As we approach the new season, feeling continues to run high (on Twitter , at any rate) concerning l’affaire KP. It seems that our hero may be turning out on the County circuit for Surrey and some of the more vociferous pro-KP elements have announced their intention to boycott England’s fixtures in favour of, presumably, providing him with a travelling claque of the kind that sometimes accompany operatic divas.
If he goes through with this plan (and I’m not holding my breath until he appears at Grace Road in Division 2 of the County Championship) there will be a certain irony involved, in that one of the reasons he is so disliked in the Shires (as opposed to on the Internet) is precisely because he has never played any significant amount of County cricket (other than for Nottinghamshire, where he was and is cordially loathed). There are players who have emerged in the post-Central Contract era who have played almost as little County cricket, but who still retain a base of affection and respect in their own County (Ian Bell, for instance) : Geoffrey Boycott was almost as divisive in the country at large, but was adored by a proportion, at least, of the Yorkshire membership. Surrey (the best fit for Pietersen, perhaps) offers him a last chance to establish a close relationship with a County following, and it will be interesting to see whether he manages to get through to the end of the season without alienating them as well.
But I wonder whether the pro-KP faction might want to go beyond a boycott of England matches, whether extremist elements (the Pietersen Liberation Organisation?) might want to consider actively disrupting them? In which case they might be interested in this report from “The Times” of 11 May 1970.
“A London University student said yesterday that a plan had been devised to wreck the South African cricket tour with an army of locusts. By the time the tourists arrived 500,000 would be ready for release on cricket pitches so that they would eat the grass, he said.
Mr. David Wilton-Godberdford, a biology student aged 20, already has 50,000 of the insects at his home in Colwyn Bay. He said that friends were also breeding them in secret in other parts of North Wales.
The breeds he intends to use are the desert locust and African migratory locust. They will be up to 1 1/2 inches long, harmless to human beings, and unable to fly.
Mr. Wilton-Godberford, who said he was against violence, explained: “I abhor apartheid and this is to be my personal protest. Anything up to 100,000 locusts will be let loose at a particular ground and I think the plan is foolproof. They will ravage every blade of grass and green foliage. So that their insatiable appetites will not be impaired they will not be fed for 24 hours before the moment of truth.
It takes 70,000 hoppers 12 minutes to consume one cwt. of grass. The crack of a solid army of locusts feeding on the grass will sound like flames. The South Africans are going to dread this trip; they will see more locusts than they have ever done back home.”
He said the insects would probably die within a month because of the climate and certainly before their wings developed.”
In the face of this dreadful threat, the Home Secretary caved in and called the Tour off 11 days later. So, if the Friends of KP have time to cook up 500,000 locusts in time for the first Test, we should see him back in his rightful place in time to face Sri Lanka.
(I have tried to find out what happened to the inventive Mr. Wilton-Godberford, but the best I can do is that he might have changed the spelling of his name slightly, moved to Australia and made a valiant effort to interest the Koreans in solar hot water systems) http://www.solarhotwatersystems.com.au/solar-hot-water-systems-articles/1992/11/14/cool-to-koreas-trade-winds/