On the Front Foot: Pietersen fine shows lack of clarity on freedom of speech

 

According to a poll last week, the fifth best thing about living in Britain is liberty and freedom of speech.

That is a pretty low ranking, you may think, considering what it entails but the England and Wales Cricket Board might easily have been one of the respondents. Last Wednesday, they fined Kevin Pietersen some £2,000 for comments that he made on Twitter about the Sky commentator Nick Knight which were deemed to be "prejudicial to the interests of the ECB".

Pietersen expressed wonderment about Knight commentating on home Test matches, ending his message: "RIDICULOUS!!" The view may or may not be right – actually Knight, the housewives' choice, has become increasingly authoritative and he made some critical observations about Pietersen last winter – but the important issue is whether Pietersen has a right to express it.

Sky, a force for good in the English game in the outrageous absence of the BBC, were none too pleased, though their shoulders might have been broader. Five years ago, even two, it would not have happened. Twitter is becoming a vexatious presence in the England dressing room. But consider this. Last month Stuart Broad tweeted, following the reporting of an incident in which he had been involved: "apparently had an 'outburst' according to our media! #liars#muppets#jobsworth." And Jimmy Anderson, writing in a magazine column this month says: "Cricket commentary must be one of the hardest jobs in the world. It is the only way I can make sense of how many of them talk such absolute guff."

Strong, opinionated stuff. Broad and Anderson may both have a point, or they may not. Not a dickie bird from the ECB about punishment, however. True nobody was named but Anderson seems to be taking potshots at the entire media circus, of which one day he may like to become a part. Cricket law 43, that of common sense, ought to have applied all round.

Pietersen (and the others) should have been more careful in what they said, the ECB and Sky could have rode the punches. The surest thing is there are more tweets where those under discussion came from.

Pietersen should thank his lucky stars he did not take a pop at the countryside or the NHS, first and second in the YouGov poll.

Knott the done thing

The Queen's Birthday Honours are imminent. We must draw a deep breath and hope that the time has come at last for Alan Knott MBE (or even OBE, if Her Majesty is so disposed) to receive recognition.

The great wicketkeeper, like the great fast bowler John Snow and the former golden boy of the game, Tony Greig, has gone resolutely unrewarded while their modern counterparts have picked up gongs as if they were daisies on summer grass.

Knott might even have been rewarded during the Silver Jubilee celebrations 35 years ago. In that Ashes summer of 1977, the Kent wicketkeeper scored a jaunty, epic hundred in the Third Test at Trent Bridge to rescue England from 82 for 5 and was a key part of a magnificent series victory.

It is time to recall that and his part in English cricket 35 years later.

Twitter gets both barrels

Twitter is of course all embracing and the great cricket historian Peter Wynne-Thomas, who is based at Trent Bridge, has become a tweeter. He does it with a difference.

First Wynne-Thomas writes his message either on a typewriter, or more recently on a PC, and it is then tweeted by the ground's new media manager, Chris Botherway.

Pavilion is far from doomed

There was much consternation when it was mentioned in a newspaper and then on Test Match Special that the venerable pavilion at Trent Bridge was to be razed to the ground and replaced. Before the official protest group could be formed, however, the idea was found to be nonsense.

Sometime in the future there may be a plan to make better use of the space where the 1886 structure stands, but that will not involve destroying it. Of course, the Victorians thought nothing of getting rid of the pavilions that had been built in 1859 and 1873.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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