Cricket

Graeme Swann autobiography could have waited

Bat and ball RSS / / 18 October 2011 / Leave a Comment

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The Swann and the Peacock. Two highly talented and confident players who are probably just too similar

The Swann and the Peacock. Two highly talented and confident players who are probably just too similar

"The ECB had the power of veto over Swann's book but were happy to let him go ahead and publish. Of course they would, his observations endorse their decision not to back Pietersen when he stood up against Peter Moores and issued his 'back me or sack me' ultimatum."

The fact Kevin Pietersen lacks leadership qualities is no secret but Grame Swann should have waited until he ended his career to say so. After all, he and KP still share a dressing room, says Frank Gregan.

There's a common misconception that the dressing room should be a place of love and peace, all about team huddles and cuddles, high fives and positive rallying calls. The reality is that it's not, it's a workplace, not an episode of the Waltons.

Having a cohesive dressing room is a plus but not the be all and end all. In years gone by there have been plenty of dressing rooms at the very highest level of all sports that employed a 'win or lose - get on the booze' mentality. Their team spirit was fantastic, their performances on the pitch were not. These days, without an alcoholic crutch to support it, team spirit is almost wholly reliant on results, with the successful teams boasting a 'wonderful camaraderie in the dressing room.'

England of course now fall into the successful category and much is made of their togetherness. There is only one exception, whenever there is talk about a division in the camp, two initials usually feature heavily in the conversation - KP.

Kevin Pietersen's name was again in the press last week linked with friction in the dressing room. This time it wasn't his fault, his leadership abilities were questioned by Graeme Swann in his autobiography and like kids in the playground the media were quick to latch onto it and shout "fight, fight, fight!"

Swann's comments are really quite innocuous, "There is no doubt that Kev is a really good player, a fine batsman, but he was never the right man to captain England in my opinion. Some people are better leaders of men and Kev, for all his abundant talent, is not one of those natural leaders" he wrote.

Not only are his musings innocuous, they are also accurate, and it's a viewpoint that most English supporters share. The problem is the timing of Swann's criticism, which has started a debate on whether currently contracted players should be allowed to release their memoirs whilst they are still playing.

The ECB had the power of veto over Swann's book but were happy to let him go ahead and publish. Of course they would, his observations endorse their decision not to back Pietersen when he stood up against Peter Moores and issued his 'back me or sack me' ultimatum. The ECB also probably thought like the rest of us that the comments were not in the least bit harsh.

The counter argument is that even if Swann is right he shouldn't be voicing his opinions about a team-mate whilst he shares the dressing room with him. What seems to have been missed is that the problem with a current player writing his autobiography is that it is the reader who buys the book that gets short changed.

Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen are very similar characters. They're both brash, not slow to offer their opinions, super confident and to cap it all, they are both highly talented cricketers. It's a case of 'opposites attract' and these two are so similar there's bound to be a degree of friction between them.

But Swann's readers are not getting the full story. There's no way that the spinner could have written a no holds barred account of what he thinks of KP. It's a sanitised version which has been given the thumbs up by the ECB and has been written to cause minimal offence. If Swann revises his book when he retires (which is when he should have written it) then cricket fans might get the full story.

England's spirits won't be the best at the moment but it's got nothing to do with in-house squabbling and everything to do with being put to the sword by the Indians. The recommendation last week was to back 5-0 to the home side at big odds and lay it off if India took a 2-0 lead. Such is the dominance of the Indians it's tempting to just let the whitewash bet ride but if you do want to lay it off, you can do so at [4.5].

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