Andrew Flintoff (right) launched a sensational attack on Michael Atherton (left) by slamming him, â Heâ s a pr*ck, a f*cking pr*ck. He sits there making judgments on players that are much better than he ever was. Believe me, heâ s a pr*ck.â © Getty Images
Cricket and celebrity collided like a rhino’s balls as weekly uber culture gossip site Popbitch included an item it its weekly email claiming that renowned leather and willow nut, Mick Jagger, owned a life-size cardboard cut-out of a cricketer. They didn’t know who, but given the Rolling Stones front man’s holiday home in the Windward Isles, I would dearly love to think it was St. Lucia’s own Darren Sammy. Alternatively, as Jagger is also known for being somewhat vainglorious, he perhaps prefers his lounge to be adorned with a player in his own image and the scurrilous might suggest that when it comes to looking pretty and strutting about pouting with hands on hips there is one leading contender in the present England side. You can’t always get want you want when it comes to DRS reviews, Stupot.
Comfortably the most encapsulating picture of Britain’s good points ever taken.
When Jagger accepted his knighthood back in 2003 it caused an almighty row with Stones guitarist and walking ear trinket tree, Keith Richards, who felt such establishment pandering was ill-befitting of a member of a group that had done so much to rail against society’s stuffy conventions. He said he didn’t want to perform with someone wearing a “coronet and sporting the old ermine” and told the singer it was a “paltry honour”, which is a very urbane manner of criticism and no less damning for it.
This week, however, Andrew Flintoff took a rather earthier approach to workplace spats by saying of his former Lancashire and England colleague, Michael Atherton: ‘He’s a pr*ck, a f*cking pr*ck. He sits there making judgments on players that are much better than he ever was. Believe me, he’s a pr*ck.’ Speaking to a journalist at a Sky TV shindig – who actually offered him the chance to go off the record which he declined – Fred continued: ‘How can he talk about a player like Alastair Cook who is 10 times the player he ever was? He has a much bigger average and will go on and on. Atherton averaged in the 30s for England yet he feels he can judge others.’
There are three issues here.
First is on the subjective matter of whether, indeed, Michael Atherton is a ‘pr*ck’ and, although Fred’s views are clearly heartfelt and possibly expressed with typically fluid candour, I cannot agree. If someone falls between the parameters of Andy Parsons and Pepe, they’re a prick. And Atherton is nowhere near.
Second is the idea that only the greats have the right to offer opinions and, whilst obviously having the virtue of sparing us the tumbleweed awkward silence-inducing analysis of particular former Essex and Warwickshire openers, rather falls down on the basis that it prevents all but about fifty people on the planet from expressing a viewpoint on cricket.
Third is that averaging in the 30s – 37.69 in Atherton’s case – when playing Tests for the rickety comedy roadshow that was 1990s England against Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath and the ECB and Ray Illingworth doesn’t deserve to be quite so summarily dismissed by Flintoff.
It’s a storm in a tea-cup, a mere piffling trifle and a nothing, but it does go to show that whether wandering out to sea to nick a pedalo, not far from Sir Mick’s house, at the 2007 World Cup or blathering to a journalist at a drinks bash, being a midnight rambler always seems to leave, Fred stuck between a rock and a hard place.
(James Marsh is a TEFL teacher based in the Czech Republic, although his real occupation is alienating those close to him by wallowing on statsguru. He blogs on cricket at Pavilion Opinions and can be found on Twitter at @PavilionOpinion)