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England sent out right message over Kevin Pietersen
Simon Parker column
I suspect that Kevin Pietersen’s preferred batting partner would be a full-length mirror.
Nothing KP would like better than admiring the swash-buckler at the other end putting the bowlers to the sword.
To rework the old adage that there’s no I in team; there’s no K and P either.
It would be churlish to deny the guy has an explosive talent with the willow. He has that Bothamesque ability to empty the bar when he strolls from the pavilion.
People love watching him perform because they know something is going to happen. He will effortlessly smash the ball to all corners of the ground – or be out in the second over swatting carelessly at a half-volley best left well alone.
He should be the first name on the England team sheet, certainly in the wham-bam form of the game.
And yet he will not be part of the squad trying to defend the World Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka in September.
Andy Flower firmly turned down his request to pick and choose his international availability – and was quite right to do so.
Some will call it a case of nose removal to spite face but Flower has sent out the right message.
Places have to be decided by the selectors, not the individual. Once the players are allowed to duck in and out on a whim, the whole system becomes a mockery.
There was plenty of sympathy when Pietersen first backed away from the one-day international game because he wanted to spend more time with his family.
With the gruelling schedule overkill at the top level, only the hardest of hearts could deny him a break.
But then to come back with a so-called compromise offer which would free him to play in the ‘name your price’ IPL was an affront to all the other players who dream of wearing the three lions.
Fatigue? Yeah right. Pietersen would still find enough energy to pocket the million-plus gains for a month or so’s thrash and bash in the sub-continent.
The guy may be box office and he’s still the one England batsman we all want to see. I hope he racks up a shedload of runs against South Africa.
But let’s not forget who is in charge here. England are the top cricketing nation for a reason right now – and that should not be jeopardised by someone with ideas well above his station.