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The case for flexibility in the Pietersen saga

Unity and stability are overrated, great teams are built around great players

Sambit Bal

August 20, 2012

Comments: 101 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen looks on from the balcony after his first-ball duck, Hampshire v Surrey, CB40 Group B, West End, August, 19, 2012
England need to find the right shade of grey in the Pietersen case © Getty Images

Watching Test cricket live always makes me happy, and Lord's, where affection for Test cricket wafts through like a gentle fragrance, is always a treat. But though the cricket has been thoroughly absorbing, it has been hard to shake off a sense of sadness. The value of cricket diminishes when the best players are not on stage, and though England can win without Kevin Pietersen, cricket is undoubtedly poorer without him.

Poignantly, Jonny Bairstow, the man who took Pietersen's place in the team, provided the most compelling individual story of the match, passing a searing examination that tested not only his skills but also his character. As he battled though, fighting nerves, and a hostile reception from two of the quickest bowlers in the world, and his innings grew, what was on some people's minds became almost audible: Good riddance, KP.

Of course, it is never as simple as that. Life without Pietersen might be easier, but can it be better? Or can it even be as good? The last week was an extraordinary one for English cricket, but that is the question the administrators and selectors must ponder as they contemplate the future beyond this series. Pietersen polarises opinion, but there are no blacks and whites in this case: the challenge is to find the right shade of grey.

Unity and stability are two words that have been used a lot in the last few days to justify Pietersen's removal for the deciding Test of the series. The truth is that all success stories create their own buzzwords, and all buzzwords are somewhat exaggerated. England became the No. 1 Test team mainly because they managed to put together a bowling attack that was perfect in their conditions, and because their batsmen prospered not only at home but also in Australia.

Unity and stability weren't of much use when their technique fell to pieces on turners in the subcontinent, and it was only a masterly innings from Pietersen that helped them draw level against Sri Lanka. Every team must aspire to having a healthy dressing room, for it can create an environment for achieving and savouring success in, but skills are much the greater pre-requisite. Success can be achieved without unity and stability but rarely without skills. Occasionally a team might punch above its weight with perseverance and spirit, as New Zealand have sometimes done, but rarely does a team achieve sustained excellence, let alone greatness, with those qualities alone.

I had the opportunity to have a long chat with Michael Holding, who rarely equivocates, last week, and without going into details it can be recorded that the dressing rooms of the great West Indian teams of the '70s and '80s were far from being oases of harmony. "We did," Holding said, "what was needed to win Test matches." Everyone knows those were teams that burst with greatness.

"Australianism" became the catchphrase for success when Australian teams built their aura of invincibility, but behind their very public mateyness was a team of strong individuals who didn't pretend to be friends once they stepped off the field. Shane Warne was quick to sympathise with Pietersen because he lived through his differences with his team-mates - and much more publicly, with his coach.

As long as Australia's reign lasted, the Australian method continued to be regarded as the template for breeding and sustaining excellence. The Australian system was hailed for creating tough, battle-ready cricketers, and the egalitarianism of Australian society was credited for instilling in them confidence and a reluctance to defer to those who ought to have been regarded as superior. And for years, as England's cricket team wallowed in misery, the English system was condemned as wretched and outdated.

But back-to-back Ashes defeats prompted the now-famous Argus review, which found that not all was well with the system. In fact, some of the recommendations mirrored those of the Schofield report, commissioned by the England board in 2007.

The point is that success creates its own stories, and over-analysing success can give birth to theories that somewhat obscure the simplest truths. Of course, individuals should never be greater than the team, but by the same measure it should never be forgotten that individuals make the team. It is true that a great player alone cannot make a great team, but the bigger truth is that there has never been a great team without great players.

The trouble with great players is that they often happen to be difficult characters. Some are narcissists, with an exaggerated sense of self-importance and entitlement. They can be highly strung and intense. Their single-minded drive towards excellence can make them insular and selfish. Because the game comes easy to many of them, they may be truant at practice. And because the money tends to chase them, they may be led to believe that they deserve even more of it than they get. They can present as much of a challenge to their own team off the field as they do to their opponents on it.

Good teams find ways to manage them. It starts with the recognition that special players often need special care, even if that means bending the rules, for at their best they can provide something so powerful and so breathtaking that it can transcend the team. A lot has been said about Pietersen's ego, but it is the need for that ego that powers him: it drives him to impose himself on a situation rather than submit to it; it allows him create his own reality-distortion field to bludgeon a hundred when lesser players would have fought for mere survival.

Good teams recognise that special players often need special care, even if that means bending the rules, for at their best they can provide something so powerful and so breathtaking that it can transcend the team

In his last five Tests he has twice done what none of his team-mates would have had the daring, imagination and skill to even attempt. His hundred in Colombo came on the back of a spirit-destroying run of defeats and allowed England to return from Sri Lanka with their dignity salvaged. And without his hundred at Headingley, England would perhaps have come to Lord's with nothing to play for apart from pride.

Of course the Pietersen issue is complex. From the beginning, his relationship with the England national team has been based on mutual, but uneasy, convenience. The team has tolerated him, the fans have accepted him grudgingly, and the media has been ambivalent. Though he has turned more matches for England than Andrew Flintoff - whose folk-hero status was earned through only a handful of performances - did, Pietersen has remained the outsider, the genuineness of his display of hyper-loyalty to the English always in doubt, his faults always scrutinised with extra rigour.

A full season of the IPL over Tests for England? What was he thinking?

No one has emerged with credit from the happenings of the last ten days. Pietersen has been petulant, and his bosses have come across as petty. Pietersen has felt let down by his employers for betraying his confidence, and Andrew Strauss has felt let down by the apparently derogatory text messages sent by Pietersen.

The media, a section of it at least, has played a curious role. On Sunday more details emerged about Pietersen's alleged text messages to the South African players, with a specific Afrikaner word becoming the subject of delighted dissection in the media box. When do private messages become worthy of publication? Perhaps when they serve public or national interest. In this case, it's hard to imagine what interest is served beyond the voyeuristic.

Strauss, by all accounts a decent man with a calm disposition, has every right to be aggrieved. But imagine how many friends each of us would have lost and how many of our colleagues would have turned against us if every unkind word we uttered about them in moments of pique had reached their ears.

