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August 12, 2012

England cricket

No winners after loss of trust

Jarrod Kimber
Andrew Strauss, Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen observe England's net session, Abu Dhabi, January, 24, 2012
There have been plenty of faults on both sides of the Pietersen debate  © AFP
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It's a shame, that at least for the short term, the ECB and Kevin Pietersen aren't together anymore. They do seem to deserve each other right now.

One party drops certain players based on derogatory private texts they haven't seen, and another releases a hammy video the night before a selection decision instead of just making a call, or sending a text.

Right now the sticking point seems to be that KP may or may not have sent a derogatory text to the South Africans. He's not publicly stated that the texts weren't derogatory. And the ECB have had enough.

And as Hugh Morris says: "The success of the England team has been built on a unity of purpose and trust."

Trust is the key word there.

When KP walked into meeting after meeting with the ECB only for his private communications to be leaked to the media, where was the trust then? Where was the unity? What was the purpose?

No ECB employees or board members were dropped for their behaviour.

And I'm no KP sympathizer. KP has played this as badly as he has ever played any left-arm finger spinner. Publicly, he's looked like a buffoon. Privately, he's whinged and moaned. And in meetings about his future he's been naïve and bullish (if you believe the leaked information). Almost every piece of action he has taken has been easily mocked by his critics. And this is a man of many critics.

Yet, for all his faults and missteps and badly premeditated actions, the reason for him not playing in this next Test is a private communication between him and a friend. A member of the opposition, perhaps, but a member of the opposition that he smashed around the park last weekend.

KP has essentially been suspended for doing what every single one of us has done in our life, complained to a friend about our boss.

It seems about as petty a reason to drop someone as you can find. He didn't break the law, he didn't publicly abuse anyone, and he performed at the absolute maximum of his abilities, he just also had a private sulk.

What of other private communications? Should Giles Clarke, Andy Flower and Hugh Morris state publicly that in no conversations with anyone, via text, email or over the phone have they ever said anything derogatory about Kevin Pietersen? Trust.

Or should they just announce that in a show of good faith they are instigating an independent inquiry into who leaked the information?

We all make mistakes, and both sides have made a meal of this consistently, so why not just have a meeting with the aggrieved parties and let them chat about it. Keep the details of the meeting private. Let those upset by possible naughty texts explain why. And let those who feel that he can't trust his employers to confront them, and perhaps even apologise for being a bit of a tool at times.

I doubt he's the only player in this English team to complain about Strauss, Flower, Giles, Morris or the selectors. Has anyone checked Graeme Swann's phone to see what he told his friends after being dropped for the last Test? Or did he even test the trust of the team when he released an autobiography that criticised Samit Patel and Pietersen?

The treatment of Patel in Sri Lanka was not exactly all about trust and unity, now was it? Maybe even Strauss, in a moment of madness and completely out of character for him, said a mildly derogatory not expletive-laden comment to a friend about KP over the last week. Strauss and Flower are proud and intelligent men who have succeeded in life and lead men well.

Are they really so easily upset by the fact that their most enigmatic and highly strung player might not always love them?

There isn't an office, art collective, acappella group, or community farm in the world that doesn't have people who at one time or another don't get along. It's what happens in jobs when more than a few people work together. You're brought together to do a job, it's nice when you make friends at work, but regardless of what Christian ads from the mid 90s showed, we don't always get along. What people generally do is work around personalities and just get the job done regardless.

Let's not say that sport is different. Shane Warne openly despised his coach; there was no need for texts. Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant hated each other as they won three straight championships. Their hatred even has a wiki page. But they made it through. And Victoria Pendleton hasn't always pleased her team-mates.

The ECB has to recognize that it's their job to manage their players, KP's failure is their failure too.

The ECB has decided to put the personal squabbles first. Only they know how bad this rift is, until they leak it. But by overlooking their own mistakes and focusing on the real or imagined ones of KP it is leading their team into a must win Test match without their in-form match-winner.

It's not just trust in Morris' sentence. It's unity of purpose as well. To be the best in the world. And because of their own and KP's actions, the lack of trust has led to them abandoning their best chance of winning this Test and staying on top of the rankings.

