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Cricket Reporting And How Not To Do It

Much has been written about the current row between England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen and England head coach Peter Moores.  Plenty in blogs and now plenty in the press.  Some of it has been excellent analytical stuff, providing insight into the machinations of the England dressing room.  Some of it has been average (we can’t all be Simon Barnes or Mike Selvey) and one piece in particular is (in my view) nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on Kevin Pietersen and Michael Vaughan.

The situation is simple.

KP – not only England’s captain but also England’s best batsman – doesn’t get on with Peter Moores (hereafter referred to as DMW – Dead Man Walking, because I think he is one).  KP knows that he needs support to learn about test match captaincy.  Quickly.  He doesn’t think DMW can provide that; DMW never played international cricket, although he was a successful player, captain and coach of Sussex.  KP is a fan of former captain Michael Vaughan being in the England team.  DMW isn’t and may well have played a part in MV’s omission from the West Indies touring party.

KP isn’t happy and has let it be known that this is the case.  Hugh Morris, managing director of England Cricket (HM played 3 test matches for England) has been appointed to try and resolve the issue.  Cricinfo has compiled a list of potential replacements for DMW should he resign, be sacked or moved sideways.

The potential precedents and after effects aren’t so simple.  Players getting the coach sacked isn’t new in cricket.  Scotland has lost two of its previous coaches in player power revolts.  But this isn’t an ICC Associate we’re talking about here.  If DMW is indeed a DMW and gets the boot, KP’s personal power will be strengthened and the ECB’s power will be weakened.  What then for coaches who get the England job?

It’s a messy situation and really needs to be sorted out quickly.  A dear friend once told me that “actions have consequences” – whichever way the ECB decide to go there will be consequences.

Back to Angus Fraser’s piece.  As a former England cricketer Fraser is better placed than many to provide insight into the likely goings on behind the scenes of the England test team.  Instead of so doing, he has written a piece which would look better on a MySpace or LiveJournal rant than in a quality newspaper like The Independent.

Pietersen, who sidestepped Moores, his line manager, and complained to Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, has treated the coach shabbily.

Gus, I guess you’ve never been in a situation where you had no confidence in your immediate superior.  I have and it’s not a nice place to be, however much self belief you have.  Are you telling me you always had complete confidence in Ray Illingworth when he was England coach/chairman of selectors?

Pietersen is a magnificent cricketer but his personality is flawed. He is an ambitious, calculated individual, known more for his petulance than his tolerance. He expects the world to be run to suit his needs and woe betide anyone who does not agree with his views. It was the case when he left South Africa in the late Nineties.

And you’re saying that your own personality is perfect?  Let me remind you Gus, nobody is perfect.  Not you, not me, not Geoffrey Boycott, not Kevin Pietersen.  Let me tell you Gus, I’ve met and worked with some very driven people.  And Pietersen is seriously driven.  Those people saw the world their way and if those they worked with couldn’t match up then they were moved on.  Are you saying that self belief and standing up for what you believe in is wrong?  I don’t believe in lying down and letting someone walk all over me.  Neither does Pietersen.  Some people might think that is wrong but I do not.

Pietersen switched allegiances because he was not prepared to tolerate the positive-discrimination policy adopted in a country that had previously employed the brutal apartheid regime. In 2002, he acrimoniously left Nottinghamshire for Hampshire, where his actions have created more than the occasional issue.

Positive discrimination is as reprehensible as any other discrimination.  Pietersen assessed the situation and felt that he could do better elsewhere.  So he discussed the matter with a few people, came to a decision and said “I’m off”.  Where is the problem with that?

Pietersen’s departure from Nottinghamshire is well documented.  But you say that “his actions [at Hampshire] have created more than the occasional issue” without providing any evidence.  Many who read this piece probably aren’t Hampshire supporters so would benefit from seeing the evidence.

The situation is not helped by Pietersen’s close friend Vaughan spinning yarns behind the scenes. Vaughan is not happy but his time would be better spent scoring runs than playing politics.

Another allegation?  Provide some evidence please!

Fraser’s piece lacks insight and crucially lacks balance, coming across as bitter rather than the much more analytical Mike Selvey and elegant Simon Barnes.

What you’ve missed Gus, is what Simon Barnes says in his piece

The one thing we can be sure of is that Pietersen is not taking this step because of personal animus or a new and even more virulent attack of egomania. The point of Pietersen, behind the pouting, is that he is almost frighteningly dedicated to the task of winning cricket matches – and he doesn’t believe that Moores is helping England to do such a thing.

It is this frightening dedication that drives Pietersen and a select few other people.  They have it, the rest of us don’t and we often look on envious of what they have that drives them.  Sometimes they are so driven it seems scary.  There’s nothing wrong with being a little envious of KP’s FIGJAM.  I know I am.  Perhaps you are too.

Let’s go back to a piece of advice I got from a very dear friend: “actions have consequences”.  Your writing this piece may well have consequences too.  Were I an employee working for you who had read this I would now be reevaluating my opinions about my boss.  I doubt I’ll be reading The Independent for cricket analysis any more.

Congratulations to Christopher Martin-Jenkins on the award of an MBE for his services to cricket.  His is one of the voices of the game for me, along with Brian Johnston, Henry Blofeld, Tony Cozier, Richie Benaud and Jim Maxwell.

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