Kevin Pietersen: The Sinner and the Sinned Against

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Many people are still apoplectic about Kevin Pietersen’s sudden axing from the England team. “He was a scapegoat” they cry “he was our best batsman and the faceless suits murdered him”. Similar things were said about Jim Morrison when he was arrested in Miami for exposing himself on stage. “The establishment don’t like what he represents man” fans of The Doors said. “It’s a CIA conspiracy against individualism baby”. What they forget, of course, is that simulating fellatio in front of thousands of people is against the law. It was always going to get Jim arrested. The problem was, the Lizard King didn’t stop to think about the consequences of his actions.

I’ve now been through the contents of KP’s book with a fine-tooth comb. It’s not an autobiography; it’s an autopsy. What’s more, it’s brilliantly entertaining if you take the contents with a liberal pinch of salt. Although Matt Prior was a brilliant servant of English cricket, I loved all the Big Cheese stuff. “I knew the Big Cheese when he was just milk”. Take a bow David Walsh.

However, one of the things I cannot ignore is just how disturbed, just how contradictory, and just how, well, all over the place, Kevin Pietersen’s head is. Mike Atherton called KP an ‘unreliable witness’. He’s got a point. The bloke is a walking paradox: an incredibly insecure and sensitive man who always, in all circumstances, talks his mind in a direct and often brutal manner. If Kevin Pietersen ever met Kevin Pietersen they would immediately become best mates, fall out within a fortnight and then become sworn enemies for life.

The first thing that strikes me is KP’s failure to appreciate, or even tolerate, anyone who thinks in a different way to him. “I speak to people in the African way: direct, open, honest”. He can’t be doing with people who are more tactful, like Andrew Strauss for example. KP doesn’t like those with a different approach, and what’s more he can’t resist telling them where they’re going wrong: “if I feel you are the sort of person who enjoys the comfort-zone way of life, I tell you”. Thanks heavens you never shared a dressing room with Lord Gower, eh Kev. It’s your way or the highway.

Although Pietersen’s personality has its good points – his dedication, determination and honesty make it difficult not to empathise with him – one cannot help but feel sympathy for Andy Flower too. Here was a bloke, equally stubborn, dutifully trying to impose methods that his best batsman so unashamedly rejected. No wonder they fell out.

Whatever you think of Andy Flower – and I personally think he was a very good coach who simply stayed too long – it’s incredibly difficult to govern a team when one of your senior lieutenants is in open rebellion. Pietersen once refused to receive thrown downs from Flower in the nets. I find this remarkable. KP constantly moans about Flower trying to get rid of him, but it’s clear that Pietersen would have moved heaven and earth to vanquish the head coach too. The irony is obvious, yet never articulated in his book.

This is what gets me about KP: he seems like a good bloke, whose heart is in the right place, but I just found myself shaking my head and gasping at his testimony again and again. For example, he insists he didn’t give an ultimatum to Giles Clarke over Peter Moores’ future, yet he admits telling the ECB the current situation couldn’t carry on and something had to give. It’s basically the same thing: one of them had to go.

Pietersen also frequently switches from insecurity to outright paranoia. Some of his theories are far fetched, nonsensical and just plain irrational. He argues that Downton criticised his careless batting at the MCG purely to wind him up; he apparently wanted Pietersen to lose his cool in in front of Whitaker so they’d have an excuse to sack him. He also claims that Flower was ‘visibly upset’ when he complied with the reintegration process after textgate: KP says the coach had ‘wagered on me refusing’ as this would have handed ‘him a reason to drop me’. Pietersen also initially blamed Michael Vaughan for leaking his views about Peter Moores, although this rumour did appear in the press at the time.

Equally far fetched is his assertion that the ECB briefed the press that his infamous texts to the South Africans contained tactical information (when Hugh Morris knew they did not). Rather than blaming a sensationalist tabloid media, hardly known for the accuracy of their reporting, KP decides it’s part of a conspiracy by the ECB to get him sacked. If this was the case why, by Pietersen’s own admission, were the ECB desperate for him to tour India for political reasons?

The book also contains many contradictions. Pietersen is seething when Prior allegedly starts a media campaign to stop him from assuming the vice captaincy, yet a few pages later he insists he never had any desire whatsoever to be Alastair Cook’s deputy. Meanwhile, he constantly accuses Flower of trying to isolate him, yet admits that after the Headingley test the coach asked Prior to speak to KP, mend fences and bring him back into the fold.

Pietersen’s lack of forethought throughout the book is striking. He proudly declares that warm up games were irrelevant when it came to his batting, but he never considers their importance to the team: winning warm-up matches can create momentum, brings players together, and improves on-field chemistry for the challenges ahead. KP considers none of this.

What’s more, he delights in telling readers that he laughed out loud when Flower was giving a team talk about legacies. KP might have thought that the coach was waffling, but he doesn’t consider how this would have looked to the rest of the squad. It was incredibly disrespectful and more than a tad mutinous. Keeping one’s contempt to oneself is a necessary life-skill that KP obviously never learned.

Overall, Pietersen comes across as a man distracted by his own insecurities and squabbles. His problems stem not from arrogance but ignorance. As a result, he simply doesn’t think (either on the pitch or off it). When he talks about his batting, he admits he has no idea why he throws his wicket away with rash shots. He plays by instinct: see ball, hit ball. It’s the same in his dealings with people. He is critical of Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower for ‘managing upwards’, as if this is somehow dishonest, without realising that negotiation, compromise and accommodation are essential traits in any leader or manager.

What’s more, he seems largely incapable of analysing situations logically. Pietersen says he endured his humiliating reintegration after textgate, in which he was forced to say sorry to each of his teammates, because he didn’t want to give Flower the ammunition with which to sack him. Yet he throws this all away by arguing with the coach during their infamous spat in a Sydney hotel room. By confronting Flower so directly, rather than biting his tongue, he finally gave his coach all the ammunition he would ever need.

Pietersen’s attitude to this quarrel was naive at best. He walked out of the meeting proud and unrepentant. It doesn’t occur to him that shouting at the coach might have dire consequences. When Flower says to him ‘you’d better make some runs’ at the SCG, Pietersen seems genuinely surprised. Have you ever shouted at your boss but thought nothing of it?

At this point, you probably think you’re reading a Daily Mail or Guardian hatchet job rather than The Full Toss. “Hang on a sec, has Paul Newman kidnapped James while Mike Selvey hacks into TFT mainframe”? Thankfully not. Bear with me. Whilst Pietersen might have been a difficult character, brash and opinionated, his behaviour was also quite predictable. KP was not dishonest; he was not a manipulator; neither was he a snake in the grass. If someone is predictable, they can be figured out and managed.

KP’s narrative essentially revolves around the battle between Pietersen, the non-conformist, and Flower, the arch-conformist. The coach is desperate to assimilate KP into his military-style outfit. Pietersen, because he doesn’t like Flower or his methods, is desperate to rebel. At no point does one get the impression that Pietersen is treated like the maverick he is. He is treated the same as everyone else. Did Mike Brearley treat Ian Botham the same as everyone else? I think not.

