We need to talk about Kevin. Everyone does

Public don't understand why KP is still in the side after long run of poor form

Everyone connected with England these days is asked the Pietersen question. To a man, they say that everything will be all right and that one day soon he will go out there and prove the doubters wrong.

It can only be a matter of time – it may be today – when they start organising a petition: We're Backing Kev. The trouble is that few believe it any longer and fewer still would pick him in the England team.

The point of the non-expert witnesses is pretty persuasive. Neither of Pietersen's dismissals in the opening two Test matches of the summerspeak of a man who is within touching distance of his next double-century as the rest of the dressing room try desperately to make the case for him. Perhaps they are tryingto convince themselves.

In Cardiff he did a primitive version of Riverdance for 11 balls beforesuccumbing to a left-arm spinner, his default mode of dismissal. At Lord's on Friday, he was lured into driving at a wide one, the eighth ball he faced, which ended in gully's hands. Two innings, 19 balls, five runs, reaching urgently for the ball, which took on the elusive nature of a moth.

The selectors will keep faith for a while longer, partly for past deeds, partly because it is natural for them to believe that he can turn the corneras long as he can find the corner. But out there in the country it would appear to be a different story.

"All the lads at work who don't know much about cricket wonder how they can keep picking him," said one chap in the pub the other day when the conversation headed towards Pietersen, as inevitably it does. "They see the scores and they wonder what's going on."

Then there was the ubiquitous cab driver on Friday night who revelled unapologetically in Pietersen's misfortunes. It was not that he had had Kevin in his taxi once, but he did claim to have sat next to him in a tattoo parlour, which, given the abundance of body art defacing both men's arms, was at least plausible.

According to the cabbie, Pietersen, in discussing his tattoo, also asked for an injection to numb the pain. If this seems perfectly understandable, it is apparently unacceptable behaviour among some of the fraternity. Hence the grudge against KP.

Even if the latter is codswallop, these tales go to illustrate that Pietersen, like few cricketers, exercises opinion everywhere. When Alastair Cook, for instance, was going through a poor trot of form last summer, there was a suggestion that he might be dropped, but equally the selectors were left to get on with it. There was not the Cook Question as there is the Pietersen Question.

In so many ways, Pietersen has brought this on himself. If the swashbuckling fashion of his batting in his formative international years made it easy for him to find the limelight he never shunned it, as his appearance in the Sporting Rich List – the only cricketer present – indicates.

It would be a hard heart who did not feel sympathy for him now, but there are plenty of hard hearts out there. They belong to people who point to these scores: 9, 22, 80, 6, 23, 0, 43, 0, 3, 51, 36, 3, 2. Exactly in the middle of that sequence, going back a year, is the scintillating 227 he scored in Adelaide, to which his fans cling as if it was the last straw in a stormy sea. But it is the bookends which are more persuasive to his detractors.

As the form of yore has been elusive, gossip has grown that Pietersen is tired of cricket. It was reported last year that he intended to retire from one-day international cricket to concentrate on Tests and Twenty20.

There are perpetual stories that he will not stay around cricket of any kind for long. All of this is supposition and reckons without the fact Pietersen still genuinely loves playing cricket. As he has said, only for it to fall on deaf ears, what would he do if he did not play? Later this month he will be 31, still the prime for most batsmen, so there is no reason for him to go anywhere.

It cannot go on like this, of course. The end of the Test series against Sri Lanka may be the cut-off point, but one formidable innings will not answer all the questions. He needs a run of scores and the coach, Andy Flower, who is not a man for easy platitudes, seems sincere in his statement that Pietersen looks ready for runs.

Dropping him from the Test team for the first time would hardly be straightforward. He would be going into a Surrey dressing-room where he is largely unknown, which would not necessarily be the best circumstances to rediscover touch.

The selectors may have to make a tough call but whatever the feelings about him out there, England would be a better side with him firing than without him.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor