England's Pietersen dilemma

Piers Morgan stokes Pietersen controversy

David Hopps

August 14, 2012

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Kevin Pietersen fell to the second ball of day four, England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day, August 5, 2012
The situation involving Kevin Pietersen continues to take bizarre twists © AFP
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Piers Morgan, the former British tabloid editor turned chatshow host, has escalated the conflict between Kevin Pietersen and the England team and officials by alleging that two of his team-mates are linked to the parody Twitter account that Pietersen found so offensive.

The allegations involve two Nottinghamshire players - Stuart Broad, England's Twenty20 captain, and Alex Hales, who took his place at the top of the order in England's T20 side after Pietersen's stand-off with the ECB had led to his enforced retirement from one-day cricket.

The dispute drags on while Pietersen and his advisers pursue negotiations with the ECB in what seems to be an increasingly forlorn hope that he will win a reprieve and be named in England's squad for World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka month when it is announced by Saturday's deadline.

Morgan, a close friend of Pietersen, took to Twitter, where the debate is raging, to accuse the ECB of "double standards" in lecturing the player about the overriding need for team unity while overlooking a lack of team unity elsewhere, in the shape of personal hostility towards Pietersen from some of his team-mates.

What was intended to support Pietersen's contention to ECB officials in ongoing private discussions that he is the victim, not the problem, in the England dressing room, could prove to be counterproductive as the ECB concludes that emotions are running too high to risk naming Pietersen in their World Twenty20 party.

An increasingly fantastical affair has also caused the originator of the Pietersen parody account, Richard Bailey, a 20-something scientist from Nottingham who tweets personally under @Bailsthebadger, to apologise for the offence he has caused and insist that no England players were involved.

ESPNcricinfo's investigations last week had found no evidence that any England player had been actively involved in Baileys' account and passed on all information gathered to senior officials of the ECB.

Indeed, in Broad's case, the evidence is purely circumstantial and Bailey, not a close friend of the England captain but who shares a house with two other Nottinghamshire players, is now deeply embarrassed by an outcome he could barely have imagined.

Morgan's accusation relies upon the fact that Hales was the first follower of the Pietersen parody account. Claims that Broad was involved seem to rest upon a tweet he sent on the same evening that the account was opened saying that he had lent Bailey a pair of socks, therefore putting him in the same place, if not necessarily in the know.

"Put a sock in it," was the tacit response last night of one former England coach, David Lloyd, who used Twitter to argue that it was time to move on as the ECB attempted to stop the affair running out of control.

Pietersen's England future is in the balance after England refused to pick him for the Lord's Test against South Africa despite him appearing a video in which he made himself available for all forms of cricket and publicly apologising for mistakes he may have made.

The ECB, in the person of England managing director Hugh Morris, refused to accept the apology because Pietersen had not explained "derogatory" text messages about members of the England dressing room that he had allegedly sent to South Africa players after the Headingley Test.

Nottinghamshire have a long history of antagonism towards Pietersen. He left the county after his kit was famously thrown off the dressing room balcony at Trent Bridge and the views of many involved at the time - Broad and Hales were not at the county - have not noticeably softened in the meantime.

A third England and Nottinghamshire player, Graeme Swann, was also dismissive of Pietersen's captaincy skills in his autobiography, and his relationship with Pietersen is strained. Pietersen suspected Swann of being behind the account but there is no evidence to support Pietersen's belief that Swann is in anyway involved with this latest brouhaha.

Pietersen's brother, Bryan Pietersen, also took to Twitter to threaten the instigator of the parody account and suggest his phone should be thrown into the River Trent, which runs close to the Nottinghamshire ground.

In the corridors of the ECB, as this affair drags on, rivers are certainly running deep.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Iwerneanffontmell on (August 16, 2012, 13:13 GMT)

It seems pretty obvious that KP is an objectionable character and that teams only tolerate him because of his talent. Darren Gough has been going on about how the great Aussie side of the 90's didn't like each other but there are one or two very good players - Stuart Law being one - who were supposedly difficult and never really got a look-in as a result. It is all very well saying that other players have slagged off others and not been punished for it like KP but bad-mouthing your captain to the opposition while in the middle of a test match against them is stupifyingly stupid. In a dressing room which places so much on team loyalty etc that is professional suicide....what a numpty.

Posted by AnthonyNo1 on (August 16, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

Morgan is right that there are two sides to this - but ultimately the ECB are responsible and accountable for this fiasco. England without KP will drop down the ratings - and they will also loose revenue from crowds and broadcasting.

Posted by rienzied on (August 15, 2012, 2:35 GMT)

Just news that sells, sadly KP's brilliance on field gets overshadowed by his immaturity and oversized ego as of the field. What a talent but he has been in trouble in most if not all teams he has played for. I reckon it is great the ECB have put their foot down here

Posted by   on (August 14, 2012, 20:47 GMT)

Whatever. I'm sick of this drama. Put it to bed and get on with the cricket.

Posted by ThirteenthMan on (August 14, 2012, 20:35 GMT)

(Piers) " Morgan, a close friend of Pietersen"..it just gets worse!

Posted by JG2704 on (August 14, 2012, 20:33 GMT)

I have actually somehow lost track of it all here and the Twitter/Facebook world is totally alien to me. Can someone please explain if the Twitter account/Tweets are anything to do with KPs omission as I was under the impression it was just to do with the texts KP sent to SA players and specifically the nature of the texts. I really hope that Broad and Swann have not tried to stitch KP up by tweeting stuff supposedly in his name. If so then they obviously need disciplining too - depending on whether there was malicious intent.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 14, 2012, 20:33 GMT)

@bobmartin on (August 14 2012, 11:09 AM GMT) Who was that dodgy guy Botham had in the 80s as an image consultant or whatever the term is? Wore dodgy stripy suits. Is he still about?

Posted by JG2704 on (August 14, 2012, 20:32 GMT)

@Hira1 on (August 14 2012, 10:49 AM GMT) Sorry , please explain what you mean about double standards and how ECB are in a lot of trouble

Posted by JG2704 on (August 14, 2012, 20:32 GMT)

@Xolile on (August 14 2012, 10:39 AM GMT) I'd say Broad and Swann are at least AS important as KP is to the England side. Anyway , isn't this (him being dropped)to do with texts he sent to SA players ?

Posted by Kirk-at-Lords on (August 14, 2012, 20:17 GMT)

Cricket is not the only corner of the world, or even the only sport, that is experiencing some serious negative side effects of the social media revolution. It may be one of those pursuits most vulnerable because of its long tradition of propriety and long-established hierarchical power arrangements within each Test nation. The Packer/World Series Cricket era of the 1970s was the first break with tradition, and it changed cricket forever. Now comes T20 leagues led by IPL, which are likely to have at least as important an impact. In each case, media played a key role -- TV in the 1970s, Internet social networking today. ECB and other boards must respond with equal parts imagination and willpower to negotiate and manage the new revolution. If they have not yet recruited "culture creatives" as consultants, it is time, and the boards need to listen to them carefully. Above all, it is essential for boards to seek out mediators who can assist with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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