It was Andy Flower’s job to manage different personalities. Shane Warne had nothing but contempt for John Buchanan, but Warne was never ostracised or sacked.  What is more, Pietersen had a superb work ethic and was ultra-professional off the field. He was never in trouble for drugs or sending sleazy messages to women. He revelled in mentoring the young players, and other than being very opinionated he was an excellent role model in many ways.

Basically, there was plenty there for Flower to work with. As Michael Vaughan pointed out, KP was easy to manage: all it takes is the occasional “shut up, Kev”. One wonders how Pietersen would have fared under a coach like Darren Lehmann who appreciates individuality?

Furthermore, a great deal of Pietersen’s paranoia, something which shaped his behaviour perhaps more than any other factor, was created by the ECB. When Pietersen moaned about his schedule in private, it would appear in the newspapers the next day. Senior journalists even warned KP’s agent that the ECB were leaking to their colleagues. In these circumstances, Pietersen had every reason to be paranoid. Even Flower admitted leaking the details of private conversations to the media (the James Taylor incident, which was apparently embellished by some journalists, is one example).

The ECB also forfeited any trust when they sacked Pietersen at the same time as Peter Moores. What did KP actually do? He simply did what all strong captains would do in the circumstances: tell the board that the players neither liked nor rated the coach. The bottom line is that the ECB made a mistake in appointing Moores, but sacked Pietersen because they were worried about player power. Not for the last time in his career, KP was the fall guy for other people’s mistakes.

The ECB and the team management’s treatment of KP’s injuries was also, as KP might say, “horrendous”. Forcing him to limp home from a black cab after his Achilles injury was inexcusable. What’s more, Pietersen’s workload was ridiculous yet nobody seemed to care. Strauss was given a tour off. Other players were rested. Flower handed over the ODI reins to Giles. Yet Pietersen was denied the chance to quits ODIs without also forfeiting his T20 career. Nobody stopped to think that Pietersen was the only automatic pick in all three formats and was slowly becoming increasingly injury prone and jaded as a result. Talk about abusing one of the team’s most valuable assets.

One suspects that because Pietersen was a huge advocate of the IPL, the ECB saw him as a threat that must be neutralised. It wasn’t just his attitude; it was what he represented. As someone who championed the IPL, and asked for the same treatment as players from other countries (who were given time off to maximise their revenue), KP was the single biggest threat to the ECB’s control over centrally contracted players.

The ECB didn’t like the IPL, and therefore by extension they didn’t like Pietersen. Many came to think of him as a mercenary – even though the ECB themselves are primarily motivated by money (as evidenced by the stitch up at the ICC, selling exclusive TV rights to Sky, and the scheduling  of more and more matches). Given this hypocrisy, is it any wonder KP became so belligerent? Pietersen was the thoroughly modern cricketer. The ECB was an anachronism that didn’t like the power shift in world cricket.

The IPL was also clearly a problem in the dressing room. I’m not talking about jealousy here (although this must have played at least a small role) I’m referring to how, as a result of his experiences in India, Pietersen adopted a different worldview to his teammates. He ended up on a completely different page.

Because players from around the world became friends at the IPL, test matches often became contests between friends battling for bragging rights. For Andrew Strauss, and the rest of the England team, this was an alien concept. They still saw the opposition as distant enemies, which is why they were so disturbed by KP’s friendships with the South Africans.

These two contrasting worldviews led directly to textgate – and after the @KPGenius scandal, which was not treated seriously enough by the ECB, is it any surprise that Pietersen felt closer to Morne Morkel than Bresnan, Swann and Broad? This is not to justify what Pietersen did, as he was extremely naïve, but it does at least provide a more holistic context.

Pietersen therefore, slowly but surely, developed more and more of a persecution complex. Some of his problems were of his own making, but plenty of them were not. A more cerebral individual might have manipulated events differently, thought harder about his predicament, and navigated a smoother course. However, this unfortunately proved beyond the means of this sensitive yet abrasive man.

So finally we come to the million-dollar question. Was it right for the ECB to sack Pietersen? This is, after all, the question that determines whether Pietersen should be seen a victim or perpetrator – although, if truth be told, he was probably both.

In my opinion, after reading the dodgy dossier and considering the evidence available in the public domain – by which I mean the first hand testimony available rather than all the nudges and winks from secondary sources – Pietersen was treated very harshly indeed.

Let’s look at things objectively. Those hanging Pietersen are certain cricket journalists who are close to the administrators (and rely on cordial relationships with these administrators to perform their duties as reporters effectively). Most importantly, however, they are not prepared to share with us the extra evidence they supposedly possess. Downton admitted long ago that there was no smoking gun, yet some journalists still tell us one exists.

On the other hand, there is plenty of testimony that Pietersen was not a problem in the dressing room: the initial evidence by Swann, the tweets by Tremlett and Carberry, plus the post-Ashes interviews by Stokes, Root and Bairstow who were all appreciative of the time they spent with KP in Australia.

What’s more, we also have evidence from Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, and most significantly of all, Michael Vaughan, testifying that Pietersen was straight-talking but essentially ‘a good bloke’. The comments by Flintoff on Sky’s A League of their Own, in which he was on good terms with Pietersen and expressed great sympathy for his predicament, echo these sentiments. Would all these people stand up for a disruptive pariah? Kevin Pietersen was not the devil.

The balance of evidence, therefore, suggests that KP was sacked unjustly. To argue otherwise is to rely on innuendo, subjective second hand testimony of journalists who were always closer to Flower than KP (and who hadn’t seen eye to eye with Pietersen long time), and the word of the ECB, that bastion of morality responsible for the stitch up at the ICC. If KP himself is an unreliable witness, what are this lot?

Ask yourself this: would a court of law condemn or acquit Pietersen? The evidence condemning him requires an enormous leap of faith. Consequently, the calm, mature, objective thing to do is to declare Pietersen innocent until further evidence emerges. And as we’ve already been waiting two weeks for the ECB to speak, I think it’s safe to assume they have nothing left to add. If the prosecution think their best bet is to maintain a dignified silence, they’ll convince absolutely nobody.

Furthermore, one must point out there was not a single practical reason for sacking KP. Yes, he was an unnecessarily belligerent character who clearly didn’t get on with the coach and some of the players, but the fact remains that the coach and the vast majority of these players (Swann, Strauss and Prior) were no longer in the team by the end of the Ashes. All the people he rebelled against were therefore gone.

What England were left with was a captain who had a decent relationship with Pietersen (a captain KP backed) who desperately needed help. England also had several young players who looked up to the team’s best batsman. As Vaughan observed at the time, the sensible thing to do would have been to make KP vice-captain, rather than sack him.

