KP let down by his timing

Batsman's issues are not all about himself but he misses the bigger picture

Whatever is being said, whoever wants what, this is no way to prepare for a critical Test match. Fail to win the final contest in the Investec series next week against South Africa and England will lose their top place in the ICC Test rankings barely a year after ascending to it.

From the moment they became officially the world's best team it has been nothing but trouble. Of the 10 Test matches they have played since then, all this year, they have lost five and won three, two of those against a palpably anaemic West Indies who were fooling nobody as serious Test contenders.

And now, 1-0 behind to South Africa with one to play, England are having to deal with the Kevin Pietersen issue.

Pietersen is protesting about the manner in which he is being treated and while the middle of a Test series might not seem the ideal time or place it is probably always the middle of a Test series. In any case, if you want to make a point to your employers it might as well be when it can cause them most damage and embarrassment.

It was typical of Pietersen that with matters reaching a head between him and the England and Wales Cricket Board, he should go out at Headingley last Saturday and score a sublime century beyond the ambition and capacity of all his team-mates. So resplendent was his innings of 149 that it is bound to be the ghost in the room at any future discussions, a pertinent reminder of precisely what he can do. To that extent, it could hardly have been more timely. After the second Test was drawn on Monday evening, Pietersen declined to go into detail about what he wanted to make life more pleasant again. But his appearance could not expunge the notion that he was feeling sorry for himself.

When he said it was tough being Kevin Pietersen he began to say "in the dressing room" but stopped himself and amended it to "playing for England." It is indeed tough, but what Pietersen failed to grasp as he has done so often before is how tough it must be for those without his talent or earning powers.

Writing as somebody who has always liked him and appreciated his perpetual courteousness, while being flabbergasted by his presumption that the world revolves rounds him, this latest dispute comes as little surprise. For Andy Flower, the coach, and Andrew Strauss, it is where they came in. It would not be utterly surprising if this is where they go out.

There are vague similarities between the position now and then in early 2009. Pietersen was deposed from the England captaincy because he wanted the removal of the coach, the affable Peter Moores, who was indeed sacked, and other changes in the coaching set-up and approach. The manner in which he went about it was defective not least because he had taken the job knowing Moores was in situ.

At the core of the present imbroglio is the Indian Premier League and Pietersen's desire to play in the entire tournament in future. Such a concession by the ECB would mean Pietersen missing the early Test match series in England, usually over two matches against the least attractive opponents.

But although Pietersen refused to expand, the rest of his beef is about the number of matches he is expected to play. The Professional Cricketers' Association supports him on this and it is true that England generally play too much. The ECB is in serious danger of squeezing its supporters dry.

But if it insists on continuing with the schedule, the PCA may demand greater flexibility and much more guaranteed rest. Pietersen has often said that since he started playing international cricket only M S Dhoni, of those still playing, has appeared in more matches. As with many of Pietersen's bolder pronouncements it has an element of truth and good sense but does not quite add up. Since he made his international debut in November 2004 he has played a total of 251 matches across all formats, putting him seventh in the list. Dhoni has played 309 but Kumar Sangakkara tops that figure and two more Sri Lankans and three Australians have also played more. Those who oppose Pietersen's stand insist that he wants it all his own way. He craves rest and time with his family while appearing in the whole of the IPL, not to mention the Australian Big Bash Twenty20 tournament. But the IPL is nowhere near as draining as international cricket and Pietersen will trouser more than $1m (£640,000) for six weeks' work.

He will probably not win this argument because he has stubborn opposition. In the end it may come down to how much England need him and how much he cares for his legacy, which as sure as a team GB cycling gold will not be found in the IPL. But that should not obscure the fact that he has raised wider issues. If only they had not been raised now. South Africa will be laughing all the way to world No 1.

Cricket's busy boys

List of international matches played since Kevin Pietersen made his debut on 28 November 2004:

Tests/ODIs/T20s/Total

K Sangakkara 66/211/35/312

M Jayawardene 68/207/36/311

T Dilshan 60/196/37/293

M S Dhoni 67/210/31/308

M Clarke 77/183/34/294

M Hussey 73/180/36/289

R Ponting 83/168/17/268

K Pietersen 87/128/36/251

A B De Villiers 75/127/36/238

G Smith 73/125/33/231

Clarke, Ponting and Smith have retired from T20. Pietersen has retired from limited-overs cricket.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam