January 15, 2014

England's reusable scapegoat

Everyone is clamouring for Pietersen's blood but does he even need to bother anymore?
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"Some day, if you play your cards right, you just might turn into a proper sacrificial lamb" © AFP

Generally speaking, the Old Testament hasn't much to teach us about cricket. Yet as England continue to wander in a dry, harsh and unforgiving land in search of victory, it seems that certain members of that benighted tribe of outcasts have been taking advice from a passage in Leviticus:

… Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats - one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. The goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness…

It's a simple idea. If you've done something you're not too proud of, perhaps pretending you hadn't hit a ball with your bat when really you had, eating too many shellfish fairy cakes or losing five Test matches in a row, then simply find yourself a tame quadruped, stick a piece of paper inscribed with the words "Sorry about all that" on its horns, and point it in the general direction of the countryside. Hey presto, all is forgiven.

Still, as splendid as this tradition is, these days people are less likely to be impressed by goat-based rituals of atonement than they were in Biblical times. A higher order of mammal altogether is required. Step forward Kevin Peter Pietersen.

That's the great thing about having a talented foreigner in your team. Not only can he win matches for you, but when the time comes to turf him out, no one really minds because he isn't English anyway. KP has been particularly valuable because he's a reusable scapegoat, an economy that the profligate men of the Bible clearly hadn't considered.

The ritual is already well underway. Journalists are clamouring for blood, Andy Flower has been spotted picking up his sacrificial robes from the dry cleaners, and Alastair Cook has refused to speculate on the identity of the tall South African-born goat they've got in mind.

But Kevin should not despair. He may not enjoy playing the role of the shunned ruminant, but he should remember that the scapegoat generally fared better than your average Biblical goat, not to mention your average Biblical sheep, ram, bull or fatted calf.

And this particular version of the old Bible story is likely to turn out rather well for the goat when he falls in with some other goats, travels to India to play in the Indian Goat League, becomes one of the richest goats on the planet and tweets photographs of himself sitting in a stretch limousine eating fresh grass out of a solid gold manger to his adoring fans, while Flower and Cook sit huddled in their ECB bunker, contemplating their 27th consecutive Test defeat and considering whether to abandon little Joe Root on a mountain top in the hope that it might bring them good luck.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rizwan1981 on January 16, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    The Ideal British sportsman is expected to be modest , self deprecating and be working class or pretend to be even if one is posh , and not commit the cardinal sin of marrying a pop star - KP does not fit the mould and would have been at home say in USA where larger than life characters are revered.

    Despite the fact that KP is annoying old git , the fact is KP is a match winner and has the ability to win a match on his own unlike the Coach Andy Flower

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 16, 2014, 2:19 GMT

    Thank you Vicar, gotta love a good sermon!

  • on January 16, 2014, 0:02 GMT

    Funny funny stuff. Not sure what Pieterson has done wrong, he scored more runs than anyone else in the English side didn't he?

  • Unmesh_cric on January 15, 2014, 17:26 GMT

    "sitting in a stretch limousine eating fresh grass"..absolutely hilarious!! On a serious note, if England don't want Pietersen, we Indian fans don't mind having him in our team. Kohli and Pietersen (two guys with ego) will thrash attacks all over the world :-)

  • pratit on January 15, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    "The ritual is already well underway. Journalists are clamouring for blood, Andy Flower has been spotted picking up his sacrificial robes from the dry cleaners, and Alastair Cook has refused to speculate on the identity of the tall South African-born goat they've got in mind. "

    This para was just too good. Cracked me up

  • on January 15, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen , yes got out with some silly shots.. But the way he scored whatever runs he managed, showed he is better than most other in the team !

  • on January 15, 2014, 8:33 GMT

    they do it because they are british. this proves that they are british.

  • T20Fun on January 15, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    Wonderfully and tragic. I doubt if any other cricketing nation treats its finest batsman ever with such disdain. The convenient scapegoat!

  • on January 15, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    This is so damn good and true... I am unable to understand how can a player like Pietersen is targeted so coldly.... Just because he is not English... I felt that some of his past actions were inappropriate, but this situation makes me think that he was forced to behave badly... How much shit a player can take and still win matches for your stupid team... I am sure he is one player Aussies dont want to see next time particularly if he is motivated. But what English press is doing is just so disgraceful and pathetic...

