Say what you like about him, but the guy is nothing short of a cricketing genius. The man, whom most South Africans loved to hate, seems to have been cast aside by his adopted country for reasons unclear, leaves the cricketing public with a bitter taste, and we lose another great from test cricket, far too soon!
Since the story broke, it puzzled me. Many reasons have been postulated: we know he can be brash, even arrogant, and the media portray him as self-interested. Our own Darryl Cullinan was rumoured to be extremely difficult in the change room and a complex individual. This is not new to sport – these stars are mostly complex personalities. Obsessive compulsive behaviour is quite often a prerequisite for brilliance, and a common personality trait in individuals of great stature.
It is no coincidence that Kevin Pietersen’s international career coincided with England’s most successful period of cricket in at least the last 50 years. He was at the forefront of almost every success England enjoyed in the last decade: the Ashes (home and away victories), the number one test ranking and England winning their first global limited-overs trophy in 2010.
Perhaps the problem is not KP‘s personality, but the ego and attitude of the English Cricket Board? True to form, they have managed to be their own worst enemy in successfully managing to get rid of their best asset in terms of ability, marketing and performance. Job well done, lads – NOT!
The ECB was so keen to take him in, embrace him in the English fold and make him one of their own. They bent over backwards to be the parent Cricket South Africa couldn’t be, by adopting this kid from South Africa into their systems. How they have failed as leaders, administrators and as “parents”. The adoption is indeed broken – shame on the ECB!
Test cricket will be poorer without KP and English cricket will be the biggest loser! KP will however be ok. He will be missed at international level, but he will be literally coining it for the next 4 years at least. Rumours are rife that he could be earning as much as 2.5 to 3 million dollars from the IPL alone. Not to mention what he can earn at the Big Bash in Australia, the West Indies T20 and SA’s Ram Slam tournaments.
It’s still not Test cricket though, and that will leave a gaping hole in KP’s desire as a cricketer to achieve the 10 000 test runs milestone.
The pressure that huge personalities like Pierce Morgan, Michael Vaughn and Ian Botham are creating in the press suggests that many of the old hands will not accept this lying down.
In a complete reversal of fortunes, the home side had 10 days of preparation for the first test which starts in Pretoria next Wednesday, instead of the usual three. This included a warm-up game against a composite eleven which included Beuran Hendricks, possibly the most in-form left arm speedster in the country. Although he lacks the pace of Mitchell Johnston, his bowling would no doubt contribute positively towards the SA batsmen preparation for the reborn Aussie quickie. His performance here in the last tour was exceptional, and I rate him as one of three Australian players that I will grudgingly admit to admiring as a great sportsman AND personality.
What a pity that the incessant rain in Gauteng provided a pitch which seemed more equipped to prepare one for Wimbledon than the one in Centurion.
The Aussies, on the other hand, saw their preparation match rained out, and will have far less practical preparation than the Proteas when the first ball is bowled on Wednesday. It may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, though, given the long series against England.
Super 15 Awaits
We received the following quip from a lady who is more fanatical about rugby than most men I know. I find this quite strange, as she is a Sharks fan:
There is the Roman calendar, the Mayan calendar, the Hindu calendar and even a Chinese calendar, but February 15th marks the beginning of the most important calendar of all – The Super Rugby Calendar!
Amen, Sister Aimee.
An Aussie stockman and his wife just got married and found a quiet hotel for their wedding night.
The man approached the front desk and asked for a room: ‘We’re on our honeymoon and we need a nice room, with a good strong bed.”
‘We have many suites,’ the clerk winked. ‘Do you want the ‘Bridal’?’
The drover reflected on this for a moment and then replied: ‘Nah, I reckon not. I’ll just hold onto her ears until she gets used to it.’