So as those charged with safeguarding the interest of English cricket ponder Pietersen's future in the national team, here's their case against him: He is greedy, not much of a team-man off the field, not liked much by his team-mates, has been indiscreet with his comments in public, perhaps doesn't like his captain much and been privately disrespectful of him, and has been seen drinking with the opposition. But is that enough to hang him?

Now let's examine the defence: There has never been any evidence of Pietersen giving anything less than his best on the field. He was crucified for not being able to resist the pull that brought him down at The Oval, but he played no differently at Headingley, where his innings was hailed as being among the best seen at the ground. He is not known to lead his young team-mates astray or to have plotted a rebellion in the ranks; and he has publicly apologised for some of his mistakes. He is hard work for the team management, but can or should that be a good enough reason to keep him out?

The whole squalid drama has produced no winners. And no conceivable good can emerge by dragging it further. Big players are often hard work and players don't need to be mates to fight for the common cause. We don't quite know what Stuart Broad, England's T20 captain thinks of Pietersen the man. But should that matter?

If Pietersen were never to play international cricket again, the loss would be greatest for the fans, to whom the administrators owe the biggest responsibility.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (August 23, 2012, 21:14 GMT)

say what you have to say, but its not a total surprise. Pietersen clearly bit off more than he could chew. disparaging Strauss and Flower is disparaging your employer. you can't expect to get away with this. he might not be wrong but he clearly wasn't pragmatic!

Posted by Rastus on (August 23, 2012, 15:28 GMT)

I agree Jazman it does seem like very cliquey behaviour that England suffered from in the past. They should all get over their petty squabbles and put England cricket first. This could easily be a script from Grange Hill with people getting upset because someone texted someone else behind their back and they were supposed to be friends. Grow up you big babies, get a job in the real world and things will be 10 times as bad.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 23, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

@milepost, I would hardly call an England XI without KP a second string side, as at most you have only 1 player that was second choice, in this case Bairstow, who to be honest did him self no harm in the lords test.....As for sambit's Premise that you have to back down to these players, yes to a point, but there is a line in the sand that they should not step over, and KP not only stepped over it, hed have won an olympic long jump for how far he went beyond it. It is also important to recognise that any player, no matter how talanted they are, are indispensible, and 99% of people dont turn up just to watch a single player, most turn up to support the XI men on the field.

Posted by Jazman on (August 22, 2012, 12:00 GMT)

Is it just me or is there something feeling very off about the whole thing. I get the "school girls ganging up against the cheerleader" vibe. Like after the yard cat fight the girls (Anderson, Strauss and Flower) acts all innocent and concerned, saying all the right things to the principal when he calls them into his office. They just seem... fake. Everyone know KPs a difficult guy. Heck, he makes no effort to hide or deny the fact, but there's a definite wrongness about the other solemn lot.

Posted by milepost on (August 22, 2012, 9:48 GMT)

I think Sambit has nailed it here. I love test cricket, I don't attend one day or T20 internationals, they cannot compare to test match cricket. KP will be missed by the test watching public because of his talent. I think his behavior has polarized the issue meaning there are only two apparent choices here. That is a shame because cricket needs players like KP and Gayle. You can't expect the fans to watch second string sides and be happy about it. I think KP's international career is over which as a cricket fan is a tough blow to take but having a go at your captain with the opposition during a test match does not bode well for team unity.

Posted by busybrats on (August 22, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

Once the conditions to sack KP came to be, there was little choice the board had but to discipline him. However, if there was any wisdom in letting the situation bubble up thus - is hard to discern from this or any distance. Professionalism can be defined as the ability of not letting one's negative attributes influence on job behavior. In KP's case, the ego caused both positive performance and negative social dynamics. Much like a Shakespearean play, a flaw in character has led to tragedy. As in most cases, management has made its presence felt by bungling over an extended period of time.

With a 0-5 loss in India, 0-3 against Pak and 0-2 now at home, England have a very big hole to dig themselves out of. Good luck!

Posted by phoenixsteve on (August 22, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

Great article... bring back KP or learn to live with mediocrity? Somethimg I fear that the England aminstrators know far too much about! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by stalefresh on (August 22, 2012, 5:07 GMT)

Cricket is not poor without KP or Gayle. Cricket is poor when pitches are dead, stadiums are empty, teams are a big mismatch, and test series are limited to 2 or 3 matches. A test match for your country should make a player more money than IPL - that is where the problem needs to be addressed.

IPL is causing problems.. but this should be a eye opener for all administrators to fix the core issue. India obviously does not care about test cricket - not because they play IPL.. but because they take the entire thing for granted.

Posted by phaedrus81 on (August 22, 2012, 4:46 GMT)

English cricket seems to make a habit of shooting itself in the foot. They just lost their best batsman due to poor man management by the "most credible man managers" in sport :)

Some english supporters seem to think that given Bairstow's performance in the last test they won't need KP. Well we will have to wait and see how Jonny-come-lately performs in the sub continent and in OZ/SA. However, Strauss' reaction when Bairstow missed out on his century was instructive, deprived of a great story to snub the old enemy!!

Posted by rett on (August 22, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

KP is one of my favourite players and a sad loss to test cricket. He has many enemies in the English establishment, but unfortunately he crossed the line with his texts to the SA players, which no matter how they are viewed, were a betrayal of his captain and team. Examples of other teams containing players who didn't like each other are totally irrelevant. Bradman had many enemies in his Australian sides, but they gave 100% on the field, knowing that unity and "team culture" outweighs any personal grievances. Great talent is often accompanied by headstrong and difficult personality, and managing this is ultimately the player's responsibility, not that of the management. Sadly KP has failed in this regard and paid the ultimate price.

Posted by Paulk on (August 22, 2012, 1:34 GMT)

I used to be a huge fan of Andy Flower as a player (he was so far ahead of his compatriots it was almost Bradmanesque) and am a great supporter of him being at the helm of English cricket team. But from his recent interview I just wonder if he is taking too much of a hardline approach in this matter. KP is obviously brilliant and I do hope he is able to come back. Playing cricket at international level and being a top class international batsman is not like a corporate environment. I believe a some give and take is needed to accomodate brilliant but flawed sportsmen. On a tangent, I notice that Hashim Amla has a higher average AND a higher strike rate than KP in ODI. Pietersen: ave 41.84, SR 86.76. Amla: ave 56.49, SR 91.43. The guy just flies under the radar.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 23:12 GMT)

Well written article... the fact remains that after Ian Botham, and possibly Alan lamb in patches, we saw in KP a player that can take any attack apart and turn a match on its head... a player that plays pace and spin with as much ease and he has so much time to play. KP is something special, that we dont see often, unfortunately, special talents do draw admiration and jealousy in equal measure, am sure a lot of those English players in the dressing room were jealous of KP as well and are now having a guffaw at what KP is going through...

