Unless something drastic happens from here onwards, maverick England batsman Kevin Pietersen has played his last international game for his adopted country even before turning 34. It is an age at which most players are still very much on top of their game, having matured in age and experience. The same cannot be said about Pietersen, who failed to raise his game against some hostile Aussie bowling in the 5- 0 Ashes drubbing. Still, ECB’s decision to not consider him for future international games seems both premature and, to an extent, unfair.
Pietersen managed only a couple of half-centuries in the Ashes, a fair reflection of his struggles. A couple of strokes that he played with England under the cosh also did not win him too many fans in the England camp, especially the ECB, which allegedly, anyways, wasn’t too pleased with his behaviour. But the question that arises is, did Pietersen deserve to be dropped when he actually performed better than most other batsmen in the squad even while underperforming? He did look in decent touch a number of those innings, even though they failed to convert most of them into big knocks.
If Pietersen’s case is taken as a precedent then, in a similar vein, skipper Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Michael Carberry, James Anderson, Joe Root and Stuart Broad (in short, almost the entire team) also don’t merit a place in the squad. All of them were either equally poor or worse than Pietersen in terms of their performance in the Ashes. So why should the axe fall on KP alone? Remember, he has been England’s most impactful batsman across all formats over the last decade, and is actually the most successful England batsman of all time in terms of runs.
His alleged divisive personality has played a massive role in his axing without doubt. But, the step taken by the ECB still seems drastic considering that he hasn’t been given enough chance to revamp himself. After all, it was only in late 2012 that he was recalled to the national side after being dropped for allegedly sending defamatory SMSes about Andrew Strauss into the South African camp. Pietersen seemed to have revived his career almost instantly with some superlative performances in India as the Englishmen registered a historic Test series win in India after ages. KP was being hailed as a hero again.
Just a little over a year after that high, now comes the news that Pietersen will never play for England again. He didn’t do himself any great favours by failing constantly in the Ashes. Still, one finds it difficult to decipher why the ECB would conclude that they no longer need his services. Agreed, he may not be the best team man around. At the same time, Pietersen’s on-field contribution to English cricket cannot be easily forgotten. Perhaps, the ECB could have done better than deciding to ‘move on’. How can you give up on an immense talent like KP, much before his time is up?
--By A Cricket Analyst