Petulant Pietersen's England career appears over

For all his brash brilliance with the bat, Kevin Pietersen's divisive influence within the England dressing room may have finally cost him any hope of playing for the national team again.

Updated: August 22, 2012 11:52 IST
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London: For all his brash brilliance with the bat, Kevin Pietersen's divisive influence within the England dressing room may have finally cost him any hope of playing for the national team again.

For the sake of team unity, English cricket may need to sacrifice the former captain who steered the national team to its first major international title in 2010.

When the team heads to Sri Lanka next month to defend that World Twenty20 title, Pietersen will not be in the 15-man squad.

"It's a very sad situation for everyone involved," England team director Andy Flower said Tuesday.

There appears to be no way back for Pietersen after he sent text messages to South Africa players that were apparently critical of his teammates during the test series that ended Monday with the Proteas replacing England as the No. 1 test team in the world.

"He's absolute history," former England captain Tony Greig said. "There's no way he'll ever play again."

When he lets his cricket do the talking, Pietersen has been one of the sport's most destructive batsman, with an average of 34.76 in T20 matches and 49.48 in tests.

The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) batsman became a crowd favorite for the English for his vicious attacks on opposition bowlers. His ability to turn a match on its head with unorthodox power shots won widespread admiration.

In what may have been his last game for England, the second test against South Africa at Headingley, Pietersen hit a brutal 149 against a fearsome bowling attack.

He was dropped for the final test following the revelation of the text messages to his rivals.

With his talent at the crease increasingly overshadowed by his petulance away from it, the England and Wales Cricket Board is in no rush to rebuild bridges.

"He played superbly in our last Twenty20 World Cup, but the circumstances that exist at the moment mean that he can't be selected for us," Flower told Sky Sports television. "There are still issues unresolved and we will be addressing those issues when we have time to do so."

Pietersen is reported to have used one of the harshest insults in the Afrikaans language to describe captain Andrew Strauss in the texts. But the problems are not just about the rift between him and other team members.

"There are deeper issues," Flower said. "Certainly the issues of trust and mutual respect need to be addressed, there are unresolved issues that have reared their heads in the last few weeks."

Pietersen's flamboyance has never sat comfortably with the traditionalists at Lord's, the home of cricket.

He posted a YouTube video earlier this month to try to defuse any row in the dressing room and affirm his commitment to the England team.

But Flower said the issues have to be resolved "face-to-face with people, not through agents or PR agencies."

"And if this issue is going to be resolved that's how it is going to have to be," Flower added.

Pietersen now appears to be on the international scrap heap, eight years after making his debut for England in 2004.

"This thing seems to be getting worse and worse by the day," Greig told the BBC. "He had character problems back in South Africa, he's not an easy bloke in any team environment, he's not turned out to be a great team man and it's now got even worse."

Born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Pietersen qualified to play for England through his mother, Penny.

He opted for England at age 20, claiming his path to the South African national side was being obstructed by a quota system introduced to redress the inequalities suffered by black players during the apartheid era.

He emerged as a major batting force for England during the team's win over Australia in the 2005 Ashes series, and was briefly appointed captain in 2008.

He had the profile of a Premier League footballer, reveling in a showbiz lifestyle and regularly featuring in the gossip pages of the British press.

Soon he was being dubbed the David Beckham of cricket.

Like the football star, Pietersen had the popstar wife, Jessica Taylor, a member of former group Liberty X. And like Beckham, he became the face of styling product Brylcreem at a time when his haircuts were as bold as his batting.

He was an increasing source of tension in the England camp, holding onto the captaincy for just five months.

The resignation in January 2009 followed a power struggle with coach Peter Moores over selection decisions.

And when he was then dropped by England for the first time the following year, he made his anger clear by posting a profane comment on Twitter, which led to a fine.

It was the police fining Pietersen later in 2010 for speeding in a Lamborghini during the Ashes tour of Australia, but he went on to help the team win its first series Down Under in a quarter of a century.

His prolific batting helped England rise to the top of the test rankings in 2011 with a 4-0 rout of India.

Pietersen's antics enraged the ECB again in May when he was fined for criticizing TV commentator Nick Knight on Twitter, the start of a summer of clashes with English cricket's hierarchy.

Now he is isolated in the cricket world, with former Australia spinner Shane Warne one of his few defenders.

"England have let him down," Warne said. "You have to also understand that some players are a little bit different and need different things. It shouldn't have got to this.

"Pietersen and Strauss could have gone down to the pub, and had a beer and feed, and if they had to punch the absolute whatever out of each other, then so be it ... then come back and put your arm around each other and walk out and play together."

Bookmakers think that is still possible, with William Hill offering odds of 6-4 that Pietersen will play a test for England by the end of next year.

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