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01 October 2023

Pietersen axe has robbed world cricket one of it's heroes

In a file picture taken on December 5, 2010, England batsman Kevin Pietersen celebrates scoring a double century against Australia on the third day of the second Ashes Test match in Adelaide. (AFP)

By Reuters

Kevin Pietersen is one of world cricket's heroes and his sacking by England represents a failure by the team's leadership rather than the player, according to former International Cricket Council (ICC) president Ehsan Mani.

The England and Wales Cricket Board brought the curtain down on the South African-born batsman's near-10-year spell at the top by leaving him out of the squad for the forthcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh and limited-overs tour of West Indies.

Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, cited a need "to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy", effectively closing the door on a player frequently labelled a disruptive dressing-room influence.

"To take Pietersen out of the England team equation I think is a failure of management, not of the player," Mani told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday from his home in Islamabad.

"He's a great character and the game needs heroes like that."

Pietersen played in 104 Tests, 136 one-day internationals and 37 Twenty20 internationals.

He scored 8,181 test runs with a highest score of 227, 4,440 ODI runs and 1,176 Twenty20 runs, but, despite his swashbuckling efforts as a batsman, he was a player who polarised opinion.

Mani, who was president of the ICC between 2003-06, said ultimately it was the job of the board to coax the best out of its cricketers.

"There will always be issues with players," explained the 68-year-old Pakistani businessman. "Some players have big egos, some have different ways of looking at things.

"But at the end of the day that's what the cricket boards are there for, to man-manage their players and get the best out of them.

"To say to someone that you are a good player but you don't fit into our plans, to me demonstrates a failure of the board."


England were thrashed 5-0 by Australia in the recent Ashes series Down Under, and lost the one-dayers 4-1 and the Twenty20 encounter 3-0.

Mani believes there will be other casualties to follow the 33-year-old Pietersen.

"England had a horrid tour of Australia but Pietersen still topped the test batting averages, so why have they decided he can no longer be part of the team - unless there are major problems in the dressing room we don't know about," said the Pakistani.

"There must be more fallouts from the tour to come. There is such a question mark over so many of the players now.

"The bowling department's under pressure and the batsmen have shown they have issues against good bowling - the Australian pacemen were really impressive.

"It will be interesting to see England's batsmen the next time they are exposed to really fast bowling."

Mani said England should take a leaf out of Australia's books when it comes to player guidance.

"The Australians have always been pretty good at managing their cricketers, they manage it much better," he added.

"Look at all-rounder Shane Watson. He actually left the tour of India (for disciplinary reasons) last year but that didn't mean they dumped him.

"He came back into the side and is now firing on all cylinders," said Mani.

"Ultimately it is the board's responsibility, not the players. I've run businesses around the world and you just can't pass the buck on to an employee, you have to take responsibility and manage the situation."