Archives for posts with tag: england

I went to interview Peter Moores this week. He seemed more relaxed than when he was with England which is hardly surprising since he’s the coach of the county champions and it was late November when the only results that matter in the bleep tests.

But even so he seemed a fraction less intense than I remember him, though no less enthusiastic. I had to wait a while for him to finish a net session (the 2012 season is five months away) and he was scampering around doing, chivvying, fixing, suggesting like the battery-powered PE teacher he’s always been.

Most counties, from what I gather, focus on fitness in post/pre-season until the new new year when the bats and balls come out and everyone breaths or wheezes a sigh of relief. But Lancashire, or those that were there, were practising their cricket skills and had been for several hours by the time I got to Old Trafford in early afternoon.

You’ll be able to read more about this in a forthcoming issue of The Cricketer but he interestingly and impressively self-critical about his 20-month period as England coach that ended in the night of the long emails in January 2009.

He reckons he dived in too hard and too fast with England. He was given the mandate by the ECB to make some fundamental changes, mostly to do with physical preparation and conditioning. And of course the England side of Andy Flower (appointed by Moores) is the fittest, hardest-working group ever to wear the three lions. But at the time, with some still basking in the diminishing glow of 2005, not everyone was as receptive as they might have been.

There is a fine line between instruction and inspiration and one can read between the lines of comments of various senior England players about how they appreciate “being treated like adults” in the current regime.

One has to hope that Flower is sufficiently detached to recognise when “being treated like adults” slips into laziness or complacency as happened in the last days of Duncan Fletcher and happened in Australia as the great empire crumbled.

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Mostly this blog will be about cricket, or sport at least. But I can’t let this Clarkson business go. I happened to be watching The One Show (rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle etc) when he was on and his comments were so searingly, blindingly, categorically obviously not meant to be taken seriously.

Even if you despise him for all he appears to stand for and can’t help but be roused into anger, the best thing you can do is sigh and ignore. All that the teeth-grindingly, po-faced, grandstanding responses from union leaders and some panellists on Question Time is alienate the vast swathes of Middle Britain who aren’t card-carrying union members but sympathise with the cause of the strikers (and also like watching Top Gear).

And on top of that you elevate Jeremy Clarkson into an even more ludicrous celebrity cult whose utterances, however nonsensical or outrageous, are somehow to be taken seriously and pored over. And on that bombshell …

 

For all the rottenness of Fifa, its unwillingness to entertain political interference among its constituent members is a sound policy and one which cricket’s global authority happily chooses to ignore.

The escalation of the poppy-wearing row to the point at which the Prime Minister and a member of the Royal Family are badgering world football’s governing body seems a colossal over-reaction, not to mention surely precisely the sort of political interference which Fifa rightly does not tolerate.

The wearing of poppies ought to be a solemn, subtle and personal gesture. It is supposed to be about remembering the fallen, about the futility of war and the price of human life. It is not supposed to become an act of hysterical national ostentation encouraging anyone with half a brain to air their dubious nationalistic sentiments.

The zeal with which the FA and then the government sought to brand a high-profile international sporting confrontation with a label synonymous with war is insensitive and arrogant. Fifa’s point about political and religious symbolism is entirely valid and even one argues that the poppy is not remotely political, which I think is a dubious claim, then you can forgive Fifa their pedantry.

What if Serbia wore some sort of badge to remember their dead in the Balkan wars of the 1990s? Would the English FA happily acknowledge this is simply a gesture of remembrance or would they see it as a grotesque celebration of mass genocide? This is an extreme example and I am not seriously comparing Britain with Serbia but my point is that there are different viewpoints. Yet the FA set their case with such bombastic certainty you can just see the rest of footballing world’s collective eyes rolling.

And surely this is such an unnecessary argument. What does it matter whether the England team wear poppies or not? Does it make them more or less aware of the point of Remembrance Sunday? All that has happened is yet again the England football team has been turned into some sort of weird circus. The tasty prospect of match at a sold-out Wembley against the best team in the world has been soured by a week of idiotic politicking.

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