April 3, 2009

We need to talk about Kevin

There's something the matter with KP, and it's not really to do with runs
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Kevin Pietersen has divided opinion from the moment he jacked in his lot with South Africa and made his great trek north in the summer of 2000 to launch his new life as a global sporting phenomenon. But right at this moment his staggering self-belief is flagging like never before. It's not so much the runs that are the issue, but the love. He's feeling unappreciated, and his discontent is corrosive.

Barely a day has gone by this week without Pietersen hitting the headlines for what he's said, or what he's done, or what he's said and done. One minute he's threatening to "do a Robinho" and flee an unhappy tour (a line that sounds sensational only when taken out of its original context), the next he's leaving the field with back spasms while bowling against a man he accused of hypochondria, Shivnarine Chanderpaul. It's a state of affairs that lends weight to the impression of a team in disarray. Pietersen is England's kingpin, and right now he's feeling skittled.

Some people will never understand what makes Pietersen tick, and his non-English origins are always on hand to provide his critics with ammunition, as the man himself admitted in the latest of a string of soul-baring interviews this week. "I think I'm going to have to live with that my whole career," he said. "I lived with that on Friday when we played a poor game of cricket and I got comments about South Africa. I deal with that on a daily basis and that's just the way it is, unfortunately."

And yet, less than 12 months have elapsed since Pietersen leant back on the sofa at the MCC museum and declared to the waiting press that he had "never felt so loved" by the English public, having just marked his first Test against his former countrymen with his 14th century. It was a telling choice of phrase from a man who, for all his awkwardness, seeks acceptance every bit as much as fame and fortune. Before that series was out, Pietersen had been named England captain, which he marked with a further century in a victorious maiden Test in charge, closely followed by four straight victories in a one-day campaign of greater intensity than England had shown for a decade.

The Peter Moores debacle brought a disastrous halt to that momentum, but to question Pietersen's commitment to England is both harsh and passé. He has never missed a single Test match since making his England debut in 2005. He's played in every single one of England's 15 Twenty20 internationals as well, and his last break from the ODI circuit came ahead of the World Cup in 2007, when he suffered a cracked rib while facing up to Glenn McGrath in Melbourne. His subsequent absence from England's next nine matches of the CB Series is the longest time away from the limelight he has had in four-and-a-half years as an international superstar.

Aside from Paul Collingwood, no one else in the squad comes close to matching that attendance record. Andrew Flintoff has played just 28 Tests in the same period, while the current captain, Andrew Strauss, was dropped for the tour of Sri Lanka in 2007-08, and had not played ODI cricket for two years until the start of the current campaign. Those who question Pietersen's commitment to England emphatically miss the point. He's scored nearly 8000 runs in eight countries including 23 centuries since his switch of allegiance, averaging 51 and 46 respectively in Tests and ODIs. He owes his adopted country nothing.

His country, on the other hand, owes him plenty. The cack-handed manner in which Pietersen was stripped of the England captaincy would irk even men with lesser tendencies towards ego-mania. One minute he was being asked how, in his valued opinion, the England team could be improved; the next he had offered his (admittedly drastic) solution, and found himself being drop-kicked out of office after his confidential comments had been leaked to the media.

After that episode, some feared Pietersen would flounce around the Caribbean like the spoiled brat he is perceived to be, or even decline to tour, and secure a full-fat contract with the IPL instead, but not a bit of it. He got straight back into training, scored a century in England's first warm-up game, in St Kitts, and but for an ill-judged stroke at Sabina Park that detracted from the determination that had preceded it, would have added a hundred in his first Test back in the ranks. Even when he did reach three figures in a superb final-morning onslaught in Trinidad, the fact that England fell one wicket short of squaring the series was used as further spurious proof that he's not a team player. It was Strauss who declined to declare before lunch that day, not the man in the middle.

Those who question Pietersen's commitment to England emphatically miss the point. He's scored nearly 8000 runs in eight countries including 23 centuries since his switch of allegiance, averaging 51 and 46 respectively in Tests and ODIs. He owes his adopted country nothing

There's no question that Pietersen is feeling the burn of touring life like never before. To a man, his England team-mates have spoken of his unstinting professionalism in the past 11 weeks, but the humiliation of his return to the ranks has melded with an England performance that has plumbed some spectacular depths. One of the benefits of Pietersen's promotion to the captaincy was that it provided an outlet for his excessive energies. Now, instead of being driven by responsibility to ever greater heights, he's being tipped by frustration ever closer to the edge.

Burn-out is a phrase that is used sparingly in Pietersen's presence, because as he himself recognised during the Oval Test last summer, he's got a finite window of opportunity as an elite athlete, and as a man in a rush to succeed, he is determined not to pass up a single opportunity - including the small matter of the IPL in a fortnight's time. His sojourn in South Africa is yet another reason why sympathy for his plight will be in short supply.

And yet, it should not be ignored how devastating the pressures can be on the key men in England's set-up. In recent years Graham Thorpe and Marcus Trescothick both succumbed to the pressures of being on duty 12 months a year. The common denominator is that they, like Pietersen, were undroppable in all forms of the game, and therefore did not get a break until the day they snapped.

Pietersen has said that never again will he go 11 weeks without seeing his wife, Jessica, and while it is easy to be cynical about celebrity love stories, it's not impossible that he really does miss her. The fact that Pietersen wanted to fly home to watch her take part in the finals of Dancing on Ice is the sort of cloying detail that we really could have done without, but as he once said, he is fortunate to have a wife who has been in the celebrity spotlight longer than he has, and therefore understands the pressures like no one else.

