Editor Lawrence Booth, also a respected cricket writer with Sportsmail, takes England to task after a tough year spent trying to recover from losing the last Ashes series 5-0.
English cricket, says Booth in the almanack’s 152nd edition, published today, ‘lost touch with the basic idea that the national team belongs to us all.’
He adds: ‘A few wins might have deflected attention from a charge sheet including the mishandling of the Kevin Pietersen affair, worrying Test attendances outside London and a head-in-the-sand attitude to the one-day team. Starting with the drubbing in Australia, England lost eight full series across all formats in 2014... 28 defeats in all. Only once had this been surpassed in a calendar year by a major team — the 2010 Pakistanis.’
Booth is also scathing about the decision to sack Alastair Cook as one-day captain just before a disastrous World Cup.
‘To leave it so late made little sense,’ says Booth. ‘Trouble was, Cook had become more than just a cricketer, cast by his employers as latter-day saint to Pietersen’s fallen angel. Giles Clarke (ECB chairman) even suggested the Cooks were “the sort of people we want the England captain and his family to be”.
‘Paul Downton (ECB managing director), selector James Whitaker and coach Peter Moores were all bound up with his fate.
‘Cook had to succeed, as much for others as himself — intolerable.’
England then come under attack for the way they handled Pietersen’s sacking. Despite being in the right they allowed the maverick to claim the moral high ground.
‘England botched the PR battle,’ writes Booth. ‘The ECB hinted that some darker truth about his behaviour would emerge. Yet when the dirt failed to materialise, the ECB looked rudderless. Worse, they looked indifferent.
‘Typically, the ECB’s best moment was not of their own making. Instead, the player’s autobiography was so full of rancour that the BBC’s Graham Norton suggested to Pietersen: ‘Maybe, just maybe, team sport’s not for you.’
A more uplifting read is Wisden’s own Book of the Year. Peter Oborne’s Wounded Tiger — a history of cricket in Pakistan — is a worthy choice. – Daily Mail
Original source: WISDEN blasts England