February 10, 2014

Pietersen down on dodgy knees

He has been sacked by England for off-field issues, but the truth is that he probably couldn't have carried on playing Test cricket for much longer anyway
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In all likelihood, due to a recurring knee injury, Kevin Pietersen would not have continued to conjure up more great innings for England, had he played on. There comes a point when producing such magical performances takes its toll, and for Pietersen, his Achilles heel has, in fact, been his knee. It has consistently been a concern for him in the last two years, with no signs modern-day wizardry would be able to stop the ageing process. Indeed, the grinding down of bone on bone must have had an effect.

For this reason alone, the decision to move on from Pietersen is, I believe, a prudent one for England. Of course, there appear to be many other factors at play, and the debate will rage on, no doubt. Yet, for me, not being a fly on the wall at these so-called meetings and affray, the tangible sign of a natural slowing down and of chronic pain is the focus.

I know about knees, as I played a whole career on one that was dinged and snafu-ed after a serious school accident. Once the mechanics of the all-important joints begin to fail, once the arthritis sets in and the mind masks a critical glitch in the hardware, the clock starts its final tick-tock. It's inescapable.

Pietersen is a fine, distinguished player; an almost-great, a player of mondo moments, a man of polarising proportions. He played a colossal part in England's fortunes over the last eight years, bringing about many husky victories, and with a personal century of Test caps - an honourable achievement. He deserves voluminous praise. He also must accept his fate. His best days are done. It's time to cash in his chips. More so, he can now head to another casino for his fix.

If he were to have truly proved his worth, in the medium term, performing another showpiece encore, he should have prevailed in the recent Ashes series in Australia. Yet he didn't look likely to do so at all. It was a messy effort, fluffing his lines even on the most trusting of stages, on pitches that should have been to his liking. While the audience, in particular the loyal Barmy Army, grew weary of the wait for his dazzling panoply, his fellow compadres became frustrated with the building crescendo of expectation and then silence. There were no standing ovations. In fact, a couple left early in the piece, shuffling out the side door.

Footwork, without question, or at least an impersonation of it, like Virender Sehwag shows, is critical to a batsman's success. To access the balls of the feet, the knees need to flex. We see that often with Pietersen as the bowler runs in; a flexing of knees up and down as he prepares for the moment the ball is released. The knees are vital to his game. He likes to get on the walk, knowing that being caught on the crease is a death-knell.

Once the knee is at unease, there is no going back. You are left having to manage a bad situation. England couldn't manage the ego, the frustrated Kevin, while Kevin couldn't manage the internal dismantling

Such was the exaggeration of his pre-delivery routine in Australia, it looked as though he was desperately trying to free up his dickey knee and get the feet moving. It led to his downfall, technically speaking, as he consistently tried to hit from an overly fluid base. To me, the bad knee was infiltrating the mind's space. When that happens it can be a fast end. No footwork leads to trying to do too much, to no balance, to miscued shots, to dismissals, to criticism, to mind traffic, to trying too hard, to frustration, to blaming others. Oh, it's a vicious cycle of endless contradictions.

Once the knee is at unease, there is no going back. You are left having to manage a bad situation. England couldn't manage the ego, the frustrated Kevin, while Kevin couldn't manage the internal dismantling, physically first, the mood second.

Pietersen's runs are his trade, and without a fully functioning engine or back office, he wasn't going to reach a consistently high standard again. Furthermore, Test cricket would only exasperate the toil, accelerating the toll, just as constant one-dayers had previously led to him removing himself from that format. Playing more Test cricket, he may have lasted a year, another ten Tests perhaps, yet with much of the rest concerning him being negative, his ticking bomb was already activated. Time was up.

So as we reflect a little, was he a great? This popular discussion of who is great and who is the best is a fun and natural compulsion. We all love to judge a situation. In Pietersen's case it's time to consider where he sits in the pantheon of the very best, the ones who have excited us enough to get the blood boiling, to speak out in admiration.

Recently, I went through the fun process of selecting my 100 greatest Test players of all time. It was easy up until the last few. My 100 aren't all greats of the game, just the top 100, in my opinion. As I go back and actually count the true greats, the number reduces by half (which I will focus on at another time).

Pietersen did not make my top 100 for he went missing too often, in terms of positive influence and consistent production. That he bounded in when in the mood and stole the stage spectacularly is indeed his lasting legacy - he was a player of great innings. Yes, it was compelling and addictive to see the grand entrances when they came, yet not always convincing of homogeneous repeats, of cocksure longevity. Yep, a good 'un all right, but not a great.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cool_Jeeves on February 10, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    Martin, nice article. As Ananth in the stats blog has done last year, the only way in which I have convincingly seen batting greatness measured, is by isolating performances against top grade challenges - which means an index of opposition career bowling averages, pitch quality as measured by the match batting average of both teams (for want of a better metric), whether first innings or second, whether home or away etc. The wheat gets separated from the chaff quickly enough. I would wager Pietersen is definitely in the top 50 by this metric.

