August 2009
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Daniel Brigham: Come back KP, all is forgiven

August 20th, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in England, The Ashes


After Kevin Pietersen got out to a rash shot when on 69 in the first innings of the Ashes at Cardiff, former England captain Tony Greig said he should be dropped if he played like that again. Many agreed. After all, he’d done the same thing before: when on 97 against West Indies in Jamaica and 94 against South Africa at Edgbaston. People said he was detrimental to England for these horrible, selfish shots. Well, how England could have done with Pietersen getting out in the 60s or 90s to a stupid shot at Headingley and, quite possibly, in the next five days at Lord’s.

The debacle of England’s Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in the third and fourth Tests shows just how mightily, but depressingly, vital KP is to their batting. Without him the middle-order is the Sex Pistols minus Johnny Rotten: no star, no leader, no heartbeat and utterly unable to perform as a unit.

Ravi Bopara, who shows I know nothing after I tipped him as a perfect No. 3, will be back but not so high up the order. He’s currently playing across the line too much to be stable enough for No. 3.

Ian Bell looks so frightened of Mitchell Johnson’s embarrassing, meek and pouty Derek Zoolander stare that he’s single-handedly played the bowler into form. Replacing Bopara at three with Bell is like emptying your bin of rubbish and filling it with garbage.

If it wasn’t for Paul Collingwood England would have lost the series by now. Yet he seems to play well only when batting with Kevin Pietersen – their tempos seem to be in such perfect synchronicity that a pairing on Strictly Come Dancing appears inevitable. In the four Tests that Collingwood has played without Pietersen, his highest score is 36; that he hasn’t been invited to bat at No. 3 as the senior batsman speaks volumes of the management’s confidence in his technique.

The argument that the England batsmen don’t perform when Pietersen is in the side because they depend too much on him and would flourish without him doesn’t stack up after the evidence of the last two Tests. Simply, Pietersen is England’s only stand-out middle-order batsman. Bopara should come good one day and Jonathan Trott could well have KP’s South African self-belief to back up his talent, but, for now, Pietersen getting out to stupid shots is as good as it gets.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, The Ashes | 3 Comments »

TWC Big Debate: Ticket Touts

August 20th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, The Ashes

With tickets for The Oval trading on websites for up to £300, the ECB has vowed to evict punters who have bought their ticket from touts. Here, then ECB Head Of Revenue Protection and a leading tout offer their differing viewpoints on the problem…

ECB Head Of Revenue Protection Darren Wonk

It’s very sad to hear that people are paying these huge sums for a ticket. It only goes to further my view that we are cutting our own throat by practically giving them away at £70 face value.

But touting is wrong for another reason: it encourages money laundering and who knows what other sorts of crime. It is a well-known fact that the major underworld players – The Mafia, The Triads, The Yardies, The ICL – have moved away from prostitution, drug dealing and protection rackets into the much more lucrative business of reselling tickets for the one or two cricket matches a year that are actually oversubscribed.

As with anything else, our first concern is with the supporters and ensuring that they enjoy the day, which is why we are moving security operatives away from the Beer Snake Prevention Unit and into a new Ticketholders With A Touted Ticket Ejection Division. Anyone found to have entered the ground with a touted ticket, suspected of having a touted ticket, suspected of having spoken to a tout, suspected of looking a bit like one of the ghastly oiks, or suspected of having used eBay (including non-ticket related trading up to and including trying to flog an unwanted Christmas jumper or second-hand lawnmower) will be ejected.

It is simply not fair on those fans who got tickets by the legitimate means (i.e. corporate complimentary tickets, knowing a chap at Sky, being one of the 185-man England performance squad, etc). (formerly Honest Dave of the Harleyford Road)

The thing that nobody can explain to me is why tickets should be any different to any other good. Let’s say I had a DVD player, right, just for the sake of argument, just a bit of fun. Now, I know what you’re thinking: you’re thinking, “Dave’s probably nicked that DVD player”, but you’d be wrong. There’s absolutely no money in nicking DVD players these days, and I’ll tell you why: buy a moody copy of Transformers II from Chinese Tony in the Red Lion, and he’ll chuck the DVD player in for free. How can you compete with that? The market’s dead.

So this DVD player of mine. Now, if I want to sell you this DVD player for five times what I paid for it (assuming, just for argument’s sake, that I’d paid the full retail price for it LIKE A TOTAL MUG), who is the ECB or the ICC or the Serious Fraud Office to tell me that I can’t? It’s a matter of basic human rights.
And don’t say to me, “But Dave, you haven’t actually added any value to that DVD player, or performed any service, you’re just leeching off regular people and contributing nothing.”

First: peace of mind. If you buy a DVD player from me and it says ‘Sony’ on it, you can be bloody well sure that it is a Sony, or at least an equivalent brand, and it will definitely work. Well, it did when I tested it this morning. Which brings me on to point two: customer service.

Should the DVD player not work, you are more than welcome to come and find me at our customer support centre on the Harleyford Road, where I will be happy to process your complaint in the traditional manner: i.e. by pretending never to have spoken to you before and offering to beat you up.

Enjoy those tickets!

Alan Tyers will buy or sell pairs, but look at you like you’ve just soiled yourself if you’ve got a single going spare

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, The Ashes | No Comments »

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