February 12, 2014

Why is it always about the team?

Insiders consider Kevin Pietersen's lack of "teamliness" his biggest flaw but spectators love to watch him play. So who matters more?
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Cricket is not maths. Also, no wooden ruler exists that can be lined upright beside cricketers and the adjudication handed down to chop this brat, but this other brat's a brat who can bat, so he stays. And the far-sighted correspondents of several nations' newspapers have had their says while trying to convey the gist of the wishes of the England XI, of whom Kevin Pietersen is no longer one. That makes ten. And I get that Pietersen was ego-burdened, money-fixated, ungrateful, unruly, unEnglish and that reflecting ponds were for him a serious life hazard. But they're still only ten. People like me, who like cricket, we number billions.

Not all the billion-odd liked Pietersen. Of those that didn't, many gutturally and vehemently didn't. Few were indifferent to him. The usual blindfolded detective work has since gone into guessing the where, how, why and who of his sacking. Particularly foggy is the "who". Of the "who", we know only this: the billion-odd were not among them. The feelings of the billion-odd went unmentioned in the backroom manoeuvrings and were put on no table for consideration. The ten mattered totally, and none thought to think of the billion. If we twist "who" round to mean who of the ten wished Pietersen out, we are not actually sure it was ten. It could have been seven, and three abstainers; it may, for all that the detective work has so far taught us, have been one. And in a soundproof room, there rails a billion.

To propose that the cricket-watching public's interests should have been taken into account in all of this would be reckoned the zenith of stupidity, were anyone stupid enough to utter such a thing. Call me stupid but is it not striking how neatly this Pietersen business folds into the current governing crisis - the tripartite Indo-Anglo-Bozo hijacking of the International Cricket Council? At the root of that is a scrambling for TV money. And is it not the cricket-watching public's eyeballs that watch the cricket that spurs the ratings that attract the TV dollars that put the fuel inside the cricket administrators' flash cars?

Pietersen was something stranger and rarer, too, than a player of great innings - a player of great shots. He'd dream up a shot, think wouldn't that be cool?, then try to get away with it

From there it may follow that if this billion-strong public, which brings in the bacon, likes to see a particular batsman bat - perhaps because he is entertaining and takes risks and bats with a certain free spirit - then the matter of them liking him should be a factor in any conversations held before that batsman is gotten rid of. But there are insiders. There are outsiders. The gap is wide. The insiders say the team's interests and team ethic is everything, always has been, which they are wrong about. Cricket for a lot of its existence was chiefly an entertainment. Were a player entertaining to watch, that could help get him a game. Not until much later did the winning and the losing take precedence over the entertaining. And only very recently did the making of money shout down all else, relegating entertainment to a distant third priority, with the entertainees voiceless.

The insiders believe a lack of teamliness in an individual's make-up to be the biggest and least overlookable flaw. I am not sure that's right either. Nor do the fixations alluded to earlier - with money, with self, with tasty biltong - seem so grave, on paper. Being a bully: that has to be worse. And I've read some history books and skimmed some player memoirs, and now my eyes are running down the all-time runs and wickets tables and although the bullies don't quite outnumber the goodies, the bullies are certainly not short of company. Of course, there is only so far one can go in separating these broader principles from the specific individual at hand: Pietersen.

"International cricket is where legacies are made," writes the Telegraph's Derek Pringle, "and Pietersen leaves with his only half realised as a player of great innings but not a great batsman."

Well, I know which kind of great I'd usually rather watch. And I worry that the maths is getting in the Telegraph correspondent's eyes. I don't watch batting averages ticking. I don't even watch cricket hoping a particular team will win. I watch to be moved and entertained. I can think of many a "great batsman" of my home country who moved me not nearly as much as a handful of "players of great innings" did.

Pietersen was something stranger and rarer, too, than a player of great innings - a player of great shots. He'd dream up a shot, think wouldn't that be cool?, then try to get away with it. Such a batsman's a high-value spectator attraction. A by-product is that his value to spectators can run in inverse proportion to the team. But why is it always about the team, never the spectator?

Not only that. Pietersen, having hatched this shot out of the blue sky once and escaped, would reattempt it. At Edgbaston in 2006 medium-pacer Farveez Maharoof was bowling to a loaded off-side field. Before the next ball left Maharoof's hand, Pietersen was leaning across, softly wandering, culminating in a giant step forward, and though the ball landed a foot and a half outside off stump, angling further away, Pietersen's hands followed it, his wrists uncoiling, and he dispatched the ball miraculously cross-careening past mid-on to where no fielders were stationed. By then Pietersen was perching lopsided and one-legged, his back foot curled in the air. The shot acquired a name - "the flamingo" - and when he tried something similar off Dwayne Bravo at Headingley a year later he made Mike Atherton splutter into his microphone. "Unbelievable shot. It's the length that enables him to play the stroke. Anything a bit short and it's a more difficult shot to play… " - which rang true of the Bravo ball. But the Maharoof ball pitched barely halfway up. The wrist strength required of Pietersen was verging on uncomputable. He was 70 not out. On 79 he did it again: same bowler and field setting, near-replica delivery, four runs. And this - the reattempting of it - was what tipped the crowd over the edge, turned individual spectators into pogo sticks. That Pietersen passage burns in the memory alongside a 51 he made in Melbourne when I counted how many times he let the ball go, 14, each leave so tumultuous that the bat's stickers were pointing sky-side up.

He had another quality - what Sir Viv Richards was sort of referring to last year when he claimed "the comparison I'm drawing is with Muhammad Ali… you want to see KP get knocked over, but he goes out there and bang, bang, bang!", except an online commentator underneath a Guardian post put it better last week:

Since I started watching cricket as a 10 year old in 1991, I have seen no England batsman so talented and so exciting to watch … You don't really need more than that, but here's why I loved him more: his attitude, his demeanour, his style of play thoroughly pissed off the English cricketing establishment and I bloody loved it. These are the people who dropped Gower … who ruined Hick and Ramprakash.

I make no apology for quoting a member of the public, one of the billion-odd.

I do not want a reality TV-type scenario where people can text-vote "KP In/Out". I'd prefer to trust wise men to make the call and for one of their criteria to be the good that a player gives to cricket - and I'm not confident that happened here or ever does anymore.

And I accept what the journalist Peter Oborne writes of Don Bradman, Frank Worrell, Abdul Hafeez Kardar and a cricket world where "it was axiomatic that the individual should subordinate himself and his talents to the team". I see the nobleness in this, and it was an ingredient always missing in Pietersen, and had it been there he'd have been even better to watch, pure pleasure.

Oborne continues: "In so far as Pietersen has any nationality, he seems to be South African… He emerged as a cricketer in the most wonderful moment in South African history, when apartheid had gone and the country was building a multi-racial national team. Pietersen wanted no part in this new world. He got out as soon as he could, claiming that the positive discrimination necessary to help black cricketers stood in his way."

They are words that damn, as were Rachel Cooke's in an Observer profile of Pietersen years ago - "When he smiles it's only his mouth that softens, not his eyes." I know without meeting him that's right. I've seen the cold-eyes smile. It was even there at Edgbaston, in Melbourne. And when I reread something Pietersen said to Cooke - "I've never once criticised South Africa. I love the country. The people are fantastic. The exchange rate is magnificent" - what I think is: tosshead.

But there are high-stakes questions here, e.g. why does cricket exist? And for who? All I'm sure of is that two plus two is seven, and Pietersen equals the cricketer who cricket could least afford to lose.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket and, most recently Australia: Story of a Cricket Country

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Insightful2013 on February 15, 2014, 18:40 GMT

    Sir, absolutely splendid article. I shall, most certainly look forward to all you write in the future. I wonder if it's possible to dissect genius and should we? Richards, Marshall, Wasim, Waquar, KP, Sobers, Carl Hooper etc are geniuses. I don't care about Maradona's addictions, Cantona's madness, Zidane's impetuosity, Shaoib's flaws, McEnroe's brattiness. I want the visceral, vicarious feeling of watching these splendid people. I feel extremely grateful for having seen them and do not want to analyze, judge or even compare them. KP is such! I want the high from the drug of people who seem to live in the zone. Sir, individuals make up a team and their collated performances determine outcomes. Captains are there to manage and coerce performances, irregardless of how it's achieved. I am a shareholder and I want my dividends. Employ the mad genuis and placate him but wring out his performances so I may get my fix. The ECB are very bad at their jobs and should be ousted.

  • Insult_2_Injury on February 15, 2014, 2:38 GMT

    Why is it about the team? It's one thing to have a mate who's the life of the party, but another to share a house with him, when he thinks every minute of the day is about him being the centre of attention and doing what ever he wants in the house, despite it being completely at odds with the other house mates. I guess then your question is akin to party goers saying to housemates that it must be great fun living with a 'born entertainer'? At some stage you have to get him to clean the house. In KP's situation, sometimes you need him to bat for 4 hours for the sake of the team, rather than swinging from the ring because he has no faith in his 'housemates'! But then sometimes it's just easier to suggest to the 34 yo that it's time for him to get his own place. Maybe golf is his future.

  • on February 15, 2014, 2:35 GMT

    UNFAIR DISMISSAL

    It is extraordinary that KP is the fall guy for England's woes. If there was ever an unfair dismissal it is this one. I saw KP at the MCG.

    One of the few English batsmen that showed no fear of MJ. He hit out and was bowled because there was no body to bat with.

    For Boycott to persist with criticism of KP is preposterous. The comparison is odious. Boycott brought the game into disrepute for NOT SCORING runs. KP the opposite.

    KP was the highest run scorer for England during the recent 2013/14 Ashes Test series in Australia and second highest run scorer in the 2013 Asher Test series in England. Therefore he was on the up, with form improving.

    Sacking KP turns England into a bunch of whining Poms. He should leave England and be invited, as the larrikin that he is, to Australia.

  • on February 15, 2014, 0:14 GMT

    Shooting the Messenger wont work!! :-)

  • inswing on February 13, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    Cricket is a team game only nominally. It is mostly a one-on-one contest, much like tennis. Team aspects exist, but are very small compared to the contest between one batsman and one bowler. 99% of the time, when a player plays "selfishly" it helps the team. A bowler taking wickets selfishly, and a batsman scoring runs selfishly is great for the team. The whole "team" business in cricket is completely overblown. It is foolish to throw out a player for not being a team player. When Pieterson scores a century, it hurts England how exactly?

  • on February 13, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    A widely-held assumption here seems to be that KP undermined the England team during the Ashes series. What direct evidence do we have of this? The only evidence (quotes from members of the team) I have seen points in the other direction: suggesting that he was an exemplary team-man, had an excellent attitude, was helping junior players, was fielding at Fine Leg etc etc. As one of the billion, I am just so grateful we got 10 years of him. Given the track-record of the England establishment (I grew up watching David Gower at Grace Road, and we all know how his Test career ended), I think it is amazing we got to see him at all.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on February 13, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    Spot on. The number of brilliant talents squandered by England over the last 20 years is staggering. Is it any wonder that they've never been able to stay at the top for an length of time?

  • Thegimp on February 13, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    yes PratUSA, workplaces are more productive when everyone plays the same tune. Sporting teams are better without the backroom back stabbing from individuals of that team.

    @ Christian, your lines

    "I see the nobleness in this, and it was an ingredient always missing in Pietersen, and had it been there he'd have been even better to watch, pure pleasure."

    I disagree, I think if Keving was that kind of person he wouldn't have been the batsman he was, the batsman who so delighted you. It's the fact that he didn't really give a damn that allowed him to be that batsman.

  • cricket_ahan on February 13, 2014, 2:53 GMT

    You make an interesting point Christian, but does your argument apply if Pieterson is no longer capable of putting on the shows he once did, and of playing those magical innings that we have seen of him in the past? I think the ECB's decision was two-fold 1) KP was already on thin-ice after his previous indiscretions and still allowed back into the team under a remedial arrangement and 2) He wasn't contributing meaningful scores for an extended period anyway? A player who is undisciplined can't be relied upon to follow the team's plans (whether they be robotic or not), and one who doesn't contribute in his own way is then useless altogether. I'm sorry but I'm one of the "billion" that loves cricket too much to have it tarnished by that.

  • on February 13, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    He is a bit of a loner, has his own mind and not a traditional Brit like Atherton or Strauss. But, so what?

  • Insightful2013 on February 15, 2014, 18:40 GMT

    Sir, absolutely splendid article. I shall, most certainly look forward to all you write in the future. I wonder if it's possible to dissect genius and should we? Richards, Marshall, Wasim, Waquar, KP, Sobers, Carl Hooper etc are geniuses. I don't care about Maradona's addictions, Cantona's madness, Zidane's impetuosity, Shaoib's flaws, McEnroe's brattiness. I want the visceral, vicarious feeling of watching these splendid people. I feel extremely grateful for having seen them and do not want to analyze, judge or even compare them. KP is such! I want the high from the drug of people who seem to live in the zone. Sir, individuals make up a team and their collated performances determine outcomes. Captains are there to manage and coerce performances, irregardless of how it's achieved. I am a shareholder and I want my dividends. Employ the mad genuis and placate him but wring out his performances so I may get my fix. The ECB are very bad at their jobs and should be ousted.

  • Insult_2_Injury on February 15, 2014, 2:38 GMT

    Why is it about the team? It's one thing to have a mate who's the life of the party, but another to share a house with him, when he thinks every minute of the day is about him being the centre of attention and doing what ever he wants in the house, despite it being completely at odds with the other house mates. I guess then your question is akin to party goers saying to housemates that it must be great fun living with a 'born entertainer'? At some stage you have to get him to clean the house. In KP's situation, sometimes you need him to bat for 4 hours for the sake of the team, rather than swinging from the ring because he has no faith in his 'housemates'! But then sometimes it's just easier to suggest to the 34 yo that it's time for him to get his own place. Maybe golf is his future.

  • on February 15, 2014, 2:35 GMT

    UNFAIR DISMISSAL

    It is extraordinary that KP is the fall guy for England's woes. If there was ever an unfair dismissal it is this one. I saw KP at the MCG.

    One of the few English batsmen that showed no fear of MJ. He hit out and was bowled because there was no body to bat with.

    For Boycott to persist with criticism of KP is preposterous. The comparison is odious. Boycott brought the game into disrepute for NOT SCORING runs. KP the opposite.

    KP was the highest run scorer for England during the recent 2013/14 Ashes Test series in Australia and second highest run scorer in the 2013 Asher Test series in England. Therefore he was on the up, with form improving.

    Sacking KP turns England into a bunch of whining Poms. He should leave England and be invited, as the larrikin that he is, to Australia.

  • on February 15, 2014, 0:14 GMT

    Shooting the Messenger wont work!! :-)

  • inswing on February 13, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    Cricket is a team game only nominally. It is mostly a one-on-one contest, much like tennis. Team aspects exist, but are very small compared to the contest between one batsman and one bowler. 99% of the time, when a player plays "selfishly" it helps the team. A bowler taking wickets selfishly, and a batsman scoring runs selfishly is great for the team. The whole "team" business in cricket is completely overblown. It is foolish to throw out a player for not being a team player. When Pieterson scores a century, it hurts England how exactly?

  • on February 13, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    A widely-held assumption here seems to be that KP undermined the England team during the Ashes series. What direct evidence do we have of this? The only evidence (quotes from members of the team) I have seen points in the other direction: suggesting that he was an exemplary team-man, had an excellent attitude, was helping junior players, was fielding at Fine Leg etc etc. As one of the billion, I am just so grateful we got 10 years of him. Given the track-record of the England establishment (I grew up watching David Gower at Grace Road, and we all know how his Test career ended), I think it is amazing we got to see him at all.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on February 13, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    Spot on. The number of brilliant talents squandered by England over the last 20 years is staggering. Is it any wonder that they've never been able to stay at the top for an length of time?

  • Thegimp on February 13, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    yes PratUSA, workplaces are more productive when everyone plays the same tune. Sporting teams are better without the backroom back stabbing from individuals of that team.

    @ Christian, your lines

    "I see the nobleness in this, and it was an ingredient always missing in Pietersen, and had it been there he'd have been even better to watch, pure pleasure."

    I disagree, I think if Keving was that kind of person he wouldn't have been the batsman he was, the batsman who so delighted you. It's the fact that he didn't really give a damn that allowed him to be that batsman.

  • cricket_ahan on February 13, 2014, 2:53 GMT

    You make an interesting point Christian, but does your argument apply if Pieterson is no longer capable of putting on the shows he once did, and of playing those magical innings that we have seen of him in the past? I think the ECB's decision was two-fold 1) KP was already on thin-ice after his previous indiscretions and still allowed back into the team under a remedial arrangement and 2) He wasn't contributing meaningful scores for an extended period anyway? A player who is undisciplined can't be relied upon to follow the team's plans (whether they be robotic or not), and one who doesn't contribute in his own way is then useless altogether. I'm sorry but I'm one of the "billion" that loves cricket too much to have it tarnished by that.

  • on February 13, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    He is a bit of a loner, has his own mind and not a traditional Brit like Atherton or Strauss. But, so what?

  • PratUSA on February 12, 2014, 23:28 GMT

    This generation's cricket administrators think and act as if they own the game. I would bet that at least 50% of the working people in the world do not like their bosses/managers and have had things to say about them with friends, family and maybe even co-workers. Some probably have given freedom of their mind to their superiors directly as well. Sure many must have lost their jobs for doing so but not all for sure (I know at least one such person). But do work places get more productive due to workers who keep doing whatever they are asked to do even if they feel there is a better way to do things? How Pietersen contributed to other players not being able to perform? And if he has not done that then why does it matter if he prepares himself bit differently than how a coach thinks and go on to perform better than the most? It's not a 9 to 5 job; it's a sport for God sake.

  • DaveMorton on February 12, 2014, 23:27 GMT

    On the White Rose Forum (which is a Yorkshire supporters' site), our poll showed 54% in favour of the ECB decision, 33% against, 13% undecided or didn't care.

    So perhaps it's a fallacy that English fans strongly support Pietersen. I accept we were a small sample size (76 votes), geographically biased too, but also a group of dedicated cricket supporters, whereas other polls were probably of the population at large. Pietersen would be the only cricketer some of these people could name.

  • veeyes on February 12, 2014, 22:47 GMT

    All said and done, Cricket is a "TEAM GAME". You need to be a great teammate, even good doesn't make the cut here. KP is awesome, I would love to watch him play cricket, cricket is poorer, it lost SRT, Dravid, and now KP, they can't make up for it. But then, if it was true that KP was being a poor teammate, I think axing him was the right decision. A bad teammate brings down teh performance of others, makes the others look bad. I know a lot will call me an imbecile, but I consider Kobe Bryant a bad teammate, the one who wanted Shaq kicked out, who wanted his coach ousted, and then asked for himself to be traded, and even today calls his teammates (like Pau Gasol) out.... that's not a player you would want in your team. I think the ECB should have worked with him to make things better for everyone, but they wanted to take the easy way out... Bad decision.

  • Fluffykins on February 12, 2014, 18:15 GMT

    I have seen England play at home in all formats for the last three years and I for one have not felt very entertained by KP . His cavalier and short spells at the crease and his total indifference to fielding have been more frustrating than exhilarating. I am looking forward to seeing someone with abit more ability to play the situation not the reputation.

  • on February 12, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    KP is really entertaining to watch batting I must agree with that. Maybe he should take up golf which is not a team sport. Cricket is a team sport, the team wins the match not the individual. Some may contribute more than others, but every time KP batted for England there was another player at the other end.

    I heard that he scored 170 odd for a Natal B-team vs England. He then demanded to be offered a SA contract. Which was declined. He then went to England, good riddance then and good riddance now. He surely can destroy a team his own first and foremost.

    Not even Tendulkar ever tried to be better than the game. KP can go play T20 all over the world as the hired hand, never part of the team.

  • balajik2505 on February 12, 2014, 17:05 GMT

    The thing is the whole English team seemed to unravel. Just one look at the casualty list during the tour: Trott, Swann, Prior, Panesar, Finn. That's close to 30% of the playing squad. Surely KP could not have undermined so many. If he did so he is a grandmaster of sabotage and the management is totally inept. Questions need to be asked of the team management. Only 2 people came out of the Test series with reputation intact/enhanced: Broad and Stokes. You could add Chris Jordan in the limited overs part. KP at least top-scored in the Test series. If his attitude was the reason the ECB ended his career, they should go public. You don't rebuild by dumping your best batsman.