Posted by craigm_NZ on (August 21, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

This sort of squabble is as old as cricket. Didn't Spofforth refuse to play in the first Test of all because he disagreed with the selection of wicketkeeper. SF Barnes took 46 wickets in 4 tests in SA in 1913-14 (still a record) but it was a five test series - he didn't play the last test because of a dispute with management (alledgedly over his wife's hotel accomodation). He then declined to tour Australia in 1920-21 because the MCC wouldn't pay for his wife and child to accompany him. In more modern times, I've heard it said that there were times when Sir Richard Hadlee was barely tolerated in the NZ dressing room but since he was our match-winning bowler his team-mates just put up with it. The only said thing here is how little human nature and human petulance has changed in over 150 years.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 22:31 GMT)

I disagree with Sambit Bal. Cricket is a team game and such fits of pique ( euphemism if ever there was one) and egotism should not be tolerated. In corporate life, however brilliant the worker, he is shown the door if he is fomenting trouble within the staff, similar analogies can be found in school, home life etc. In this case, Pietersen was taking the mickey out of his captain because the latter was out of form. I would have had more respect for the Saffers if they had turned their backs on Pietersen and exposed him straightaway, was it a calculated ploy on their part to give him more rope to hang himself ?

Posted by Kaare on (August 21, 2012, 22:02 GMT)

Furthermore, for all of KP's petulance and juvenile behavior, his gravest offenses were based on the highly legitimate issue of the overpacked schedule, something which many cricketers complain about. KP's actions in retiring and unretiring himself were stupid, high handed and arrogant, but the ECB would be wise to realise that it was really a form of protest, and not divorce his actions from the underlying complaint.

Posted by Kaare on (August 21, 2012, 21:52 GMT)

I dont think it is fair to Mr. Bal or any other Indians supporting KP to allege they are doing so because of his love for the IPL. Mr. Bal's point is fairly simple - England should not deceive themselves into believing that they can afford to let go of a talent like KP and still aspire to be the best in the world, nor should they get so taken in by their own hype that they cannot be flexible in their management techniques to accommodate different personalities.

That said, its appropriate for the ECB to discipline KP in the circumstances, and if excluding him from the Lords test and the 20/20 world cup is just an expensive exercise in discipline with an ultimately benevolent agenda, then that is their prerogative. What seems utterly senseless is that there seem to be indications that they want to get rid of him permanently. He's been a brat (rumors about him providing strategic info to the Saffers is still unproven), but that shouldn't be enough for such an arrogant move.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 21:45 GMT)

I don't agree with Sambit suggesting team and selection committee bend the rules for special player. It's a shame that a player of the talent and experience like Peterson didn't learn from Olympics. Any sportsman or woman who ever competed in any sports anywhere in the world should look at our GB Olympians and learn team spirit from them.They will get enough inspiration from it to cheer GB fans. Cricket is team game and I have no doubt whatsoever that with or without Peterson England will bounce back. This South Africa team are worthy of No 1 and there is no shame in admitting that.

Posted by Neuen on (August 21, 2012, 21:24 GMT)

What did he say? Why did he say it. No one just say a random thing without a motive.

Posted by mkazmi on (August 21, 2012, 20:43 GMT)

I am sorry Mr. Bal, but with all due respect, its a team sport... the reasons for KP's indiscretions are very different than those of Shane Warne or the WI teams of the 70s & 80s... KP took his differences public, fed the opposition with strategic and derogatory txt msgs, and held ECB hostage to not playing certain formats... Maybe u have a soft spot for KP because of his love of the IPL... That being said, the ECB also needs to be a little flexible and come down to a middle ground... international cricket minus KP will be a tragedy as he has a good 2-3 years atleast of cricket left in him... but England can survive without him just as India did without Azharuddin...

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 21, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

well thanks to all the indian fans for their input.he can play in IPL full time and see how long it takes for him to fall out with that team.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 20:11 GMT)

Brilliant article -infact article of the month in respect to cricket. Both parties have to find a middle ground. What a shame KP did not play at Lord's and I believe if he had the Saffers could have been beaten - cause the first innings was where England should have dominated and put the Saffers out of the match. This was only likely if KP had played. The english authorities had such a great opportunity to let KP know that inspite of all that has happened we still have confidence in his ability and back him up. That would have have made KP realise , how much he is valued by english cricket. What a shame it did not happen. Ego has no place with bat or ball only ability has.

I have been following cricket for 30 yrs now and every star performer has had ego in some way or the other. The difference is how it has been managed. It is a pity this star has not been managed well and yeah the losers are all parties- English cricket, KP and all cricket lovers around the world !

Posted by Lovedegame on (August 21, 2012, 19:59 GMT)

I am sure he will be back mark my words, Its gonna be another Chris Gayle saga but i just wonder howmuch would England have uptill then????

Posted by TFERGI on (August 21, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

The fact is, that if this situation continues we keep Strauss in the side who regularly finishes series with an average of 17 odd and lose KP. That can easily be the differance between a good and a great side.

Strauss should go even if it is only based on his batting performance and KP should return.

The 20 20 squad is a joke without KP and Prior. Not good times for England.

Posted by vj3478 on (August 21, 2012, 19:34 GMT)

Lets wait till world cup 20/20 and ECB will realize the mistake they did! But its us fans who ll miss him before the action begins

Posted by Onkarbw on (August 21, 2012, 18:52 GMT)

If I had to take sides in this one, I would be on Strauss-Flower side. I can understand the shenanigans of Brian Lara in his day and to a large extent Chris Gayle today. The problem with KP is that cricketing skill-wise, he is not as far ahead of his teammates as he makes it out to be. No doubt he is a very fine batsman, but England are not a lightweight side batting wise. So if he is causing trouble for the rest of his teammates, there is less reason to tolerate him than say a Lara or a Gayle. Also Warne, during his time was more publicly disrespectful of his coach, but he was disciplined from time to time. For all that he said, he did acknowledge the importance of the system by getting in line (he did everything that was asked on the bootcamp prior to 2006 Ashes). And the indiscipline he showed led to him being the finest captain that Australia never had. So it's wrong to assume that great players should be dealt differently. Sure, give them some rope, but it will run out.

