A sensible stance
Bumble backs the ECB's approach to the Pietersen saga and asks if his Test career is already over?
Last Updated: 08/08/12 3:14pm
Kevin Pietersen produced an outstanding innings against South Africa at Headingley. It was a privilege to be there to witness it.
Then you hear the interviews afterwards and it quickly becomes apparent all is not well.
It's extraordinary that he would put his Test match career in doubt with coded messages that would both alarm the dressing room and anger the management.
The selectors now have decisions to make. He's saying the next Test could be his last, but could the management now pre-empt that and tell him he's already played his final game?
Forget the hundred. Forget the individual. You've got to treat him as 'Player X' and if someone starts telling you when they want to play and when they don't want to play then it doesn't work.
Remember, Pietersen has a contract with the ECB, as many other players do. If all 14 contracted players started insisting on which games they wanted to play in it would be totally unworkable.
Let's draw a comparison with Manchester United. What would happen if Wayne Rooney told Sir Alex Ferguson he wanted to go and play for Inter Milan for six weeks? It just wouldn't happen.
The new contract is there for Pietersen and the lad needs to make a simple decision to accept it or not. Even if he declines it's not the end of the world. James Taylor doesn't have an England contract, but he's just played for the team.
It wouldn't be helpful if he didn't accept a contract, but he could still play as long as he adhered to the rules and regulations of the England team with regards to practice and preparation.
However, they need to know if he's going to sign that contract because they need to plan for the future. If they listen to what he's got to say and find they've got a player who isn't going to turn up then it might be time to bring somebody else in - and they may decide to do so straight away.
It can be done with great courtesy, but they may feel it's time to thank him for all his wonderful efforts and wish him well for the future. That's not a hard-line way of looking at things, it's a sensible way.
I would like to see Pietersen continue to play Test cricket, but I fully understand the management's stance.
This is totally in Pietersen's hands now and the stumbling block remains the IPL. It is a wonderful competition, it pays players handsomely and it appears that he wants to maximise his earning power.
However, it encroaches on England's business. If the IPL was a shorter competition it would really ease the situation, but at the moment Andy Flower has nowhere to go except to try to protect the integrity of the England Test team.
I've heard it argued that "other teams" let their players do it. Well, for "other teams" read New Zealand and the West Indies - and look at the state of their cricket.
I've also heard people say that Sachin Tendulkar does it, but he's nearly 39 years old now. It's totally different.
The other question I would like answered is who is doing these negotiations? Who is actually in these meetings? I asked on Twitter and nobody could come up with the answer.
You would expect the player to be there, but not necessarily. When you get to this level you would also expect a financial person and the agent to be in attendance. I would like to know who these people are because that hasn't come out.
The only name that crops up is Adam Wheatley, the co-director of Enterprise Sports Management along with Pietersen himself. I'd love to see a journalist track him down and ask him a few questions.
I'll finish by saying I'm really sad it's come to this because Pietersen is a wonderful player and every time I've met him he's been very polite. People accuse him of all sorts, but I've always found him to be very amiable.
As it stands, he is going to miss out on a fantastic part of his life and that's really sad.
Talk of the Terrace
I'm pleased to report there was a full house for the first four days in Leeds and things got outrageous on the Western Terrace at times.
I understand it's not everybody's cup of tea. Some people might buy a ticket and look forward to studiously watching the game, so if you end up on the Western Terrace you've got yourself in the wrong place!
It's all about beer snakes and fancy dress over there and it's great fun. The most comical thing I've seen in ages was when Fred Flintstone, a banana and a security guard were spotted carrying out one of the Teletubbies...
The match itself was basically a stalemate and maybe England picked the wrong team. They obviously felt four pace men would do the job in those conditions, so left out Graeme Swann, but I think they mis-read the pitch. I've been to Headingley a few times this year and it spins; we saw that when Pietersen, who's no great shakes as a bowler, came on.
It wasn't the best of games, but we move on to the final match at Lord's where there has been results in recent times. I expect England to revert to a four-man attack with Swann coming back in.
And don't rule out Graham Onions. They keep putting him in the squad and he has every chance of starting. He's very accurate and he'll bring you wicket-to-wicket bowling, probing away at the South African batsmen.
So the selectors have decisions to make for Lord's, in more ways than one...