One question above all accompanied Kevin Pietersen's retirement from limited-overs cricket yesterday. It exercised England's management and it may have occurred to Pietersen himself. Why now?
The parting of the ways, if not completely acrimonious, was far from congenial either. Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, said they were "disappointed by the timing of Kevin's decision less than four months before we defend our ICC World Twenty20 title". If the temperate Morris was that opinionated about it, others may have been fuming.
Pietersen wanted to play in the World T20 in Sri Lanka in September. He was player of the tournament when England won the title in 2010 and without him their chances of retaining it, already slim, have receded to a speck. But he insisted on calling a halt immediately to his career in 50-over internationals, of which England have 13 this summer.
Selection rules as inserted in central contracts do not allow players to opt for only one form of the limited-overs game. Planning for both the 50-over one-day internationals and the T20s is apparently inextricably linked.
Relations between Pietersen and his employers are not exactly hunky dory at present. He was censured again last week for some inappropriate comments on Twitter, though he was silent on the networking site yesterday.
Pietersen said yesterday: "For the record, were the selection criteria not in place, I would have readily played for England in the upcoming ICC World Twenty20." He could hardly have put his intentions more plainly.
"After a great deal of thought and deliberation, I am announcing my retirement from international one-day cricket. With the intensity of the international schedule and the increasing demands on my body, approaching 32, I think it is the right time to step aside and let the next generation of players come through to gain experience for the ICC World Cup in 2015.
"I am immensely proud of my achievements in the one-day game, but still wish to be considered for selection for England in Test cricket."
He announced himself in international cricket like a whirlwind. After a few low key matches in Zimbabwe he played in his native South Africa, booed by crowds wherever he went. England were pretty hopeless in that series but Pietersen scored three hundreds.
To think that will be seen no more makes cricket much the poorer.Reuse content