Since last week I've been meaning to throw in my ten pence worth on the media debate which was generated by the rather dopey interview which KP gave towards the end of the West Indian tour. I know I'm a bit late, but here goes.

Depending on who you read, Pietersen is either a disruptive individualist detested by many of his team-mates and should be jettisoned quick smart, or simply a man of strong opinions with a profoundly un-English capacity for telling it how he thinks it is and the one man who can save us once Ricky Ponting's band of resurgent cobbers hit town.

Well, much as I'd like to have a contact in the England dressing room, I haven't, so I can't comment on his popularity or otherwise, and I think the impression given by some that Australia, after one Test series win, are now back to their invincible best and are sure to stuff England, who've only got one real batsman, is exaggerated and pessimistic. We've got, oh, two batsmen at least.

Given Pietersen's background and character it's hardly surprising that he polarizes opinion in a country which often seems to reflexively mistrust people who are too successful, take the pursuit of success too seriously, or, worst of all, are too obviously aware of how good they are. Unfortunately for him, Pietersen puts a big tick in all three boxes.

With all this said, he quickly achieved a high degree of popularity with ordinary cricket followers in this country, most of whom know a good player when they see one, and have perhaps been more willing to forgive Pietersen's personal failings because he's so damn good. I've been fortunate enough to see several of his hundreds live, beginning with the Oval 158, and he's never been less than warmly embraced (even if he did have a bloody silly hairstyle then).

Whether that warmth is quite as strong after his unguarded comments remains to be seen. Many (including me) will have found his remarks about being desperate to get home when he'll just as soon be off to South Africa (which, after all, is another sort of home) to play in the IPL a bit rich, while his views about Shiv Chanderpaul, one of the few players in the world good enough to be compared with him, came across as insecure and slightly jealous.

However, while we're not a one-man team, he's the best we've got, and, as soon as he starts making runs in his usual dominant and innovative fashion, especially if Australia are on the receiving end, I suspect that all this will be forgiven and forgotten.

In modern sport pragmatism is everything. But, if the runs ever seriously dry up and the misplaced words don't, it could be a very different matter.


Rob said...

A pretty good summing up I think, he really is too good to get rid of. He has 'previous' in disrupting dressing rooms but he is not on his own there. Lara had his moments and no one really thinks any worse of him for it (not that I think Pietersen is in Lara's class).

What I didn't really understand is why he said anything at all. Why couldn't he keep his mouth shut. Maybe its all part of a larger plan for publicity. He also made a big deal about not being able to captain his IPL team at 'their' home. I suspect he will say anything.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Rob. The comparison with Lara is a good one, which I hadn't thought of.

What it comes down to is that when you're the best batsman in the side you can get away with virtually anything.

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