Wisden 2013

Wisden chides 'arrogant' Pietersen

David Hopps

April 10, 2013

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen fell to the second ball of day four, England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day, August 5, 2012
The rift between Kevin Pietersen and the England dressing room cast a shadow over the summer of 2012 © AFP
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Wisden has turned on Kevin Pietersen, terming him arrogant, self-pitying and isolated, for his part in the furore which destabilised English cricket last summer.

There have been more trenchant Notes by the Editor than those which grace the 150th edition of the Almanack, published today, but Lawrence Booth reserves his sternest criticism for Pietersen's behaviour during England's Test series defeat against South Africa.

The wisdom of Wisden

  • "I would have preferred 99. I thought that was enough" - Simon Barnes finds echoes of Don Bradman in Sachin Tendulkar.
  • "Being a cricketer helps because it is a decent world and I haven't had a single jibe" - Steve Davies, the Surrey and England wicketkeeper, on coming out as gay in professional sport."
  • "Affection continues to elude him. There are reasons for this and most of them involve self-absorption, self-promotion and a distressing absence of self-awareness" - Patrick Collins asks why Kevin Pietersen has not become universally revered in English cricket.
  • "He was notoriously (and often infuriatingly) tardy, to the extent that his memorial service at St Paul's should have been scheduled at "11.15am for 11" as mark of respect - with directions to the wrong church." - Mike Selvey on his friend and fellow journalist, Christopher Martin-Jenkins.
  • "Ramps and Test cricket: it was never really going to work out. Wrong genius, wrong time." - Barney Ronay bemoans the retirement of a prolific county runscorer.

"Cricket, some suspected, existed only as an extension of Pietersen's whims (and unlike team, cricket definitely has an "I" in it). Emboldened by a lucrative new Indian Premier League deal, he was arrogant, attempting to bulldoze over the terms of his central contract. He was self-pitying, claiming he had never been looked after. And he was a man apart, sending silly texts to the South Africans," Booth writes.

Those texts were regarded in much of the media last summer as a national scandal. Perhaps in the use of the term "silly" Wisden has stumbled upon a greater truth.

Wisden, condemning the rift as a "mishmash in many genres", does not spare ECB officials from criticism, concluding: "Only the dressing room knew just how troublesome Pietersen had become; for outsiders to lecture Andy Flower on man-management was plain ludicrous. But as his exile dragged on, the ECB began to look petty, if they showed their faces at all.

"Pietersen's pursuit of Twenty20's riches at the expense of the Test side - the format which had made his name - was unattractive, although those attitudes can filter down from the top. If there was a have-cake-and-eat-it feel to his simultaneous grouse about excessive cricket and his yearning for IPL, it was hard to ignore a wider truth: a bloated schedule has asked the players to make unfair choices.

"The dilemma is not going away, however much English cricket wishes it would."

Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year - an award specific to the English season and winnable only once - are Hashim Amla, Nick Compton, Jacques Kallis, Marlon Samuels and Dale Steyn. The Leading Cricketer in the World award goes to the Australian captain, Michael Clarke.

Buy Wisden 2013 at Cricshop

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by JG2704 on (April 12, 2013, 20:19 GMT)

@Soso_killer on (April 11, 2013, 14:52 GMT) All subjective. I'd say Clarke has been streets ahead partly because there is more pressure on his shoulders because of the quality of players he has batting around him comp to Amla. He had 1 genuine WC batsmen with him for part of 2012 and now has no one. Vs Aus , when he scored his double tons Aus were 40-3 and 55-3 and he single handedly put Australia on top in 2 of the 3 tests vs SA. Sure they didn't win that but that was due to weather and a tremendous rearguard by Faf in the 2nd test and in the 1st test they were way behind SA when he came to the crease and look at the bowlers he was facing? Don't think even the Don could do anything to beat the weather

Posted by JG2704 on (April 12, 2013, 20:11 GMT)

@Andrew Spinkson (April 10, 2013, 15:52 GMT) As you are using footballers in your Modern World analogy - re "He's box office and he knows it - and just happens to have the talent to back it up " may I use the name of Messi to say that just because you are box office it doesn't mean you need to show arrogance. He is proof that you don't need to show arrogance. If we're talking cricket look at guys like Steyn and Amla. The guy is absolute class and there seems to be no ego about the guy. And Balotelli is an awful example. Would you honestly say he's that special a player?

