I like a good conspiracy theory. Most of the ones I have heard are wrong, so I thought it worthwhile making up my own conspiracy theory. It will be wrong of course, but more in an improbable ‘grassy knoll’ sort of a way than the plain stupid ‘faked moon landings’ variety. Here goes:
There is a secret agreement between some England players and the ECB to ensure that these star players are picked as much as possible. Why would there be such an agreement? The answer is of course, the root of all
evil T20 cricket: ‘money’. The logic goes something like this: earlier in the year there was a huge amount of press coverage concerning the IPL and in particular the auctioning of players and the large quantities of money they could make for fairly small amounts of work. This, of course, is fantastic if you are an International cricketer who can be well rewarded for years of hard work. All this is provided you are not an English (or English-sort-of-ish) International player – if you are then you are going to miss out on the bonanza because of central contracts and up-coming matches. I would expect a lot complaining about this, why should the England players miss out? What complaining did we get? Virtually none. The odd small comment was made but England players made little of it and came out of it smelling all virtuous and not-at-all money grabbing. I contend that is because a deal had already been done in ECB backrooms. A deal that ensures England’s top players get preferential selection treatment and on the understanding that all the key players will be at Antigua on November 1st to earn mega-bucks. In the light of these ‘revelations’ a few recent events make sense:
- The constant and unswerving selection of poor, out-of-form batsmen – however badly they do. If they are in on the deal, they are in the team – period.
- The selection of Darren Pattinson. We cannot risk picking someone like Simon Jones who may do well and force out of the ‘key’ bowlers. Pick someone we can unequivocally drop.
- Do not let Strauss or Cook play in the T20 finals. They are not in the England T20 squad and so it would be very dangerous to let them play in the finals. If they did well they may force their way into the existing squad and that would ruin ‘the deal’. Make up some lame excuse like ‘they are tired’ which we can also use in point 4.
- Replace Stuart Broad who tops the series batting averages with Paul Collingwood who has no runs, at all, this year. Use the same ‘tired’ excuse and if there is doubt also say that he has been dropped for his bowling. <special sarcasm mode>This makes perfect sense because Paul Collingwood is a world class opening bowler despite needing a shoulder operation. As part of a five man bowling attack he will be able to take strain from Andrew Flintoff. He was mighty in the T20 semi-final (didn’t bowl) </special sarcasm mode>. They couldn’t drop Broad for his batting of course…
- Bring in Harmison to the squad and then get rid of him. The people who hate him are happy. The people who like him are happy because it looks like he may get back in the selection frame. He won’t of course because they cannot risk him doing well.
I have been telling people this conspiracy for a while, somewhat tongue in-cheek; the trouble is everything that happens just seems to confirm it. According to the theory they need Collingwood in the Test side because non-selection would cast doubts on his ability to captain the one-day side and risk guaranteed selection for the Stanford game. The fact they have picked him after a single game away, having done virtually nothing in the interim, is staggering. Vaughan said this:
“Colly's obviously struggled of late, but he averages over 40 in Test-match cricket with a double-hundred," said Vaughan. "His fielding, his energy, and his bowling on this type of wicket could be useful if it swings. He's just a good man to have around the team, because he's very mature and a good thinker of the game. He knows he needs to start scoring runs, as a few of us do, but it's good to have him back in among the ranks.”
A ringing endorsement – a certain pick. Is that all they could come up with? Earlier in the week we were ‘prepared’ for his inclusion with this statement (I think from Geoff Miller):
"Paul Collingwood was unlucky to miss out on a place in the team for the second Test match but this decision was based on a number of factors. He has shown what a true professional he is by returning to Durham over the past week and playing well for his county."
What a trouper, he actually played cricket for Durham.
If we assume I am wrong for a moment (silly I know), can you come up with a better reason for the five events and statements? You are not allowed to use the ECB incompetence wildcard, that has been used far too often…