Opinion: The truth, or a version of it, will out

Blog Opinion

And so it begins. The confidentiality agreement is no longer in force. The book has been published. The pawns are being moved into place for the end game.

Kevin Pietersen has given his first no-holds-barred interview since his sacking by the ECB. As he has promised, he didn’t hold back. In the Daily Telegraph, he has accused the England dressing room of being in the thrall of bullies, and Andy Flower ruling by fear.

The issue for Kevin, as it always is when he is concerned, is that the majority of those that read what he has to say have already decided if he is right or wrong before he opens his mouth.

A much wiser man than myself once told me that it isn’t what you say that matters, it is the way that you say it. (Thanks, Dad). Pietersen often says the right thing the wrong way. He speaks English very well, perhaps he isn’t totally fluent in ‘human’.

Those who admire Pietersen as a man and as a cricketer, and this post is coming to you from the honorary headquarters of the Kevin Pietersen Fan Club, see much to praise him for his honesty.

He ‘says it like it is’ in a way that Test Match Special listeners often praise Geoffrey Boycott for doing. In fact, the two men are very similar in almost every way apart from their batting. Strident in their views, confrontational when challenged, unable to keep quiet when it might be better to do just that.

I have written before about how Pietersen is a cricketing Cassandra, often telling the truth but doomed to have no one believe him. He was right about resting England players, he was right about the IPL, many would say he was right about Peter Moores as a coach.

For those that are opposed to Pietersen, everything he says is further proof of his unpleasantness. When he went after Moores back in 2008 it was because he was disloyal. When he sent text messages to a friend in another team, it was a betrayal. When he talks of his self-belief, it is an example of his arrogance.

There are two issues with this. The first is that they are holding him to higher standards than other players in the same dressing room. International sportsmen are not renowned for being backwards in coming forwards. Others are just better at acting the part of the gracious interviewee.

The other is that very few of this people have ever met the man. I haven’t met Pietersen. I have spoken to him on the phone to interview him. I have chatted with him via Twitter. He has always been very civil to me, but I cannot speak for others.

It could be that Pietersen is an unpleasant person to share a dressing room with, but it seems strange that this would bother people that are not in that space. There is talk of team spirit and unity, but ultimately it is about results.

The England sides with Pietersen in it were the most successful to ever take the field for their country. They have been the world number one in every format, won an ICC world event and beat the Australians four times in six attempts. It seems strange that this decade of success coincided with such an awful drain on their esprit de corps.

It could be that Pietersen had outlived his usefulness for England. Perhaps his best days were behind him. As England’s leading run scorer of all time he could have been afforded the kind of send-off that Alastair Cook will no doubt be given when he calls time on his brilliant England career. Instead, his England career was ended in a meeting room at Lord’s with Cook reportedly unable to look him in the eye.

The one area of the Telegraph interview where it seems to jar is the suggestion that ‘anyone could have coached that team’ during England’s assent to the Test match top spot. This seems a little incongruous to those looking in from the outside.

Flower and his regime was the epitome of getting the most out of your constituent parts. Perhaps the problem was that those parts were squeezed a bit too hard. The England dressing room was like an engine that had been going flat out for five years. It is of little surprise that it blew a gasket.

Whatever your views on Pietersen the person, and only those who have spent lots of time with him can really judge, he is without doubt one of the finest players to ever play for his country.

The book is released on Thursday, and we will be given a version of the truth. It is up to the reader to decide. I am going to go and read my copy now…

Peter Miller

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