Redemption KP's been there, done that and got the T-shirt…
22:05 GMT, 6 October 2012
22:05 GMT, 6 October 2012
On a steamy day in distant Colombo,
Giles Clarke wore a silk suit, a club tie and a superior stare. He
delivered his statement slowly, portentously, as if it were a prize-day
oration at one of our more expensive public schools. And, in truth, it
was priceless stuff.
‘In our society,’ said the ECB
chairman, ‘we believe that if an individual transgresses, and the
individual concerned recognises that and apologises for what they may
have caused to those involved, then it is important, and a fabric of our
society, that the individual should be given a real opportunity to be
reintegrated into our society.’
The ‘individual’, Kevin Pietersen, was
sitting a few feet away. His face was a bewildered question-mark: ‘Is
he talking about me’ And he wasn’t sure that he’d like the answer.
Not in the script: Kevin Pietersen reacts to Giles Clarke in Coilombo
What he’d expected was a light rap
across the knuckles, followed by an assurance that he’d be back in the
England side as soon as they could fix it without losing face. Broady,
Swanny and all those other blokeish nicknames would promise to stop
laughing at him, while he would stop texting the opposition with
‘provocative’, but not ‘derogatory’, messages about his team-mates.
As a result he, KP, would intensify
his efforts to become richer and more famous, and everyone would be
friends for ever and ever. Or at least until the next time. That was
what was supposed to happen.Instead, he found Giles Clarke expounding
penal policy under the guise of a cricket decision.
KP’s advisers, who
have always done such a great job for him, hadn’t prepared him for
this. He glanced at his own script, so bland and vacuous that he might
almost have written it himself. There was that remark about how ‘playing
cricket for England was the pinnacle of any South African cricketer’s
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He hoped he’d got that right. And he
really liked the bit about ‘drawing a line’ and ‘time to move forward’.
He hoped he hadn’t used it when he fell out with Natal and Notts and
Hampshire. Hard to remember. The rest of us wondered why the chairman
refused to come clean. After all, he knows that England are making a
special case of Pietersen. The player may be disruptive, narcissistic, a
royal pain in the neck, but he is an extraordinary talent whose absence
leaves a gaping hole in the middle order. And so they are bending the
rules to accommodate him.
But that was not what the man in the
silk suit was saying as on he ploughed, all wobbling jowls and
lugubrious vowels. No, he was wagging his finger, speaking very slowly,
emphasising selected words: ‘The ECB and Kevin will consider the matter
as closed, and no … further … questions … on … the … subject … will …
be … taken.’
The newly reintegrated Pietersen tried
to appear inscrutable but it didn’t work. He may not be the sharpest
knife in the box, but he has been here before.
The ECB may think it’s all over, but KP knows it has only just begun.
Tiger's Ryder Cup gesture made a perfect day even better
The back of the 18th green at Medinah last Sunday evening was the most privileged position in the whole of sport. From a range of just a few feet, we could study the stress on familiar faces, hear the faint click of ball on putter, enjoy the dawning realisation that the apparently impossible would soon become reality.
And almost as stirring as the unfolding drama was the gesture of Tiger Woods, who conceded a problematical putt to Francesco Molinari and gave Europe the victory by a point. Had Molinari missed the putt, then the match would have been drawn. Woods later explained himself by saying: ‘It was already over. We came here as a team, this is a team event. And the Cup was retained by Europe, so it was already over.’
Great gesture: Tiger Woods halves with Francesco Molinari
In other words, Europe held the trophy and they would retain it through either a win or a draw. He was criticised in some bloodless quarters, yet it felt like a vaguely noble gesture, the act of somebody who understands the art of gracious defeat. So we were given drama and nobility, the very stuff of great sport. It seemed that the occasion was just perfect. Until we heard the yelps of the bookmakers.
Woods, it appears, was not a lofty idealist, but a base villain. It was the bookies who said so. You see, very few people place their money on a tie, which means that the tie would have been the ideal result for the corporate vultures. Tiger’s magnanimous gesture had cost them a good deal. Just how much we cannot say, since in these cases they tend to think of a figure and double it. One bunch of chancers claimed a loss of 800,000, another put their damage at a mere 650,000 and a couple more reported around half a million.
An ‘independent expert’, asked for an estimate of their total losses, came up with the sum of 10m, which is the kind of random figure your pet parrot might be ashamed to utter.
Whatever the real figures, these charmless characters, who make their money through a tax on stupidity, had caught a considerable cold. And suddenly, on the back of the 18th green, a perfect day got even better.
Football just can't get enough of Ridsdale
Football is the most generous, warm-hearted, endlessly forgiving of sports. I cite the one and only Peter Ridsdale.
A decade ago, Ridsdale was the man who ‘lived the dream’ as chairman of Leeds United. It was a golden era, with money spent as if there were no tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow arrived too soon. Leeds collapsed with debts of more than 100million, and the dreamer was forced to seek alternative employment.
Dream on: Peter Ridsdale
He found it at Barnsley, Plymouth and Cardiff, where his Midas touch was much coveted. Sadly, that touch deserted him again when chairman of Cardiff. A company he owned while working for Cardiff City went into liquidation owing 442,353 in unpaid tax and VAT.
‘He acted improperly and in breach of his duties,’ said the Insolvency Service. As a consequence, he has just been disqualified from acting as a company director for the next seven-and-a-half years.
But you can’t keep a great man down, and Ridsdale is now Preston North End’s chairman of football. And nobody seems to think this an odd state of affairs.
Indeed, the mood is articulated by the eminent pundit Paul Merson.
‘He must be doing something right to keep getting offered so many jobs in football,’ said Merson. ‘I’ve only met him once and I thought he was a lovely bloke. We chatted for about half-an-hour, and he was as nice as pie.’
That’s football for you: a game of warmth, generosity … and a wonderfully short memory.
A few weeks ago, as the nation basked in its Olympic glow, Roy Hodgson admitted that football had a lot to learn from the spirit of the Games.
He spoke, a shade enviously, of the civilised behaviour of the players and the watchers.
‘A benchmark has been set and we must accept that we’ll be under a little more of the spotlight,’ he said.
Golden days, indeed, and Hodgson will surely recall how London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, expressed the prevailing mood.
‘These are extraordinary times,’ said Boris. ‘Why, total strangers have been talking to each other on the Tube.’