Now that England have completed their controversial winter tour to Australia with the Ashes no longer in possession of the tourists, it was to be expected that changes in personnel would be required as a result of the 5-0 whitewash in the main test series. That the leading batsmen would be told his services would no longer required at international level due to the rebuilding of the ‘team ethic’ is one of the stranger decisions to emanate from the inquest into the England failures during the winter.
With the departure of Kevin Pietersen from international duty, not only has the team lost a gifted batsmen but he was also the leading English run scorer in the 2005 and 2006-7 Ashes series in addition to being second to Ian Bell during the summer 2013 renewal. At times he can be viewed as reckless but that he has played in that style for many years and not just during this winter.
The South African born cricketer has been a colourful and at times controversial character during his international career with England and was widely criticised for his text message saga in 2012 when opposing players were allegedly sent abusive comments about Pietersen’s own team mates.
He was then accepted back into the ranks apparently at the insistence of captain Alastair Cook, but it does seem strange that a person with such a definite talent for cricket can suddenly become an outcast when management and selectors are talking of restructuring the England team.
Both during and in the aftermath of the recent Australian tour, Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann and Steven Finn all returned home while Andy Flower departed as head coach. With Paul Downton now assuming responsibility as managing director, it appears that Pietersen is no longer required.
It has suggested that there have been arguments between Cook and Pietersen and that England’s leading batsman in Australia is a difficult person to control. Yet it would appear logical that selectors need to find a way of accommodating their best batsman by using some skilful man-management in a similar way to a successful football team manager building a squad comprising several contrasting personalities and performers.
Nothing was mentioned about Piertersen’s unhelpful attitude during the successful Ashes series of 2005, 2010-11 and 2013, but now that the dust is settling on this ignominious Test Series, it appears that run chasing is becoming less important than encouraging a more harmonised team ethic.
Yes, a team ethic is important with management and captain alike striving to ensure the success of this concept, but it should not be sacrificed at the expense of genuine batting expertise when facing some of the best bowling attacks in the world.
Kevin Pietersen is an entertainer and a potential match winner but perhaps that is no longer important in international cricket.