DCSIMG

Iain Fletcher: Prodigal Pietersen’s back but don’t bet on a long innings

Kevin Pietersen. Picture: PA

Kevin Pietersen. Picture: PA

  • by IAIN FLETCHER
 

Pragmatism won through in the end as Kevin Pietersen was selected for the coming India tour after a series of meetings last week with management and senior players.

He is a chastened individual and now fully aware of the sanctity of the dressing room spirit that coach Andy Flower protects so assiduously and a few others – Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson and Flower himself – are also a little wiser. Flower indeed has admitted as much.

So England can embark for India with their best batting line-up and all is hunky dory.

That would be the fairytale end. However, Pietersen has been granted one final chance to knuckle down to the team ethic or be dismissed into the world of the freelance T20 specialist. There will be no more negotiations. Can a man who shoots so easily from the lip when his insecurity and need for love demands attention keep quiet up until the end of the World Cup in 2015?

And now that England have allowed him to complete his duties with the Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League, will he and his agent start pressing once more for a break so he can maximise his earnings from the Indian Premier League in April?

The risk is that both he, and maybe others in the future, will consider a precedent has been set, or if not that then at least the line in the sand has shifted somewhat.

England have a difficult position as the IPL and the mooted American T20 tournament planned for June each year are staged during the English domestic season. Central contracts should protect the national team but the counties may struggle. The truth is that, while the T20 bonanza continues and grows, English cricket will face such problems every season. Pietersen is just the first to have brought it to a serious issue and he is a special case.

Firstly he is a global star, exactly the kind of face the IPL needs and rewards with millions of dollars. Secondly is Pietersen’s delight in money and how he views his own worth. Last April he returned from the IPL with adulation and cash registers ringing in his ears and became focused on those hollow sounds rather than his national team. That was what irked some in the dressing room so much.

They called him selfish, he called them jealous and it escalated into the farce of Headingley when he said on TV that it “was difficult being me in the dressing room”.

Well, he is back now, still a superb player and one who averages above 40 in India.

How long it lasts is anyone’s guess.

“Booom” was his tweet on his return. “Crash!” might be more appropriate in the future.

 

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