We may no longer be the number one-ranked test team, but English cricket are still world champions at the art of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
As ever, the ECB care far more about showing who’s boss than actually winning cricket matches, which is why they’ve left out our best player from the toughest of all overseas tours.
Let’s unpick exactly why Kevin Pietersen was not included in the squad for India. According to Geoff Miller, KP was not available to them for selection – in other words, the order came down from above not to pick him.
What exactly is the point of having selectors unless they are allowed to pick whoever they wish, on cricketing merit?
Meanwhile, several England players are on record as saying they’d have no problem with having Pietersen back in the team, were he selected. These include Ian Bell, and also James Anderson – who himself does not come well out of this affair. If team unity is so sacrosanct, maybe Anderson should explain why he felt it necessary to form a virulent anti-KP clique in the dressing room with his mates Broad and Swann.
Meanwhile, Alastair Cook has reportedly been involved in the recent KP negotiations and has met him in person. Why would Cook have done that unless he wanted Pietersen in India – otherwise, he could have waited till later.
So if the England captain apparently wants KP in the squad, and the other players have no real problem with that, why isn’t he?
It’s because Giles Clarke and Hugh Morris – the ECB chairman and England team boss, respectively – don’t want to lose face. They are terrified at looking stupid or craven in public – being accused of bringing KP back too soon, or giving in to him. Their sense of public opinion is that Pietersen must be punished, and be seen to be, at any price.
The ECB have put their pride and vanity before the wider interests of the team’s performance, and not for the first time. In January 2009 Hugh Morris sacked Pietersen as England captain purely to spare his own blushes.
There is a deeper issue at the heart of this. In the eyes of English cricket’s top brass, there is no greater crime, since time immemorial, than to rebuke the management. You can have an endless run of poor form, or go on a rebel tour of apartheid South Africa, and eventually all will be forgiven. But if you dare try to defy the powers that be, then like KP, there will be a black mark against your name forever.
The section of the cricket community whose views count for nothing in any of this is us, the supporters. From our point of view, what we care about is that the England test side has the best possible chance of winning in India. We have no sympathy for the failure of a cadre of generously -paid managers to resolve a dispute about IPL availability and a few text messages.
It’s interesting to note, meanwhile that while KP remains in disgrace, Stuart Broad – heavily implicated in wrongdoing – is not only still in the team, but actually England captain in the T20 World Cup.
Another possible twist in the saga is reported today by the Daily Telegraph. Pietersen apparently declined a four month contract which would have seen him travel to Dubai for the pre-India series warm up, but not then play in the tests.
If true, it sounds like the crudest possible arrangement – a deliberate and ham-fisted attempt to humiliate Pietersen through a public display of punishment and contrition.
It’s also claimed the ECB required him to “waive his rights to any future legal action in employment disputes” with the board – an impossible condition for any employee to accept.
But who leaked the details of these negotiations to the press? Maybe KP did. The ECB have been at great pains to stress how this process must be conducted in private. So it couldn’t possibly have been them. I mean, the ECB would be the last people on earth to disclose confidential information about Pietersen to the newspapers, wouldn’t they?
Your loyalty to KP in the face of revelations he described Andrew Strauss as a c**t in his South African texts is impressive and frustrating both.
Are you Kevin’s mum?!
I think you’ll find he called him a pussy, and to be honest, he wasn’t the only one in the England cricket squad who could be described in such a way!
Bob Willis seemed to confirm use of the c-word on Sky a couple of days ago. But none of us really know. Unless someone on this page is KP!
Very harsh on Strauss if it was the c-word. He comes across on televison as a very decent bloke. I wholeheartedly agree some in the England team do not!
I have always been a bit undecided in this affair. I think KP was obviously wrong to call Strauss whatever he called him, but it would be foolish to think that Gooch didn’t once call Gower or Botham ‘lazy gits’ or words to that effect. It must be remembered that KP texted an IPL team mate and a personal friend. Although this is obviously very insensitive, it’s naive to think that arguments (and harsh words) don’t occur in every dressing room.
Overall, although I have little sympathy for KP’s ego, I’m beginning to come round to Maxie’s way of thinking. Why? Because I no longer believe that dressing room harmony is the main reason for KPs absence. All the England players I’ve heard interviewed have said that the main sticking point is off-field issues i.e. the discussions / conflict between KP and the ECB. What this all comes down to is a perceived lack of discipline, plus the ECB’s desire to commit one of the best cricketers in the world to England (in ALL forms of the game) until 2015 … which is a ridiculous thing to ask anyone. Would you commit to an employer for three years, not knowing what’s around the corner? The ridiculous nature of this request was highlighted best by Vic Marks on TMS, who said he loves working for the BBC, but not even he knows whether he’ll still want to work for them 3/4 years down the line.
The details that emerged today have actually made me side with KP for once. He was offered a central contract on Tuesday on the condition that a) he make yet another apology, b) go to India for a training camp but not actually play in the tests (I mean honestly, what’s the point in this?!) c) commit himself to England in all forms of the game until 2015 (no other England player has been asked to do this), and e) renegade on an agreement with ESPN star sports to commentate on the World T20 on the eve of a tournament (something he’s contracted to do now and might not have a choice over legally) and finally (f) promise not to take the ECB to an employment tribunal in the future (which suggests the ECB haven’t always acted sincerely or with the best evidence at hand).
