Comment: Kevin Pietersen's position in this war with Andy Flower is weakened by his total lack of form

The batsman faces being ousted from the international set-up following England's 5-0 defeat in the Ashes

Oh dear, we are talking about Kevin, again. The charismatic leviathan with all the shots and limitless self-regard is at the heart of the debate about the immediate future of English cricket, placed there by coach Andy Flower, who has linked Pietersen’s fate indelibly to his own. Are you for or against? It’s a yes/no ballot, a tick for Flower is a cross for Pietersen, and vice versa. It appears England are either looking for a new coach or a new man to bat at No 4.

If Flower was browsing the web after he laid his cards on the table to Paul Downton, the new managing director of English cricket, he won’t be optimistic. All creatures great and small from former captains Michael Vaughan and Alec Stewart to foot soldiers like Phil Tufnell, Steve Harmison and Simon Hughes, had KP in their teams to face Sri Lanka in the summer.

Pietersen’s apologists continue to invest in a talent that runs deep and a stack of runs bettered by only two players in the history of the English game. Less important for them is a philosophy and attitude diametrically opposed to that of the England head coach and one that puts the interests of the individual before the team.

Not even the death march across the Australian summer, during which England surrendered the Ashes 5-0 in a series of mountainous defeats, diverted Pietersen from the “my way” code.

Whatever the circumstances, KP insists there will be no change in the way he sees the world. He is way above adapting his game to the needs of mortals when the situation turns dire. It is the way he is. You can’t meddle with genius. Meanwhile, the fielder at midwicket rubs his hands.

Clearly Flower has no truck with Pietersen’s lofty ideals. Give him a Chris Rogers any hour of the day. The late-developing Australian opener is a short, short-sighted, carrot-topped throwback to the days when batsmen went fore and aft presenting a bat as straight as a Roman road, an anti-freestyler, who would sooner walk into the open jaws of a saltwater crocodile than sell his wicket cheaply with a flick to leg.

Rogers is focused only on the balls he can hit in the service of Australia. Pietersen believes any ball is hit-able in the cause of his own deification. It was fitting and instructive to see the one-dimensional, unheralded scuffler raise his bat, or rather smash it into his pads, after posting the century that saw Australia home by another stonking margin with a day and a half of the Boxing Day Test to spare.

Those who insist Pietersen is England’s best player make an abstract case that bears little relation to the present reality. England’s best player averaged fewer than 30 in the Ashes debacle. It is no argument to venture that he scored more runs than any other English batsman. If Pietersen is the guru his defenders claim him to be then he has to make a difference. In Australia he made none.

Indeed, Pietersen’s estranged relationship with the coach is emerging as a key factor in the failure of England to muster any kind of resistance in Australia. By definition any divisions render unity impossible.

No one doubts the importance of a talismanic figure. Roy Keane would never claim to have been the greatest player in the world but Manchester United were a far better team with him in the side than without. It was not Keane’s range and technique that made the difference necessarily, but the spirit and commitment he engendered in others. He led, the others followed.

Mitchell Johnson  performed this role for Australia. Not only did he give Australia a strike weapon England could not match, the mere sight of the moustachioed lothario taking the pitch reduced the opposition to a heap lesser than the sum of their parts.

Pietersen’s political antennae have been twitching like the blazes. As stories of unrest emerged, he tweeted his commitment to the England team and retweeted a post by Vaughan linking to a newspaper column in which he made the case for rebuilding the team with Pietersen given an enhanced role as vice captain, perhaps, to Alastair Cook.

Again this relies absolutely on the idea that Pietersen is the man he was, that he remains capable of delivering the match-winning innings like no other, the player of Ashes glory in 2005 and 2009, of the 2012 tour to India.

But what if that player is no more? The Pietersen who frittered away his innings in Australia with irresponsible shots when, to borrow from the great John Updike, he should have given the mundane its beautiful due, is utterly counter-productive.

The England cricket team has always been a vehicle for Pietersen to parade his gifts rather than a cause for which to fight. When the chips are down against a fearsome foe, you need to know the men you lead are right behind you. Flower does not believe in Pietersen any more. The question is, do England?    

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Russell Brand at an anti-austerity march in June
peopleActor and comedian says 'there's no point doing it if you're not'
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album