The week in politics

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2 minute read
Photo by Sarah Ansell
Photo by Sarah Ansell

Like a tired bear in winter, let’s try and put this to bed for a few days. Maybe it’ll have to get up again at some point next week to go for a wee, but we’re kind of hoping that we can concentrate on the New Zealand series from now on.

As far as we can tell, this is how it’s gone…

Colin Graves told Kevin Pietersen that if he came back and played county cricket and maybe made a triple hundred, he couldn’t see why he wouldn’t get back in the team. He said this because he genuinely couldn’t see why he wouldn’t get back in the team.

Then, while Graves was in the Caribbean, he discovered that England’s captain, Alastair Cook, was adopting a ‘him or me’ position on the issue. Not mad keen on having Joe Root as Test captain just yet, the ECB opted for ‘me’ in favour of ‘him’ and tried to ham-fistedly make the best of that.

Kevin Pietersen came back, played county cricket, made a triple hundred and requested his place in the side. Andrew Strauss broke the news to him.

This is perhaps why, at the press conference the following day, Strauss said that Pietersen wouldn’t play for England ‘this summer’, while adding that he couldn’t offer guarantees beyond that. He was basically just acknowledging that there are two possible scenarios.

  1. England win the Ashes, Cook stays, Pietersen remains excluded
  2. They lose, Cook goes and Joe Root – who has just been named vice captain – takes over

Cook presumably feels the presence of uppity Pietersen with his inability to keep his trap shut makes captaining the side impossible. If the public comes to accept the version of events outlined above, he may come to reclassify that particular ‘impossible’ as merely ‘very, very difficult’ in comparison to what he is likely to experience should England start losing this summer.

Strauss said of Peter Moores that every game had become a referendum on whether he should continue to do the job or not. It would be like that, only a hundred times as vitriolic and a thousand times less dignified.

Here’s the real nub of the problem

The main problem, as we see it, is that some people seem to think that being England captain is a big deal; like it somehow elevates you above all other England cricketers. If Alastair Cook didn’t see captaincy as something to aspire to, he could have acknowledged that it wasn’t especially his thing at the very outset and instead busied himself with the greatly more important job of scoring Test runs. Pretty much everyone would have liked him more for it.

You’d never get this kind of thing with Pakistan. Pakistan would have had about nine different captains by now and everything would have been much less chaotic as a consequence.


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


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. There’s a thing called the “T20 Blast” coming up. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I’m thinking that maybe it will involve Strauss and Pietersen hurling fireworks at each other from 22 yards’ distance? I might follow it in that case.

  2. Beautiful summary.

    (Sorry, someone just asked me what my favourite type of day is and whether my basic spelling is improving or not.)

    Anyway, excellent abstraction of the essential facts, especially the bit about captaincy. I suspect that Cook had a portrait of himself done when he was made England captain, standing tall, clutching the appointing scroll, gazing confidently at the horizon with hunting curs lain at his feet. Or standing manfully at the wheel of an old sailing ship, piloting it through rough waters to a bright, calm sea. There is no place in this vision for filthy insubordinates, even if they do have the only copy of the map.

    Also, excellent badger today. One minor problem – you suggest that the statement “Get a friend to sign up and win a yacht” is a lie. It doesn’t need to be. It could simply be two unrelated hopes you have for people, firstly that they sign a friend up for the badger, and secondly that some while later they are surprised to discover that they’ve won a yatch. “Get a friend to sign up and be careful when using scissors” – that sort of thing.

  3. This has nothing to do with Strauss or Pietersen, or even more importantly, KC. But I feel compelled to tell you folks that I saw a capybara today here in Thailand. At the zoo. Ever since the majestic Rob Key rode one, I’ve wanted to see the damn thing. I am pleased to report that it is fuck ugly.

    1. Oh my word. I’d never seen that before. Holy cripes. That is beautiful.

      And, simultaneously, fuck ugly. Which is the way it should be.

  4. Its Ground Hog day all-over again

    New CEO
    Sack Coach
    Sack Director
    Sack KP(once-in-a-genration match-winning player)
    Miserably fail to spin message to pulic (blaming KP)
    Somehow the issue turns into Cook vs KP again

    I think ECB should try all over again next year and next year and again till it works/succeeds and Public starts Trusting their spin or they can try to change I suppose.

