Cricket is a subject that can ignite the strangest passions.
While not raw and tribal like soccer, it can – nevertheless – still cause more than the odd furrowed brow. And never more so when the question of ‘bad form’ comes to the fore.
Form – in this case – is the old Victorian notion of the right or the wrong way of doing things. The sport even has its own phrase for it. “That’s not quite cricket,” for when something is done ‘the wrong way.’ This normally means it’s unsporting, a bit underhand or even perfectly legal but rather too ruthless and clinical.
And so cricket has been thrown into a tizzy over the past week by the behaviour of one of England’s most successful and capable batsmen – Kevin Pietersen.
The 32-year old was born in Natal, South Africa to an English mother which enabled him – after serving four years as a county cricketer – to play for her country of birth.
‘KP’ is a brilliant cricketer – but has somehow never quite lived up to his promise. Brilliant he is but great he may never be.
And now he has blotted his copybook – perhaps irreversibly– by Twittering some off-colour tweets to members of the touring South Africa test team, allegedly about his England (and English) team members. Not good form, not good at all.
The ins and outs of this are still being verified, but Pietersen was dropped for the final test match – a crucial series-decider. England lost and South Africa claimed the spot as the world’s number one.
Being dropped by England meant that Pietersen was free to return to his day-job – as a professional cricketer for his county side Surrey.
And so it was he appeared in a limited 40-over one-day match against Hampshire in Southampton on Sunday 19 August. Sadly for Pietersen there is no love lost between himself and the Hampshire supporters, stemming from the circumstances in which he left the side for Surrey a few years back.
This lack-of-love was intensified when he walked out to the crease by the England shenanigans; meaning he became the first top flight professional cricketer, in my experience, to be booed on his way out to bat.
Of course KP could have swatted this away easily by notching up an imperious 100. Instead he was out first ball – a golden duck. And in spectacular style – clean bowled, the wicket exploding in a cloud of bails and sticks. Cue the sound of middle-aged cricket fans cheering from Southampton to the Scottish borders.
It was great theatre, but not really good form – not quite cricket.