Given these ridiculous demands, I’m not surprised KP said ‘sod off’. KP actually agreed to commit to Eng until 2015, but wasn’t prepared to do the other things. What this comes down to, in my eyes, is that the ECB want to show KP who is boss. They’re acting like the management team of a FTSE company punishing a naughty employee. If Cook wants KP in the team, if most of the players do too (except Broad / Swann – but did you hear what Shane Warne has said about his relationship with Hayden etc?), and most of the fans want KP to play too, then he should be playing. The ECB needs to remember that it isn’t a FTSE company – and that they aren’t a normal business. They need the players more than the players need them in fact … or at least, that’s the way it should be. It’s entertainment, and they suppose to represent the best interests of the England team, not their own interests and concerns.
The ECB hate challenges to their authority. They are scared of the IPL (which is why they got into bed with a dodgy Texan millionaire), and the KP saga must be addressed in this greater context i.e. the broadest one possible. The ECB is rapidly becoming an anachronism. At some point they are going to have to realise that, much as us purists hate to admit it, the IPL and other T20 tournaments are extremely powerful – and that the advent of freelance cricketers is probably inevitable. Kevin Pietersen obviously wants to be one, but he also wants to play for England in tests. And why shouldn’t he have his cake and eat it? The rest of us would want to. That, and that alone, in my opinion, is what this issue is about. The ECB aren’t just angry with KP; they are frightened of what he represents. Only this explains their intransigence. If Cook is ready to move on, the ECB should too.
Couldn’t agree with Maxie and James more.
The only comment, if true, that matters in all of this is the ECB asking for him to waiver his rights to go to court – what employer in their right mind would ask for this? What have they done that they are so worried about?
Whilst I’ve little sympathy with pro KP lobby on the basis that he has brought most of this on himself, I have to agree that the most recent developments are most unfortunate. KP is either going to be allowed back in of he isn’t to seek a stupid halfway house such as offering a “pre-tour” contract (if this is correct as Nick Hoult claims) is the final proof that the muddled thinking that starts at the top has percolated through to those charged with the management of Team England.
It’s not really about what’s fairest for KP, or whether he’s only getting his just desserts. Not that anyone’s accusing of me of this, but I’ve never said that KP is an innocent in all this – he’s acted foolishly and selfishly.
But what matters is what’s best for the team’s performance on the field, and for us – the people who give English cricket meaning by caring about it. In both cases, what’s best is that Pietersen is available for selection.
Another speculative blog. Very disappointing as you, like everyone else, have NO idea exactly what the situation is.
Hello Pam, you’re still your old negative self. I think Maxi has analysed the situation very well. Set it out in such a way that anyone could understand it. The ECB offer of a 4 mth contract suggests [1. ]They are terrified as to what KP may say whilst commentating for ESPN and[ 2.] There may be some legal implications some where in all the “going’s on”that the ECB has been throwing at KP. There is no way he would go down the legal path because he still wants to play Test Cricket though for the life of me I cannot understand why after the way he has been treated.
Well, obviously it’s a little speculative Pam, but it wouldn’t be very exciting if all bloggers and media simply said ‘we can’t report on this because we don’t have the full facts’. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion based on what we do know. Dull world otherwise. Most of the audience on Question Time don’t know a thing about economics or foreign policy, but it doesn’t stop them from kicking the government (whoever that might be) at will.
Some more speculation:
TFT regularly, and rightly, chastises the ECB for its leaks. Given this morning’s leaks (as presented in the Telegraph) seem to favour KP, I suggest he or his [bizarrely 50% self-owned] advisors are leaking again. Is this helpful Kevin in settling matters?
Also – James asserts above that the ECB asking KP to sign a 3 year full time contract is ridiculous. Is it? Footballers, Rugby players and many other sports individuals sign lucrative 5 year contacts all the time.
It’s unprecedented in cricket. None of the other players have been asked to do the same thing. Furthermore, everyone knows contracts mean nothing in football. Meanwhile, signing them doesn’t prevent you from playing in other lucrative tournaments. ECB central contracts require you to miss half of the IPL, which reduces your earning income considerably. No direct comparison exists in either rugby or football; contracts are with clubs, not country, and they don’t prevent you from playing for England etc. Hope that explains that one. I hope!
I’m not convinced the England players really want KP back in the side, whatever some of them may be saying in public. The team are already moving on without him and may be quite happy with whatever excuse the management are coming up with to exclude him. Perhaps all of these pre-conditions they’re putting in KP’s way are designed to provoke him into international retirement and deal with the issue once and for all.
I think Maxie and Morgs’ position is pretty good on this.
Yeah, KP has been a bit silly (ok a bit more than that). But let’s look at the FTSE 100 comparison another way. Your star salesman has told your main competitors that his colleague are a bit shit and may have given them bit of corpate intelligence. Do you a) sack him, b) move him to HR where he can’t do it again, or c) warn him that his behaviour is unacceptable and give him an opportunity to commit to the company perhaps with some incentives to perform to an even higher standard?
