10th February 2014, 18:26
After what has clearly been a troubled few months for the England cricket side as a whole, the largely reluctant retirement from International cricket of one of their most successful contemporary batsmen, Kevin Pietersen, on the 4th of February 2014, has sparked further debate, with both current and former cricketing professionals offering their personal views on whether or not the correct call has been made with regards to Pietersen’s forced departure from England’s national squad.
For months, there have been suggestions that the talented, yet highly controversial, Kevin Pietersen, was again to blame for the internal rumblings and divisions within the squad and indeed the backroom staff, with many reports further suggesting that his presence in the side was, in fact, the root cause for former coach, Andy Flower’s abrupt resignation last month.
Last Tuesday saw the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) conclude that it was time to move on without Pietersen.
Which would be fine, were it not for the ECB’s unnatural departure from their general protocol which has seen them openly failing to specify why the player had been dropped.
For many, it seems that removing ‘KP’ from the picture was a necessary evil, as his removal appears to be the most obvious quick-fix solution in this instance.
And perhaps it is… although English great and former captain, Sir Ian Botham, is clearly unconvinced, saying: “He (Pietersen) is one of the best cricketers this country has ever had – and if his career has been terminated, why not tell us why?”
Now, admittedly, Pietersen can scarcely be called everyone’s cup of tea and, given the controversy that has always dogged the player- some of it media-made, some of it purely self-inflicted, it has to be said- it is not impossible to believe that the squad will now be able to return to a state of internal peace with his departure and get back to winning matches again.
Much as Australia has been able to do since giving similarly controversial coach, Mickey Arthur, the sack last year.
However, does this really justify the ECB’s out of character methods in Pietersen’s case and the lack of explanation that has followed this questionable decision..?
In the past, they have been known to state recurring injury, a player’s age or faltering abilities as reasons for exclusion from a national side.
So, if it was for any of the above reasons, why not simply tell the public that? And if not, what is it that they – and possibly the England side – are attempting to hide..?
This certainly has not been done to spare Pietersen any blushes, that much is certain.
So then, is it simply a matter of keeping the truth from the cricketing public?
If so, is it right for a governing body to lay the blame solely at one player’s feet, regardless of how problematic the player has or has not been in the past..?
And if they were able to force such a gifted – for gifted he was, whether people like him as an individual or not – player like Kevin Pietersen to hang up his boots and call it a day, how many others might they do the same to in the future for greater (or even lesser) unpublicised offences?
Will this be the first and last – or simply the first of many such instances..?
We can only hope that this will not be the route that the cricketing bodies as a whole will choose to embark on because, if every time a player has issues in his personal or professional life, makes a mistake or isn’t the most popular guy in the starting eleven’s line-up, then many great players could find their careers being inexplicably terminated and the sport – and its devoted followers – will surely become much the poorer because of it.