Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Dumb Slog Millionaire

Kevin Pietersen and his continuing game of cat and mouse with the ECB looks like handing the series to his native country of South Africa, unless a monumental effort in the deciding Lord's test swings the series back towards the hosts. Pietersen yesterday hinted in an interview with Jon Agnew that, "I love playing Test cricket for England, but there are obstacles in the way". Since the IPL, there have been issues with the Durban born player, but is there something more sinister at heart, and is the England dressing room in danger of imploding?

KP...new tattoo needed?

This England cricket team has probably been the most successful of my forty two years on this planet. No West Indies or Australia stand in their way, such as over the previous period, but they are probably the least popular team I have known. Is there a perception of arrogance about them? Yes, but that is not always a bad thing. Is it because they are South African at heart? Possibly.

The English public have taken certain players to their hearts in this side. The likes of Swann, Anderson, Cook, Strauss and Finn are loved, but the press have had the knives out for Matt Prior with his keeping form a  few years ago, and no doubt will for Trott or KP. No adoration such as even that we felt for Allan Lamb or Robin Smith, for these guys.

Is this a unified dressing room? Who knows? The South Africans said a few years ago that Pietersen had no loyalty to Mother England, and was using it as a vehicle of convenience to further his own agenda. However, that is probably equivalent to your ex girlfriend telling the world you are rubbish in bed! Hell hath no fury like a Saffa scorned.

Certainly this summer, he has been at odds with his paymasters at the ECB. A paymaster who has paid him possibly more than any other in their history. The spending more time with the family stuff is now being trotted out, although chasing the IPL rupee at the same time weakens the Pietersen argument. I don't think there is a cricketer who has split public opinion as much as KP. The brilliance of his innings in the Headingley test took the breath away at times, as did one of his early knocks when he saved the Oval test versus the 2005 Australians. On the other hand throwing his wicket away with certain choices of shots, or his love of the dollar has polarised him at times. He should be loved, a national treasure and yet he is far from that.

Flower...deserves better

Andy Flower now needs to show the resolve and patience he did whilst he batted, and show the steel he did when he took on Mugabe, and weed the bad apples out of the changing room.

Pietersen says it will all come out in the wash in the near future. I hope for the sake of English cricket that there is nothing more sinister at the heart of it all? After all, the team is bigger than Kevin Pietersen, isn't it?


  1. I've said it before and I'll keep saying it - the "inflexibility" problem is as much with the ECB's Hugh Morris as it is with anyone else.

    It was Morris who lacked the balls to sit down with KP and Moores to sort out their differences, preferring to cop out and sack them both. As MD of England Cricket it is Morris who should be managing the schedule, contract issues and personality issues. Morris clearly is not doing this. It is Morris who should be getting of his overpaid posterior and working his knackers off to resolve this issue sensibly.

    If KP quits tests then Morris must be fired. He is unfit to hold the position he does.

    I'm not sure Andy Flower has the cojones he used to. Signing that ECB contract seems to have shrunk them and narrowed his thinking. Or maybe that's the malign influence of Hugh Morris.

    The Andy Flower of old, the one with cojones of steel, the one who played for Zimbabwe and Essex (back when I was a fan) would have rolled up his sleeves, got those involved together and banged heads, quietly yet effectively.

    The ECB are starting to look as bad as the PCB and WICB at their worst. It's not KP that needs to go, it's Morris and his cronies.

  2. Absolutely spot on. KP is a brilliant batsman, yes he is and that for me is not in doubt; but when it comes down to it if he's doing more damage in the changing room than his batting is doing good then he needs to go and hole up on the Indian sub-continent.

    An ego is not always a bad thing, in fact in sport its more often than not a pre-requisite for success. However we can not and should not hang the success of a team on one man with a tempermental and crucially all-too-often disruptive ego, its destructive to do and dangerous to try.
    I really think KP needs to have a word with himself.

    Just my two penneth.

  3. Thank you both for your comments. I think it is a sign of how divisive a player KP is, that they will be the first of a few. Fingers crossed whatever happens with him, that the England dressing room isn't ripped apart.

    1. I sincerely hope the same thing.
      Personally, I just really didn't like the whole passive agressive tone whereby he made a comment about his Test future then refused to elaborate. Either cough up an explanation or grow up, shut up and play the game. He is not, whether he likes it or not, bigger than the team.

  4. KP is a nut (pardon the pun). Like anyone with an ego the size of planet it is all about him and he is a pain in the ass to deal with. But you do need mavericks. Under the Gooch and Stewart regime, anyone who could run the marathon was deemed a decent cricketer and the likes Gower pushed out. The problem is who is gonna come in and bat like the Bok?

  5. Thorpster, I agree there are distinct echos of Gower/Gooch or Caddick/Everyone but Hussain, in the current situation. It seems he is already indulged but the root of all this is the bloody schedule and he has a legitimate point. No other England batsmen would be an automatic selection in all formats and this point seems lost on the suits at ECB who rigidly linke T20I and ODI selection.

  6. and the answer to Thorpster's question, nobody. Not now not for a while.

  7. KP is a fantastic player and a cert for any England team, in any format of the game if he wants to be. Unfortunately, its the IF in that sentence that is the most important element.

    From the outside, it seems like KP wants to have his cake & eat it, he want to play tests beacause thats where the big money is in sponsorship and he wants to play T20 IPL becasue thats where the big paycheck is from franchises, but he doesn't want to do anything else.

    Lets be honest he's out to do what we all do, which is work for the organisation that pays us the most, but unfortunately he has employers who want him to do more for his money than he wants to!

    I'm glad I've seen him play for England, we are better with him there (think of a line up without him - Bell at 4 followed by two from Taylor, Bopara, Bairstow, Woakes etc!), he has every right to have played for England, but his time is up in the test team because it doesn't fit in with what he wants to do!

  8. England are better off not picking KP than having to plan around whether he picks England or not. We're only talking about this because of his (magnificent) innings, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-south-africa-2012/content/image/573539.html