Some common sense at last

I was delighted with the news today that common sense has finally prevailed and Kevin Pietersen has been added to the Test squad to tour India later this year.

Something I’ve been banging on about for a while is my belief that there was more than Pietersen at fault here, and I thought that Nick Hoult’s online piece in the Daily Telegraph sums that up quite well.

Yes, Pietersen started it and was the main protagonist, but others need to have a good look at themselves and their (lack of) professionalism in this saga.

I suppose getting Pietersen to fly back from South Africa to meet the players was another test of his commitment. And when back in the country, he was made to travel to Oxford, not a great distance from Heathrow in fairness.

Even so, after flying back to the country from South Africa he might be forgiven for thinking that the team might have travelled to London. Maybe this was another ECB coded message to enforce their authority about who is in charge.

I still can’t get my head around all these people who think that Pietersen is the winner in all this.

He has been consistently humiliated since giving the YouTube interview all those weeks back. He has got no where in his attempts to play a full IPL and he has lost out on the opportunity to help England defend the World T20.

Even if he did get well paid for commentating on the World T20, I can’t believe he wouldn’t have given that up for the opportunity to play in it instead. That said, he did bring most of it on himself.

One last thought on this issue. When he has finished playing it will be interesting to see what he will put in (what I imagine will be) the inevitable book about all this. I can see it now, it will no doubt be explosive and he will probably paint himself in a bad light again.

I still think that England will get a good thrashing in India, although I hope I’m wrong. I just can’t see – even with Pietersen in the side – England being very competitive over a four match Test series.

I get the feeling that a Duncan Fletcher revenge 4-0 whitewash could be on the cards here, I certainly wouldn’t be betting against that happening, especially if England perform like they have in four of the five Test matches played in Asian conditions this year.

Dear Old David Collier

I wrote last week about how stupid I thought David Collier had been with his remarks about the South African players goading Kevin Pietersen into sending those Blackberry messages, so it came as no great surprise to me to hear the beeping sound of a reversing vehicle coming out of the ECB earlier this week.

The South Africans were – rightly in my view – demanding an apology and the words ‘legal action’ were been banded around various press reports, maybe it was the latter that provoked the ECB into action.

After bending over backwards to avoid legal disagreements with Pietersen, it seemed fairly unlikely that the ECB were going to be excited at the prospect of a legal dispute coming from elsewhere.

The apology itself seems only half hearted to me. If the South Africans are claiming that they still disagree over what happened (while accepting the apology), that hardly suggests that the ECB took all the accusations back.

It seems remarkable that the ECB are prepared to disagree with Cricket South Africa about the sequence of events involving the blackberry (text) messages without having any proof of what happened, while for so long they didn’t seem prepared to accept Pietersen’s word about them.

They have openly admitted they have never seen the messages, they reluctantly (it would seem) eventually accepted Pietersen’s word about the content of them, despite him deleting them – which would suggest they were damning.

All in all, it really is an amazing turn around.

For me, this is yet another example of the poor management that has been coming out of the ECB over recent months. I know it has been something I have moaned about a lot on here, but it really has been poor and this latest episode of stupidity, backtracking and humiliation just about sums things up.

Anything to sell a book?

I could be cynical and say that in his quest to sell his book, Stuart Broad has even been prepared to talk about Kevin Pietersen in a positive light. And that his section in the book about having a harmonious dressing room, should include a what not to do list, including cliques and parody Twitter accounts.

In fairness to Broad, those views would probably be doing him a disservice as he sounded very grown up in the interview I heard.

I have been really pleased to read about, and hear Stuart Broad saying that he will be happy to welcome Kevin Pietersen back into the England dressing room as and when the management decide the time is right.

I have been a bit critical of Broad on here lately, more in respect to the fact that I think he should have been more constructive in breaking up a clique, as opposed to allegedly being a part of it.

But credit where credit is due, and Broad actually sounded very mature and genuine in the interview I heard on Talkpsort, in which he said he would have no problem with Pietersen coming back into the side as and when.

The questions he got asked were more with regard to where we go from here, as opposed to what had previously happened. He was hardly grilled in a Jeremy Paxman style way, there was no ‘what part did you play in all this’ questions, or anything about online Twitter parody accounts, but he didn’t duck anything he was asked (although it could have all been prearranged).

Before the interview started, I actually thought if he was asked any Pietersengate related questions that he would just straight bat them, but in fairness he didn’t. Whether they were pre planned questions or not, he obviously was prepared to talk about the issue (moving forward).