One of the most overused arguments against Pietersen was that he was no longer worth the hassle. In other words, when he was on top of the world, it was worth carrying this flawed genius … but then the runs dried up. What this fails to appreciate is that Pietersen was injured throughout the summer of 2013 and the Ashes winter. His chronic knee injury prevented him from firing on all cylinders. The management knew this. After having the surgery he so desperately needed, KP probably would have returned to top form. Instead they simply wrote him off.

The truth is that someone had to be blamed after the Ashes. The ECB decided it wasn’t going to be Cook. They also decided it wouldn’t be Flower. After a debriefing from his arch-nemesis, hardly the most objective person available, Paul Downton, who had been outside cricket for so many years, decided it would be Kevin Pietersen. Suddenly, all those concerns about the IPL, and making England players available for test matches in May, conveniently disappeared.

Kevin Pietersen committed many sins – many of which he admits to. However, those who deny he was also sinned against are living in a fantasy world. Many things went wrong in the Ashes. Our tactics were stale, we picked players who weren’t fully fit, the team was fatigued and buckled under pressure. To blame all these things on one man – while the captain, coach, selectors and board remained untouched – is ludicrous.

Fair minded people are not in the business of finding scapegoats. And I particularly dislike it when the ensuing controversy obscures the real problems at the heart of English cricket. That is why so many people refuse to shut up. The less the ECB say, the more people will talk.

James Morgan

94 Comments

  1. Brilliant stuff James. You have excelled yourself. Perhaps you should have written Kevin Pietersen’s book. 🙂

  2. As the others say, an excellent summary.
    The only thing I might quibble about is the ‘dutifully’ here:
    dutifully trying to impose methods that his best batsman so unashamedly rejected

    Surely Flower’s duty was to get the best out of his players, not to be a control freak ?

    • I see your point. I’d defend the line by saying that Flower was implementing the methods he thought were best for the collective.

      • And Flower was wrong. Badly wrong. Nurturing potential requires a flexible approach. Without flexibility, one suffocates the spirit and the potential.

        One law for the lion and the ox is oppression. — William Blake

  3. The only real mistake as I see it is that Pietersen should have gone for unfair dismissal’ rather than the ludicrously leaky ‘confidentiality agreement’. That way far more would have come out, quicker, once the process was under way. Imagine the fools at the EC B having to stand up in public court and account for their diabolical behaviour – would have been great telly

    • It would have been constructive, rather than unfair, dismissal (as it was Pietersen who apparently instigated the termination of his contract on the basis that the ECB showed no intention of picking him for the remainder of its duration). But you’re right to say he would have had a diamond-hard case, and the ECB would almost certainly have lost. (That said I suspect KP got a handsome payoff so I can see why he didn’t go down that route)

      • The reason why he wouldn’t have gone down that route is that he knew he would make more money from being a t20 freelancer which I suspect he may have wished to become when his international career came to a natural end, which may not have been that far down the line from now, given that he has had serious issues with his knee. Indeed having watched a few t20 games at the Oval this year, his mobility around the field looked limited to say the least.

        I believe that he has made mention that his income from cricket alone has been a good deal higher than it was with his central contract, due to four different contracts with Surrey, Delhi, St Lucia and Melbourne Renegades (?). It was also suggested that the ECB paid him the rest of his year’s salary (up until this September). He claimed in his book that he could have sued in September 2012 over the refusal of a new central contract after ‘doosgate’ if he hadn’t been ‘reintegrated’.

  4. Just so even handed and thorough and it is journalism of a very high standard. I agree with Northern Light that this ought to be in the DT – as that has more readers. Mind you, you would have to head off Zom and the rest, but I am sure you could handle it!!! Terrific stuff James.

  5. Superb. This should be in the newspapers. I have often wondered why KP did not go for constructive dismissal. I had a similar dossier put together by a boss who wanted rid of me. I took advice, said we were going to court and they settled within a week!

  6. James, that is one of the most objective and balanced critiques of any book or publication that I have read in my 70 years on this planet. I would hope that the journalists who read it feel suitably humbled. Thank you.

  7. Superb piece and much appreciated here. A few disorganised thoughts:
    1) You’ve quoted Vaughan on Pietersen being easy to manage. Vaughan also said about Pietersen “you’ve got to accept the whole package”. This seems crucial – I feel those from Flower upwards wanted Pietersen’s runs but nothing else to do with him (hence he felt like a performing seal – his most revealing remark I think). Vaughan also acknowledged he got Pietersen at his easiest to manage and I suspect Collingwood’s verdict (he could be difficult but not unmanageable) is how most would have found Pietersen in his mid-to-late career. Whatever the case, I have to be convinced he was worse than Warne or Hussain or Boycott and there just doesn’t seem to any argument that he was.
    2) Your analysis of the context of textgate is the best I’ve read. I’ve reread Strauss’s account in ‘Driving Ambition’ and in his version it is when he heard (from Andy Flower on the phone – where did he get it from?) about the leaking of team strategy is when it moved from a drama to a crisis. Strauss seems relatively relaxed about the “doos” stuff and starts the section of his book on textgate with the memory of the Middlesex keeper repeatedly calling Pietersen a “doos” in their first game together so the word hardly seems some ultimate breech of the cricketing code of chivalry. At the time I thought if Pietersen had divulged team strategy that was a sacking offence but now I think it is a bit more nuanced than that. A flip remark about “bowling dry” for example could be taken as revealing strategy but was anyone really unaware that that was England’s approach? I’m not sure England really had much strategy against the Saffers in 2012 to be leaked anyway except “we’re going to bowling at the middle of Hashim Amla’s bat and then we’ll try to avoid playing you for ages” (if those were the strategies then we can honestly say we executed our plans!).
    3) On one specific from textgate – you say Hugh Morris “knew” that Pietersen hadn’t given tactical information but as nobody except Pietersen and the recipients has ever seen the texts he can’t have known this. Do you mean he accepted Pietersen’s word he hadn’t (which isn’t quite the same thing)?

    • James here. Many thanks. I meant the allegation the texts contained tactical information came out of the blue, a few days after the original event (I recall), and that KP believed the ECB had made this up to make the whole drama look worse than it was. In other words, in Pietersen’s mind, they knew this part of the story was a fabrication (or they knew there was no evidence for it) but they leaked it anyway. My personal view is simply that the ECB weren’t involved in this, and this part of the story was just a creation of newspapers looking irresponsibly for extra headlines.

      KP makes a good point in his book when he says that no team would actually need tactical information, as Strauss’ weaknesses were hardly a secret, and every recent inns he’d played would’ve been studied extensively by video analysts anyway. The whole thing made no sense, and the ECB eventually conceded that no tactical info was provided in the messages. However, it has always suited his critics to believe, or even pretend, that they did contain tactical info and were therefore a massive betrayal.

  8. As has been said by others here, would that this could be published in the main stream press but I believe they would all be to embarrassed to be shown up by someone doing the job that they are supposed to be doing.

