KP: The Autobiography October 7, 2014

KP's Big Cheese meltdown

Matt Prior, aka The Big Cheese, has been subjected to arguably the most withering written attack on a colleague ever seen in cricket

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Are Prior and Pietersen too similar?

Kevin Pietersen's autobiography was always set to make a big stink but it quickly became clear from the fevered early readings that one person in particular was in for a grilling. Matt Prior, The Man Who Called KP in the aftermath of text-gate, is ridiculed throughout as the "Big Cheese"; the target of so many pot shots that he might by now be reckoned to look more like a block of Emmenthal.

The devil, of course, gets the best lines - although perhaps in this case the credit should go to Pietersen's ghost writer, David Walsh. Prior, the subject of a chapter entitled "Le Grand Fromage", is flambéed in a manner rarely seen in the tepid world of sports publication. A humble diary product is raised to the level of obloquy, the repetition of "Cheese" ringing out with loaded meaning, like Antony persistently damning Brutus as an "honourable man" in Julius Caesar.

"The Big Cheese had matured and grown too large for his little box" ending up as "an empty vessel who made a lot of noise". As a senior player, Prior "turned up the volume and made himself the main man in the dressing room, an endless foghorn booming about his perfect life". Pietersen even belittles Prior's late-found love of lycra.

"The Big Cheese made himself unpopular by insisting on bringing his bicycle out to New Zealand," he writes. "Here's a thing about playing cricket at the other end of the world: you don't need to take your bike with you. They have bikes in New Zealand.

"Who the hell takes their bike? You rent a bike like any normal person ... If Cheese wasn't a top genius cricketer Cheese would have been a world-class cyclist ... he'd get into his full-on Team Sky uniform like Clark Kent turning into Superman and go out on his bicycle, looking like a prat. Le Grand Fromage getting ready for the Le Tour de France."

The news of Prior getting a Big Bash contract (having criticised Pietersen for going on about the IPL) is worth several extra slices: "The Big Cheese down under - exactly what the world wanted… Cheese is talking about how Cheese's sponsor is going to change the colour of Cheese's equipment to match Cheese's Big Bash team colours."

His acolytes, meanwhile, are "Baby Cheeses" (surely Mini Babybel?), exempt from the criticism Pietersen says Prior vented at those outside his clique. Perhaps most damning, depending on your palate, Prior became "a Dairylea triangle thinking he was Brie". As brilliant as the rhetoric is, there is a strong whiff of something sour here.

Prior has long been known as "Cheese", from his time at Sussex "when I used to strut around a bit", as he puts it in his own autobiography, a less pungent tome published last year. "I didn't think I was 'the Big Cheese', but others obviously did believe that was how I saw myself." Ironically, in his defence of players "who have a bit of a strut", he cites as an example one Kevin Pietersen.

The "aura" Prior also refers to may have now dimmed. Prior was the man who rang Pietersen after his Headingley outburst in 2012 - "It wasn't a useful phone call," Pietersen writes - and the man who tweeted "Reintegration complete" after his triumphant comeback on the tour of India. Forget cheese, now he is a chalk outline.

As a device, the "Big Cheese", referred to constantly in the third person - "the Big Cheese has earned some beer" - is devastating. But Prior is essentially the most obvious MacGuffin in the wider plot of KP's revenge on English cricket. In some way, Prior's perceived sins - a superabundance of ego, a misapprehension of his importance to the team, an abrasive manner, accusations of favouritism - elide into those qualities of which Pietersen has already been found guilty by ECB trial without jury. The hypocrisy vendetta is part self-defence mechanism. Not so much "Why always me?" as "Why not him as well?"

Prior has already indicated that he will be exercising his "right of reply", while Twitter immediately went into meltdown over cheese puns. At least the ECB might be able to have a fondue party at the end of it all.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Colin on October 8, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    @No_excuse. Err...yes I did and Prior was poor. He had a bad series (as Haddin has had) and Haddin was vastly superior. If you actually have a look at their stats, I think you'll find that my point stands up. Haddin has 4 tons in 57 games at 35. Apology accepted mate.

  • Paul on October 8, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    I guess you didn't see the last Ashes series Jaffa79. Brad Haddin had decent claims to be man of the series and was touched out by Mitchell Johnson in unusually rare form. Prior was dropped for a bloke who couldn't keep (or bat) and looks to be finished as an international cricketer while Haddin seems to be in career best form with the gloves and is making handy contributions with the bat.

  • Derek on October 7, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    Just imagine now of this would be possible between KP and Prior if only Andrew Gale was part of the England team, he would tell them both where to go.

  • G on October 7, 2014, 15:29 GMT

    Prior himself references the fact that people labelled him the big cheese at sussex - quite often whenever I've come across mouthy arrogant people, they are completely unaware they are doing it (or claim to do so). For me this looks like a total personality clash in that both personalities are very similar. That never works out, let alone when they're locked up in a hotel with each other 200 nights a year

  • David on October 7, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    Swann, KP, Broad, Anderson, prior = colossal egos. This was always likely. No question that the best player was KP though. Quite right, the experience anglais would seem to be over. But strange that he would seriously believe he will play for England again.

  • David on October 7, 2014, 11:36 GMT

    I love it! This is getting funnier &n funnier. I might even have to buy KP's book just for the laughs.

  • Colin on October 7, 2014, 11:36 GMT

    Jonesy2 speaking his usual codswallop. Batting at 7, Prior often did take apart flagging attacks. This is indicative of the fact England have had a successful top order! Didn't Gilly do exactly the same? Also, if you saw his knock in NZ a while back, you will have seen his resilience. He was a counter puncher and often hit a 50 or 60 in grand fashion - as good number 6s and 7s should. He appealed a lot? Wow! A keeper appealing for everything? That's hardly unique to him is it? Club cricketer? Hmm...he has scored 7 Test match tons in 79 games at 40. This compares well to Ian Healy's 4 tons at 27 in 119 Tests or Rod Marsh's 3 tons at 26 in 96 matches. You are a predictably boring bitter Aussie who has to downgrade other's achievements because those 3 Ashes losses on the spin hurt so much. Prior may or may not be guilty of the crimes KP has alleged but he is better than every Aussie keeper ever bar Gilly. Please publish.

  • xxxxxxxx on October 7, 2014, 11:28 GMT

    Who needs the opposition when you have these two at each other's throats? Their abundant similarities seem to be lost on both. Wonderful!

  • Bryn on October 7, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    i dont have trouble believing petersen about prior, he always seemed like a club-cricket old man who thought he was the second coming of gilchrist, the way he appealed for anything, over-appealed at everything, could only score runs if it was easy in the context of matches or if he felt like he could play the way he wanted (which was a delusion in itself)

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