Alex Massie Alex Massie

The sad but inevitable downfall of Kevin Pietersen. A tragedy in two innings.

Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography is the saddest book of its type I’ve ever read. By its end you begin to think that KP and the ECB deserved each other and realise that, a) no-one deserves that and, b) there’s no way this marriage of convenience – for such it was – could ever have ended happily or with each side fondly wishing the other all the best in their future endeavours.

And it was a contractual arrangement from the very start. Pietersen’s book is clear about that: KP “tried too hard” to fit in with England and Englishness. He now realises South Africa is his “real home” and he should never have pretended to be anything other than “a South African with English heritage”. KP is “English in the way that being English means lots of things” which is kinda true, I guess, but also suggests the only thing that really made KP English was the chance to play international cricket for England.

England, like every other team for whom he has played, was useful to KP until they ceased to be useful to him. At which point he had no choice but to do his own thing. ‘Twas ever thus with Kevin and always will be.

“A team needs to be happy if they want to play well” says Pietersen but that’s not usually the case. Or rather, it’s the other way round. Happiness comes from playing well and in turns spawns the confidence to play well some more. All Kevin ever wanted was to be loved. He’d do the work  – the hard work – to earn some more of that love. But he needed it to be unconditional and forever.

There is pathos and irony aplenty, here. KP’s story is simultaneously unreliable and revealing. We are granted rare access to the mind of a man suffering from a kind of cricketing Aspergers: an impossible genius, impossible in every way.

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