Battle

As if we are surprised, the battle lines remain drawn. Those who think that the exclusion of Kevin Pietersen is the single most important thing in the game, and those that think that those who did it have been proven catastrophically wrong.

Jim Holden’s laughable piece, brilliantly picked apart by D’Arthez on here, has received backing from Simon Hughes and Paul Newman on Twitter. Both of these have been completely out of their prams whenever Pietersen’s name is mentioned. One is a massive supporter of Alastair Cook, another played a great deal of his county cricket alongside Paul Downton. Their support for the piece has been laughed at by many, with Tickers having a good old go on Twitter.

It seems as though little has changed in 12 or so months. However, there are journalists now prepared to countenance change – Nick Hoult may or may not have changed due to the paper hiring Pietersen, but the exit stage left of Pringle shows much of their editorial approach has changed. In addition Ali Martin is being far more even-handed than a Mike Selfey might have been. These are little acorns compared to the mighty ancient jokes in the media forest who put personal animosity over the real problem. That is an organisation that treats its real lifeblood with contempt. I’m not naming names, but you know who they are.

With Graves about to enact something or other, and former Derbyshire all-rounder Tom Harrison seemingly taking control of things, there is uncertainty. Ridiculous cat calls that Graves doesn’t start his role until May are especially hilarious given what Downton was up to before he took up his post last year and for which received no similar rebuke. Graves may be all things to all men at the moment, but what he is is a threat to the current flawed, and more importantly ridiculed hierarchy of Giles, Downton, Whitaker and Moores. Propping up Cook props up this lot, even with Cook’s mildest of hissy fits.

The same old battle lines, the same old nonsense, the same old resistance to admitting backing the wrong horse in a one horse race. Those not with the change programmes are being left behind. There’s a new chief coming along and he’s not listening to you, like Downton did when he asked you lot what you thought about Pietersen. Supporting those who prop this edifice up, the Cook captaincy, laughed at by most; the Downton follies; the Moores Matrices and the Whitaker Waffles all stupefying in their incompetence, all making us a laughing stock, is not taking us forward. It is holding us back.

Have a good week, folks.

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Obvious

Quote….of….the….debacle. Jim Holden, Sunday Express…

It is obvious to me, and it should be obvious to anyone with the game’s best interests at heart, that this admirable cricketer must be at the centre of the renewal and regeneration that is now urgently required.

This admirable cricketer is one that has not scored a test ton in nearly two years, has been woefully out of form for as long as anyone can remember, is not a captain of any tactical nous that we’ve noticed, has presided over a whitewash to our most impacable foe, and lost a series at home to Sri Lanka. He’s shown himself to be tactically inept, not contributing runs, whiny in his dealings with the press, and resistant to those characters who may actually question this.

Your definition of obvious is different to mine. You do not have the monopoly on the “best interests of the game”. On the contrary, continuing with a bunch of losers will only turn more people off.

I used to rate Jim Holden. I really did. This is nonsense. Arrant nonsense. D’Arthrez did a more formal fisk, and I encourage people to read it.

History has proved beyond any doubt that Pietersen, for all his batting talent, is not a character that a suffering team can rally around. Alastair Cook is.

You really have to laugh. Losers rally around a loser, a nice loser. It’s that “good environment” that threw the World Cup hopes away, not ditching Alastair Cook.

Ho Ho Ho…. Here’s “The Analyst” who obviously doesn’t use his advertised skill when it comes to our captain…

D’arthez Fisk…

“THE most significant words of another week of trauma and torment for English cricket came not from the motor-mouth of Kevin Pietersen but the normally reserved tongue of Test captain Alastair Cook.”

Funny, I don’t remember Kevin Pietersen calling anyone a C**t on live air. That is the kind of speech I associate with motormouths. As for “normally reserved”, he has taken that to new extremes. We have been waiting for his side of the story for nearly a year now. And the confidentiality agreement expired in October 2014.

“They revealed the depth of his fury and discontent about being sacked as one-day skipper on the eve of the World Cup – and by association with the chaotic shenanigans that currently surround the England team.”

So, is Jim Holden implying that all is not well within the ECB? Funny that, people like Dmitri, Aaron and many others have been saying that for years. Cook seems a bit slow to catch up – but presumably only because the shenanigans finally affect him. He is still quite happy to be mute about the sacking of Kevin Pietersen. And he has not had much to say about the half dozen batsmen who outperformed him, and were dropped for that heinous offence.

““I think you saw the dangers of making such a big decision so close to a tournament,” said Cook of his ruthless dismissal as ODI captain.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. However, if you had the testicles, and the best interest of England cricket at heart you would have walked away from the ODI side months before, probably after that “galvanising” interview you gave after the Aussies beat England yet again in an ODI.

