How to write an end-of-season report
As a fan of violent and traumatic Jacobean tragedy, I've rather enjoyed the last week of brutal plot twists, ominous whispering and occasional off-stage eye-gouging. Andrew Strauss has played the role of genial monarch, David Collier the sinister schemer and Kevin Pietersen is naturally the tragic hero, doomed by his own character flaws and inability to stop talking: "2b or nt 2b KP?!!! #hardtobeme"
And cricket hacks have been grateful for such rich material. It's too early to start complaining about the Champions League, so normally by this stage of a series, the poor scribblers are ferreting about at the bottom of the news barrel, reduced to profiling the touring team's nutritionist or bashing out a swift 500 words on whether anyone can remember a soggier summer than this one (the last one, usually).
Unfortunately, all of the gossip and intrigue had to be put on hold so we could have another Test match this weekend, but no mere game of cricket could live up to the story of Kevin I (Part VI) and even though he wasn't there, he was everywhere. SKY's latest gadget, for instance, is a hologrammatic KP which they superimpose onto Jonny Bairstow every time the deputising redhead does anything, just to see how well KP would have done it if he had been playing. Which he isn't.
And after talk that the English dressing room at The Oval was divided into pro-KP and anti-KP sections (with a special anteroom for KP himself as he found the pro-KPites were cramping his style), Graeme Swann and James Anderson showed which clique they were in by having their locks shorn in the way that KP likes it: by an angry sheep shearer wielding a set of South African army issue clippers.
But the assembled English scribblers haven't just been waiting for the game to be over so they can get back to writing about Kevin. This temporary outbreak of cricket is an ideal opportunity to get on with their post-series summings-up, which ideally are in the bag long before Michael Atherton has doled out the medals and asked the defeated captain whether he ought to resign.
Last year's end-of-term reports were easy to write. England were the third/fourth/fifth greatest team of all-time; they would dominate the sport for decades to come; Graeme Swann was just the man to sort out that Middle East business; county cricket was a production line of young handsome geniuses, and if the Queen were to consider abdicating in favour of Andy Flower, that might not be a bad thing.
This time round things could be a little trickier, depending on how the cookie crumbles in NW8. On the one hand, England, in retaining their No. 1 status, have confirmed that they are the first/second/third greatest team of all time and that they will go on to dominate the sport until roughly the moment that the Andromeda galaxy crashes into the Milky Way, or possibly longer.
On the other hand, having been deposed from the No. 1 spot, England have hit the buffers; their captain is long past his sell-by date; Andy Flower is a little too foreign, and the county system is packed full of over-hyped youngsters with silly hair. And what on earth will we do without KP?
You heard it here first.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England