The ECB takes aim at its prosthetic foot

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3 minute read

Strauss is also rumoured to have used the word 'rapscallion'

What may eventually prove to be Kevin Pietersen’s final six scoring strokes in first-class cricket were, in order, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. At that point, there was nowhere left to go.

A friend of ours was referred to a heart specialist once. As he sat in the waiting room alongside lots of sad looking folk, Unbreak My Heart started playing on the radio. Point is, plenty of things that you’d roll your eyes at if they happened in a sitcom actually do happen in real life.

Witness the ECB’s public relations efforts. A script editor would rip such a story apart for being too contrived, too convenient, too obvious to pass as comedy. Kevin Pietersen is allowed to believe that if he returns to England and makes runs in the county championship, he may be considered for selection. He makes 326 not out and that night – that very same night – he is told that actually, no, he will not be considered for selection.

The news is leaked, obviously. It always is. It is leaked at the exact same moment that the ECB Twitter feed publishes a link to highlights of Pietersen’s innings. The next day, the ECB officially unveil their new director of England cricket, the man who has made the decision to continue to omit Pietersen. It is Andrew Strauss, a man who once called him a cunt on TV; a man who, for all his qualities, is considered the embodiment of the establishment by those feeling disenfranchised and alienated by that very establishment.

Strauss says that Pietersen is not going to be selected any time soon because of trust issues. He later adds that he offered him a consultancy job with the one-day side, which Pietersen declined. Apparently trust is not required for that sort of a role.

If you can, temporarily suppress your feelings about Kevin Pietersen. Find a way of pretending that you’re a dispassionate observer tasked with repairing the ECB’s tattered image. They are, after all, considered a toxic brand even by themselves.

If the notion that the ECB is a cosy old gentleman’s club, a sort of pseudo-masonic quasi-incestuous backslapping coven, then that notion had to some degree been confined to certain individuals. Whether they were truly the guilty parties or not, people like Paul Downton and Peter Moores had been infected with this cancer, but they had recently been excised. Giles Clarke is about to depart as chairman and while he will retain influence, the arrival of Colin Graves had at least felt progressive.

Now, somehow, against the odds, the cancer of negative public perception has been allowed to spread. And not just subtly and by stealth, but like something from an unusually gory B-movie. People are being eaten alive. A three-time Ashes-winning captain has become public enemy number one among a large swathe of England fans. The new coach is tainted by the new-old regime even before being sounded out about whether he might maybe like to think about possibly perhaps applying.

Rights or wrongs of the selection or non-selection of one player aside, how in the hell does an organisation find a way to shoot itself in the foot like this; a prosthetic foot it only received following an identical shooting incident just last year?


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. On Tuesday, Strauss said: “We decided it was in the best short-term interests for him not to be part of the team. Nobody has doubted his ability as a player, his record stands up in cricket. But over months and years the trust between him and the England and Wales Cricket Board has eroded. There is a massive trust issue between me and Kevin, I wish it wasn’t the case.”

    What is he being trusted to do / not do? For any player in a test team, I can only think of three things that are in any way relevant:

    1. Fail to score runs, and in so doing take up a place that could be filled by someone who will score runs
    2. Reduce the number of runs your teammates score
    3. Reduce the number of wickets your teammates get

    The first is massively unlikely, given that he is the best batsman in the country. Numbers 2 and 3 are possible, but for the vast majority of his career there is no evidence whatsoever that this happened, and it strikes me as a unprovable and easy excuse for not scoring to say “It’s because of him over there.”

    So we are left with the issue of trust between KP and the ECB and between KP and Strauss. The only thing that matters is the performance of the team, so the question becomes – Which of the ECB, Strauss and KP will score most runs for England? In other words, to paraphrase Strauss’s final sentence:

    “There is a massive trust issue between me and England’s best player, and I’d rather England’s chances suffered than me having to put up with this discomfort.”

    Fuck off Strauss. Fuck off you arrogant, jumped-up fucker. This “explanation” of the situation is about the clearest example of the clubby clique that is fucking up English cricket I have heard since Giles Clarke extolled the virtues of Alastair Cook’s family. What fucking century are you all living in?

    My apologies for using the words Giles Clarke.

    1. It’s okay. We set a precedent by swearing in the article above. We too said ‘Giles Clarke’.

    2. Is there any strength in the argument that KP’s presence would ultimately affect Anderson and one or two other key players so negatively that it really does cost the team having him present.

      If that is there argument then fair enough i say because I’d rather have Anderson than KP right now.

      If it’s not then you are probably right!

    3. It doesn’t seem to have in the past. Anderson developed from ordinary county bowler to world #2 while he was a team”mate” of KP.

      I would just like someone from the ECB, Strauss maybe, to point to who KP affected so badly, and explain why this only happened recently.

