Somewhat overwrought

Sir Frank Worrell, AH Kardar, Don Bradman and England’s Colin Cowdrey were all manifestations of the mid-20th-century nation state, and all the social and moral obligations that went with it. Kevin Pietersen is just as surely a manifestation of the unqualified victory of neo-liberal market economics over the past two or three decades. Neo-liberals have little time for social institutions, are contemptuous of national borders, and dogmatically advocate the free movements of capital and people. They regard community, place and nation as worthless superstitions. Above all, they place the individual first.

Using cricket to explain the state of the nation went out with Colonel Blimp didn’t it?

46 thoughts on “Somewhat overwrought”

  1. ‘Neo-liberals have little time for social institutions, are contemptuous of national borders, and dogmatically advocate the free movements of capital and people.’

    Wait a minute, I thought it was the BNP who wanted to send people back to ‘their own countries’?

    Cricket-wise, of course Pietersen is ‘contemptuous of national borders’ – as, doubtless, were Basil D’Oliviera, Ranjitsinhji, Duleepsinhji and the Nawab of Pataudi.

    Roland Butcher was a notorious neo-liberal, too, as were Flash Cowans, Wilf Slack, Gladstone ‘Neckless’ Small, Phil DeFreitas, Malcolm Devon, Chris Lewis, Neil Williams, and Joey Benjamin.

    Don’t get me started on the capitalist running dogs Nasser Hussain, Min Patel, Usman Afzaal and Owais Shah.

    Truly the racism is strong in English cricket.

  2. Just read Oborne’s wibble.

    ‘The cricketer dropped by England typifies the new breed of neo-liberals who bat only for themselves .’

    I’ve got news for you, dickhead: Geoff Boycott.

  3. Emotional, ill-conceived wittering? Reads like it ought to be in the Guardian but is inexplicably in the Telegraph? Must be Peter Oborne.

    He has not written a single word of sense since he joined.

    And he clearly knows nothing about cricket. Bradman never walked, WG Grace probably squeezed more cash out of cricket anyone before the Indian Galacticos and the era Oborne writes about was full of tension between the ‘players’ and the ‘gentlemen’ over the right to earn a living from cricket.

  4. The reality is the KP is a twat who has fallen out with everyone he has ever played cricket with, from Natal, to Notts to Hants, to England. Massive talent, massive twat. At the end of the day if all your team mates hate you, you will always get the boot from the team because however talented you are you can’t make up for the 10 other people who don’t want to perform when you are in the team.

  5. I’ve never got this thing about sport at a national level & ‘playing for one’s country’.
    Sports are pastimes. They’re a selfish activity. A way of finding pleasure for the individual. Team sports, the pleasure’s sought in concert with the team. So presumably, there’s pleasure involved in being admitted to the team. And the pleasure of the prestige amongst aficionados when it’s successful. It’s the same right to the top of the pyramid. With national teams. They play for the maximum of prestige. No doubt, if an alien race from Alpha Centaurus was found to be cricketers, there’d be a planetary team for hyperprestige. But at no point in any of this is anyone playing for anyone else but themselves.

  6. I suspect Oborne only writes after lunch these days. Apart from the crap he writes about cricket, his enthusiasm for Iran is a wonder to behold.

  7. So us neoliberals, with our contempt for national borders are the real internationalists, aren’t we?

    Well, I’ve often thought that, well, would the _real_ socialists please stand up? And it turns out to be those of us slandered as neoliberals by those who claim to be socialists. As keen as those self-identified socialists are and were on their national borders. Not only to keep the competition out but to keep the sheep in,

  8. If you can use Crossfit to explain late western capitalism, why not use cricket to explain the state of the nation?

  9. I take it that, in addition to his other flaws, our Kev is a bit dim. Why does there seem to be a convention not to mention intelligence, or lack thereof, when discussing celebrities? Would it be judged libellous?

  10. dearieme

    Wouldn’t it be stating the obvious? Intelligence is only mentioned when there are claimed sightings of it – Andrew Flintoff ‘I can play chess’ (yeah, so can my dog, badly).

  11. @ dearieme
    S’pose it’s the same thinking puts comedians on Question Time, on a weekly basis. There’s some process in the accumulation of celebrity provides all the answers to the universe. You only have to ask & you will be rewarded. F##k knows why they don’t go to rap artists for the solution to cold fusion. Be up & running in a week. Maybe they just need to get the correct rhymes

  12. Individuals are all there is. You can squark about greater good, “the needs of the many” etc–but any system that does not regard the individual as foundational is tyranny of one degree or another.

