Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Kevin Pietersen could no longer be tolerated

In the end, nobody wanted to play with Kevin Pietersen. Perhaps they were all wrong, perhaps they ought to have made more of an effort to accommodate his singular personality for the sake of his rare talent.

They – everybody, that is – would say that they tried. Over the nine years of his illustrious international career they tolerated when they could not forgive.

It was just the way Kevin was they would say and remember his runs. The runs made everything and anything worth it.

Something happened on the ill-fated tour of Australia to terminate this uneasy treaty for good.

Pietersen, who had been trying hard for more than a year following his last spot of bother when he had to be reintegrated into the side, again became aloof and charmless.

He was the leading run-scorer for England in the Ashes series, which was not saying much, but it was clear from the way he carried himself at the crease that he was unsettled. Sometimes, he was disciplined to the point of self-denial; at others, he was cavalier to the point of recklessness.

The decision which was made last night to sack him, although it is less than six months since he signed this year's central contract, had become predictable. His attitude in Australia had managed once more to anger the former coach, Andy Flower.

Although Flower gave no warnings of the "if he stays I go variety" it was also obvious that he was perplexed. In the event, Flower thought it was time that he himself went.

What certainly counted against Pietersen more than any other single factor was the loss of captain Alastair Cook's patronage. Had Cook felt that Pietersen should be part of his future plans and still had a major part to play then he would have continued. But Cook, like everybody else – and the decision, it is worth repeating, was unanimous – had had enough.

Pietersen, being the man he is, will be mystified by it all. He will not think he has done anything wrong. He never did, he never will.

In previous dark times it was only after constant requests that he was persuaded to apologise and his heart was never in it.

But rebuilding the team without the best player does not cut it.

Pietersen was no better or worse behaved on the tour of Australia than he had been in the past.

Relations between the star player and several senior members of the team were at a low ebb.

Pietersen was the sort of player who would do anything for you if he liked you and rated you. If not, woe betide.

He saw it as not suffering fools but that was to take a lone stand, which was bound to have an effect not only on the morale of those he took against but in the wider dressing room.

Pietersen came into the England team after living in South Africa until he was 19.

It was always a marriage of convenience for both parties. Like most such liaisons it was bound to end in tears.

Last night it did.

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