Ian Hart: Kevin Pietersen: An unfulfilled genius?

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen, KP, the ultimate ‘Marmite’ cricketer, has finally called time his on colourful yet controversial career.

Of the many things written about the 37-year-old in the last few days, the quip that he could start an argument with a speaking clock probably typifies the man and the myth in many people’s eyes. On the field, KP became the fastest batsmen to reach both 1,000 and 2,000 runs in International One-Day cricket. His run total from his first 25 Test matches is only bettered historically by Sir Don Bradman, and he was the fastest player in terms of days to reach 4,000, 5,000 and 7,000 Test runs.

Yet on his retirement there’s an overwhelming sense of what might have been. Yes, his brash nature was part of his appeal but ultimately has it robbed English cricket of a true legend? Granted there’s blame on both sides, I feel the ECB probably didn’t treat KP in the way they treated other English cricketing greats, then again some might say that KP made more beds than the chambermaids at the Chatsworth Hotel and you clearly reap what you sow.

I saw him play at his peak, I also saw him Down Under in 13-14 when England were demolished 5-0 in the Ashes. After that series, KP was ultimately shouldered with most of the blame for England’s failings and publicly cast out from international cricket.

Somewhat unfairly? His supporters would certainly argue that, and even at the time of his retirement this week were still feeling that he was hard done by. Ultimately will history view this as a great sporting tragedy? While the stats clearly show how good he was, with the right handling could he have achieved more, ultimately could he still be scoring runs for England this weekend in New Zealand?

And would Joe Root’s most recent ‘winter of discontent’ Down Under have been different with a fit and focused KP?

We will never know. KP has now made a successful transition to commentary box, and while one of his predecessors, Tony Greig, never stopped favouring England despite ending up living in Australia, Pietersen is very critical of England. I hope he doesn’t end up becoming a cricketer without a country.

Thanks for the memories, KP, even the bad ones. It’s just a shame you left us all feeling we could have had more.

n There were mixed emotions returning from Manchester on Saturday. A ludicrous kick-off time to accommodate BT Sport once again highlighed the fact our domestic football has well and truly sold its soul to television.

On the field, a steady Albion performance was found wanting defensively at vital moments which resulted in both goals, coupled with the Manchester United keeper Romero pulling off a number of saves. Ultimately I would ask the question why, when Chris Hughton had said he would put out his strongest possible team, did our top, in-form, scorer remain on the bench for all but 13 minutes?

Having said that, given the choice we would all take Premier League survival over a prolonged FA Cup run. International weekend sees the Albion having a break, with possibly the two most important home games of the season to come, back-to-back visits of Leicester City and Huddersfield, a potential six points which would effectively guarantee Premier League football next season.

However, if you still require that much-needed live football fix this weekend, Worthing entertain Tooting at Woodside Road on Saturday, 3pm kick-off.