Cricket: Alastair Cook out of Kevin Pietersen talks
Yesterday Hugh Morris and Andy Flower, managing director and manager of England respectively, sat down for private discussions with Kevin Pietersen.
Alastair Cook, the new captain of the Test side, was not present but the eventual outcome could well define Cook’s leadership.
The facts are stark. England need Pietersen’s batting and Pietersen needs England to protect the value of his “brand” and make him more valuable around the world.
If they can come to an agreement, it would be purely pragmatic. After Pietersen was dropped for selfish behaviour in cluding sending “provocative” texts to the South Africans about former captain Andrew Strauss, Flower and Cook, right, are going to have to swallow some pride for him to return.
Sometimes the “bigger man” must do that. It’s clear Pietersen will never be that but England without him will be weaker and that is the problem.
Jonny Bairstow deputised superbly at Lord’s, James Taylor has played two Tests and Ravi Bopara is suffering personal problems. Eoin Morgan is desperate to return to Test cricket and Andrew Strauss needs replacing at the top of the order.
So, of the top six, only three places are secure, those of Cook, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell.
Teams are strongest when change is controlled, new players being assimilated into a strong framework, but England’s batting barely has a framework now, which is why Pietersen, if he can be forgiven and controlled, is so important.
It would allow a new opener to be selected, perhaps Nick Compton of Somerset. Trott could remain first drop with Bell and Pietersen forming a formidable axis at four and five. One of the young guns could come in at six with Matt Prior at seven.
Remove Pietersen, though, and Trott may have to open, which could move Bell to three and leave the youngsters exposed.
So instead of celebrating the end of a successful Strauss era and rejoicing in Cook’s deserved elevation to Test captain, for England the issue revolves around Pietersen once more.
Whether or not he returns, Cook has an awkward inheritance after the 2-0 defeat to South Africa with a hard series in India in October and two Ashes campaigns in the next 18 months.
But Cook is a splendid man and ideal for what is likely to be a difficult period for England. He is phlegmatic, measured, disciplined and ruthlessly determined.
The team enjoyed the calmness and thoughtful approach of Strauss. He allowed senior players to flourish – James Anderson and Stuart Broad set the majority of their own fields .
He ensured new players were welcomed and only ever stood on ceremony as captain when it was absolutely necessary.
Cook is similar. He is not a flashy person but is intelligent and empathetic. The players have already responded to him in the one-day team so are likely to in Tests.
All Cook has to do is find a new opener, remain detached from the Pietersen decision – which Flower will make – and rally the players around him. The problems will come later and they may or may not involve you know who.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east