The ECB's petty decision last week to discipline Pietersen for his mild criticism of Nick Knight on Twitter seems to have cost them the services of their best batsman after KP today announced his retirement from limited overs international cricket with immediate effect.
Whilst the little Englanders and KP’s detractors in the media will doubtless point to the fact that he still intends to participate in the IPL, most of our sympathy lies with Pietersen.
The simple fact is that England play too much 50 over cricket; this summer there are 13 matches (or is it 14, it’s difficult to keep count) and then a further seven in India later in the year. Not only does it dilute the brand whilst sending even the most fervent pyjama cricket fan to sleep, it leaves the players tired of the format and spending too much time away from their young families.
Whilst KP’s timing isn’t great with England set to defend their World T20 crown in Sri Lanka in four months – a point made rather pettily by the ‘disappointed’ Hugh Morris in the wake of Pietersen's announcement, the ECB’s insistence of an all or nothing approach to limited overs cricket kind of made it inevitable.
Pietersen said he would like to be in Sri Lanka to help England defend the trophy that he played a major part in them lifting in 2010, but the intransigence of the ECB prevented this. KP is 31, has a young family and is financially secure for life, so when his employers decided to punish him for going public on his views on Knight, it seems that it was the final straw. Can anyone really blame him?
We’ve certainly got no bones with Pietersen’s decision. He’s served England well in the 50 over format and his retirement gives a younger player the opportunity to establish himself before the World Cup in 2015. Those referencing the IPL are barking up the wrong tree. We’re no great lovers of the tournament, but it lasts for six weeks of which Pietersen is unlikely ever to play a full part due to his Test commitments.
And let’s look on the bright side. As well as hopefully extending his Test career, we could be seeing a lot more of him in county cricket for Surrey. Isn’t there a T20 competition starting soon?
If you like this, follow us on Twitter @thereversesweep