One thing I did pick up on was when Broad said “When KP wants to play for England, he’s a huge asset to our team.” I’m not sure if this was just a general line that didn’t have any real meaning to it, or whether it was a deliberate statement in which he was making it clear that Pietersen (at some point) didn’t want to play for England, and that was were the problem had been.

I’m not sure if I am reading too much into that statement or not.

I assume that we will have to wait until after Pietersen is finished with the Champions league before any meetings with the other players can take place, and I’m again assuming that it will depend on the outcome of those meetings as to whether or not he joins up with the India touring squad.

Ian Bell is due to come home before the 2nd Test for the birth of his child, that might signal the reintegration point if the ECB decide they want to drag things out that little bit more, which wouldn’t surprise me.

Personally, I hope it’s sorted earlier and that Pietersen leaves with the rest of the squad.

India are still heavy odds on to win the series in the cricket betting, I’ve just checked online and their odds are still at a best price of 8/13. England are 5/1 and a drawn series is 7/2.

I imagine that a statement saying Pietersen is joining the England squad could see a price movement with some online bookmakers, but in the overall picture I can’t really see it making much difference. I still expect to see England lose the series.

Well Done David Collier

I had previously thought that the England management had made themselves look as stupid as they possibly could with the Kevin Pietersen affair, but that was before the latest gaffe with remarks made by ECB chief executive David Collier.

For Collier to say that the South Africans provoked Pietersen into sending those messages is totally stupid in my view. Even in the unlikely event that it is true, the ECB can never prove it. It just makes them look stupid and like they are trying to blame someone else for what happened.

Could it be that this a pathetic attempt to smooth Pietersen’s path back into the dressing room? To say to the other players, that it was the South African’s fault what happened? If this is the case, does Collier think that the England players are stupid enough to fall for this?

Does anybody else really believe Collier’s take on things, that the South African’s deliberately set out to take advantage of a rift in the England dressing room and make the split even worse by sending texts to Pietersen, to provoke him into responding in such a negative way about his team mates that they could release the information to the media and cause even more trouble?

Am I naive in thinking that this all sounds a bit far fetched? Personally, I don’t blame the South Africans for not being at all happy about this.

Like I have written above, it just makes England look stupid again. It makes us look like sore losers, that we have to come up with excuses that it wasn’t our fault we imploded.

David Collier doesn’t normally say much. I’m not sure if this is because he is a quiet man, or because he has to be kept quiet because not the most sensible remarks come out of his mouth.

Either way, I can’t really see what this has achieved, True or not (I believe not), it was best not said at all in my opinion.

Pietersen Humiliated Again?

All day I’ve been listening to pundits and journalists giving their views on the latest happenings in the Kevin Pietersen saga.

Some have been claiming that the ECB went cap in hand to Pietersen after the World T20 defeats, and that he has won. While others seemed to be of the opinion that Pietersen is being treated like a naughty boy in detention.

For my own take, listening to the press conference that Pietersen attended with Giles Clarke, and watching clips of it on the news tonight, Pietersen looked and sounded anything but victorious.

He cut the figure of a man who had been forced to accept being humiliated again.

What the hell is the process of reintegration? And what on earth is the idea of a four month central contract?

For me this is a further ‘punishment’ humiliation being inflicted on Pietersen, although in fairness to the ECB, Pietersen brought the first humiliation (the Youtube video) on himself.

There was no explanation of why this has taken so long to sort out. The only new thing we have learnt today is that the texts apparently weren’t derogatory, slightly contradicting what we had previously been led to believe.

So what exactly has he done wrong?

On the issue of the texts, if there was nothing incriminating in them, then why would he have deleted them? Personally I find that hard to believe. But Pietersen has assured the ECB that there was nothing derogatory and no tactics were disclosed, and as the ECB set a precedent in taking Stuart Broad’s word that he had nothing to do with the spoof Twitter account, they probably had no choice but to take Pietersen at face value also.

The deleting of the texts brings me nicely onto my next point. The lack of a disciplinary or cricketing reason to sack Pietersen (in other words, not offer him a central contract).

Something tells me, and I include the body language in today’s press conference of both men in this, that the ECB wanted to see the back of Pietersen.

One theory I have is that there may have been attempts towards the end of the season to try and get him to hang himself. For example, was the resting of Broad, Swann and even Andy Flower over the past few weeks done deliberately to try and provoke Pietersen into snapping?

And if he had snapped and lashed out verbally, then surely that would have been the end of his England career as he would have sealed his own fate by making his position untenable. He would have publicly slagged off his coach and team mates, and could probably have been dumped for disciplinary reasons alone.

