England cricket August 12, 2012

No winners after loss of trust

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

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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