KEV’S DOWNFALL BORNE OUT OF AN IDEN­TITY CRI­SIS

The Cricket Paper - - OPINION -

Kevin Pi­etersen is not renowned for al­low­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that he might be wrong. Fol­low­ing a re­veal­ing in­ter­view in a Sun­day sup­ple­ment last week­end, how­ever, there have been wide­spread re­ports of peo­ple of many na­tions be­ing knocked down with a feather.

More so, be­cause the is­sue in ques­tion has been at the very heart of Pi­etersen’s con­tro­ver­sial ca­reer from the mo­ment he ar­rived in Eng­land to seek an al­ter­na­tive route to in­ter­na­tional cricket once he be­came con­vinced his road was blocked by the quota sys­tem in his na­tive South Africa.

Hav­ing been born to an English mother he had ev­ery right to do so.

He was by no means the first born in that coun­try to rep­re­sent Eng­land, with An­drew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Matt Prior, Robin Smith, Al­lan Lamb and Tony Greig among the most no­table re­cent pre­de­ces­sors and the Zim­bab­wean-born Graeme Hick was made to jump through hoops to qual­ify. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, very few peo­ple could have cared less so long as those play­ers did their best for Eng­land which they all did.

But it seemed dif­fer­ent with Pi­etersen, per­haps be­cause none of the above tried quite so hard to prove that they were re­ally English through and through as Kevin, even go­ing through the pain of hav­ing a Three Li­ons tat­too inked on his arm.

The pub­li­ca­tion of a diary writ­ten by Aus­tralia’s Ed Cowan in 2011 added fuel to the fire when Cowan men­tioned an in­ci­dent dur­ing Eng­land’s match against Aus­tralia A on the pre­vi­ous win­ter tour.

Ac­cord­ing to Cowan, Pi­etersen ‘was heard to ex­claim, as he cast his eye over the lunch buf­fet: “What the **** is this?”’ Cowan told him that, be­ing English, he should recog­nise bread and but­ter pud­ding when he saw it, to which he claims Pi­etersen replied: ‘I’m not ****ing English, Ed­die. I just work here!’

But now Pi­etersen seems to have re­alised he may have done him­self no favours with his ef­forts to be­come some­thing and some­one he sim­ply was not.

“You’re not born in Africa, Africa is born in you,” he told Laura Pull­man of the Sun­day Times, who de­scribes what he said next as fol­lows.

“Play­ing the ‘I’m Eng­land’ card was one of the big­gest mis­takes I ever made,” he told Pull­man. “Peo­ple said through­out my ca­reer ‘you’re South African’, and I al­ways said ‘no, no, no’,” he says with a suit­ably au­then­tic ac­cent. “But,at the end of the day, I’m South African, I was born in South Africa, I lived in South Africa for 20 years. If you don’t like it then you’ve got no brains.”

“Ev­ery sin­gle time I did well I was English, ev­ery time I did badly I was ‘South African-born Kevin Pi­etersen’.”

Eng­land have moved on from their ac­ri­mo­nious split in 2014 and so has Pi­etersen, who re­cently claimed he was open to the idea of qual­i­fy­ing to play for South Africa in the 2019 World Cup, in Eng­land, of course, though at the time of go­ing to press it had not been pos­si­ble to con­firm ru­mours that he has booked an ap­point­ment with Chan­nel Four’s Tat­too Fix­ers to have their skilled artists turn the Li­ons into a sin­gle Protea. .

He is also throw­ing his celebrity be­hind ad­mi­ral ef­forts to save rhi­nos in his na­tive land.

One can’t help feel­ing, how­ever that a lot of the un­der­ly­ing ten­sion that led even­tu­ally to the break-up could have been avoided and that he would have been made far more wel­come here had he not tried to con­form to his idea of be­ing “English” when most peo­ple re­ally didn’t mind he was not, never had been, nor ever would be.

Now Pi­etersen seems to have re­alised he may have done him­self no favours with his ef­forts to be­come some­one he sim­ply was not

English or not? Kevin Pi­etersen

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