Harty on . . . Pietersen, Strauss and the ECB

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AS FIRST week’s in a new job go, I do wonder if new ECB managing director Andrew Strauss will look back in the future with some regret over the handling of events over the last few days?

I was ‘lucky’ enough to be at the Barbados Test and, clearly, for England to lose in three days to a West Indies side potentially missing eight established Test players is not good.

However, the subsequent sacking of England coach Peter Moores was handled with the same level of diplomacy as a drunken fight in a pub car park.

Moores was present at the Barmy Army’s end of tour evening at the Barbados Yacht Club last Monday, where he took part in a full and frank question and answer session.

He didn’t shirk a single question and was honest in his appraisal of what had been not quite the Caribbean Tour that England would have wanted.

Clearly, even at that point, the ECB knew his time was up. Yet they let him return from Barbados and travel straight to Ireland for some banal one-dayer, that got rained off, with the world and his wife having learned, via the media, that Moores was facing the sack.

In any walk of life, an unsatisfactory situation and, having known Moores during his time at Sussex many years ago, he’s a decent bloke and deserves better.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, the ECB surpassed themselves with the Kevin Pietersen situation.

To recap, incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves had previously publicly stated that if Pietersen passed up the chance to play in the lucrative IPL and instead returned to play county cricket and scored runs, the slate would be wiped clean, paving the way for a possible return to the England team.

Fast forward to this week. KP scores 355 not out in the County Championship for Surrey against Leicestershire. He then met Strauss on Monday night, only to be told there will be no return to the England team this summer as, quote, the trust between the ECB and KP has broken down.

At the same time, Strauss offered KP an advisory role in the England ODI set-up.

Hold on, if the trust has gone, why ‘trust’ him to be involved with the one-day squad?

Cricket is one of our national sports, yet this whole scenario smacks of petty squabbles and hidden agendas. Shouldn’t people at this level of sport and life be above that?

Granted, KP is an acquired taste, but wasn’t Boycott, Botham and perhaps even Flintoff?

We have the best cricketing side on the planet arriving in England next month (and they won’t have eight players missing), for five matches in one of the most famous sporting rivalries in history.

Yet, arguably, we are ruling out one of our best batsmen before a coin has even been tossed.

This whole issue has split English cricket in two. To be honest, while not being his biggest fan, I can’t believe how KP has been treated, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Whether or not Strauss’s words come back to haunt him remains to be seen. But a bad start in the Ashes series, coupled with KP scoring runs for fun with Surrey, will surely re-ignite the debate?

I’ve got the pleasure of compering the annual Worthing Dynamos presentation night at the Assembly Hall tomorrow night, my 17th consecutive year (I was 17 when I started!).

I always enjoy these occasions as, regardless of the level of football these youngsters play, the whole evening is more about celebrating them as good kids

It also gives the parents the chance to show their appreciation to the club officials, managers and coaches, without whom their children wouldn’t have such a rewarding hobby.