Posted by 12thUmpire on (August 21, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

Be it individuals or nations who get strong often get rogue mentality. Yep, others are supposed to pander to the whims and fancies of rogues who developed their strengths in the first place by working with others to climb up. Why not just kick the ladder once you are up? It's for others to find gray areas and compromise principles fundamental to an organization, once an egocentric has reached a point!

Posted by SA_Scot on (August 21, 2012, 14:33 GMT)

@Any Pietersen advocate. IF he explained in text or any other form, to the opposition, HOW to dismiss Strauss, then THAT is the clincher. Even if ALL THE WORLD *thinks* they know how to dismiss Strauss, that has still been confirmed by someone within the ranks of the English TEAM!Unless the transcript of the texts are released, the 2 things he is reported to have said will be speculated on i.e.Insulting his skipper, AND insider info.

IMO, that huge lack of integrity means he cannot play for England again. There are limits to everything, and how many marriages can survive an absolute destruction of trust. Individual brilliance may burn bright on occasions, but England have plenty of excellent cricketers. Bell, Cook, Trott...all have high averages.

Pietersen may entertain, but I would be glad not to watch him again because I DONT disassociate entertainment from honour\integrity. It's why I try to avoid the X-factor TV show ;-)....entertaining perhaps, but it destroys my soul!!!

Posted by din7 on (August 21, 2012, 13:57 GMT)

I don't totaly agree with sambit bal. This is not a indiavidual sport. Success requires team unity and the biggest eg of this is our own Indian team which consisted of sachin, dravid and laxman but never achieved greater heights which they where capable of. And 1 line u wrote "Their single-minded drive towards excellence can make them insular and selfish" would be perfect to describe Sachin. this is the cause he never played when india needed him. Truth is truth

Posted by brockyvjockey on (August 21, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

Interesting how some think the ECB have handled KP badly. I think not. Any player who dictates which England team they want or not want to play for should be treated with complete contempt. ANYTIME, ANY PLACE, ANY FORMAT. TO DIE FOR YOUR COUNTRY. NOTHING LESS. BARMY ARMY. BARMY ARMY.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

what a piece of writing ...thank you sambit....i m watching cricket for last 20 years...England team got out of mediocrity only after arrival of KP......the best batsman produced by England in last 20 years..... i got it wrong, by South Africa who played for England......i remember the debut one day series he played against SA in SA and blitzed 3 Centuries against a hostile SA attack in 7 matches... Remaining of English batsman did nothing ......England lost the series.....KP my full support to you are the best thing happened to cricket in last decade and after Adam were the reason i started following English Cricket ..... i m hoping against hope that they will select you for INDIAN tour ...

Posted by Banglalink on (August 21, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

Very good article indeed. In my humble opinion KP should just say to ECB '' I have apologised - you havn't reciprocated the gesture....I no longer want to be considered for any future England matches''. With his talents KP can easily earn upward of 3 million per year for the next 5 years playing T20 leagues around the world. Everyone keeps harping on about how good Strauss & Flower are but I think England are just an above average team who got to NO.1 playing in their back yard. They have lost 6 out of 11 matches in the past year alone and by the end of the year it might be 10 out of 15. I love test cricket - its because people like KP are there to show freakish abilities in adverse situations which are beyond average players. If I wanted to see average players play I can always tune into any T20 match and see people swing from their hip. Mark my words - England need KP more than KP needs England. Without KP England will not win matches - lose TV audiance/revenues - lose millions

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 12:33 GMT)

Personally, I think the ECB cocked up royally on this one, if you think the cheers was loud in England when KP was omitted, trust me it was deafening in SA. We knew at that point England was dead and buried. If you can't handle big personalities, the No.1 spot is no place for you, KP is too good of a player to be sidelined for such petty issues. suck it up , work it out or prepare to be second best or even third best if you are lucky.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 10:55 GMT)

Very well written! "Success can be achieved without unity and stability but rarely without skills." - this holds so true in any walk of life. Teaming is so often an over exaggerated term. Agree that absolutely no one is indispensable, but great players makes great teams..

Posted by Fan1969 on (August 21, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

How about Cook as captain and KP replacing Strauss? I think England can then make a dash of No. 1 again even in India.

Brilliant individuals are often eccentric. Not everyone is a Tendulkar, Dravid. Warne, Lillee, Andy Roberts, Shoaib Akhtar all had colourful personalities that often were imperfect from a management stand point.

KP would have been dissatisfied for long. He expressed himself earlier as well. ECB did nothing and let the situation deteriorate. I am not in anyway supporting KP's text messages. But it is the board's job to handle delicate, egoistic and colourful personalities CONTINUOUSLY.

A stitch in TIME SAVES NINE. Also it will not rob fans of the best possible cricket with best possible teams at all times. KP should play soon.

Posted by nlight on (August 21, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

I'm sorry to see KP go; he was the best batsman to have played for England in recent years.

However, if the reported content of texts about Strauss are true, then there is no way back for him. Even if he was enticed into this indiscretion by an intentional campaign designed to discredit him, he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

All the best KP, I'm sure you'll make loadsamoney in clown cricket.

Posted by Harvey on (August 21, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

There will always be a certain amount of disharmony within the dressing rooms of sports teams, whether we are talking about good or bad ones. KP has taken the situation way beyond that of mere disharmony though. He has actively sought to undermine and humiliate his own captain. He has also made it clear to England supporters that he prefers playing in the IPL to playing for England. I'm sure the decision to axe him from the squad was popular within the England camp, and it has certainly gone down well with most England fans. I was down at Hove last week watching Sussex v Middlesex. The cheer that greeted the announcement of his omission from the Test squad was bigger than the one that greeted the home side hitting the winning runs!

Posted by Webba84 on (August 21, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

@Dirk Armstrong - Give one example where KP hasn't given his all to win matches for England. He was instrumental in their last two ashes campaigns, he bailed them out in the UAE, he bailed them out again in Sri Lankan AND he bailed them out in Headingly just recently. England would possibly not have even got the number one ranking if it wasn't for him. Quite simply look at what the guy does on the field, not what he says off it and you see quite a different picture of him. I genuinely dont understand this catchphrase about nobody being bigger than the team. Of course people are bigger than the team. West Indies had a whole team of people who were bigger than the team, their success was due to being able to keep off field stuff off the field, not by having no conflicts whatsoever. Dont understand this rabid desire to avoid issues at all cost instead of dealing with them. Put simply, sidelining KP is just a cowardly way of avoiding having to actually fix the problem.

Posted by kaidranzer on (August 21, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

@ mikey76: Okay that's pushing it a bit. We all agree KP is a brilliant player and better than most on his day. But placing him above Tendulkar even when he is at his best is a bit far-fetched. And it may not be your fault at all because the recent Tendulkar is but a shadow of the Tendulkar of the 90's. We tend to forget the feats of the past. Please look up some old Tendulkar footage and you'll know what I am talking about.

Posted by Neuen on (August 21, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

I think he is a doos. Yes he is the English escape goat. Explosive? Where with numbers? Look at the era he played. Powerplays, Tennisball wickets sure sure

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (August 21, 2012, 2:43 GMT)

Both KP and the ECB are difficult people on equal terms. No one party is willing to give an inch to the other. I am sorry to say this but a guy like KP would have been handled better by another board. I understand the game is superior to the individual but it's easy to forget the individuals are who make up the team. ECB have already moved on without KP. They might say they aren't losers in anyway. KP, well I don't think he has lost anything either. He can still sign up in the BBL. He has a million dollar contract with Delhi in the IPL. The REAL losers are the FANS, not just of KP, but also of world cricket. I think the ECB ought to be ashamed of themselves in how they have handled this. Thanks to the KP issue, England have been knocked off their perch in test cricket. So much chaos and distraction for anyone's liking.

Posted by   on (August 21, 2012, 2:15 GMT)

Flamboyant players like Gayle and KP bring audience and attention to the game..Struass cannot and will not...KP brings dynamism to stoic English team with trott, bell cook and struass....

Posted by mikey76 on (August 21, 2012, 1:28 GMT)

When push comes to shove, there really isn't a better batsmen in world cricket. Not even Kallis or Tendulkar can play the way he plays when he gets the bit between his teeth. He can take apart any attack, he made Steyn and Morkel look like club bowlers at Headingley.

Posted by mikey76 on (August 21, 2012, 1:25 GMT)

I'm sure it will all work itself out in the end. KP's own ego requires him to be an all time great and that means playing another 40-50 tests and getting 10-11000 runs. We need Kevin Pietersen at his best and maybe this furore will light a fire in him and he will go on to achieve everything we thought he would when he burst on the international scene.

Posted by frozendilemma on (August 20, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

Is KP going to be the new Gayle ? Please noooooooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!

Posted by DeathKnell on (August 20, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

why this article is suddenly in archives and not in the main page.... excellent one... u hit the nail on head Sambit.....kudos...I have always thought that Pietersen alone cannot be the persn who caused this... and he alone should not be punished as well....

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 21:24 GMT)

Interesting thoughts and well written, however the author does not appear to understand the need for all members of a team to be willing to put the team first. No individual is bigger than the team, no matter how good their skills are. Suggesting that there should be flexibility for a team member that gives tactical advice to the opposition is just ridiculous of course.

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

Awesome article - wonderfully written. Sambit, your words ring so true about the incident in question as also about life in general. Pleasure reading this. Keep them coming. And yes, hopefully some of the ECB and team management will read this and the light bulb will go off. KP is one of the reasons I watch international (and IPL) cricket. And I'm sure I am not alone.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

How many batsmen around the world today in the game of cricket have the capability of taking a game by the scruff of its neck? KP surely is one. He stamps his presence and swagger, and honestly, he is one player who would be discussed most by the opponents in their team planning meetings. I suppose the likes of Hugh Morris and company need to get their eyesights checked. And brains too.

Posted by DeathKnell on (August 20, 2012, 19:09 GMT)

my prev comment was for all KP bashers

Posted by warneneverchuck on (August 20, 2012, 18:59 GMT)

Now in India they will be beaten even badly as they can't play spin

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 20, 2012, 18:33 GMT)

lets be fair.KP would be dynamite in IPL. So lets hope thats where he finishes his days as a 20 20 specialist. He was a great batsman but a poor team player as has been shown in all the teams he has left. Natal,Notts,Hants and now England. Guess he needs to look in the mirror a bit.

Posted by iHitWicket on (August 20, 2012, 18:04 GMT)

Masterpiece, as always. When you write something the pleasure of reading is not limited to knowing about cricket's happenings and your opinion of it - your ability as a author adds much to the value.

I place more fault with ECB for not managing KP adequately. History of any team sport is full of individuals who claimed more than theirs - and have more often than not gotten away with it, with least ill effect on the team's performance. Hope KP can continue.

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (August 20, 2012, 17:57 GMT)

there is a difference between a good player and a great player. good players play the game of cricket and great players play to win. KP was match winner and all other english players are just regular players. Just look at today's result the margin was 51 runs. KP would get those easily.

Look into English test cricket history from 90's to 2005 you will find all good players but no legend. After 2005 england won the ashes, won the WC T2020 and became #1 test and ODI team because of KP. KP was the difference believe it or not. England will soon be back to #5 rank in all cricket where they belong without legend KP.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 17:44 GMT)

As far as I can think, if we go by history,every team had afew bunch of extraordinary players. This KP controversy blown out of proportion unnecessarily. Just imagine if the amount of respect KP get in IPL available to few more current English players,then his team mates will start supporting him like never before. Australian & SA boards have already balanced their thoughts to accommodates IPL, so a lot of peace in their team. So I guess ECB should become a bit flexible in their approach to their players & should always give their players a breathing space by not thinking as they were 10 yrs back.

Posted by SuperSaj on (August 20, 2012, 17:13 GMT)

Colin..those greats (Sachin Dravid in particular) avg 50+ EVERYWHERE in the world

Posted by Paulk on (August 20, 2012, 17:01 GMT)

Great article, thank you. I hope folks at ECB, Strauss, Flower and Pietersen read it.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 20, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

KP has exhausted the patience of the ECB & the majority of the English fans. That said, like a parent that has been exasperated by the repeated naughtiness of a child (and the parallel is not entirely inappropriate as KP has often behaved like a spoilt child who is not allowed to have what he wants - hence the tantrums) - it is for the sensible parent to step back, count to 10 - and attempt to sort things out again. However, the analogy is not perfect as KP is not a child & the behaviour that has led to the current impasse has happened before - several times - in many different settings. I would expect there to be conditions imposed on KP if he is to return, special case that he is. The first of these would be to seek help (counselling) & the second would be to go directly, proactively, to the captain or manager to air any issue that is troubling him. If he wants to play for England again there has to be some sine qua non conditions imposed - otherwise he can walk away - for good.

