When blogging you can get a bit caught up about what happens now, in the recent past. It’s why many of the awards get given to those who achieve late in the year, how lists are skewed towards the modern era, and not the old. It seems a long time ago now, but the busiest day on the blog this year, outside of the infamous List, and more of that later in the year, was in the immediate aftermath of the World T20 Final. I sort of think of that final over as a “Sliding Doors” moment. To guess the true significance, from my perspective, of it, is to hypothesise on what might have been.
I think the key post that frames the impact I thought might be coming our way is the one I wrote on 26 January, and called Schism. It aches me, genuinely, that as a result of actions in 2014 England supporters, the ones we encounter on social media, split down the middle. Team Cook (ECB) vs Team KP (Outside Cricket). The two sides entrenched, in many ways not seeing each others point of view, but letting the frustration of the other side refusing to “buckle” reinforce matters more. I try to see things from the anti-KP brigade, and I just can’t. I accept that. I write about it. How difficult it is to think that people can take a load of media-assembled points and run them as fact without doing the thinking themselves. About how it is evident, to me, that the ECB leaked like my old shed roof and yet this was acceptable because it was getting the man. I try to explain this pull, this wretched feeling that something went so disgustingly wrong, that there were people who would rather side with the authorities than with a maverick, not seeing the bigger picture.
The Ashes in 2015 brought out the worst in the pro-ECB masses. It put us in our place. We were there only to be told to toe the line, get in with England and Cook, and yet people still kept on keeping on. There was still a tough core of people on here who would not get over the issues, not move on, not get into line. Maybe it brought out the worst in us. A peevish refusal to accept the position, almost that to give up would be to betray what we had putout there in the previous 18 months.
Over the preceding winter to the T20 competition KP started to hit form in the Big Bash. While certain people talked up a potential recall to the England, we all deep down knew it would never happen. Too many egos at play, too much water under the bridge. But it still rankled. A brilliant T20 performer left kicking his heels, undoubtedly good enough to get in the team, but kept out by a concept, a grudge, and stupidity.
What was so important about the loss in the World T20 Final is what it prevented from happening. It’s almost sacrilege to say it was a good thing England lost, and I can’t quite go that far. Was I crushingly disappointed? No. And I like this ODI/T20 team because it doesn’t, or at least didn’t, carry the baggage the test team did. But it was the way the press, the acolytes, the hangers-on were lining up what they would say if the victory had been sealed. Within a year Comma would be vindicated, feted as a genius, a man who turned water into wine, a man who could do little wrong. Look at us 8 months on, and see where we are now – a bedraggled test unit, at the end of their tether – and see how the climate has changed. Then there would be the ample opportunities to stick the knife into Kevin Pietersen – don’t they always – and us. People like us. Those who despise the ECB. Those who had excoriated a supine, pliant media for their obsequiousness. We would have seen the Ashes 2015 aftermath rerun – a time of vile abuse, of crass stupidity, and a downright unpleasant time to be blogging. It really ceased being fun.
Carlos Brathwaite also brought joy to the West Indies. Some of the players in that team it is very fair to say do not command respect. Gayle’s behaviour in Australia last winter being the most prominent, but Dwayne Bravo and Marlon Samuels aren’t exactly angels, and as for ‘Dre Russ, we are still awaiting his drug hearing. But there’s something about a West Indies success that just rouses you. Well it does me. It’s not being a hipster, but more in touch with my youth and their all conquering team. Those glimpses are more fleeting, their cricket more fragile – that word again – and thus unrestrained joy, especially at the expense of a cocky, arrogant foe (and England are that, whether we like it or not, we are not well liked in international circles) could be understood. Newman went ballistic at it, acting like a child, telling them off for celebrating in front of us, being mean spirited, and, worst of all, adding on to their U-19 success on the back of a Mankading, evidence of not playing the game in the right way.
That over changed a lot, and in many ways the blogging landscape has calmed down a lot since there. There’s not the visceral anger there once seemed to be. The usual suspects still have their ways of cheesing me off, but there’s not that need to fight as much. I think an England win might have exacerbated it. Not that that is at all important, and this isn’t meant to be a (totally) self-centred piece, but the anti-KP/ ECB fanboy/girl mob got to feel real pain, even if it was fleeting, even if it was in a tournament we all thought we had no chance in. It may have turned a cricket team’s fate, as their test team now looks a little better, but with still a long way to go. It was a cracking tournament and England played very well, and we can build confidence upon that display, in very testing conditions. But in the end, one of the most amazing finishes you are likely to see impacted very widely, and possibly, just possibly, the corner was turned on a number of fronts, big and small.
So, for Dmitri #2, a little obscure, a little tangential, and maybe a little controversial, I give you 6 6 6 6. Remember the Name…