The one and only KP

Kevin Pietersen has charisma, the scent of danger, the presence of a film star and, with all credit to the craft and skills of Root and Ballance, Ian Bell and Alastair Cook, they have yet to show us the star quality that shone with such force from KP, the brightest moon on the horizon and a batsman who will not be forgotten for a long, long time. By Ted Corbett.

Do you remember Kevin Pietersen? Wasn’t he that brilliant batsman from South Africa who destroyed every attack England faced for a few years but was never quite at home in the dressing room and was finally sacked after topping the averages for the losing side in the Ashes?

Yes, that was the man. What a great player, what a star-performer, with the ability to pull in the crowds, entertain the viewers, win matches and — oh, so briefly — led the team.

What a waste, too.

Now, of course, he is a freelance gadabout, tied to no-one, earning a good living as a T20 hitter and it sounds as if he has got it right.

So, who is the loser in this confrontation? Look at it logically and we are all the losers, deprived of our pleasure at watching a great player unless we follow him around the globe.

Andrew Strauss, KP’s captain for a while and his saviour after the unpleasantness caused by a series of texts between him and his pals in the South African team, has written that Tests may be doomed, ODIs may be a thing of yesterday and that T20 may be the way forward.

I have no doubt KP will not be the last Test player to end his days as a T20 globe-trotter and on the way making a fortune.

Why not? It is not illegal, the only part of the batsman to get fat will be his wallet and, if he has given good service to his country, there will be no talk of treason, disloyalty or good riddance.

Even among the cricket followers of England, a conservative lot, there is an idea that the sports world can put up with freedom of movement.

At the moment the idea is still wreathed in controversy but everyone will soon get used to the need for great players need to earn a living beyond the age of 35 and there is simply no room for all of them on the television gantry.

So let us try to dissect the rights and wrongs of the KP story. He has been cast off by Surrey — his third county after Nottinghamshire helped him on his way to the top and Hampshire, where he barely put in an appearance, after being tempted by their deep pockets. It means that whatever he has written in his new book ECB will have to take on the chin.

He is no longer under their jurisdiction so they cannot accuse him of bringing the game into disrepute. He has evaded their justice and I guess they will think long and hard before they go down the ruinous route of a libel action.

As he must have anticipated a farewell to Surrey his book is full of the most interesting detail about what happened in the England dressing room in recent years and my former colleagues among the cricket press will be so busy in the next few weeks that ordinary talk about lbw decisions, changes of captaincy and the best place for a mid-off will be pushed to one side.

Any way you cut it, it seems ECB have lost the battle.

One of the finest batsmen in England history has gone forever although thanks to Joe Root and Gary Ballance the runs are still coming. The crowds were thinner this summer but you can put that down to the loss of the Ashes 5-0 and I guess they will soon be filling our small grounds once again, even if KP is no longer hitting sixes on a regular basis.

I make no bones about this — I’ll miss him. He has charisma, the scent of danger, the presence of a film star and, with all credit to the craft and skills of Root and Ballance, Ian Bell and Alastair Cook, they have yet to show us the star quality that shone with such force from KP, the brightest moon on the horizon and a batsman who will not be forgotten for a long, long time.

So I, and those who also think the game is poorer without a batsman of genius, will be the main losers.

Ranji, the Star from the East, as the papers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used to call Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, has made a return to the news pages recently with a revelation that he left behind him a son.

I guess he will not be the only high quality sportsman to have left a non-heir but it is amazing that the story should have remained hidden for so long. Simon Wilde tells me that the family got in touch with him and that he then spent several months checking it out before using the story in the Sunday Times.

The story is more than 100 years old and of course it will not change our attitude to Ranji or to the way he is regarded in India.

Great cricketers can forget about the odd incident in a big career and still keep the affection of their devotees. I hope KP can because he has been a tremendous influence on English cricket and for a long time every lad in the world wanted to bat with that dash and freedom that he imprinted on the game.

They both deserve to be respected and remembered for their great deeds and to have their misadventures ignored. After all they accomplished feats that lesser men would have given their eye, teeth to realise.