    1. A interesting scientific article on How we come to a pre-determined conclusion first and then try to Rationalize the available data to justify the decision

      … Psychologists have shown that “most of our reasoning is in fact rationalization,” … In other words, we have already made the decision about what to do or to think, and our “explanation” of our reasoning is really a justification for doing what we wanted to do—or to believe—anyway …

      So the ECB just wanted tp somehow sack KP and are now trying to do post-hoc Rationalization
      Last year it was – Disengagement
      This year it is – Trust

    1. I get a jockey on a horse. I’m assuming that means “yes, but in polo”.

  5. Finally, in that Telegraph article, we get to the real nub of the issue.

    Strauss should have just come out and said Cook and Pietersen cannot work together and we want to keep our captain.

    1. That would have calmed the issue right down. After all, Cook is in very high standing with the cricket-playing public nowadays.

    2. He can’t, because that would make Cook look weak. He can’t allow Cook to look weak, because he is. If Cook wasn’t weak, he could look weak, but he is, so he can’t. If weak is w and not weak is nw, Cook look nw Cook w, Cook look nw Cook nw, Cook look w Cook nw are all OK; Cook look w Cook w is a problem.

      Hope that’s cleared it up.

    3. I think cook-weak is an issue only till a stronger captain becomes available. That is why Joe Root is VC now. Cook is on notice.

    4. It definitely seems to be Cook Week on TV right now. Presented by Greg Wallace.

    5. It’s got to the stage where England would be a better team with no captain at all. Let the bowlers set their own fields, wicket keeper decides who bowls, declarations and bat/bowl decisions by majority vote. Pick the best players. Actually, why don’t we do that? There must be a reason.

    6. What if they have a hung team? Then who decides when to declare? The largest group would have to seek support from smaller teams such as Zimbabwe and Scotland.

      It’s a politics joke.

  6. Does Cook watch East Enders? I am struggling for clues to conclude that he is a human rather than a robot. He bats like a robot and has scored tons of runs but he has shown an ability to play darts. He captains like a robot. But then again, he doesn’t like criticism and has to get the grown-ups to sort it out on his behalf. I suggest the guy should just be sectioned now, for his own benefit, even though it might make his wife cry.

  7. This website is awfully busy these days. Not complaining, just observing (like one of those ‘international observers’ at Zimbabwean elections).

    With regard to the status of Being England Captain, history would suggest that it does have some value above being a mere England Test Cricketer, in that it allows you to play badly for longer without getting dropped from the team.

    1. Captaincy should therefore be given to whichever player the selectors think deserves to be in the team so strongly (e.g. due to massive innate talent or superb parenting) that said player should be protected from future changes of mind on their part, because their future-selves may hit a wave of public/media/ECBish opinion that incorrectly says they should drop said player and captainizing the player will tie the hands of their future selves and prevent them making an erroneous drop that their future-future selves would have omitted.

    1. oops that looks tediously like spam of some kind. sorry about that 🙁

      (it’s not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny either… very well worked out though – !)

    2. I rofled a bit though, and pmsled, both of which were supposedly “not appropriate behaviour in a court of law.”

    3. At least you didn’t ROFL. The courts don’t take kindly to those letters, especially in a slightly different order.

  8. I didn’t write this but i agree with 99% of it.

    With the KP threat now apparently neutralised for good, the major task facing Camerstrauss is to reshuffle a cabinet including a chairman, a chief executive, a managing director, a director (management), a CFO, a CEO, a CPO, a DISCO, a head of stats, a deputy head of stats, the head of elite player development, the head of not-very-good player development, the chairperson of inclusivity, the head of marketing, the director of marketing, the market porter, the bowling coach, the batting coach, the post-match interview coach and Gilo into a coherent leadership group.

  9. “Any coach who comes into the England environment will know the situation,” said Strauss. “And he also, if his philosophy is aligned with mine, will understand the importance of trust in a team environment and why we made the call we made [on Pietersen] – because trust doesn’t exist. So I would have thought he’d understand the situation and be willing to work on those terms.”

    – Andrew Strauss

    Oh my god.

    1. It’s that H2G2 conundrum, that anyone with the ability to become president is by definition the last sort of person who should be allowed to do the job. It would appear that the ideal candidate is not his own man, a follower of instructions from above, a minion, someone who accepts the word of his betters and dies what he’s told.

      Strauss is cut from the same cloth as Flower and Gooch. Their skills are with players like Cook, players for whom hard work is their raison d’être. They cannot comprehend the Pietersens and Gowers of this world, so they cut them out. They end up with a team that they understand, but one that is missing out on a large chunk of talent. The new coach has now had this lack of imagination built into his contract. We are in big trouble.

    2. I don’t know whether that should be “does what he’s told” or “dies when he’s told.” Either works.

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