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Simon Barnes: The England cricket team is playing out Don Giovanni

27 July 2014

Simon Barnes has written the diary in this week’s issue of The Spectator. Here are his opening two paragraphs:

‘Sport is like love: it can only really hurt you if you care. Or for that matter, bring joy. You can’t explain sport, any more than you can explain the Goldberg Variations: you either get it or you don’t. So it can be hard to justify a life spent among bats and balls and leaping horses. I spent 32 years writing about sport for the Times, the last 12 as chief sportswriter, all of which comes to an close at the end of this month when I become News International’s latest economy, doomed to wander Fleet Street (is it still there?) wearing a luggage label that reads ‘Please look after this bear’. What shall I write about in my last week? The usual trivia of the sporting round: triumph and disaster, victory and defeat, leadership and betrayal, revenge and counter-revenge, strength and weakness, hubris and its chastisement, hatred, horror, honour, joy and glory: all acted out in front of me. The news pages of every newspaper are about cover-ups: in sport your subject is emotionally stark naked in front of you. A sportswriter is never without a big subject.


The betrayal stuff mostly comes from the England cricket team. Last week there was a concert of sporty music at the Proms, and I did a bit of stuff for the BBC on the medium my father calls the wah‑liss. I realised in the course of this that the operatic themes that have dominated the England team for the past three years are pure Don Giovanni: Kevin Pietersen in the title role, Alastair Cook as the virginal betrayed Zerlina and Andrew Strauss as the equally betrayed and now vengeful Donna Elvira. There’s even a part for Piers Morgan, KP’s eternal Leporello, faithfully cataloguing every triumph.’

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  • ADW

    Rise of the blogosphere and all the free garbage out there means that it is becoming nigh on impossible to make a living – or at least the traditional sort of living – as a hack. Meaning decent writers such as Simon Barnes (not that I agreed with or enjoyed everything he wrote) will probably never go into journalism to begin with.

  • Chubby Green

    Good to see Alistair Cook doing well today.

  • rtj1211

    Sport is only stark naked if it has the innocence of a new born baby.

    When spot fixers abound, sport is cloaked in variable amounts of trying. Losing a set at tennis. Missing a penalty at football. Throwing a frame at snooker.

    You know it happens. Sometimes more than others. Even at the biggest events on the globe.

  • MaxSceptic

    Hire him (again). Ideally to replace his inept replacement.

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