    • You’re too kind. For what it’s worth, I do think there have been some very good articles on this subject in the media. David Hopps’ piece on cricinfo for example was absolutely superb (better than I could muster). However, there has been an awful lot of rubbish written too.

  9. Really excellent piece, James. Terrific.

    I think this is absolutely the key:
    “The IPL was also clearly a problem in the dressing room. I’m not talking about jealousy here (although this must have played at least a small role) I’m referring to how, as a result of his experiences in India, Pietersen adopted a different worldview to his teammates. He ended up on a completely different page.”
    Pietersen has always had a sense of the flow of cricket, the way the game is moving worldwide. He’s a cricketing modern. This put him in direct conflict with ECB policy (and of course he thought he knew best!) and led to so much other trouble.

    One thing to point out is that Pietersen was not alone in believing that Vaughan might have leaked his views about Moores (for whatever reason). There was quite a bit of speculation at the time that Vaughan might have done so, and circumstances seemed to point to him. KP says in the book that he now doesn’t think it was him.

    It’s quite clear that Kevin Pietersen is a stranger to tact and diplomacy and if he met them he wouldn’t think much of them, but as you rightly say, people know that’s what he’s like. England cricket managed to put up with him for a long time. I’d rather work with someone like that, even if they sometimes drive me mad, than someone who’s watching me all the time and storing up information against me.

  10. Great review James. You and Dimitri have written the most balanced reviews I have seen. Nothing like this has appeared in the MSM. Which is why so much of this is not just about KP. The media and the ECB are the issues now.

    KP and his relationship with England was always a marriage of convenience. He got to play at the top level and make a shed load of money. England got an attacking, exciting maverick player. Vaughn and Fletcher seemed to be able to deal with him. The trouble started when more sergeant major types took over. Oh, and IPL arrived on the scene.

    Still, It would seem this convenience continued after textgate. Swann says Flower did not want him back into the team. It would appear he was brought back at the behest of Giles Clarke who desperately wanted to beat India, in India. And he played a big role in that win. From that moment on Flower seems to have waged a clandestine war to drive him out of the team. Non of it worked, KP would not walk. Finally after a 5-0 thrashing they found the excuse to scapegoat KP and at the same time get Flower, and Cook off the hook.

    “Mission accomplished” as George Bush would say. However, as we were to discover soon after, nothing could be further from the truth. KP like Saddam might be gone, but the problems remain. The IPL has not gone away, and at some point this issue will come back. The ludicrous schedule and flogging players to the point of serious injury will come back again and again. In many ways they run England like a widget factory. You exploit your workforce, and get as much as you can out of them before you throw them away. Let’s see what shape Broad and Anderson are in after the next 18 months.

  11. James,

    Good stuff. Just one thing though,

    “He also concocted a bizarre fantasy whereby Michael Vaughan was blamed for leaking KP’s views about Moores. Even though Vaughan had already retired, KP believed his ex-skipper wanted Moores removed in order to win a recall to the team.”

    I’d heard that before, a while ago. I think someone wrote a book on KP a while ago (think it was Marcus Stead) and he was interviewed on the radio, and said, if I recall correctly, that one of the theories doing the rounds was that it was Vaughan. That rumour hasn’t just come up now.

    • He’d retired from England colours though, right? The tearful press conference etc.

      I actually didn’t know that about Vaughan. In hindsight I probably picked a bad example. There were plenty of others. There’s the bit where KP claims Flower looked really upset in the car park after the reintegration meetings, because he (allegedly) expected KP to blow up during the process – thus making it easy to sack him. I really don’t buy that at all. Strange way of thinking.

      Cheers for your comments Dmitri. Appreciated.

      • No big one. I remember being gobsmacked when I heard the view that Vaughan had leaked, so it’s why I remembered it! Also Vaughan resigned the captaincy in that press conference, and wanted to come back for the West Indies tour.

        From Time To Declare:

        “I knew Kevin was keen to have me back in the set-up , even though my eventual omission was not one of the causes of the trouble that followed…”

        He wanted to get back for the Ashes. When he didn’t he retired from all cricket.

        Terrific piece. You had me going at one point…..:-)

        • I thought a major fallout between Moores and Pietersen was KP’s demands to have Vaughan back for the Windies tour.

          To be fair, much as I don’t rate Moores, there was no way Vaughan could be picked based on form.

      • There’s the bit where KP claims Flower looked really upset in the car park after the reintegration meetings, because he (allegedly) expected KP to blow up during the process – thus making it easy to sack him. I really don’t buy that at all. Strange way of thinking

        While there is no direct evidence for this, I don’t find it completely absurd.
        I’ve certainly known managers to behave like this – and it’s not incredible that Flower believed Pietersen too arrogant to be able to accept such a public humbling.

  12. Of all the theories, all the bonkers stuff I’ve heard on this subject, I reckon this one is up there with the best of them…

    “Kevin Pietersen deserves sympathy for the fact that he has not been able to throw off much of the flawed reasoning and grandiose expectations of a person in his early adolescence. He also deserves sympathy for the fact that this flaw in his character will lead to him having repeated disappointments in life, as his wholly inappropriate view of the world will prevent him from recognising that he is but one of millions and millions of people, and that he is of special importance only to himself.

    What he doesn’t deserve any sympathy for is the fact that grown up people, in a grown up world, dealing with matters that affect other grown up people, have no proper option except to ignore and overrule the tantrums, the lack of honour, and the unreasonable demands that come from any mental children of adult age who are under their jurisdiction.”

    Telegraph readers may recognise it…..

    And boy, did that individual (a) repeat it and (b) stand by it.

    • That writer has obviously never met or worked with anyone who has a creative or sporting talent or other special ability.

      The Pietersen type of character – highly sensitive about their own feelings but not necessarily very aware of others’ sensitivities, and with a strong emotional reaction to being, or being told that they are, in the wrong – is common amongst gifted people of all kinds. It’s nothing to do with adolescence or immaturity, though it may seem like that to ‘grown-up’ net-curtain twitchers of limited life experience.

      “this flaw in his character will lead to him having repeated disappointments in life, as his wholly inappropriate view of the world will prevent him from recognising that he is but one of millions and millions of people, and that he is of special importance only to himself.” I don’t like swearing online, but really, fuck right off.

      • Zephirine your point about KPs character, and sporting maverick talent is exactly right. We English don’t deal with these types of people very well. We use them, but we never really trust them or even like them.

        KP, Ian Botham, Geoff Boycott, George Best, Paul Gascoigne, Alex Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Daley Thompson. There are many examples, and it is not just sport. Various artists of music, and painting are also viewed with suspicion. Alan Turing at Bletchley park cracked the Enigma machine. But did he get much credit? Not until long after his death.

        Sometimes we do like them such as Botham. Although he was always held with suspicion by the establishment. Actually, quite often the public like these people more than the authorities do. The reason for that is they wont conform to mundane “rules for rules sake.” These flawed geniuses see the world very differently to so called ‘normal’ people. That goes against the whole hierarchical society that the English establishment is obsessed with. Know your place and be grateful for your opportunity is still very ingrained in English culture.

