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A tale of two book launches

Cricketer Kevin Pietersen during a book launch at Waterstones Canary Wharf, Jubliee Place. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Cricketer Kevin Pietersen during a book launch at Waterstones Canary Wharf, Jubliee Place. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

PA Wire

Not sure what Kevin Pietersen is going to put on his mantlepiece this Christmas – it certainly won’t be cards.

Hardly on track, is it?

You have to admire the way speedway works, if only for the novelty value.

King’s Lynn fans get to Poole for the second leg of the play-off semi-final. It’s been pouring, the track is clearly not fit for racing. Yet fans have to wait and wait until after the start time to find out it has been postponed. Even when our chap in Poole, Gavin Caney, was packing up his laptop and making his way to the pits to get some reaction, the fans hadn’t been told.

It took another 15 minutes, as they sat in the cold and wet, before they were informed.

In truth, if it had been a regular season meeting, the suggestion is it would have been called off in time to prevent people travelling, or at least getting all the way to Poole.

Once again, the fans suffer. Speedway should have grasped the nettle ages ago and employed someone to market their sport. Instead, it stumbles from season to season and can only sit and watch as the best riders head to the best clubs - in Europe.

The former England batsman – because that is surely what he will remain for the rest of his natural – has gone head to head with Mr Angry, AKA Roy Keane, this week in an effort to sell the story of what appears to be their tawdry lives.

Keane won’t mind about the lack of cards – he probably rips them to shreds with his bare teeth at the letter box before his dog can get to them anyway.

Thing is, we all know about Keane. We know he’s a hard case, we know he has deliberately injured a fellow professional, we know he grows a beard at half-time rather than sucking on an orange. And we know that it doesn’t matter who he upsets, it won’t bother him, even if it is a pensioner who used to be his boss.

Pietersen is a different beast. He’s more a pussycat, which is why, even after a litany of run-ins with authorities, his claims in his book have more than a hint of fantasy about them.

Pietersen has claimed he was bullied inside the England dressing room – although I praise him for differentiating between cricket bullying and the much nastier form which has worse and longer lasting effects. He claims Matt Prior, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad orchestrated feelings against him. He claims loads of things. But perhaps most bizarre is the claim that he can play for England again.

Not on your nelly, Kev.

It doesn’t matter if all of his claims prove to be true, Pietersen has upset the establishment, and once you do that, there is no turning back.

He has also cast doubt in so many people’s minds: some people, including fellow players, are backing him, others are rubbishing his stories.

There’s the difference again. Pietersen has cast doubt. Keane hasn’t. There isn’t much to argue over with Keane: it is all out there and factual. Pietersen has the air of gossip about it.

The truth is, it’s been a new low for cricket and football this week. Cricket has enough problems, with gambling and match fixing, while football just doesn’t need any more controversy; it’s hard to know where to start with the game that was once so simple but is now so driven by money that it’s hard to see where real life ends and fantasy begins.

A bit like Pietersen’s book, really.

Dyke’s wires are crossed

Greg Dyke doesn’t have to do much to infuriate me and his suggestion that the next England manager could well be a foreigner does nothing to change my mind that he isn’t the man I want to see in charge of our national game.

For someone who is trying his best to disrupt the lower divisions of the Football League by enabling Premier clubs to run reserve teams alongside Northampton and Bury and the like in order to improve the national team, he has shown scant disregard for the development of English coaches.

I tip every English manager dreams of one day managing his country, in much the same way as a player does (or should do).

So Dyke’s manager comments contradict what should be set in stone at the FA. Also, an England team should be made up of England players and staff. Otherwise it is not truly representative of the country,

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