It’s sad, sad situation that’s getting more and more absurd. The fallout from the nightmare tour of Australia that lost Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann has now claimed Kevin Pietersen after it was announced he wouldn’t feature in the future of English cricket in any form.
Allegations surrounding fights and heated arguments with both captain Alastair Cook and senior figures within the ECB have proved too damaging for the future of the national team. Managing director Paul Downton and the board have moved quickly to put an end to the rumours, meaning Pietersen will no longer play for England.
The decision itself to end Pietersen’s time with England seems to have been taken with remarkable ease by the ECB. The bold move comes even before a full time test coach could be appointed in the wake of Andy Flower’s resignation and after only two selectors have been retained following the last tour. Even after Alastair Cook had repeatedly denied rumours of fights and confrontations between himself and Pietersen, the stories and the allegations didn’t go away.
Cracks in the relationship between Pietersen and the national team were showing when he resigned from the captaincy after a dispute with the-then coach, Peter Moore, who was sacked the same again. The disputes became more and more frequent after that and the damage was probably done years ago. Even after Pietersen was reintegrated into the side, his behaviour in the past was not forgotten and more than likely contributed to his exit.
Such is Pietersen’s method and playing style that when England were down and out of form, fingers were usually pointed at him. The 2013-14 Australia tour has raised so many questions about how and why, with the senior players having taken most of the blame for the embarrassing results. Even while out of form, he was England’s leading run scorer in the last tour and continued to contribute while others shying away.
But behind the scandals and the rumours of conflict, he remains an outstanding talent that could have given a few years of service in the number 4 spot. The best managers and captains in any sport are the ones that can control the maverick spirit and use their talent, even if they require more effort and coaching. Questions will be asked about who can fill the void left by such a talented player. Eoin Morgan will be amongst the candidates, as will the younger players in and around the test side.
Downton confirmed in his statement from the ECB last night that the decision had been taken with the long term future of England in mind in an effort to end speculation. Pietersen’s departure and the manner in which it was orchestrated and planned however will only serve to raise more questions about English cricket and those in charge of it.
Even after the problems in recent years, the texting scandal and the reported bust-ups, England’s most prolific batsman in recent years deserved a better explanation than he has been given. For years, Pietersen provided the agony and the ecstasy which made England a fearsome side and served with unmatchable style. English cricket has lost their most entertaining player, one of their best ever batsman and a shining light within the game.