The KP Saga – Part the First: The Dressing Room

Right, time to limber up, climb to the top of the ten-metre board and dive headlong into the KP debate.

Unless you’ve been living under several feet of rocks for the past few days, you’ve likely seen Kevin Pietersen’s got a book out and, in the spirit of shameless self-promotion, it’s full of juicy scandal about the inner-workings of English cricket. There’s lots and lots to say about all this, so we’re going to have to break it all down into a few blog posts. First up, an attempt to work out what was actually going on behind closed doors in the England dressing room.

For some reason our free copy of the autobiography hasn’t arrived yet, so what we have to go on are the various pieces splashed across every conceivable medium known to man (the Morse Code one is particularly enlightening) detailing every last moment of Kevin Pietersen’s acrimonious fallout with the England team. Anyway, this is our take. It’s as impartial as we can get it, and is an attempt to try and explain, justify or whatever what was going on in the dressing room.
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KP: Method or madness?

A bright new dawn peeks over the horizon of English cricket. Well no, it’s another huge raincloud coming to dump some more misery on the ECB and its media machine, which has been pumping furiously to try and clear the knee-deep sludge which is starting to smell pretty nasty. To put it lightly, it’s been one of the worst winters on record. On the field, the team has been thrashed in every which way it is possible to be thrashed. Off the field, it’s looking like some of the worst imaginings of Hieronymous Bosch. Whichever way you look, this is a team in disarray. Its coach has resigned, its captain shell-shocked, its vice-captain dropped, its senior batsman mentally unfit for the rigours of the game and its world-class spinner retired. Yet through all of this, the attention is instead on Kevin Pietersen, as it has been for the past eight-and-a-half years.
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TGECF emerges from behind the sofa

1. We now understand what that Chinese bamboo torture must feel like. First the wheels fell off, then the engine fell out the bottom, before the chassis finally disintegrated altogether. Then Mitchell Johnson dyed his moustache pink. We’re not sure what the term for a fear of pink moustaches is, but eleven Englishmen are about to undergo intensive treatment for it.

2. We here at TGECF weren’t really interested in the Ashes anyway [looks shiftily around to make sure no one noticed]. It’s all about the World T20 in March. Really. Well, no. Not really – not even we can keep a straight face on that one.

3. Hurrah for Ben Stokes. The next big thing! Cue inevitable heaping of pressure on a young man by a desperate English media. All we need to do now is to find another seven or eight players and we’ve almost got a team.

4. We really jinxed it before the first Test by suggesting there was no chance all those injury-prone Aussies would make it through the series without breaking down. Our comments about Jonathan Trott’s redoubtable mental strength were also a little bit, ahem, unfortunate.

5. Hats off to the Aussies. Their bowlers were relentless and England just weren’t up to it. Mitchell Johnson came up trumps.  The only crumb of comfort for England is that Harris is 34, Johnson 32 and Siddle 29. They may not all be around in 2015.

6. You have to wonder whether the stress of two back-to-back Ashes series fried the England players’ brains once they were on the ropes. Not to mention the selectors, who have been made to look a little bit silly for aspects of their touring party (Steve Finn and his 4-wicket-per-Test average in particular must be wondering where they stand in the greater scheme of things). We expect the team for the first Test against Sri Lanka in the summer to look quite a bit different from this one.

Now that’s over, we’re going to do our very best to expunge the whole thing from our memories. I’m sorry, what Ashes series?

NEWS FLASH

Police are hunting a Queensland man who launched a crazed and brutal attack on a bewildered group of English tourists in full public view. He has been named as Mitchell Johnson, 32. Johnson is described as being 6 foot 2 inches tall, stocky, with black hair. He has a number of tattoos on his arms and a horseshoe moustache. He was last seen wearing a white shirt and white trousers. Police released this last known picture of Johnson (right). The public have been warned not to approach Johnson, who is known to be armed with a potentially lethal projectile. All of the English tourists have now been released from hospital, although several are still being assessed for potential psychological damage.

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Johnson is described as “extremely dangerous”

We have managed to speak to a few of the victims within the past few hours. Matthew Prior, 31, told us, “The first thing I knew is that this big bloke with a moustache was running towards me at full pelt, before hurling something red at my head. I still don’t know what it was but it looked like if it had hit me, it could have killed me. I’d say it was travelling at over 90mph. I don’t know why he would do that but I was very scared. I wasn’t hanging around. I’ve never seen such aggression.”

Monty Panesar, 31, said, “He just kept coming back, again and again. He hit me on the head and the arm. It was all I could do to defend myself. I’m shaken, I really am.”

According to Panesar, one of the men still receiving treatment is Stuart Broad, 27. Broad is apparently so traumatised that the only discernable words he has uttered since the incident is, “There’s something wrong with the screen. Something wrong with the screen…”

Chief Inspector Jeff Crowe, who is leading the police operation, described Johnson as “extremely dangerous.” “The motive for these chilling attacks is still unknown, although we believe it may have been done for some kind of fun. We are also trying to trace several other similarly dressed men who may have been in the vicinity at the time of the attacks.”

