It is not for nothing that IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils paid 90 million Indian rupees to get Kevin Pietersen in the recently concluded player auction held in Bengaluru. The guy still has what it takes to play in any cricketing format, because he is a natural. Even at 33, KP stands tall above many world-class batsmen, several years younger to him. Bowlers across the world hold him in fearful respect, because he is capable of tearing apart any attack, when in full cry.
It was, therefore, extremely strange, when England and Wales Cricket Board took a decision to dump Kevin Pietersen, ahead of England’s tour to the West Indies. And it was not like being left out just for one series, the E&WCB announced that time had come for England to move on without KP in all formats of the game. It is the same thing as telling the cricketer that he has to retire forcefully in the interest of English cricket. This was an apt example of how cricket management can ruin the career of any cricketer. In the normal course, the decision to retire is left to the individual cricketer himself, unless the player chooses to carry on with deteriorating form or he is found wanting on fitness issues. In KP’s case, though he carried the tag of a maverick, such conditions didn’t apply. Everyone knew that England’s dismal Australian tour would certainly give the Board a whip and many players were likely to suffer. Regardless, KP still had the credentials for longer service to his country. It is true; he couldn’t deliver a great performance in Australia, but who else did? It was an all-round failure; so why pick KP alone. In his post on February 6, 2014, Kridangan’s John Welsh expressed nearly the same sentiments on KP’s un-ceremonial axing. It didn’t seem proper to make KP the biggest scapegoat of the disappointing Australian tour, in which despite England’s sorry plight, KP was still the top scorer. The only thing proper that they did was to inform KP, before the news was made public.
In retrospect, it would appear that E&WCB was unable to strike the right chord with KP, which would have been the best managerial choice. Since Andy Flower, with whom KP had issues, was already on the way out, KP would have found another manager to deal with. Therefore, the E&WCB could have easily taken a more sensible route in leaving out Pietersen for the West-Indies tour and then talked to him about his future plans. But they found KP too hot to handle and used the teams’ failure in Australia as an opportunistic plank for his summary rejection, for all times to come.
For the last 5 years, the E&WCB and KP have been on a war path, with KP surviving somehow because, he has been too good. It so happened once that on the question of his playing for IPL, E&WCB made him choose between national and IPL commitments. The furious KP resigned from ODI and T20. His decision immediately reflected in England’s poor performances in these shorter formats. At a later time, however, KP came back to ODI and T20 but the E&WCB never took his decision very seriously.
To be fair to the E&WCB, it must be mentioned that at times, KP also should have been careful. His troublesome tweets on social media invited disciplinary action and he couldn’t be included in some key international matches.
But E&WCB’s loss will be a gain for Delhi Daredevils in the forthcoming IPL session since, for the first time, KP will be seen in all fixtures involving the Delhi Daredevils. E&WCB might have announced the end of KP’s international career but his presence for Daredevils will be vital. With Virender Sehwag going to Kings XI Punjab, KP could even be made DD’s captain. Those, who know his value, will admit how the player can wreak havoc, when he wants to.
Writing on his regular Daily Telegraph column, Shane Warne said it was a terrible thing to dump KP. Warne said Cook was not worthy as a captain in Australia and made several tactical errors. Warne found it amazing that a team captain should dump its best player and a world-class match winner. KP’s larger-than-life status cane in Cook’s way and he colluded with the Board in axing KP. It was as if Cook got his chance and his personal issues with KP got precedence over the team interests.
Stuart Broad, who is leading the English squad in the Caribbean, recalled KP’s crucial role in England’s victory in the T20 world cup in 2012. Broad denied that he had any personal problem with KP and affirmed that he had no role to play in the E&WCB’s decision on KP’s ouster. Whatever be the truth, without a player like KP, life will be tougher for the England team.