Monday, 13 July 2009

The Pietersen Massive

I saw Kevin Pietersen's first innings in test cricket at Lord's in 2005, and was lucky enough to witness his astonishing 158 at the Oval at the death of the series, once Shane Warne had dropped him (and the Ashes) at first slip. I want him to succeed, and I won't begrudge him the wonga and the fame that goes with it.

Had England lost the Cardiff test match, it would have been Pietersen's fault. Yes, I know it's eleven against eleven, and all that. But KP (he's a nut) is the most talented member of the side and very good batsmen, once they have played themselves in, are responsible for scoring a significant proportion of the runs, particularly on a flat pitch against a bowling attack that does not include Warne or McGrath or Murali.

Pietersen threw it all away. As ever, afterwards, he explained himself along the lines of "It's the way I play", which roughly translated means "I am the best batsman in England and you can't afford to drop me".

He was interviewed about the Ashes last week, and cast his mind back to his debut at Lord's in 2005, and the match that followed it:

"I was made for that moment," he says. "The bigger the occasion, the greater the pressure, the more I love it. We knew how big that series was, we knew we were making history. I loved that. I wasn't scared by the Ashes at all. Loved it."

Hmmm. That's Pietersen for you. You'll find, if you listen to his interviews, that quite a lot of things are huge, or massive, or history-making. He likes to associate himself with such things.

Michael Henderson of the Telegraph is a good sort, just as knowledgable about classical music and Broadway as he is about cricket ("what do they know of cricket, who only cricket know?"). He takes up his sword against KP, and leaves him, as Zorro would, with his fancy clothes in tatters:

One man wore the dunce's hat. Having thrown his wicket away on the first afternoon, caught off his helmet essaying a senseless sweep, the Durban Opportunist found another startling way to get out yesterday: bowled neck and crop as he left the ball.
He did not just leave it. Heavens, no. The Fulham Narcissist never does anything by halves. He left it in the extravagant manner of an Elizabethan courtier in ruff collar and cross-garters bending the knee to Gloriana. Ben Hilfenhaus, the bowler, could hardly believe his eyes. These crazy Poms, he must have thought. They take their bats all the way to the crease, and then they don't use them.


If Pietersen wishes to be great (not as in 'great knock, KP' - I mean as a Great Cricketer), he needs to study others who have been awarded the mantle. I could give him a list to be getting on with, but actually he spent several hours watching a masterclass from Ponting on Thursday and Friday, from only a few metres away. Look and learn, you preening johnny. Here's Hendo again:

Why is he not loved? Because he is not one of us, and it shows. The best teams are forged by people who know not only what they are playing for, but also who they are playing for. You could see that identification with Australian cricket in the resolute batting of North and Haddin, players who have been called up late in their careers (North is 30 later this month, Haddin 31), and who know what traditions they represent.
For Australian cricketers tradition is an ever-replenishing resource, like water. To an interloper like Kevin Pietersen, whose overriding ambition is to be rich and famous, the word may have no resonance at all. There is a problem here. Huge. Massive.

20 comments:

apricotfox said...

Spot on. He's a arrogant piece of work and terminally ego-centric.

Elby The Beserk said...

Oh my Barrington and my Boycott long ago.

Not good enough. Totally with you, Idle. Just not good enough.

Scrobs... said...

He couldn't have had my old cricket master when he was younger, Gerald would have taken him to pieces from his position behind the bowler's stumps...

Pity that, because if he wasn't so arrogant, he could make a lot of friends!

But I bet there'll be a spell this series, when we all have to rush to his side in admiration - just wait!

Alceste said...

I don't know what it is, Idle. I can't dissent from any sentence you or Hendo write, but I still love him. He may be a mercenary egotist, but I suppose he's OUR mercenary egotist. I sat beside you on Day 5 of the 2005 Oval test and saw him bring the Ashes home. It's probably the finest piece of sport I will ever see live and I can forgive KP a lot for that.

So Ok: shocking sweep first innings; Bizarre leave second innings. But I say give the guy a break.

idle said...

It is true that alceste and I were neighbours for the final day of the Oval test in 2005. We were sitting three rows directly in front of Jimmy, the accepted leader of the Barmy Army (did anyone see him at Cardiff? I didn't).

And it is true that KP played an heroic innings that day.

Let's see if he can his head down at Lord's. Alceste, I will be there with farqs of this parish on Thursday. I hope you will be able to join us.

Scrobs, what sort of schoolmaster and cricket coach allows himself to be addressed as "Gerald"?

apricotfox said...

Yes, he was hero material in 2005....but he/we/they can't live on that Ashes tour forever...they have to deliver NOW...Of course, I hope we DO have to take him to our hearts again but it isn't a given..espec after this dire start!

apricotfox said...

