of the team. Not as part of the decision-making process, but true, to use that abhorrent word, stakeholders. A national team is our team. It brings out the best, and worst, in all of us, but above all, it is our team. It represents us. As do those who run the game, who administer the sport, who make the decisions. They should be making them on behalf of us, using their judgement, reporting back and explaining. We have had too much decision making and not enough transparency. Even when they say they have. By not saying anything about the Pietersen non-selection, when it was out there, being talked about, they were representing only themselves.
I am a blogger. A fan of the game. I know I am representing just one person. Myself. Others may agree with me, others may disagree. It is clear that those who agree with me will comment on here. I think I’ve been quite fair, if forceful in what I would like to see happen. I’m not naive. I know how “business” works. I know, to some degree, how “comms” works, and I know a cover-up when I see one. I’m pleased that the other side of the argument approves of this. I really, really do.
So, it’s not good to be angry for too long. We have the press we deserve, always keen to shoot down the infantry when there’s an officer class to protect. We have the coverage we deserve, slick, on message, vacuous for large parts of the time, names over substance, and never really questioning the powers that be. And we have the bloggers we deserve; inveterate moaners, massive smart arses, those in love with their own prose, those in love with their own voice (and yes, I am more than one of those!).
I’m fearful, actually. I have said many times that I walked away from Millwall. I’m not a season-ticket holder. I don’t have any desire to go to games any more. I don’t really love the sport any more. But I still get happy when they win, and still a little miffed if they lose. I do care. The authorities at my football club have to strike a pretty precarious balance, but with a couple of exceptions (one Chief was a complete lying prick) they weren’t against me. I don’t feel that about those who run English cricket. They do not give a shit. So it’s time to reciprocate. It remains to be seen that my lack of respect for them will manifest itself in constant output on the blog. I’ll try. But it’s hard to get enthused to write, when it’s hard to get enthused about the team you are, mainly, writing about. You don’t want a piece like this every week. And I don’t want to write it.
As I said, written last Monday. Thoughts and feelings evolve, even in that short time.