August 7, 2012

English cricket

Will the mandarins snuff out Pietersen?

Girish Menon
England's batsmen wait for a net, The Oval, July 17, 2012
There is a bit of the Little Englander culture affecting the treatment of Kevin Pietersen  © Getty Images
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Kevin Pietersen's latest comments, immediately after producing a super human performance in the Headingley Test against South Africa, is a cry for help against the faceless managers of the ECB, who appear hell bent on driving this flamboyant superstar away from English cricket. It appears that Pietersen, like so many illustrious sportsmen before him, appears poised to lose his battle against authority, and English cricket will have driven away another talent while the men in authority continue in their unrepentant ways.

This is a problem not peculiar to team sport and can be found in other areas of endeavour where functional specialists are considered mere commodities and are divorced from managerial decision making. This trend is definitely dominant in the National Health Service and in the education sector, where managers schooled on efficiency ideas interfere in the daily work of trained doctors and teachers.

So why does this problem arise? In this writer's view, the Pietersen problem has arisen because of the ECB's irrational and obsessive pursuit of standardisation of player contracts. Why can't the ECB offer a tailor-made contract to an England player who demands one? Pietersen today is a global brand that definitely deserves a separate contract and should be treated differently from say a Strauss or a Cook. It is high time the ECB recognised Pietersen as another Tendulkar and dealt with him the way the BCCI has done with the Indian maestro.

There is also a bit of the Little Englander culture affecting the treatment of Pietersen. Unlike the melting-pot culture in the US, the English media and selectors have reluctantly admitted but never truly accepted the 'outsider'. In an article on this site, Rob Steen talked about the unique pressures Mark Ramprakash, a player who did not live up to his potential, faced in the England dressing room. The same pressures may have also adversely hounded the performance of Hick, Panesar and Bopara.

Those who refute my Little Englander argument will readily point to the achievements of Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis. Fortunately for these athletes they excelled in sporting areas where individual endeavour was all important and so they were cocooned from the team pressures faced by 'outsider' cricketers like Ramps.

Pietersen's experience as team captain is an excellent example of a man who was not given a fair chance at the helm of the team. Pietersen's personality may be brash, cocky and arrogant, but he is an exciting batsman who draws in the crowds. Also, as a batsman, he realises that he is only three quick dismissals away from being ousted from the team. So he needs to make the maximum amount of money to help him lead the rest of his long life.

So I do not grudge him his mercenary attitude, instead I demand that the mandarins in the ECB should offer him an individual, tailor-made contract. He is a pleasure in full flow in a team that has to otherwise rely on Matt Prior to score quick runs. So power to you Pietersen!

Selection

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Posted by Girish Menon on (August 16, 2012, 6:54 GMT)

It's been nearly 10 days since I wrote this piece and it appears that there is a ganging up against Pietersen. The writings of Swann, the tweeter friends of Broad and Hales have all been ignored while Pietersen has been dropped from the Lords Test. If this is not the Little Englander in action then what is?

I admit that I missed out the cases of Nasser Hussain and Alan Lamb who did well in the Test team.

And more importantly why has the ECB been unable to solve this problem? So what are the managers doing?

Posted by John Egglestone on (August 14, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

There is a price to pay for a talented cricketer. These days you can have the best team in the world - just pay the right price. KP is the difference in this series with England still being 0 - 1 as opposed to 0 - 2. He is also going to be the reason that it stays either 0 - 1 or becomes 0 -2 instead of 1 - 1. Without him England don't have a chance of retaining the no. 1 spot. And what's the price they had to pay (too late now) - all they had to do was massage his ego. But the toffee nose Old Farts (to quote Will Carling) are too inflexible to do it. That all of England is going to pay in igmony in losing the No 1 status is just tough - at least they can say they kept their ego in tact. How pathetic - they would have won the battle but lost the WAR.

