As I type I’m watching Kevin Pietersen make his debut for Surrey in the Clydesdale Bank 40. Not even hardened cricket watchers know what the Clydesdale Bank 40 is and until yesterday Kevin didn’t play for Surrey. He announced his transfer by twitter. Then deleted the tweet because swearing your head off isn’t a nice way of saying thank you.
Cricket, it’s fair to say, is not perceived to be having a good time of it. Nobody seriously doubts that the no-ball spot-fixing scandal is anything but the tip of the iceberg and every batting collapse or wayward delivery over the past few decades must now be open to scrutiny. It doesn’t matter that the News of the World scoop was entrapment, the fact is players could be bought. In England you add in a county scene only kept alive by Twenty20 and over by over blogs and as a top-level sport cricket is surely in something approaching crisis.
All of which is, of course, potentially disastrous and producing particularly grim hand-wringing comments in the papers. Either something must be done or something really tough must be done. Let me offer an alternative view: just calm down.
Cricket will survive. No-one’s been to a County Championship match in the last fifty years and yet still it carries on. The Clydesdale Bank 40 is meaningless but Yorkshire won with a 6 last night and it was glorious. Betting scandals come and go – and even if Pakistan were throwing actual games they have still produced some magnificent cricket. Baseball has survived worse and they’re more puritanical about such things in the US.
And to show cricket’s eternal soul, here’s a shot of where cricket really matters – in the club leagues. This isn’t a northern league where it really matters but the Thames Valley League where southerners try their best. This is, of course, Chesham. And a scene similar to this will be played out next summer and the summer after and the summer after …
See eternity large here.