    Pietersen's headingley century against South Africa is the stuff of legends. All the runs are scored off the opposition's leading bowlers. Havent seen anything like this since Viv Richards. He would be in my top 7 in a match against an all pace attack.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 14, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @nick Woolley - Inner calm, I don't think that anyone ever forgets Richard Hadlee, the problem is that by the time you have listed Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Ambrose, Lillee, Wasim, Thommo and Wakir you don't have any room left for fast medium bowlers like Garner, McGrath, Imran, Hadlee, Botham et al regardless of their skill level.

  • on February 12, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    A case against KP's long-term fitness can be made. To throw him out of all 3 teams takes a lot more explanation than a dodgy knee. If he's fit enough to play a season of IPL then he's more than capable of going to the Twenty20 world cup. Simple facts are that the ECB have decided he is the scapegoat for the worst team performance in English history. Not the board, the manager, the coaches, the captain, the homesick, the quitter or the entire squad bar one. Just Pietersen. He will now literally laugh his way to the bank.

  • Insightful2013 on February 11, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    Quite a few people seem to be enamored with stats. Has anyone ever seen Carl Hooper of the West Indies? His ability was stupendous! You have obdurate players who can compile high averages but we certainly won't pay to see them. Boycott, Gomes to name a couple. Cricket is such, that the longer you stay at the crease, inevitably, you'll have some runs, also not outs increase your averages. Stats mean little. M. Crowe's average leaves a bit to be desired, yet he was such a talent that we would pay. Miandad is probably one of the best ever, but he was an accumulator and not flashy. Yet, he made runs in an unorthodox fashion and quickly, using the fact that he was better than most and no one could really ever bowl to him. Shiv Chanderpaul? The ECB are such hypocrites as well, clarifying, after a clamor, claiming openness etc. England will suffer and everyone else will gain. But, it's always the case. Conform, or you'll be, up the proverbial Khyber! Ask Beefy.

  • on February 11, 2014, 16:07 GMT

    For once Martin, you do miss the point. KP was chucked out, in disgrace, with hardly a word of thanks for his magical efforts and not because of dodgy knees. Had the England management possessed even a shred of human decency, they would have allowed KP to retire due to those dodgy knees without a word about any other problems. Instead, the vindictive mediocrity that runs English cricket is out to get their own back by sullying the reputation and tarnishing the legacy of the greatest English cricketer since Botham in every way they can.

  • woody3 on February 11, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    Pieterson a great - I dont think so. In an era where top players average near 60 I would put him on a par with Cook/Gayle but not Tendulkar/Ponting/Lara. From the recent past comparable with Gooch/Gower, but not with Gavasker/Richards/Miandad. A very good but not a great, the ICC player ratings back this up, those who dont understand how good Gooch/Gower were they topped the batting ratings (Gooch for a couple of years), Pietersen never has.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    @Vinod It wasn't my intnetion to call you new comer. You see, my point was that cricket is a team game and 1/2 men may dictate its outcome but not without support. You must have seen Martin Crowe limping around from 1992 to 1995 scoring bucketfuls of runs but without Sir Richard, he couldn't give results. Same way do you think England will just find a replacement easily for Swann? I bet you they won't. A no. 3 batsman in trott will be easily replaced? No. You are an Indian, you sure must have known the importance of Rahul Dravid. In India, Cook played just as well, if not better than KP. Not taking anything away from magnificent innings of his but cook was just as instrumental. During 2005 Ashes he definitely played very well but do you think he would have done it without Freddy and Simon Jones? I don't think England won headingly test.

    No one should be bigger than team. I don't know what happened behind the scene but you don't set fortunes of a team on just one flamboyant person.

  • Phat-Boy on February 11, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    The knee is irrelevant.

    If teams started picking players based on the fact that they COULD miss games, Ryan Harris and Shane Watson wouldn't have a Test career to reflect on. Australia briefly did it a few summers ago and were laughed into putting a quick stop to it.

  • on February 11, 2014, 1:14 GMT

    Look forward to reading your top 100 list. Be nice to see a level headed one for a change. Rather than Aussies forgetting anyone to the south of them. Namely a certain Sir Richard Hadlee being left out of any and every best of the bowlers lists.

  • Insightful2013 on February 10, 2014, 22:42 GMT

    An almost great player, Martin. He is certainly better than you and you were brilliant. Won't you feel foolish if he continues to make runs? Would you apologize, then? Really, if cricket is such a team game, why does individual performances matter so much, especially in the batting dept. As a former batsman, it;s all down to you! Your confidence, concentration and ability carries you. And, you miss the point! KP is about filling seats, since it's now an entertainment thing. He milkshake brought the boys to the yard. Look it up. As you will see at the IPL auction. The punters have spoken and we want KP. I'm assuming, you feel you know better than us and would prescribe, what's best for us, irregardless, that we pay your wages etc. Most democratic of you. A bit ECB'ish, don't you think. As a former genius who also had some quirky tendencies, I would have thought some empathy would be present. Averages are unimportant, we pay for brilliance. People like you and KP for example.

  • Cool_Jeeves on February 10, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    Martin, nice article. As Ananth in the stats blog has done last year, the only way in which I have convincingly seen batting greatness measured, is by isolating performances against top grade challenges - which means an index of opposition career bowling averages, pitch quality as measured by the match batting average of both teams (for want of a better metric), whether first innings or second, whether home or away etc. The wheat gets separated from the chaff quickly enough. I would wager Pietersen is definitely in the top 50 by this metric.

    Pietersen's headingley century against South Africa is the stuff of legends. All the runs are scored off the opposition's leading bowlers. Havent seen anything like this since Viv Richards. He would be in my top 7 in a match against an all pace attack.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 14, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @nick Woolley - Inner calm, I don't think that anyone ever forgets Richard Hadlee, the problem is that by the time you have listed Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Ambrose, Lillee, Wasim, Thommo and Wakir you don't have any room left for fast medium bowlers like Garner, McGrath, Imran, Hadlee, Botham et al regardless of their skill level.

  • on February 12, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    A case against KP's long-term fitness can be made. To throw him out of all 3 teams takes a lot more explanation than a dodgy knee. If he's fit enough to play a season of IPL then he's more than capable of going to the Twenty20 world cup. Simple facts are that the ECB have decided he is the scapegoat for the worst team performance in English history. Not the board, the manager, the coaches, the captain, the homesick, the quitter or the entire squad bar one. Just Pietersen. He will now literally laugh his way to the bank.

  • Insightful2013 on February 11, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    Quite a few people seem to be enamored with stats. Has anyone ever seen Carl Hooper of the West Indies? His ability was stupendous! You have obdurate players who can compile high averages but we certainly won't pay to see them. Boycott, Gomes to name a couple. Cricket is such, that the longer you stay at the crease, inevitably, you'll have some runs, also not outs increase your averages. Stats mean little. M. Crowe's average leaves a bit to be desired, yet he was such a talent that we would pay. Miandad is probably one of the best ever, but he was an accumulator and not flashy. Yet, he made runs in an unorthodox fashion and quickly, using the fact that he was better than most and no one could really ever bowl to him. Shiv Chanderpaul? The ECB are such hypocrites as well, clarifying, after a clamor, claiming openness etc. England will suffer and everyone else will gain. But, it's always the case. Conform, or you'll be, up the proverbial Khyber! Ask Beefy.

  • on February 11, 2014, 16:07 GMT

    For once Martin, you do miss the point. KP was chucked out, in disgrace, with hardly a word of thanks for his magical efforts and not because of dodgy knees. Had the England management possessed even a shred of human decency, they would have allowed KP to retire due to those dodgy knees without a word about any other problems. Instead, the vindictive mediocrity that runs English cricket is out to get their own back by sullying the reputation and tarnishing the legacy of the greatest English cricketer since Botham in every way they can.

  • woody3 on February 11, 2014, 15:39 GMT

    Pieterson a great - I dont think so. In an era where top players average near 60 I would put him on a par with Cook/Gayle but not Tendulkar/Ponting/Lara. From the recent past comparable with Gooch/Gower, but not with Gavasker/Richards/Miandad. A very good but not a great, the ICC player ratings back this up, those who dont understand how good Gooch/Gower were they topped the batting ratings (Gooch for a couple of years), Pietersen never has.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    @Vinod It wasn't my intnetion to call you new comer. You see, my point was that cricket is a team game and 1/2 men may dictate its outcome but not without support. You must have seen Martin Crowe limping around from 1992 to 1995 scoring bucketfuls of runs but without Sir Richard, he couldn't give results. Same way do you think England will just find a replacement easily for Swann? I bet you they won't. A no. 3 batsman in trott will be easily replaced? No. You are an Indian, you sure must have known the importance of Rahul Dravid. In India, Cook played just as well, if not better than KP. Not taking anything away from magnificent innings of his but cook was just as instrumental. During 2005 Ashes he definitely played very well but do you think he would have done it without Freddy and Simon Jones? I don't think England won headingly test.

    No one should be bigger than team. I don't know what happened behind the scene but you don't set fortunes of a team on just one flamboyant person.

  • Phat-Boy on February 11, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    The knee is irrelevant.

    If teams started picking players based on the fact that they COULD miss games, Ryan Harris and Shane Watson wouldn't have a Test career to reflect on. Australia briefly did it a few summers ago and were laughed into putting a quick stop to it.

  • on February 11, 2014, 1:14 GMT

    Look forward to reading your top 100 list. Be nice to see a level headed one for a change. Rather than Aussies forgetting anyone to the south of them. Namely a certain Sir Richard Hadlee being left out of any and every best of the bowlers lists.

  • Insightful2013 on February 10, 2014, 22:42 GMT

    An almost great player, Martin. He is certainly better than you and you were brilliant. Won't you feel foolish if he continues to make runs? Would you apologize, then? Really, if cricket is such a team game, why does individual performances matter so much, especially in the batting dept. As a former batsman, it;s all down to you! Your confidence, concentration and ability carries you. And, you miss the point! KP is about filling seats, since it's now an entertainment thing. He milkshake brought the boys to the yard. Look it up. As you will see at the IPL auction. The punters have spoken and we want KP. I'm assuming, you feel you know better than us and would prescribe, what's best for us, irregardless, that we pay your wages etc. Most democratic of you. A bit ECB'ish, don't you think. As a former genius who also had some quirky tendencies, I would have thought some empathy would be present. Averages are unimportant, we pay for brilliance. People like you and KP for example.

  • LeeHallam on February 10, 2014, 21:55 GMT

    A very interesting point. I don't think his knee was a factor in it's self, but it could be a factor in his performances, and the decline of those certainly was a factor. Though he was still worth his place on figures alone, they weren't good enough to put up with the other stuff. If his career had continued as he played in his first 52 tests then he would already be England's record run scorer in Test cricket at an average over 50, and have scored 32 hundreds. In fact he only has 23, He has been unable, or unwilling to adapt to the changes in his body, in a way that the great batsmen do. If he had quit when he lost the captaincy, then we would have talked of what might have been. What we got were 59 matches where he averaged 44.53 and made 8 hundreds, good but not great. For comparison Cook scored 1200 more runs (66 matches), averaged 49.11 and and made 18 hundreds. Bell scored 12 tons in fewer games and averaged 49.34. Trott averaged 46, and scored 9 100s. Oh and Prior is quicker!

  • Vinod_Fab on February 10, 2014, 19:37 GMT

    @shane bond... The players that you mentioned can be replaceable but KP is not..!!.. If i take ur word into the consideration then y didn't ENG play dominantly or didn't win the WC T20 without KP..?. And why did ENG didn't win that 3rd test against SA without KP..? B'coz they didn't have it in them for that killer punch.. And why can't ENG qualified for SF in 2011 WC without KP..?. There are so many instances i can tell u..!!.. The truth is ENG can't find a gem like KP..!!.. Infact by this time he should be leading the team but unfortunately he is not a "YES" man like others..!!

  • Chase_HQ on February 10, 2014, 19:29 GMT

    This is *by far* the best article I have read on this sorry saga, if a wee bit harsh towards the end. I don't put him as a great either, but he did play some valuable innings for England at time of considerable need. The bottom line is that it's not obvious he had much more to contribute to the England set up, so better for him to go to the IPL, and for England to bring in some fresh faces.

  • Vinod_Fab on February 10, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    @shane bond.. New comer to cricket..?.. I am following NZ cricket from 92 WC where Mark Greatbatch just was spectacular opening..!!.. And the name that you kept(shane bond) is my favourite till now(not even steyn comes close to bond imo).. And we all know cricket is the team game but i am giving u 2 instances,1st instance was 158 vs AUS where bowlers did everything ok and then it was left to the final innings which only KP could have played,he made sure that it ended in a draw and ENG won the series eventually(that was a era changing moment and that impact was something out of de world--after 16 odd years) and then that 2nd test 186 against IND in IND, it was his innings(that gave enuf lead for ENG bowlers to bowl IND out in that turner,with that turn anyone can bowl de sides out) which gave ENG a hope to win the series.. Martin Crowe is gud writer but his point here is not upto the mark..!!. KP was batting very solidly after 2nd test in this ASHES(rem. he said i m as good as gold)

  • Joll on February 10, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    There are 2 issues I have with this article. Firstly, if Pietersen's knee was such a problem, why didn't the ECB mention it as a reason for him being dropped? Secondly, I disagree with Crowe it is fair to drop a player permanently because of injury in the circumstances in which Pietersen was dropped. Yes, Pietersen may have a dodgy knee, but is it so dodgy as to warrant him being dropped permanently? Maybe Pietersen could coax another year or two from the knee. Sorry, but Pietersen was not dropped because of his dodgy knee. This argument by Crowe is a red herring. We know this because the ECB has never mentioned Pietersen's knee.

  • on February 10, 2014, 18:24 GMT

    @vinod You are the best example of hypocricy. You need some hindsight too mate. First of all if Martin is not great according to you, you're a new comer to cricket. Secondly, you said KP was instrumental in all of English victories or maybe most? Cricket is a team game and not even Sachin carried it alone. Sure pietersen played very well on the occasions you marked but Swann and Cook were as important (or more) in the victories. Without Swann, Monty, Cook, Anderson, Trott I don't think KP would have done that in SL, India, Australia.

    Furthermore, we don't know and maybe we'll never know why he was sacked. It's easy to be a critic of someone. And what MC analysed was showing on the field. He himself retired at 33 due to dodgy knees and knows a thing or two we don't.

  • on February 10, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    @ScottStevo-

    I would be more than happy for cricinfo to run a poll to ask if KP is Great or not and I think like 80% of people who back him against ECB, i expect a similar number to confirm that he is Great. Stats are not everything as it depends on quality of opposition, the match situation, pitch conditions etc hence his knock against India and the one against Headingly rank among the great innings of all time. Most pundits who know anything about the game have already called him great, however a few bias ones who smell of jealousy will always hind behind the fact that his average is under 50 or that he didnt do well in the last series etc. Accept it folks or just look at most of the comments on this forum and majority believe he is a Great batsman. The only Eng batsman that I would pay to watch and as far as the likes of Root, Trott and Cook are concerned, I wouldnt watch them if given a free ticket to Lords

  • Dev23 on February 10, 2014, 17:36 GMT

    I find the idea of All Time top 100 list rather interesting. I believe, a player has to be judged alongside the players of his time. Martin makes a passing reference to Virender Sehwag(scored highest number of runs in the last decade) in a derogatory light. I am sorry to say that Martin fails to recognise that Sehwag and KP have been the greatest players of the last decade alongside Tendulkar, Dravid,Ponting and Sangakara.

  • Dev23 on February 10, 2014, 16:59 GMT

    KP is the best thing England have seen since Botham but the biggest problem is that ECB have not been able to manage him. It is true to say that KP is a very complicated personality and one has to accept that it was inevitable. I don't quite agree with the dodgy knee argument, if that was the case then surely it would have been stated.

  • edam on February 10, 2014, 15:30 GMT

    Spot on, Martin Crowe.

    Martin, what do we have to do to get a copy of your new book, RAW, in the UK?

  • Vinod_Fab on February 10, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    Very dodgy article from MC, even though MC is not considered a legend not even great in my opinion..!!..When whole cricket world is supporting and launching camaign to bring KP in, there comes the article with no hindsight in it.. Great innings(in MC's dictionary) that KP produced won not only matches but series too so i don't see any average or statistics to prove that KP is genius..!!..KP scored ton in PAK , NZ , AUS , SL , IND which lead to winning position for ENG..!!. T20 WC doesn't matter anyways as ENG already won it by virtue of the KP, but my main concern is the series against IND in ENG ,WC 2015, Series against SA in SA, and ASHES. For all the future series,KP is the integral part and he ll defly prove his worth in IPL which might lead to reinstate his place in ENG lineup..KP's technique is not like the same of other legends like lara, SRT, Ponting, Kallis so he will not be as consistent throughout his career but with the great innings that he produces he is far above others.

  • on February 10, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    Load of tosh! Why are you barracking KP for not getting runs in Australia when he was England's top scorer?!

  • rajatmehra on February 10, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    KP is only 33. If there were any fitness concerns, then ECB would have certainly highlighted those as an explanation for the KP saga. Certainly that hasn't been the case. While Martin would certainly know more than a thing or two about dodgy knees but he needs to understand that medical and fitness standards have improved a lot since his playing days. KP has been made a scapegoat for the whitewash and that is that.

  • nareshgb1 on February 10, 2014, 12:40 GMT

    Question is: How much of that dodgy knee was a result of the "Flowery zeal". Not the main question - but certainly A question. Of course there is the IPL (its always there :).

  • Hira1 on February 10, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    KP not in your top 100 cricketer list than your list is not even worth of mentioning at any place, KP if not the best then surely he is one of the best cricketers cricketing world has ever produce plus KP still has too much cricket left in him and that he will show when he will play for IPL and surely ECB will miss him a lot in T20 World cup and this we already seen in the last T20 world cup as well.

  • on February 10, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    I can't argue with 99% of what you wrote, MC, and I respect your opinion....BUT.. with a T20 world cup in the near future, and a 50-over world cup next year, can England truly afford to cast aside our highest run-scorer of all time? In tests, maybe, but in the shorter forms where a dodgy knee isn't quite as debilitating as it would be in a 5-day Test, surely England should NOT cast aside the one man who can change a game within a few overs of explosive batting? Let's put the political considerations aside for a moment...why else would you drop a man who can change an ODI or T20I in the blink of an eye? The man can/could still perform at the highest level, maybe not over 5 days, but certainly over a limited overs match. If handled properly. And, as they say, therein lies the rub....

  • ScottStevo on February 10, 2014, 11:38 GMT

    @Tanvir Ahmad, actually, Martin is exactly right. KP is a player of some great innings, but he'll NEVER be a true great of the game. You need only look at his career average to see that he's not up there with those that truly are great...that's the only stat that need be measured to ascertain KPs place amongst all that have played.

  • on February 10, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    Sorry Martin I rated you as a batsman but it seems you are a bit out of touch with KP over the last 10years. He has played MANY GREAT innings against GREAT bowlers when rest of his team have looked mediocre.There is absolutely no doubt amongst most pundits that he will go down as one of the greats. Do you honestly think when people like Vaughan(a class batsman himself) calls him the greatest Eng batsman ever that there is any doubt he is a GREAT??????? What annoys me is when pundits show bias in their articles and it becomes so evident. Please check some of the records and innings he played against SA, Aus, India and SL

  • cloudmess on February 10, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    The ECB should just say then - he was left out because of form-issues and chronic injury. The huge anger and frustration towards the ECB is being caused by their lack of explanation - suggesting they have not acted in the best interests of the game - and their patronising attempts to placate the largess with a few meaningless soundbites.

  • Manxmuppet on February 10, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    Another well written piece (for examples of consistency look no further than Martin Crowe's writing!). Unfortunately the bitterness is left not by the fact KP is gone, but in the manner in which he was forced to leave the stage. He may well have been about to deliver his closing lines but no England fan expected the ECB to open the trapdoor without explanation.

  • on February 10, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    They say write about what you know. Martin Crowe knows cricket and certainly knows about bad knees. I did a similar thing for years on a dodgy knee albeit just at decent club level. Good article- he always speaks sense.

  • CricFan24 on February 10, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    ara123- All valid points. However,almost by definition the more swashbuckling players will have their days when they get lucky and things go their way. But again- If you produce 5 or so such innings in a say 150 inning career-What does that mean? Above a certain threshold of competency ,luck would play a dominant role. For eg. a VVS Laxman has a few legendary innings on par with any ever played in the history of the game. But do those 5 or so innings classify him as great without a basic allround platform of greatness- i.e over a lengthy period against all comers - home and away ? The home-away split of most players itself is quite revealing. Also,most great innings are also blessed with quite a bit of luck. Witness Lara's 4th innings record while chasing apart from "that" particular innings. Also, the "manner" of playing you refer to - positive, aggressive etc- would automatically exclude the likes of Kallis, Dravid, Gavaskar, Boycott etc from the "greats" list

  • RohanMarkJay on February 10, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    Actually we have to define great as opposed to just a good un. In my opinion. KP has earned his place among the cricketing greats. One can argue if he played in another era how he would have gone. But he played Shane warne and Glen Mcgrath alright in 2005 suggesting he would have done alright in any era of cricket. Also his inventive style of play not normally natural to the normally dour and staid English game, brought new exciting way style to English Cricket. He is the best batsman English cricket has produced in the last 20 years. As such deserved to go out on a high.His sad and tragic end to a great international career for England is a real shame. In the last 9 years when ever Peitersen did well England did well. Shows his impact on English cricket. It is a shame he couldn't work out his differences with his colleagues and bosses.Peitersen could easily be a main character in one of Shakespeare's tragedies Such has been his intriguing and spectacular 9 year career with England.

  • on February 10, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    He has to be in the top 100. Your judgement is surely lacking there. Bias perhaps?

  • steve48 on February 10, 2014, 9:12 GMT

    I think a combination of his knee and the tension surrounding him since the IPL saga have led to more fitful, inconsistent, idiosyncratic shows of the potential greatness KP possessed. Judging greatness is very subjective, to the point where i would dare challenge mr. Crowe in a cricket debate! Do you go for longevity, aesthetics, accumulation of stats, or, in KP's case, how good was someone at there best, and how often did they produce it? Personally, i cannot think of a batsman who played more match, even series defining innings, right from his very first where in making only 50 he showed the rest of our players that not only could Warne and McGrath be played, they could be hit out of the park! Mere runs per innings cannot convey the team effect KP's destruction of some truly great bowlers had on our success in his time. Perhaps his biggest failing has been a personality which demands suitable praise for such efforts from his peers, rather than just Piers!

  • aus_trad on February 10, 2014, 9:12 GMT

    KP is (was) a "nearly man". On his day, as commanding a player as I have seen in over 40 years of watching tests, and certainly one of the 3 or 4 best England batsmen of my time (Vaughn, Boycott, Gooch, Gower, Cook...I think he was probably better than any of them). That being said, he never quite fulfilled his potential, which was vast (I think he had the potential to be the best since Viv Richards). However one rates him, I think they should have given him another year or so. As an Aus supporter, I'm mighty glad he (not to mention Swann) won't be against us, in home conditions, next year. What Eng desperately needs right now is match winners; and without KP, Swann and Trott, the cupboard is looking a little bare...

  • ara123 on February 10, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    one of the best batsmen in recent history, you judge greatness by match winning innings against the best bowling attacks and difficult situations. Also the manner you play, positive aggressive cricket. He did this for eight years making England once again a competitive team. lets not forget the impact a player like Pietersen has on the rest of the team. Better than most of players nowadays piling up runs on flat subcontinent wickets who have above 50 averages.

