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The Pietersen fiasco and potential repercussions - Suneer Chowdhary column
by Suneer Chowdhary
Jan 10, 2009
It has been barely a couple of days since the Kevin Pietersen saga culminated into the former skipper's purported resignation from the captain's role and the conspiracy theories have reared their heads up. Thankfully, this has happened at a time, when the disarrayed time still has the necessary time to pick up the pieces and restore the home by the time an important series in Ashes is around the corner.

One may never know the entire truth; in fact, with the English media involved, it could all boil down to half-baked knowledge, speculation and hardcore gossip. However, if the initial reports are anything to go by, it does look like Pietersen has managed to shoot himself in his foot, by calling for the ouster of Peter Moores - and Andy Flower - while vacationing in a faraway place. To top it all, Pietersen, as it is apparent in the hindsight, also underestimated the team dynamics, having expected more expected more support from the likes of Andrew Flintoff and co, only to be surprised and pipped at the post. As things emerge, it wasn't Pietersen who decided to resign, but the English board who forced the issue, as the situation had become quite - the oft-used word in this fiasco - untenable!

Without too much to the dressing room, it would be akin to constructing a story out of bare facts that one has, but the most plausible one that comes out would be something like this. Pietersen and Moores who haven't been the best of friends for as long as the former was appointed the skipper, had had a fall-out in relation to the selection of the former English skipper, Michael Vaughan. After being assured with the inclusion of Vaughan, a riled Pietersen would have had a feeling of being back-stabbed by the coach and the selectors alike. He would have made his displeasure felt, and that would have been in anything but a mild manner.

Based on the assumption that the likes of Flintoff, Andrew Strauss and Steve Harmison would have backed him to the tee, Pietersen went ahead and locked horns with the cricket board. Now, it is one thing to express displeasure over some of the decisions that go around - as a certain M.S. Dhoni had on the non-inclusion of R.P. Singh - but quite another to hold the country to ransom by using the words like 'back me or sack me' which he is supposed to have.

From the ECB's perspective, they could have done away with the coach, vis-à-vis a Pietersen, who was doing a fair job as an on-field captain, taking the team in a direction which looked quite close to their short-term dream of lifting the Ashes. Yet, the keyword here is 'on-field', because off the field the ECB seemed to be dealing with an enigma, a captain who could take on the cricket board, which in their books would have been a dangerous proposition. It would have set a dangerous precedent of a cricket board having bowed down to the whims of a captain, something that no cricket body would obviously want; more so the ECB after the recent controversies they have been embroiled in.

Right from bending backwards to appeasing the promoter of the money-spinner, Sir Allen Stanford - and then reaping 'just' rewards for it - to been snubbed by the BCCI for its ICL links and then being criticised by their own players and the player body for disallowing the cricketers from participating in the IPL, the ECB has come under a rather nasty cloud.

In a small deviation, but in an issue related to Pietersen, it was he who had been one of the most vociferous critics of the ECB for causing hurdles in his involvement with IPL as that would help his cause in sponsoring his children's education in some years' time. Clearly, this long-term planning had also not gone down too well with the ECB! but jokes aside, it just gives an insight into the psyche of a man, someone who doesn't hesitate in calling a spade by its name, and thus rubbing the wrong side of many.

For now though, Andrew Strauss has been anointed as the skipper for the tour to West Indies starting later this month, and funnily enough, the appointment would be for the ODIs as well, something he has not featured in for an year and a half. And Strauss may well be thanking his stars for the ECB's decision to go ahead with the second leg of the tour to India, which provided him with an opportunity to score the twin-centuries at Chennai. The fact of the matter was that prior to those couple of tons, Strauss' position in the team - to use the word again - had become untenable due to his lack of form.

For now, Strauss is said to have spoken the language out of him; he has publicly announced that he knows he would have the support of the ex-captain in the team. Yet, he would have a fair idea that his task would be to forge together a team that looks in one direction and have enough talent to execute most of these best-laid plans. For that, Pietersen, the batsman, would be a very desired necessity, and Strauss' task would include the tempering of super-ego in his line-up in a manner he best can.

Or else, a battle for the third spot in world test cricket in the Ashes later this year, could just end up remaining a one-way traffic.
 
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