England's Pietersen dilemma

England players innocent in Twitter send-up

Documentation seen by ESPNcricinfo proves that the parody Twitter account @KevPietersen24 is not managed by a player despite Pietersen's suspicions to the contrary

George Dobell

August 8, 2012

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Kevin Pietersen enjoyed his 21st Test century, England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 3rd day, August 4, 2012
The real Kevin Pietersen, celebrating his century in the Headingley Test © Getty Images
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Kevin Pietersen's suspicions that a parody Twitter feed mocking him comes from the England dressing room are unfounded.

Documentation seen by ESPNcricinfo proves that the parody twitter account @KevPietersen24 is not managed by a player. While it is true that the individual behind it knows some England players quite well, it would be misleading to suggest they are being fed information or have an agenda other than humour. None of the England players knows who is behind the account.

Those behind the account are revelling in their notoriety. "You know you're a genius when you are getting column inches during the Olympics," one tweet said. "KP tried scoring hundreds but this is far easier." They later assured their followers that no England player was involved.

Information that no England player is involved in the account should end suggestions that have been floated that an England player could potentially be guilty of workplace bullying.

For all that, perhaps the episode does highlight the uncomfortable relationship between Pietersen and several senior England players that has built up in the over the last few years and that can now no longer be explained away by routine expressions of support.

The fact that Pietersen thought the account, which lampoons his sometimes self-aggrandising comments, might be the work of team mates speaks volumes of his increasing isolation within the squad.

Pietersen is understood to have instructed lawyers to shut down the account and, after a period of suspension, it was reactivated with a new avatar that no longer bore Pietersen's image.

It is telling, too, that the account has been followed by several England players, including Matt Prior, James Taylor, Graeme Swann, Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan, though Taylor has recently 'unfollowed.' While that might support the view that some in the dressing room are sharing a joke at Pietersen's expense, it is worth noting that even Pietersen himself has retweeted some comments made by the feed.

The ECB will not and cannot act against the parody account. While they did successfully instruct lawyers to act against a spoof Ian Bell account in 2009, the @KevPietersen24 feed is felt to be an obvious parody and is felt to have breached no law or Twitter regulation.

Some might conclude that Pietersen's somewhat heavy-handed response to it betrays a certain humourlessness that may be one of the reasons he finds himself an increasingly isolated figure in the England dressing room. His spells at Natal, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire also all ended under something of a cloud.

Pietersen is far from the only player to inspire a parody twitter account. Andrew Strauss, the England captain, has one. The difference in those cases is that the individuals have tended to laugh along with the joke or, in the case of Strauss, rise above them.

But such is Pietersen's state of mind that he has added the Twitter account to a list of the injustices that he must face. Following the leaks about his contract talks and the fine for his own Twitter comments about Nick Knight, this issue underlines his increasing discomfort within the England set-up.

As he said in Monday's bizarre press conference "It's not easy being me." While such comments are easy to mock the fact is that, wherever the fault may lie, there is a real danger than unless there is a concerted effort by all concerned to reintegrate Pietersen, he may well drift away forever, convincing himself as he turns to a life on the T20 circuit that he has been wronged.

News that he will not face disciplinary charges from the ECB as a result of his press conference at the end of the Headingley Test will come as scant relief.

Stuart Broad, England's pace bowler, was dismissive of Pietersen's concerns when he spoke to Sky Sports News.

"If there is a problem, it is important it gets sorted and we take the field at Lord's with 11 guys who want to win for England," he said.

"With the rules, when we get to the ground we hand our phone in at 8am and get it back at 8pm. It would take a bit of genius to tweet from the wicket. It is not a major problem. It is a bit of fun for whoever is doing it and I don't think it is as big a story as the papers are making out.

"We spend virtually every day together, it is thoroughly enjoyable, we have a laugh. There is not a better working environment to go into. You get out of bed to go and play with your mates for your country. It is one of the biggest honours you could ever have and within that changing room everyone values that."

Perhaps the absurdity of the episode was perhaps best highlighted when a parody of Richie Benaud tweeted: "These parody accounts are a nuisance and damaging the game I love. RB." It was a parody parodying a parody. We live in confusing times.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by jezzastyles on (August 11, 2012, 23:31 GMT)

KP, if you keep sticking your chin out, somebody's going to land one on you. You've got a loud mouth and like hogging the limelight, so get over it. Every man & his dog realises it's not actually you making these comments. As for the poster being known to some ENG players - where there's smoke there's usually fire.

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 11, 2012, 14:46 GMT)

Fine sentiments Chennai_Voice, I too started watched cricket earlier than I have been told I did with Boycott, Gower, Lillee, Holding,Gavaskar and Both just a few prominent figure among. The pitches than were more competitive with more for the bowlers. To put an unbiased angle on it, and without being detrimental to any Indian players heaven forbid, current England batsmen with averages around 50 (Bell, KP, Trott) would have had to work a lot harder to get runs and the bowling attacks were truly potent. I have loved test cricket since seeing Graham Gooch in his white helmet when I was about 7 but he didn't get 10,000 runs so he must have been rubbish

Posted by Chennai_Voice on (August 11, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

@nikhilmjain - FYI.. The GREAT has made his debut in 1989 where I have been watching cricket at least 10 years before that. I grew up watching greats like IVR, Lloyd, Kapil, Sunny, Hadlee, etc. I have seen many legends playing and it was delightful to watch. For you the cricket is just what this selfish "GREAT" plays. Dont get carried away by the glorified records. Chennai people love the cricket as a game and admire it. They dont get carried away by a single player. They admire the greatest innings Saeed Anwar played his record innings in Chepauk which you wont be able to admire with your little cricketing brain!

Posted by The_bowlers_Holding on (August 11, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

How I am disgracing Chennai people? a very strange sentiment as I believe the great Mikey is from Jamaica and is one of the greatest fast bowlers in history who I admire greatly. I was merely showing how stats can be used to create whatever picture you like, lies damn lies and statistics. The Indian batsmen named are without doubt greats of the modern era where far more international cricket is played but to somehow inicate England has never had a great batsman is frankly ludicrous and was Kumble a better bowler than Botham, Trueman, Laker, Willis, Barnes ....It is ok to dish out anti-English diatribe it sems but anything that indicates India as anything other than brilliant is jumped on, get over yourselves, it is simply not in the spirit of cricket.

Posted by   on (August 11, 2012, 10:12 GMT)

It will be a shame if Pietersen has to leave the game like this especiall after playing one of the most astonishing innings against a top quality attack like south africa. It will be sad if one of the most dominant& flamboyant batsman of our generation will retire like this. I hope for World crickets sake he carries on playing, because he is a delight to watch when he smashes the cricket ball. Hope he& ECB can resolve the issue amicably.

Posted by nikhilmjain on (August 11, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

@ Ajit87

I don't think these problems would ever arise in SA. They are much better at accepting innovations. They accepted IPL as well as other tournaments unlike England, who are still upset with IPL for stealing the limelight.

Posted by nikhilmjain on (August 11, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

@The_bowlers_Holding What a nice way to hide shortcomings of English players in long term. You just cannot admit the fact that English players lack the consistency to be on par with Tendulkar, Bradman, Dravid, Akram, Warne, Kallis, Mcgrath, Pollock, Murlitharan, Lara, Walsh and such.

@Chennai_Voice Don't act like you know more about cricket than The GREAT. You learned cricket watching him. If it wasn't for him, cricket would never be so popular. And for your lack of understanding, he is not a 20 something anymore. He takes rest because whenever he plays, he wants to give 100%. And its a great feat to play so good for so long. It is not something, a common man like you and me can ever achieve. And please change your username. Chennai people love HIM. You are disgracing all these people.

Posted by Ajit87 on (August 11, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

How many of u think SA cricket board feeling "lucky" to not giving chance to play KP for SA.

Posted by Chennai_Voice on (August 11, 2012, 6:02 GMT)

@The_bowlers_Holding - The incredible long careers of Indian batsmen and bowlers are not due to lack of competition but its just the greediness of the players who wants to play for records and money and the flexibility given to them to play at their convenience by toothless BCCI who have relied on this "Great" for such a long time! There is so much of wasted talents in India who are at the mercy of BCCI who get to play only when the "Great" chooses not to play a particular series. You only need to empathize the Indian Cricket where the stats will glory all the team. @Syed Muzahir - Don't waste your time on collecting such meaningless stats.

Posted by adityamanoharsingh on (August 10, 2012, 23:09 GMT)

englishmen says that they are the no.1 test side in world and the best in the world....but they are nothing without players from south africa(KP) ,basically indians (monty, ravi bopara , m ramprakash, o shah etc etc etc), irish(morgan etc etc)..... tell me one recent good england team in which all are pure and proper englishmen.....its england cricket team (comprieses of players of many other countries) is number 1..... but not the english men.... a proper english team might not come in top 5..... rofl....

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