        For all their great deeds, these people can be unreliable, flakey, greedy, selfish, arrogant, not to be trusted. But we always take whatever they achieve, and then blame them when they fail.

        The English middle classes/establishment will always prefer a Cook/Strauss to a KP. A Henman rather than a Murray.

  13. This piece is of absolutely exceptional quality. I haven’t read anything from any professional cricket writer that even comes close. I also agree in almost every particular. Congratulations.

  14. Vanessa campbell on

    Congratulations James, an extremely intellectual and eloquent article.

    Zephirine my sentiments.exactly. Well said.

  15. Excellent summary of the whole sad affair.
    In the words of Nasser Hussein: “an object lesson in journalistic balance for your Etheridge’s, your Selvey’s, your Pringle’s, your Agnew’s.”

  16. Wonderful piece, James. Thank you. This really doesn’t feel like it’s going to go away, does it? It’s been nearly a year now, and the anger hasn’t died down yet.

    I know I’m probably being hopelessly optimistic, but maybe those responsible will eventually be held to account for their actions.

  17. There are, in my view, a number of misreadings of the book in this piece. For example, ““I speak to people in the African way: direct, open, honest” is explaining his disappointment with Flower, who despite being a fellow African, does things the English, backstabbing way instead of airing grievances openly and avoiding rancour. It’s worth quoting this passage in full, because it’s actually quite amusing, which itself suggests how James has approached it with a tin ear:

    I felt a little bit of empathy with him, though, because he had come from Zimbabwe. I think Africans tend to be drawn together, wherever they are in the world. The English do the same when they are away from home.

    Maybe that’s one of my gripes with Flower. If you’re from South Africa or Zimbabwe, you understand me. You know the way I speak and relate to people is the African way. Direct, open, honest — that is how we do it. We cut the shit out of each other to each other’s faces and then we laugh.

    Somebody tells me I’m one of the biggest tossers he has ever met, so I tell him if that’s the case, he should get out more, but I can see why he doesn’t.

    He replies, well, if I was guaranteed not to meet a doos like you, yeah, I might actually go out more.

    And so on. No backstabbing, no playing political games. We don’t carry it with us.

    Andy bought into the ECB way of doing things. Glances. Whispers. Politics. Agendas.

    The imaginary conversation is very funny (“but I can see why you don’t” is a witty addition to the standard “You should get out more” and the riposte is also funny), but the real point is in the two phrases “and then we laugh” and “We don’t carry it with us.” The African way, according to Pietersen, is that you are up front with your complaints against someone, you air them, and then you make up and laugh. You don’t bear grudges. You don’t scheme and you don’t plot.

    What this passage is not is a criticism of Strauss’ tactful approach. It’s fairly obviously a rejection of hypocrisy and scheming. If you have a problem with me, Pietersen is saying, tell me to my face, don’t leak it to the newspapers or scheme behind my back.

    There is no greater friendly witness for what Pietersen says in the book than the leaked dossier. What it exposes is a coach who is bearing a grudge, who is weaving a plot, who is encouraging the reporting of private conversations — even a stray comment Pietersen makes to the team physio gets back to Flower — and who is using entrapment. That is the ECB way, not the African way.

    Note also how Pietersen illustrates the use of doos — an acceptable word in friendly banter. Not what it was presented as meaning in the English press during so-called “text gate.”

    As others have said, the Vaughan rumour is one that was reported in the press at the time, it is not something invented by Pietersen’s paranoia. I have vague memories of discussing it below the line on the Guardian in the first weeks of 2009.

    James makes several good points, but in several places I feel as though I’ve been reading a different book. The “see ball hit ball” passage shouldn’t be quoted on its own, it should be taken in conjunction with his repeated emphasis on how important practice is to him — the switch hit was the result of hours in the nets, not an adrenalin rush. In fact, at times you get the impression that practice is his favourite part of the game, even more than being in the middle with the crowd roaring.

    He’s a complex person, sure, full of contradictions. That is one of the things I found fascinating about the book. He doesn’t try to edit out those contradictions. He hasn’t learned to present a persona that has been edited for public consumption, something one learns from an early age in England until it becomes second nature. Sometimes the mask will slip and the real character emerges — ask Andrew Strauss.

    Incidentally, few people have mentioned the laugh-out-loud passages about Strauss in the book.Check out page 210: that’s a really brilliant pen portrait. In fact, Pietersen’s attitude to Strauss is highly nuanced.

    • Blast. If admin wouldn’t mind doing a bit of editing, only the direct quotation from the book should be blockquoted.

      • Hi mate. I’m afraid admin is a little half cut at the moment, having polished off a bottle of wine and a Chinese takeaway! I think you maybe have a point that some of the direct quotes are taken in isolation, but I still think they’re representative of KP’s attitude in general e.g. he is undoubtedly a straight shooter and nicer afraid of expressing his opinion, even if one disregards his contempt for politics. He just see very simplistic to me. When it comes to his see ball hit ball approach, I based my article on his radio interviews too. He frequently said he has no idea why he plays the shots he does. He practices hard, but when his heart starts racing and the quick bowlers are running in, he just goes my instinct and preparation goes out the window. We just have different interpretations I suppose.

        • I think you have that completely wrong, James. If you want a player like you are describing, look no further than Sehwag. A brilliant attacking player who was undone by the slightest sideways movement and who has only one modus operandi. Sehwag couldn’t have played the way Pietersen did at Old Trafford last year or the way he played in the first 120 runs of his double century at Lord’s in 2011, just to pick two examples. Yes, KP likes to trust his instincts, but they have been honed by hours and hours in the nets.

          Sehwag found batting in English conditions almost impossible — he averaged under 28 and his one century came in 2002, when England were busy rebuilding their bowling attack after the end of the Gough-Caddick era. Of course, the sample sizes are very different, but Pietersen averaged 52.5 in English conditions — you just cannot do this over a nine-year period without a sound defensive technique, however unorthodox.

          • I think you’re interpreting my argument in an extreme way. KP was indeed able to play different kinds of inns, but I still don’t think he thought about things too much. Still an instinctive player overall. Had he thought about his game from a technical standpoint more thoroughly, he would have developed more of a backfoot game instead of predominantly lunging forward all the time (pitch maps showed he hit the ball about a yard further forward than all his teammates). By his own admission in the book, his technique wasn’t the best. He was very much an eye player.

            • You’ve mentioned the “yard further forward” thing before.

              It’s not a flaw. It’s showing how his height and reach allowed him to negate late swing by attacking before the ball has moved much. It puts bowlers off their usual lengths and increases the likelihood of them pitching it shorter and allowing him to rock back and play off the back foot in conditions conducive to fuller pitched bowling.

              Turning good lengths into half volleys is a real benefit. In this case it was a physical advantage, not a technical weakness.

              • James here again. Normally I would agree with you, but KP never ever really rocked back and played the ball off the back foot. He also pulled the likes of Brett Lee off the front foot. That’s never wise! I don’t think this particular aspect of his batting was a well thought out plan; it was instinctive. What’s more, lunging forward often actually increases the chances of the ball taking the outside edge of the bat: how many times to commentators beseech bowlers to pitch the ball up another half a yard when it goes whistling past the outside edge? The great players usually play late. They do so for good reason.

      • Done – see above.

        See Pietersen’s recent Twitter exchange with Ravi Bopara (not even a southern African) for a rather good example of the very kind of banter to which you refer.

  18. A wonderful article, James but I must beg to differ with your thoughts on Andy Flower.I hope I don’t come across as having a vendetta against him but having studied the situation between him and KP over a number of years my conclusions are a little different I am not at all forgiving of Flower.KP’s cricketing career would have been so different without an Andy Flower.I believe Flower was and still is carrying a deep grudge and may I say hatred of KP. Just as I’,m sure KP just dispises him.The example of the attempted humiliation of KP having to apologise to the whole team,one by one ,with him and Cook sitting there is quite frankly “sick”. He knew KP was a sensitive man and it would really hurt.How vindicyive can you get He must have known it would be ,” in the papers “at some time for all to see.Did he see nothing wrong with the action.I know KP was quite intolerant of him but how could you expect otherwise.How could KP respect him and look up to him as a coach?Respect is something you earn and he certainly didn’t earn it with KP.When he couldn’t break him he finally turned to his mates in ECB to do ” the dirty work”.So why can’t ECB explain why they sacked KP ?.Wouldn’t look good to say, because Andy told us to and we always do as he asks.

    • Did we need the book to see that Flower had sucked all the joy out of the team forever? I and many others had been saying for two years or more that Flower was driving the team into the ground, not allowing players to play their natural game, treating them like automatons, expecting them to play through injury, relying too much on laptop preparation, and making unpardonable selection blunders (not picking Monty at Ahmadebad being only the worst howler — before the match I asked Mike Selvey why England had brought the world’s two best spin bowlers to India and were thinking of playing only one; Selvey batted this off with “England will play to their strengths” — at that stage Monty had taken 25 wickets in his previous three games).

      I personally had been calling for Flower to step down or be sacked since the 2012 South African series. Others had been doing so earlier. What happened in India did not change my mind. We won despite Flower, not because of him.

      In Australia, we had a coach obsessed with checking players skin folds and seeing that they had a menu choice of 87 healthy options while ignoring the fact that his no.3 batsman was having a mental breakdown, his no.4’s knee was crocked, his premier fast bowler was playing with a broken rib, and his spin bowler’s elbow was hanging off.

      The book only confirmed what very many of us had long been saying below the line at the Guardian, and no doubt here at The Full Toss as well (unfortunately, I only discovered TFT this summer). Moreover, even without the book, the ECB’s own leaked dossier reveals it was much, much worse than we even dreamed of — that Flower had reached Inspector Dreyfus (Clouseau’s adversary) levels of obsession and madness, cataloguing Pietersen’s every pettifogging faux pas and scheming and plotting against him while the rest of the team fell to pieces around him. Naturally, while most of the press (even Selvey) has universally dismissed the dossier’s case against Pietersen derisively, it has universally ignored what it reveals about Flower.

      (Thanks for editing the format of my previous comment, Maxie.)

      • Thanks for the Flower/ Dreyfuss image, Clive. The thought of AF twitching, shouting and being calmed by doctor’s at the mention of KP’s name shall ease the frustration!

        And thanks to James for this comprehensive and deliberately fair-minded analysis. My first thoughts are that to really understand the ECB viewpoint, we shouldn’t start from the framework of the book, but should use the lens which the other side is using. I’m sure the conclusion would be broadly similar, but may convince a few of them to see us in a fairer light. I’ll have to think about this and post again later if I have time.

        Thanks again from a first-time poster.

      • Panesar had taken 16 wickets in his previous three games in UAE and SL, at an *average* of 25. He had played three times in Asia during 2012.
        Bresnan – who played in his stead – had taken 5 in his previous three Tests at an average of 77.8. He hadn’t played a Test in Asia in two and a half years.

      • It should also be recalled that Flower did not pick Panesar for the first test in the UAE either. The pitch called for spinners and Pakistan played Ajmal, Rehman and Hafeez. Panesar bowled in the remaining two tests and was more effective than Swann.

      • I think Flower and KP were both to blame for their falling out. I reckon Flower should’ve stepped down at the same time as Strauss. It was the end of that particular cycle, and his methods / tactics had become stale. Read my piece from last week, The Seduction of Flower Power, for more details (if you’ve got time).

      • Very good points,very well put. I’m still staggered by the laptop scoring policy not to mention selecting injured players and then expecting the best from them.

  19. On 7 Jan 2009, David Hopps (a far better journalist than Selvey) reported in The Guardian (emphasis in bold mine):

    The enforced resignation of Kevin Pieter­sen, it was asserted yesterday, was inevitable because he had conducted his campaign against the England coach, Peter Moores, in the public domain. Except that is pure baloney. Pietersen had done no such thing.

    Pietersen’s intention was to undertake a silent revolution against Moores and he might just have pulled it off. But the rift became public on New Year’s Eve, two days after the omission of Michael Vaughan from the squad to tour the West Indies. From that point on, Pietersen’s chances of one of the most egotistical campaigns ever attempted by an England cricket captain were slim.

    Pietersen’s respect for Moores collapsed irretrievably after England’s defeat in the Chennai Test when India successfully chased 387 for victory. Forgiveness then became impossible after Vaughan’s nonselection for the Caribbean Test series, as Pietersen had argued vehemently that his return was essential to mount a concerted Ashes challenge next summer.

    It was the chief selector, Geoff Miller, who took responsibility for the decision, but it was Moores – who was held in equally low regard by his previous captain, Vaughan – who suffered resentment. Pietersen’s rebellion somehow became public knowledge, but he was ­justified when he protested yesterday: “At no time, have I released any unauthorised information to the media regarding my relationships with the players, coaches and the ECB itself.”

    You can see why Pietersen may have assumed that Vaughan was responsible for the leak.

    Two days later, the Telegraph reported ECB Vice Chairman Dennis Amiss as confirming publicly that the ECB did not hold Pietersen responsible for leaking the information. (I think it probably knew who was responsible!)

    And on 30 July, Andy Bull in the Guardian reported that Vaughan had not entered an IPL auction because he was making a “desperate” bid to regain his England place for the Ashes. No, he definitely didn’t retire after stepping down as captain!

    I want to get back into the Test team and the only way to do that is to start the season with Yorkshire, play two or three four-day games and hopefully get a couple of hundreds and put myself in a position to get myself selected for that first Test against West Indies in May,” said Vaughan, talking to BBC Radio Five Live. “That is purely a personal decision. Every decision involving the IPL is down to the individual players and my position is to get back into the Test team. I’m not too sure whether I would have been bought at the auction anyway. “

    With your ODI record, Michael, no one would have given you a second’s thought.

