“With all due respect…” people say, or “No offence but…” What follows these phrases is somehow never respectful or inoffensive.
England coach and selector Chris Silverwood (we warned you he’d try and become a ‘supremo’) didn’t actually plump for either of those options when speaking about the summer ahead earlier this week. They were there though. As subtext.
“Playing the top two teams in the world, in New Zealand and India, is perfect preparation for us as we continue to improve and progress towards an Ashes series in Australia at the back end of the year,” he said.
Silverwood is fundamentally a very good guy, but if you take on a role within England cricket, that comes with certain obligations in the field of arseholery. Chief among these is that you should forever diminish all other cricket by comparing it unfavourably to the Ashes.
It’s not as simple as saying, “everything else is off less importance than the Ashes” though. You have to do it in a way where you’re on the face of it talking up the matches against other nations.
But actually you’re not doing that. You are, in fact, doing the exact opposite.
Silverwood delivered what might just be the finest example we’ve yet seen of this other-matches-are-important-too doublethink when later speaking to Cricinfo.
“We have the greatest respect for our opposition,” he began, misleadingly. “We have two great Test teams here. To get to where we want to be against Australia, we have to perform well and carry that respect into these Tests as well.”
You can’t give yourself a pass for these things. You don’t get to decide how your words are taken by other people. You can’t say, “We have to carry respect into these less important Test matches,” and have it make sense.
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