And what about that clique of pretty good (but not necessarily star) salesmen who let it be know that they don’t like him and the company would be a better place without him. Or could they be replace by recruiting a few of the good salesmen we know want to work for us?
Ok maybe no one is really threatening Swann’s place but would we really miss Broad at the moment?
I see a lot of poor man management, and the ECB smacks of this. If you’ve got great performers you must get the best out of them, they are normally worth the effort.
So Anderson “formed a virulent anti-KP clique”? These libellous, increasingly fanciful accusations have got to stop. There was the parody twitter account that he, Swann, Broad and Pietersen himself had llaughed at. Broad was asked and denied being responsible – the creator was one of his friends. To leap from that to Anderson – why him in particular? – actually forming a clique – do people form cliques, don’t they just develop? – that proceeded to bully Pietersen is nasty mischief making. And the way the KP apologists have enthusiastically climbed on this bandwagon is more virulent than the actions of three friends in the England team who have been demonised in this way.
Read Broad’s press release about KPGenius – it’s very carefully worded. Broad denied being involved in the *creation* of the account, but no more – in that statement he did not actually deny ever having contributed to it.
But I never asserted that in the post above – I said Broad was implicated in wrongdoing (which he is), not guilty of it.
Everything we know, or think we know, about this story is derived from rumour and gossip. Have you actually read those texts from Pietersen? We don’t actually know for sure what they say or even who he sent them to.
If we’re sticking to hard facts, it would be very difficult to make a case on paper for Pietersen’s suspension, if we were only including misdemeanours which we can prove took place.
Rumours are all we have, but they’ve also increasingly painted a picture of a dressing room riven with cliques, and of Anderson as a prominent figure in the camp most explicitly hostile to Pietersen. Anderson’s Daily Mail columns also hint strongly at his true position.
It takes two to tango. I can imagine that Pietersen can be a very provocative presence in a dressing room, but in order for there to be conflict another party must contribute.
People commenting on here and elsewhere all seem to overlook the fact that whether Broad was involved in contributing to (rather than creating) Twitter account or not, that he is supposed to be a leader as he is a captain.
If he is involved in this anti-Pietersen clique as it is reported he is (and no, I don’t know for a fact as I’m not privy) then what kind of a leader and team man is he.
I’m not convinced that Maxi is right about Clarke and Morris being behind it. I reckon it could be the anti-Pietersen clique or even Andy Flower that is keeping him out of the side, I’m not sure and can’t make my mind up.
But whoever is letting their personal feelings stop his return is damaging the team in my view. I’m not saying KP hasn’t sinned, as he has been a total selfish prat. But it was time to move on, he’s humiliated himself and served his punishment, and should have been back for India.
The ECB, England captains, senior players, Pietersen, are all to blame a bit for this. Some were either turning a blind eye or were incompetent when all this was going on. And as for the ECB offering the 4 month contract and seeking assurances that Pietersen will “waive his rights to any future legal action in employment disputes,” well that just about sums up the lack of straight thinking and leadership at the top of the ECB.
And if Maxi is right about Giles Clarke, then as we seen with the Stamford affair, Clarke’s only motivation will be to do what is best for himself and to save his own skin.
KP might have behaved badly off the pitch, but at least he has performed with reasonable decorum on it. Broad and Anderson are obviously very fiery characters. They are both extremely aggressive and often overstep the mark when bowling. It’s not such a leap of faith to assume they’re aggressive off it too (although there are exceptions to the rule e.g. Andre Nel, who was a maniac on the field but wouldn’t say boo to a goose off it). Broad doesn’t just snarl at batsmen, he snarls at his own teammates too. Every time there’s a misfield he shouts and screams. I wonder what good that does team spirit?! Personally, and it’s only a hunch, I would not be surprised if an anti-KP clique had indeed formed, and Broad / Anderson were central characters in it. Yes, this is all rumour and speculation – but aren’t a lot of the accusations against KP rumour / conjecture too. Why is he bad for team spirit for example? Just because he wants to play IPL and he’s a loaner. Seems a very harsh judgement to me.
Agree Morgs, I wouldn’t begrudge Anderson, Broad, Pietersen, Swann, anyone, from playing in the IPL if they get such an offer. I see Pietersen’s point about resting/rotating, although it appears he wanted resting to play IPL – so I can see why that was rebuffed.
Ok, he didn’t go about it the right way. But as you say – it’s speculation and conjecture – but if this clique has formed, either management/captains were happy for it to form or they were fairly incompetent. What have they all also done for team spirit?
And one of the guys alleged to be involved is a captain. That’s the most shocking part for me.
Pietersen is supposed to have his supporters in the team, so what must they be thinking? A few players turned up for his golf day a few weeks back.
It is my view that there is a fair amount of guilt on the part of a lot of the England set up, senior players, management, head coach, ECB (for their leaks), Pietersen (behaviour and also his own leaks).
But you can’t just single one guy out, it’s time for them all to accept their share of responsibility, agree to get on at a professional level, pick the best 11, and just get on with it.