England Cricket

How Kevin Pietersen Will Continue to Lurk over England After His Axe

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 03:  Kevin Pietersen of England watches on from the boundary during day one of the Fifth Ashes Test match between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 3, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Freddie WildeContributor IMarch 7, 2014

It has often been said of Kevin Pietersen in the past that his true value to the England team will only really be felt once he is gone.

Now he is gone. And boy, how England are going to feel it.

 

Admittedly, there will be England cricketers who match and surpass Pietersen's average and perhaps even run-tally, but there will be few with the method and sheer brazenness to win matches for England as he has done. 

There is, to put it simply, a magic to Kevin Pietersen. An ineffable genius that is difficult to grasp but can be characterised by the gaping hole in England's middle-order that he leaves behind. He leaves in his wake a batting-order worryingly one-dimensional, lacking invention, flair and innovation.

Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Joe Root are all high-quality international players, but there is little that separates them from the rest. The same cannot be said of Pietersen. His existence was one of separation; of brilliance; of X-factor. His genius added a fear factor to England's otherwise efficient but cold machine. 

 

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRCA - OCTOBER 13:  Kevin Pietersen of the Daredevils bats during the Karbonn Smart CLT20 Group A match between Kolkata Knight Riders (IPL) and Delhi Daredevils (IPL) at SuperSport Park on October 13, 2012 in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Pho
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Of course, were Pietersen never going to play cricket again his absence would not be so conspicuous. However, it is the nature of the game's evolution that Pietersen's international jettisoning merely leaves him more available to the world of franchise Twenty20 leagues.

His profile will remain high. English newspapers will dip their toe into the otherwise untested world of the IPL, Natwest T20 Blast, Champions League and Big Bash League. He will remain a story even when he isn't playing for Englandwho indeed may be losing a Test to India, but Pietersen may be bashing a century for Surrey or winning the IPL for Delhi. 

His high-profile status on social media and attraction as a celebrity will also keep him in the news. Pietersen's subtly enigmatic tweets have been a joy to follow in the light of the saga, with the pot of rumour and gossip being manifestly stirred by KP. His good mate Piers Morgan also shows no sign of relenting his vociferous campaign on Pietersen's behalf. 

Indeed, just yesterday evening, as Joe Root was confirmed to be out of England's tour of the West Indies and a serious doubt for the World T20 with a broken thumb, Pietersen was tweeting as if to suggest he was expecting a call from the selectors, which quickly whipped up a micro-frenzy. 

 

ANTIGUA, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA - MARCH 05:  Jos Buttler of England dives to make his ground during the 3rd One Day International between the West Indies and England at Sir Viv Richards Cricket Ground on March 5, 2014 in Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda.  (Photo
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

There is only really one way in which English cricket can move on from Pietersen, and that is to win cricket matches. They will certainly need to find a batsman of KP's ilk if they are to do so consistently, with Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler the two outstanding candidates as batsmen with something special about them. Pietersen himself has advocated Buttler passionately. 

Winning allows England to kill the suspicion that they would be better off with Pietersen and that they made a mistake to axe him.

Winning is a universal language that all fans understand and is impossible to argue with. Losing, however, will merely perpetuate the dissent and furore surrounding this bizarre episode.

Make no mistake about it, a big few months lie ahead for the England cricket team.

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