    Cricket, like all sport, is a waste of time. Physical training, martial arts+ boxing/wrestling (suitably augmented with dirty tricks for the real world), shooting–those are useful.

  13. Mr Ecks.

    Cricket is not a ‘sport’. Neither are football, rugby etc. They are all ‘games’.

    Huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ are ‘sports’.

  14. A lot of Mr Oborne’s stuff is like this. Soggy, weepy, and irrational.

    He’s also a massive Dave Cameron fan.

    Maggie would have had him down as a “wet”.

  15. ‘Cricket, like all sport, is a waste of time. Physical training, martial arts+ boxing/wrestling (suitably augmented with dirty tricks for the real world), shooting–those are useful.’

    Fucking hell, Ecks. Going on that, anything except learning how to kill people, live off the land and build shelters in the woods is a waste of time.

    There’s this thing called teamwork which has helped people from time to time. Cricket and other sports help with that. Plus socialising, that’s not bad for you, either.

    I’m as into my MMA as the next man, possibly more, but there’s more to life than planning for the apocalype.

  16. @GeoffH.

    Oxford Dictionary: ‘an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.’

    Makes hunting, shooting and fishing (the first two of which I have done and enjoyed) less of a sport than cricket.

  17. So is any sport, Simon. In rugby, at any one time, only one guy has the ball, and what he does with it dictates whether he will be selected in future.

  18. @Intersted
    Peculiarity of your language. In others la chasse, la caza, it’s obvious what the subject is. In english “sport’s” gotten highjacked for those. No doubt as hunting for the pot rather than amusement dropped out of the culture.

  19. bloke in spain,

    The whole thing of national teams is really a bit outdated and comes from a time when deciding the best in the world relied on occassional tournaments, and when people had much greater connection to their country than they do now.

  20. Thornavis,. King Cricket is an excellent site (do you subscribe to his Cricket Badger email?) if slightly Graun at times.

  21. @Bloke in Spain

    ‘Peculiarity of your language.’

    Er, right. Not sure what you’re saying there.

    Is it that the meaning of words changes over time, in which case the meaning of the word has changed and I’m correct, or that the OED is flat out wrong and you (or anyone who conjures up their own definition of a given word based on who knows what) are right?

    Because I prefer standard definitions of things, it makes life a fuck sight easier.

  22. Cricket, like all sport, is a waste of time.

    That is precisely the point of cricket, to while away the hours and days in the colonies. Still love it though.

  23. Maybe it is just me, but something about how these people use “neo” in front of any view they dislike makes me wonder if they are being anti-semitic, if not always consciously. I don’t think PO is that way inclined; I hope not.

    In the past, people who used to get het up about things such as the free movement of people, etc, used “cosmopolitan” as a boo word. It seems that “neo-liberal” is the epithet of choice today.

    Peter Oborne is a strange bird. He referred to the idea of cricket in the same breath as national service, for heaven’s sake. It is a fucking game.

    His article actually made me think more of Kevin Pietersen; anyone who can provoke such rubbish cannot be a bad bloke. And KP’s performance with the bat in many matches means he deserves respect, not the sort of moral scolding that PO engages in. Sod him and the horse he chose to ride on.

  24. By the way, on the DT article comment thread, you get quite a few serious racists taking up PO’s analysis and developing it. I think his article has brought out a lot of nasty undercurrents.

  25. @Interested
    It’s that linguistic programing Chomsky’s good on. Although a barking liar on most other things. The words used tend to define the things they represent. Calling things “field sports” parceled with “team sports” has you comparing sports. Might not happen to a Frenchman who sees shooting or fishing as a method of putting food in the pot. So selling gun control, on the basis it’s only a recreational hobby for weird people, plays in UK but might be difficult in France.
    Try words like “investment”.

  26. @TimA
    “The whole thing of national teams is really a bit outdated and comes from a time when deciding the best in the world relied on occassional tournaments, and when people had much greater connection to their country than they do now.”

    It comes from a time when it was only of much interest to those interested in the playing of games. The top of that prestige pyramid. It’s tunts like PO who try & make out the of playing games has some sort of relevance in the wider world. If it did, we’d be permanently at war..

  27. @BIS No not seeing the connection between whether cricket is a game or a sport (it’s both to me) and banning guns.

