6 October 2014

Difficult to know what to make of KP claims

Obviously I haven't read it and I'm not rushing out to buy Kevin Pietersen's book.   But it's almost impossible to avoid the analysis of the points he raises.   The character assassination of Matt Prior is a bit of a surprise given that it's often been quoted how Prior made the first move in getting him back into the team after the textgate scandal.   And Graeme Swann has made that point in his initial view of the book as "a work of fiction".
Jonathan Agnew has also made the point that he wouldn't have come back into the team after textgate but for Flower's support.   So it's difficult to square the Pietersen account with the reality.   That said, my personal view is that it's unlikely to be invented in it's entirety.   We tend to assume that things remain the same within a team environment, but that's not the case.   Prior could have been a great team man during the period when he was on the up and an increasingly brooding presence lashing out at others as his personal performances dropped considerably to the point when even his greatest supporters would agree he had to be dropped.
And we also know that the bowlers were petulant every time someone misfielded - we all saw that from the TV pictures.   And the commentators all commented on how it was over the top.   So his comment that fielders were asked to apologise to the bowlers for mistakes doesn't seem particularly unlikely.   (Having said that, I automatically apologise to the bowler when I screw up in the field - doesn't everyone?)
One point that I definitely have some sympathy for Pietersen on is the question of wanting his wife and child on tour with him for the whole tour.   Everyone's different and to him it was key, so surely it was in England's interests to facilitate that for any player that wanted that.   There's no debate about how professional he was - he turned up on time and trained hard at all times - surely what he does and who he has with him outside of those times is (a) up to him and (b) in England's best interests to get right.   It's an issue that won't go away, unless of course Andrew Strauss is right and Test cricket is marginalised to such an extent that tours shorten considerably.
Equally, I totally disagree with Pietersen that anyone could have coached England during the period they got to number 1.   He suggested that they were that good that the coaching role wasn't important - I've always thought the opposite.   In the historical context of great teams like the West Indians in the times of Clive Lloyd or the Australian's under Steve Waugh, England were distinctly average and yet they made it to number 1, albeit for a very short time.   That was a victory for the sum of their parts rather than individuals, although Pietersen's right to point to his number of man-of-the-match awards.   He could undoubtedly win games of cricket for England that without him they couldn't have entertained thoughts of winning.
So the jury's out, for me at least.   Over time a consensus will presumably be reached on how much of Pietersen's book is true, how much is an exaggeration, and how much is pure fabrication.   I only hope that it's objectively assessed and that some attempt is made to see if what he says has elements of truth, or if elements of his book are entirely truthful.   If the concensus comes from what the (anti-Pietersen) majority want to think rather than the reality, that will be an extension of the bullying that he claims was so prevalent.
I don't believe that it's entirely fiction, no matter what Graeme Swann would have us think.   What will be interesting now is the reaction in the coming days, weeks and even months and years, as Pietersen's right - players under contract will not criticise the ECB.
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