Kevin Pietersen stand-off piles one dilemma on to another for England

England have enough problems already without latest rift

Kevin Pietersen was dead right in one respect. When he spoke after the end of the Test match in Leeds on Monday he said: "There's always speculation. There's speculation every single day. You guys speculate about my life all day, every day."

It might not be quite as 24/7 as he presumed but his astonishing revelation that his Test career might be drawing to an untimely end has provoked a plethora of comment and opinion on when that might and should be. Both sides in the discord between Pietersen and the England management held their counsel yesterday (except for the usual insider sources) but that did not stop a legion of conjecture.

The likelihood is that Pietersen will play in the third Test against South Africa at Lord's next week, which will determine whether England stay at No 1 in the world rankings. But it is by no means certain because if anything is clear, it is that Pietersen does not much like the England dressing room at present and the dressing room does not much like him.

Of all the possible reasons for Pietersen's disaffection the most amusing was the spoof Twitter account set up anonymously as though it is him doing the tweeting. It was suggested that Pietersen was annoyed by this and suspected it was one of his fellow England players.

Sources close to Pietersen, as they would, denied that it was an issue in his discussions with England and it was also pointed out that it was unlikely to be one of the players since they are not allowed mobile phones during matches and tweets were posted during the Leeds Test.

What fun it all would be, if there were not a Test series and one of the more illustrious careers at stake. It would seem that it has gone too far by now for things ever to be the same again – that is why it is still possible Pietersen will not play at Lord's or again in international cricket.

England are desperate not to treat him as a special case because to do so would undermine the team ethos. But his desire to play in the Indian Premier League, which clashes with part of England's home international season, is likely to be shared by others in the future. They might not wish to grant Pietersen dispensation but if they do not, they are probably storing up trouble. The IPL and its riches are not about to vanish; the nettle must be grasped.

Pietersen, it has begun to emerge, wants consideration beyond that. He believes he is simply expected to play too much cricket. He may have a point, although, not for the first time, the way in which he has gone about making it has failed to garner sympathy.

While Pietersen has not played quite as much as he would have us believe, he has hardly been workshy. Since he made his debut against Australia in July 2005 he has played in 87 of England's 90 Test matches, missing three in the 2009 Ashes series because of a career-threatening Achilles injury.

Part of the trouble, perhaps the core of it, is that no matter how much Pietersen says he is doing it all for the team he can never quite dispel the notion that he is doing it for himself. But then when he plays as he did in his stunning 149 at Leeds last Saturday, it hardly matters.

No matter what happens now, the selectors are in a mess for the third Test. When they sit down to pick the team in the next two days, with the squad announcement due on Sunday, they must first decide on Pietersen's status.

It is exceedingly tricky because no one should think Pietersen could simply walk into the dressing room for practice on Tuesday and say: "Morning boys, hope you're all well, did you have a nice few days off?"

However, they will probably err on the side of picking him. Then, although it might seem to be the wrong way round, they will discuss what the balance should be to try to win the match against South Africa.

There is a proposition that England should alter the template that has brought them success and play only five batsmen, with five specialist bowlers and Matt Prior as the wicketkeeper batting at No 6. They are likely to proceed as normal and it certainly would not happen without Pietersen in the squad.

Although the selectors have been looking at England Lions in the past two days, the squad is unlikely to feature new players, with the caveat of Pietersen's inclusion. Were he not to feature, their options have been restricted by Ravi Bopara's withdrawal from the Lions match because he does not yet feel ready to resume playing.

It means that he cannot be picked and in the extreme circumstances of a Pietersen omission Eoin Morgan or Jonny Bairstow would be recalled. Speculation and more speculation: precisely what England did not need and will struggle to overcome.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high