Kevin Pietersen has been effectively sacked by England after being overlooked for both the ODI squad to the West Indies and the T20 World Cup.
This decision comes as a result of meetings between new managing director Paul Downton and senior England management in a move that has shocked the cricketing world. In a statement released earlier today Downton said:
“Clearly this was a tough decision because Kevin has been an outstanding player for England as the fact that he’s the country’s leading run scorer in international cricket demonstrates. However everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long term planning after the Australian tour. Therefore we have decided the time is right to look to the future and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy”
The decision much like the batsmen has caused no end of controversy. The social media outcry has been phenomenal with Piers Morgan leading the charge against what he calls the clowns at the ECB.
There have been no official allegations of recent misconduct or disharmony in the dressing room but it seems that the ill feeling between team director Flower and Pietersen has not relented, this despite Pietersen’s re integration. His betrayal of Flowers trusted lieutenant Strauss clearly runs much deeper than anyone had previously imagined.
The man who gave him his test match debut in the 2005 Ashes Series Michael Vaughan, expressed his thoughts on his Twitter page “It’s a sad day for English cricket that there aren’t any people who can manage that kind of maverick.”
Vaughan also went on Twitter to discuss the thought process behind sacking Pietersen for cricketing reasons:
I don’t buy the thought,Looking to the future.England have a T20 WC in 4 weeks.WC in 12 months.Ashes in 18 months. @KP24 should still play
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 4, 2014
Pietersen’s record in all forms of cricket is magnificent, his overall test record of 8,181 at an average of 47.28 with a high score of 227. His overall ODI record of 4,441 at an average of 40.73 and his T20 record of 1,126 runs at an average of 37.21 stack up against the very best.
He is statistically the best batsmen England have ever produced and his combined tally of 32 hundreds puts him up there with the very best, meaning this decision cannot be based on cricketing statistics alone.
But throughout his career the batsmen has never been too far away from controversy, in 2008 he was awarded the England captaincy but after an infamous bust up with head coach Peter Moores events soon spiralled out of control and resulted in both men losing their jobs.
This led to a renaissance in English cricket under Andrews Flower and Strauss, which resulted in three Ashes wins and England’s first limited overs trophy, a series which coincidentally Pietersen was named Man of the Series.
KP was also an instrumental figure in the 2010 series down under which saw England despatch Australia 3-1 in their own backyard, with KP scoring a magnificent 227 and it will now sadly remain his highest score for England.
However discontent eventually arose in the summer of 2012 when the infamous text gate saga saw Kevin Pietersen sending derogatory texts about captain Andrew Strauss to the South Africans.
Even as one of KP’s biggest fans even I was upset with this news, it was confirmed to be true and to slate someone who for me was England’s best captain only second to Vaughan it seemed very poor form and he was deservedly dropped for the final test.
Luckily redemption and re integration came in the form of Alastair Cook, who in the wake of Andrew Strauss’ resignation as captain took over the England reins and offered KP a route back into the England side.
This return allowed England to break the records again this time in the holy grail that is India. With KP again to the fore with an incredible 186 in Mumbai and followed up by another superb 151 in the fires of Colombo.
Despite emphatically winning 3-0 against the Australians in England, the 5-0 mauling down under has produced many English casualties. With Jonathon Trott departing due to a stress related illness, Graeme Swann retiring mid series, Matt Prior was dropped and most recently team director Andy Flower resigned. Leaving the news of Kevin Pietersen’s sacking effectively the final casualty, or is it?
This decision is a bold one and also one that given the outcry of all cricket fans not just English could backfire spectacularly, with both the ODI series against the West Indies and the T20 World Cup less than four weeks away it surely couldn’t have been too harmful to allow Pietersen this swansong at the very least. The man has done so much for this England side over the years and unlike other cricketing greats he seemingly won’t be allowed to part international cricket on his own terms, for a man of his talents it seems such a shame.
He will go down as a maverick batsmen and on a day when common sense has seemingly eluded the new managing director and those of senior authority at the ECB, there remains only one question: What allegations and events have led nearly all of Pietersen’s team mates and coaches to have completely abandoned him in England’s crucial hour of need?