Witch-hunts and wizards

Well, as the KP fiasco takes root ever deeper, it’s beginning to bear the hallmarks of a witch-hunt. I’m not going to add my tuppence h’apennorth to the debate on KP himself, only to point out that like Usain Bolt, there’s an awful lot of psychology going on with the insouciance with which he bats, and to note that David Gower’s airy wafts outside off stump were strokes of genius when they sped through the covers, signs of carelessness when they were edged to the slips. We English love genius and hate our heroes sullying themselves with anything approaching hard work – until, that is, their star inevitably fades, and we can nod knowingly and wonder how much they would have achieved if only they’d done the hard yards.
But I’d like to think about language. Today’s Guardian has a piece on the KP dilemma which, frankly, sticks the boot in, preparing the readership rhetorically for its argument that KP is not even a non-team player but, gasp, not even English. These two passages:

Kevin Pietersen may have jeopardised his place in England’s squad for next week’s third Test against South Africa at Lord’s, which will be announced on Sunday morning, by sending texts to his friends and compatriots in the opposition team during the second Test at Headingley.


If the latter description turns out to be true, that could easily prove the final straw in Pietersen’s increasingly frayed relationship with virtually everybody else in the England set-up. Disloyalty to his captain and colleagues would be seen as an ultimate betrayal of the team spirit which Strauss and Flower have worked so hard to forge.

So. The South Africans are compatriots, the English merely colleagues. It may well be that KP sent disparaging text messages to friends in the South African camp, and this would be sad, but … well, who’s been in a team where they’ve liked everyone. I’ve heard rumours that the England camp, or parts of it, are disparaging about other players, not just KP, about whom they are certainly tweeting, and you must think texting, too.

But officials at the England and Wales Cricket Board are still trying to find out the contents of the texts that Pietersen sent at Headingley. Dr Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa’s tour manager, confirmed their existence but described them as “friendly banter” – whereas in South Africa’s weekly Mail and Guardian newspaper, they were said to contain “less than flattering comments concerning his captain and team-mates”.

Does the ECB have any right to view personal messages? Like fuck does it. And as for team spirit, it cuts both ways. KP, bless him, is caught between a rock and a hard place, and there really appears to be a pincer movement forming, and he’s caught between the jaws of his team mates and management, and the media.

Witch hunt? It looks increasingly like it. Goodbye and good luck, KP. I hope that you score an unbeaten double at Lords. That would be a fitting swansong for a wizard.

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