According to reports, Kevin Pietersen has resigned as England captain as it became clear that the ECB were less than impressed at being held to ransom on the position of the coach, Peter Moores. Moores himself has also resigned. Pietersen is an impulsive character but I think this has taken everyone by surprise, even more than his decision to speak out in the press in the first place.
After Pietersen’s resignation Andrew Strauss will quickly be elevated to the role which in my view he never should have lost to Andrew Flintoff before the last Ashes tour. This leaves the ECB’s big plans at the end of last summer – to have a single captain for all forms of the game for the sake of continuity – in tatters as Strauss is nowhere in the one-day pecking order.
It was hoped that Pietersen would lead England for the foreseeable future, that it would enhance his batting and that it would restore a hard edge to a team who have shown serious mental fragility in the past couple of years. It was known that he is a combustible character as shown in his acrimonious departure from Nottinghamshire but nobody could have envisaged that his reign would last a mere 5 months. One would have thought that, with serious doubts now cast over his judgement and decision-making, he is unlikely to get another chance in the future.
Furthermore, his resignation has come after it became clear from research performed by Hugh Morris that the team were not steadfastly behind the captain. Steve Harmison, whose test career Pietersen is credited with saving last summer, expressed his distaste for how events were unfolding, events which were triggered by Pietersen’s less than discrete comments in the News of the World. Will a man of Pietersen’s ego be able to play alongside men he may perceive as partially responsible for his downfall?
It will be very interesting to see how he slots back into the team. His stock is significantly diminished and nothing other than sheer weight of runs will silence the critics who, one feels, have been waiting for something like this to happen ever since he came into the team. His flamboyancy has never sat comfortably with the more traditional (or stuffy) elements within the English game.
It is interesting however that not one person has spoken out in support of Moores. Some have expressed sympathy for him and that is understandable as he has been thrust into this position through no fault of his own. Almost all players have remained silent as they have waited to see who will come out on top. Backing the wrong horse could have done irreparable damage to a player’s career. But in the press, nobody suggested that Moores was on the right track or should be given more time. To a man they all believed he would have to go and Pietersen would remain. Nobody on the Board spoke out either. It is this, as much as the initial comments of his captain, which has rendered his position untenable. His resignation, though regrettable, was inevitable.
So where now for England? They have a tour in two weeks time in which they will have a new captain, a new coach and, very probably, a pretty disaffected star player. Fortunately, they are playing one of the weaker test nations and should come out on top. But the team contains individuals such as Harmison, Ian Bell, James Anderson and Monty Panesar, none of whom are exactly noted for their mental strength. It will be interesting to see how they respond to events and how Strauss can rally them. Other senior players such as Flintoff and Collingwood (do we have any other senior players?) will have a big role to play as well.
I think the identity of the coach for this particular trip is fairly unimportant as he is unlikely to be a long-term solution anyway. It is all about the players now. On that point, I would be opposed to Ashley Giles becoming coach given how early in his career he is. I fear England rugby may lose a good man by having promoted Martin Johnson too early and these guys need to learn the ropes first, otherwise they tend to be lost to the national cause forever having not done themselves justice.
Basically, it’s all a bit of a mess. All the best to Strauss who has a second shot at a job in which he thrived 2 1/2 years ago and the loss of which almost destroyed his career. As Australia struggle to put their own house in order after losing to South Africa, they must be looking across the world and smirking. Well chaps, if there’s one thing at which we will always be better than you it’s stuffing things up just when we seem to have an advantage.
By Stuart Peel