Home > Features >

Did Kevin Pietersen deserve the axe for being a maverick?

Kevin Pietersen's services will be sorely missed by England © Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen’s services will be sorely missed by England © Getty Images

The axing of Kevin Pietersen ought to be one of the most ridiculous decisions taken by a cricket board during recent times. Couldn’t the powers of English cricket handle the maverick batsman with a different wand, since they are the only losers from this fallout? Karthik Parimal writes.

With each passing fortnight, a new casualty tumbles out of the English closet, like an inevitable by-product of the drubbing that was handed to the unit during what was literally one of the hottest Australian summers. Jonathan Trott was the first to pack his kit, owing to mental fatigue, before Graeme Swann called it quits from all forms of the sport midway through the series. If these two departures were touted as major ramifications themselves, it would still have been considered a good getaway for England, for the repercussions have been far worse during previous Ashes failures.

What transpired after the debacle, especially during the last few days, though, props this phase as perhaps the worst ever for English cricket. Indications of the water being murky underneath came to the fore when Swann’s parting words were as follows: “Some people playing the game at the minute have no idea how far up their own backsides they are.” Almost immediately after the furore that ensued, Swann made it clear that he wasn’t referring to Kevin Pietersen — one of England’s finest players on the field and easily the most controversial off it. Then surfaced the titbit that director of the team, Andy Flower, had issued an ultimatum that he would resign if Pietersen was persisted with in the side. This, too, was vehemently denied.

Just days after both parties rubbished reports of a rift — a rift that was obvious to the naked eye anyway — Flower signed off from his post, and assistant coach Ashley Giles, Test and One-Day International (ODI) captain Alastair Cook and the new managing director of England cricket Paul Downton convened before coming to a “unanimous “conclusion that Pietersen deserves the boot, since “there was a need to begin the long term planning after the Australia 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.”

Several questions arise at this juncture. If the decision was indeed, as mentioned in the press release by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), “unanimous”, why then did Giles — one of the head honchos — refer to Pietersen as a ‘million-pound asset’ just two weeks ago before being a party to wielding an axe over his international career? Also, what traits or acts of Pietersen were so beyond manageable realms that neither Flower nor Cook, two big names at the highest level of the sport, could handle? Surely, just “time is right to look to the future” cannot be a factor; not when Pietersen, aged 33, accumulates most runs in almost every series and is, in fact, England’s leading run-getter in Tests. The powers that be could have easily gotten two more years out of him.

Imposing numbers notwithstanding, Pietersen was one of the most exciting cricketers, one who’s revered, and one who puts bums on seats across the world in international cricket today. He’s deservedly a celebrated name, and the fact that he houses a massive ego owing to this is what probably ruffles a few feathers in the ranks. But hasn’t such sort of a conundrum been around for long in sport? And haven’t people dealt with, sometimes eked out as much as possible, from situations such as these? England’s own Ian Botham infuriated the honchos with antics ranging from smoking cannabis in the dressing room to making statements that almost rattled diplomatic ties between countries. At times, he colourfully conveyed his two cents to the administrators, too. Yet, there were captains and managers, like Mike Brearley, who knew how to extract the best out of him.

Catch all the latest updates on Kevin Pietersen’s exclusion from the England squad here

Moreover, current international sides have in their artillery mavericks like Pietersen. Australia could have easily dispensed with David Warner. Chris Gayle’s showdown with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), and the after-effects of the team’s downward spiral thereafter, before sense prevailed, is well-chronicled. It’s hard to fathom, then, why the ECB keep running into impasse-like situations with Pietersen and refrain from taking a measured step, often circumventing the obvious benefits his presence brings to the side?

One point that’s put forth by former cricketers and members of the fraternity is that England’s chiefs aren’t versed with managing a name like Pietersen’s. It is their ‘military model’ of operation, their one-size-fits-all approach, that’s cited as a cause for concern. Apparently, this seldom went down well with Pietersen and for this he often stoked the ire of his superiors. But is this reason enough to slam the door on his career? Brearley, one of England’s successful captains and until recently the President of MCC [Marylebone Cricket Club], wrote as follows in his book The Art of Captaincy: “The ‘military model’ would stress uniformity and fairness. The leadership model that I’m advocating [treat each player with a different wand] does not deny the importance of justice, but it suggests that justice does not reduce so simply to the same treatment for each individual, since different individuals have different such needs.”

If the issues were as trivial (relatively speaking and from outside the fence) as donning the wrong tracks during travel or employing different methods of training and practising from the rest, then the decision to halt Pietersen’s career is plain buffoonery. If it’s pertaining to getting along with fellow team-mates and maintaining the camaraderie, then, as former English skipper Michael Vaughan’s tweets so often suggests, it could have been dealt within the confines of the dressing room itself. If he’s not bringing the sport into disrepute and not harming the coffers, why was such a drastic step taken? The answers may not come from Pietersen, at least for the time being, since he remains contracted to the ECB as of now.

It’s evident, to pundits and laymen alike, that the boardroom members’ decision had little to do with cricketing reasons. For now, though, it appears we will be kept in the dark. Disappointed will be most of the English cricket fans, who will never get to see him in the country’s colours again. Other clubs and franchises around the world, however, will be willing to empty their vaults to solicit his services. It’s not often that one of the finest players in the world, one with maximum international runs and centuries for his country, and in prime shape, is up for grabs in the market. There’s no doubt as to who’s poorer following this decision.

In Photos: Kevin Pietersen’s career

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 22, 2014 (18:30 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 23, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Hambantota

India tour of England 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Bristol

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (00:00 IST)   at Basseterre, St Kitts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

More

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 21, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 20, 2014  at St George's, Grenada

West Indies won by 3 wkts

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 19, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 61 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 17, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 93 runs

India tour of England 2014

Aug 15, 2014  at London

England won by an innings and 244 runs

Photos

England Women vs India Women 2014, 1st ODI at Scarborough

Videos

Hughes explains technique behind cut shot

India still in a position to succeed against England in ODIs

13 things you may not know about Ravi Shastri

Duncan Fletcher speaks out; explains why Team India failed in the Test series against England!

Science of slip fielding: What might be wrong with Team India’s slip cordon

England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 MS Dhoni Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014 Ravi Shastri Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014 Zimbabwe

Sachin Tendulkar helped to mentally prepare for England tour: Suresh Raina

Virat Kohli, Anushka Sharma will marry soon; BCCI’s reason for granting permission

Suresh Raina: India must show character after Test mauling in England

Quinton de Kock does not indulge in planning before a game

India team manager was unhappy with Anushka Sharma accompanying Virat Kohli

India look to regain confidence in warm-up match ahead of ODI series against England

India tour of England 2014: Visitor’s recent record in overseas ODIs a cause for concern

India tour of England 2014: Duncan Fletcher’s see-saw coaching career could be at its end

India tour of England 2014: Is county cricket really the answer for Indian batsmen?

India vs England 2014: Ideal opportunity for Sanju Samson and other youngsters to shine

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

660 Posts | 6 Fans

Funny Cricket Wonders and Blunders

Ebola in West Africa: Gambia on high alert

Monkey doesn’t own his selfie: US regulator

Arun Jaitley says December 16 gang-rape case hit tourism; Nirbhaya`s father disappointed

Indian online market set to explode: Google study

Quinton de Kock does not indulge in planning before a game

Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma’s Bombay Velvet to release in May 2015!

Hot scoop: Karan Johar and Rohit Shetty to join hands for Ram Lakhan reboot!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Jose Mourinho takes the plunge

Amit Shah meets Chandrababu Naidu

India team manager was unhappy with Anushka Sharma accompanying Virat Kohli

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here