February 20, 2014

How KP can liberate cricket

A clever little plan that involves him dividing and thus ending the rule of the Big Three

"In a few moments all of you will begin to loathe each other and me" © Getty Images

If you ignore the resignation (or "lateralisation") of its most successful national team director, the sacking of the best player on dubious and possibly treacherous grounds, the Orwellian newspeak justifying said decision (including the chairman of selectors' turn as Basil Fawlty), and the ECB's mucky involvement in a three-way carve up of the ICC, it has been a fairly incident-free few weeks in cricket's motherland.

KP and the Big Three (aka Big One and Medium-Sized Two) oligopoly has left English cricket lovers as miserable as if we had just lost 12-1 to the arch enemy. That's probably quite hard to imagine, so let's just say it's pretty doom-and-gloomy. If you're not depressed already then you should be.

We cannot allow the blazers and bean counters to ruin cricket for us, so what are we going to do?

Yes, Pietersen will take his flamingoes and switch hits around various T20 circuses, but his heart will always belong to Test cricket - a Test cricket whose future possibilities are being throttled tighter than KP's bat handle in the moments prior to red-bulling himself off the mark with a jittery single to short cover.

Yes, cricket is fundamentally a numbers game. Still, just because Rahul Dravid, in Wall Street, proclaimed that "greed is good", should we abandon cricket to the numbers game of market forces?

If the bottom line is the bottom line, then India has many more bottoms on seats (in front of TVs) than the rest of the cricket-playing world put together. If cricket's future governance is thus to be welded to the historical accident of population size, then there's only one destiny: an Indian stranglehold tighter than Venkat, Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrasekhar bowling on the ninth day of a timeless Test.

Or is there?

Well, unless the rest of the cricketing world increases its population dramatically (which might be considered irresponsible if carried out solely for cricketing reasons), then we need someone to rescue us from a dystopia in which the three remaining serious teams compete in increasingly frequent and dreary series of matches - the rugby league World Cup, essentially. That revolutionary hero is KP.

Most of cricket's revolutionaries have borne the initials KP, of course. Most famously, there was Kerry Packer, who invented colours, floodlights and television, then sticky-taped them all together in a spangly new cricketainment product called "limited overs". There was also Keith Piper, who might have been the first person to wear wicketkeeping pads inside his trousers. And Kieron Pollard, who, erm, yeah.

Anyway, this is the idea: since KP is routinely called a "mercenary", he should, upon arrival at the IPL, visit the regions one by one, in the guise of cricket ambassador yet acting as an agent provocateur.

KP the AP will go into Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu. He will sign cricket bats, conduct one-on-ones, visit a few schools, press flesh, and hatch a series of bloody insurgencies that dissolves India into, you know, more manageable communities that can build "a new ethos going forward".

They always said he was an expert at being divisive, so let him divide!

He will stress the cultural dissimilarities, the different languages and faiths, that unmistakeable air of superiority of those in West Bengal. And he will incite and arm them against their oppressors. He could perhaps rope in Che Pujara: Hasta la victoria, siempre!

Suddenly, there'll be a dozen or more new Test-playing nations - which everyone will enjoy, right? - and the massive slice of TV pie earmarked for India can be divvied up accordingly. There'll still be a billion-plus potential Pepsi guzzlers who will all still worship cricket, only they will have passports issued by new countries, countries concerned for your Zimbabwes, your New Zealands, your Sri Lankas…

If he could pull that off in, say, the next 12 months, then the road back is clear. England and Australia would abandon their shotgun marriage of convenience to "India" and the ECB would be out there on the circuit again, playing its commercial shots, liberated by KP.

Scott Oliver tweets here