August 14, 2012

South Africa in England 2012

South Africa's only problem has been keeping a straight face

Akhila Ranganna

In the Guardian, Vic Marks writes that the South Africans had cleverly jettisoned the man they feared the most, Kevin Pietersen, for the final Test by gently leaking that one or two of their players had been in receipt of text messages from him.

The assumption is that the Pietersen texts were derogatory about some of his colleagues and in particular his captain, which is none too edifying. But the notion that Pietersen is the first cricketer to slag off his captain – or coach — to opponents or anyone else is, of course, a complete nonsense. This has been happening to captains (and, more recently, coaches) since Grace. Peter Roebuck once wrote on this subject: "Captaincy seems to involve half-hearing conversations which you'd rather not hear at all."

"It’s fair to say it’s been a strange week and it’s been hard to get away from all the distractions revolving around Kevin Pietersen," writes Stuart Broad in his column in the Daily Mail. But, he goes on to say, England have to be mentally strong and get away from all the hullabaloo.

I know we will lose our world No 1 status if we do not win this Test but that is definitely not something we are thinking about, because that can affect us if we look too far forward at things like that

We certainly don’t need any extra motivation. This is a big, big game and we need to make sure we hit the ground running and get on with the important matter of winning it. Then everything else that has happened this week can be forgotten.

An editorial in the Guardian says the England selectors, in dropping Pietersen – the Man of the Match in the last Test – have put the team first.

Andy Wilson, writing in the same newspaper, cites previous examples of Pietersen's relationships with his employers - at Nottinghamshire and Hampshire - concluding he might just be "unmanageable".

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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