Pressure has been the life-blood of Pietersen's career, from his sensational first tour to South Africa in 2004-05, right through to the tour-salvaging performance he is surely plotting in St Lucia right now. Even when he endured a rare trough in Sri Lanka and New Zealand last winter, he still fronted up with the performance that won the series, a century in Napier last March, after his colleagues had stumbled to 4 for 3. But you have to wonder what his wife's advice will be when he does finally get home. It's been a draining year already, but the contests that matter are still to come.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fishlock on April 5, 2009, 15:36 GMT

    There is little doubt that Mr Pietersen is a complex individual,however his loyalty & commitment to England,is second to none.Without him in the line-up,we would sink even lower in the Test Match Table. Sadly,it was a mistake to appoint Moores as coach,& KP did little wrong whilst he was in charge,so why Sack Him? The ECB knew about his waywardness prior to his appointment,yet considered him the best man for the job,to which I totally agree. Winning the Ashes is obviously the prime object for England,but we stand no chance whatsoever,unless KP is re-instated,with dare I say it Andy Flower as Coach. Today's cricketers seem to have no respite from the rigors of Test,1 Day & now 20-20 Matches & even the likes of Sir Jack Hobbs,might have found his cool gentlemanly manner,sorely tried in such circumstances! Ron Gray

  • Kulaputra on April 5, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    No one is bigger than the team. Tendulkar has proved that beyond doubt. KP is behaving like a spolit brat. This author has taken a tone of justifying absurd behaviour. The author is absurd too. In fact, I am sorry that KP is playing for Bangalore, where I come from and let me use this column to state that we expect him to behave like Dravid does. Mallya has made a big mistake making him a captain. Mallya will realise that soon. Lastly, England is better off without KP. Sometimes, as head of a project team, I have dropped star performers as they would not get along in a team and would drag down team performance. Cricket is a game I love and KP does not belong on a cricket field.

  • gripusa on April 5, 2009, 1:32 GMT

    Well written piece. I am really disappointed how ECB handled this fiasco. I feel sorry to realize that my native country (pakistan) and my resident country (England) both are suffering from Captains issues. I assume this is one of the reason of in-consistencies. The look of English team was totally different under him and although Strauss trying his best to prove him as a captain , he is not a leader.

  • Delly on April 4, 2009, 23:25 GMT

    After England levelled the test series against India in Mumbai in March 2006 I was at the front of a very busy bar at the Taj Hotel nightclub when I got violently shoved aside from behind by Pietersen demanding to be served. The acid comments he made about his real homeland, with its recent struggles, show that he is completely self centered, egotistical, and without any sense of perspective or appreciation of the needs of others. His 3 lions tattoo shows only that he trying too hard to prove something probably as much to himself as anyone else. He would gain acceptance much quicker and far greater respect from those around him he apologised for the bad mouthing of his country and went about his business as a professional sportsman doing the best for any team that he plays for while keeping his mouth shut and letting his immense talent do the talking for him. Unfortunately his sense of self importance and lack of humility and etiquette outweighs even that considerable talent.

  • DJRoe on April 4, 2009, 16:17 GMT

    Mr. Petersen should shut up and let his skills do the talking. What has he done so far in his cricketing career as other players in the same time frame? When he performs consistently as a Ponting or a Tendulkar and wins games for his country, then we might be more accepting of his childishness. And why has no one pick up and commented on his batting technique of having a leg stump stance and just before the bowler delivers, moves and blocks the stumps with his legs, almost as if he had an off stump stance in the first place. Maybe he is just another Graham Hick!

  • AravindZ on April 4, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    Spot on Andrew. Once branded a traitor, there is no coming back. Even the most grounded person on earth would look egoistic. Being massively talented is in fact a curse in disguise and denies him of even the minimum sympathy he deserves, not as a proud and always right sportsman but as a human being with very strong emotion and passion for the game.

  • sabina2009 on April 4, 2009, 3:11 GMT

    England Cricket Board should be lucky enough to get a player as high caliber as Kevin Pietersen. Kevin Pietersen is one of the top rated players at present and his tremendous performance against several competitive teams proves that he is not at all like any other ordinary players. England knows that they fail to produce competitive players like the Australians so they should not waste golden opportunities when they get players like Kevin Pietersen. He has proved over the last few years that he is fully committed towards his team. I wish him all the luck in future.

  • JackJ on April 4, 2009, 0:21 GMT

    Miller handled this well, but one thing is absent. We need a really stinging condemnation of members of the ECB, Morris in particular. The way Englands key performer was handled was disgusting! That a nonentity like Morris, based on his cronyism with mediocrity Moores, can torpedo the whole England team is mindboggling. But thats whats happened. There is no way Andrew Strauss, gentleman and nice guy that he is, can begin to provide the innovation, mongrel and sheer will to win that KP can. Under KP I have zero doubt England would win the Ashes. Under Andrew, its not going to happen. I also have criticism of Fred, who has come to regard himself as the golden boy of England cricket, and who has not enjoyed being supplanted by KP. I believe there is fire where there is smoke, and it appears that Fred did indeed do a hatchet job on KP when his opinion was canvassed. Fred, a man who is perpetually injured or perpetually intoxicated, needs a kick up the backside, jealousy of KP is not on!

  • ciderguzzler on April 3, 2009, 19:11 GMT

    If Kevin Pietersen's sense of entitlement stopped at appreciation I don't think he'd be in too much trouble with the English cricketing public. But the fact is that he is the epitome of modern man which means that appreciation is far too low an aspiration, and that what he really expects is adulation.

    And he gets it from large numbers of his own generation, and younger, who have been brought up in the same self-regarding age. But things have not always been like this, and most of us of more advanced years have been brought up to regard such egotistical attitudes as unwelcome hangovers from an incomplete childhood, not as the rather appealing emotional displays of a properly developed adult.

    It'll seem counter-intuitive, and at the age of 28 maybe he's too set in his ways to accept it, but the only way he will receive the adulation he craves is for it to become quite clear he has accepted that it is for others to give, not for him to demand.

  • ghandi on April 3, 2009, 16:43 GMT

    KP is bored not surprising english cricket is boring,clearly the man thrives with responsiability and under pressure ,England was a different team during KPs tenure as captain,the ECB got to bring english cricket in line with world trends and KP is the man to do it .Strauss captainancy does not inspire the man, come home KP,alls well,South Arica awaits you with open arms,just imagine the Proteas with KP in the line up.

  • fishlock on April 5, 2009, 15:36 GMT

    There is little doubt that Mr Pietersen is a complex individual,however his loyalty & commitment to England,is second to none.Without him in the line-up,we would sink even lower in the Test Match Table. Sadly,it was a mistake to appoint Moores as coach,& KP did little wrong whilst he was in charge,so why Sack Him? The ECB knew about his waywardness prior to his appointment,yet considered him the best man for the job,to which I totally agree. Winning the Ashes is obviously the prime object for England,but we stand no chance whatsoever,unless KP is re-instated,with dare I say it Andy Flower as Coach. Today's cricketers seem to have no respite from the rigors of Test,1 Day & now 20-20 Matches & even the likes of Sir Jack Hobbs,might have found his cool gentlemanly manner,sorely tried in such circumstances! Ron Gray

  • Kulaputra on April 5, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    No one is bigger than the team. Tendulkar has proved that beyond doubt. KP is behaving like a spolit brat. This author has taken a tone of justifying absurd behaviour. The author is absurd too. In fact, I am sorry that KP is playing for Bangalore, where I come from and let me use this column to state that we expect him to behave like Dravid does. Mallya has made a big mistake making him a captain. Mallya will realise that soon. Lastly, England is better off without KP. Sometimes, as head of a project team, I have dropped star performers as they would not get along in a team and would drag down team performance. Cricket is a game I love and KP does not belong on a cricket field.

  • gripusa on April 5, 2009, 1:32 GMT

    Well written piece. I am really disappointed how ECB handled this fiasco. I feel sorry to realize that my native country (pakistan) and my resident country (England) both are suffering from Captains issues. I assume this is one of the reason of in-consistencies. The look of English team was totally different under him and although Strauss trying his best to prove him as a captain , he is not a leader.

  • Delly on April 4, 2009, 23:25 GMT

    After England levelled the test series against India in Mumbai in March 2006 I was at the front of a very busy bar at the Taj Hotel nightclub when I got violently shoved aside from behind by Pietersen demanding to be served. The acid comments he made about his real homeland, with its recent struggles, show that he is completely self centered, egotistical, and without any sense of perspective or appreciation of the needs of others. His 3 lions tattoo shows only that he trying too hard to prove something probably as much to himself as anyone else. He would gain acceptance much quicker and far greater respect from those around him he apologised for the bad mouthing of his country and went about his business as a professional sportsman doing the best for any team that he plays for while keeping his mouth shut and letting his immense talent do the talking for him. Unfortunately his sense of self importance and lack of humility and etiquette outweighs even that considerable talent.

  • DJRoe on April 4, 2009, 16:17 GMT

    Mr. Petersen should shut up and let his skills do the talking. What has he done so far in his cricketing career as other players in the same time frame? When he performs consistently as a Ponting or a Tendulkar and wins games for his country, then we might be more accepting of his childishness. And why has no one pick up and commented on his batting technique of having a leg stump stance and just before the bowler delivers, moves and blocks the stumps with his legs, almost as if he had an off stump stance in the first place. Maybe he is just another Graham Hick!

  • AravindZ on April 4, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    Spot on Andrew. Once branded a traitor, there is no coming back. Even the most grounded person on earth would look egoistic. Being massively talented is in fact a curse in disguise and denies him of even the minimum sympathy he deserves, not as a proud and always right sportsman but as a human being with very strong emotion and passion for the game.

  • sabina2009 on April 4, 2009, 3:11 GMT

    England Cricket Board should be lucky enough to get a player as high caliber as Kevin Pietersen. Kevin Pietersen is one of the top rated players at present and his tremendous performance against several competitive teams proves that he is not at all like any other ordinary players. England knows that they fail to produce competitive players like the Australians so they should not waste golden opportunities when they get players like Kevin Pietersen. He has proved over the last few years that he is fully committed towards his team. I wish him all the luck in future.

  • JackJ on April 4, 2009, 0:21 GMT

    Miller handled this well, but one thing is absent. We need a really stinging condemnation of members of the ECB, Morris in particular. The way Englands key performer was handled was disgusting! That a nonentity like Morris, based on his cronyism with mediocrity Moores, can torpedo the whole England team is mindboggling. But thats whats happened. There is no way Andrew Strauss, gentleman and nice guy that he is, can begin to provide the innovation, mongrel and sheer will to win that KP can. Under KP I have zero doubt England would win the Ashes. Under Andrew, its not going to happen. I also have criticism of Fred, who has come to regard himself as the golden boy of England cricket, and who has not enjoyed being supplanted by KP. I believe there is fire where there is smoke, and it appears that Fred did indeed do a hatchet job on KP when his opinion was canvassed. Fred, a man who is perpetually injured or perpetually intoxicated, needs a kick up the backside, jealousy of KP is not on!