(LCL comment – Ruthless? Jesus. Wait until the last minute and that’s ruthless. Should have happened months before that. Everyone knows that. This sort of thing…. just despair of these people.)

“It looked like the lads were shell-shocked from the first two games. That’s when you need real leadership to steer you through. I would have loved the opportunity that was taken from me.”

Yeah, we saw that leadership in the Ashes. Were apparently you galvanised Pietersen in looking disinterested. And he was promptly sacked for not responding to your excellent leadership skills. The only one who did not act shellshocked on that tour was Stokes.

““The selectors thought it was best for English cricket, but hindsight has probably proved them wrong.”

Hindsight has not proved them wrong. Who knows what depths England would have plumbed if you had been there. Bell certainly batted better than you would have done.

(LCL comment – this is great. This is taking the getting better while not playing ethos to an absurd level. We were ranks for over a year with him as our ODI leader. Hindsight now means he was better than that? Good grief.)

““The Test team was in a good place (before this). There was a feel-good factor last August. Now a hell of a lot of confidence has gone, and we have a repair job to do.”

You mean, the players forcibly bought into the nonsense that you had defeated the greatest touring side since the West Indies of the 1980s? That is confidence inspiring.

“Cook is a sportsman who always chooses his comments carefully. From him, this is pure dynamite.”

Like when he said that Prior could play as long as he saw fit? Like when he said that Buttler was not ready for Test cricket? Like his glorious defence of Anderson in Jadejagate? Like when he hurled some expletives to Mathews after the Mankading incident? Like when he promised to give his side of the story on the sacking of Pietersen?

This is not dynamite. This is simply a foot soldier, who angry, that he has been denied his request for foie gras, decides to pout a bit about his superiors.

“They came in a week in which the chairman elect of the ECB, Colin Graves, was thoroughly undermining national selector James Whitaker and England managing director Paul Downton by having direct telephone talks with the outcast Pietersen.”

Pray tell, how is it undermining Downton? After all, he is not the one who makes selection calls. Mission creep anyone? As for Whitaker, who presumably, between muttering Gary Ballance’s name every 4 seconds, professes that selection should be based on merit, I have not heard one meritocratic argument against considering Pietersen for selection, from Whitaker.

“What does Graves think he is doing? He has not yet started his new role, and he has no business talking to any player right now, never mind one in the wilderness from the England team for more than a year and who has caused such discord with vicious attacks in autobiography.”

And did not apply to Downton last year? Or is this simply a case of: “any decision I agree with must be taken, no matter how improper it is, but any decision I disagree with is improper per definition.”

(LCL – spot on D. Downton did all his undermining before he started the role and plenty of that leaked, sorry was the source of good journalism, before February. Unbelievable double standards.)

“Almost in tandem came credible reports that the outgoing current chairman Giles Clarke would refuse to sanction the dismissal of head coach Peter Moores, Whitaker or Downton.”

He only gets to make those calls until May this year. Then Giles can charm the ICC in Dubai.

“What an unholy mess.”

Unholy mess? Who could have predicted that? Who? Why, people on places like TheFullToss, and the predecessor of this blog did. How? They actually looked at how (in)competently the ECB dealt with the fall-out of the Ashes, how the press was refusing to take the ECB to account on a plethora of issues. People like us practiced more journalism than you seem to be capable of Jim.

It seems that a civil war is raging out of control in our national summer game – with an Ashes summer a few months away and the England side shortly to fly off for a Test series against the West Indies.

“In nearly 30 years of reporting on the state of English cricket I cannot recall a more troubling time.”

Probably because the troubled times in the past, led to action. As dismal as the 1990s were, the press was not supine, and the ECB at least gave the pretense of TRYING to fix what was wrong with English cricket. The ECB’s current stand is to blame those “outside of cricket”, to tell the “stakeholders” to pay up AND shut up.

“Strategic decisions appear to be made on a whim. Nobody has the wit or the authority to take the tough action that is required.”

And you were complaining that Graves was overstepping his mandate by merely hinting that all was not well. You were implying that Moores and Whitaker were doing splendidly well? You said Giles Clarke had the authority to sack Moores and Downton, the two biggest disasters off the playing field in 2014. Yet, you state he has no interest in doing so.

“There can be no wonder that Cook felt he had to speak out forcibly. He is a sane voice amid the bedlam.”

Sane voice? I have given a few examples above, why that is a questionable assessment at best.

“It is obvious to me, and it should be obvious to anyone with the game’s best interests at heart, that this admirable cricketer must be at the centre of the renewal and regeneration that is now urgently required.”

