A lot has been written about Kevin Pietersen over here (UK) in the past few days, so I thought I’d do my own summary of events and of the man himself.
Pietersen left South Africa 4 years ago, with the claim that South Africa’s quota system prevented him from getting a game (and more specifically, he felt, prevented his chances of playing international cricket). He qualified to play for England last September, thanks to his English Mother, and has terrorised County bowling attacks for the last 2 or 3 seasons (5512 @ 54.03). So that’s his background.
The South Africans have, unsuprisingly, not really taken to him very politely; this is, after all, the country of his birth and many South Africans, rightly so, resent him for jumping ship. Smith has said: “He ran out when things got tough. If he didn’t want to be here then we don’t want him here.”
In short, this is a cricketer with immense talent and awesome power – perhaps the Saffers are jealous (much as the English were when Andrew Symonds decided to play for Australia instead of England). On top of all this, he just happens to be the most confident and arrogant cricketer around at the moment – a trait which forced his moving to Hampshire after upsetting his first county
Northamptonshire Nottinghamshire. You have to hear him to beleive him! Lots of Aussies regard Flintoff as an arrogant sod – rightly or wrongly (wrongly) – but this guy wrote the script on arrogance, and does himself no favours whatsoever. Arrogance is all very well if it’s justified, but he’s setting a dangerous precedant by making these comments without having established himself as an England player
Yesterday, in a simplistic solution to national identity, he said he’d do a Gough and have the 3 lions tatooed on his arm:
“That’s not a Christmas present,” Pietersen said, “that’s there for life. Anyone who abuses me, tells me I’m not English…” He slaps his shoulder. “I would do it now, but tattoos scab over and then I wouldn’t be able to dive.”
“I know I can expect that sort of stick during the whole series,” Pietersen said yesterday. “It was only stares and swearwords really, nothing serious. I just laugh about it because they can hardly speak proper English.”
Not the best thing to say to calm down the situation! England has had a number of South African and Zimbabwe players come and play for England – many of them bristling with ability, not least G Hick (remember him? Many who saw him play regarded him as the most talented player they’d ever seen….). And now they have another. All this bravado and bullish talk will be very quickly forgotten if he doesn’t perform – but, dare I say it, he’s already threatening having just hit a brutal/brilliant 97 against South Africa ‘A’ 2 days ago. Rod Marsh, his coach at the Academy, can perhaps conclude this piece better than I:
Rod Marsh, Pietersen’s coach at the National Academy, is adamant that his country of origin played no part in his omission from the South Africa tour, adding that England will benefit from his desire to play at the highest level. “English cricket’s spirit will be strengthened by him, not diluted,” said Marsh. “He has made an enormous sacrifice of leaving his own country. Maybe English cricket’s spirit has been diluted in the past by those English players who have not wanted it enough.”