England v South Africa: Kevin Pietersen is a special talent – but no player is bigger than the game - Telegraph
If Kevin decides to retire from all international cricket after the Lord’s Test he will be the loser. Yes, England will miss his talent and no, we will not find anyone as good for a short while. But eventually somebody will fill that gap.
The problem is players of today want the adulation, the publicity, the praise and kudos from competing in the international arena, but they also demand the riches from the Indian Premier League as well.
No country is ever going to be able to pay its players as well as the IPL does. The IPL has untold riches. Chris Gayle tried it on with the West Indies Cricket Board and now Kevin is miffed with the England and Wales Cricket Board for not letting him have the jam and cream on the same cake. Kevin wants to play when and where he wants. Kevin wants to miss the two New Zealand Test matches early next year so that he can complete the full IPL and pocket lots of lovely lolly.
If the ECB give in to him then other England players will expect the same consideration. If that happens we will only have half a team available to play Test matches.
If players are allowed to play in the IPL instead of Test cricket then the ECB will be saying that playing in the IPL is more important than playing for the national team.
English cricket has been thrilled by Kevin’s batting for almost eight years now. But English cricket welcomed him and gave him opportunities beyond his wildest dreams after Natal sacked him saying he wasn’t good enough.
Now when he’s on top of the world, hugely marketable and talented, he is threatening to walk away unless he gets his way. That doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t feel right and it isn’t right Kev!
I will always support and enjoy his batting but I would say to him: your talent could not have expressed itself without the opportunities England gave you to play for us on the world stage.
I have no problem with him being unusual, a bit different and a maverick individual. I love him for what he is: a wonderfully-gifted batsman who can excite and thrill us all. His strange and sometimes bizarre behaviour and comments just add to the aura of his personality.
When players don’t grow up in England but come here later in life to earn a cricketer’s living many of us ex-players wonder if they are just mercenaries here for the money or do they really buy into Team England.
My friend Tony Greig grew up in South Africa and joined Sussex when he was 18. He went on to become England captain but then chose the Packer money instead.
At the time John Woodcock of The Times wrote: “what has to be remembered is that Greig is English not by birth or upbringing but only by adoption which is not the same thing as being English through and through.”
Is it the same for you Kev? Was English cricket a means to an end to make money or do you really love playing for England? Only you can answer that.
All of us ex-players know that there is too much international cricket and we keep telling the administrators but they don’t listen or do anything about it because television pays the governing bodies fortunes and it is easy money.
I bet most international cricketers would like to play a little less and have a bit more time at home.
From that point of view Kevin is right, but he can’t then go off and play more Twenty20 cricket round the world if he says he wants to be at home.
How can Kevin say it’s not about the money when the IPL will pay him £1.3 million for six weeks’ work plus commercial advertising which in India will dwarf his England money. The IPL is all about money. This episode is all about money.
Outside of India nobody gives a toss who wins or loses in the IPL. Most people don’t care even if they know who wins. In India it is massive and the money is monumental but, hell, Twenty 20 is fun. It’s hit and giggle. It’s just baseball with cricket rules. It is there to be enjoyed but Test matches are the yardstick we are all judged by.
So come on Kev, we want to see you for the next few years play fantastic innings for England like the one at Headingley on Saturday.
Test match hundreds like that will be your legacy and put you among the greats of all time. The IPL in India will swell your bank balance but it will not do anything for your reputation.