Two weeks ago English test cricket was in turmoil. 1-0 down in the test series to South Africa, a misfiring captain in Andrew Strauss and on the verge of being relegated from the No. 1 test side in the world.  
They are the basic cricketing facts. Beneath all of that was one man, Kevin Pietersen. Perhaps one of the most naturally gifted cricket players there has ever been.

In July, Pietersen expressed his desire to play in t20, but not one-day matches for England, something which the ECB would not accommodate having changed their one day selection policy. 

This created a quick U-turn from Pietersen, who proposed a return to the t20 and one day formats, the rumoured compromise for this? 

Permission to play for a full six weeks in next year's lucrative Indian Premier League competition, missing the home test series with New Zealand. 

Whatever happened to putting your country first? Pietersen has been on record many times to say that it has ‘never been about the money’. Evidence seems to suggest otherwise.

Rumours that KP had sent ‘provocative’ text messages to members of the South African cricket team quickly surfaced, with criticism directed towards England captain Andrew Strauss. 

Pietersen was then rightly dropped for the final test against South Africa. It was a brave move from the selectors, but the right one The squad needs to have total unity and respect for one another, as well as the coaching staff. A hasty and controversial YouTube video later, which was in violation of his contract and somewhat a desperate plea to the selectors, and Pietersen is even more estranged from the set up.

This means that England went into the final test against South Africa with the media in a frenzy , and all eyes were on the players and how they would react, needing a win to retain their top spot. 

Subsequently England went on to lose the series to South Africa and Andrew Strauss announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. Strauss did, however, reiterate that his retirement had nothing to do with the KP saga, although you cannot feel that maybe it was the tipping point in his decision making. 

It was a sad way for Strauss to depart He has been one of England's greatest captains and to leave in the situation he did will leave his time as captain tainted because of Kevin Pietersen.

Opinion on this subject is always going to be divided. There is no doubting Pietersen's talent He can change games and lift teams, but when you put members of your team in jeopardy in front of the media and on the pitch, raise question marks about your captain and seemingly demand things from the ECB, you have gone too far.

Piers Morgan spoke up for Pietersen on a BBC talk show with Michael Vaughan and Phil Tuffnell recently, disregarding Pietersen's actions as a sort of banter with the South African team. 

Morgan went on to say that Pietersen should be in the team because he fills stadiums, people come to watch him and he was our best hope of winning the series. That may have been true, and could have happened, but if it did not, and Pietersen failed with the bat, it would have undermined the whole set up and left England in a far perilous position.

To understand Kevin Pietersen you have to understand where he has come from. Born and brought up in South Africa for the first 20 years of his life, Pietersen was initially regarded by provincial teams as an off spinner who could bat a bit, how wrong they would be. 

Having been messed around by Natal, being dropped on occasions to satisfy colour quotas, Pietersen’s subsequent disaffection with the state of play led to Graham Ford, (SA A coach), organizing a showdown meeting with UCB Chief Dr. Ali Bacher. 

Bachers curt and arrogant approach to both Pietersen and his father that day, whilst indicating the inevitability that he would continue to be marginalized by the South African cricketing environment resulted in the fermentation of a burning desire deep within him to succeed at all costs, initiating the idea to go to England in the hope that one day he could return to South Africa and show them the two fingers. 

He got his wish. Needless to say, his life in Britain so far, coupled with his Darren Gough inspired three lions tattoo does not constitute a transformation from a Durbanite with an Afrikaner father into an English gent who quietly plays cricket, and we cannot expect him to be that quiet gent. Pietersen is a bold, brash character, and that's just how he plays.

Pietersen is set for talks with Andy Flower this week to solve the situation. I think Andy Flower and the England team have handled the situation well so far, as any hasty decision could have made it worse. 

With England not naming their test team for India until October it will be interesting to see how the two parties will patch this up, and if that does happen, how will Pietersen be welcomed back into the dressing room by the players?

Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see Kevin Pietersen playing cricket for England. On his day, he is one of the best batsmen in the world and not many people can dominate Dale Steyn like he does. 

But what I want to see is a positive KP, a senior and mature player within the team, working for the team and not in the best interests of himself, is it just me or does everyone else in the team manage that quite well.

Whatever happens, England need to move forward from what has happened and focus on the cricket and regaining the No. 1 test rank, a new opening batsman is their next worry. 

Michael Carberry is my personal vote, he’s been delivering in the county game for years with Hampshire, and although he was had illness recently, has acquitted himself well for Hants this season and deserves a chance. With India, the world cup and New Zealand early next year, there is plenty of cricket left to come. 

Let’s try to keep this a sport for gentlemen, with or without Kevin Pietersen.
 


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    Eliot Rich

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    Eliot is currently studying BA events management in Cardiff, as well as pursuing a part time goal for Journalism and Broadcasting. 

    Music, travel and sport are his passions.

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    September 2012