David Pye: I'm backing Pietersen but it's a big call for England chiefs
11:20pm Friday 10th January 2014 in Sport
ONE of the biggest posers for English cricket chiefs as they dissect the remnants of a failed Ashes series Down Under is just what to do with the enigmatic Kevin Pietersen.
There are clearly still issues surrounding KP in the England camp with former skipper Michael Vaughan convinced there is some ill-feeling between Pietersen and coach Andy Flower despite the latter’s insistence there is no major problem this week.
And it will need addressing if the team are to move forward and build again after this recent humiliation.
But it is not as simple as just ditching Pietersen and everything becoming rosy again. How can you just discard arguably the best player the team has got? Certainly in form and on his game there are few better batsmen in world cricket.
I saw England great, now commentator, Bob Willis put it bluntly on television recently. He said they should cut their losses and ditch Pietersen completely for the sake of team spirit.
That would be all well and good had we another star turn waiting in the wings, but how many Pietersens do you get in one generation?
Like many other sporting geniuses, he has character flaws but his talent outweighs the bad points for me.
But I can also see where Willis is coming from. We have seen it in football.
Sir Alex Ferguson made the tough call to sell Roy Keane when he believed he was doing more harm than good in the Manchester United camp; Roberto Mancini finally lost patience with Mario Balotelli. Will the ECB do likewise with Pietersen if Vaughan is right and Flower has had enough of the talisman in the dressing room?
Both sides have reiterated their position that they are happy to continue the status quo but it does not fool anyone in my eyes.
I suspect there is still underlying bad blood in that squad with Pietersen despite his ‘reintegration’ following the furore surrounding a fake Twitter account in 2012 when it was alleged team-mates Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and Lancashire’s James Anderson had fed information to the account to mock Pietersen’s attitude.
Swann seemingly reignited talk of divides in the dressing room when he labelled some modern-day cricketers as having their ‘heads up their own backsides’ following his shock retirement in the middle of the Ashes tour. I wonder who that was aimed at?
It prompts more questions than answers for what will be a big call for the men in charge at Lords.
Pietersen says he is committed to playing on, and for me I would take the chance and keep him on. With so many underperforming around him this winter, we cannot afford to cut our nose off to spite our face.