We need to talk about Kevin
Kevin Pietersen recently announced his retirement from Limited Overs Internationals citing the overcrowded schedule, stunning the cricket world. Was he fair in his decision or is the England Cricket Board right to expect his availability?
I for one approve of the ECB's policy, harsh as it may seem. I think they've rotated their players very well, resting them even when they are in good form. They make sure that players know the team cause comes first, that players don't get carried away by their own form and rest them to protect them from potential injuries.
Kevin Pietersen's point was that too many meaningless ODIs crowd the calendar, expecting a player to sign up for either all or nothing is a bad bargain. Players should be able to opt out of something or the other. He wanted to retire out of ODIs but ECB's statute that LOI players should be available for both T20s and ODIs meant that he had to give up both.
Just today, an Australian ODI squad has flown all the way to Belfast in Ireland to play ONE MEASLY ODI! Then they set off to England to play 5 out-of-calendar, sponsor-appeasing ODIs! This is highly unsettling for a player, no wonder they want to skip ODIs.
This is like having a number of time consuming assignments through the year which will not contribute to your end of term grades/marks. They keep you from studying for the main exams, take up all your free time which you would have spent with friends and family and there are no marks to be gained, it's just time and energy spent down the drain.
On the other hand, from the Board's point of view, they've built their squad around a few key players. Pietersen is an explosive ODI player, consistent and aggressive. So in the last two years, they've selected one or two batsmen who can hit big sixes and/or match strike rates with Pietersen (Eoin Morgan, Craig Kieswetter, Jonny Bairstow). The rest of the batsmen are anchors, ones who will hold one end up, rotating strike to let
Pietersen express himself at the other end (Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara). They use this template for both ODIs and T20Is.
Suddenly Pietersen retires and they're left with a BIG HOLE in their batting line up. At their best, Morgan, Kieswetter and Bairstow are supporting acts for KP. KP can afford to pick and choose the matches he plays, he already has an IPL contract, he could retire altogether. But the team depends on him and they lose out. He was given an extended run in the ODI team despite his major dip in form between November 2008 and February 2012 when he had just 3 fifties in 34 odd innings. Now that he's in form, he suddenly wants to play less ODIs. After the amount of faith showed in him, he's willing to unsettle the team balance!
These are the facts, the two sides of the story. We have a debate on the same issue on RCB Debates: Players be allowed to pick and choose formats to prioritize
Join in and do add your opinions to the mix, let's see what the Royal Challengers Fans have to say about it!
Once again, the link for RCB Debates: http://www.royalchallengers.com/debates