Confusion surrounds Kevin Pietersen injury: England batsman out of third Test in New Zealand and IPL with knee problem - will he miss the Ashes too?

Management handling of ailment picked up three weeks ago leads to doubts over return

Auckland

There was something inevitable about Kevin Pietersen’s departure from the England tour. For a start, he has been for far too long out of the limelight, which is not a place where stars reside.

But as soon as he suffered discomfort in his right knee at Queenstown three weeks ago, was clearly suffering in the first Test against New Zealand, began wearing a knee brace in training – at which point England’s management said everything was alright – we should have known the game was up.

Much is brilliant about the way England manage their players but the constant obfuscation about injuries is an enduring mystery. The fact that Pietersen played two Test matches after first complaining of the injury does not look entirely appropriate now that he is out of cricket, officially, for between six and eight weeks.

The question can be legitimately asked about its extent and its seriousness, whether indeed it may threaten his career. Pietersen is already out of the decisive match of this series and the Indian Premier League, which will cost him serious money.

The eight-week limit put on his rest and rehabilitation period takes him to the eve of the first Test of the home series against New Zealand. It was an open secret that he may well have missed that – though having returned from the IPL – because of the sheer amount of heavy-duty Test cricket coming up. Now it would seem to be the height of folly to rush him back.

England will be the other side of rather keen to have Pietersen back in the team for the start of the Ashes series on 10 July. Preferably, they would want him for the Champions Trophy lasting for three weeks in June but they would sacrifice everything, as would Pietersen, for him to be there against Australia.

The nature of this injury is as yet uncertain. In its official statement, the England and Wales Cricket Board said that scans confirmed bone bruising and possible cartilage damage to the kneecap. His return from the tour is “for further investigations and specialist review”.

For all that anybody can be sure, it may be no more than a wise, if slightly belated, precaution. It is an eon since cartilage damage in a sportsman elicited glum shakes of the head and the production of manuals on what to do with the rest of your life.

The nation was kept enthralled in the early 1950s by the state of Denis Compton’s kneecap, which now resides in the museum at Lord’s. It eventually ended his career but he was 38 at the time.

More recently, when sophisticated surgery had long since made it possible for sportsmen to resume their careers after a knee injury, Michael Vaughan eventually had to retire after several surgical intrusions did not quite lead to lasting recovery.

Pietersen has fought back from serious injury before, most notably after the Achilles surgery in 2009 which forced him to miss most of that summer’s Ashes series. A post-operation infection dragged him to a low point but his determination eventually pulled him through.

On this tour he has been a faintly distant figure. It has been well established, because everybody insists it is so, that he is fully integrated in the dressing room after the cataclysmic events of last summer. Then he was dropped from the team in a dispute with management over his treatment – part of it, ironically, concerning his participation in the IPL – and later had a series of meetings with senior players before he was reinstated ahead of the tour to India.

Much of the episode has still not been satisfactorily explained, certainly not the disparaging text messages he is alleged to have sent to South African players about Andrew Strauss, then England’s captain, during the Test series between the sides.

He has barely spoken in public since and his approach to the press he once curried has bordered on the surly. Nothing wrong with that, of course, though it is patently obvious that he has not fulfilled usual media obligations. When Graeme Swann left this tour a fortnight ago he obligingly fielded questions about his elbow injury and his future.

Pietersen’s injury and his departure were not revealed until late at night in New Zealand, meaning that he could not speak. It was probably not planned like that but it felt like it. He departs in silence and we do not know when he will return.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable