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The Kevin Pietersen debacle Part 1

The world continues to be both obsessed and polarised by the debate that rages on over whether or not Kevin Pietersen should be in the England cricket team.

There are only a handful of people who genuinely know what KP was like in an England dressing room. There are very few players or coaches who have spoken in detail about the goings on during the Ashes in Australia, or indeed before. All we have to go on is the media’s portrayal of events, the social media mutterings of a few ex-players, the releases from the ECB and the book “written” by KP himself. So I do not want to judge anyone or any body on hearsay and speculation, I do not want this article to descend into a he should or he shouldn’t, but more I want to reflect on what should have happened and what could happen next.

I do not care if a batsman is the best in the world, if he is not prepared to support the captain and be a supportive and constructive part of the team, then he should not be in the team. When I was 14, I was dropped from the Junior Colts 1 XV by my coach. I was furious. He told me that I had become complacent and that I need to prove to him that I was good enough to be in the team by playing my socks off for the 2XV. More than 20 years later, I still remember it vividly and he was right. I was so angry that I played better than I ever had, scored two tries and was back in the 1XV the following week and never took my place for granted again.

The only reason for anyone to undermine a team environment is if they either don’t believe in the coach or captain or if they think they are bigger than the team and that everything should revolve around them. Either way, that person should no longer be in the team. If an England captain and coach feel that a player is not a positive figure in the dressing room then they should address that with him and manage the situation. If that player’s behaviour does not improve then they get dropped. Simple. Not sacked and not so publicly.

Look at equivalent stories in other sports:

  • Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps the greatest football manager of his generation decided that David Beckham was becoming bigger than Manchester United football club and so he was moved on to Real Madrid just at the age that he would have been a star for years. The team was more important.
  • Danny Cipriani has talent in abundance but his attitude and personality have led to successive England coaches leaving him out of squads explaining that he needs to grow up. Which to his great credit, he seems to have done and he is now knocking on the door of the team again in time for this year’s World Cup.
  • Samir Nasri was left out of France’s World Cup squad in 2014 because Didier Deschamps felt that he would be a destructive presence in the dressing room.

I applaud the decision of KP to duck the IPL this year, to return to Surrey to try and regain his England place. I would applaud the ECB even louder if they were to apologise for their handling of the whole affair, including his “sacking” – never before has a cricketer been sacked without serious disciplinary transgressions, they have just been left out of the squad. If Kevin Pietersen scores 1000 runs by the end of May, any of Ballance, Bell or Root fail in the West Indies, the ECB acknowledge their fault and, most importantly, Alastair Cook meets with Kevin Pietersen to ascertain wether or not he will be a positive or negative figure in that dressing room, then perhaps we will see KP in the Ashes. But there are a lot of ifs in there…

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