CRAIG NELSON: Kevin Pietersen should be given an ultimatum
7:00am Sunday 22nd December 2013 in Sport
THE inquest began immediately after England’s latest Ashes defeat in Perth, and all fingers seemed to be pointing towards Kevin Pietersen.
England meekly surrendered the famous old urn – and the chance to claim an historic fourth successive series win – after handing Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead.
With two Tests remaining, all they are playing for now is pride, but that is something many critics believe Pietersen has far too much of.
Time and again this series, the South Africa-born batsman’s team-mates have been forced to defend his aggressive style.
You can hardly blame Pietersen for the fact he has so often gone to the crease with England struggling. But when the situation has called for a measured, stubborn approach, he has carried on regardless.
His last stand in the decisive third Test was indicative of that failure to rein in his attacking instincts.
After making it to 45, Pietersen decided it would be a great idea to hit Nathan Lyon for six to bring up his 50, choosing a spot where there was a fielder stationed on the boundary as an extra act of defiance.
Lo and behold, he holed out, leaving Ian Bell and Ben Stokes to offer the last line of resistance.
Maybe all was lost already, but those thoughts should never come into the mind of a professional sportsman.
But you sense that failure, or a fear of failure, is not something that has ever clouded the judgment of England’s most destructive talent.
The suspicion is that KP’s ego is what distorts his thinking, so maybe a dose of fear would do him good.
At the moment, the general school of thought is he should be dropped for the remainder of the series and, if there is no sign of remorse or redemption, he should never play for England again.
That would be a massive shame, but the team has to come first.
The one rider I would add is that Pietersen does have dogged determination in his locker, maybe he has just forgotten where it is.
When England won the Ashes with him in the side in 2005, they lost the opening match at Lord’s when they were skittled for 155 in the first innings and 180 in the second.
Only Pietersen stood firm, top scoring with 57 from 148 balls in the first and 64 from 120 in the second.
He was still trying to prove himself at that point, but by the time he smashed a series-winning 158 in the final Test at the Oval, his legend was set.
England were desperate for the Pietersen of Lord’s rather than the Oval swashbuckler Down Under this winter.
Here’s hoping that side of his character, along with his international career, is not lost forever.