    4. Is there a link to the press conference? I was hoping a journalist would have explicitly asked if Strauss’ decision was anything to do with his previously publicly declared position that KP was a c*nt.

    5. Except he’s not England’s best player and his form against real bowling is still very much unknown. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be in the team, but we need some perspective. We haven’t dropped Don Bradman; we haven’t even dropped 2008 Kevin Pietersen. We’ve dropped someone who *might* be a little bit better than one of the people who is currently well settled in the upper middle order. Will that make a difference in a match this Summer? Perhaps, but it’s not very likely.

    6. “There is a massive trust issue” is not necessarily the same as “I don’t trust him”. It could be read as “I don’t like him and after that time he was disciplined for texting while his teammates got away with passing quotes on to tweet about him and frankly nobody has ever apologised for that cock-up”.

      The problem is that nobody really pushed him of what “trust issues” actually means.

  2. Beyond belief!

    Even if you leave aside the fact that he’s not getting picked. On a scale of 1 to Joey Essex how stupid do the ECB look saying they don’t trust him and then offering him a consultancy role. Do you not need to trust your advisers?

    AS @altcricket has just said on twitter has just put Its like your ex breaking up with you and then asking your opinion about other guys she wants to bang.

    My apologies for using the word “twitter”

  3. So all this time, England were banking on world cricket accepting “trust” instead of runs/wickets to win games. Clearly no one got the memo, I blame Giles Clarke

    1. Sir Ashley Clarke GCMG GCVO FSA (26 June 1903 – 20 January 1994) was a British diplomat. Educated at Repton School and Pembroke College, Cambridge, he joined the Diplomatic Service in 1925. He served at Budapest, Warsaw, Constantinople, Geneva (for the General Disarmament Conference) and Tokyo. He was Minister at Lisbon 1944–46 and at Paris 1946–49 under the ambassadors Duff Cooper and Sir Oliver Harvey. From 1949 to 1953 he served at the Foreign Office as assistant Under-Secretary, then deputy Under-Secretary. He was officially present at the funeral of King George VI at Windsor in February 1952. In 1953 he received his last appointment as Ambassador to Italy where he remained for nine years, an unusually long period.

      We are at least moving in the right circles.

    2. ..and given the accusation that the ECB is an old boys club, I feel it is only right that the above be translated into latin (poorly)

      “est vituperium perfectus est circulus”

  4. The best thing to do would be to ban the ECB from having press conferences. That way no-one could say anything too stupid in front of the cameras. They’re not really necessary as they leak everything anyway…..

  5. KC once put up an article about test cricket not being an experiment. But just imagine for a moment that it were. Here is a timeline of that experiment’s events:

    Things are rubbish
    Things are pretty good, getting better
    KP joins the team
    Things are brilliant, but only for one summer
    Things are rubbish again
    Things steadily improve, to the point where they become brilliant again
    Things remain at brilliant level for a decently long period
    Things get steadily worse, until eventually they are rubbish yet again
    KP is sacked
    Things become catastrophically bad

    Now I am not so naïve as to believe that post hoc ergo propter hoc nonsense. But the thing about that fallacy is that it is not fallacious in reverse. If you are trying to show cause and effect, the fact of applying the hypothetical cause and getting the opposite effect is definite evidence against your case.

    KP might well be a twat. He might indeed annoy the living shits out of all his teammates. They may consider him to be, in Andrew Strauss’s words, untrustworthy (you were thinking of another word, weren’t you?). But there is not a shred of evidence that any of this affected England’s results. During this latter period of rubbishness the team was documented as being driven into the ground by over-psychopathic coaching. This is not disputed. And there, sat in the corner because everyone hates him, was a perfect excuse for a player’s poor form. Please sir, I couldn’t concentrate ‘cos Kevin kept saying I’ve got a small willy. Can you have him fired?

    1. To be fair, if I had to spend a lot of time with someone who kept saying I had a small willy I would find it hard to concentrate too.

      I’ve tried telling my wife to stop, but etc and so on.

  6. At least this is taking all of the attention away from the monumental bollocks that the ECB is making of running English cricket ….

    1. It is often said that English cricket is run by a bunch of fat-cats, though, so StraussCat is particularly well qualified to take over.

  7. Does anyone know whether we can turn the ECB back into the TCCB? And while we’re at it, bring back Tony Lewis?

  8. This whole shambles would beggar belief were it not so dismally predictable. Did any of us really believe that Andrew Strauss, of all people, or the ECB itself, would do something sensible? Maybe show a bit of magnanimity, do what is best for the paying public rather than worry about their own petty feelings?

    I particularly like the ODI advisor trap – Strauss saying “Maybe part of that would’ve been the start of rebuilding trust.”

    Bollocks. It would be a test… agree with everything and be a good little boy, maybe we’ll let you play a T20. But if you offer any actual advice – and “not many people know more about one-day cricket than Kevin Pietersen” – then hey presto, see, look how disruptive he is.

