Superstardom, headlines, controversies and runs - they're all a fact of life if you're Kevin Pietersen. The superstardom is intact, the runs have come, but his latest headline-grabbing controversy is probably as much his own doing as that of circumstance.
Pietersen has retired from all international limited-overs cricket, choosing to do so four months before England defend their World Twenty20 trophy in Sri Lanka. In his own words, he didn't want to skip the World Twenty20 - he didn't want to skip playing T20s at all - but was forced to do so because he gave up One-Day Internationals and his contract mandates he be available for both formats or neither.
You can argue that Pietersen's timing - so evident during successfully executed switch hits - was horribly off in this announcement. Yes, the international schedule is packed and makes many demands on a sportsman's body, but was it really so demanding that he couldn't have taken four more months of it? And retired after the World Twenty20?
On the other hand, you can also argue that the clause stating a player must be available for both ODIs and T20s or neither is strange. Why should a player be forced to choose a format he doesn't want to play in? And this works for both T20s and ODIs. If the T20 bubble bursts at some point in the future and the format is no longer as enticing, should a player who wants to give it up be forced to play it simply so that he can continue to play ODIs?
The reasoning behind the clause is that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) want to protect the ODI format. As such, it's a laudable goal for a format that may not quite have the history that Test cricket does, but has given cricket watchers plenty of memorable moments of its own.
The sound prima facie reason notwithstanding, it's worth examining that position a little more. Is inserting that clause into player contracts the only way to support ODIs? Historically, the ECB have been amongst the least ODI-friendly bodies. The Friends Provident Trophy - once the premier domestic limited-overs competition in England - switched to 50 overs a side only in 1999. And the tournament itself was abolished after 2009 to make way for the Pro40 League, where each innings lasts only 40 overs. The ECB don't even have a domestic 50-over competition anymore - not the best way to show solidarity with the international 50-overs game.
Incidentally, Paul Collingwood went on record then to state that playing a 40-over domestic tournament was not the ideal way to prepare players for 50-over international cricket. The format hasn't changed, and nor does it look likely to. How does a governing body then expect its players to treat 50-over cricket as sacrosanct?
There is also the question of man management. Kevin Pietersen is, without a doubt, the finest limited-overs batsman to have played for England. He has over 4000 runs at 41.84 and a strike-rate of 86.77 - outstanding numbers by any yardstick. Perhaps, he was more belligerent than required when he first asked for a reduction in his schedule. But from his point of view, he might well have good cause to not look at the ECB fondly. Starting from his sacking as captain to his recent fine over a twitter comment about Nick Knight, he might well feel he has been harshly treated.
When you have your best batsman in a format feeling that way, a good parent body should try to retain his services and resolve issues. And it's not as if Pietersen hasn't been available for England in ODIs. He made his ODI debut in November 2004, and since then England have played 174 ODIs of which he's missed only 47. More than half of those were at a time when he was seriously injured. He missed 14 ODIs in 2009, the year in which he had an Achilles tendon injury, and 11 in 2011 when he had to be operated upon for hernia.
Given all that, Pietersen would still have come out smelling of roses if he had stayed on till the end of the World Twenty20. If he had retired then, and given his reasons for doing so, he would have been seen to have acted with grace, where now he's seen as being petulant.
And who knows, the ECB might have then been more amenable to sitting down and working out a schedule with him to ensure he wasn't lost to the international limited-overs formats for a few more years at least. It does seem a pity that cricket-watchers have been deprived of the chance to see one of the most exciting exponents of limited-overs batting because both parties involved in the decision saw it as my way or the highway.