Kevin Pietersen: The pros and cons over an England return

The undoubted talent of Kevin Pietersen always comes at a price given the controversy that follows him

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The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen has scored 13,797 runs for England, yet appears to have given them problems in near equal number.

As his former captain Andrew Strauss therefore rules once and for all whether to re-engage him, here we consider the reasons for and against a third chance for the record-breaker.


HIS RUNS - Pietersen has made more than anyone else in history, across the formats, for his adopted country. Even in the 2013/14 Ashes whitewash defeat, he was top scorer. That made him merely the best of a bad bunch, but a Test career average of 47.28 is not to be sniffed at in any era.

HIS FORM - An unbeaten maiden triple-century was the perfect response to new England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves' invitation to make a case with a weight of runs. It came in LV= Division Two, against a team winless in the past two years - but even so, in an innings which saw no one else make even 40, it was a resounding statement that Pietersen still has what it takes.

HIS MOTIVATION - This, above all else, is not in doubt. Even Pietersen's detractors can only agree he has given his third coming a proper shot. The events of the past 18 months, that miserable Ashes campaign, then his sacking and all that followed will not be the way he wants to be remembered. He has said many times that his driving force is a "dream" to play for England again, and to try to win the Ashes for a fifth time.

HIS PUBLIC - As well as taking Graves' challenge in apparent good faith, Pietersen has cannily tapped into the popular thesis that England and the ECB are removed from the public. He has been able to depict himself as a unifying force to once again re-engage the many otherwise prepared to walk away from cricket - and he may well be right.



HIS PREVIOUS - Where to start? Pietersen had acquired some foes as well as friends even before he started playing for England. He has not stopped since, certainly in the second half of his career - with Strauss and Alastair Cook the most notable, in the current context, of those who may find it all quite hard to forget. KP: The Autobiography allowed him to express vindication, but also spared no one and can be little help to him now.

SOCIAL MEDIA - Ten, even five, years ago the perils of housing a maverick in the team were significantly less. Pietersen himself has used Twitter to significant effect in his PR battles to date with the ECB. But the observations of some of his celebrity entourage have become an increasingly influential part of the colourful narrative too. It is hard, for example, to see Strauss' mood enhanced by a description of him overnight from Piers Morgan as a "vindictive moron".

THE NEW BROOM - It is only three days since the ECB confirmed Strauss as its new director of cricket. Peter Moores instantly lost his job, for the second time, as coach. Previously, Paul Downton had to vacate the management position into which Strauss has moved. The scene appears to be set for Cook to continue his captaincy with a developing group of players, and several of their performances of the past year have indicated they should have fine careers. Pietersen may simply no longer fit into that scenario.

HIS AGE - Pietersen will be 35 by the time this summer's Ashes start, and has had his fair share of injury interruptions already. Apart from anything else, England would have to take a punt on his fitness for purpose.