WITH yet another chapter in the ’50 shades of Kevin Pietersen’ saga written, there’s now an even greater chance of Geoffrey Edelsten finding someone his own age than the Poms taking home the Urn in the winter.
Two summers ago those dentist nightmares from The Old Dart came to our shores and put up a display, if we’re to be kind, that was substandard and nothing since, especially most recently, would give any of their supporters any hope of taking The Ashes back off us anytime soon.
A five-nil whitewash in the 2013/14 summer was as low as English cricket could get. No-one gave a yelp, Jonathan Trott left early citing stress, Graeme Swann retired before the series finished, their captain Alistair Cook averaged less than 25 and there were more maidens bowled over by the Barmy Army in Kings Cross than by England’s bowlers all series.
In a couple months the Australians will venture off in a bid to retain the coveted Urn with a side essentially the same as 18 months ago however buoyed by the additional threat of the World Cup Player of the Series, Mitchell Starc.
The thought has the Poms looking to launder many more pairs of underwear than usual.
However England’s response and plan in an attempt to regain the Ashes has been fascinating; the aforementioned Trott returned, briefly, Gary Balance and Joe Root found some form this time last year against the Indians solidifying the middle order, Moeen Ali has become the full-time spinner playing as a No.6 batsman to some effect.
A home series loss to Sri Lanka was followed by an encouraging victory against India. This past southern summer though was a disaster.
The World Cup was embarrassing, losing to Bangladesh and missing the knockout stages altogether was so shameful even Perth Glory’s accountants look more respectable in comparison.
In adding salt to the already gashing wound, they wandered over to a country that used to be a cricketing colossus but now seem more interested in spicing their national beverage with coconut, and drew the series 1-1.
The West Indies lost to Ireland in the World Cup, let’s not forget that. Irish cricketers are just blokes from Dublin who are so overly-refreshed on stout they confuse cricket with golf, hurling or a combination of both.
So, they needed to change things up before the Aussies arrive, and there’s just one man who can be that catalyst – Kevin Pietersen.
He was banished from the side some time ago now largely because he sent less than complimentary text messages to his true countrymen about his adopted countrymen. The trust the English dressing room had in their star batsman diminished and it was publicly stated he would be severely unlikely to ever return.
A biography was published, no punches were held back, and any chance he did have, so remote it was anyway, was completely snuffed out as the man they affectionately call ‘KP’ was resigned to finishing his career as a swashbuckler for hire on the world’s Twenty20 circuit.
However, it always lingered in the public rhetoric, that should he decide to roll up his sleeves, forgo the IPL millions for the hard work of a County season, score runs on runs and keep his nose clean he might just be reconsidered for a call-up to save those long-between-bathing in the Ashes of 2015.
So he does the right thing, he cleans up his act, he ditches the circus of the Indian T20 for the creams of Surrey and low and behold, a triple ton, his highest first class score.
Not only has he done exactly what was asked from him, privately and in the public sphere alike, he has produced the sort of innings that the English side needs desperately, i.e. one that actually contains runs.
The Poms are in such dire need of someone who can construct a score that can take the game away from the opposition, such an opposition like Australia who in the right sort of overcast and dreary conditions could feasibly race through their batting line up like Clive Palmer at the Qantas Lounge buffet.
The one batsman who could genuinely concern the Aussies should he get in and start to amass a start would be Pietersen – he has all the shots, he has now found himself in the right vein of form but most critically has the mental application to take it up to the Baggy Green whereas the rest of those who have made failure their habit of late will be looking to take guard somewhere just in front of fine leg when it comes to facing Mitchell Johnson and friends.
Yet the puppet of all puppets Andrew Strauss comes into a role that has just as much significance as a hard copy of the Yellow Pages and declared Pietersen’s return will never happen and in essence it was a merry go round all this time.
He, Pietersen, has permanently lost the trust of the cricket board and therefore, the cricket board’s best asset in order to combat the Australians will be destined to nothing more than perhaps a media role covering the series.
How soft must the leadership be that it can’t contain someone that you could guarantee a Darren Lehmann or interestingly Jason Gillespie could handle rather effortlessly?
‘Boof’ would give him a spray, a cuddle and then share a laugh over a beer and you just know that everything would be rosy and ‘KP’ would be more than adequately prepared to resume an international career.
But the management of and the contempt they’ve shown their best batsman of the previous Ashes, the best batsman they would have at their disposal for this next rendition, is so typical of an organisation so accepting or accustomed to losing it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they continue to make mistake after mistake.
The Poms are as weak as the decisions made around Pietersen the last six months and their chances of winning the upcoming series are weaker still.