• Wisden 2013

Pietersen subject of Wisden criticism

David Hopps
April 10, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
The rift between Kevin Pietersen and the England dressing room cast a shadow over the summer of 2012 © PA Photos
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Wisden has turned on Kevin Pietersen, terming him arrogant, self-pitying and isolated, for his part in the furore which destabilised English cricket last summer.

There have been more trenchant Notes by the Editor than those which grace the 150th edition of the Almanack, published today, but Lawrence Booth reserves his sternest criticism for Pietersen's behaviour during England's Test series defeat against South Africa.

"Cricket, some suspected, existed only as an extension of Pietersen's whims (and unlike team, cricket definitely has an "I" in it),," Booth writes. "Emboldened by a lucrative new Indian Premier League deal, he was arrogant, attempting to bulldoze over the terms of his central contract.

"He was self-pitying, claiming he had never been looked after. And he was a man apart, sending silly texts to the South Africans."

The wisdom of Wisden

  • "I would have preferred 99. I thought that was enough" - Simon Barnes finds echoes of Don Bradman in Sachin Tendulkar.
  • "Being a cricketer helps because it is a decent world and I haven't had a single jibe" - Steve Davies, the Surrey and England wicketkeeper, on coming out as gay in professional sport."
  • "Affection continues to elude him. There are reasons for this and most of them involve self-absorption, self-promotion and a distressing absence of self-awareness" - Patrick Collins asks why Kevin Pietersen has not become universally revered in English cricket.
  • "He was notoriously (and often infuriatingly) tardy, to the extent that his memorial service at St Paul's should have been scheduled at "11.15am for 11" as mark of respect - with directions to the wrong church." - Mike Selvey on his friend and fellow journalist, Christopher Martin-Jenkins.
  • "Ramps and Test cricket: it was never really going to work out. Wrong genius, wrong time." - Barney Ronay bemoans the retirement of a prolific county runscorer.

Those texts were regarded in much of the media last summer as a national scandal. Perhaps in the use of the term "silly" Wisden has stumbled upon a greater truth.

Wisden, condemning the rift as a "mishmash in many genres", does not spare ECB officials from criticism, concluding: "Only the dressing room knew just how troublesome Pietersen had become; for outsiders to lecture Andy Flower on man-management was plain ludicrous. But as his exile dragged on, the ECB began to look petty, if they showed their faces at all.

"Pietersen's pursuit of Twenty20's riches at the expense of the Test side - the format which had made his name - was unattractive, although those attitudes can filter down from the top. If there was a have-cake-and-eat-it feel to his simultaneous grouse about excessive cricket and his yearning for IPL, it was hard to ignore a wider truth: a bloated schedule has asked the players to make unfair choices.

"The dilemma is not going away, however much English cricket wishes it would."

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David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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