    I tried ‘investment’ though and it is:

    ‘put (money) into financial schemes, shares, property, or a commercial venture with the expectation of achieving a profit’

    If what you’re saying is politicians lie, yep, I agree. Which (to repeat myself) is why we need agreed definitions of words, at least at any given date, so we know they are lying.

  28. @JP ‘By the way, on the DT article comment thread, you get quite a few serious racists taking up PO’s analysis and developing it.’

    Nutters will out.

    Mind you, I never wanted Pietersen playing for England, or Eoin Morgan, or Hick, or Robin Smith, or Allan Lamb, or Andy Caddick, or Martin McCague, or anyone else born outside England or not of wholly English parentage (possibly Wales/Welsh).

    Going back before that is a bit out of my era, though I just about remember Tony Grieg and I wouldn’t have wanted him either.

    I loved watching all those players, with the exception of McCague, but sport is an emotional thing, not logical. I am prepared to concede the utter illogicaility of my position,, though.

    Same in rugby. Mike Catt? Lovely bloke, decent centre, but no ta. The Armitages? No ta (and we need a player like Steffon IMO). Stevens, Botha, Barritt… same story. (If we must field Saffas, let’s at least get some good one.)

  29. @Interested
    One can only say, regrettably, read Chomsky. Dictionaries are rarely a help.
    “investment” It’s not the definition. That’s neutral. it’s the connotations. ie a “good thing”
    It’s much easier to ban guns if shooting is seen purely as a leisure activity. The Yanks, for instance, don’t. (Shooting “people of leisure”, maybe.)

  30. Interested, if you play the “where were you born?” game then much of international sports collapses. Mo Farah at the Olympics? Etc.

  31. You’ve pretty well answered your ow question there, Interested.I haven’t the vaguest idea who or what you’re talking about, what the issues or why their importance. Same language, different programming..

  32. @Interested: “So is any sport, Simon. In rugby, at any one time, only one guy has the ball, and what he does with it dictates whether he will be selected in future.”

    Well, that’s not entirely even close to true. Leaving aside mauls where two or more players may have their hands on the pill, or lineouts, where one lanky chap may well have
    the ball but two burlier chaps are probably suspending him several feet of the ground, and ignoring what the girls get up to, where a dummy run sans ballon can bamboozle a defence to allow a comrade through, what of the heart and soul of the game? Once the 9 puts the ball down the channel (thankfully straight down the middle due to the refs being told to apply the bloody Laws), it is very much eight agin eight; props trying to disrupt hookers, 2nd rows either acting as locks or engines, flankers trying a cheeky disruption of the half or eyeing the flying half with a view to late-tackling him. It’s very much not what a real rugby player does with the ball in hand that decides whether they are penned in or passed over.

  33. To me test cricket is 5 days on a couch drinking beer – does that count as a sport. It is exhausting, after 7 hours of bending my right elbow I fall down on the ground exhausted being so puffed out I have lost the power to speak coherently. Occasionally if I have a few drams of whisky in the afternoon I vomit as well. Its my own personal version of crossfit where puking ones guts up is a sign of a great workout. You have no idea how fit I am after a summer of Cricket.

    As far as KP is concerned, given that he has dual citizenship he is “playing for his country”. If you want to talk about the internationalisation of sport as a parallel for neoliberalism I think the better example might be the English premier league.

    As far as I am aware if one wants to play Cricket for England one must be an English citizen, same goes for Australia, NZ and …. well everywhere else.

    I blame the Home Office for handing out passports in the first place

  34. There are multiple threads to this comment.
    If Peter Oborne was a pre-Boycott Yorkshireman, I might be more willing to listen to his rant. But since he’s following Boycott’s line I do not find that plausible. When Lady Hutton was about to give birth she had herself driven up to Yorkshire so that her son would be eligible to play for Yorkshire (which he did). Oh did no-one notice that Sir Len would be the prime example of the nation-state in cricket (if either Yorkshire or England was a nation-state). Actually neither has been recently.
    Outside the Yorkshire of my youth, most competitors can choose between the county of their birth and the county of their current residence (so I was once asked to represent (as reserve) my county of residence because the best guy resident in the county insisted on only representing the county of his birth). Kevin Pietersen has chosen to represent England as country of residence. If that is neo-liberal does my competing for my county of residence in a south-east intra-county competition that excludes my county of birth neo-liberal? How can amateur sports be neo-liberal?
    “Neo-liberals have little time for social institutions, are contemptuous of national borders, and dogmatically advocate the free movements of capital and people. They regard community, place and nation as worthless superstitions. Above all, they place the individual first.”
    If that is true I am not a neo-liberal so I cannot have competed for a county where I was not born – contradiction – and a neo-liberal could not compete for a national team as Pietersen has done . Oh dear! Is that a contradiction?

