FOR every time Kevin Pietersen has scored a brilliant century for England, there has been an occasion when he has skied one straight into the hands of a fielder 20 yards in from the boundary rope. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that his reign as England captain has blown up just as spectacularly.
I don’t think there’s a single person in cricketing circles tonight who is the least bit surprised that Peter Moores has gone from the England coaching set-up. Moores was a dead duck (or perhaps a golden duck) from the moment his dispute with Pietersen over the direction of the team became public.
Not everyone, though, expected Pietersen to go after just 156 days as captain. Even Pietersen himself, judging by the statement he released following his resignation this afternoon, seemed to think at the start of the week that he might be hanging around as the captain for a while longer.
What the statement also suggests is that Pietersen has no immediate plans to chase Indian Premier League cash either. He intends to be a part of the England squad which travels to the West Indies in a couple of weeks, and the line-up which tries to repeat the glorious 2005 Ashes victory this summer.
It was obvious following the humiliation of the Stanford Series, and the heavy one-day defeat in India, that something needed to be done. Pietersen increasingly, it seems, felt that the Moores way was the wrong way. There is a suggestion that KP felt he had full dressing room backing on this matter. If those were his thoughts, he was wrong.
There’s no doubt that a fully-firing KP is an asset to the England team – perhaps their strongest asset. But his short-lived run at the helm has raised the question yet again as to whether great players make great captains. The answer, of course, is: “Yes, as long as they realise that they might have to be a bit less selfish from time to time.”
Pietersen may yet turn out to be a great captain. But he has shown over the last five months that he’s not there yet. His contribution to the side for now will be better as a star batsman, without the responsibility – and the need for smarter diplomatic skills – that the captaincy requires.
Replacement captain Andrew Strauss has been described as a “safe pair of hands” so many times today that he might want to consider using deed poll to incorporate the phrase into his name. It does smack of a parcel-tape-over-the-cracks-and-keep-your-fingers-crossed appointment – but Strauss won’t be the first sportsman to get a top job under those circumstances. It might just work.
What’s more worrying is that Moores has gone with no obvious replacement waiting in the wings. The only name David Gower was able to put forward when interviewed on Sky Sports News this evening was one he openly acknowledged was not available – Tom Moody, who is now happily set up coaching in Australia. After that, Gower admitted there were few top-class candidates around.
Perhaps, then, there is a little more shaking up of the England set-up to do before the next era can begin. I wouldn’t lose hope for the Ashes, though. It’s not as if Australia are on top form at the moment, either.