Anyone who may have witnessed the attacks is encouraged to sob into their morning coffee before contacting the police.

Well-known Comedy Group Reunites

In a move that has shocked the cricketing world, the legendary comedy troupe, Monty Panesar’s Flying Circus, have to decided to re-form for a hilarious, high-jinks filled tour to Australia.

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How it might look

With their legendary slapstick humour and unpredictable shifts in comedic tone, MPFC were in their heyday during the 1990s, when their side-splitting antics, featuring dropped catches, woeful batting collapses and left-field selection decisions left everyone apart from England in fits of hysterical laughter. Over the last few years, however, their appearances have become fewer and further between, last being seen in public in January 2012, with the seminal ’72 all out’ episode.
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Here we go again…

Fear not, those of you suffering through the first gusts of the chilly England winter. You’ll soon be able to turn on your televisions and warm your hands on the hot Australian summer emanating from it. Or, even better, make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, get back under the covers, and put TMS on.

Now the world has got over the fact that a man who used to play cricket now no longer plays cricket, we can focus on some men actually playing cricket in a series which isn’t a glorified charity game for Sachin Tendulkar. So here’s a few thoughts from us:
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The Ashes: Alternative England marks out of ten

Every cricket site, blog and their dog have been arbitrarily awarding England and Australia’s cricketers marks out of ten for their performances in the Ashes. There’s nothing more to add, really. Everyone knows that Ian Bell had a good series. So here’s some marks out of ten that really count, starting with England.

Alastair Cook – Bus-hailing ability – 2/10

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“Where can we hire a pedalo?”

It’s not all chauffeur-driven Bentleys for England’s Ashes-winning skipper – on Sunday night he was reduced to hailing a night bus. Cook gains marks for his technique – any bus driver could recognise that as the signal for him to stop. However, it appears that Cook and Prior are not actually standing at a bus stop and by the look of the passing buses, none of them are in any danger of stopping. Matt Prior’s not even trying to stop a bus – he appears to be trying to get a hitchhike.
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Great Cricket Drinking Episodes: 2013 round-up

For some reason, the internet at large has been very taken by our re-tellings of the escapades of international cricketers when it comes to booze. For instance, if you Google ‘David Boon’, we come up on the first page. Now, cricketers and alcohol have been back in the news quite a bit recently, so we thought we’d give you a brief update on all things leather, willow and ethanol:

1. David Warner assaults man wearing beard. If you’ve missed this, you’re not really paying attention now, are you? The nation’s current favourite pantomime villain was deported (well, not really, not by the border agency or anything) for assault. Not to Australia, like in the old days, but to Zimbabwe, to spend a few weeks rotting on the ‘A’ tour. What he found in southern Africa was a land of unbridled riches, furnished as it was with a pitch so flat it could probably be used for an attempt on the land speed record. However, we’re more interested in the lead-up to Warner’s banishment.
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The Over: The Ashes – Third Test

Here’s our entirely original thoughts on the eventual puddle at Old Trafford

1. Nearly everyone is saying fairly nice things about Michael Clarke’s captaincy, at least to some extent, but we can’t quite fathom his tactics in this one. Put quite simply, he had to win this game or The Ashes were gone. He knew that the weather forecast for the last two days were iffy at best and yet he batted on for 36 overs. If he’d been really bold, he would have forfeited his second innings and set England an enticing 160 to win. Now that’s a bit outlandish, we admit, but he could easily have knocked off 50 in no more than 10 overs and made it 210. That’s a serious score to chase in a fourth innings, regardless of the weather, and based on the evidence of Monday, it would have been a real struggle for England. We’ll say again, Australia HAD to win, even at the risk of losing. They didn’t even give themselves half a chance.

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The Over: The Ashes, Second Test

Faster than a royal labour, England are 2-0 up in the series. One of us was there to view the denouement. Here’s our view on the whole shebang:

1. Compare, if you will, Joe Root and Steve Smith. Both are batsmen with pretensions on being batting all-rounders and both look younger than HRH Prince Baby of Cambridge. One has been integrated into a winning team and given ample time to adjust to the game and develop, while the other is tasked with shoring up a middle order that might have a club second eleven captain wondering where the runs are coming from. Australia need to realise that things are going to get worse (or at least remain as bad – they’re already gouging quite deeply into a barrel-bottom) before they get better. They need to stick with this lot, allow them exposure to top class bowling, and hopefully let them develop. A couple will make it (Usman Khawaja looked the part for an hour on Sunday), a couple probably won’t (here’s a clue, Philip Hughes won’t – the man’s got more technical flaws than a Sunday number eleven), but the ones that do will be all the better for it. Just ask Ian ‘Sherminator’ Bell.
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