Posted by USMAN ALI KHAN on (August 14, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

LET THE GAME OF CRIC BE THE WINNER....KO DRAWS CROWDS COZ OF HIS EXCITING BATTING AND FLAMBOYANT PERSONALITY....RULES ARE MADE FOR BETTERMENT OF THE TEAM...SO FLEX THE RULES AND ACCOMODATE KP...FLUSH OUT THE UNEASINESS...

GAME NEEDS KP..

Posted by SAZ on (August 13, 2012, 21:44 GMT)

I can see the irritation of some English fans ready to brand KP as a mercenary. If you care to take a closer look these Mercenaries ( KP,Trott,Morgan,Kieswetter,Lumb) have got you where you are. English media and fans will gloat all the time about their number one status but fail to acknowledge the real reason behind their ascent. Without these players England team is as mediocre as 90's team.

Posted by Paul Mathew on (August 13, 2012, 17:02 GMT)

Praps he could get into the Indian team?

Posted by Earl Joseph on (August 13, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

I find that the individuals in charge of most cricket nations are unable to perform at a high level.They all with maybe the exception of S.Africa..and they had their problems... are terrible.W.Indies we all know about.The dismissal of players like Haynes,Lara,Roberts,Gayle.In Australia they want to get rid of Pointing who is still head and shoulder above all except Clarke.Look at how they treat Khawaja.If KP is treated the same as Bell then something is wrong.KP has his faults,but the good players need to be handled different to fringe players.The press were complaining about Bopara and praising Bell in the first test.Bell was plodding along and should of been out for less that Bopara.I do not think that there is one batsman on England's team that other nations fear other than KP.There is a reason for that.

Posted by Bajanguy on (August 13, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

What a ridiculous attempt to justify Pietersen's "attitude" or maybe it is to create discussion. Sir Viv is NOT an example to use, his off-field antics left a lot to be desired, David Gower, Sachin yes. Is it practical to have a special contract for KP? Who 'decides' which other players are 'special'? Silly theory guaranteed to create divisions in the team. Nope KP just has to recognise he is mortal and not expected everyone to give in to his every demand. Grow little fellow, you are talented but there are limits.

Posted by John James on (August 13, 2012, 0:44 GMT)

I think that Hugh Morris and Giles Clarke and the other faceless men who dictate to England cricketers just hate the fact that no one is interested in them but every cricket fan in the world has heard of Pietersen and recognizes his unique talent. The above mentioned gentlemen have not a single test hundred between them and know nothing of the strain of playing top class international cricket day after day in three formats.

Posted by danoz on (August 12, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

people pay money to watch the best cricketers play,not to watch the administrators stuff the standard of test cricket up.

look at chris gayle as soon as he rejoined the west indies he straight away changed the team for the better,who ever kept him out of the game should be sacked.

test cricket and english cricket will suffer if pietersen doesent play,he is one of the best batsmen in the world,one of the best to watch on his day,in world cricket thier are a handful of batsmen who can punish bowling attacks.

pietersen is one of cricket personatilies(characters) which the game needs,warne and gayle are of the same style,usain bolt does the same thing for sprinting.

i do belive in team spirit but i also belive in the individual,and letting team mates be themselves.and enjoying the game and the team

crickets a game about 11 individual performancers.

keep the personal character attacks out of the media,get the officals out of the game.

and focus on winning cricket games

Posted by Sudheer Deoli on (August 11, 2012, 19:35 GMT)

The so called Pride and Prejudice concept of Nationality is debatable after exceeding limits. You feel pride on your achievements based upon your parameters of either individuality or collectivism. Do good which makes you happy, satisfied and be proud. Don't be over egoistic and biased on the things like Nationality, religion and caste. These things are always set before our birth. So cant be jingoistic about being an Englishman, an Indian or an Africans. Pieterson and his decision to play for england breaks that traditional jingoism. So don't make a case of him longing for SA National team. He is not a fool to waste next four years of his life for vying to play for SA team.The problem is due to ECB.

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