TWO concepts are essential to any dressing room in sport: respect and trust for fellow players and coaches, and when those are compromised, there is nothing worse.
There is no doubt that Kevin Pietersen is an immensely talented batsman – he has reminded us as recently as the current series against South Africa, which resumes today.
But following the controversy surrounding his text messages to opposing players I would be very surprised, and disappointed, if he ever played for England again.
For a long time he seems to have had something of a scrambled mind and been inconsistent in his actions. With the advent of social media, these actions appear to have become more frequent. This is the last straw.
I’m sure there have been times when he has really got up the noses of others in that England side. Clearly Pietersen thinks more about himself than the team – everyone surely recognises that, even him.
Now he has crossed the line. He is 32, has scored 7,000 runs, been a brilliant player and contributed much to England’s success – for that we thank him. But in sport you always have to move on, and now they must.
Yesterday he apologised for sending “provocative” texts, thought to disparage his captain Andrew Strauss, to South African players. England chiefs are considering their next move.
In my view, it’s just words. He’s full of them and they have often got him into trouble. This time there is nothing he can say to fix it.
Many of the selectors in charge are the same ones who appointed Pietersen England captain a few years ago. He didn’t get on with coach Peter Moores, and it ended both of their tenures.
That revolved around his intransigence, so this is far from new territory. I believe national selector Geoff Miller has given Pietersen more than enough chances over the years.
Clearly, a man of his ability will be missed. Young Jonny Bairstow, who takes his place for the third and final Test, can’t be expected to be as good as Pietersen yet.
But this is an occasion when the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. It is better than the alternative – after all, if you were Andrew Strauss could you really respect Pietersen?
All this means it doesn’t look great for England, with South Africa just needing a draw at Lord’s to win the series. But I suspect that if ever there was a Test these players are desperate to win, it’s this one – not to keep their No1 Test ranking, but to show the world they don’t need Kevin Pietersen.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who captained, and then later acted as chairman of, Warwickshire.