Posted by SamRoy on (August 20, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

@jim0001 is the first English guy I agree wholeheartedly with. Everyone wants to see a high level of test cricket being played but ECB is robbing quality cricket by having test matches scheduled in May. I am not saying ECB should create a window for IPL but why not schedule ODIs and T20s during May, otherwise the best cricketers will continue to give test matches in England the slip in May, and spectators will be deprived of quality test cricket. Play the test matches in June. Better for players, better for viewers. Btw, I like test cricket a million times more than IPL but we always want the best players to play it.

Posted by Adamfkelly on (August 20, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

I disagree with parts of this article, however I do understand that KP is an excellent player. But moderate teams have succeed, Zimbabwe (1999), Kenya (2003) and Bangladesh (2007) world cup runs, which disagrees the notion of sat players win matches. Also West Indies with Brian Lara did not achieve what they could of. England have also won in 2006-7 ODI series in Australia without KP and against the West Indies 2012. During the last 2 years Cook, Trott, Bell and Prior have all been excellent with the bat, so KP is not the only star player England have.

If your interested in a different, but not necessary correct opinion on this topic go to:

Posted by Wynand80 on (August 20, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

@Colin, it pays sometimes to actually rely on statistics rather than on hearsay relied upon by most English/Oz fans. Sachin Tendulkar for example averages more than 50 in England and Australia and late 40s in NZ, SA and WI. Dravid for example averages 68 (thats right) in England, 63 in NZ and 65 in WI and in Australia averages a respectable 40, his only blip being in SA where he averages 30. Pieterson in contrast (not a comparison) averages more than 50 in Australia but 25 in SA. In the so called flat tracks he averages 33 in Pakistan and 40 in India. Not that Ricky Ponting did any better (avg 26 in India) nor Lara (33). But lets not allow statistical facts interfere with hearsay!

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 13:47 GMT)

Thumbs Up for the article...Brilliantly written...Forward the same to ECB bosses as well.The fact is that KP is the best player in England in all formats & its high time that England & ECB should accept it .

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

Excellent article , unity and "team spirit" are indeed overrated, at least in a game like cricket where individual brilliance can win you matches on its own.After Bairstow's performance few will be missing KEVIN in the squad but he will be absolutely necessary for them in T20s and ODIs if they should have any chance of winning SL 2012 or AUS 2014.

Posted by shillingsworth on (August 20, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

The case for flexibility surely rests on how much leeway Pietersen has already been given and whether the point has been reached where good management must ultimately draw a line. On the surface, an argument about text messages does indeed seem petty but you'd need to know what other disputes have occurred and how they were resolved to put it in context.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

But in England there is a myth that everyone has to be treated the same. It's why we have mediocre teams as a rule. The team and its success is not the most important focus. Doing what the boss expects is the real centre of their needs so he can keep his position. Management here is about making rules that everyone has to follow whoever they are so KP never had a hope.

Posted by Reg_Dyer on (August 20, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

A good article but we shouldn't exagerate Pietersen's importance. The innings in Sri Lanka was good, match-winning even, but he came to the crease at 213-2 the top order having set up the platform for him to perform under less pressure. Which underlines what his value to the team generally is, which is a player who can take the game away from the opposition fast in partnership with his slowing scoring teamates, several of whom, it's worth pointing out, have similar aggregates and averages to Pietersen.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

@Manish To be fair,those Indian giants averaging over 50 play the vast majority of their Tests on placid sub-continent pitches where you could average over 40 batting with a stick of rhubarb. Pietersen mostly bats on English seaming wickets

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 11:54 GMT)

Superbly written. This whole mess needs to be sorted out as soon as possible. No KP isn't perfect, but he doesn't deserve to be kicked out for his actions, especially after his apology. The ECB are managing this as a matter of principle, but to your last point, they should be managing this as a matter for the fans, and not the fuddy-duddy traditionalists in the members' stands. The ones who pay to fill the stands on weekdays. We want to see KP play, but we recognise a modicum of team harmony is needed. Apologise, shake hands, and move on. Friendship isn't necessary, companionship will do, so long as Strauss runs when KP calls "yes", and vice versa.

Posted by slowbouncer on (August 20, 2012, 11:36 GMT)

Thank you Sambit - its a pity that in this age of videos that go viral, sense and clear arguments somehow don't. Though I have a feeling the ECB fellows are not dimwits ; just that they have an ego bigger than Pietersen's. As they would want to the world to see it, they're putting the principle above the player. The principle as defined by THEM. Unfortunately they're old folks. And they're applying manufacturing era management principles in an era that doesn't put shop-floor thinking on a pedestal.

On Broad - if he's clever, he will realize that with Pietersen in his team, his chance of retaining the short format world champion's tag is so much better. But like I said earlier, sense not only doesn't go viral, it is also rarely found among anyone close to the establishment.

Posted by ashish514 on (August 20, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

"In this case, it's hard to imagine what interest is served beyond the voyeuristic." "But imagine how many friends each of us would have lost and how many of our colleagues would have turned against us if every unkind word we uttered about them in moments of pique had reached their ears." These are exactly the thing I was wondering about. Even if they were derogatory, the texts were meant to be read by a certain someone, unlike a tweet.

Where KP was wrong was where he demanded that the rules be bent for him by allowing him to quit ODIs and play T20s and to let him miss NZ tests to play IPL. Just like they did in the first case, they could have simply told him "either this or nothing". But "punishing" him for some personal message is not right IMO. Unless he said it publicly or he divulged some dressing rooms secrets or tactics to a SA team member, I don't see him at any more fault then Broad and Hales.

Posted by Simoc on (August 20, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

Good article. Pietersen brings along paying spectators because after Chris Gayle is the most exciting batsman in world cricket. It would be good to see him in tests but I'm sure he'll do ok on the T20 circuit. Had to laugh at Bresnans comment that Pietersen may not be missed. Bresnan certainly wasn't missed in this test. He was replaced by a more talented bowler. Maybe Bresnan will learn when to shut up.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 11:16 GMT)

If unity is overrated, how come Lancashire managed to win last year's County Championship with a squad written off by most as having no stars, yet who played with a great collective spirit, while Yorkshire, tipped by many for the title yet supposedly rife with in-fighting were relegated?

