Kevin Pietersen saga: Chris Gayle offers untimely reminder of absent friend

 

Barbados

Perhaps one day soon the new era can begin properly. The sheet will be truly clean, as if it has just been twice through the washing machine. But  not yet.

For now the dirty linen is still being paraded in public. Just when it seems that the Kevin Pietersen issue as well as the player’s international career have been finally laid to rest, his name re-emerges. He will haunt England for some time yet.

The latest to speak his name yesterday was his erstwhile friend and foe, Chris Gayle, the effervescent West Indies opening batsman. Gayle doubtless provoked anger at the England and Wales Cricket Board, who sacked Pietersen last month, by saying: “I’m disappointed in the manner he bowed out of international cricket. It was disrespectful but I don’t know what happened behind closed doors.

“For such a big player to  go out like that who has made an impact around the world, it was really sad to see. You want to give a top player the chance to retire and walk away from the game regardless of what is happening. It is disrespectful.”

England may see it as a minor interference in their affairs of state but it is probably an unwanted distraction for a team desperately trying to forget the past and prepare for the World Twenty20 without their best player. They continue this process in earnest tomorrow with the first of three Twenty20 matches against West Indies, for whom Gayle is returning after injury.

Wherever they go, Pietersen unfortunately will not be far behind. He continues a mischievous campaign on Twitter and when England travel to Bangladesh in a few days for the World Twenty20 it would not be entirely surprising if he was in town to cover the tournament for  television.

That would serve only as a constant reminder that they are playing in a major tournament without potentially their best player. England will be aware that there is only one certain way out of it, which is to win.

They made a handy start by clinching the one-day series 2-1 earlier this week and it would be more than useful if they could go to Bangladesh by winning at least two of the three matches here over the next five days. Some reconfiguring of their team will be necessary after Joe Root’s departure from the tour – and in all probability the World Twenty20 – with a broken thumb.

One of the first matters on which they must decide is what to do with Ian Bell. He was called up as cover initially for Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales when they sustained minor injuries in Antigua last week. Both have now recovered but Root’s departure opens up a place not only here but in Bangladesh.

It is abundantly clear that the team coach, Ashley Giles, is a huge fan (and former playing colleague) of Bell. There is a feeling that he would like him in the team for his experience and a cricketing wisdom that should not be under-rated. However, picking Bell when he is not, yet, officially in the party would seem to contradict the original selection. Bell, bizarrely, has not played a T20 match of any type since the most recent of his seven appearances for England in 2011.

The opening pair of Hales and Michael Lumb will probably be reunited, though they do not seem like a combination to spearhead a campaign in which England can regain the title they won in 2010. There is a strong case for asking Morgan, the star batsman, to go in at three, though England will probably resist that.

Moeen Ali, who has started his international career with some confidence, Luke Wright and Bell are in contention with Morgan likely to continue at five. Given the sort of pitches with which England will be confronted in Bangladesh, there will be a temptation to field two spinners in addition to Ali. Local conditions, however, might dictate another seamer.

That would give an opportunity for Chris Jordan to perform at the place where he spent many happy times as a child. Jordan was born and raised in Barbados before he was scouted by Dulwich College and offered a scholarship there. He played in the first match at Kensington Oval after it was refurbished for the 2007 World Cup but said yesterday that he has no regrets about opting to play for England. Should he play he might receive a mixed welcome.

Gayle’s return provides a significant lift in West Indies spirits. He had a lean year in 2013 as he flew across the world in pursuit of T20 riches but he has had three months off and sounded ready for the fray again yesterday.

There are other big hitters but Gayle is the key. For England to win they must defy the odds. The road to Chittagong starts here.

  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence