September 12, 2012

Does KP have any secrets from us?

Or why we all ought to sit down and enjoy Pietersengate

Pietersengate is fast becoming my favourite-ever cricket story, not least because cricket hacks are taking it so seriously. Some of the sombre reportage would be more suited to the breakdown of negotiations between two warring nations rather than a bit of a tiff between overgrown schoolboys. On Saturday, George Dobell, reporting live from the frontline in his flak jacket and UN helmet, had this to say:

"If Pietersen has hard evidence to support his views, then the results could be devastating. With both sides too entrenched in their views to accept an amnesty, it is also hard to see a happy ending to a saga that continues to damage the individuals and the England team."

Oh come now, George, it's not as serious as all that. For those of us who grew bored of reading wearisome tales of team-togetherness and all-for-oneness behind the scenes of Team England, it's heart-warming to learn that they're just as gossipy and bitchy as the rest of us. It's the perfect news story; a harmless Twitter storm that keeps on raging.

So what happened? It is alleged (by KP) that private comments he made to James Anderson and Graeme Swann (including "Mate, your hair looks stupid" and "Shall I show you how to bowl off spin, muppet", and my personal favourite, "If I was English, you'd be the kind of jokers who'd make me ashamed to be English") were partially tweeted, retweeted then re-retweeted, a practice that may or may not be known amongst the Twitterati as "tweet-laundering".

He might be right. But the problem Pietersen has is that in order to prove his point, ECB investigators will have to find out who tweeted what to whom by trawling through the Twitter feed of half a dozen professional cricketers. This would almost certainly be a violation of those officials' human rights and the ECB fears that it could be exposed to lawsuits from traumatised employees who develop mental health issues as a result.

KP's other problem lies in convincing people that any of his opinions can be considered private. Since he updates us so frequently on the minutiae of his everyday life and is already on his third autobiography, can he really claim to have any secrets from us? I feel intimately acquainted with the chap even though we've never met.

But since we're not KP and we're not in the England team, we should just sit back and enjoy the whole thing. Cricketers are, after all, entertainers, so there is no reason why they should stop entertaining us just because there's no cricket on. And thanks to Twitter, we can all be amused by their off-field squabbles. In fact many historical fallings-out would have been a whole lot more fun if the participants had had access to social media:

GaiusJCaesar: Ave dudes, whassup? CassiustheSenator: 'Ave some of this! #dagger MJBrutus85: Had it coming mate tbh #anotherdagger GaiusJCaesar: Et tu Brute!!***?!!! #infamy

Twenty years ago Pietersengate wouldn't have happened because England selectors liked to pick five new players for every match, and the squabblees would often find themselves dropped mid-squabble. That's not how the ECB roll anymore, so they will have to resolve this the old-fashioned way: by getting Uncle Giles to knock their heads together and make them promise to play nicely or there'll be no sweeties and definitely no IPL for anybody.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England