Posted by JG2704 on (April 11, 2013, 19:43 GMT)

@zenboomerang on (April 11, 2013, 5:02 GMT) You may be right re the stats but out of all the Eng players who would definitely get an IPL contract if they decided against renewing with ECB? The only way I could see it happening is for agents to do secret deals with IPL franchises to ensure that the players are not giving up contracts for IPL and then find they have no interest... Out of interest I do wonder how much the lower tier IPL players get paid?

KP (obviously) ,Morgan, Swann, Finn ,Prior, Anderson, Broad and of those players who would be guaranteed to be picked up by an IPL franchise? KP obviously but he has chosen Eng over a full IPL season.Morgan probably will as I don't see him getting a full CC next time but of the rest ,who can guarantee they'll get picked up by an IPL side and make better money by reneging on resigning an ECB contract? 3 of the players have already gone unsold in IPL auctions

Posted by Soso_killer on (April 11, 2013, 14:52 GMT)

@JG2704 have to completely disagree with you there mate. Amla has been streets ahead of Clarke over the last year or so. Amla scored over a 1000 runs away from home in different conditions at an average of 70+, and won games for SA too, not draws. His 311 and 192 are good examples, whereas Clarke's double tons only ended in Draws, bar the 329 win against a mediocre Indian bowling attack. Clarke scored most of his runs in Australia which are very flat tracks these days, and his only away tour was against the W. Indies were he had a disgraceful tour. In India this year he averaged 48 in 6 inns, now compare that to what Amla did there in just 3 innings and you will get the picture. Amla is way ahead of Clarke!!

Posted by Hira1 on (April 11, 2013, 14:31 GMT)

who care what ever wisden or any one says KP will remain the best and his arrogance and self belief is what makes him soo different from rest

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (April 11, 2013, 13:33 GMT)

That the editor choose to open up old wounds as his main recollection of 2012 is both facile and childish. Somehow there is something awesomely authoritarian and closed minded in certain English types. That the affair happened anyway was a blot on the ECB's copybook and the unsmiling Flower's part in oit reprehensible. It was only ever a storm in a teacup. And there is that ghastly spelling lesson too-there is no 'I' in team,blah,blah. A facile argument used by so many at that time to justify spite towards someone they could not slot into a box. As Eric Simons said, the best thing about KP is the man himself. And it is largely forgotten that just prior to this ghastly episode KP played the innings of however long cricket has been around for, an innings no-one else could possibly play. How mean spirited that this was not concentrated upon, instead the use of the letter 'I'! We know what English batting is like without KP,yet there are those who would have it that way.

Posted by Longhairrocks on (April 11, 2013, 12:03 GMT)

Why do the parameters of Wisden's remit have to be explained year in and year out? Are they so difficult to understand or are those complaining simply hoping to change the way Wisden operates by their tedious carping?

Wisden is right to reflect upon the events of last summer involving Pietersen which had some impact on the England Test side. Too many seem to want to excuse poor behaviour by players on the rather fly by night grounds that they are "box office". Some things are more important in the long run than box office and a marketing opportunity.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 11, 2013, 9:13 GMT)

@liz1558 - thought it was as much KP having to climb down as the ECB.ECB stood firm and KP reiterated his desire to play for England above IPL/ anything else before textgate.ECB reintegrated KP back after months of negotiations and cooling down from both sides and from what I gather certain Eng players.If it was just an ability thing then KP would never have been axed and would have played the T20WC for sure. ECB wouldn't just bring KP back for a test series because Eng failed in a T20 tourn and if so then why would they then not play him in the T20s since? As for the best England have Trott and Cook who average very similar to him and even Bell not too far behind. As for world cricket Clarke IMO has been streets ahead this last year or so and guys like Amla, Shiv and Sanga must be way ahead too.

@trevorleesafro-Thanks (genuinely) for that story.KP does get alot of bad press and while I disagree with much of what he has said/done it's good to read about a decent side to KP

Posted by andrew-schulz on (April 11, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

Confusion and ignorance, Pauline? It is not every year, most years that the editor chooses 5 players who performed well during the previous English summer. Otherwise how did Sanath Jayasuriya make the list in 1997. Check what he did in the English summer of 1996. To Josh Maddy and others who criticise the timing of Booth's article. : The thing comes out once a year, and is an analysis of what happened over that period of a year. It is entirely appropriate.

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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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