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Pietersen and Moores - Tension in the dressing room
by Sunil Gavaskar
Jan 11, 2009
The resignation of Kevin Pietersen from the England captaincy and the sacking of the coach Peter Moores, has all been too bizarre to understand. Sure we are miles away from the action, so will probably never know the full story, but where and how it started is also a mystery. Pietersen was on a holiday in Africa when the issue boiled up, and before he could return, he had to resign and the coach lost his job. There was nothing in the public domain said by both persons so how it all came to such a pass is baffling. Be that as it may, what has been interesting is, to read British papers and to see the extent of the divisions in the English dressing room. If it brings a wry smile on the faces of those in the subcontinent, don't be surprised, because for years the Brit media has gone to town about the frissons in the dressing rooms of the teams of the subcontinent, and making believe that there were none in their own rooms.

Fact is that, there is no team including the Australians in their pomp where there was not some friction in the dressing room. It is virtually impossible to have a tension free dressing room, for the pressures of international sport are such that there are always some temperaments that are fragile, and so in need of monitoring and assuaging. The sound bytes in the public domain will always be about the harmony and spirit in the dressing room, but make no mistake; underneath it all there is bound to be some disappointment.

How teams mange to leave that behind in the dressing room and go out and put their best foot forward on the field is what makes that team win. Have you ever heard of a present skipper and coach ever being criticized by other team members in public? No, simply because the players however good they are know that their future depends on the coach and the captain, and so will sing hosannas about them in public, even though they may not always agree with them about everything. The moment the skipper and coach are out of the job, the knives come out and the disaffected get their voice back, but will make sure that the present occupants will not be criticized.

By all accounts, the difference between Moores and Pietersen were about selection and training methods, and Pietersen wanted somebody who could lift the team out of its underachieving status, to those performing brilliantly in all games. In a team sport, all players will never be successful and there will always be some who are not major contributors to a win, but it’s the manner in which these non-performers help the team achieve its overall objective, is what makes a good team.

It is becoming increasingly clear that including the skipper and coach in the selection meeting causes more problems, especially when they do not get the players that they feel are necessary for their plans.

The Australians have never had the skipper and coach in the selection meetings, though of course, the selectors will talk and find out from the duo as to what they are looking for. Here it is not individual names that they are looking for, but positions that they feel need to be looked at, for example, an all rounder or a leg spinner or a left arm seamer. Then it is up to the selectors to go out and find the blokes that fit in with what the skipper and coach want. This way the captain and coach are given the players and told to show how good they are by winning with the resources given to them. The plus with this system is that the skipper and coach don't get blamed for getting their favorites in the team. Over a period of time, the dressing room becomes settled with some players, and when they are in bad form there is a reluctance to leave out some and bring in new faces because there is the uncertainty of how the dressing room atmosphere will be affected.

If anything, how the new players inclusion will affect the performances on the field should be the only criteria and how much value he brings on the field, and the balance he adds to the team should be the only issues to consider.

In any case, it was only a matter of time before Pietersen was going to be given the push because the establishment has never been too sure of him. Why, one former skipper has even said that he was a foreign captain since Pietersen comes from South Africa. Remember, the Kerry Packer times when Tony Greig, another South African born and bred player was England captain. When the story broke out that he was part of the recruiting team for Kerry Packer, most of the English media went to town about his South African upbringing and suggesting that since he was not English born and bred, it was to be expected. If England was a totally crime free society then such a sentiment would have been understood, but it was laughable then and laughable now that where a player was born should determine his integrity and honesty.

Well, Pietersen born in South Africa is gone and Andrew Strauss who too has some links there has taken over as the England captain for the West Indies tour. English cricket is in turmoil and there is widespread chest beating about how all this is going to affect the Ashes clash later in the year. But hey guys, you lost badly to India, so how about defeating West Indies first?

 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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