...oh, and I, of course, had tickets for the Friday at the Oval in 2005 and only got about two hours of play...five hundred smackers down to the tube...last minute impulse e-bay buy...........Got the T-shirt, though!

idle said...

It says a lot about a girl that she is prepared to part with a monkey to watch the evening session of a test match.

Go, Foxy!

I hate to tell you that I was offered the pair of tickets for myself and alceste free of charge, from a kindly german equities salesman.

Elby the Beserk said...

Telegraph agrees

Pietersen needs top stop being an arse

ApricotFox - 2005 very fine, but not quite as fine as 1981 and Botham & Willis at Headingley. Bob Willis's bowling in the last innings was that of a man possessed; see highlights, and you can see him ignoring and brushing aside his teammates, so focussed was he on his mission.

All wonderful stuff, regardless. A test for Strauss, to make KP into a team man first and foremost.

And here's to the game we love so much, and at its best, the game which most personifies what is truly sporting; this is the Lancastrian in me peeping out; Brian Statham my local hero as a child.


It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though my own red roses there may blow;
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.

For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,
And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host

As the run stealers flicker to and fro,
To and fro:
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !

It's Glo'ster coming North, the irresistible,
The Shire of the Graces, long ago!
It's Gloucestershire up North, the irrestistable,
And new-risen Lancashire the foe!

A Shire so young that has scarce impressed its traces,
Ah, how shall it stand before all-resistless Graces ?
O, little red rose, their bats are as maces

To beat thee down, this summer long ago !
This day of seventy-eight they are come up north against thee
This day of seventy-eight long ago!
The champion of the centuries, he cometh up against thee,
With his brethren, every one a famous foe!

The long-whiskered Doctor, that laugheth the rules to scorn,
While the bowler, pitched against him, bans the day he was born;
And G.F. with his science makes the fairest length forlorn;
They are come from the West to work thee woe!

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though my own red roses there may blow;
It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk,
Though the red roses crest the caps, I know.

For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,
And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host

As the run stealers flicker to and fro,
To and fro:
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !

idle said...

Thank you, elby. I think cricket is the only ball game which inspires like this.

My childhood cricketing heroes were BA Richards and CG Greenidge of Hampshire. No finer an opening pair in the history of the County Championship.

Barnsley Bill said...

The difference between now and then is that he was still climbing the mountain back in 2005. Like many flawed men he is now resting on his laurels. Yes, he probably will provide us with a swashbucking innings in this series that delights us. Personally I would rather see him knuckle down and give us three or four big innings without the wideboy mutterings when he fails.

Alceste said...

I will indeed be there, Idle, on Thursday and Saturday. An ale cannot be ruled out.

I see Geoff Boycott has joined the fray and said KP is behaving like a spoilt child. Now I yield to no-one in my admiration of Boycs, but cricketers behaving like spoilt kids is probably something he should keep quiet about. This was the man who refused to play for England for two years because he wasn't made captain.

Scrobs... said...

Iders - here he is...

Elby the Beserk said...

Mr. Bill. The problem with our cricket team was that when they regained the Ashes in 2005, the reaction was - job done. Had it been the other way round, i.e. the Aussies regaining it after 18 years, it would have been - ok, now let's really get going, so they never beat us again.

Same problem with the Rugby world cup win. Instead of seeing it as the start of building something special, it was seen as the end of whatever.

apricotfox said...

Actually, the monkey was for a full day...but bad light stopped play!

apricotfox said...

Another nail struck smartly on the head...Elby is SO right...that 'job done' mentality has done for us on mny occasions and in many sports.

Vinogirl said...

I love this...it's so...English, thanks!

idle said...

Scrobs, I concede that Gerald was a proper sort of chap.

lilith said...

I know nothing about Cricket. But I put test match special on the radio to listen to because
a) it is the quintessential sound of summer,
b) it makes me laugh
c) it soothes me

We had a dreadful moment in this house when Elby's computer gave up and we thought there would be ....NO CRICKET! Arrrrgh. He stayed calm but his little face was all contorted with stress.

idle said...

Hello, lil. The BBC are mostly a bunch of appalling shirt-lifters and greedy self-regarding shits, but somehow - somehow - they have managed to allow Test Match Special to meander its quaint way into the 21st century in very good nick. Aggers was an inspired choice as BBC Cricket Correspondent, and made a fabulous partnership with Johnners. Blowers and CMJ are the golden thread that connects the programme with Arlott, the Best Ever Cricket Commentator. Simon Mann and Arlo White are acceptable, but all my friends say that I should have got the job before them.