First of all, I have some bad news.
It is time to have an honest conversation about thelegglance. After Wednesday morning, with his blogging equivalent of a 355 not out under his belt with his post A Matter of Life And Trust, it was decided, unanimously, by the blog board, that he would no longer be retained by Being Outside Cricket. I cannot trust him not to overshadow me again, and he’s also upset my support staff, Armand the Rubber Duck, and my border collie (although I’ve not asked him yet, being in a different country and all that) and have decided that in the short term, Being Outside Cricket will move forward with a fresh and exciting skipper at the helm (me). HE IS NOT BANNED. DEFINITELY NOT. We’ll see, if he agrees to be utter crap in future, whether we can get that trust back. Until then, he can get on a plane to Dubai and write for The Full Toss for all I care. I just want the best for Being Outside Cricket, as long as they aren’t more talented than me.
Seriously, my thanks to Vian for the post. It meant I didn’t have to write much the same thing, but in a much less focused manner, and it was one of the best posts I’ve read anywhere. I’m biased, but as he knows, when we had that legendary Krusovice evening that I’d wanted him to come on board, and knew what an asset he’d be. He just better not do it too often!!!!
I thought I’d do a little bit on some of the side issues. I listened to the two podcasts on Tuesday night. The Switch Hit was interesting principally for David Hopps nailing the Alastair Cook issue. I hear many times that “no-one dislikes Cook” when there is a growing element that do. Hatred is too strong a word for me. When he said that the continued, repeated backing made Cook sound entitled, you could have heard the cheer from my mother-in-law’s kitchen. He got it. He actually got it. The rest of the podcast was a bit nondescript to me, missing a Butcher or a Dobell, and Jarrod went a bit OTT. But it got a damn sight nearer to the points we are making than most.
Then came the TMS podcast, weighing in at a brutal one hour and 45 minutes. At the end of it I felt thoroughly crushed. What the hell has happened to Phil Tufnell? He’s about as rebellious as Marks & Spencer. Is it too simple to ascribe his views to becoming a paid-up member of the Middlesex Mafia? “When I did wrong, at least I said sorry” he said. Phil Tufnell was a rebel who on his day, and I was there for one of them, was a brilliant bowler. He was a maverick. He didn’t seem to do well with authority. What possesses him to side against someone you would think was in his sort of field? I was surprised how willing he was to side with the authorities.
Jonathan Agnew was blaming it all on Graves. At the time Colin Graves reached out to KP, England were performing appallingly in the World Cup. Downton was a dead man walking. There, presumably, was no fixed thoughts on the way forward and who would be the new personnel. Moores was also probably a dead man walking, because I’m not 100% convinced this was a Strauss decision in its entirety, much as the KP one wasn’t either, in my view. He may have been too hasty, but lord, he thought he was dealing with adults, not children. Now he’s in a hell of a spot, probably, again as a mere “guess” because I don’t believe Giles Clarke is going to be a silent partner, but a very influential back seat driver (I must find where he was referenced in the decision making process) who has made sure, before he left that KP wasn’t getting back. (It wasn’t the book, I think, on that, but when KP listed who needed to go before he got back – Downton, Moores and Clarke). Agnew did admit that KP is entitled to feel let down, but that it was Graves’s promise, not Strauss’ nonsense that was the problem.
The other point that Jonathan made was one that’s really itching at me. He said that he speaks to other players in the team who feel that the support isn’t there for them from the fans. Instead of really focusing why, Jonathan seemed to be exhorting us to get behind the lads. I’ve heard the same from George Dobell, put in a slightly different way. The fact is that this is down, fairly and squarely to the ECB. I understand those people I see on Twitter who say the team matters more than any individual, and certainly more than any organisation. I understand, but I do not agree. I’m at an age where I’ve been taken the mickey out of enough by authorities to know they don’t care about me. If I disagree with them, I will tell them, and I will fight and get angry if needs be. The ECB couldn’t give a stuff whether I support them or not. They’ve shown that by their attitude to those of us “outside cricket”. Those who don’t care about that, fair enough. I think you are wrong not to.
The ECB sacked one of their best players in February 2014. They did not tell us why. They clearly believed over a short period of time we’d die down. They were wrong. They thought that a decent test series win against India would calm it down. They were wrong. They thought that the silent treatment of the book would mean the England community would turn against KP, but they were wrong. They thought that he might be permanently finished as a player on the basis of a poor T20 Blast season and a disappointing IPL. They were wrong. They have one hope left. That time will calm us down. 16 months on, and with the events of Tuesday, there’s absolutely no sign of that.
The Cook issue is for another post, but Jonathan ought to realise how much many of the angry brigade don’t like the way he’s been reinforced at every turn, and now, it seems, having a veto on selection. It’s hard to pull for a team, even with really exciting players like Buttler and Root, and really promising talent like Ballance, Stokes, Jordan and Moeen, when their positive results keep Cook in his position. I can’t betray my feelings, Jonathan. I really can’t.