Admirable? How many players has he thrown under the bus to protect his 300k / year bonus for being the captain? How does it benefit English cricket to play a guy with a three-inch tear in his achilles? As a wicketkeeper to boot! How does it benefit English cricket when Matty Prior has to give the team talks, because “that admirable cricketer” can’t rally the troops? As for renewal and regeneration, how did that pan out in 2014? Embarrassing loss upon embarrassing loss.

“Cook is 30. He has the robust support of all the players barring a couple of inevitable malcontents and the self-serving giant ego that is Pietersen.”

The malcontents? Who would that be? The half-dozen players who were dropped for outbatting Cook? The players who could not get into the ODI side, because the square-jawed deer in the headlights had to waste a slot? The people who don’t dare to speak out, as they are aware of what happened when someone did. We’re still waiting for an explanation that sounds a bit more coherent than “He was like … uh … difficult”.

“Throw him to the wolves and English cricket will plunge even further into crisis, as the pitiful World Cup display illustrated with crystal clarity.”

Funny, the ECB just did that by keeping him on in the ODI side for far too long. Make up your mind Jim.

“As for Pietersen, what are his motives in all the politicking and talking he does? His book painted a picture of a man deeply disenchanted with playing for England, a cricketer bereft of joy.”

Pietersen does not suffer from Stockholm syndrome. What is next? Will you insist that victims of war crimes, or grave criminal offences, will be talking all lovey-dovey in their memoirs on the horrible events?

“Now he seems to think he can return and all will be sweet and rosy and smiles and laughter in the dressing room.

This is nonsense that belongs to Alice in Wonderland.”

Just as Cook actually leading his side well. Pity that the people in la-la-la land dominate in the press and in the ECB.

“The other day Pietersen said: “I’ll do anything to play for England.” Well, let’s take him at his word and cast a few suggestions his way.

If he’ll do anything, will he apologise sincerely in public and private for the savage and unwarranted personal attacks he made on Matt Prior and former head coach Andy Flower in his book?’”

Funny that NO such demands were made of in no particular order, Swann, Anderson, Broad, Strauss (on live television), by the press. In fact the press celebrated misogynistic abuse hurled by Strauss at him.

(LCL comment – maybe after Andy Flower and the ECB say sorry for leaking for the best part of five years prior to that dismissal)

Strauss said no less than: “”I’ve always got on very well with Kevin. I’ve tried to be honest with him, and he’s been honest with me.”

Which suggests that everybody called each other c***s and c***s in the dressing room, or that gasp players other than Kevin Pietersen are lying about matters. Take your pick.

“Will he eat humble pie and admit it was outrageous that he agitated to have team-mate James Taylor removed from the England side?”

It has been denied by Taylor himself. Taylor had all of two Tests and two ODIs before Pietersen was sacked.

(LCL presumably no-one else agreed with that assessment given he wasn’t picked for two years after that)

“Will he denounce in the strongest possible terms the despicable comments made by his great friend Piers Morgan 12 months ago describing Cook as a “repulsive little weasel”?”

Will you denounce Strauss? For offending merely 25 million people. Will you denounce Selvey, who called that utterance a highlight of the cricketing year? Or do you think it is splendid PR, if you promote the sport as a highly sexist, misogynistic and stone age affair?

(LCL – Why the hell should he?)

“Will he refuse the offer of special treatment and a personal meeting with Graves and just throw himself into the mix like any other player in county cricket?”

That is the question. As for special treatment: is it that strange to want some reassurances that selection will be based on MERIT, rather than “face-fittingness”? That is not a strange question since a bowler with a FC average of close to 50 in the past 2 seasons has been picked to tour the West Indies.

“Will he admit that his enthusiastic desire to play against England a couple of months ago for an Australian Prime Minister’s XI was nothing but a cheap publicity stunt deliberately aimed at embarrassing English cricket?”

He was in Australia. He was in good form, and there were injuries for the PM’s XI to deal with, as well as ongoing series with India and the Big Bash league. I suppose they could have asked Cook, but then they might have been just as well batting with 10 men.

“I can’t imagine Kevin Pietersen will want to do any of this.”

I can’t either, as long as you’re happily celebrating double standards.

“And it’s just as well, because a return for him could only prolong and intensify the current agony.”

Yeah, losing by playing crap cricket is to be preferred to losing by playing exciting cricket.

“History has proved beyond any doubt that Pietersen, for all his batting talent, is not a character that a suffering team can rally around. Alastair Cook is.”

Remind me how successful 2014 was? How excellently he batted? Remind me who was the batsmen that offered to help (and did) help the bowlers with their batting techniques? Who was it who had the brilliant idea to work on fitness rather than batting practice after yet another humilating Ashes loss?