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Posted on | June 15, 2012 | 3 Comments
Kevin Pietersen is and always has been a talented, maverick batsman – an audacious and outrageous stroke player who thrills us one minute and the next plays an infuriating, daft shot that gets him out.
Then you will see him sitting on the balcony as if to say: “Don’t care, that’s the way I play, like it or lump it. I ain’t going to change.”
He is an original, an “I will do it my way or not at all” guy. He is confident, he needs the limelight and he seeks out publicity to fuel his ego.
Kevin Pietersen is not the first guy to love seeing his name in lights. Muhammad Ali was probably the greatest sporting showman in recent memory.
He was three times world heavyweight boxing champion, a supreme artist and the best at captivating and grabbing the attention of the public.
There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you can back it up with performances. KP can and has done so for more than seven years.
I am a supporter and a lover of Kevin’s batting. I always have been, even though we batted in different styles. There is room for all types of players in a team. Individuality should always be allowed freedom to express itself.
The only thing that matters is whether can you take wickets or score runs, and Kevin can and has done in all forms of cricket for England, at the same time making it seem fun and giving us enjoyment.
He holds our attention because we are never sure what we are going to get.
You never want to get up and make a cup of tea or have a comfort break when Kevin is batting because you might miss something.
There is no settling-in period, it is always the Lord Mayor’s Show or the dustcart.
From now on we will see him only in Test matches. The timing of his announcement that he had retired from international limited-overs cricket was odd.
At first I flippantly thought: Kevin’s not been in the news for three or four days so he is just trying to grab some headlines.
Then I considered it and cynically thought maybe he wants to be a free agent to play as much Twenty20 cricket around the world as he can.
There is a new Big Bash in Australia, a new Premier League in Bangladesh and South Africa has had a Twenty20 for a while now.
Or maybe he wants to play the full six weeks of the Indian Premier League for huge money rather doing only three weeks and rushing home because the England and Wales Cricket Board wants him to get ready for the English season.
I also thought it would not be a surprise if he had big advertising contracts lined up in India with the proviso that he completes a full IPL season.
So when people ask me why he quit, I have no idea. Maybe he really has had enough of chasing around the world from hotel to cricket ground, on and off airlines, packing and unpacking.
Players get huge financial rewards now but there is far too much cricket and they are hardly ever at home.
Kevin has got plenty of money, a wife and a young son and just maybe he really does want to spend more time at home.
Speculation always follows Kevin but rest assured he always has something up his sleeve.
The ECB was not thrilled with the timing of Kevin’s decision.
Hugh Morris, the managing director of England Cricket was quoted as saying: “The ECB is disappointed by the timing of Kevin’s decision less than four months before we defend our ICC World Twenty20 title.”
You could tell he was peeved and miffed that Kevin had gone public at that moment.
Hugh would probably like to tell Kevin to get knotted and not pick him – even for Tests. He would like to say: “See what that does for your profile, not playing any international cricket at all”.
But, hang on a minute, is not this the same Hugh Morris who sacked Kevin as captain over the telephone in 2009?
Kevin was flying from South Africa to London for a meeting at Lord’s.
Hugh could not wait to do the decent thing and tell Kevin face-to-face that he was being replaced. No, he just blurted it out over the phone with no thought for the player’s feelings.
Whether Kevin was a good captain or a bad captain was not the issue. He was entitled to good manners and a bit of consideration for the hurt anyone feels from getting the sack.
Instead he had to suffer a very public humiliation and I would not blame him if he now thinks: “I owe you nothing for the way you treated me”.
What goes around comes around. You should always treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.
So Hugh Morris and the ECB are not really in a position to complain.