  • krsriram on January 15, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    The Indian Goat League! Ha, ha, ha!

  • rizwan1981 on January 16, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    The Ideal British sportsman is expected to be modest , self deprecating and be working class or pretend to be even if one is posh , and not commit the cardinal sin of marrying a pop star - KP does not fit the mould and would have been at home say in USA where larger than life characters are revered.

    Despite the fact that KP is annoying old git , the fact is KP is a match winner and has the ability to win a match on his own unlike the Coach Andy Flower

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 16, 2014, 2:19 GMT

    Thank you Vicar, gotta love a good sermon!

  • on January 16, 2014, 0:02 GMT

    Funny funny stuff. Not sure what Pieterson has done wrong, he scored more runs than anyone else in the English side didn't he?

  • Unmesh_cric on January 15, 2014, 17:26 GMT

    "sitting in a stretch limousine eating fresh grass"..absolutely hilarious!! On a serious note, if England don't want Pietersen, we Indian fans don't mind having him in our team. Kohli and Pietersen (two guys with ego) will thrash attacks all over the world :-)

  • pratit on January 15, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    "The ritual is already well underway. Journalists are clamouring for blood, Andy Flower has been spotted picking up his sacrificial robes from the dry cleaners, and Alastair Cook has refused to speculate on the identity of the tall South African-born goat they've got in mind. "

    This para was just too good. Cracked me up

  • on January 15, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen , yes got out with some silly shots.. But the way he scored whatever runs he managed, showed he is better than most other in the team !

  • on January 15, 2014, 8:33 GMT

    they do it because they are british. this proves that they are british.

  • T20Fun on January 15, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    Wonderfully and tragic. I doubt if any other cricketing nation treats its finest batsman ever with such disdain. The convenient scapegoat!

  • on January 15, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    This is so damn good and true... I am unable to understand how can a player like Pietersen is targeted so coldly.... Just because he is not English... I felt that some of his past actions were inappropriate, but this situation makes me think that he was forced to behave badly... How much shit a player can take and still win matches for your stupid team... I am sure he is one player Aussies dont want to see next time particularly if he is motivated. But what English press is doing is just so disgraceful and pathetic...

  • krsriram on January 15, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    The Indian Goat League! Ha, ha, ha!

  • Ramesh_Joseph on January 15, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Hilarious...Never seen the scapegoat analogy used to such perfection.

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  • Ramesh_Joseph on January 15, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Hilarious...Never seen the scapegoat analogy used to such perfection.

  • krsriram on January 15, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    The Indian Goat League! Ha, ha, ha!

  • on January 15, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    This is so damn good and true... I am unable to understand how can a player like Pietersen is targeted so coldly.... Just because he is not English... I felt that some of his past actions were inappropriate, but this situation makes me think that he was forced to behave badly... How much shit a player can take and still win matches for your stupid team... I am sure he is one player Aussies dont want to see next time particularly if he is motivated. But what English press is doing is just so disgraceful and pathetic...

  • T20Fun on January 15, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    Wonderfully and tragic. I doubt if any other cricketing nation treats its finest batsman ever with such disdain. The convenient scapegoat!

  • on January 15, 2014, 8:33 GMT

    they do it because they are british. this proves that they are british.

  • on January 15, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen , yes got out with some silly shots.. But the way he scored whatever runs he managed, showed he is better than most other in the team !

  • pratit on January 15, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    "The ritual is already well underway. Journalists are clamouring for blood, Andy Flower has been spotted picking up his sacrificial robes from the dry cleaners, and Alastair Cook has refused to speculate on the identity of the tall South African-born goat they've got in mind. "

    This para was just too good. Cracked me up

  • Unmesh_cric on January 15, 2014, 17:26 GMT

    "sitting in a stretch limousine eating fresh grass"..absolutely hilarious!! On a serious note, if England don't want Pietersen, we Indian fans don't mind having him in our team. Kohli and Pietersen (two guys with ego) will thrash attacks all over the world :-)

  • on January 16, 2014, 0:02 GMT

    Funny funny stuff. Not sure what Pieterson has done wrong, he scored more runs than anyone else in the English side didn't he?

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 16, 2014, 2:19 GMT

    Thank you Vicar, gotta love a good sermon!