His name is Kevin Pietersen. They call him “KP” but since last Sunday night if you called him “KPee” you would not be wrong. It has been claimed that following the final Test match in the present Ashes series played at the Oval in Surrey, England players including Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad and James Anderson reportedly queued up to relieve themselves on the square while their team-mates cheered. Off-spinner, Graeme Swann, England’s top wicket-taker in the series, tried to impart his own spin on the event, “We did go out to the middle of the pitch, all the lads, drinking beers, singing a few songs and enjoying each other’s company… I think the call of nature might have come once or twice but it was nothing untoward…It was midnight, a private celebration in the middle of the pitch and the ground was dark.” Swann did not say if he tried to create his own Swanee River or Swann Lake and it was clear that nobody was sorry about their Surrey behaviour.
ESPN’s Cricinfo website reported, “The England players have apologised for their celebrations at The Oval after winning the Ashes 3-0 on Sunday. There were reports —neither officially confirmed nor denied—that they had urinated on the pitch but the statement issued via the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Wednesday did not go into the specifics of the incident.” The ECB’s ambiguous statement read, “The England cricket team would like to state that during our celebrations after winning the Ashes at no time was there any intention to disrespect Surrey CCC, The Oval or anyone else involved in the game we love. As a team we pride ourselves on respecting all things cricket including the opposition and the grounds we play at. We got carried away amongst the euphoria of winning such a prestigious series and accept that some of our behaviour was inappropriate. If that has caused any offence to anyone we apologise for that and want to reassure people that it was a simple error of judgement more than anything else.”
Interestingly, the ECB did not view Monty Panesar’s recent urinary escapade at a Sussex night-club in the same light. He was not included in the England squad in that final Test match and was replaced instead by another left-arm spinner, Simon Kerrigan, who went wicketless in the first innings (0 for 53 in 8 overs or an economy rate of 6.62) and did not bowl in the second. Panesar has 164 test wickets at an economy rate of 2.75. The ECB’s behaviour is understandable if we take into consideration a recent statement by the top England batsman in the series, Ian Bell. In describing the difference between his batting style and KPee’s, he said, “He cuts, I pull. He flicks it, I drive it.” In other words, different strokes for different folks.
Fortunately for those of us who love the game and respect its traditions, the ECB’s spinelessness was neither universal nor tolerated. Shane Warne, the greatest spin-bowler of all time, spun the incident differently. Writing in the Mail Online, Mike Dawes said, “Australia great Shane Warne has called England ‘crass’ and ‘arrogant’ following reports that a number of players urinated on the pitch at the Kia Oval following the fifth Ashes Test. Australian journalists present at the ground wrote eyewitness reports of England players relieving themselves on the pitch to loud cheers during late night celebrations that followed a 3-0 series win.” Warne is quoted as saying, “‘Unfortunately, the way people are judged these days it’s best to celebrate within the confines of the dressing room. Stay in there as long as you like, get as drunk as you like if that is what you want to do and enjoy your team-mates and the moment. But to go and disrespect something as ancient as the Oval pitch in such an unnecessary and crass way is a pretty ordinary and arrogant thing to do, I wonder also if the opposition was mentioned too?”
I would not be surprised. As Dawes said, “It would not be the first time such a practice, however unsavoury, has been observed by a victorious cricket team but the incident has nevertheless attracted significant debate.” Nick Hoult of the Telegraph recalled, “In 2005 the England players famously celebrated winning the Ashes against the great Australian side with a mammoth drinking session after the match which culminated in a reception at Downing Street with Tony Blair where it later emerged one of the players urinated in the Prime Minister’s garden.” It was reported that Cameron was not amused. In fact, he too was pissed.
David Hopps of ESPN Cricinfo, in a witty commentary on England’s “wee” party, wrote, “But judging by reports from Australian journalists, who arguably represent more dangerous opponents to England than their team, England’s players, who are well practiced in zipping up their mouths in an era of cautious media comments, may now have to receive training in zipping up their trousers…Certainly England’s weak bladders provided final justification for all those toilet breaks, but were there other more worrying explanations? Was it an indication of what England’s players think of the dry surfaces on which they have won the Ashes series—surfaces which suited them but which often demanded laborious cricket? Australians scoffed that this was the first watering England’s Test pitches had had for months. Were they paying homage in a strange fashion to the antics of Monty Panesar, whose place in England’s Ashes squad for the return series is in jeopardy because he urinated from on high on a Brighton nightclub bouncer?
Or were they simply marking out their territory after dismissing Australia 3-0 in the five-Test series? It is common in cats, especially male cats. Neutering is often proposed as a solution.”
Perhaps the best solution comes from an old song, “If you ha’ pee and you know it, and you really want to show it, if you ha’ pee and you know it clap your hands.”
*Tony Deyal was last seen saying that one solution proposed to the ECB was to fire the entire team from captain to cook. It was rejected because, in this case, Cook is the captain.