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April 10, 2013
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
"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.
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