Belfast Telegraph

Cricket World Cup: Kevin Pietersen glory days now a thing of the past

By Stephen Brenkley

For a while back then, there was a chance that Kevin Pietersen would become a great cricketer. The time has gone.

As he prepared to leave England's World Cup campaign yesterday 48 hours after it was announced that he would struggle through the tournament, the overwhelming feeling was of relief.

His team mates did not exactly club together for the plane fare home but nor did they accompany him to the airport singing We'll Meet Again Some Sunny Day.

The decision was made to replace Pietersen after he informed the team management that increasing pain caused by a hernia made it impossible for him to continue.

Although the medical advisers were firm in their view that the condition could be managed during the World Cup, they could hardly ignore the player's own assessment.

Eoin Morgan, the team's most proficient one-day batsman (a mantle once worn by Pietersen), will rejoin the team in Chittagong today.

Morgan was omitted from the original squad after breaking a finger during the one-day series in Australia in January. Initially, it was expected that he would require surgery but Morgan has recovered much more quickly than expected and has recently been batting in the nets at Middlesex.

There was a feeling as the team travelled to Bangladesh yesterday that Pietersen might have given the injury a few days to settle down given what is at stake. England have only two matches in the next ten days.

The player exchange was probably welcomed in the dressing room. Pietersen is simply not the player he was in the one-day game and has gone 27 innings without a hundred. Morgan was one of the most complete finishers of a one-day innings and England have missed him here so far.

Despite his lack of recent cricket he will almost certainly be drafted into the team for the match against Bangladesh on Friday. Victory will confirm England's quarter final place after their gripping six run victory against South Africa in Chennai on Sunday.

Pietersen's career has dealt him some poor hands since he was deposed from the captaincy in January 2009. He missed most of that year's Ashes with a severe Achilles tendon injury which took its time to heal after complications set in. At no time since has he been quite the swashbuckler of his early days and last summer he was dropped from the one-day squad for the series against Pakistan.

It was typical of him that he should court controversy by revealing his displeasure to the world via Twitter. The feeling is that he does not set out to cause offence or disturb the carefully constructed equilibrium but simply does not think what the possible repercussions might be.

Pietersen was propelled into the stratosphere after his imperishable, blazing century against Australia at The Oval in 2005 when the Ashes were won after 16 years.

The loss of the captaincy undoubtedly hurt him deeply and it was to his credit that he returned to the ranks and continued to wear his England heart on his South African sleeve. A glittering double century in the Second Test at Adelaide on England's recent Ashes tour did not have much else to accompany it.

He has remained England's highest profile cricketer but has never been able to shed the perception that he is also high-maintenance. This is easier to accommodate for all concerned when you are scoring most of the side's runs and in a fashion that empties bars but when you have come back to the pack it is more difficult to tolerate.

Alone among most of the squad he has no close pals in it.

Pietersen's departure will only enhance the theory that he will soon retire from one-day cricket to concentrate on Test cricket and Twenty20 to ensure he can take part in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

It is not a combination that will sit well in the committee rooms of the ECB where there are already rumblings that his central contract should not be renewed later this year.

Andy Flower, the team coach, fell some way short yesterday of giving Pietersen a ringing endorsement but he said of Pietersen's place in England's future one-day plans: “It might fuel the speculation, but Kevin's told me he wants to carry on playing one-day international cricket and I'll take him at his word.”

England only revealed Pietersen's hernia injury on Saturday night, stipulating that it could be managed until surgery after the World Cup.

After the tense six-run win against South Africa on Sunday in Chennai when he was out for two but bowled eight crucial overs of serviceable off spin, Pietersen told management he felt it was unmanageable after all.

England have to move on quickly as Pietersen's departure means they must find yet another opening partner for Strauss.

He was drafted into the role only after Matt Prior failed to make any sort of tangible impression.

Flower said: “We've got a number of potential openers. I think in this tournament we're going to have to be flexible, and if that means shuffling the order again we'll do that.”

Pietersen might just be yesterday's man in many senses and he will have a long retirement to ponder his withdrawal from the fray yesterday.

Factfile

Name: Kevin Peter Pietersen

Born: June 27 1980, Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa.

England One Day debut: November 28 2004 v Zimbabwe

England Test debut: July 21 2005 v Australia

Test match record: Matches: 71, Runs scored: 5,666, Batting average: 48.42, Test 50s: 21, Test centuries: 17, Top score: 227, Balls bowled: 873, Wickets: 5,

One day record: Matches: 112, Runs scored: 3,587, Batting Average: 41.42, One day 50s: 21, One day centuries: 7, Top score: 116, Balls bowled: 322, Wickets: 7.

1997: Joins his first first-class club, KwaZulu Natal in his native South Africa

2001: Pietersen signs first contract in England when he joins Nottinghamshire, with a view to qualifying to play for England. He scores his maiden first-class century on his debut.

2003: Shows his quality as the top performer on England A tour of Malaysia and India.

2004: Makes first England appearance and quits Nottinghamshire for Hampshire.

2005: Not selected for test series with Bangladesh, but makes debut in Ashes against Australia and stars as England win the series.

2006: Becomes first batsman since Graham Gooch in 1990 to score a century in three successive Tests on English soil.

2007: England’s best player in Ashes series. Scores two centuries at World Cup — the first England player to score a World Cup century since 1996.

2008: Appointed temporary One Day captain and then Test captain in place of Michael Vaughan. Becomes permanent One Day captain.

2009: His reign as England captain comes to an abrupt end after a fall-out with coach Peter Moores. Moores is sacked on the same day Pietersen resigns. An up and down Ashes series as England beat Australia again.

2010: The year didn't start well, but he finished it in much better form after performing well in the World Twenty20 tournament and at the start of the Ashes series. Leaves Hampshire for Surrey.

2011: Stars as England complete their Ashes win in Australia. Starts the World Cup in good form, but is forced to pull out of the tournament in order to undergo surgery on a hernia injury.

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