Kevin Pietersen in the past referred to Graeme Smith as a muppet, but after last week one has to wonder who the real Kermit is. The two South African-born captains’ fortunes could not have been more contrasting.
Smith returned home to a heroes welcome after leading the Proteas to a historic victory in Australia. This was not only a great victory for cricket, but for the whole nation.
Pietersen, on the other hand, returned to the United Kingdom after being forced to resign the England captaincy. He had to avoid a massive hostile media contingent at Heathrow airport because of the trail of destruction he’d caused. His personal crusade to have Peter Moores removed as coach has split English cricket and made him many enemies that will come back to haunt him.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain was correct when he said it was only a matter of time before Pietersen’s tenure as England captain would end in tears. Pietersen is too much of an individualist and larger than life figure to be a unifying force that captaincy demands.
Pietersen has received very little support from the public, media and especially from former England captains like Hussain, Allan Lamb and Michael Atherton. He has predictably received support from two former England greats Ian Botham and Geoffrey Boycott. However, their support will not be taken seriously as both are known to be anti-establishment and authority.
Pietersen’s career is a litany of controversies. He left South Africa because he felt that he was discriminated against because of the of quota system. To this day he continues to lambaste the country of his birth at every opportunity. He also left Nottinghamshire controversially and now he has been forced to resign the England captaincy because of yet another controversy which is of his own making.
Thanks to Pietersen, England start an important year in which they will host an Ashes series and tour the West Indies and South Africa, with no coach or captain.
In his own mind he decided that Moores was incompetent because he had never played international cricket and he could not respect him.
The professional era proves him wrong as some of the best sports coaches are those that have never played the game internationally like Mickey Arthur, John Buchanan, Jake White, Graham Henry and Alex Ferguson to name but a few.
Further proof of Pietersen’s lacking of understanding or appreciation of management is that he stated that Moores could run the nets and that he would take responsibility for the team. If he thought that the England Cricket Board would employ a coach in the region of 250 000 pounds a year to run the nets is further proof of his lack of understanding. The coach’s main tasks are of a strategic nature with regards to planning, team building, man management and tactics.
Pietersen’s demands were unrealistic for a man who had only captained England for a very short time and with a limited amount of success. Also, if he found it difficult to work with Moores he should have given his relationship with the coach enough time to develop. He has now destroyed not only Moores but himself as well.
He is probably the most exciting batsman in world cricket today, but the ECB made a big mistake appointing him captain. He is not a leader but a self driven person.
He is not bigger than the game and needs to restore his credibility if he wants to continue playing for England. The Indian Premier League is not a future for cricketers, but simply a cash cow.
Arthur is a former cricket administrator and current player agent.