ECB at fault

Kevin Pietersen leaves the field at the end of the Surrey innings, unbeaten on 355, against Leicestershire in the LV County Championship match at The Kia Oval in London.-GETTY IMAGES

If England have Kevin Pietersen they have a chance of winning back the Ashes; no KP, no Ashes, writes Ted Corbett.

It is many years now since I decided to ignore the England and Wales Cricket Board and left them to make their own foolish decisions.

None of my business, all right. If they want to convert to underwater squash, or mixed boys and girls aerial judo that is their business, not mine. I may have been born in the country where the ECB controls international cricket but the days when Henry VIII decided what constituted treason are long gone and I refuse to toe the line by defending ECB’s right to be laughed at by Aussies, Kiwis and the entire sub-continent.

However of all the bits of stupidity they have come up with in recent times I am most grossly offended by whoever it was who decided that we do not necessarily want to win the Ashes this summer.

It may be small-minded of us but for a couple of months every three or four years we hate the Australians and are not satisfied until we have driven them through the centre of the earth back to their own continent. It’s in our DNA and rightly so.

That feeling grows out of many defeats, being on the receiving end of ten thousand insults and the knowledge that we sent them Down Under to serve well-deserved life sentences for stealing old handkerchiefs, windfall apples and discarded cravats.

Two hundred years later they return to offer more barracking, further suggestions that we do not know which end of the bat points down and, if they catch us off guard, they sometimes get the better of our fine boys.

One of our all-rounders explained it this way: “They’re decent enough to have a pint with us at the close of play and they have stolen the recipes for several good bottles of wine but it is still impossible to do anything except hate ’em.”

So that is the second reason I cannot understand the present row between the ECB and Kevin Pietersen. If England have KP they have a chance of winning back the Ashes; no KP, no Ashes.

(Here I must pause to detail the way English cricket treats its players. About 60 years ago there was a furious row because it was believed no one who wanted to be paid to play should hold the position of captain. When that honour was given to Len Hutton — he only had one initial which shows just what his social ranking was — cricket people looked to the heavens expecting to see flaming rockets heading towards Lord’s. At about the same time, Tom Graveney applied to join Worcestershire from Gloucestershire and was made to wait like a naughty boy. The way players are treated here is still a disgrace and you will not be surprised to know their contracts refer to them as “the servant of the club”.)

As for KP it would take a considerable book to give all the details and that is just for the back story. Those in authority never liked the cut of his jib. He declined to bow the knee to their demands; they reacted; I hear there was at least the threat of fisticuffs.

“That is no way for an English gentleman to behave,” the ECB decided but to the mystification of hundreds of thousands of cricket fans the Board, which has one of the biggest PR departments in sport, will not even outline what the charges are against KP.

Instead, like Henry VIII, they bellow “you’re fired and lucky not to be beheaded” and expect him to place his knuckles reverently against his forehead and bow.

Then along comes a new boss, Colin Graves who hints that if KP makes a few runs there may be a place in the England side for him. KP heads to Surrey and makes 355 not out. Runs made to order — what’s not to like.

Later that evening he meets up with the new director of England cricket Andrew Strauss — born in South Africa by the way — and is told the media misinterpreted Graves’ thoughts, that KP is not trusted enough to play for England and, oh, I wonder if you would like to guide the young players in the modern way to win at one-day cricket.

Even the office cat saw that was a daft idea. KP went off to Dubai to nurse a painful leg and reflect that his 355 was the biggest score in this country since Brian Lara snatched 501 a few years ago.

You will have read this piece thinking “this guy Corbett is prejudiced” and you will be right... but at least I have a solution to the whole KP problem.

Forget 140 years of tradition and hating the Aussies; let’s hand the whole shooting match over to KP.

“Here you are, KP. You are back in the side and you’re captain. You pick the team — if you feel you need anyone else to help you win the five-Test series — and you can be coach, physio, net bowler and general manager too if you like. You can call this ‘The KP Test series’ with matches between KP’s England and Australia. If you win you keep the little wooden vase and the sponsorship money.”

I reckon that would solve two problems.

It would tire out KP and force him to remain silent for a while — not a bad thing. It would also show the ECB that the world has moved on since W. G. Grace ran out of razor blades.

It will also show the world that when it comes to thinking ECB are not to be trusted.