Getting topside.

I’m as fed up as you lot with the KP saga and can only justify writing about it by saying… consider this a fly swatted.

The major difficulties here, for me, are issues of timing and lack of clarity – and here I’m not talking about the actual batting.  KP should have been sacked (it would have been easier, England would have moved on) after the South Africa Strauss-subverting text fiasco, when it was plainer than ever that the man really has no conception of what the loyalty thing, the team unity thing is all about. There was a more genuine pretext then. Now it’s messier, partly because the ECB can’t say ‘look sorry we should have done this ages ago but… ya know…’

We’ve all always known Pietersen to be some either gorgeously or repellently exotic island – you make your case. But the fact that many of us would prefer to abandon a marooned KP to his own rather silly pomp than gather him in for a rescue, a singalong maybe and that chummy outward haul through the surf, speaks volumes. Many of us feel he’d never do his fair share of graft… and not all of that is envy of his gifts.

So the man’s a drain on the energies. He makes himself central. He does have an ego. Plus we’d be kidding ourselves, would we not, if we failed to acknowledge the politically sensitive subtext? That not only has the gifted one not generally truly been with us, he’s not truly one of ours, is he? Is he? (Make your case – I ain’t going there.)

And yet – depending on your personal location in the spectrum of tolerance/nationalism/downright bigotry – he’s either arguably England’s finest batsman ever, or (just) the finest batsman to play for England. Or the biggest talent? Or could take the game away from the opposition more dramatically than almost anyone we could think of – I think? Or not.  At least… he’s been really big. Like I said, he’s a drain on the energies.

I’m glad he’s gone and I want it to be over now. But the sniping persists because the Powers That Be have relinquished their power to control. They’ve shut up shop or just shut up. On the one hand I understand this; we know (really) that they can’t say the unsayable – why put yourself in that position? However, in the hugely frustrating void hooligans and Michael Vaughan and ooooh Piers Morgan have railed against their perceived cowardice , their lily-livered, old-school namby-pambi-ism.

You old farts just want Yes Men! Ya daren’t pick a bloody indeeviduall – a talent! Why dya drop ‘ im? We have a right to know! And by the way FREE NELSON MANDELA!!

Some of this stuff is fair enough. Which is why I come back to the timing – that and poor management of KP earlier in his England career.

Sir Geoffrey was really good on this in a column fut’ Telegraph. He argued well that KP should been slapped about a bit, or dropped, when he played shockingly irresponsibly. Good shout. For me, Pietersen, despite his impressive stats, has underachieved significantly for exactly this reason. Wickets thrown away in a moment of arrogance. That whole argument that he ‘must play his own way’. Cobblers. The essence of Test Cricket in particular, is the tactical and intelligent building of an innings; seeing and feeling and recognising the bigger picture rather than determining to show that chopsy bowler a thing or two and then blast on to glory.

Even in his alleged maturity, Pietersen has too often failed to see this. Because he’s KP. Somebody should gotta hold of that one early – got’ topside of ‘im’, as one of my old coaches would have said. Instead Pietersen has got away – sometimes majestically, sometimes infuriatingly – with just being him.

Being you is essential, of course in any endeavour, sporting or otherwise, but because there are pretty significant talents opposing you at the international level you have to have an appreciation of context, of the moment in the game. (I might add incidentally that at any level you also owe it to your mates, by the way. That minor sacrifice is one of the wonders of team sport.) Kevin Pietersen hasn’t been big on the team thing, though, has he? Ultimately, that’s caught up with him.

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