    Nobody is indispensible, but if there is so much obfuscation, one would think the party doing that has much to hide, in this case the ECB.

  • on February 12, 2014, 16:24 GMT

    @davetheclarinet: Here are KP's stats. 104 Tests, 8181 runs @47.28, and 23 hundreds. For someone who is "unorthodox" as you claim, he hasn't done too badly. The cold, hard stats tell me he's still your best player and should be in the team. If he's a problem to manage then that's a failure of management. Shoaib Akhtar was a problem to manage as well -- but mostly it was also a failure of the PCB.

  • on February 12, 2014, 16:16 GMT

    Ah, Christian, you have forgotten the ultimate tenet: winning is the biggest entertainment of them all. Very rarely does a team that is not winning consistently entertain anyone. It goes from entertainment to exasperation. Is Pietersen the cause for England's exasperating entertainment-devoid tour? According to the ECB: yes.

  • RhidWilliams on February 12, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Ryan has an considerable insight to actions that took place in camera: "The feelings of the billion-odd went unmentioned in the backroom manoeuvrings and were put on no table for consideration." That's news to me.

    But he doesn't really have an argument. The first half of the article seems to condemn the decision-makers for not considering the "billion"; the second half seems to make the arguments on their behalf. So which is it, please?

  • davetheclarinet on February 12, 2014, 15:21 GMT

    I, like the billion other armchair pundits who offer an opinion on the KP saga, don't know the finer details of events leading to his sacking. However, my gut instinct is 'good riddance'. I'm old school, and would much rather see a sweetly timed, perfectly followed-through off drive than one of Pietersen's circus show shots.

    When he first came on the scene, he was like an endearing puppy - eager to please and full of energy, so it was easy to overlook his immature indiscretions. However, a decade on and he was still messing the carpet and biting the postman, so the only responsbile thing to do was to have him put down (metaphorically speaking). Banging on about him heading the averages in the Ashes makes him, as a better writer than me observed, "the tallest pygmy". For a man of his talent, that should be a given. The manner of some of his dismissals goes to show the innate contempt he has for his supporters, his team mates, and most tellingly, his talent.

  • steve48 on February 12, 2014, 15:13 GMT

    You make a point I been making for a while, that sport doesn't so much bite the hand that feeds it as look upon it with scornful neglect. As for this team ethic rubbish, do i have to remind everyone that these are paid professionals, not weekend amateurs, so liking the guy is irrelevant. And if somehow it is being claimed he makes other players worse, how exactly? Does anyone bowl a longhop, drop a catch or pad up to a straight ball because KP is in the team? Some of the team MUST support him, otherwise his posturing and egomania would merely be an irritation easily turned into humour ( it is actually good for bonding to have someone to laugh at/ bitch about). Furthermore, this constant money grabbing accusation, where does it come from? Him wanting the IPL to make him a multi millionaire? Are his accusers for real? I don't know KP, and nor do most of you. I do know that I, and England, if not its players and management, will miss his batting!

  • Nmiduna on February 12, 2014, 14:50 GMT

    i do not know any of the people who have commented here defending the ECB's decision and where they come from. but their arguments seem off the wall. "I'd rather watch England win than watch them lose but having KP make a century." well how many matches have eng lost in any form, that KP have hit a hundred? he was like Sanath for SL...whenever sana scored that much, SL like 95% times won. another one says: "What is the price of integrity? A switch-hit? A few hundreds? 10,000 runs? I agree with much of the criticism of the ECB, Cook etc. But none of that is relevant, and nor is KP's entertainment value. Amidst the criticism, they should be applauded for making an important stand. A total absence of trust is a fatal poison in any group of human beings" well my friend, recent crushing defeat to aus and accompanied break-downs and retirements showed that eng's by-the-numbers and robotic approach has serious side effects, may be KP was too human to fit in? food for thought!

  • Nmiduna on February 12, 2014, 14:40 GMT

    as many have pointed out..many a english's brightest hours in recent past have come on the back of KP. 2005 ashes, T20 cup to name two among few!

  • Sigismund on February 12, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    What is the price of integrity? A switch-hit? A few hundreds? 10,000 runs? I agree with much of the criticism of the ECB, Cook etc. But none of that is relevant, and nor is KP's entertainment value. Amidst the criticism, they should be applauded for making an important stand. A total absence of trust is a fatal poison in any group of human beings. If our role models have zero integrity, what hope is there for any society, be it a cricket team, a nation or a planet?

  • mahjut on February 12, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    cricket has survived the loss of Bradman, Sobers, Viv, Khan, Sachin, Dravid, Warne, Kallis, Ponting - good bye KP, love live Stokes...

  • on February 12, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    They should take a leaf out of Pakistan's cap.... keep the Afridis and the Akhtars... They're good for cricket because they're good for the reason the game exists: entertainment

  • on February 12, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    The flaw in this argument is in the strapline: If the precious individual is dragging the team down with him and having a bad effect on those around them, then the team loses and then the spectators are left with not enjoying their side winning but, hey, at least the superstar might be doing well. Or probably not in KPs case. I'd rather watch England win than watch them lose but having KP make a century.

  • LeeHallam on February 12, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    What about the billion-odd people? Well for a start most of them are not England supporters, so the ECB should not have their interests at heart in the selection of the England team. For those millions that are England supporters, a side which does not function as a team, but which simply acts as a platform for the flashes of brilliance from KP would soon loose its appeal. We want an England team which competes and wins. One where new players come through and take their turn as the star. Brian Lara was twice the player that KP has been, but building their team around him did not help the West Indies. Besides those billion odd people can still see the shots in the IPL.

  • Baundele on February 12, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    KP is not against the team; he is outspoken and prefers speaking his mind. Some people in the management has got problems with that. For the sake of the team, players like KP need to be managed properly.

  • smudgeon on February 12, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    I can never reconcile why, despite being a fan of both cricketers, the same sort of traits I loathed in Shane Warne, I tolerate in KP. Eh, whatever it is, I guess the dynamic of cricket is that ultimately, despite what we as fans might want, the game is about the game, and fans come second. It's always been this way. Imagine if your national team was picked by the comments section of cricinfo! We'd probably have SOK instead of Nathan Lyon, Jesse Ryder would never be out of the NZ team, and KP would not only be playing for England, he'd be captain. We'd also see far too much of Shaun Marsh (spoke too soon!), and Danny Buckingham would have had a long, pie-free career as Australian captain. Would these be better selections in the context of a team? Would these teams still perform? Would we simply be more entertained? I guess we already do have cricket that is purely designed for entertainment: T20.

  • Nutcutlet on February 12, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    When your maverick is a virtuoso player, then he needs to be accepted as such and, would the ECB swallow this? - needs to be managed. I think that it's in the nature of viruosi is that they are individualists - it's an implied definition. Dennis Compton was another such - but he lived & played in a less formulaic age of England's cricket, yet he was highly likely to run out his partner - a blind spot in his individualism. Nonetheless, England could live with him and acknowledged that he was a crowd pleaser - a crowd puller - always worth his place if fit. Economically, we have the Age of Austerity. In cricketing terms, we have the Age of Compliance, Uniformity & Drabness. If KP was culpable in his own downfall, then the ECB was equally so. But who was in charge? Who should have been doing the managing?

  • sray23 on February 12, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    I think the team should matter above all else, because the joy of fans is more when they have a winning harmonious cricket team with multiple role models rather than a losing team with a lone hero. India suffered this fate for the entire '90s when they played with Tendulkar & no-one else. But right now, though there is still a huge gap at no. 4, Indian fans are happier with the team than in the '90s, where all 11 players on the field are expected to contribute. But, having said all of this, the team management has a duty to manage mavericks properly. If Aus could manage Warne, Gilly, Hayden, Waugh in one team, why can't England? Overall, it is a tragedy that KP is sacked because Eng has never learned how to manage mavericks properly and possibly never will. Meaning that probably the future KPs of the world too would be presented with the same fate.

  • Iddo555 on February 12, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Why is about the team? Because it's a team sport. If you want to be an individual who only thinks of himself , then play tennis or snooker or golf.

    When it's a team sport, the team comes first.

