The phrase ‘cutting off their nose to spite their face’ has been used in abundance in the last week in relation to the story that Kevin Pietersen has retired from international limited overs cricket. But there’s a reason for that: it fits. And not just for south-African born KP, who has attracted more than his fair share of controversy throughout his career, but also for the England and Wales Cricket Board who have struggled to deal with the turbulent player.
Pietersen took the decision to quit ODI cricket, but was forced to say goodbye to international t20’s as well by the ECB as part of their initiative to build a limited overs squad for both formats. That’s fair enough, they have their plans in place I’m sure, but with the World t20 just four months away, surely a compromise could have been reached? Pietersen was a key part of England’s triumph in the tournament in the Caribbean two years ago – our country’s first limited overs ICC trophy – earning himself the Man of the Series accolade.
KP has been criticised for quitting limited overs cricket for his country in favour of more lucrative prospects such as the IPL, and the Big Bash in Australia. Clearly he wants to make as much dollar as he can whilst he has the ability to play as he does. But he is not the first cricketer to do so, nor the last. And the ECB are hardly in a position to judge. Pietersen’s decision to no longer play ODI’s for England was, I’m sure, influenced to some extent by the prospect of a somewhat pointless five match series against Australia this summer, a series that is purely a moneymaking event for the ECB.
It is likely that Pietersen made the decision to quit one day cricket, was told by the ECB that he couldn’t do so without ruling himself out of t20, and, like a petulant toddler, his response was to quit both instantly rather than wait a few months to take part in the tournament. There is no going back from such an announcement (this is England, not Pakistan) so it is not so much calling the bluff of the ECB, but playing the only power card he had.
But if Kevin Pietersen is the nose being cut off, it only serves to spite everyone involved in England cricket. It will not sit well with KP to see England fail or succeed without him in Sri Lanka in the World t20. The ECB, naturally keen to field the best side possible, will be missing arguably it’s strongest option, and fans of game will certainly miss the sight of KP smashing world class bowlers over the ropes. In fact, said bowlers are the only ones likely to breath a sigh of relief at the stubbornness of both Pietersen and the cricket board that forced him into his untimely decision.