    Today’s affair is a farrago of cant, delivered by what we in SW London would call a bunch of cants.

  9. A guy at work summed it up for me today: “The trouble is, Pietersen’s just a wanker. Nobody likes him”.

    If only the ECB could say that publicly, no further explanation would be necessary.

  10. the whole thing is so fucking embarrassing right now, even by the long-established low standards and expectations of england cricket supporters.

    one small of scrap of consolation might be that it’s really not so long ago that cricket australia was/were being routinely derided by all and sundry (inc. oz fans)… then that johnson bugger decided he could remember how to bowl after all, and you next thing you know the upstarts have got a world-beating, we-were-always-this-good-really nauseating side of overachievers again. didn’t take ’em long at all. but it’s not really much (any) consolation because, as alex has just pointed out, eng cricket administrators have got serious form for this sort of publicly-humiliating tomfoolery. where will it all end? (forced grins all round)

  11. I’m not sure that advertising in cricket is a board-centric thing, it’s surely not that important to them (certainly cricket-wise). Like improving a middle-order which has generally done well. Strauss would probably remember his own captaincy, where the team was more important to a significant success than players such as KP, just as England’s issues from there increased other players’ issues with the player, rather than their performance or otherwise being anywhere near decisive. Neither is it clear that many people in the abstract hating Andrew Strauss is something that Andrew Strauss has to apologise for. It does seem that England’s problems might be just as much a question of being a team which is out-of-fashion on the international circuit, and could only really attain success when it was built on sustained problems and hence could arise fairly under-the-radar, while public attention and pressure would evidently tilt them towards playing in such a way as to stymie their own play, just as insistence on PR issues could prevent a person from stating their views on others.

    It seems a bit strange to expect a board to be highly concerned about publicity while supporting a group of players who are associated with things that are by contingency anathemised by the basic directions of modern cricket – unlike most other analogues and imagery being drawn upon here -, but social pressure and Kevin Pietersen haven’t been any more dissociated since their removal from the team, just they haven’t been in it. In that sense there’s the general issue that this being made one of England’s main issues could have more to do with weakening the other players than what is needed. It does seem strange that county cricket never really adapted to England’s cricket, such that its relative lack of direction meant that players such as Joe Root, Ballance, etc., were all touted as ‘free-flowing’ alternatives to current players, and now are facing the same conundrum.

  12. 3 days into the job and already Paul Downton doesn’t seem that bad in retrospect. In fact the late 80s are starting to develop a rosy tinted hue as an era of comparatively sensible , enlightened management of the national team.

  13. I am a cricket fan. I like watching KP bat.
    Fat chance of that happening again, it seems.

  14. Is it possible that Strauss’ greatest contribution to society ultimatley will be the ligitimising of the word cunt in print? When he first did it the media et al were all very coy about it, using allusions or substituting some of the letters with @!#*. This time around even mainstream newspapers (and the King, of all bloggers!) seem to be happy just to write out the word cunt. The power of the private school accent! Now let’s see what he can do with English cricket. Lots of cunts there.

    1. One of the great things about running your own website is that you can cover whatever you want and say whatever you want. We’ve no qualms about writing ‘cunt’. The only reason we don’t use the word ourself is because it’s lazy. We’d rather explain someone’s character in such a way that the only conclusion the reader could reach was ‘cunt’.

  15. trust me, I didn’t know the meaning of the phrase “Groundhog Day” till now

  16. I’m just so confused about what the ECB think their job is. And what their job actually is, for that matter. It doesn’t help that there seem to be between four and six people in charge at any given time and I have no clue what any of them is in charge of. Who is Tom Harrison, for example? Is Giles Clarke still there? Didn’t Colin Graves take his job? Where does Strauss fit in?

    A newspaper I used to work at had an editor-in-chief, a senior editor, a managing editor, an assistant editor, and two night editors. There was also a general manager and a publisher. In all, there were more editors than reporters. That’s what the ECB reminds me of. Except at this paper, we didn’t refuse to cover certain businesses because we didn’t like the owner.

    1. I still work at a newspaper like that, Dan. Except now they’re cutting the number of editors too, so soon there will be nothing left at all.

      Anyway, I’m bored with all this Pietersen nonsense now. Can we have a county championship round-up?

    2. Bit pressed for time today. We’ll try and get something up along those lines tomorrow.

    3. Leics slipping to a 57th consecutive defeat. Big runs for some chap called Pietersen.

    4. This Pietersen chap, he’s a little long in the tooth but he may fill a gap in our batting. Just like Chris Rogers did for those Aussies. He may even score an Ashes century or 2.

  17. “Plenty of things that you’d roll your eyes at if they happened in a sitcom actually do happen in real life.”