  • ciderguzzler on April 3, 2009, 19:11 GMT

    If Kevin Pietersen's sense of entitlement stopped at appreciation I don't think he'd be in too much trouble with the English cricketing public. But the fact is that he is the epitome of modern man which means that appreciation is far too low an aspiration, and that what he really expects is adulation.

    And he gets it from large numbers of his own generation, and younger, who have been brought up in the same self-regarding age. But things have not always been like this, and most of us of more advanced years have been brought up to regard such egotistical attitudes as unwelcome hangovers from an incomplete childhood, not as the rather appealing emotional displays of a properly developed adult.

    It'll seem counter-intuitive, and at the age of 28 maybe he's too set in his ways to accept it, but the only way he will receive the adulation he craves is for it to become quite clear he has accepted that it is for others to give, not for him to demand.

  • ghandi on April 3, 2009, 16:43 GMT

    KP is bored not surprising english cricket is boring,clearly the man thrives with responsiability and under pressure ,England was a different team during KPs tenure as captain,the ECB got to bring english cricket in line with world trends and KP is the man to do it .Strauss captainancy does not inspire the man, come home KP,alls well,South Arica awaits you with open arms,just imagine the Proteas with KP in the line up.

  • danmcb on April 3, 2009, 14:52 GMT

    Good article. Thanks for giving the man fair dues for what he puts in, rather than focussing on his "ego" or "arrogance" - English cricket could do with a bit more of that at times. While his handling of the Moores affair wasn't that great, the ECB is the party you'd really expect to do better, and they mishandled him in the most terrible way. The English way - know your place, old boy. It's a terrible thing.

  • lornaliz16 on April 3, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    The media love to build them up and knock them down, and unfortunately Pietersen is someone who regularly provides them with this opportunity, but my honest opinion is Pietersen is deadly serious in his love for England, and his need to be loved. He is dedicated and driven to a level that most of us can't even comprehend and the ECB have gone running from it.

    I think we have to accept that Pietersen is the man he is and if the brash silly comments are part of it then surely we just have to accept this and value the contribution he makes to this England side. As much as I think Strauss is an exceptional leader and the correct one at this time, I really hope we haven't seen the last of Pietersen as England captain.

  • Wakeybeancounter on April 3, 2009, 13:36 GMT

    When are people going to wise up to Pietersen.The guy is a mercenary who jumped ship in SA because it was not happening for him quick enough and then did the same at Notts.Sure he can bat but so what,does that mean we all should fall over ourselves to accomodate his every whim.No doubt he will have surrounded himself with enough sycophants as it is panderng to his ego.The guy has to grow up and learn to keep his mouth shout,his outburst against Chanderpaul was totally unprofessional,there is more to being a professional than going to the nets twice a day.The guy blows with the wind,shouts his mouth off one minute then back tracks the next when it suits,take the Stanford debacle and the "I'm so tired,too much cricket er I want to play in the IPL" Make no mistake he will have realised it is very much in his interest to play in this ashes series and after that will it still be or will the burden of touring become all to much for him and his new wife?.I hope not as I say the guy can bat.

  • dar268 on April 3, 2009, 12:28 GMT

    Zero sympathy for KP when he uses his only chance to rest to stuff his pockets playing a tournament whose raison d'etre is money.

  • Chinaman.Googly on April 3, 2009, 11:58 GMT

    @Tass - The difference between Tendulkar and Ponting on the one hand, and Pietersen on the other, is that the former two are treated like demi-gods by their respective national presses while Pietersen is forever getting it in the neck from the English media. Not whining while spending months at a stretch away from your family is made a lot easier if you receive media adulation most of the time, rather than constant criticism. The one time recently that Ponting copped a lot of flak from the Aussie newspapers was after the Sydney test in 2007-08 against India, and he was pretty close to cracking then.

  • The_Utican on April 3, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    Miller's piece is a very judicious reappraisal of a brittle but unfairly criticised personality. Those who dislike Pietersen's frankness will doubtless find sympathisers on the board of the ECB, who couldn't handle it either. It's true that batsmen like Ponting or Tendulkar have been more quietly faithful than Pietersen, but they have also been more orthodox on the field. Besides, not every cricketer's made in the mould of the dutiful (or is it servile?) NCO. The average cricket watcher can hardly complain about Pietersen. His energy and improvisation increase the interest of any game he plays, while since 2005, as Miller says, his contributions have been consistently outstanding. The media love to hate and hate to love him, like all celebrities. But there are other disruptive players in the England team - people who quietly make it clear that no-one's bigger than them - who get a much smoother ride while their averages with both bat and ball head unmistakeably in the wrong direction.

  • robheinen on April 3, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    I'm afraid that what's going on with the performance of the England team can't be put on one man - although.... I don't think there's a problem with Kevin Pietersen other then maybe a slight social deficiency. He speaks his mind. Not only does he speak his mind he also doesn't have any convictions - apart from wanting to become the world's best batsman. Or rather his convictions change with the changing of time. Now how does a man like this cope with what's happened over the past couple of months? How does he give air to the frustrations that he surely must have? Does he keep quiet about it all? Or does he speak out in the dressing room as the team prepares for the next match? I guess what's said and done in the dressingroom stays in the dressingroom. But maybe some of the players are more impressionable than anyone - they themselves as well - cares to think.

  • __PK on April 3, 2009, 11:25 GMT

    11 weeks without seeing the one person around whom your life revolves IS too long, and anyone who believes otherwise is a soul-less ghoul. That being said, this article was clearly written as an attempt to justify Pietersen's performance, rather than an unbiased assessment. Use of the word "admittedly" in brackets is always a dead giveaway of an article written with a bias.

  • 1stSlip on April 3, 2009, 11:10 GMT

    A key problem at the root of this is the indifferent administration of English Cricket. The ECB are a parochial, blinkered body who are simply not up to the task of supporting and motivating a "top international sportsman" of the calibre of Pietersen. Although they made a good and the right decision in making him captain they took no heed of the concerns raised by many in the cricketing world before and at the time of his appointment that Peter Moores was most unlikely to be up to the job of head England Coach. That Pietersen lost the captaincy because the ECB had appointed the wrong coach in the first place was a travesty of justice for Pietersen. In the Captain's role, he would have found a perfect outlet for his boundless energy and desire to be loved. The ECB must admit the errors of their ways and reinstate him as Captain. He is the best person for the job and crucially is the only one that the Australians genuinally fear.

  • Stumay on April 3, 2009, 11:09 GMT

    As usual with the British press, one of our sports stars is a superhero one minute and a moaning, show pony the next. Yes, we know that KP likes to air his views on certain subjects, that he tips himself to score runs and win matches but usually he backs this up with a performance to match. Whilst bankers and MPs, schoolteachers and solicitors can complain about being tired, homesick or run-down, it beggars belief that a cricketer that has been away from home since October can't admit to feeling slightly fed up without attracting negative press comments. That much of this stems from the fact that he had the temerity to be born in another country, seems to sum up the narrow minded minority sadly in control of too much of Britain.

  • drinks.break on April 3, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    A couple of people have questioned KP's commitment because he dared to ask if he could have time off to support his wife. Their logic goes that top players from other nations don't need to ask for time off. The problem is, that's simply not true. All of the top Australian players have missed matches for personal reasons - or if not, they've been asked to take a rest every now and then in order to keep them fresh. The ECB could learn something from the way CA tries to manage its players, and give their only consistent star a break once in a while. Oh, and by the way, KP didn't even ask if he could miss a game ... he wanted 2 days off BETWEEN games.

  • TheGreenMan on April 3, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    @ ccccc. I cannot agree more about the see sawing opinions of the British media. The same actually applies to the general british public too in my opinion. Have a read of a blog I posted on a South African sports blog site some time ago. you may find it interesting. the link: http://sportblogs.24.com/ViewComments.aspx?blogid=1951e535-7e24-45e1-a514-9e10f98ea0e1&mid=d1200183-bd47-4aa7-83c0-34d4164d2cd3

  • AndyMick on April 3, 2009, 9:48 GMT

    Its, simple, he is an egotisical, big headed INDIVIDUAL, not interested in the team (he never was in his early days) only about furthering himself (he always was in the early days).

    He came from SA and joined Cannock, a club the he will never come back to and frankly, most people there dont want him to.

    He went missing with a so called injury during the season, only for us to find out he had been playin else where. Thats what he is like, let him go back to SA is my opinion.

    And if he thinks that 11 weeks in the nice hot sunny carribean is too much like hard work, ask him if he would like to change jobs with 1000's of English people who struggle on in the world tof=day only to hear him say "I wanna go home".

    Dont suppose he will mind the half a million quid or so for going to SA soon, dont suppose he will be tired and want to go home then, but then hey, he wont, cus of the money!!!!

    Hes not English, never will be but will accept the cash for saying he is English

  • LegSpinBowla on April 3, 2009, 9:43 GMT

    Well, i don't think Kevin Pietersen needs to worry bout being unappreciated coz bak home in nz, he is one ov the most respected men in tha game. Cricket wudnt be appreciated without him. He is number 1.

  • StJohn on April 3, 2009, 9:34 GMT

    Only the team management & KP know what the problem is, if there is a problem anyway. But whereas in the 80s & 90s England team managers & selectors didn't give players enough support & time to shine, they may now have gone too far the other way, with so much emphasis on consistency of selection that they forget players are human & might simply need a rest. The comparisons with Thorpe & Trescothick may be apt: KP is one of few current England players that you'd pick for every game & every format of the game. You have to look after players like a good employer would do with staff in a company - you need good, clear, open & effective communication, both ways, to guage how people feel & whether or not they're happy - particularly if you're working overseas with a lot of time away from friends & family & a happy work-life balance. England should do this for all players if they don't already. And give the guys more of a rest - remember, they're human beings, not robotic cricketing machines.

  • tass on April 3, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    World Stars Tendulkar,Pointing, ---- all never seem to complain about the stress of being away from the family, dedicated players give off 100%for their country at all times. KP wants to have his own ways camnot handle the heat! Lets hope he continues to score runs for England

  • ccccc on April 3, 2009, 9:04 GMT

    It is funny how the English media can still be taken seriously

    for the better part of their see sawing opinions and non more so than

    their opinion of KP. When England are winning he is admired and praised

    in the news papers. When England are losing suddenly they latch on to

    what KP's got to say about topics that usually have nothing to do with the

    actuall reasons for englands struggles since they won the ashes and lost the plot and the ashes since. Why have the media not written more harshly about the ECB as this is where Englands problem lies!

  • delboy on April 3, 2009, 9:02 GMT

    I've said this before.. KP is a clone of the present tory leader. Always craving to be in the news. He always picks the ocassions and people most news worthy to associated himself with. With regards the Chanderpaul incident, he needs to be aware 'The ARTIST, is by nature a singular entity' - Thomas Hardy. There is no doubting Chanderpaul is an ARTIST which KP can attempt to emulate. Case in point Chanderpaul became a mush more focused batsman after relinguishing the captaincy. He focused on his game.

  • Pushpak on April 3, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    i think Pietersen's decision of playing for England helped SA more than we can imagine. I am sure he couldn't have adjusted with Graeme Smith as the Captain and would have created a lot of problems there. For England it is too bad that they could not continue with him as Captain and i am sure this will surely degrade English cricket. Pietersen is a person who want complete power and complete authority to take his decisions,but if you can not give complete control to him then no point in giving him Captaincy. It is better for English cricket as well as world cricket that a player like Pietersen plays his carrier controversy.

  • Daniel_Smith on April 3, 2009, 8:32 GMT

    I find it difficult to sympathise with KP. He's deliberately courted publicity, endorsements and along the way come out with some daft statements. He sometimes appears not to think about what he's saying, another sign of his impulsiveness.

    What he needs more than anything is for a person who he respects to give him some sensible advice. He also needs to stop talking to the media. The media like KP. He sells papers, he irritates and amazes in equal measure. They need him, more than he needs them.

    Even now I don't know what exactly happened with the captain versus coach crisis, so I find it hard to judge who acted properly. It did seem to me that KP's newspaper column didn't help matters. To me, he's in a mess of his own making.

    He's a terrific batsman but as a person he's got an awful lot of growing up to do.

  • wdcruz on April 3, 2009, 8:29 GMT

    Firstly, why is Kevin Pieterson a "global sporting phenomenon"? Mr Miller is obviously English perhaps with a bit of springbok chucked in. I can list at least 10 other sportsmen (including English) who better deserve the description which Mr Miller has so generously bestowed on a batsman whose all round cricket skills e.g. fielding, catching etc is no where near it has to be to be consider a truly great cricketer. His batting is awesome but is not technically sound. It will be a true test of his abilities when he losses his form. Lets be honest, KP is money hungry. For him to abandon the country that fostered his skills, attitude and almost everything else demonstrates his true character. (According to KP himself), if he is that good nothing would have kept him out of the SA side except DeVilliers, Duminy, Kallis etc - get my drift. The great shame of it all is the greatest modern day legend in Shane Warne sees something in KP that most other Aussies just don't!

  • Proteas1 on April 3, 2009, 8:00 GMT

    I am a South African supporter but let me make it clear that this has no bearing on what I'm about to say! Kevin Pietersen is a great player (I don't like to admit it but it's the truth) but he needs to grow up and realise that not everything will go his way and the whole Moores debacle is a a great example. He may have jumped ship to play for England but that doesn't mean he can throw his toys out of the cot everytime something doesn't go his way. Not everyting goes your way in life - something he doesn't seem to understand!

  • markanderl on April 3, 2009, 7:49 GMT

    Thanks Andrew fr a great discussion point. I believe as many other do that KP is probably the nest batsmen in the world right now but I do mnot believe that he is a team player. Yes when the team is doing well but not when things even go slightly wrong. H eshould never have been made captain in the 1st place. How many great players have come unstuck when trying to fulfill 2 roles, captaining a side and be a great batsmen at the same time? Many. I do believe that KP is acting like a spoilt brat, no one is above the game, and KP clearly believes that the cricketing world owes him and he needs to stand up and be a man and accept that he is after all just another professional cricketer like every other. Yes he was treated unfairly by the ECB but them how fair was he to the ECB. Once again he is not bigger than cricket and he needs to takes his head out of the sand. SA are better off without him and England I think are now coming to realise just how much of a negative influence he is.

  • PottedLambShanks on April 3, 2009, 7:33 GMT

    You say "[he] seeks acceptance every bit as much as fame and fortune", but I think would be beneficial to contextualise these three desires and make it clear that success for England is vastly more important to him than all of them put together.

  • NumberXI on April 3, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    This article is almost predictable in its content. It kicks off with gushing praise of Pietersen's commitment, then goes on to decry his removal from the captaincy - some of which was also down to his own approach to the whole thing - and eventually rounds off with the now inevitable references to burn out and pressure and, once more, his commitment and need to deal with celebritydom. In between it slips in a rather grandiose "global sporting phenomenon" with aplomb, a title very few (and really very few) can lay claim to. The point that Andrew Miller misses is that this is true of some of the top cricketers in the world(and sportsmen in team sports), and they do not see the need to wear their patriotism on their sleeve. Even making allowance for the fact that Pietersen probably has special reason to do so, given his unique set of circumstances, I think Miller is overstating it. It sort of tinges what should have been a good assessment with an overdose of hero worship.

  • Kassto on April 3, 2009, 6:35 GMT

    Really good piece, Andrew, fair and perceptive.

  • alanfell on April 3, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    A very frustrating article as it fails to get to the root of why we need to talk about Kevin.

    The real villain here is Clive Rice, who first persuaded Pietersen to try his luck with England. Let's just remember why they took this decision. They felt that the quota system, designed to try and make up for years of systematic discrimination, was hindering Pietersen's career too much. This was incredibly misguided - a player of his talent would have made it to the SA national team eventually.

    In my view, if Pietersen were playing for SA now he wouldn't be such an annoying, attention seeking brat. His need to be loved comes from the fact that deep down he knows he is South African and everybody in England knows this too. He can tattoo his whole body if wants, it doesn't change that fundamental truth.

    That is at the heart of what is wrong with Kevin: he should never have left SA. He and Graeme Smith would probably be good mates if he'd stayed!

  • DAN22 on April 3, 2009, 6:29 GMT

    Great article. Good comments from most of the responses. Temperamental athletes like Pietersen, Sehwag, Maradona, Rooney, Ronaldo need to be managed delicately. They need to be loved as well as challenged to higher heights.

    When will the adminstrators understand.