The ECB want to be No. 1 in the world, KP wants to be a legend. Surely they're both more likely to do this together than apart.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Keywords: Administration, Controversy, Player management

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Louis Tevet on (August 16, 2012, 21:02 GMT)

Why can't he just turn up and play like everyone else. Play something you enjoy, are brilliant at, adulated for and for which you are exceptionally well paid. What's the problem.

Posted by Rob Douglas on (August 14, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

An article of absolute rubbish. You brush aside your key point -`a member of the opposition perhaps` in discussing who he sent his text to. Thats EXACTLY the problem. Warne, Gayle, Lara or whoever have been openly critical of their bosses in the past have NOT done so by contacting the opposition. Its unacceptable, unethical and typical of a selfish, attention seeking big head who thinks any team he plays for is beneath him - Natal,Notts,Hampshire etc. COME ON ENGLAND!!

Posted by Nicholas Cricket on (August 14, 2012, 18:14 GMT)

Thanks to Mr. Kimber for the long awaited balanced view. KP needs to grow up and let his bat do the talking. Twitter is for twits with nothing better to do with their time. Clearly South Africa has the best test team in international cricket at this point. They knew that to a man going in. To be a true number 1 team you need to be able to beat the opposition in their own back yard on a consistent basis. most top teams win at home so that's' really nothing to write home about.

This England line up has peaked and rebuilding for the future cannot come a moment too soon. Strauss has done well but he knows his days are numbered,as are several of his team-mates (most notably Swann) having been ground in to the dirt by the absurdly hectic and unremitting schedule that the ECB has bought into. Even Flower and Stauss have complained, albeit timidly, in public about that. So no blame there for KP.

England will be great again sooner or later as will Australia. That's the way it goes.

Posted by Sunny on (August 14, 2012, 17:45 GMT)

If KP had played for India , he would be treated as a icon player . How can Ecb let go player of such class out of the team. KP u are a legend , miss u if don't play any more for England .

Posted by David Whitng on (August 14, 2012, 17:42 GMT)

There’s a world of difference between a discreet text to your mate at work about your boss and a text to members of the opposition in a Test match; especially when those opponents are former compatriots and you are moaning about your current captain. With England under the pump in this game, and KP the only one performing, it was a sensationally naive thing to do. You’re right that it’s the last straw, but it was an unusually heavy one. SA, if they have any sense, will make room for a swift return. He's the best batsman in the world, and needs to be playnig for his home nation. Just a small problem with removing a tattoo.

Posted by SJ on (August 14, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

Agree with the article -- ECB head honchos should be flogged for their school bully tactics

Whats funny is that this is the English team sacking a South African over his assumed negative comments about another South African and a Zimbabwean

Can KP still theoretically play test cricket for SA?

Posted by Thetruth on (August 14, 2012, 16:01 GMT)

lets see how well SA would do without their mercenary Tahir, will they revert back to their other mercenary Harris who is from Zimbabwe. SA cannot produce spinners of a good enough calibre

Posted by Merri on (August 14, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

Three centuries ago, somebody in England revived the idea -born in Hatti- that one is considered innocent until proven otherwise. Apparently this doesn't hold anymore when the prosecutor is the ECB. They should bear the onus of proving KP made some derogatory comment.

Three questions : 1) Who did pretend KP made derogatory comments ? 2) In this proven ? 3) Who will profit from the ensuing mess ?

You might say I'm making gratuitous accusations here, and I am - just as the ECB is.

Posted by PK on (August 14, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

England first imports these players and then don't know how to manage them just like you import an expensive car from abroad and simply don't know how to maintain it.If a person can leave his country of birth he can easily leave the new country for some better options.

Posted by Pieter on (August 14, 2012, 14:03 GMT)

Excellent article. However I feel it is about time KP got brought into line, he has a history of tweeting and texting that irked his employers and gets him into trouble every time. However, a good old fashioned dressing down would have worked wonders, but to drop their best batsmen (by a long way) is totally ridiculous, and that on the eve of such an important test match !!!

Then again KP has had a falling out with Natal, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire, England ..... who will be next, the Delhi Daredevils?

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