Recently I heard Michael Holding say that the players are the children and boards are the parents. It had nothing to do with Kevin Pietersen or the ECB, but was about the disastrous relationship the WICB have with their senior players.
Cricket Boards are usually run by older people, those with business or sports administration backgrounds. That, and their role as employer of the players, gives them a position an authority.
So when these very same people then spill the secrets of one of their own players for political or personal reasons, they should take the toughest fall.
KP has often been a bit of an idiot. He’s an egotist. He likes money. Thinks of himself and his own interests more than most in a team environment. And does things on instinct. The ego, instinct and even the selfish nature of KP are part of what makes him a great batsman. He’s far from the first great selfish batsman, in fact many of the greatest batsmen have obvious selfish tendencies. As many of the greatest cricketers have amazingly big egos. And instinctively doing things is how many athletes live.
But when KP walked into the ECB to speak about anything from captaincy issues, his future in the game or taking time off, no matter how stupid he was, no matter how insane and egotistical his claims were, he was within his right to believe that they stayed with his employers.
They haven’t been. Over and over again, KP’s words have been fed to the media and not by the deputy deputy assistant to the travelling secretary, but by people in high positions that should know and act better. Perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that the leaks are accidental. It’s just that they happen over and over again, and so it’s either unprofessional accidental conduct, or a personal campaign against their own player.
While it’s true KP is trying to – in his words- maximise his opportunities, its not new. Money has always been a factor in cricket. Cricket’s laws were founded on gambling. Amateurs were often paid more than professionals. Cricketers used to retire to get real jobs. Kerry Packer and rebel tours came about because of vast sums of money. And the latest instalment is when a player retires from test cricket, or international cricket, to play in the IPL. If anything, KP is following in the footsteps of more than a few greats of the past.
Players have missed tours or tests for resting, rehab, depression, family reasons, and even pantomimes. In the past, players would miss Tests just because they didn’t want to go to the sub continent. Rodney Hogg liked being 12th man because he got paid the same and had more time to drink.
Even the rift in the changeroom is nothing new. England changerooms were segregated between amatuer and pro, and old and new players. Big game players who cause a rift are not new either. Shane Warne openly didn’t rate his coach and had a private feud with his vice captain Adam Gilchrist. All players, regardless of their ability, need to be treated differently. The star of Swanny’s diary is probably treated differently than Tim Bresnan.
Of recent times I’ve seen KP’s two greatest hundreds. A hundred in P Sara that gave England the chance to draw a series from behind. And this hundred at Headingley. There is no back up player that England have, or even current player, that has the ability to change a game so violently or anywhere near as fast. KP is something special.
He’s also a professional athlete who only has so many years to make money from his trade. A young dad who wants to see his son. A cricketer who doesn’t like ODI cricket that much. And a rash human being who makes his fair share of mistakes.
KP is not unique, he’s just acted like a spoilt teenager who has been betrayed by his parents.
Both sides want what is best for themselves. Both sides have made mistakes. Both sides have egos and pride. I mean it’s hard to say KP’s ego is the only factor when the other side have Giles Clarke. What needs to happen now is a series of meetings with those inside keeping the information to themselves and trying to find a solution, not make scapegoats.
If KP stops playing for England, he robs himself of glory, the ECB rob themselves of a champion player, and the fans are robbed of something special.
KP leaving Test cricket for good is the worst situation for everyone involved, so why would anyone want that?