THE situation is a terrible mess, but I can’t really disagree with the decision to end the international career of Kevin Pietersen.
Back in December, when England had just suffered their third Test defeat and meekly handed the Ashes back to Australia, I suggested that it may be time for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to stop picking three players.
Pietersen was one of them – and I have seen nothing in the weeks since to make me change my mind.
Having been humiliated in Australia, England’s focus now, from a Test team point of view at least, has to switch to the next Ashes series, which will take place in this country next summer.
The Ashes are undoubtedly the pinnacle as far as England are concerned and, from my point of view, we should be using the other series to prepare the team for their next battle against the Aussies.
Pietersen will be 35 by the time next year’s Ashes series gets underway. Too old to play for England? Definitely not, but with his lack of form and injury problems, I’d say that the chances of him playing in that series were 50-50 at best before this week’s events.
England have four Test series, all at home, before the Ashes get under way. They host Sri Lanka and India this year before welcoming the West Indies and New Zealand in the early stages of the 2015 season.
Having made the decision to dispense with the services of Pietersen, the ECB and England coaching staff now have time to select a younger replacement, integrate them into the side and allow them to get some much-needed experience.
What would have happened had Pietersen remained in the team and had a poor summer, a real possibility given his recent form? He would have been dropped six months down the line, giving the coaches little chance to groom a replacement.
It’s something that should be considered elsewhere in the team as well.
Is Jos Buttler a Test match player? Give him a chance and see what happens, because he can’t do much worse than Matt Prior at the moment.
Joe Root is undoubtedly an emerging star. Talk to him and decide where he should be in the order, then stick with him in that position. Results will follow.
Of course, these are all cricketing reasons why it’s right to leave Pietersen out – and it’s become pretty clear that off-field issues played at least a role in the ECB’s decision.
We’ll probably never know how much of the gossip and rumour doing the rounds this week has any truth behind it, but I think it’s fair to say that Pietersen can be a disruptive and divisive influence in the dressing room.
He has certainly been involved in more than his fair share of drama over the years, resigning the captaincy in very strange circumstances and being kicked out of the team in an equally bizarre episode in 2012.
Whatever he has or hasn’t done this time, the ECB has to be criticised for their handling of the situation.
Had they come out and explained why this decision had been made, there would have been nowhere near this amount of rumour doing the rounds.
Nobody is coming out of it well and cricket’s image is taking another beating.
Still, it should make for some interesting books next Christmas.
What are your views on the subject? Have your say by using the comment box below or Tweet me @JBoymanGazette.