    Incidentally, in the same report, Vaughan denies talk that he himself did not get on with Peter Moores. Obviously, if he was keen to win back a place in the England side, he would be likely to play any rift with Moores down. In any case, Vaughan later criticized Moores in his autobiography (Tregaskis quotes Vaughan’s criticisms in his now famous “Turtle Tank” essay):

    Michael Vaughan has described how Peter Moores operated first time around – “The team is starting to get irritated by the new management regime – being told what to do and treated like school kids. Peter loves talking and having the last word.”

    Vaughan gives as an example an occasion when the team was asked to write down “100 things” that would improve the team. This tripe comes from the same coaching-by-numbers manual employed by Mickey Arthur, the Aussie head coach to be forever remembered as the architect of homework-gate.

    I was extremely ill at the time all this was going on, and was admitted to hospital at the end of the month. Hence a lot of my recollections of this period are a bit hazy. It’s been fascinating to re-read or read for the first time a lot of this information. Now then, who do you suppose is the author of the following article, from 8th January 2009?

    Pietersen was only doing his duty as captain to raise concerns”>Pietersen was only doing his duty as captain to raise concerns

    I think Pietersen’s biggest mistake has not been in wanting to convey to his employers concerns about the coach – something surely not unreasonable for a person in his position and with a passionatedesire to drive his team forward – but in not breaking off his holiday in South Africa to do so. It is pretty certain to my mind that had he done so, much that has been filling the pages this week would have been kept in-house, Moores would have been removed as a diligent but uninspiring coach, and Pietersen, who seemed to me to be growing into the role – three Tests only for goodness sake and declared a diplomatic hero only a month ago – would still be captain.

    • First, thanks for the welcome Clive. It’s good to be here!

      Second, your link to the various, positive, post-captaincy pieces shows how KP could be viewed by those who wouldn’t necessarily be his friends, in a non-political, transparent situation. What changed in the 4-5 years after then? Of course, it was Flower’s coaching regime and his “up-management”. The effect, KP is now ridiculed and lambasted without a second thought by many of those who were sympathetic before.

      You can see much more easily why KP would be frustrated that non-cricketing skills have turned the tables on him in the court of his peers and colleagues (if not the general public).

      Sorry if my post is unclear, my daughter is practising her reading by looking over my shoulder, and it’s really off-putting!

  20. Well constructed and thoughtful piece James. I enjoyed reading it, thank you.

    As Julie and Clive have pointed out Flower is deeply flawed as a coach and in my opinion should be nowhere near young players looking to move up the cricketing ladder.

    And as Clive points out many people have seen Flowers limitations for several years. The question this raises for me is how long would England have remained the top tier team with a more capable coach with an eye for promoting and preserving talent rather than exhausting it and trying to build “legacy”.

    • Very well said, that there man. Quite right. If Broad was scared “s…tless” when Flower phoned him, what’s that going to do with the youngsters? I do agree with the idea that working for one group for only a certain amount of time is right. Flower was “successful” when the team was “successful” when the team began to decline it seems neither he nor Gooch or anyone else had the answers? Just my view. Now England have the “greatest coach of his generation,” they still do not have the answers!

  21. **** James here. I’ve now amended the paragraph that mentions Vaughan and the leaking of KP’s views about Moores. Thanks for the heads up everyone.

  22. This whole saga was always about player power and management control. I don’t think it was personal to begin with. Individual star cricketers were on the rise worldwide and the ECB didn’t want any such thing – somebody was going to be made an example of, and once Flintoff had bowled himself into the ground, it was going to be Pietersen. Unfortunately, he had a personality that played into the Board’s hands and he could be portrayed as mercenary, selfish, arrogant etc. etc because of his history, the way he played and his own abrasiveness. But compromises could have been reached.

    What has made it all into a hideous festering mess has been the personal feud between Flower and Pietersen. Moores genuinely doesn’t seem to bear a grudge against Pietersen for getting rid of him the first time. And anyway, KP wasn’t the only senior player who couldn’t get on with him at that point. But Flower obviously never forgave, and also obviously has his own issues about control and domination.

    It’s now clear that what disrupted the dressing-room and poisoned the atmosphere was the hatred between these two men, not Pietersen alone. Someone in senior management should have perceived this and knocked heads together – perhaps Giles Clarke tried to, if he was the one who insisted on ‘reintegrating’ Pietersen after the text business. But perhaps they were quite happy with the way things were going. From the present situations of Flower and KP, it would seem so.

    And now we wait for the next. Buttler? Morgan? Stokes?

    • Moores would surely have to have some kind of a personality or passion in order to hold a grudge against KP. As an autobot, he is programmed to smile and clap and extrude meaningless random phrases from his mouth when a microphone is within 30 cm.
      We just need to wait for the iMoores 6 to be released. Fingerprint recognition and personality chip are promised . . . cricket success not guaranteed, though.

  23. Zephirine …….

    “Individual star cricketers were on the rise worldwide and the ECB didn’t want any such thing ”

    Look at the WI. These issues are on going. I made the point yesterday about who is funding cricket. Money from International cricket is funding county cricket. You could argue the players should get a bigger share of the pot. Supporters don’t come out to see Giles Clarke. Supporters don’t go and watch county cricket in big numbers. The ECB may have a problem keeping a lid on some of these issues in the future. They don’t want their players playing a full IPL.

    Some players may say screw the ECB, we are fed up being treated like children. It’s one of the reasons ECB has gone into this deal with the Indian board. They are desperately trying to keep control of the players.

    • Not sure I get your point about funding. The money is in international cricket, but ECB put between £35m and £40m per annum into the counties, which is where the next generation of England cricketers come from. The England players get spectacularly well rewarded on their England contracts.

      It’s not like Giles Clarke is keeping it for himself and Andy Flower…..

      • Actually Hamish English cricket is being subsidised by football supporters who pay Sky for watching Premiership football. When premiership rugby left sky to go to BT did Sky customers get a reduction in their monthly bill? No. Football drives sky sport. If many of those supporters paid per event instead of a package cricket would not get the money it does.

        English cricket lives off premiership football. One of the reasons the ECB is unaccountable to many cricket supporters is they rely on money from outside English cricket. County chairman strut about claiming they are running businesses but many counties would go broke without the sky money. Of course Giles Clarke does not keep it for himself, he passes it on to the counties who then vote to keep him in a job.

        Premiership football and players agents could in theory demand even more money from Sky. I know people won’t like that because they think footballers get too much money already. But money they are generating is funding cricket.

  24. To echo others, thank you for an excellent, objective analysis. My cricket reading is TFT, Dmitri and cricinfo plus anything of Sir Geoffrey’s I come across. I see no point in reading the press.

