Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kevin Pietersen is a Cocky Pillock

How far is a cricket player allowed to go before he becomes bigger than the game?

Kevin Pietersen is certainly not shy of controversy, dominating the media headlines with his usual hare-brained two cents while milking the celebrity status and culture for all its worth. The latest bombshell arrived recently, the demand for a dedicated IPL window so that he can forgo his international commitments for a quick cash grab. Only then, says our beloved KP, will he consider playing in all three formats for England.

The cheek of the fellow!

This is just a sample of the myriad of reasons why this is so ridiculously absurd:
  • No player should be demanding anything from any cricket board, they should only be requesting at best. 
  • He cited fatigue as one of his problems, and his proposal is to play all three formats alongside a full two month IPL season? 
  • He cited homesickness as one of his problems, and yet he wants to disappear to India for two months?
  • He's just not that good a player. England quite happily dispatched Australia without him, they certainly don't need him as much as he likes to believe.

"Remember what I said about missing you Honey?  WELL I LIED " © Getty

Unfortunately dear readers, this is merely the beginning of the end. Players have already begun prioritising  their dollar chase with Dwayne Bravo and Brendon McCullum needing 'fatigue breaks', and Indian cricketers in complete control over their calendars. The Sehwag's and Dhoni's of this world take holidays as they please. 

The wheels are in motion.  All round stupidity and greed of the players and boards alike are killing the ODI and possibly the test formats of the game, and none of this has anything to do with the apparent lack of quality of these forms. In fact they hands down produce better cricket than T20 ever will. Martin Guptill is a rare exception who preferred county cricket over the IPL, hats off to him.

But perhaps all is not lost. The death of the IPL will come, and it will resurrect the real forms of the game and pull away the glitzy curtain that so many have so ignorantly been gawking at.  More than that though, a hard stance is needed by the cricketing boards and coaches. They simply cannot let players get bigger than the game and must refuse to bend over to their ridiculous demands.

What we are witnessing is a major shift in the game, our sport is being challenged by the lure of completely unjustified amounts of money in return for cheap cricket and a slow death of actual technique and competition. England and South Africa are two of the exceptions in the world who know the place of the IPL and put international duty first, and as a result they will rightfully be the ones to contest the number one crown in the upcoming series

Andy Flower and the ECB have set the example by removing Pietersen, the Twitter-happy twit, from the T20 world cup squad.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

England vs South Africa Preview

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, toddlers, adjudicators, cheerleaders, whoever you may be, wherever you may be, behold... its show time. The unofficial Test heavyweight championship between the two best teams in the world.

In one corner...
We have an overexcited English troupe who after downing some woeful Australians and Indians believe themselves to be the number one team in the world. The hyperbole king Mark Nicholas rambles on about  'Fortress England' and perhaps in desperation of a bandwagon after so many years of rubbish cricket, there is a loud and slightly overbearing chorus that sings out claiming world domination. But how good are they really? Is too much owed to the spectacular collapse of the previous champions?

In the other corner...
We have the touring party who have quietly accumulated success and fixed themselves comfortably in a position to make the next step and rise above England. They have had the goods for a number of years but have never quite established a position of complete dominance, usually thanks to the Australians.

Second best ain't the best matey. © Getty

Arguably and perhaps unfairly they have been ignored as worlds the number two team for too long, and this is their chance to finally strike gold and reach the top of the podium.

How do they compare?
To be frank, the teams are near identical on strength. The few differences are:

  • Rudolph is average
  • Swann is a better bowler than Tahir
  • The Boucher eye incident means that Prior is the superior keeper
  • England has more batting depth with Broad and Bresnan 
England win a few key match-ups there, however...
  • Anderson is not Dale Steyn, no matter how much England love him
  • Ian Bell is overrated, especially against quality bowling
  • South Africa has express pace in Steyn and Morkel, the English rely on swing alone
The bottom line is that comparing them on paper is a fruitless exercise, both teams are more or less dead on with each side having minor holes but are otherwise very strong. They are both led well, coached well, they field well, and strike an ideal balance between donkey-like experience and youthful exuberance.

But who will win?
Its a coin toss really, but as a personal bias I want the South Africans to win mostly to quench the overbearing English ego's, and to keep a lid on Kevin Pietersen. South Africa simply deserve it, they have been tirelessly battling in the shadow of the Australians for two decades and England simply leap-frogged them to the top. Its time to take the crown and become the dominant force of cricket, once and for all.

No more choking. 

THAT word again? © Reuters

I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself.