I believe I have a great deal still to give as a cricketer, says the dashing batsman
England has declared that it will never pick troublesome Kevin Pietersen — its finest batsman, the highest scorer on the recent disastrous tour of Australia and one of its all-time greats — again.
It appears that the decisive moment came when Alastair Cook — the captain and Pietersen’s defender — turned against him. Apparently they had a violent row in the Sydney dressing room during the final Test — some say they had to be torn apart — and that dispute left KP without any friends in the team.
Paul Downton, a softly spoken reasonable man as a player, as a money maker in the London financial world and now as the new chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, made the call to end Pietersen’s Test career after a series of meetings this week.
He said: “Everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long term planning. Therefore we have decided to rebuild not only the team but also its ethic and philosophy.”
So no place for the KP genius and a hint that the new coach in succession to Andy Flower who quit last week will be the one-day coach Ashley Giles, already the short odds favourite.
Any other coach — like the Australian Tom Moody — might want Pietersen in the side and back himself to manage him better than the three previous England coaches.
Pietersen, still guaranteed a good living from IPL, other T20 tournaments around the world, his county career — he is a hero at Surrey — was strangely quiet and concentrated on being grateful for a great Test career. “I believe I have a great deal still to give as a cricketer. I will continue to play but deeply regret that it will not be for England.”Dedicated batsman
Perhaps he thinks that sometime in the future this sacking will be reversed and that his ambition to make 10,000 Test runs can still be accomplished. He is 33, but the hardest trainer and the most dedicated batsman.
So what has gone wrongly that so much talent can be thrown away?
Pietersen, 33, has had trouble almost wherever he has played: at Nottinghamshire, at Hampshire and repeatedly with England since he left South Africa as a teenager declaring that he would be kept out of its Test side by the ratio system.
England, which of all the Test sides has a mind-set that demands players are polite, respect their coaches and captains, and dress correctly, has put up with KP’s determination to speak his mind forcefully, criticise his bosses and kick the rules aside, will miss this 6ft 5in, run-scoring extrovert and superb fielder in the next few years. There is no-one waiting to take his place.
Oddly enough, in recent weeks there have been a few voices coming to his aid although current players have deserted him.
Steve Harmison, the retired wayward fast bowler now a regular guest on radio and TV talk shows, said: “I never had a scrap of trouble with KP. He is the most dedicated cricketer in that dressing room, you can hold a reasonable conversation with him about the game which he understands deeply.”
There is still no word from the sponsors, who must have loved the headlines KP brought, or Sky TV who relish the spectacular pictures he produced. Judging from the phone-ins this morning the people who buy the tickets are puzzled that such a great player should be pushed out of the door at a time when England is in such need of great players.
So am I. It appears to be the wrong call at the wrong time.