They don’t play much cricket in the USA. So when Piers Morgan exploded in rage at the termination of Kevin Pietersen’s central contract by the English Cricket Board (ECB) last week – which means he was sacked from the England team – many of his followers had no idea what CNN’s 9pm Eastern Time weekday host was going on about. But here in England, we certainly do know.
Kevin Pietersen departs the field of play ((c) PA)
Some cricketers generate controversy by their behaviour; others by their extravagant abilities. Pietersen combined both. Captains and managers have, more often than not, accommodated such characters: Mike Brearley got the best out of Ian Botham, Michael Vaughan kept Pietersen focused. Back in the day, authoritarian skippers like Brian Close had to deal with a whole team of egos at Yorkshire.
Sadly, it seems that Pietersen is becoming less easy to manage, and in Alastair Cook, England has a captain who, whisper it quietly, is not very good at that job. Cook may be a prolific batsman, but he lacks the motivational skills of a Brearley or Vaughan, and his authority would not reach up to Close’s ankles. But it seems we are stuck with him for the foreseeable future.
Wonder where he's getting his information ...
So it is towards Cook and the ECB that Morgan, and anyone else feeling that Pietersen has been wrongly sacked, has directed their fire. This intensified yesterday after an ECB statement on the affair, especially this item: “We must support [Cook] in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other. It is for those reasons that we have decided to move on without Kevin Pietersen”.
And what got Morgan really wound up was the next paragraph: “Following the announcement of that decision, allegations have been made, some from people outside cricket, which as well as attacking the rationale of the ECB’s decision-making, have questioned, without justification, the integrity of the England Team Director and some of England’s players ... Clearly what happens in the dressing room or team meetings should remain in that environment and not be distributed to people not connected with the team. This is a core principle of any sports team, and any such action would constitute a breach of trust and team ethics”.
... ah, that's where he's getting it
Let me decode that for anyone not sure of the exact meaning. Without breaking confidentiality agreements, the first part of the statement makes it plain that, whatever his talents, the ECB considers Pietersen a disruptive influence.
And the second part accuses him of passing information to those “outside cricket”. This means Piers Morgan, and is why he was so incensed. Pietersen has not only been passing Morgan information: the latter has made no secret of the fact.
Whether that is right or wrong is not for me to decide. But it is game over for KP.