It’s all KP’s fault

Kevin Pietersen… troubled times.-AP

Kevin Pietersen, dropped from the England Test team and, as far as anyone can judge in a rapidly moving story, unlikely to be chosen again, has never understood the requirement of British public life in the 10 years he has been in this country, writes Ted Corbett.

The trouble with Kevin Pietersen is that he is too loud to be a British hero.

His desire to be rich and famous and be seen to live the good life in Chelsea, the home of the mega wealthy, where the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich owns the local football team, might be acceptable in America, but in this country we like our heroes modest, retiring and moderately well off.

Mo Farah, the double Olympic champion, is seen as the ideal sporting great, just like Lord Coe who was festooned with Olympic gold 30 years before he organised London 2012. Neither of these two gods of the track put their heads above the parapet often.

Instead they live quietly, mostly keep a low profile and never offend that British sense of dignity which mainly consists of not talking about money, the ultimate sin. (When a couple won a Lottery prize of £149m recently many people reacted with “I would not like to be them with all that money.”)

Pietersen, dropped from the England Test team and, as far as anyone can judge in a rapidly moving story, unlikely to be chosen again, has never understood this requirement of British public life in the 10 years he has been in this country after learning that the quota system in South Africa was likely to keep him from their team.

There is a parallel case from the 1970s when Tony Greig, like Pietersen brought up in South Africa, consorted with Kerry Packer, apparently to form an alternative cricket organisation, was sacked as England captain and went to live in Australia. “He is not British through and through” was one newspaper verdict and Greig is still disliked by the majority of cricket insiders in this country.

I see a similar fate for Pietersen. He will continue to be highly paid by taking part in the IPL and the Big Bash and he has been rewarded well enough as an England Test batsman for the last seven years. It is often reckoned that men like Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan earned about £500,000 a year when they were England captain and Pietersen’s earnings will not have been far short of that figure.

Hence the house in Chelsea where the most modest residence costs half a million pounds and where even Abramovich might blanch at some of the house prices. Pietersen followed a series of high profile affairs by marrying the pop singer Jessica Taylor and they now have a son Dylan, aged two.

Vaughan claims Pietersen is unsure of himself and says when he was England captain he sent him texts and phoned him regularly because he felt “he needed to be loved.” Geoff Boycott, whose personality is similar to Pietersen’s takes the opposite point of view and calls him “cocky and confident.”

He has courted controversy all his life and on a visit to England his parents confessed while they were at the Nottinghamshire club that they had never been able to control their son. He angered his Notts team-mates so much that they threw his kit from the dressing room balcony on to the ground. Now he has fallen out with his England team-mates.

The England players can be seen looking at him with a puzzled expression as if they had never met anyone like him before. Someone — don’t ask me who because everyone within miles of the dressing room denies any knowledge of it — set up a false Twitter account called KP Genius which mocked his lack of modesty and detailed the way he referred to himself in the third person. It has now been closed down.

The cause of his sacking has been the texts he sent to his pals in the South African dressing room. Those texts contained damning indictments of the captaincy style of Andrew Strauss and the management of Andy Flower and — if all this is true — gave the selectors a reason to drop him for the third Test against South Africa.

What makes the whole scenario strange is that Pietersen, while boasting about his own prowess, sending texts which are said to contain the vilest language and upsetting everyone in sight clearly wants to continue his cricket career.

His behaviour belies this ambition even if you ignore the conservative ways of this traditional game but he seems to think he can cause trouble and still, after a short apology, continue as before.

Perhaps it is a sign of his immaturity but he is married, a father and 32. By now he should have learnt how the world works and in particular how cricket demands a strict code of practice. He strikes many people as not being very bright and perhaps that explains his lack of understanding.

Anyone who saw his great innings at Headingley in the second Test against South Africa, and in particular his assault on Dale Steyn, the most successful bowler in the world at this moment, will have understood what a brilliant player he is.

Rahul Dravid took advantage of a radio interview during the third Test to emphasise how good Pietersen had been playing for Delhi Daredevils and called him “a nice guy.”

A friend of mine who knows him well says: “He can apologise as often as he wants but the evidence of the last 10 years is that he will cause further disruption. The England and Wales Cricket Board ought to have managed the situation better but basically it is all Pietersen’s fault. The team is probably better off without him, no matter how many runs he might have scored.”

AP

Timeline

2000: Kevin Pietersen signed for Nottinghamshire CC, a move that would later see him adopt England as his country in protest of the racial quota system in South Africa which had stymied his development.

2003: After Nottinghamshire’s relegation to the second division, Pietersen requested the county to release him from his contract which was supposed to end the following year. This move angered his club captain Jason Gallian and he allegedly threw Pietersen’s kit off the Trent Bridge balcony and broke his bat.

2004: Pietersen made his England debut in an ODI match against Zimbabwe in Harare.

2005: Pietersen’s performances against South Africa in South Africa and later that year in the Ashes at home cemented his reputation as one of the most talented batsmen in the world.

2006: Pietersen equalled Viv Richards’ record as the quickest to reach 1000 runs in ODIs (21 innings).

2007: Pietersen became the No. 1 batsman in the ICC ODI rankings during the World Cup in the West Indies.

2008: Pietersen invented the ‘switch-hit’ shot against New Zealand in an ODI match at Chester-le-Street, England. Few commentators labelled the shot as “illegal”. In August that year, he was appointed as England’s Test and ODI captain.

2009: After a disappointing tour of India, Pietersen publicised his rift with England coach Peter Moores. He was subsequently forced to resign and Moores was sacked.

2010: Pietersen was named Player of the Tournament as he propelled England to the World T20 title in the Caribbean islands. Later that year, before any official announcement, he revealed on Twitter that he was dropped from the ODI and T20 team for the home series against Pakistan. Though he quickly deleted that tweet afterwards as it contained a swear word, he was fined by the ECB.

2012: In May this year, Pietersen was again fined for a twitter rant, this time against Sky Sports commentator Nick Knight. Allegedly peeved at ECB’s decision, the 32-year-old announced his retirement from limited-overs cricket. He later went on to state that he would welcome a return to one-day cricket. However, after the second Test against South Africa, Pietersen announced that the last Test of the series could be his final Test for England. He was later found to have exchanged defamatory texts referring to captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower with some South African players. Despite issuing a video apology and committing himself to all forms of cricket, Pietersen was dropped for the final Test after he failed to clarify about those messages.

Compiled by Priyansh