Parky

Opening day of the County Championship and as I can confirm, it was a bit blowy and cold out there. Got to love April cricket. There were interesting performances out there – Sussex struggled early but Wright and Brown pulled them out of the abyss; Colly rolled back the years with the ball at batsman-friendly Taunton; Worcester put up a decent opening day show as they played the champions; and Brendon Taylor made a debut ton for Notts against the North London mob.

Down in division two Northants made the highest team score of the day, while Glamorgan posted two centuries in their very solid start v Leicestershire, before the Surrey Circus comes to town next weekend. Rudolph and Bragg making hay while the wind blew (so much that they played without bails according to Twitter).

Spring is here, and so is cricket. County cricket may not be to all tastes, but I have to say I love my days out when I go far more than the T20 games, while recognising this is a personal choice and not something I want to dictate on anyone!

But it was a game outside the County Championship that is going to grab all the headlines, and even now, the attitude of some to it is just off the charts churlish. Kevin Pietersen turned out for Surrey in a friendly match at Oxford. He made 170. The world went mad.

Now, I’m telling you when he got to three figures, I laughed. A lot. I felt the rage swelling inside the anti-KP mob, and knew it would burst through at some point. Let me put this to you straight, ladies and gents, we are not stupid. We do all realise the quality of opponent he was facing. But let’s also have some context here. For right or wrong, this was his first game of red ball cricket at this sort of standard (didn’t he play a Grade game pre Big-Bash) for well over a year. He was fresh, but not proper match hardened. Wickets fell around him at the start of the Surrey innings and he needed to bed in. He did all that was asked of him. Then he made hay and took the score to safety and made 170. It’s a bloody good start, but we know there’s much tougher tests ahead.

Now, keep in mind the main newspapers sent people like Lawrence Booth, Ali Martin and so forth to this game. This is the lead cricket story in all the papers. The bloke is box office, and gets the hits because he’s divisive and compelling in equal doses. As many of you know, a journalist I defended because I’ve really liked his work had a bit of a bad hair day when the news came through:

{I have deleted the part about Chris Stocks. He’s been really good to apologise, and I don’t want to settle any more scores. Fair play requires a fair acceptance.}

Derek Pringle was there, and his bizarre retweet of this beauty (to be fair, the original tweeter, when it was pointed out that if KP had pulled out at 100, Surrey would have been 220 for 6) speaks volumes.

He’s also burbled on about this:

I mean, really? You need to be there to know how he played. Sounded like a KP knock to me – a bit iffy early, a few whiffs, into a rhythm, bang. Does Mike Newell or James Whitaker need to be there to know that. Good grief.

We can see what a circus this is going to be, can’t we?

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you (and thanks to Vian for this) with this lovely quote from our beloved captain:

“It’s a big Test series we want to win. I think my position should not really be a talking point as it has been over the last 15 months. I know it is, but I’m here for the most important thing – to help England win games of cricket. I feel I’ve still the energy to do that and the experience over the last three-and-a-half years to lead this young team forward.”

I get more than one correspondent saying my attacks on Cook are tiresome. and yet I think I’m one of the more mild ones on here. But this is tone deaf. It really is. There’s backing yourself and then there’s being deluded. Alastair, you’ve not made a hundred in international cricket for two years, and no-one is confusing your captaincy with Mike Brearley’s. Please stop saying these very silly things. Thanks.

It’s been a day.

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