It was a merciful deliverance for the England team that Sky had exclusive rights to show the Ashes Test series. And the time difference, of course. The pubs may be staying open for the Brazil World Cup, but they weren’t exactly going to open all night for the cricket. So the outcry, or despair – take your pick – following “our” humiliation at Australia’s hands was more muted than it might have been, had we had to suffer the spectacle of every wicket falling on the BBC.
The same – to my mind, regrettable – media marginalisation of cricket may save Kevin Pietersen from the tongue-lashing he might otherwise have received from the Great British public. Indeed, the vilification yesterday, after the news that he had been dropped (sacked, more like) by the England Cricket Board, was mostly the other way. Apparently, Pietersen’s problem, if there was one, was that he was too good for us; a giant among cricketing pigmies. If his tweets are to be believed, he shares that judgement.
I have no view on his stature as a cricketer. I do have a view, though, on the border-hopping of stars to play for other people’s national teams – whatever the sport. Pietersen qualified for British citizenship through his mother, but made his career in South Africa. Whether it is England’s fault or his that he never really fitted in, the England selectors must bear much of the blame for seeing in Pietersen a potential saviour.
Let’s hope what started with the sad story of Zola Budd at the 1984 Olympics is brought to an end with the dismissal of Pietersen. England might not have been good enough without him, but this winter they weren’t anything like good enough with him either.