Pietersen must work hard to rebuild burnt bridges
Kevin Pietersen has been dropped from England's squad for the third Test against South Africa and cricket writer Lizzy Ammon believes it will take more than an apology in order to return.
South Africa must be wetting themselves laughing at this unholy mess. We’ve pretty much handed them the series on a plate. Without KP’s 149 and four wickets at Headingley, the series would already have been lost.
Fault lies on both sides. The ECB have handled this appallingly. It reminds me of how badly Liverpool FC handled the Luis Suarez affair and that resulted in a lot of people losing their jobs. Let’s not forget that much of this kicked off because someone at the ECB leaked details of a private discussion about contracts to the media.
Every organisation has difficult people. It’s the job of the management and leadership to manage that and to bring out the best in their workforce. If they aren’t doing that, what exactly are they doing?
"We all work with people we don’t like and no doubt we’ve all said something derogatory at some point. But playing for England is slightly different to a normal work environment"
But Pietersen has to look hard at himself and ask why it is he’s fallen out with every club he’s been at (Natal, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and now England). He’s made a lot of mistakes and doesn’t seem to learn from them. His retirement from one day cricket was no doubt a reactive strop because the ECB wouldn’t give him the time off he was demanding.
Pietersen certainly had a point about the schedules – no one has played as much international cricket in the last few years than KP except maybe Rahul Dravid. No one begrudges a man wanting to spend more time with his young family but his words are not backed up by his actions.
"The trust between KP and his team-mates and coaches has been broken. That matters"
As for the texts: it’s not completely clear who they were sent to or what they said but the fact that Pietersen refused to sign a document denying their existence rather indicates that they do.
We all work with people we don’t like and no doubt we’ve all texted, emailed or said something derogatory about one of our colleagues at some point. But playing for England is slightly different to a normal work environment.
England got to number one because of their team unity, their work ethic, their meticulous planning. The trust between KP and his team-mates and coaches has been broken. That matters.
"It’s in everyone’s interests that this is worked out but it’s naïve to think that just an apology will sort it"
No one is saying they all have to be best buddies but there has to be trust. There has to be a belief from both sides that things won’t be leaked to the media, that KP in particular won’t give extraordinary press conferences like he did at Headingley and that slagging off your team mates to the opposition is really a very bad idea.
England are playing a T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka followed by a Test series in India. Pietersen is probably our best player in sub-continental conditions (and his IPL experience is of benefit to the national side in this instance) – it’s in everyone’s interests that this is worked out but it’s naïve to think that just an apology will sort it.
The divisions and mistrust now run very deep. The trust needs to be rebuilt. And it has to come from Pietersen.
The best thing he can do now is get his head down, get Piers Morgan and his brother to be quiet, go and play for Surrey and get lots of runs. And sit down with each of his team-mates and try to clear the air.
Whether or not relations can be repaired remains to be seen. Let’s hope they can.
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