England Cricket: ECB and KP must come to a compromise

England's 'best player' Kevin Pietersen

Frank Gregan explains why the ECB's actions over Kevin Pietersen are understandable but why a compromise must be sought if our 'best player' is to play in this year's T20 World Cup...

"England need their best players if they are to have any chance of retaining their title and no matter what angle you look at it from, warts and all, Kevin Pietersen is one of, if not the best player England have."

Everybody likes to think they're a bit special at their jobs but for those that aren't deluding themselves there is a dangerous by-product, the belief that they're indispensable.

It comes as a shock to the system when they find out they're not. Kevin Pietersen decided to retire from one day international cricket last month but after a change of heart has decided he would like to continue - on his terms.

Why on earth anyone would stick their head above the parapet and shout "shoot me if you can" to their employers is bewildering but can only be driven by arrogance. The belief that they are better than the rest, in a nutshell, indispensable.

Now, as the reality starts to sink in that Pietersen is about to miss the T20 World Cup, one of probably only single digit full blown international trophies that he can compete for during his career, he wants to be a part of it but still he is demanding too much.

Had KP held his hands up and said "Fair play guys, I got that one wrong, any chance of playing in Sr Lanka later on in the year if I bite the bullet and play when I'm told?" the matter would likely have been resolved. Instead he's come up with a list of demands including being released for the whole of next year's IPL and not surprisingly he looks like being told to sling his hook.

The initial 30 man squad for the T20 World Cup is announced on Wednesday and it looks like Pietersen's olive branch has been too little-too late unless there are some last minute negotiations going on behind the scenes. His cause hasn't been helped by the manner that his team-mates have responded to his absence during the recent one-day contests. They've won seven straight since KP opted out and with Ian Bell shining having been moved up to opening the batting in the 50 over game and Alex Hales scoring a magnificent 99 in the only T20 international against the West Indies. It's become a case of Kevin Who?

But let's not kid ourselves, that was an out of sort West Indian side playing in adverse conditions and things will be much different in Sri Lanka come September. England need their best players if they are to have any chance of retaining their title and no matter what angle you look at it from, warts and all, Kevin Pietersen is one of, if not the best player England have.

The ECB have proved their point and their stand is undoubtedly justified but there has to be a compromise. There's little doubt that KP is going to have to surrender the vast majority of the middle ground but a gesture from the ECB, no matter how small, might be enough to ensure that both parties aren't shooting themselves in the foot.

Pietersen will be in action this week against the country of his birth when the first Test gets underway on Thursday. England are 2.962/1 to win the first Test with the Proteas 4.47/2 and the draw being favoured at 2.26/5 because of the awful summer weather England has been enduring.

South Africa's poor preparation has been overshadowed by the dreadful injury sustained by Mark Boucher which puts everything into perspective but the undercooked tourists could well struggle if the weather doesn't cause too much time to be lost out in the middle.

As for KP, the difference between him and his employers was summed up by coach Andy Flower when he was considering how Pietersen would bemoan later in life that he had opted out of potentially two major world tournaments, this years T20 and the 50 over World Cup in 2015. "Maybe he won't. Maybe he's a very... well, he is a very different person to me, so he might not think that way at all." said Flower.

Perhaps he doesn't think that way but surely it's the coaches job to convince him he should!

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