So, the South Africans have taken the opportunity to put the boot in, and their size tens home straight in on the private parts of the England camp: the captain and coach. They don’t have an issue with KP, it seems. All they are doing, now the crack in the team is held open with a wooden wedge, is poor water onto it. This press release, as reported in The Guardian is, knowingly or not, genius:
“There has been untruthful allegations in the media implicating members of our squad in the issue between Kevin Pietersen and the ECB,” Moosajee said. “We stand by the same stance we have taken since we heard the news about these allegations. Yes, text messages were sent but like we said before it was banter among team-mates, which is perfectly acceptable. The ECB has not made a formal approach to myself or any member of the team to see the text messages, as reported in the media.
“Allegations that Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers were the recipients of the texts are unfounded. Until such time that the allegations are met with the correct facts and evidence, we shall not comment.
“The internal issue between Kevin Pietersen and the English cricket board has been publicised for weeks, even before we arrived in the UK and we don’t want to get ourselves involved in an issue that has nothing to do with us.”
Were schools in session, they’d be analysing it in practically every class imaginable. It’s just a fabulous piece of work, forcing the ECB into a lose-lose situation, and storing up a great press conference for the stolid but gentle-witted Strauss. He’s no fool, but I suspect he’s incapable of dealing spontaneously with the questions which will be fired at him without simply avoiding the issue. This is a time to take the bull by the horns, not for hiding behind a ‘no comment’ line. The saffers will, by the end of that press conference, be a hundred runs to the good.
The Guardian called it a ‘prepared statement’, which gives us license to do a little close-reading.
It began with a tiny little mistake, ‘There has been […] allegations’, suggesting either a change of heart mid-sentence, or simply a hint of more than one allegation … my money is on a cunning implication of spontaneous speech, adding to the effect of the subtleties included later.
Now, consider ‘we stand by the stance’, and ‘since we heard the news about these allegations.’ ‘We stand by our stance’ is a beautifully weighted phrase inviting the inference that this ‘stance’ is just that, and not necessarily an accurate account of events. ‘Since we heard the news’ is a subtle pre-echo of the statement that the ECB have not requested anything from the South African set-up: ‘The ECB has not made a formal approach to myself or any member of the team to see the text messages, as reported in the media’. The important phrase is the one concerning the media, as the two possibilities are that the media are making the whole thing up, or being fed lies by the ECB. Oh, that and any approach made has been underhand and sneaky. Very neat indeed.
The killer line is ‘it was banter among team-mates, which is perfectly acceptable’. The message is two-fold. Firstly KP feels he’s a saffer, hence it’s banter between team-mates, and secondly Strauss and Flower need to get over themselves. Like Richard II said, I can smile, and murder as I smile.
What the next par means is tougher to fathom, other than re-iterating the impression that the England management has terrible intelligence, as the idea of meeting allegations with ‘correct facts and evidence’ is odd. It does, however, remind Flower and Strauss that there is something there, but they don’t know what it is.
Finally, something akin to Freud’s kettle joke. ‘We don’t want to get ourselves involved in an issue that has nothing to do with us’, apparently. But they have, they have put the boot in. Subtly, neatly, quietly, and quite comprehensively. Brilliant; just brilliant.