London: England’s cricketing hierarchy have come to the conclusion that Kevin Pietersen is more trouble than he is worth. He will not be selected for the one-day matches in the Caribbean or the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. His England career appears to be over.
It is unlikely that his contract will be terminated, however, as, more than likely, that would complicate matters, with the potential to involve employment lawyers. England will simply not select him; they will allow his contract to run down in September, after which they will bid him goodbye.
Pietersen, of course, may react to his non-selection for the forthcoming one-day matches and decide to bid his own farewell first, allowing him the freedom to play a full role in the Indian Premier League.
Until the final raft of meetings between Paul Downton and Ashley Giles on Tuesday, this was the unanimous view of the four voices that count — Downton, the managing director of England Cricket, Giles, effectively the interim head coach, James Whitaker, the national selector, and Alastair Cook. Clearly Downton has had a significant input, but the contribution from Cook has been crucial and is a measure of how the relationship between the two has deteriorated.
That he did not represents a statement of long-term intent, given that Pietersen undoubtedly would be a valuable asset in the World Twenty20. It is also an indication of just how disillusioned England’s coaching and management staff have become with Pietersen, given that Giles would want the strongest team on the park to make a case for him during this job interview.
To lose the support of Cook is an achievement in itself. Cook is the most mild-mannered, easy-going and forgiving of men. He was the most influential voice in bringing Pietersen back into the fold, after the “textgate” saga in the summer of 2012, that eventually led to Andrew Strauss’ retirement. It was a decision that paid immediate dividends in India the next winter, but things soured during the horrific Ashes tour just completed.
Quite what went on in Australia has been a matter of much conjecture. The difficulties, put bluntly, are this: the dressing-room code of honour prevents team members or management from speaking honestly about events that happen away from prying eyes. Ironically, it is this omerta, the loyalty of team-mates, that has protected Pietersen time and again.
It is a reluctance that, no doubt, will prevent Andy Flower from speaking his mind in due course. Loyalties to team-mates and dressing rooms run deep, especially when it is felt that this code of conduct has been at the heart of much of the success enjoyed by the team in the run-up to scaling the Test-match summit in the summer of 2011. Pietersen has been protected by that. This, of course, makes life difficult for journalists. Writing and talking about Pietersen the batsman, open to view, has been one of the joys of the past decade. Writing about Pietersen the person, behind closed doors and out of view, has been one of the most frustrating aspects of the past decade.
Why? Because clearly there is a disconnect between the Pietersen that I have come across from time to time, in a purely professional capacity, where I have found him to be polite, courteous, engaging and hard-working, and the pain in the backside evidenced by the trail of destruction that he has left behind virtually everywhere he has been.
Bridging this gap between impression and reality, there has been little hard evidence because of the loyalty of his team-mates and management. Of course, there has been some evidence in the past, primarily in his role during Strauss’ slide into retirement, but since then, precious little. Rumour, whisper, innuendo, yes; hard evidence, no.
What appears to be clear right now is that the relationship between Pietersen and the most influential England players and management has broken down. There appear to have been instances where Pietersen has undermined senior players in leadership roles, and this so soon after his betrayal of Strauss to opponents. It is thought that Pietersen has made it impossible for the new leadership team to think that they can move forward, instilling new-found pride in playing for England, with him still around, such has been his behaviour this winter.
None of the detail of this is likely to come out for reasons already stated. There is the added complication that, should details emerge, it would be like opening a hornet’s nest, with arguments raging back and forth about the exact nature and scale of the Pietersen problem.
In this, of course, there is the risk of a public backlash. Pietersen divides opinion, but there is a sizeable constituency within the English cricketing public that admires him for his achievements and his brilliant batting. They would feel short-changed should his career be short-circuited without full explanation.
Pietersen, of course, has been a magnificent player, one of the best that England have produced. He has been a survivor, too, his brilliance being the moorings that have steadfastly tied him to the England dressing room through thick and thin, with the exception of short periods of injury and suspension. Now those moorings are broken and Pietersen will be cut adrift. The Times, London