So England’s best player in the modern era has effectively been sacked. The decision was given taken with the full support of the ECB’s new MD Paul Downton, Ashley Giles and captain Alistair Cook. Kevin Pietierson will no longer represent England in any form of the game and we don’t really know why.
The bullshit statement from the ECB on the sacking of KP was akin to United’s one liner about Kinnear going. No one knows why this has happened and what’s really gone on. The fall out has been massive and the media for a change, is utterly divided by this seminal moment in English cricket. Is it the right decision?
Kevin Pieterson had a poor tour of Australia. KP fans will say he averaged more than any other England player on the tour and scored more runs, but he averaged 33. Not good enough by his, and the teams high standards. The fact everyone else was worse doesn’t make it any better. He’s 33, with a dodgy knee. His constant demands to play in the IPL and not play all forms of the game for England, have grated the ECB management for years. Even though after his 2012 ‘re-integration’ into the team after his first sacking, doubts have remained about his commitment to the cause. He is England’s best paid player by all accounts. The decision made could be about an overpaid, expensive player who’s talent and fitness is on the wane.
Then of course there’s the long standing accusations of being selfish, arrogant and unmanageable. He’s alienated team mates, captains, friends and the ECB. It’s reported he plays for himself, not the team and pays no attention to team meetings, team plans and instructions. Kevin Pierterson plays how Kevin Pieterson feels like playing at the time, regardless of the match situation. The management team clearly felt this type of attitude was not a good example for the other players to follow and has disrupted the team to the extent that KP was becoming too much of a burden.
The problem with this theory, is that it is just a theory. The ultra-secretive ECB have essentially told English Cricket fans that they don’t deserve to know what actually happened in Australia. Transparency has long been a problem with England under Andy Flower. We haven’t known the theories and basis behind many controversial decisions for years know. That’s fine when you’re winning. When you’re losing and offer no explanation, it starts to grate. If KP had behaved so badly, why not detail what he’s done? If it’s that bad why are they bothered if the details upset him? If he’s behaved so poorly that he had to be removed from the set up completely – why not spill the beans? The whole thing is shambolic.
Despite his dodgy knee and advancing years, Pieterson had at least 2 years left at the very top. If you look at all of England’s defining victories in recent years, Pieterson has been in the middle of all of them. Starting with the 2005 Ashes win in which he made his name and a sparkling 150 in the final Test, Pietersen has been integral to every major win. When the team won the World T20, he scored more runs than anyone else in the tournament. When England won in Australia, he was sensational, setting up the crucial second Test win in Adelaide. When England cemented their place at the top of the world rankings, Pieterson sparkled against Inda in 2011. On his re-integration into the England team in late 2012, Pieterson averaged 106 against India, in our first series win over there in 30 years.
Kevin Pieterson has been at the centre of every England success since his debut 9 years ago. There are great players in most sports who are difficult to manage. But if you can’t manage great players, maybe you shouldn’t be a manager. I’m going to a few Test matches this summer and including tickets, hotels transports etc – the cost is enormous.
I suspect watching cricket without Pieterson being involved will be slightly less enjoyable, which is how I suspect many fans feel at this moment in time.
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