Can Kevin Pietersen do a Boycott?

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 19, 2012 11:17 hrs
Pietersen not named in World T20 squad

''KP is back, England rejoice'' could well be the headlines in the British tabloids paraphrasing another famous headline 35 years ago which went ''Boycott is back, England rejoice'' when the legendary opening batsman came back to Test cricket after a three-year self-imposed exile and played a leading role in England regaining the Ashes. 

Kevin Pietersen's absence cannot be termed as a self-imposed exile, though perhaps he was not entirely blameless in his temporary ouster from the England team. But it was generally off-the-field incidents that saw him not holding the bat but instead holding a mike as part of the TV commentary team for the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. 

He did make an impressive debut it must be said with his soft voice, balanced views and intense knowledge of various aspects of the game. There is little doubt, however, that he and his England teammates would have preferred him to be out there in the middle playing the switch hit with gay abandon and dispatching the ball high into the stands. His absence was certainly felt and it was one reason why England could not progress beyond the group stage.

The entire KP episode which had been going on for a few months before the happy ending on Thursday was rather unfortunate. Perhaps it was something waiting to happen given Pietersen's larger-than-life personality as one of the great entertainers in world cricket and his variable moods and the fact that cricket authorities in England generally are conservatively stern in their approach. 

For all his frenzied fan-following Pietersen can also divide opinion like few cricketers have in the history of the game given his brash nature and his willingness to speak out his mind. Even in the present episode he has to take his share of the blame. Sending text messages to the opposition that are derogatory to your captain and coach is just not done. But to be fair to Pietersen he did apologize to the ECB. 

However, his reluctance to spell out details of the messages saw the ECB officials adopt a rigid response. All the same the issue need not have dragged on for so long and an amicable solution could have been found had both parties been a bit more flexible. The less than forthcoming stance on both sides meant that the controversy remained unsolved over an extended period with Pietersen being dropped for the Lord's Test against South Africa, then not being picked for the team for the T20 World Cup; being left out of the central contracts list and finally being omitted from the squad to tour India.

The first signs of the ECB coming down from their hard stance came in Colombo during the T20 World Cup when Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, flanked by Pietersen said that it was a time for forgiveness. Then started the reintegration process with Hugh Morris, England cricket's managing director, saying that they were keen that Pietersen should hold a series of face to face meetings with team management and senior players before the Test squad left for India. 

Evidently the meetings were constructive and according to reports ''all outstanding issues have been resolved and the England players and management are keen to draw a line under this matter and fully focus on the cricketing challenge that lies ahead in India.'' Indeed Pietersen has even been given permission to fulfil all his Champions League commitments with Delhi Daredevils before joining up with the squad.

The ECB officials may be of the view that their hard stance helped in bringing back a rather contrite Pietersen to the negotiating table but a little bit of give and take is what is required to bring about a solution to a contentious issue and it is generally being felt that the new England captain Alistair Cook  played a notable part in bringing about an amicable solution. 

However, as the saying goes all's well that ends well and hopefully, the differences have been buried and Pietersen will be able to play for England in all three formats of the game for some more years.

Even at 32 there is little doubt that Pietersen has much to contribute to the England team - and to world of cricket as an entertainer. Very rarely does England produce a cricketer with flair like Pietersen. When it comes to orthodox, text book players England the home of cricket, has no equal. 

But they have lagged behind the West Indians and the Australians over the years when it comes to producing players who possess that special touch - charismatic players who have a way with the crowds. Ian Botham had that quality but now it has to be Pietersen who is known the world over just by the initials KP.

In fact, I sometimes feel that Pietersen despite the impressive figures against his name, has not done full justice to his prodigious talent, skill and innovation. But perhaps the best is yet to come. Now that the controversy is behind him one somehow senses that opponents will now come up against a player who is fully aware of his potential to demolish bowlers in double quick time and will now spare no time in doing so. 

For a start the Indians had better watch out! 

More from Sify: