We’ve all heard that there’s no “I” in TEAM. After being dropped, there is now no Kevin Pietersen either.
So why did England omit KP from their crucial final Test squad against South Africa at Lords today? Is there a future for KP and can England survive without him? Can they win?
Most people don’t seem to understand teamwork. Generally that’s because they’ve not been part of a team that’s beaten a much better side.
England’s cricketers, on the other hand, have beaten better sides using teamwork to its best. Andy Flower, England’s coach should take credit for this.
But does Kevin Pietersen understand teamwork? Who knows? Do we even care what he said in his chummy text messages to opposition players?
KP is an immense talent. Like most very talented people, he is hard to handle. I think he struggles to handle himself, but really now this is a job for the leadership.
And the job of handling KP goes to England captain Andrew Strauss. Flower is not on the field.
Remember Mike Brearley? He knew how to get the best of that prodigious talent named Ian Botham. Like KP he had his wilder moments. It comes with the territory for captains, and Brears brought out the best in him.
With KP the key is greatness. He could be great but isn’t yet.
In sporting terms I define greatness as Sir Steve Redgrave. 5 consecutive Olympic gold medals. Sir Chris Hoy came close with 6 but at only 4 consecutive games, as he himself graciously pointed out.
KP could achieve cricketing greatness: the most Test runs; the highest number of centuries, double centuries, treble centuries?? The highest average, the highest strike rate of all time, for example. Winning the Ashes again next year.
Greatness in cricketing terms is not IPL, fun though that is. It’s not wealth either. Wealth comes and goes, greatness lasts forever. And KP has the talent to be great.
Andrew Strauss’s task is to get inside KP’s head, to harness that greatness potential into action for the England team. This isn’t about being mates. It’s about leadership, about harnessing the great KP potential into specific objectives for each innings.
Like get 50 in 6 overs. Like get 150 not out. And longer term I would set him a target of getting 200 per test match for the next 5 years. I think KP could do it.
But let’s be clear, without this achievement, KP is not a team player. In other words unless he delivers for himself AND his team, he’s getting in the way.
Sometimes it takes someone else to believe in you, to bring out the talent and translate it into achievement. I don’t think KP can do it on his own.
Strauss needs to do some serious thinking to see if he has it in him to allow Pietersen back in the side. He probably could make do without the man.
But to ascend to greatness himself, to become England’s greatest remembered captain, Strauss will need at least one Botham or KP and at the moment he has neither!