Just when you thought you’d heard the last of the Kevin Pietersen saga, we’re back in business. The man himself has been signed up as a columnist by the Daily Telegraph, and his first piece pulls no punches.
On the surface, it is worded very nicely, and it comes across quite sweet. As has been the case through this whole saga, many may find themselves drawn to Pietersen's side. He wrote:
I will have no anger, no negative thoughts whatsoever when England walk out without me at Lord’s on Thursday to play their first Test since the winter. I wish my friends in the England team well. I have moved on from the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to end my international career and have put things in perspective.
Sweet, isn’t it? This episode in English cricket has seen Pietersen look like the one slighted. While the ECB have flapped around, Pietersen has remained modest and calm. He has not reacted, and he has not been arrogant. At face value, this column is the same.
But one cannot help but wonder what purpose it actually serves.
His column is seemingly another move in the subtle warfare between the two parties, and guess what? Once again, KP's got his PR right.
His musings offer almost nothing new, though. There is the reflection on how far he has come and how dodgy his time in Australia was. There is praise for Mitchell Johnson and a suggestion that he felt as though Andy Flower wanted to get rid of him. Pietersen also makes sure that it is clear that there is no bad blood with him and the team. He writes:
I have no issue with the players, as many have said in interviews since the tour ended. I speak to Stuart Broad and I even organised for Graeme Swann to go on holiday to one of my friend’s hotels after he retired.
Isn't he a nice guy? It is hard to read the words as anything but platitude and well-crafted spin, but it is only going to further confuse those wanting answers to the bigger questions: Who said what, and why is such a great batsman now on the outside of the England team looking in? It is a masterstroke on Pietersen's part.
To make sure he lays it on as thick as he possibly can, Pietersen goes on to talk about the academy he is opening and offers his insight on coaching. He says:
Look at Lasith Malinga. How the hell does he get wickets bowling like that? But his technique works for him. If he was a young England player he would probably have drifted out of the game. I have seen how coaching is now, especially for kids. Ball on a cone, high elbow and hit through the ball. In my opinion that is not the only way to coach and it's holding back some natural talent. The game has changed and coaching has to change too.
Pow. All of these subtle digs at the England set-up, and he does so with as much class as any of his great knocks.
But that is not the point of all of this, and winning the PR battle is an afterthought.
The whole saga has really dragged on for far too long now. It just never seems to end. The worst part is that very few people will ever know the truth. Many people have said that KP is a great guy. He works hard, and he is a stunning team-mate. Players have shared their thoughts on him being “a joy to work with” and all sorts of other nice things.
Yet, the other side of the coin is much more sinister. Of course there is the ECB camp who clearly did not want him around any longer.
If Pietersen really has moved on, why can't he just keep quiet? Yes, the way in which he was treated was dubious. Yes, fans want answers. Yes, we want to know the truth. But this is just not cricket anymore. It is a personal disagreement that is being dragged out in the public and is turning into a circus.
But for the love of cricket, please can we just stop talking about it? And, if we can’t, can both parties please just grow a pair and tell everyone the truth once and for all?