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

27 July 2014

2:03 PM

27 July 2014

2:03 PM

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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Show comments
  • 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.