  • Big_Chikka on February 10, 2014, 8:50 GMT

    mere speculation on on your part of martin, were you not speculating NZ had blown their chance in the test the other day? don't be offended i'm always speculating, just not with the career of someone unfairly dismissed and likely to get paid handsomely for it now..!

  • tickcric on February 10, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    @BackStreetBowler I agree, you brought up a good comparison. It's too early to say KP is no more vital to the team because of his knee. Martin as a true expert, someone who knows what he is talking about must have seen some signs but I still believe KP is not over. He is capable to producing top innings for at least couple of years. Or may be not but we will never know that as he has been robbed of his chance to prove his worth in the future. Yes he is 33 and England may not have got many years of service from him but looking at England's current batting stock and form it appears to be a premature and risky decision.

    And that is not even bringing up the moral issue in this matter. You got the most out a player, someone who helped you in winning 4 out of the last 6 ashes, a series in India in decades, your only world event and you discard the player in such a despicable fashion! KP's sacking is not just potentially wrong from cricketing view point its wrong, plain and simple.

  • EdwinD on February 10, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Pietersen can't be considered a 'great' for two reasons - his longevity, and his average. The true batting 'greats' (in recent years Ponting, Tendulkar, Kallis, Dravid possibly) have Test careers of 15yrs+ and average at least 50 - Pieterson's career is over after 8 1/2 yrs at an average of 47.3.

  • CricFan24 on February 10, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    Gerry_the_merry.My previous comment turned out a bit ambiguous. The point is that either a considerable sample size is used to remove the grey as it were, or extremely narrow slices.The narrow slices obviously do not reveal too much about a career.The very narrow slices (innings) are what you and Martin refer to when saying that Pietersen was a player of great innings. Scoring huge when in the mood or conditions favour you is hardly an indicator of greatness. Also, a key requirement is consistency over time. i.e another version of not just cashing in when the going is good. However you slice it - A sportsman is to finally be judged by career achievements.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on February 10, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    All credit to mighty Johnson . Yet another batsman brought to his knees ! Shows the impact of express pace bowlers on the game.

  • CricFan24 on February 10, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Gerry_the_merry: Just about any analysis , unless considerably coarse grained and narrow, is full to numerous shades of grey.Such as the one you mentioned. A look at the comments section will tell you that every single factor is far from the "truth"- pitch conditions, bowler form etc etc. Every variable requires much greater context. The best you may glean from the "statistics" are ball-park figures. IMO - Pietersen certainly isn't a "Great". The term is applied much to loosely.

  • on February 10, 2014, 5:42 GMT

    now this is something many are not willing to consider. A brave article, I must say. there is a courage in saying that, he was a magical player but not a great one. Martin, I wish I had seen u bat. I m sure, you would have produced beautiful innings akin to ur beautiful articles. #admiration

  • BackStreetBowler on February 10, 2014, 5:22 GMT

    I have loved all of Martin's insightful articles. But this one seems to be supported by some 'dodgy knees'.

    I think providing 'knees' as a justification for dropping Kevin is akin to justifying Michael Clarke hadn't a hope in hell to score runs with his bad back. We all know what happened to that theory.The lack of transparency under the argument that 'we are not required to justify', across the cricket world is quite infuriating.

    Oh for some straight talking, honest people in the cricket administration all over!!

  • Team_Cook on February 10, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    @Jeewantha, the reverse sweep was actually in England. The amazing innings of 151 was in 2012 and Murali had retired by then.

    As George Dobell pointed out the other day, England have been very successful over the last 8-9 years, winning in Australia, winning in India and the world T20 and couldn't have done it without batting brilliance of KP. He is also 4 time ashes winner. I think if you ask any England fans, they will say that he was one of the greatest batsman to play for England no doubt.

    His overall record is good but it could have been even better. When the Windies series concluded in 2009, KP had 16 centuries then he got injured and all the other controversies and lack of form meants KP scored only 7 test centuries in the next 4 years. The 7 centuries were out of this world mind you.

    Will miss watching KP bat for England CLASS ACT

  • on February 10, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    Biased article - one can never know how good KP will be in the future, unless he plays. Comparing two different person of different era though they might have similar issue is not correct. The Aussie attack he played was at its best and still he has not fared too badly. I haven't seen any noticeable discomfort in his playing style except that he was stiffed by consistently good bowling. There is too little evidence to write off him at this stage.

  • CricFan24 on February 10, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    Yet another wonderful article. The insight "insiders" provide is so much better than the arm-chair critics.

  • Clyde on February 10, 2014, 3:59 GMT

    So, it would have been sufficient for the England selectors to say, 'We are dropping KP because we don't trust his knee.' It would be pretty nasty if KP's knee were also having foisted on it the misguided, authoritarian, failed system of English cricket administration (of the same kind as was tried in Australia and which failed there as well).

