Garbage & Class: Hugh Morris & Andrew Strauss

There has been some utter garbage written about the ongoing situation between Kevin Pietersen and the ECB, much of it from the newspapers, whose “journalists” seem more intent on simple attempts at humiliation and muck raking rather than doing some decent investigative journalism and highlighting the flaws in the ECB’s handling of the situation. Others have made sly digs at KP in their writings when KP himself has no relevance to a story of a recovery from cancer.  David Lloyd’s latest effort on ESPNCricinfo after today’s events is another pretty poor effort.

The only sensible writing on the KP issue Yates has seen so far have come from George Dobell, Michael Holding and Sambit Bal.  Along with those writing for newspapers, many other former players talking about or writing about the game have singularly failed to provide any insight into the inner workings of the ECB top level management and the failures of Hugh Morris, Giles Clarke and David Collier.

Yates has to wonder why.  Surely best players in the country deserve the best coaching, support staff and management?  In Andy Flower we clearly have one of the best coaches in world cricket, although his stock is starting to slide in Yates’ view.  The support staff have been crucial in getting England to the world ranked #1 status so they have that in their favour. Clarke, Collier and Morris – the Three Stooges – are not the best management going; Ijaz Butt and Ernest Hilaire must be laughing themselves silly over the ECB’s handling of this business.

Let us be clear on things: whatever successes the teams below the test level are achieving are due to the people responsible for those teams doing their jobs competently, not because of any efforts of the Three Stooges.  As top level management the Stooges should be dealing only with the top level of the first class and international game.  We don’t need them fouling up the good work of the county academies and similar programmes.

Yesterday England were again outplayed by South Africa.  England’s lapses in the field cost them dearly.  Some would argue the non selection of Bairstow and Woakes did not help either.  Steve Finn and Samit Patel smacking a few boundaries at the end was little more than crowd pleasing, although it could get Finn promoted up the batting order for future games.  Hashim Amla’s 150 will live long in the memories of those who saw it.  Yesterday Kevin Pietersen hit 163 for Surrey, another innings that will live long in the memories of those who saw it.

Today saw the announcement of Andrew Strauss’ retirement from cricket.  The difference between the loud, almost grating Hugh Morris and the calm, classy Strauss at the press conference was quite stunning.  Nothing Yates saw of Morris today has changed his opinion that Morris is simply not deserving of or has the talents for the post he holds.  Indeed, that opinion is more firmly entrenched than ever.  Alastair Cook, the new England captain, also looked far more classy than the Managing Director – England Cricket.  Bill Maynard as “The Gaffer” would have more class than Morris.

Morris’ statement that the “process” involving KP and Andy Flower will happen “behind closed doors” is as convincing as Yates announcing that he is opening the batting for Pakistan in their next game.

Back to Andrew Strauss.  Nasser Hussain’s run out of Strauss when he seemed dead set for two hundreds on debut still elicits groans of disapoinment even now. When Yates tried batting left handed for a season it was Andrew Strauss that he looked to copy.  A simple technique based on a lovely cover drive, a strong game square on the offside, the pull and the nudge.  It goes without saying that Yates was unable to reproduce Strauss’ classy shots.

Strauss exuded class and dignity in the press conference, just as one would have expected.  When Andrew Flintoff was given the captaincy ahead of Strauss for what became the Ashes whitewash tour, Strauss remained calm and kept his counsel in the face of an unbelievably bad decision from Duncan Fletcher.  And whom did Strauss thank in his brief statement? Duncan Fletcher.

Yates’ favourite memory of Andrew Strauss will always be that catch to get rid of Adam Gilchrist in the 2005 Ashes.  Even now it still gets Yates out of his chair cheering, for that was the moment where Yates believed that yes, we could regain the Ashes.

Yates hopes that Strauss will not be lost to cricket.  He would be an exceptional replacement for any or even all of Hugh Morris, David Collier and Giles Clarke.  He would surely be a far better columnist and pundit than some of the former players whose efforts get published by the national newspapers.  The class of Strauss is sorely needed at the top levels of the ECB.