Cow Corner

ECB and KP in a fine mess

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18 May: Kevin Pietersen tweets: "Can somebody PLEASE tell me how Nick Knight has worked his way into the commentary box for Home Tests?? RIDICULOUS!!"

23 May: The ECB fines Pietersen an undisclosed amount for the above tweet after a hearing. A statement reads: "The hearing considered recent comments made by Pietersen on Twitter to be prejudicial to the interests of the ECB and a breach of the England player conditions of employment in relation to clauses regarding public statements."

Pietersen has spent the last seven years with England athletically alternating between the nation's cricketing saviour and the whipping boy.

While injudicious shots and the occasional ill-judged pronouncement have landed him in hot water before, this incident is less Twitter storm and more a storm in a teacup.

An England cricketer will often need a sense of diplomacy and restraint, but there is no reason that should extend to not voicing an opinion on commentators.

It is, by this extension of logic, "prejudicial to the interests of the ECB" for Pietersen not to care for Nick Knight's commentary.

Perhaps it is just as well the likes of ECB Chairman Giles Clarke, managing director of England cricket Hugh Morris (who famously compared sportsmen going on Twitter to 'giving a machine gun to a monkey') and even Andy Flower are not on Twitter. If they were, they would find no shortage of England fans saying things about Knight which are, by the same token, considerably more "prejudicial to the interests of the ECB".

But this debate is not about about Knight's abilities as a broadcaster — a debate, incidentally, which has been put on hold for this Test as Australian Shane Warne has flown in to cover the second Test, demoting Knight to a stint at Hove covering a CB40 game, in what looks a little bit like commentary adopting the Kolpak rule. Why shouldn't cricketers be able to have their right of reply to the commentators they hear critiquing their performances?

And even if we accept that Pietersen's words were inappropriate, then what to make of this tweet from Stuart Broad during the Sri Lanka tour in April?

"@StuartBroad8: Time to mute Sky. Wheres @BumbleCricket [David Lloyd] when you need him"

Perhaps the ECB can convene a review panel to establish what it is about Broad's tweet that did not prejudice their interests, and which aspects of Pietersen's did. Or perhaps it should save itself and let this one go.

Besides which — and this is perhaps the most pertinent point of all — would it not be prejudicial to the ECB's interests to have two-dimensional cricketers whose only media appearances are limited to platitudes about "working to our plans" or "taking the positives"? We can't bemoan the lack of characters in the game on one hand and then fine them for so little on the other.

A Twitter account does carry a certain responsibility, particularly for sportsmen. And official sporting bodies are, in general, very keen that they keep a vice-like grip on what information and opinion goes out to the public.

To take an amusing example from this week, consider the case of Jen Chang, who has switched jobs from Senior Football Editor at Sports Illustrated to Liverpool's Corporate Relations and Communications Director.

Confirming the news, Chang tweeted: "Beyond that, my Twitter feed will be changing going forward. I'll still be on here but obviously won't be expressing opinion anymore."

Pietersen has been fined, and with Twitter remaining a relatively new medium, it is understandable that the rules are embryonic and occasionally the wrong verdict will be reached.

And, no matter what else, the only place left to Pietersen to issue a riposte is on the field.

England will be counting on Pietersen and company after Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy staged a dramatic comeback on the first day at Trent Bridge, propelling them towards a competitive total and confirming that they have fight and backbone which will mean England need to be at their best to triumph.

KP was punished for what he wrote in 140 characters or less. He could quickly consign this incident to the past with an innings of 140 runs or more...

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