  • on February 10, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    Interesting article. I for one think that Kevin Petersen was probably the best batsman that England had since 1990. He was a player of great innings and a true match winner. Perhaps his arrogance was a bit too much for a team like England. England in the last 5 years built their dominance (and finally crashed spectacularly) playing very closely managed and rather boring cricket. In such an environment a player like Kevin Pietersen, who thrived on challenge and spontaneity could not have truly flourished. His wonderful ability was truly on display in the 2005 Ashes series. A series I still think was the high point of 21st Century cricket. Also unlike other English batsman he was a magnificent player in all formats capable of truly momentous innings. I still remember his 152 against us in Colombo. When he reverse swept Murali for six, I was like "Who does that? Who does that Murali?" KP did. And now KP is gone.

  • Webba84 on February 10, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Would be very curious to here Martins opinion on Ryan Harris. Guy is putting in the best and most consistent performances of his career on knees that would probably see most people going round in a wheelchair.

  • Webba84 on February 10, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Would be very curious to here Martins opinion on Ryan Harris. Guy is putting in the best and most consistent performances of his career on knees that would probably see most people going round in a wheelchair.

  • on February 10, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    Interesting article. I for one think that Kevin Petersen was probably the best batsman that England had since 1990. He was a player of great innings and a true match winner. Perhaps his arrogance was a bit too much for a team like England. England in the last 5 years built their dominance (and finally crashed spectacularly) playing very closely managed and rather boring cricket. In such an environment a player like Kevin Pietersen, who thrived on challenge and spontaneity could not have truly flourished. His wonderful ability was truly on display in the 2005 Ashes series. A series I still think was the high point of 21st Century cricket. Also unlike other English batsman he was a magnificent player in all formats capable of truly momentous innings. I still remember his 152 against us in Colombo. When he reverse swept Murali for six, I was like "Who does that? Who does that Murali?" KP did. And now KP is gone.

  • Clyde on February 10, 2014, 3:59 GMT

    So, it would have been sufficient for the England selectors to say, 'We are dropping KP because we don't trust his knee.' It would be pretty nasty if KP's knee were also having foisted on it the misguided, authoritarian, failed system of English cricket administration (of the same kind as was tried in Australia and which failed there as well).

  • CricFan24 on February 10, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    Yet another wonderful article. The insight "insiders" provide is so much better than the arm-chair critics.

  • on February 10, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    Biased article - one can never know how good KP will be in the future, unless he plays. Comparing two different person of different era though they might have similar issue is not correct. The Aussie attack he played was at its best and still he has not fared too badly. I haven't seen any noticeable discomfort in his playing style except that he was stiffed by consistently good bowling. There is too little evidence to write off him at this stage.

  • Team_Cook on February 10, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    @Jeewantha, the reverse sweep was actually in England. The amazing innings of 151 was in 2012 and Murali had retired by then.

    As George Dobell pointed out the other day, England have been very successful over the last 8-9 years, winning in Australia, winning in India and the world T20 and couldn't have done it without batting brilliance of KP. He is also 4 time ashes winner. I think if you ask any England fans, they will say that he was one of the greatest batsman to play for England no doubt.

    His overall record is good but it could have been even better. When the Windies series concluded in 2009, KP had 16 centuries then he got injured and all the other controversies and lack of form meants KP scored only 7 test centuries in the next 4 years. The 7 centuries were out of this world mind you.

    Will miss watching KP bat for England CLASS ACT

  • BackStreetBowler on February 10, 2014, 5:22 GMT

    I have loved all of Martin's insightful articles. But this one seems to be supported by some 'dodgy knees'.

    I think providing 'knees' as a justification for dropping Kevin is akin to justifying Michael Clarke hadn't a hope in hell to score runs with his bad back. We all know what happened to that theory.The lack of transparency under the argument that 'we are not required to justify', across the cricket world is quite infuriating.

    Oh for some straight talking, honest people in the cricket administration all over!!

  • on February 10, 2014, 5:42 GMT

    now this is something many are not willing to consider. A brave article, I must say. there is a courage in saying that, he was a magical player but not a great one. Martin, I wish I had seen u bat. I m sure, you would have produced beautiful innings akin to ur beautiful articles. #admiration

  • CricFan24 on February 10, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Gerry_the_merry: Just about any analysis , unless considerably coarse grained and narrow, is full to numerous shades of grey.Such as the one you mentioned. A look at the comments section will tell you that every single factor is far from the "truth"- pitch conditions, bowler form etc etc. Every variable requires much greater context. The best you may glean from the "statistics" are ball-park figures. IMO - Pietersen certainly isn't a "Great". The term is applied much to loosely.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on February 10, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    All credit to mighty Johnson . Yet another batsman brought to his knees ! Shows the impact of express pace bowlers on the game.