Posted by dhchdh on (August 20, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

THANX MATE!!!! Finally someone has written something sensible about the KP saga. He is the best we have & the sooner the dimwits at ECB realise this the better for us ordinary fans.....

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

Brilliant read! KP's average is just under 50 and not that great when compared to some Indian giants who command all the attention they get. But going by English team's standard, KP is probably the best they have since slice of bread. You will always end up on the losing side in a battle against administration as the latter has more ego in the name of team unity. Its sad but true that common sense will never prevail...

Posted by sharidas on (August 20, 2012, 9:59 GMT)

I think the only issue here is KP's mouth or rather his tweets and talks. If he can rein in these two, then there should'nt be any problem other than the egos of perhaps a few others in the team !

Posted by ThirteenthMan on (August 20, 2012, 9:49 GMT)

It is simple...decent cricket fans do not want Pieteresen. Cricket doesn't need his likes. Let us just have done with him.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 9:39 GMT)

Its sad to see KP being treated the way he is by the ECB and his "teammates", team members might be a better word.. KP IMO is the best English batsman ever and his "teammates" are purely envious of him playing in the IPL, so each one is doing his bit to throw him out. As for Swann, he is the most over-rated spinner in world cricket, even on rank turners in the subcontinent, he gets whacked.. and Andrew Strauss- "OMG, can't seem to remember whether I am here to use my bat or my pad?? Oh Wait, LBW is a form of dismissal, I better use my bat" These lesser players in England need to shut up and learn to play cricket, especially the "CAPTAIN" whose batting average is, well, average..

Posted by screamingeagle on (August 20, 2012, 9:34 GMT)

@Peter and the likes; I am sure all Indian fans would love, absolutely love, no Pietersen for the tour. It makes things easy, maybe a bit boring, but certainly easy, in winning the series. Point is, if you look at the bigger picture, then this article does make a very valid point.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

Isn't the job of the management to 'manage'. KP is a star player. The very features ECB hate about him, makes him a demolisher on the field. And Sambit is right. He never really worked against the team. He is a champ and though he should still maintain some discipline, trashing him out is not solving any problems. No player is bigger than the team. But isn't the player a part of the team itself? Oh and Miandad and Imran Khan never got along off field, but gelled on field for the team. Straussy, be a leader!

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

'He never organised a rebellion!' How was he supposed to do that without any friends. I think you will find that if he could have, he would have.

Posted by mogan707 on (August 20, 2012, 9:15 GMT)

Media is giving too much hype to the story.Kevin Pietersen has an attitude problem.He could have discussed his wilingness to play in full IPL season to ECB.Though they would not have allowed them to,he should have kept calm.Kevin is at his peak of his career and he must quickly realise what he has done to himself.The only thing he can do is to do it with performances with the bat not with his mouth.

Posted by Harlequin. on (August 20, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

I'd also agree with Samit and jim0001: a good attack for english conditions and some good batting in england and australia - thats it.

Posted by Harlequin. on (August 20, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

Cracking article. I think also that the ECB has lost sight of their fans, and the essence of sport. Surely sport is supposed to be entertaining, and without entertainment fans won't pay to watch it, and the ECB will stop making money. Trott and Cook are great for winning games (a source of joy in some respects), but even in a losing cause, a KP hundred is great to watch. The other thing - this is their job, and whilst all of us would want a nice harmonious working environment, it is usually unrealistic. Most of us are still expected to perform when working with people we don't like, and KP has shown in the past he has performed despite being slated by his team-mates, yet the other pampered brats in the England team are different? The fact is, ECB have let their fans down to save their own egos from another battering.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

First sensible thing that I have read on this drama..., ECB have have hung him out to dry...

Posted by peter56 on (August 20, 2012, 8:34 GMT)

So it seems that KP and his buddy "straussy" are set to meet next week. whose idea was this? The ECB's, the captains, or KP's? I think that this will result in KP being offered a central contract with a new humble KP being rolled out as a result.the only way to prevent the ego from taking over again is to decide here and now that there is no way that he should be picked for the India tour.can you imagine the consequences? look at all the blogs, Cricinfo, Telegraph ,guardian onall the comments from India are pro KP. Only Tendulkar is more of a god to the Indians than KP. AND HE KNOWS IT. He desperately wants to tour India as he is hero worshipped over there Imagine the God like adulation he would receive every time he walked to the crease It would be like rubbing the noses of his teammates in the dirt .He should get at least a 6 months suspension and if You are going to bring him back do it against NZ a much more low key tour he can only be reintegrated bya much less starstruck locati

Posted by peter56 on (August 20, 2012, 8:23 GMT)

So it seems that KP and his buddy "straussy" are set to meet next week. whose idea was this? The ECB's, the captains, or KP's? I think that this will result in KP being offered a central contract with a new humble KP being rolled out as a result.the only way to prevent the ego from taking over again is to decide here and now that there is no way that he should be picked for the India tour.can you imagine the consequences? .look at all the blogs, Cricinfo, Telegraph ,guardian etc and what do you see? all the comments from India are pro KP. Only Tendulkar is more of a god to the Indians than KP. AND HE KNOWS IT. He desperately wants to tour India as he is hero worshipped over there Imagine the God like adulation he would receive every time he walked to the crease It would be like rubbing the noses of his teammates in the dirt .He should get at least a 6 months suspension and if You are going to bring him back do it against NZ the only way to reintegrate him is via a LOW-Key tour

Posted by m0se on (August 20, 2012, 8:08 GMT)

ECB has forgotten who they play cricket for. All the talk about team unity and such is pointless because they should remember they play cricket to entertain us fans. England is a paler, less entertaining team without KP. KP has the physique of a fridge and a personality of an ass but he should be playing instead of another safe team player. Blaming KP for fallout between him and teams is silly because this is the international stage and stuff like this should be handled by professionals like PR people,psychologists and managers. For me, seems like KP has "changed" since his stint with DD in the IPL and he absolutely hated leaving in the middle of it to go play test cricket against WI where half their team was playing IPL.