  35. So Much For Subtlety

    My politics are somewhat more dry than TW’s but I didn’t think the article was so bad. There is a debate here about national identity. I would hope we all would agree there is a difference between foreigners playing for Manchester United and playing for the national team?

    His conclusion seems remarkably even handed actually:

    What does it mean to be British? Who makes our laws? Who, indeed, do we want playing for our national sports teams? These are all very difficult and dangerous questions. Like most people, I am not confident about the answer. As someone who has followed and loved the England cricket team for nearly 50 years, one judgment is easy. The England selectors made exactly the right decision in dumping Pietersen for repeated selfishness and disloyalty this week.
    There is, however, one powerful point in the man’s favour. He is part of an international phenomenon that has made a great many worthless people, above all investment bankers, huge amounts of money in recent years. At least Pietersen has proved by his superb performances on the field that he is worth it.

    What is wrong with any of that?

  36. So Much For Subtlety

    Interested – “Cricket-wise, of course Pietersen is ‘contemptuous of national borders’ – as, doubtless, were Basil D’Oliviera, Ranjitsinhji, Duleepsinhji and the Nawab of Pataudi.”

    He did say the national team was a product of the mid-20th century. Something that wouldn’t apply to Ranjitsinhji (d. 1933) or Nawab of Pataudi (d. 1952) or Duleepsinhji (d. 1958 but his career ended much earlier than that due to injury).

    “Truly the racism is strong in English cricket.”

    I think most people would agree that cricket and even sport in general is the one area that brings out the generosity and fairness in people even if they are racists. I have no doubt that the people who ran cricket back in the day thought less of non-White players. But it didn’t matter compared to how well they played – and that judgement was not just based on money but sportsmanship.

    Interested – “In rugby, at any one time, only one guy has the ball, and what he does with it dictates whether he will be selected in future.”

    I have never been involved in rugby selection, not even for a primary school team, but if I were so involved, actually that is not the basis on which I would make my selections. What is more important in a player is what he does when he doesn’t have the ball. Someone needs to be there when the man with the ball needs to pass. Someone needs to be there when the man on the other side gets the ball and makes a break. The best player is the one who knows where he should be next.

  37. @Interested: “So is any sport, Simon. In rugby, at any one time, only one guy has the ball, and what he does with it dictates whether he will be selected in future.”

    As well as what TomJ says above at cricket it really doesn’t matter how well you team mates perform for others to see how good you are.

    OK fielders may drop the odd catch but that doesn’t make it a bad ball. Similarly batsman may get rum out, sometimes deliberately if the Botham/Boycott story is to be believed but we can all see their skills.

  38. What is wrong with any of that?

    This bit:

    The England selectors made exactly the right decision in dumping Pietersen for repeated selfishness and disloyalty this week.

    Pietersen did nothing selfish or disloyal during the Ashes series, beyond speaking his mind in a private meeting of the players. Had the ECB dumped him beforehand then fair enough, but with the entire English cricketing setup in free-fall on the back of a 12-1 loss across all formats, they’re scapegoating of Pietersen is self-serving and utterly pathetic, not to mention that despite his faults, Pietersen is a decent player.

  39. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Pietersen did nothing selfish or disloyal during the Ashes series, beyond speaking his mind in a private meeting of the players. Had the ECB dumped him beforehand then fair enough, but with the entire English cricketing setup in free-fall on the back of a 12-1 loss across all formats, they’re scapegoating of Pietersen is self-serving and utterly pathetic, not to mention that despite his faults, Pietersen is a decent player.”

    Well the first thing to say about this is that it does not appear to be a major source of complaint for most people in this thread. The second thing is that it is not really what his article was about. Nor was it what TW complained about.

    Scapegoating? KP seems to have been on a knife edge. They seem to have given him one more chance – despite repeated instances of disloyalty. The team did not win. I admit it does not look all that good, but cutting someone because he is a Class A cnut is never going to look good.

    The man should have gone years ago. Over texting the South African team actually. They struck with him. Now they have a problem and they have to look again at the team. The sensible way to start rebuilding the team is to get rid of the cnut that no one likes and no one wants to play with, surely?

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