    Years ago I worked in a cinema and at a late night showing a young lad came in with his lady friend unaware that all late showings were over-18 regardless of the film’s certificate. At the very moment that he was turned away from the box office, dejected, Supertramp’s ‘The Logical Song’ began to play in the foyer.

  18. That Election. Well who would of thought it.

    In great political tradition and after the perception of harmony over recent weeks we now have sackings, resignations, in-fighting, back stabbing, mis-information, reneging on pledges, corporate speak bluster, misjudging public mood, secret briefings, social media bun fights, recriminations, personal vendettas, ripping up of the last 5 year plan (made only a year ago), fresh starts, a ‘learning of lessons’, a change of leadership, a re-structure and a ‘building for the future’ (again).

    Not the Labour Party, UKIP or the Liberal Democrats?

    It can only be the ECB.

    You seriously couldn’t write it. No seriously you couldn’t. (Pass the port and call Straussy will you..there’s a good chap)

  19. Thank God I found you again. I have no idea why but I stopped visiting, then so much time had passed I felt awkward coming back. I dipped in and out without commenting like a stalker who just didn’t want to put the effort in, but now I return. I throw back my head and let fly a huge, bestial roar.

  20. Oh cripes. On a new computer for the first time in a while, I had to search for “king cricket” on Google.

    They’re horrible. Absolutely horrible. I think I might dream about them tonight.

  21. I’m back too. That’s all.
    Coming to Lords for Test for first time since 1989 so hoping for a contest. Sort it out, please King.

    1. Done.

      But why is everyone suddenly coming back? Did we do/not do something?

  22. In other news, these crazy times have even caused Matthew Hayden to say something reasonably accurate and eminently sensible:

    I agree with most of what he says, except perhaps for his use of a ‘dangerous space’ when not referring to parking on zig-zags or obscuring a tight corner, etc.

  23. Much has been made in the press about the poisoned chalice the England Coach job is (can’te even select your own players etc.) But the worst job in the world must be press officer for the ECB. No influence over proceedings and constantly required to put a good spin on stupidity. Sigh.

    1. It’s the bloke manning theTwitter account. I feel sorry for. Imagine being told to celebrate the game and on the day when the County Championship throws up something worth celebrating, your tweets about it can only make the situation worse.

  24. Ged Ladd reporting in from the West Cork coast, where wifi access is intermittent.

    I know this will be an unpopular thing to say here, but I agree with the ECB decision to put KP out if his misery regarding test selection.

    They should have told him that there was no way back after the disgraceful events last time the Saffers toured. In a military situstion, the traitor would be executed. In s commercial situation, dismissed without notice for gross misconduct. The chaotic events that have followed result from the erroneous redemption/equivocation.

    KP might still be able to bully students and third division bowling attacks (sorry Daneel) but I don’t believe he could boss the Aussies now – he sure didn’t last time in The Land of Oz. In any case, at 34 he is not the future of England cricket, he is the past.

    The whole situation is sad and should not be the cause célèbre it has become. But this most recent ECB decision is the right one, following several mealy-mouthed wrong ‘uns.

    1. I’m reasonably happy with England not picking Pietersen. England have many issues, but not at 3-5. They don’t need him in the side, and he hasn’t done enough to justify a recall (and probably never could, playing in Div 2, or not playing).

      I’m not happy with Graves’ stupid carrot dangling when he wasn’t in the position to suggest it. A ludicrous beginning to his role, compounded with that stupid ‘mediocre’ crack. And this is supposed to be an improvement on Clarke?

      If KP’s column is right, I’m not happy with Harrison and Strauss getting him to come to a meeting to tell him specifically what Harrison said they weren’t going to tell him.

      And I’m deeply unimpressed with Strauss’ start to his job and these idiotic ECB leaks. How can it be acceptable for him to give the team carte blanche to lose this summer, and to declare that KP can’t be considered for selection because he personally doesn’t trust him? Who cares if he doesn’t trust him? Trust him to do what?

      As far as I can see, we’re out one coach (that we didn’t particularly like, admittedly, but still fired in a shameful way and who if anything, should probably be doing the role of the man that fired him), we won’t get a decent coach to replace him (because who’d be that stupid?), the primary architects of everything going wrong are still hanging around doing something (Flower, Clarke), and the man now running the team is way too close to everyone else involved, demonstrably is unable to overcome personal grudges and is a complete establishment man. I’d rather have Stewart or Vaughan running the team, and I can’t stand either of them.

      And I’m sick of Selvey’s piss-poor establishment apologism masquerading as journalism, but that’s a different matter.

    2. Perhaps I’m missing something but I thought the content of the texts were that KP called Strauss a ‘doos’ and when asked for advice on how to get him out said ‘try bowling on the stumps’?
      Seems to be as more a critique of South Africa’s bowling attack than offering ‘tactical advice’ to the opposition.

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