Posted by cnksnk on (August 20, 2012, 8:00 GMT)

very good article. There is so much similarity between KP and events that we see in corporate or even personal life. IN offices, we come across elements who are extremely sharp and come up with solutions for difficult situations. They are at time moody and do not necessarily get along with a lot of people in office. No corporate sacks these kind of folks. Rather than make them managers handling large teams, they are treated as SME ( subject matter experts) and allowed to work. The overall supervisor takes the pains to handle such SME's carefully and this requries mana management skills. No where are such people looked as team breakers but their talents are harnessed with specific structures. Not sure why the english management cannot look at this kind of a soltuon. With the army of support staff I am sure there must be some one in the english support team who can look at this as a man management problem and deal with it rather than sacking the person. Sad... Wake up England adminstrato

Posted by cheguramana on (August 20, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

Very good write-up Sambit. Theres no doubt England team has nobody of KP's calibre in their ranks. As an Indian cricket fan, I have often found fault with the ECB and the English team of attaining the present level of success with a lot of 'foreign' talent. But it makes no sense to discard that talent having already adopted and embraced it earlier. I think what has really happened is that Pietersen's positive remarks on IPL and saying that the English were 'jealous' of the IPL's success has touched a raw nerve. England's No.1 rannking is as good as gone - it wl be a miracle if they reach the target of 346 today. And the English fans will never forgive ECB for not using the best talent available when the No.1 Test ranking was on the line.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

Great article.... providing a comprehensive view about the problem.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 7:31 GMT)

Good to see a journalist who is not shamelessly addicted to propagating ECB disinformation and character-assassinations. Whatever KP's faults (and like most humans, including this poster, he has morenof them than he would like to admit), he has not acted in anything like as disreputable way as the ECB - the sight of player after player being lined up to say how much they felt the team would be stronger without KP was somewhat sickening to me; redolent of a Soviet era show trial, and evidence (should any further be necessary) of their continuing efforts to demonise someone who has demonstrably (on the field where it matters) been a great servant to English cricket. Not sure how tarring and feathering an (ex-) team mate is meant to show mutual respect, tolerance and good spirit within the dressing room.

Posted by timus6778 on (August 20, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

As Fitzgerald has put it:


KP's case is no different. ECB and Swann, Broad,Anderson( to name a few) are doing their bit to throw KP out and they have somehow achieved success in this.

It's going to be very difficult for England without the phenomenal KP.

Posted by Kunal-Talgeri on (August 20, 2012, 7:08 GMT)

Amazing poise and balance in writing, Mr Bal! Really amazing, especially because the subject of the piece is Kevin Pietersen.

Posted by Nuxxy on (August 20, 2012, 6:47 GMT)

Such a good article. Pietersen has issues, but he's job is playing cricket, and he's done very well. Managing him is other people's job, and they failed - those in the Pietersen camp and the England camp.

Posted by jim0001 on (August 20, 2012, 6:25 GMT)

by far the best article i've read on kp, englands performances over the last few years, and the bandwagon jumping concerning the merits of different systems. concerning kp almost everyone else smacks of posturing, p.r. and double think. the simple truth is that kp, while not in the very highest bracket of a lara or tendualker is our only player capable of moments of genius.

i was shocked last summer as england were hailed by english commentators as "possibly the best england team ever" but mr bal has hit the nail on the head - a good attack for english conditons, and some good batting in england and australia- thats it. a good achievement, but dont make it more than it is.

the cricket fraternity in england have a tendancy to get carried away with success, and weed out mavericks and people with even the hint of genius. add to that the fact that the ecb's stance on the ipl is clearly delusional and has helped WEAKEN test cricket. im english btw.

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

Excellently written article....ECB always talks about KP's its time for them to show they dont have an ego and are ready to take a foot forward, this is in the best interest of everybody involved, make no mistake, much more for England themselves than anybody else.

Posted by urprashant on (August 20, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

Finally Someone with right senses has analysed the KP situation. I am sure after losing 2-0 to South Africa the senses of England team will also return!!

Posted by venkatesh018 on (August 20, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

Without holding a candle for KP, you have put the issue in the right perspective Sambit. The acid remarks against KP this last week by the English media has been totally out of place(listening to BBC Test Match Special during this Lords Test, one felt that KP was going to be executed any moment for treason). The people in England treat KP as a necessary evil, the outsider one has to bear because of his prodigious talents. The ECB in this chaos has conveniently diverted attention from the real malaise affecting the team: the insane international fixture schedule of the English summer.

Posted by CustomKid on (August 20, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

I totally disagree with your last statement. Sure he is great to watch but he's not bigger than the game itself, which he has failed to realise. Fans will lose out short term but there will always be another freakish player waiting in the wings and at some stage be it ENG, WI, IND AUS or SAF he will be replaced and life goes on.

Given the option of watching KP or Hash Amla who would you take? Me personally it would be Hash everyday of the week. Pure class like Roger Federer in tennis, while KP is the wrecking ball like a Nadal.

For me KP can't return to national duties for ENG ever. SAF already knew Andrew Stauss was weak from around the wicket, they have coaches to analyse these very things for each opposition player. It's the fact that KP willingly offered that information up willingly without a second thought to the opposition is just dumbfounding and unforgivable for a team mate to do that.

It was good while it lasted but 4 sackings for the same offense speaks volumes of him

Posted by   on (August 20, 2012, 4:42 GMT)

Excellent piece. Pietersen is a special player, and besides, I'm not sure the English board can afford to take the high moral ground anyway. He's made mistakes, but he's been man enough to apologise for them. I don't think I've ready any apologies from the ECB for making public the contents of meetings that were private in nature. As a fan, it is tremendously disappointing to not see him play this test match. As much as I want to avoid it, the phrase "stuck up" comes to mind when I think of the ECB.

Posted by satish619chandar on (August 20, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

The heading says it all.. KP is not a serial problem creator like some folks like Akthar or a Sreesanth or Nel who used to do silly things.. KP is a selfish ego but that kind of selfish can be tolerated for results.. Like Warne.. Warne was never a good listener of coach or others but a good doer on his own.. KP can handle himself like that.. Certainly as mentioned, life without KP will be a bit easy but seriously doubt whether it will good.. Guys like KP carry a aura around them.. Marquee players usually worth it even when they don't deliver.. A hit or miss Gayle or Sehwag carries more threat than a consistent Chanderpaul or Dravid to the opposition..

Posted by CricFan78 on (August 20, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

Excellent article Sambit. However I think the only purpose on ECB hanging KP is because he has dared Tests in favor of IPL. ECB now wants to make an example of him and show that a player's career can be finished.

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Sambit BalClose
Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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