It’s a fashionable word to describe people of rare ability, the word genius. It’s equally fashionable to despise its incorrect usage, which is what I tend to favour. Let’s consult the dictionary, which defines it accordingly:
genius noun (geniuses or in sense 5 genii) 1 someone who has outstanding creative or intellectual ability. 2 such ability. 3 a person who exerts a powerful influence on another (whether good or bad). 4 Roman mythol a guardian spirit. 5 formal a quality or attitude with which something (eg a country or a period of time) is identified or typically associated
Is Kevin Pietersen a creator? Yes, he is, but then so are most cricketers. A creator spawns new form and, since no player is identical, they are effectively each doing something different from eachother and creating something. I’m playing devil’s advocate here, of course, but why not.
After his two hundreds against Sri Lanka this series, the word was uttered by everyone (probably including me. I’m nothing if not a contradiction), so it was interesting to read an article penned by Mike Brearley, the former England captain, in which he states his case against the premature labelling of Pietersen as a genius. It’s worth a read.
Pietersen is, or has the makings of, a genius. We have to see how he fares against sides with real depth of fast bowling, but I’m sure he’ll do better than most even if some team manages to match the great West Indies sides of the 1970s and 80s.
And he later continues:
He trusts himself to deal with the short ball. Anything pitched up to him, he is ready to move and utilise his great power. But he doesn’t move too soon. He is rarely out of position with his front leg. Brian Close used to be totally committed to the front foot, but could give the impression of a great tree falling, or what might happen if the leaning tower of Pisa were to keep going in its predisposed direction. Pietersen is more in control.
So let’s hold off calling anyone a genius. It’s not fair on them, and it’s boring to read. If even Tony Blair’s political ability can be described in the same terms, it’s definately worth steering clear of. Pietersen is outstanding; isn’t that good enough?