  • richardhead on April 3, 2009, 6:03 GMT

    Yes! Well said Andrew. Imagine the loss to world cricket, the cricketer of the century, Shane Warne, if Cricket Australia and the Australian media behaved with the childish, savage jealosy so commom in the English press and ECB. Shane had his moments - off the field- just as KP has. Neither have commited crimes, gone on drunken rampages or failed to give 100% on the field. As an Australian supporter it is tempting to hope theat they keep it up and KP ditches England. However no one wants to see such a one sided contest that would be the next Ashes series if the ECB don't get their act together, resign on masse, and let someone with an ounce of moral fibre and cricket understanding take over.

  • Sumeshan on April 3, 2009, 5:55 GMT

    Pietersen's behaviour just confirms that South Africa are better off without him. This bloke is not a team player. He is England's problem now.

  • PeteB on April 3, 2009, 5:37 GMT

    Nice article. The ECB deserve some opprobrium but most of it should be left at the door of sundry English journos (not the one who wrote the article).

  • Malcv on April 3, 2009, 5:05 GMT

    The media are definitely PARTLY to blame. The press's unquenchable need for copy and their relentless efforts to manufacture it, are a national disgrace. However, it wasn't the press who mismanaged one of the brightest talents in world cricket! The ECB obviously value such English charcteristics as being sporting losers or showing the Dunkirk spirit. KP is abrasive, talented and a winner and therefore a threat to the rank amateurs of the ECB. It is not KP who needed sacking. Give KP back his captaincy and let's see if we can't create a winning national side. I, for one, am heartily sick of being a plucky loser.

  • riteshjsr on April 3, 2009, 4:55 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen is one of the best batsmen in the world right now. He is a confidence player, very much like Sehwag and needs to feel good about himself. However, the ECB and the English media seem to be hellbent on destroying his self-belief. Stripping him of the captaincy was the worst decision the ECB could have taken. No wonder the England team is struggling. Champion players should be nurtured, celebrated, and given confidence, not treated shabbily the way Pietersen has been. However, I'm sure KP's indomitable spirit will triumph and he will continue to score runs for England.

  • NeilCameron on April 3, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    We need to remember that the hierarchy of English cricket tends to reward more insubstantial things than form. Has much changed since Boycott was dropped for scoring 246 not out (a strike rate of 44.32 was "too slow")? Has much changed since Gatting was sacked as captain for having a barmaid (one of the proles) in his room for a short time? Has much changed since Brian Close, on the cusp of a great career as England captain, lost his position because of one bad first class match for Yorkshire? Or what about "Tich" Freeman, one of the greatest spin bowlers to play the game, being permanently dropped from the Test side and then ignored as he proceeded to break wicket taking records? (Freeman vs Bradman during the 1930s would've been one of the greatest spectacles of all - but one that was denied to us by the authorities)

    It doesn't matter whether the letters say MCC, TCCB or ECB, the fact remains that runs and/or wickets are not enough for the powers that be.

  • vladtepes on April 3, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    with a sparkplug like kp england can now see what it was like for the windies players and fans when lara stood head and shoulders above his teammates. the pressures on one player to succeed for the whole team is unfairly tremendous.

  • Dhushan on April 3, 2009, 3:48 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen is a man who loves cricket & a man in my opinion who dedicated himself to England cricket from the time he was told that he had to play county cricket before playing for England after he came from South Africa. A man who has the Three Lions & the Crown tattooed on his arms with his ODI & Test numbers, indicating his loyalty to the nation. England turned to him when they needed him & gave him the captaincy but they kicked him out when they found out that they couldn't puppeteer him around as they want. They have forgotten what he did for them. Andrew Miller, I applaud you for writing this amazing article about a great cricketer who has done many things for England & England should pray that he does not hang up his boots. I pray that KP finds peace with these beasts, settles down & comes back to amazing form. I hope he will reappear from those flames, stronger than ever before & show the world who he is. KP, you are a soldier I will salute any day!

  • drdreddy2008 on April 3, 2009, 3:38 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen is an extremely talented but insecure cricketer. At 28 years old he should have a little more self-confidence in his ability. He has enviable records, but there are a couple of issues that are hampering him. 1. The media has been critical of him because he is a naturalized British citizen who has put the team in disarray especially since the coach-captain fiasco. 2. His native land of South Africa has disowned him as a traitor. 3. He has extremely high standards for himself and this has resulted him in being singled out. IT is for this reason that the former Australian coach John Buchanan referred to him as "FIGJAM". He needs to stop being too hard on himself when he fails. 4. He wants constant love and attention from everybody around him. This is why he streaked his hair(2005 Ashes)and makes controversial remarks. If England are serious about retaining the Ashes they had better sort out what they want from this man.

  • edward_smythe on April 3, 2009, 3:13 GMT

    I would ahe more sympathy for KP if he did not ask to take off to watch his wife dance for a bit! I mean, tons of international players, some with (may I dare say) very compelling reasons to stay home, can still drag themselves out of bed in the morning. If everyone were as 'professional' as KP, I can't imagine Pup or Mitchell ever leaving home :)

  • nanu2404 on April 3, 2009, 2:30 GMT

    The article is excellent. It just brings out everything and anything I had in my mind about KP. The ECB is to be blamed for all the fiasco happening in English Cricket. First they entered a deal with Stanford without checking the credibility of the Man they are dealing with. Second sacking Pietersen without giving any explanation to anyone. Third I find bemused why issues like 'asking leave to see wife's performance are given as a news item to the magazines'. Is it to villify KP. Certain things should not be made public. But one problem with KP is he should also not go overboard at times and make comments about players Like Yuvraj, Chanderpaul. Definitely without KP England team will be more worst than they are now.

  • vswami on April 3, 2009, 2:06 GMT

    I dont think there is anything wrong with Pieterson. The English media never liked him from the moment they saw him. They didnt like his confidence and swagger and were waiting to cut him to size. Now they are doing it with glee. There is no way a Sehwag or a Gayle could have prospered had they been English simply because of the media.

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  • vswami on April 3, 2009, 2:06 GMT

    I dont think there is anything wrong with Pieterson. The English media never liked him from the moment they saw him. They didnt like his confidence and swagger and were waiting to cut him to size. Now they are doing it with glee. There is no way a Sehwag or a Gayle could have prospered had they been English simply because of the media.

  • nanu2404 on April 3, 2009, 2:30 GMT

    The article is excellent. It just brings out everything and anything I had in my mind about KP. The ECB is to be blamed for all the fiasco happening in English Cricket. First they entered a deal with Stanford without checking the credibility of the Man they are dealing with. Second sacking Pietersen without giving any explanation to anyone. Third I find bemused why issues like 'asking leave to see wife's performance are given as a news item to the magazines'. Is it to villify KP. Certain things should not be made public. But one problem with KP is he should also not go overboard at times and make comments about players Like Yuvraj, Chanderpaul. Definitely without KP England team will be more worst than they are now.

  • edward_smythe on April 3, 2009, 3:13 GMT

    I would ahe more sympathy for KP if he did not ask to take off to watch his wife dance for a bit! I mean, tons of international players, some with (may I dare say) very compelling reasons to stay home, can still drag themselves out of bed in the morning. If everyone were as 'professional' as KP, I can't imagine Pup or Mitchell ever leaving home :)

  • drdreddy2008 on April 3, 2009, 3:38 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen is an extremely talented but insecure cricketer. At 28 years old he should have a little more self-confidence in his ability. He has enviable records, but there are a couple of issues that are hampering him. 1. The media has been critical of him because he is a naturalized British citizen who has put the team in disarray especially since the coach-captain fiasco. 2. His native land of South Africa has disowned him as a traitor. 3. He has extremely high standards for himself and this has resulted him in being singled out. IT is for this reason that the former Australian coach John Buchanan referred to him as "FIGJAM". He needs to stop being too hard on himself when he fails. 4. He wants constant love and attention from everybody around him. This is why he streaked his hair(2005 Ashes)and makes controversial remarks. If England are serious about retaining the Ashes they had better sort out what they want from this man.

  • Dhushan on April 3, 2009, 3:48 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen is a man who loves cricket & a man in my opinion who dedicated himself to England cricket from the time he was told that he had to play county cricket before playing for England after he came from South Africa. A man who has the Three Lions & the Crown tattooed on his arms with his ODI & Test numbers, indicating his loyalty to the nation. England turned to him when they needed him & gave him the captaincy but they kicked him out when they found out that they couldn't puppeteer him around as they want. They have forgotten what he did for them. Andrew Miller, I applaud you for writing this amazing article about a great cricketer who has done many things for England & England should pray that he does not hang up his boots. I pray that KP finds peace with these beasts, settles down & comes back to amazing form. I hope he will reappear from those flames, stronger than ever before & show the world who he is. KP, you are a soldier I will salute any day!

  • vladtepes on April 3, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    with a sparkplug like kp england can now see what it was like for the windies players and fans when lara stood head and shoulders above his teammates. the pressures on one player to succeed for the whole team is unfairly tremendous.

  • NeilCameron on April 3, 2009, 4:38 GMT

    We need to remember that the hierarchy of English cricket tends to reward more insubstantial things than form. Has much changed since Boycott was dropped for scoring 246 not out (a strike rate of 44.32 was "too slow")? Has much changed since Gatting was sacked as captain for having a barmaid (one of the proles) in his room for a short time? Has much changed since Brian Close, on the cusp of a great career as England captain, lost his position because of one bad first class match for Yorkshire? Or what about "Tich" Freeman, one of the greatest spin bowlers to play the game, being permanently dropped from the Test side and then ignored as he proceeded to break wicket taking records? (Freeman vs Bradman during the 1930s would've been one of the greatest spectacles of all - but one that was denied to us by the authorities)

    It doesn't matter whether the letters say MCC, TCCB or ECB, the fact remains that runs and/or wickets are not enough for the powers that be.

  • riteshjsr on April 3, 2009, 4:55 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen is one of the best batsmen in the world right now. He is a confidence player, very much like Sehwag and needs to feel good about himself. However, the ECB and the English media seem to be hellbent on destroying his self-belief. Stripping him of the captaincy was the worst decision the ECB could have taken. No wonder the England team is struggling. Champion players should be nurtured, celebrated, and given confidence, not treated shabbily the way Pietersen has been. However, I'm sure KP's indomitable spirit will triumph and he will continue to score runs for England.

  • Malcv on April 3, 2009, 5:05 GMT

    The media are definitely PARTLY to blame. The press's unquenchable need for copy and their relentless efforts to manufacture it, are a national disgrace. However, it wasn't the press who mismanaged one of the brightest talents in world cricket! The ECB obviously value such English charcteristics as being sporting losers or showing the Dunkirk spirit. KP is abrasive, talented and a winner and therefore a threat to the rank amateurs of the ECB. It is not KP who needed sacking. Give KP back his captaincy and let's see if we can't create a winning national side. I, for one, am heartily sick of being a plucky loser.

  • PeteB on April 3, 2009, 5:37 GMT

    Nice article. The ECB deserve some opprobrium but most of it should be left at the door of sundry English journos (not the one who wrote the article).