    Before retiring, I had 30 years managing in a top financial corporate (ECB is a corner shop in comparison) up to a senior level. I have had to deal with the whole spectrum of characters in that time. I never had to treat anyone like Flower did. Yes, I sometimes had some “difficult” people and the solution was to sit down and discuss the best way to work together. Everyone wanted a day’s work, in which they could go home at the end feeling it had been a rewarding/interesting/challenging time (if not all at the same time). Always thought it essential to listen and understand, always chose, when required, to persuade not command. I never had a managing director involved in personnel issues. Those chaps had more important things to do.

    Now I’ll confess I was quite a KP in my early years – “sorry boss but I don’t think this is the best way to do it …..”. Over the years, I mellowed, understood more and grew wiser. Fortunately, my employers saw some talent in me that was worth persevering with. Oh and I was right a lot of the time.

  25. Of course, one of the rumours from the end of 2008 was that Vaughan didn’t fancy the trip to India before Xmas but did fancy spring in the West Indies back in the side ready for the Ashes (I believe Owais Shah was to be the fall guy). Vaughan was agitating with his mate KP for the recall, who, as pointed out, wanted Vaughan back. As soon as it became apparent Moores was having nothing of a Vaughan recall (it’s obvious they never got on as captain-coach), Vaughan gave KP the nudge to agitate with the ECB to get rid of Moores, the plan being to install their mate Ashley Giles installed as coach…

    • That is an interesting counter viewpoint, and the sort of opinion passed off as fact that needs to be expressed, so we know what others are thinking. I view Mark’s post much as he might view someone claiming “the ECB obviously made Prior, Swann et al set their IPL prices too high, so as to better isolate KP in the dressing room”.
      However, a bit counter-factual in terms of Giles’ coaching career at that time, surely. It was too early for him.

    • KP says in his book that he wanted Vaughan back in the side, believing that a senior player was needed (he seems to have overlooked the fact that Vaughan’s eyes were going), but Moores wanted to go with youth. So that part is not in dispute. I doubt if Giles was anywhere in the picture for the reason Rooto gave. Note how after the sacking of KP and Moores (see my earlier post) Vaughan, still hoping to get his place back, denied ever falling out with Moores. This is typical of the way KP was left in the lurch. He claims that Strauss and Collingwood also backed him against Moores, but quickly left him isolated. No one wanted to own up to a connection with the “conspiracy” once it had failed (at least to remove Flower along with Moores). KP was left holding the baby.

      Maybe he had overestimated how much support he had for Moores’s ouster, but I think I trust his version. I’ve already demonstrated how Vaughan for one definitely changed his position when it suited him, then changed it back again, criticizing Moores, when he was no longer hoping to regain his place.

      • I think what is indisputable is Vaughan’s machiavelian skill as a manipulatior; see how he intrigued Root into opening the batting last summer despite the evidence that he was never comfortable against the second new ball and that he had promise instead as a middle order player (where he is now…), lined Root up as future captain after less than half a dozen games, just because Vaughan knew him from Sheffield Collegiate and was a mate of dad. And then went totally silent in support Root after his problems in Australia.

        His “on the fence” stance currently toward Moores shows how he is clearly politically savvy: give Moores a chance just in case he turns England around (MPV: he wont)

        The intention with Giles a novice coach in WI, as I understand it, was pretty much as a puppet figure head to a Vaughan-KP-Giles triumvirate,

        • Remember how Vaughan denied ever using the word “Fredalo” in an interview, and was made to look foolish when the interviewer produced the tape with him saying exactly that? Say what you like about KP, but I don’t think anyone has ever caught him in a lie. I think what you see is what you get with him. (Not saying I buy your your Machiavellian theories about Vaughan, however.)

  26. Just like many of the greatest players of all time, he doesn’t have a technique out of the MCC manual. But we are talking of someone who managed to rebuild his entire game against spin after DRS came in. That’s not someone who relies on instinct alone.

  27. Congratulations James. This is an excellent piece of writing, one of the most thoughtful and objective on this or any other subject you could wish to find. I speak as a great admirer of kp who, after 60 years finds it impossible to support England anymore after what’s happened this year. Articles like yours expose most of the mainstream writers and commentators for the hacks that they are. From your previous posts it is obvious that you are not an uncritical admirer of Kevin and so are able to look at the whole situation without a personal agenda. An illuminating contrast with the likes of Newman.

  28. Eoin Morgan has some interesting things to say:

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/oct/20/kevin-pietersens-international-absence-unbelievable-says-eoin-morgan

    Only The Guardian seems to be reporting this at the moment so perhaps they are raising their name after the deserved pounding of the last week (although the article doesn’t have any enabled ‘comments’).

    There is a Mike Gatting interview on cricinfo which reads like a digested version of the ECB case against Pietersen.

    • Eoin is one of few English cricketers who has the courage to say what he thinks and believes regardless of the ECB .No doubt he will be over looked where ever possible by them.But of course he was already in trouble as a loyal friend of KP who was always there to defend him He was a ” marked man ” How I wish ECB could be sorted so people like Eoin, Compdog and KP could have the chance to entertain us all again.

      • Remember Eoin Morgan had a conversation with Paul Downton and then decided not to go to the IPL. It was widely believed that he’d been told this would improve his chances of England Test team selection. Curiously, he still wasn’t selected.

        But he did captain England for that cracking T20 game!

        • In whatever way Morgan has, or has not, blotted his copy book should become apparent by next spring when I expect him to be appointed ODI and T20 captain.

          If he is not….

          (Of course, that precludes the Joe Root Love-in Bandwagon have git some serious motion behind it)

      • Hey Julie, even as a Somerset supporter, I would hesitate to describe Compdog as entertaining. His face obviously did not fit in the England camp, and I understand that Cook complained that Compton put too much pressure on the skipper to score more quickly. Deep sigh as the deeper irony sinks in! But he did a job that may have been bettered or at least better valued outside the toxic-looking environment in which he found himself.

        • You make a good point, Tregaskis. I think that, at times, expesially in the 2010 Ashes and also in Dubai, Strauss was guilty of putting too much pressure on himself to raise the run-rate after some of the stodgy opening stands between him Cook and him – he basically took the risk of sacrificing his wicket to get the score moving and to set an example. Isn’t this one of the arts of being captain? Actually setting an example? Showing people what you want to achieve and trying to achieve it? Yet another pointed to why Cook should not be captain, if it turns out to be true.

          • But you know what happened to that other person when those in authority determined that he was not the Messiah after all!

  29. I fear that Alex Hales may suffer a similar fate. Arron and Clive will do this better than me, but I remember that in the successful short-format partnership of Lumb and Hales, it was Lumb that was the “pinch hitter” while Hales accelerated after maybe 10 overs.

    Hales’s record forced him into the ODI team, but he is being required to play differently in order to compensate for Cook’s dry batting strategy. I worry for him.

  30. Thanks to everyone for all your comments. Was really pleased with the response. It’s good to see a few new faces on the blog too. Cheers for adding to the debate.

  31. Pingback: That was the year that was – part four | England cricket blog - The Full Toss

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