But without Pietersen committing cricketing suicide, the ECB had no legal way of sacking him.

Without the text messages (or Blackberry messages, or whatever they were), the ECB have no solid evidence against him. All they have to go on is that Pietersen was getting the backs of the other players up.

If they didn’t offer him a central contract, I think that the ECB were worried that Pietersen may sue them for constructive dismissal.

Imagine this case going to an employment tribunal. What could the ECB hold up to use against him? There is no cricketing reason to drop him, and no proof of any disciplinary issues, without the Blackberry/text messages.

I’m no legal expert, but I can’t see how the ECB couldn’t offer him a central contract. And the 4 month contract offer is their way of trying to tell Pietersen that they are in charge of the situation and that he is on probation. Letting him know who the boss is, if you like.

Unless the context of the texts are revealed by the South Africans, then this issue looks closed. In my view it remains to be seen if Pietersen is prepared to put up with much more wrist slapping from the ECB, there must be only so much he can take before he does eventually snap.

No one seems interested in saying what really went on, and in a way I can’t blame them.

One thing I do believe though, is that Pietersen must have a hell of a lot that he will want to get off his chest one day. And when his time playing for England does come to an end, the opportunity to get it all off his chest will be there.

I’m sure it will be some book when it eventually comes out!

Pietersen omission is very disappointing

I’ve left it a few days before writing what I think about Kevin Pietersen’s omission from the Test touring party to India in order to evaluate the fall out from it.

The general consensus within the cricketing media is that he will be back for New Zealand next year and that this continued enforced absence is part of his punishment.

But who exactly is causing this enforced absence?

Is it the ECB hierarchy? Some of the senior players? Andy Flower? Alastair Cook? The Selectors? Some of the above listed? Or a combination of all of them?

Then we have the latest instalment of ECB mixed signals. The 4 month contract offer, the seeking of assurances that Pietersen will waive his rights to any future legal action in employment disputes against the ECB, asking him to pull out of his contract to commentate for ESPN on the World T20, and now just for good measure the opening of contract negotiations on a new 12 month central contract. You just couldn’t make it up.

Just what the hell is going on? There are now more questions than answers with this saga and it is the England cricket team that is becoming the biggest loser in all this.

The failure in management is spectacular here. The allowing of cliques to build up in the dressing room (which apparently involves the T20 captain who should be mature enough to be a leader and put a stop to it). The failure of the other two captains (at the time) to put a stop to it, or maybe they didn’t notice, which would be worse in my view.

The failure of Andy Flower to put a stop to it. I seen an interview with him in which he said he should have nipped it in the bud, so he obviously knew what was going on.

And now with reconciliation in the air there seems to be a massive game of brinkmanship taking place instead, again with no one showing any signs of leadership.

Is it Andy Flower keeping Pietersen out and pushing the agenda by trying to tell Pietersen that he is the boss and a repeat of the Peter Moores’ incident won’t be happening while he is in charge?

Or is it the senior players, Broad, Swann and Anderson telling the team management that they don’t want him in?

And while this is happening the ECB are floundering around, making lame contract offers and then crapping themselves at the thought of being sued for constructive dismissal.

It’s clear to me now that the whole English management structure has failed miserably.

There is also a story doing the rounds that Pietersen still wants the issue with the players he believes were behind the Twitter account resolved, and in a way I don’t blame him. Although for the better and good of all concerned, maybe he should drop this issue, if indeed it is an issue.

This should have been sorted by now. Pietersen has apparently backed down, he humiliated himself on Youtube, and he was a total idiot and was in the wrong to start with.

In general I now believe that they all have a collective responsibility in these failures, and they all have a collective responsibility to put things right.

It has got to the point now where personal feeling have to be put aside. Pride has to be put on the back burner and people have to find some common ground to move forward.

Pietersen is guilty and he has admitted so. Can Broad, Anderson, Swann, etc all look in the mirror and say they have acted responsibly? I doubt it.

Can Flower, Cook, Strauss and the ECB all look in the mirror and say they did all they could to prevent this happening, and then sort this out after they allowed it to happen? I also doubt it.

This is my prediction for what will happen moving forward. England will almost definitely get hammered in the Test series in India, I reckon they would have got comfortably beaten with Pietersen in the side also.

His stock will almost certainly rise if/when England get thrashed, I then believe a lot of these people slagging Pietersen off and wearing their ‘Kevin Who’ T-Shirts at the T20 match against South Africa will all be calling for him to return.

The ECB will panic and will want him back also, especially if they think the team suffering defeats might start costing them commercially.

Let’s wait and see.