    KP was great on his day, but lets face it, those days are few and far between now. He mostly disappoints now and he isn't getting any younger

  • PradeepKing on February 12, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    England will feel free but they will feel very sad very soon without KP! England will lose......

  • on February 12, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    KP is back bon of england cricket team.too much pilitics in england team for out side players.

  • on February 12, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    England won only 1 WC & that was T20 & that was on the back of KP............That is the value of KP

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  • on February 12, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    England won only 1 WC & that was T20 & that was on the back of KP............That is the value of KP

  • on February 12, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    KP is back bon of england cricket team.too much pilitics in england team for out side players.

  • PradeepKing on February 12, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    England will feel free but they will feel very sad very soon without KP! England will lose......

  • Iddo555 on February 12, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Why is about the team? Because it's a team sport. If you want to be an individual who only thinks of himself , then play tennis or snooker or golf.

    When it's a team sport, the team comes first.

    KP was great on his day, but lets face it, those days are few and far between now. He mostly disappoints now and he isn't getting any younger

  • sray23 on February 12, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    I think the team should matter above all else, because the joy of fans is more when they have a winning harmonious cricket team with multiple role models rather than a losing team with a lone hero. India suffered this fate for the entire '90s when they played with Tendulkar & no-one else. But right now, though there is still a huge gap at no. 4, Indian fans are happier with the team than in the '90s, where all 11 players on the field are expected to contribute. But, having said all of this, the team management has a duty to manage mavericks properly. If Aus could manage Warne, Gilly, Hayden, Waugh in one team, why can't England? Overall, it is a tragedy that KP is sacked because Eng has never learned how to manage mavericks properly and possibly never will. Meaning that probably the future KPs of the world too would be presented with the same fate.

  • Nutcutlet on February 12, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    When your maverick is a virtuoso player, then he needs to be accepted as such and, would the ECB swallow this? - needs to be managed. I think that it's in the nature of viruosi is that they are individualists - it's an implied definition. Dennis Compton was another such - but he lived & played in a less formulaic age of England's cricket, yet he was highly likely to run out his partner - a blind spot in his individualism. Nonetheless, England could live with him and acknowledged that he was a crowd pleaser - a crowd puller - always worth his place if fit. Economically, we have the Age of Austerity. In cricketing terms, we have the Age of Compliance, Uniformity & Drabness. If KP was culpable in his own downfall, then the ECB was equally so. But who was in charge? Who should have been doing the managing?

  • smudgeon on February 12, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    I can never reconcile why, despite being a fan of both cricketers, the same sort of traits I loathed in Shane Warne, I tolerate in KP. Eh, whatever it is, I guess the dynamic of cricket is that ultimately, despite what we as fans might want, the game is about the game, and fans come second. It's always been this way. Imagine if your national team was picked by the comments section of cricinfo! We'd probably have SOK instead of Nathan Lyon, Jesse Ryder would never be out of the NZ team, and KP would not only be playing for England, he'd be captain. We'd also see far too much of Shaun Marsh (spoke too soon!), and Danny Buckingham would have had a long, pie-free career as Australian captain. Would these be better selections in the context of a team? Would these teams still perform? Would we simply be more entertained? I guess we already do have cricket that is purely designed for entertainment: T20.

  • Baundele on February 12, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    KP is not against the team; he is outspoken and prefers speaking his mind. Some people in the management has got problems with that. For the sake of the team, players like KP need to be managed properly.

  • LeeHallam on February 12, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    What about the billion-odd people? Well for a start most of them are not England supporters, so the ECB should not have their interests at heart in the selection of the England team. For those millions that are England supporters, a side which does not function as a team, but which simply acts as a platform for the flashes of brilliance from KP would soon loose its appeal. We want an England team which competes and wins. One where new players come through and take their turn as the star. Brian Lara was twice the player that KP has been, but building their team around him did not help the West Indies. Besides those billion odd people can still see the shots in the IPL.

  • on February 12, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    The flaw in this argument is in the strapline: If the precious individual is dragging the team down with him and having a bad effect on those around them, then the team loses and then the spectators are left with not enjoying their side winning but, hey, at least the superstar might be doing well. Or probably not in KPs case. I'd rather watch England win than watch them lose but having KP make a century.