Sunday 12 August 2012 

Comment: Pietersen Dispute Ensures Nobody Wins

Comment: Pietersen Dispute Ensures Nobody Wins
Comment: Pietersen Dispute Ensures Nobody Wins
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

As Arnold Schwarzenegger and most of the world watched Mo Farah clinch his second Olympic gold medal in a week at London's Olympic Stadium, Kevin Pietersen chose that precise moment to announce that he would be back.

In a video posted to YouTube, he said he would be making himself available once again for all three formats of international cricket, responding to plenty of speculation that came about following remarks he made in a press conference at Headingley.

If you weren't already aware, he had said that the Lord's Test may be his last. However, after the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) delayed the naming of their squad for Lord's by six hours, Pietersen was left out altogether and it is not inconceivable that he has played his final Test. Last Action (Headingley) Hero, anyone?

The central issue has moved on from Pietersen's comments in a press conference, to comments he is alleged to have made via text message to South African players Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers.

He has played alongside both men during his time in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils and clearly remains in close contact with both on and off the pitch - as are several players given how the IPL and other Twenty20 tournaments have brought players from all nationalities closer together.

So, was he texting Steyn warning him of another impending assault such as the one he carried out at Headingley during a brilliant innings of 149?

Apparently not.

"During the past week we have held several discussions with Kevin Pietersen and his advisors. Following a constructive meeting it was agreed that a number of actions needed to be completed to re-engage Kevin within the England dressing room," Hugh Morris, ECB Managing Director England Cricket said in the media release accompanying the confirmation that the Surrey man would not be taking part in Andrew Strauss's 100th Test.

"A fundamental item was to confirm publicly that no derogatory texts had been sent by Kevin to the South African team. This has not been forthcoming despite clear timelines being set to allow the Selectors to pick the squad for the 3rd Investec Test Match. We provided an additional six hours this morning to provide every opportunity for agreement to be reached but regrettably this has not been possible."

This comes after Pietersen expressed his own disappointment with details being leaked to the media from within the England bubble, but after he spoke of dressing room issues, team-mate James Anderson used his colum in the Mail on Sunday to indicate that dressing room disharmony is news to him.

"Kevin talked about having issues within the dressing room. What’s frustrating is that this was, literally, the first we knew about it. Kevin has mentioned nothing to us. From the time Kevin first announced he was quitting one-day cricket and why, we have tried to get on with things the best we could, even though there has been a lot of speculation."

The fact that one player suggests that are issues within the dressing room and another denies any knowledge of it betrays that however small they are, there are issues, and it is rumoured that the texts Pietersen is supposed to have sent have criticised team director Andrew Flower and captain Strauss.

The situation is a horrible mess and one ill-befitting of a team that - whether you agree with the rankings or not - are currently the world leaders in all three forms of the game. Nobody is coming out with any credit. Reaction appears to be split between criticism of Pietersen and the ECB for their handling of the dispute.

Fans are unimpressed at forking out serious money for a ticket and not being able to see England's best batsman in action. It contrasts disgracefully with the Olympic spirit that the Games in London - at which Lord's played its part by hosting the archery - has fostered around the country.

On the field, England will go into it with a middle order that is a blend of players who are out of form or woefully inexperienced with Ian Bell expected to bat at four, James Taylor at five and Jonathan Bairstow at six.

There is another option of course, which is to push Matthew Prior up to six and play five bowlers. Nevertheless, Flower and Strauss have stuck resolutely to the policy of four bowlers which made England the number one side.

As they have proved with their no-nonsense approach to Pietersen issue, they are seemingly not for turning.

© Cricket World 2012

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