ECB can’t manage themselves!

Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)
Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)
Isn’t it strange how a country who can’t even manage their best batsman want to be part of managing world cricket? 

Kevin Pietersen’s career has seemingly come to an end after he was left out of the squad to travel to the West Indies for limited overs matches later this month as well as the ICC World T20 squad.

The ECB are looking like a bunch of suits who can’t even manage getting drunk in a brewery at the moment. England selector James Whitaker had an interview on Thursday to try and talk about the selection choices made recently. Instead of talking about reasons for Pietersen's axing, Whitaker dodged everything. The powers that be decided that the interview was not to be broadcast live and after being asked thrice about the situation, Whitaker's phone rang and the interview was cut short.

How embarrassing is that for an organisation – and the ICC, mind – who reckons they can be in charge of world cricket?

When the Mickey Arthur homework gate and firing happened last year, at least Cricket Australia had the brains to allow him to speak about the situation immediately. Sure, Arthur wanted to sue them just a week or so later, but at least the fans got what they deserved: some clarity. The ECB suits keep on insisting that it’s those exact same “legal” reasons that is forcing their hand, but their sheer disregard for sharing even some of the most basic information is not only embarrassing, it’s pathetic. It will only lead to speculation.

Pietersen isn’t exactly known for getting on very well with people. When he left South Africa, as an average spinner, not the empathic batsman he is today, he fell out with people. When he arrived in England, he fell out with people. When he was captain of the England team, he fell out with people.

In 2012, the Text Gate saga, a bizarre YouTube video and an eventual “reintegration” back into the side all made it seem as if though everything was fine.

Not so. As the casualty carousel of the 5-0 drubbing England received in the Ashes continues, Pietersen became the latest victim. He went somewhat quietly with a rather stilted press release from both parties being sent out earlier this week. 

There were no answers, no explanations, just sugar coated words which made it seem as if though it was all fine. The ECB’s sheer disregard for treating it fans with respect – starting with an explanation was the most galling. Nobody has offered any real reasoning for why Pietersen was fired. For now, it simply looks like a few people in charge, looking for an ego trip, don’t like him. If team philosophy, team ethic and conformity is part of the problem, how on earth does Jade Dernbach – one of the worst death bowlers in world cricket as well as one of the mouthiest – manage to make it into a team? It all stinks of wanting a scapegoat and, worse, creaks of no backbone and no clue how to actually do a management job.

In sport, as in any other office environment, there will always be people who rub each other up the wrong way.  Personalities cause tensions  and there will always be disagreements, especially when the pressure is on.

But when these things happen, a manager steps in, the situation is discussed, diffused and deal with. How did the managers involved in the KP saga allow the situation to disintegrate so far?  Just last year KP still had a few backers and even Graeme Swann has come to his defence saying he is “baffled” by the decision, admitting he wasn’t a fan of KP when the textgate saga broke.

But Swann, writing his column in The Sun, admitted that there has been a turnaround since then:  “He made a huge effort to improve his attitude around the dressing room. I saw or heard no issues with him in Australia this winter, his approach was exceptional,” Swann wrote.

The Telegraph has revealed that it all came down to Pietersen reading a team meeting situation a bit wrong. Alastair Cook and Matt Prior called an emergency meeting and suggested that it was all a bit too headmaster around the England camp. They were relying far too  much on Andy Flower and not taking their own initiative. Pietersen, not one to mince his words,  apparently had a go at Flower.

That’s the price you pay for creating an environment where cricketers are like Stepford Robots. So media trained, so pristine and boring, so incredibly uptight.  It’s no surprise that they were over –reliant on their coach instead of coming up with their own ideas.

Pietersen is not like that. He does what he wants, says what he wants. He’s Figjam, after all. He is brash, he is brutish, he is bombastic, he is supremely talented and he is one of England’s best players.

With a World T20 and a 50 over World Cup next year, England’s decision is nothing short of incomprehensible. Sure, Pietersen might be a piece of work, but maverick talent is always worth it. Good thing for Pietersen he’s still very much worth it in T20 leagues around the world.

Antoinette Muller is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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