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Updated: August 18, 2012 04:43 IST

The Pietersen saga certainly not finished

Ted Corbett
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Kevin Pietersen, File photo: R.V.Moorthy
The Hindu Kevin Pietersen, File photo: R.V.Moorthy

While his former team-mates were sweating it out at Lord’s in the third and final Test against South Africa, Kevin Pietersen was on a beach in Portugal with his wife Jessica, a pop group singer when they met and his two-year-old son Dylan.

It is pleasant in Portugal at this time of year, and just the place to relax while the cricket world is talking about you so much that you have wiped the Olympics off the sports pages. Even if you get the blame for the fiasco known as the KP Affair.

You can get a nice, private and luxurious holiday pad for the sort of money that millionaire KP will consider chicken feed. After his spell in the IPL and seven years Test duty for England, Pietersen can certainly afford to miss the cash from one Test, especially if both the selectors and his team-mates don’t want him around.

Unsophisticated

It will give him the chance to work out what he wants. That’s one of the troubles arising from the saga that is certainly not finished. Pietersen is by the standards of any international sportsman as unsophisticated as anyone in the limelight can be.

Let me give you two examples. At the end of the 2005 Ashes series he said to his captain Michael Vaughan: “You know that is the toughest Test series I have ever played in.” Michael Vaughan retorted: “Kevin – it’s the only Test series you’ve played in.”

He went home to South Africa after his first year with Nottinghamshire and asked his local garage if it would sponsor him and have his name painted on the side of a car. It refused. So he painted his name on his car himself and drove it all winter unsponsored and unnoticed.

Now he is rich and famous and in the middle of a controversy but hardly in control of his own life. He has what the mega rich of his part of Chelsea love to call “my people” to make his public relations decisions, to issue statements, arrange celebrity magazine features, to sort out TV interviews and, possibly, to leak the latest bits of gossip.

When the storm broke over his refusal to apologise for his Twitter messages to pals in the South African team — in which he used a foul Afrikaans word to define his captain Andrew Strauss — he first refused to apologise... but said sorry two days later.

The result was that the England and Wales Cricket Board felt that it controlled his future.

Oh, if only it were as simple as that.

Wrong approach

It must now examine what went wrong in detail and discover how it can cover the gaping hole in its team caused by the absence of the greatest England batsman of this generation. Did it manage the situation properly. Certainly not.

The two Andrews — captain Strauss and coach Flower — will come under pressure if Pietersen’s “people” manage to spread the blame in their direction and particularly if England should lose the third Test because KP is absent and, as a result, South Africa is the new leader of world cricket.

The Olympic Games have taught this country it can be winner again, its footballers have beaten mighty Italy this week and the idea of being second best at cricket will not sit easily with a nation which has just cheered 29 gold medals.

Particularly when a former Test captain as highly respected as Rahul Dravid says: “Kevin Pietersen is a nice guy. I’ve never had any trouble with him.”

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