On Wednesday night, an interview request sent by this correspondent to the England and Wales Board’s (ECB’s) new managing director Paul Downton was politely turned down by the ECB communications department executive Colin Gibson under the pretext that “Paul isn’t making any public interviews at present”. The cricket world, however, wants Downton to speak up and give us the reasons.
Kevin Pietersen is not just an England cricketer, he’s once-in-a-generation player and a world citizen. The game will be poorer without him. So the fans have a right to know exactly what happened.
It would be too simplistic to say the whole Pietersen fiasco is the result of a leadership failure. It would be foolish to suggest that Alastair Cook and Andy Flower, and the whole England set-up for that matter, are unaware of Pietersen’s value as a cricketer. But, still, they believe England would be better off without him, as rebuilding becomes the order of the day following the Ashes humiliation. There must be something seriously wrong somewhere.
Far too many comments have been made by onlookers and bystanders. But only the team insiders know exactly what happened and why a player of Pietersen’s class, who was reintegrated into the team just 17 months ago, became a divisive force in the dressing room again.
Former England fast bowler and Guardian columnist Mike Selvey makes a fair point when he says, “Maybe the reasons are extremely strong” for Pietersen’s ouster. Another ex-England seamer, Derek Pringle, lauded the ECB for taking a ‘bold decision’. But former England captain Michael Vaughan lambasted the cricket authorities for trying to produce ‘clones’ and not allowing the deserved leeway for ‘mavericks’. Alec Stuart and even Sir Ian Botham supported him. The opinions are, clearly, very divided.
And now, there’s a hint of back-stabbing and subterfuge after celebrity broadcaster Piers Morgan dragged England vice-captain Matt Prior into the controversy with his series of tweets. “‘Flower’s behaving like a headmaster, this is a schoolboy environment. F**K Flower! This is OUR team!’ — @MattPrior13 to England team”, tweeted Morgan. He went on: “You stabbed @KP24 in the back @MattPrior13 — yet you agreed with him re Flower’s dictator style. Makes you a flaming hypocrite”.
Morgan was referring to an England team meeting that took place during the Melbourne Test. Pietersen reportedly tore into Flower in that meeting and Prior also agreed with him on some points. Later, the ‘keeper-batsman clarified the meeting never intended