The Ashes 2013-14 November 10, 2013

Pietersen knee trouble flares again


Kevin Pietersen's chronic knee problem has reared at a most inopportune moment for England, forcing him to fly to Melbourne for an injection to ward off the pain that may threaten his Ashes tour.*

Having missed three Tests against New Zealand and the Champions Trophy earlier in 2013 due to the same issue, Pietersen complained of discomfort during the Australia A tour match in Hobart and on Sunday flew separately from the England team to Melbourne for a cortisone jab. The treatment should allow him to take part in the tourists' final warm-up game in Sydney from Wednesday and the Test series beyond.

Following the procedure he linked up with his team-mates and tried to calm concerns over his fitness via Twitter. "I AM FINE #relax," he posted.

Andy Flower, the England team director, is confident that the injection should settle the problem sufficiently for the remainder of the tour but it remains a worrying event for England following the calf trouble that has made the wicketkeeper and vice-captain Matt Prior a doubt for the Brisbane Test.

"Kevin has had a slight recurrence of that knee issue, and he'll be going to Melbourne for a scan and a cortisone injection - so he won't be travelling with the rest of the team," Flower said. "I don't think it's going to be a huge issue. He's had a couple of these injections before, and they've been successful.

"They've quietened the problem down, and it's obviously an ongoing issue for him. But they have been successful, and we anticipate this one being successful and anticipate him playing a full part in the Ashes tour. We anticipate him playing in the Sydney game. We're doing the jab tomorrow, so he's got a little bit of time for the jab to work before we train on Tuesday."

Pietersen made only the briefest appearance in the Hobart match, a 12-minute stay at the crease interrupted by rain delays and the lunch break on the final day before it was ended by a Trent Copeland shooter that pinned him in front of the stumps.

During the Ashes in England, Pietersen said that he would have to manage his knee for the rest of his career and he recently admitted in a video for the ECB website that he continued to harbour doubts. "I had the knee issue and I have to make sure the rehab continues," Pietersen said. "I don't want to break down, I want to play the whole series."

Cortisone injections are useful for chronic problems among cricketers, but only up to a point. Repeated use of the treatment can result in a lessening of its effectiveness, while also taking a toll on the joint itself - something Pietersen's former Hampshire team-mate Shane Warne experienced when having his overworked spinning finger repeatedly jabbed early in his career before finally resorting to surgery in 1996.

Pietersen and Prior are among key England players in their 30s and there have been suggestions that the demographic of the team could create a danger of the same mass exodus of names that Australia suffered. However, Graeme Swann, the oldest player in the squad at 34, who has suffered is own problems with his elbow, does believe the injuries signal a worrying trend.

"I don't think we need to worry about the age of the team - I think I'm the oldest,'' he said at an event to launch his tour diary videos. "It's not like we're all pushing the boundaries. If the oldest player is that age, it's not like you're all ready for the Home Guard yet.''

"Obviously, I've got my elbow that keeps rearing its head every now and then, so that's something I have to work on. Kev's got his leg issues. It is natural progression of time. As you get older, your body doesn't respond to as much work as well.

"That's why you don't see too many international sportsmen in their 40s - at least performing at the top of their game. It is something we've got to be aware of, got to stay on top of.''

*2.30pm, November 10: This story was updated with Graeme Swann's quotes

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2013, 18:28 GMT

    Its very sad to see KP being injured always ! Losing someone like KP is a big blow .. Someone who averages above 48 is always a crucial member of the team. I just hope he gets back to England !

  • John on November 11, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    @dunger.bob on (November 10, 2013, 23:54 GMT) I'm not sure re not getting on with his teammates (at present) so I wasn't touching on that issue. IMO he's a very complex character who has self confidence in abundance in the middle of a cricket pitch but not as a person away from the cricket pitch. Maybe hypersensitive bordering on paranoiah? I think he's maybe a perfectionist (maybe to the degree of snobbery) and wants to play against/alongside top players and sees playing CC cricket as a bore.

  • John on November 11, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    @jb633 on (November 10, 2013, 23:14 GMT), Swann is not having recurring injuries. He had an issue with some bone fragments in his elbow. He had surgery to remove them but some that were very close to the nerve were left behind. He tried to continue with those left behind but it became too much so he had a second surgery and now the issue has been resolved completely. He only had issues as long as there were bone fragments loose but they have all been removed.

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    Er, if KP isn't fit to play Tedt cricket, he's unlikely going to fit enough to play four day county cricket is he? I would have thought that was obvious. He ll play in this Ashes, he knows it will be his last and he loves the limelight. Gordon Greenidge played Test cricket with a dodgy knee for ages, I'm sure KP can manage one more series with the help of a few injections.

  • ian on November 10, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    There is a distinct feeling from this article, & comments arising, that KP's time wearing an England shirt are numbered. Knees, we all know, take a lot of hammer, particularly the one that takes the transfer of weight, i.e. the left for KP, well illustrated here. As the article points out, cortisone jabs can do a job, but only for so long & if this is KP's nth such treatment on the knee(s), neither he nor Andy Flower can know how much Test cricket he has left in him, but it ain't too much from what can be gathered. The question then arises, if he's ok to play on day one at Brisbane, will he still be ok on day 5? Going into a Test with a key player less than say, 80%, is a huge gamble. This means, I think, that whoever is likely to take KP's place in the final XI needs to play in the final warm-up, besides KP himself. Given that Prior has also has a twinge, I suspect that Bairstow has to play -- a sort of each-way bet.

  • rob on November 10, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    Part of the appeal of KP for me has been mentioned by @JG and others. He doesn't like some of his team mates, he doesn't like the county championship, he doesn't get on with so and so, hates this, can't tolerate that and so on.

    You've got to be bloody kidding haven't you? How can someone as prickly as that be an integral part of a successful sporting team for so long? .. However you've managed to do it, I bet it's been .... challenging. It's a feather in the cap of England's management set up I suppose, but I'm not going to say so. More like dumb luck I reckon.

    Anyway, it all just adds to the enigma of KP. This could be his last trip down here so I won't begrudge him a few good knocks. Just not too many too often thanks Kev.

  • Jon on November 10, 2013, 23:14 GMT

    I think this will be KP's and Swanny's last Ashes tour. Both of them are having these recurring injuries and they don't seem to have the bodies to continue as long as some have. I hope I am proved wrong because they are two of our most important players and we can't replace them. I at least hope we get another KP ashes special this series.

  • John on November 10, 2013, 22:55 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (November 10, 2013, 17:53 GMT), did you watch the last Ashes series in England? Sure, in general no team is going to be happy losing a player with KP's average. In his case, it's not even just his average but the fact that, on occasions, he's able to make his runs with such apparent ease while everyone else is struggling. That said, England can win without KP firing, as they showed in the last series. They won't want to rely on Australia collapsing and Bell bailing them out every time but they have plenty of others who can score runs too. If Cook and Trott can play to their average then that will alone will give them a big boost. I agree that KP is a special player but it gets a bit annoying when people who spend most of their time watching IPL seem to think that he's the only England player who can bat.

  • Dean on November 10, 2013, 20:29 GMT

    Although this is a worrying development I think it's a bit early to be talking about Pietersen being forced to retire. Although I don't think he will want to play test matches for years & years, I certainly think he would like to be around a while longer to try & get Eng back to No1. We will just have to see how things go but as I say it is a worry.

  • Dean on November 10, 2013, 20:23 GMT

    @SamRoy, KP has not left the team yet & Bell is only 29 & nowhere near 'an advanced age', So how do you know that the players who end up replacing them won't be aggressive & attractive batsman to watch?