KP issue: Will there be a change of mind?

There might be a possibility that sometime in the near future Kevin Pietersen will be forgiven ("reintegrated into cricket" was the way Andrew Strauss, the England team’s managing director phrased it) and ready to provide us all with the entertainment we have missed since he was consigned to the outer darkness.

Kevin Pietersen... a recall in the offing?   -  Getty Images

I doubt if there is any ordinary fan, any sports writer, or any casual onlooker at the Test game who does not want Kevin Pietersen back in action.

Well, I have good news for all of you. There is a move afoot to bring the most famous outlaw in cricket back within cricket’s embrace.

Who says so? Why Andrew Strauss, once a considerable England captain and now the team’s managing director and clearly more than a safe pair of hands. He is the man who told KP “we no longer trust you.”

With that brutal verdict Pietersen was sent into the outer wilderness and, apart from a couple of lucrative T20 matches has hardly been seen since.

I felt a wind of change must be blowing a few weeks ago when KP said he felt his sentence of perpetual dismissal from the game has been justified. He gave England’s Ashes victory as an example of what had been achieved without his runs, his towering presence and his big shots.

What has caused the change of mind I cannot tell you but I have no doubt it will happen and my hope is that it will come about by next season. (It maybe in time for the England tour of South Africa but don’t rely on that. It’s too soon and ECB and their allies don’t like to be rushed. No, next summer will be early enough, maybe after defeat in the heat in the desert sands and at the hands of those ruthless South Africans means there will be calls for change and a welcome for a man as uninhibitedly talented as KP.)

Strauss, who appears to be an official with a brain, chose to drop his hint at an obscure lunch — which honoured the quiet achievers of the amateur, local game — when, rather than make a speech, he submitted to a question and answer session.

A friend of mine witnessed the Q&A — conducted by the broadcaster Jon Agnew — and as someone who is savvy about the ways of such events could not help wondering what was going on.

Let’s just leave it at that. The secret is out and exactly why it was delivered in this obscure way — apart from Agnew there was not much in the way of media to interpret Strauss’s hint — and now, several days later, that seems to have gone straight through to the ’keeper.

So it is still pretty much a secret. Only Strauss, Agnew, you all and I have a clue that sometime in the near future KP will be forgiven (“reintegrated into cricket” was the way Strauss phrased it) and ready to provide us all with the entertainment we have missed since he was consigned to the outer darkness.

It is the best news we have had this winter and I bet it must be the most important news we get before the game comes back to life in the spring.

If — and maybe I ought to say when — our Kevin comes back to Test cricket he may even find it difficult to force his way back into the England side.

The performance in Abu Dhabi was so breathtaking that it comes close to defying description. I have rarely seen a pitch which lacked life to the same degree as that monster and I would not have blamed any side which threw their hands in the air and declined to make a fight of the last three days.

Instead England, led by the magnificent Alastair Cook, battled on. He set a whole bunch of records by batting for three days — third longest innings in a Test by anyone, and a record for an English cricketer and of course he already has 28 centuries — and as I mentioned recently he is an improving captain.

I am sorry I ever suggested that he might not be greater than Brearley and Illingworth, Close and Vaughan. Cook had enough common sense to stay in the pavilion when quick runs were needed in the second innings and he kept the Pakistan batsmen under control when they threatened to score nearer 1,000 runs than 500.

He is also a special guy in that he retires to the flat lands of Bedfordshire when he gets time away from cricket and works very happily on the farm belonging to his in-laws. Bedfordshire is far from exciting. I lived there for 10 years and although the people are generous and helpful and the landscape is bonny, it is a county only suitable for hiding when life gets tough. It is, I guess, why Cook thinks it the right place to escape from the toils and troubles of big cricket.

I have a picture at the top of my stairs — I now live in Cambridgeshire which is just as flat and twice as tedious — of W. G. Grace who spent most of his life in cricket but also loved to get out of the limelight from time to time. He chose Bedfordshire occasionally.

The county must really have something although I never found exactly what. Perhaps it might suit KP in those times when the rush of publicity, the pressures of the job and the crowds of autograph hunters get too much to deal with and it is, I am assured, the ideal place to bring up a family.

It could also be the place where Cook retains his wish to fight for England for another 10 years. Yes, please. That would be a blessing.

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