Monday, 10 September 2012

This film is going to be fucking amazing


Since the last post, I've played twice, and scored 4 and 0. Why? In clear order of importance:

1. I bought some new kit. Partly this was due to excitement over scoring a ton, partly it was because I could smell my kit when I was in the flat. And the kit was in the shed outside. Since buying this new stuff I've received a loopy inswinging yorker that rebounded off my brand new pads onto the leg stump and a short ball that ramped up as I tried to pull it, flicked my brand new glove and flew through to the keeper. All I need is to kick the stumps over with my brand new boots and I'll have made use of the full set.

2. My bat is too heavy for me at the best of times, and I'm suffering from rather nasty elbow tendinitis at the moment. Having a really heavy bat (3lb) is lots of fun when you're facing crap spin down the order, less sensible when facing swing bowling up the order and needing to make last-minute adjustments to bounce and movement. The one thing I didn't buy was a new bat.

3. Not very good at cricket. 

4. Life. Life isn't neat and tidy. This season and its blog would have been nicely wrapped up with the last diary post, wouldn't it - start the year with high hopes, a big loss of confidence and some dark times, then triumphant redemption. Standard film script stuff. Instead, the season overstayed its welcome, the CC carried on playing while feeling increasingly fat and old, and the sense of resolution with regard to all the stuff that had gone on over the years reverted back to a lingering sense of regret. Even this weekend I was emailing the captain to say 'Oh bat me down the order, so and so's playing and he's better than me, I opened last time etc,' before asking myself what the hell I thought I was doing (n.b. if you want to do well whatever your form you should always try to open the batting, unless playing Test cricket - new CC rule).

And this leads us to the subject of this post, which has been coming for some time - the great KP situation. Everyone's got an opinion, of course. And this is part of the problem. Because there is no ultimate truth: this is clearly about personalities and emotions as much as it is about professionalism and contract negotiation. Which means we're all qualified to talk about this stuff - as I pointed out in my review of Eddie Cowan's autobiography, the most surprising thing about it is how eerily similar it turns out the professional game is to the amateur one - behind the scenes at least.

Now cricket, more than any other sport, is a test of personality; of this I am quite sure. It's not a team game. Except it's the teamiest game there is. You rely on your team mates all the time - to not run you out, to not drop catches off your bowling, in friendly cricket not to trigger you - and unlike most team sports, you're spending the best part of a day in their company.

I refer you to to point four, above. Life isn't neat and tidy. People rarely, if ever, draw a line under things. They certainly try to. And they certainly say they have. But emotional wounds take longer to heal than physical ones - a nasty little truism. That's why I don't think this is about fake Twitter accounts, or the IPL, or leaked conversations, or any of these things. Well, it is - now - but really, I think this is about what happened in 2009.

I don't believe Pietersen should ever have been made captain, but actually, it's worth reconsidering his short tenure (three tests and 10 ODIs). Let's remember that, following the 2009 Mumbai attacks, Pietersen was somewhat inspirational. He was vocal in saying the tour should continue, that there was a need to stand up to terrorism - and it gained his team many deserved plaudits on the subcontinent.

And let's remember the circumstances of his removal. A quick C&P from Wikipedia will do the job:

On 7 January 2009, Moores was removed as England's coach by the ECB, and Pietersen unexpectedly resigned as captain. In the immediate aftermath of Pietersen's resignation, several commentators connected with English cricket indicated that they believed that Pietersen had miscalculated by openly advocating for the removal of Moores, particularly in making their dispute public. In an interview several days after his resignation, Pietersen revealed that he had not intended to resign as captain, but was told by ECB officials that he was resigning. Dennis Amiss, the vice-chairman of the ECB, went on record backing up Pietersen in his statement that the story of the rift with Moores had not been leaked to the media by him, saying, "We don't believe Kevin Pietersen leaked the information, we understand his frustration at it being leaked by other parties."

No doubt we'll read more on this over the years, once all the biographies come out. But it's always seemed to me that he was treated particularly shabbily by his employers. Having realised they should never have given him the job in the first place, it strikes me they saw a golden opportunity for a clean-out. And the replacements were, of course, hugely successful. But now the chickens have come home to roost. 

And to return to my earlier point, everyone has an opinion. I've just given mine, and it's easy to hold an opinion when verifiable facts are at a premium. So Brearley can talk about the insight he gained when sharing a plane with KP, Atherton can analyse what he sees as a sort of borderline personality disorder, and so on. Of course there's some truth to all these readings, but it's impossible to reduce a person to a piece of prose. What does so and so think? Half the time, he doesn't know himself. That's why Virginia Woolf's writing is a) Bloody hard work and b) The most realistic depiction of character in the English language. On top of that, we have the constant dribble of stories of various degrees of importance - the latest being that KP thinks Swann and Anderson had a part to play in the fake Twitter account.

George Dobell - an excellent journalist - has admitted he doesn't think these stories help the situation, but you can hardly blame him or anyone else for breaking such developments; it's his job to relate the latest twists in what's a fascinating soap opera. But let's not kid ourselves that this constant cataloguing of developments and analysis amounts to any kind of objective truth.  You point to any number of things that show Mr Pietersen's somewhat hubristic. I point to the fact the ECB is the management team that felt Allen Stanford could resolve the issue of T20s. You point to the fact KP is the kind of guy willing to dedicate 20 pages of his autobiography to a PE teacher he didn't like. I point to the fact Swann's Twitter feed isn't half as funny as he thinks it is. And so on.

So what are we supposed to take from all this? Well, again we return to the top. Personalities are complicated things. Profound, I know. My second team has resentments, slights and envies that have festered, unchecked, since 1989. Fortunately its players don't spend enough time in the closeted bubble of top sportsmen for these things to realy blow up. We once went on tour and one drunk player started shouting - genuinely, shouting - at another about the way he was eating his soup. Except it wasn't really about how he was eating his soup, was it. Do these things ever get "fixed"? No. We just sort of muddle through. If I say it's the best we can wish for, I consider it realism, not pessimism.

There's nowt for us to do but enjoy the soap opera. And for my part? I need to buy a 2lb 8oz GM 1885 or M&H Harlequin, obviously.