Kevin Pietersen – England’s Biggest Mistake Ever?
On the 27th of June, Kevin Pietersen celebrated his 40th birthday and it marked over six years since he made his final Test appearance in an England shirt.
His international career ended in controversial fashion, denying himself, England and the fans of years of entertainment from the flamboyant batsman.
Was casting aside the South African born superstar England’s biggest mistake or was his dismissal a necessary evil?
Kevin Pietersen – England Cricket Early Days
There is little doubt the man nicknamed KP was a mercurial talent. He qualified to play for England in 2004. As a result, he was immediately called up for international duty to play against Zimbabwe. Kevin Pietersen finished the five-match ODI series with an average of 104.00, a sign of things to come.
Over the course of the next two years, Kevin Pietersen became an integral part of the England squad. He was known for his elaborate hairstyles and even more elaborate shot selection. KP played a key role in England’s famous Ashes victory in 2005. He reached his maiden test century in the series when his swashbuckling 158 took the game away from the Aussies at The Oval.
The Genius and the Disputes
Kevin Pietersen scored more than 13,000 runs and made 32 centuries in all formats for England before he was effectively sacked in 2014. Despite developing into one of England’s greatest players and with undoubted genius, Pietersen’s international career was haunted by off-field issues. Notably, he was dropped in 2012. This was after sending messages to South African players in which he allegedly insulted then England captain Andrew Strauss.
Further disputes plagued his career including fallouts with one-time coach Peter Moores. It is rumoured that Kevin Pietersen did not buy into Moores’s coaching. Neither did he think much of him as a coach.
A further confrontation between himself and a number of his team-mates followed. Plus, a disagreement about a parody KP account. Realising who was behind it caused a massive rift in the dressing room.
After so many issues Pietersen’s relationship with the ECB never fully recovered. Did England make a mistake in letting a batsman with a Test match average of over 47 walk away when he had so much left to give? Could and should more of been done to retain arguably England’s greatest ever stroke maker?
Whilst his talent is undoubted his team ethic could perhaps be questioned. There was always a suspected arrogance that came with Pietersen. A piece of baggage he carried around with him that in turn had a negative effect on the team as a whole. Plus, the ECB in not backing down to KP effectively chose the ‘no man is bigger than the team’ mantra.
The Post Kevin Pietersen England
In the months after his removal from the international picture, each time the England batting line up failed there would be calls from all quarters for Pietersen’s reinstatement.
In truth the damage was irreparable. Kevin Pietersen himself never closed the door to a return and would publicly speak about his desire to play for England once more. However, the call never came and the switch-hitting genius went on a world tour as a gun for hire. He played T20 cricket in any part of the world that would have him.
After attempting unsuccessfully to patch up the break down in relationships over a number of years, the ECB essentially had to choose between coaches, captain and the rest of the team or KP’s happiness. A decision that despite his unquestionable ability was a relatively straight forward one to make.
Kevin Pietersen and England Cricket – The Summary
Pietersen ended his career after the 2013/14 Ashes. He averaged 47.28 in tests and 40.73 in ODI’s. He also helped England become ICC World T20 champions in 2010.
The correct call was most likely made in order to protect the greater good of the England team. Kevin Pietersen and controversy had begun to come as a package. This, despite the success as a team that had gone before. Having KP around was seemingly becoming a burden.
That said had there could have been a way of getting him playing without rocking the boat. England could well have profited from many more years of one of the best the world has ever seen.
Having watched Kevin Pietersen myself, I would love to have seen him continue playing for England Cricket. He still had a whole lot more to offer. In fact, he showed that playing for franchises such as the Melbourne Stars.
Kevin Pietersen was widely loved by the cricket community. It was only his problems with a couple of players and the set-up which caused chaos. No individual can dispute his talent. KP won many a game for England and helped them triumph down under and in India. None of which had been achieved for a very long time prior to his career.
KP. The Genius. Perhaps England’s greatest ever batsman. At least in the modern era.
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