Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How to let Jonny Foreigner in

Over my long sabbatical, I have been considering how a civilised society should treat Kevin Pietersen. In the olden days, he would have been flayed and broken by a humiliating ordeal of public punishments. But sadly, we are far removed from these genteel and enlightened times.

Our problem isn’t his flashy, perma-tanned smugness – qualities that deeply rile the vast mass of under-achieving, poorly co-ordinated, socially inept English males. No. The main issue with Pietersen is that he exists at all.

Along with food and the relative merits of women, sport is the last legitimate home of petty tribalism. We want our team to beat your team to affirm our innate superiority over you. If your team beats our team, is only due to the limited structuring of your domestic game, reducing the number of matches, so, it doesn’t really tell us anything about whose better. In fact, we probably still better people than you, because we are so hamstrung by incompetent administrators.

These sorts of unfounded, baseless and generally wrong arguments, as fun as they are, are increasingly difficult to enjoy enthusiastic expression; “your” team is mostly constituted by “them” – the foreign, the alien, and the strange. We now find ourselves support a squad of Saffers.

Long ago, the British domestic football scene went down this route. Where it led them, I am unsure, but I am certain that some of the joy has been lost from watching your chums from down ‘pit doing their best against the mysterious freaks from yonder valley.

Then, fast-footed wee Jimmy is replaced by Finn Mürdermann from East Germany, who flattens the opposition with his greater knowledge of aerial bombardments. Wee Jimmy is left crushed, unemployed and slumps to an inevitable drug-induced demise.

It’s arguable that this adds to the overall standard of the game, improving the quality for the spectators, but where’s the heart? Where can fans see themselves in their heroes?

This is how I feel about the England cricket team. Foreigners have been gnawing away at our hearts in order to earn the ECB more money, using a naturalisation mechanism that is as divorced from the sporting world as is Kim Jong Il is from reality.

So, here’s AYALAC’s new system:

1. Scrap the four year qualification rule. Adopting a new nationality is not the equivalent as re-locating. I would include a provision that would allow people to qualify for the England cricket team, if they moved to the UK and acquired British citizenship for non-cricketing reasons. At the moment, the system has a loophole the size of a Giles Clarke-sized noose, and cricketers are making a mockery of the system by exploiting it.

2. If you want to play for England, become English. Essentially, this means becoming rubbish at everything except moaning. Kevin Pietersen has shown great promise in this area.

3. No Kevin Pietersens.


D Charlton said...

Genius blog

More, please. More.

Anonymous said...

Can we have some loophole that excludes Andrew Strauss as well - my knuckles are getting sore from punching the picture of him on my wall.

And while we're at it, lose Jonathon Trott. Not because I don't like him, but because I'm an Aussie and our loss of the Ashes has a lot to do with him playing well at the Oval.

Anonymous said...

I struggle to understand the fans’ problems with players like Strauss, Prior, Morgan, etc. These players are English enough as they have learned the game in this country. Pietersen is a different matter, born and raised in South Africa. However, he has a British parent and has proved that he is better than those that we are trying to produce in this country. How players like Trott, Kieswetter get to the stage where they are considered for selection just shows that the quality of British raised players are not of the correct level, when they are, then I will have a problem with the other players coming and representing England.

Good blog by the way.

Fred said...

Very interesting post. Thank you.

Ceci said...

A wondrous blend of common sense and utter lunacy. Tophole

Cricket Betting Blog said...

Can understand Strauss and Prior as their parents I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) brought them here when they were young, not the choice of Strauss and Prior.

For Eoin Morgan, Ed Joyce and add to that potentially Boyd Rankin and various other Irish players, while I don't think they should be able to represent England, I can understand their desire to do so as they will never play test cricket at the top level for Ireland during their careers. Also the county championship is an obvious place for them to ply their trade, they are not going to earn a decent living playing cricket in Ireland.

The South African players for me are a different case, the chance to earn a living playing in their own domestic competitions and to represent their own country is all their for them.

What would possess a bloke to make a decision to pack his bags and come to England to play cricket when he has it all on his own doorstep?

In my view the reason is probably because it is far easier to make it in county cricket, which means we are basically ending up with most of the players who can't hack it in the SA system over here, and there is more waiting to join the ranks in the England team if you look at the Lions squad. With the obvious exception of Pietersen who is world class - he wasn't when he arrived though - we are ending up with SA's cast-offs.

The qualifying process for me is wrong, while we (english) want to see England win we don't want to do it with a team of South Africans, I know people will come on here and write 'they are doing nothing wrong, it's in the rules' and they are technically right.

The question I would ask is "If in 4 or 8 years time we win the Ashes with a squad of South Africans will it feel like an English victory"?

As much as I love seeing England beat Australia I believe it would feel like a hollow victory.

SixSixEight said...

Today the commentators said Kieron Pollard was the new KP - perhaps this is the way forward - just substitute him in your mind and thus forget about him?

Who's Boeta said...

Personally my biggest issue with Kevin Pietersen isn't that he's South Africa...