Kevin Pietersen – Problems of Dual Nationality in Sport
Test cricketer Kevin Petersen’s problems with the cricket selectors reveal the contrast between his attitude – and that of Team GB Heroes like Mo Farah. Throughout his career emotional outbursts and decisions based on total self interest have marked Pietersen’s progress in international sport.
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Kevin Petersen left his native South Africa in protest against his country’s racial quota system which had been introduced in an attempt to integrate “players of colour” and white players after apartheid.
Other white players stayed and co-operated with the system. Not Pietersen. He left for the English game and after four seasons, thanks to his English born mother, he qualified to play for England.
Pietersen has enjoyed a successful test career with England. He is a right hand bat and change bowler who has proved a match winner on occasion. But there is only one way – Pietersen’s way – a situation that never fits comfortably into a team game.
When he was made captain the team had an unhappy air. Pietersen constantly schemed against coach Peter Moores and after only a few games in charge Pietersen lost the captaincy – but he did succeed in getting Moores sacked.
His relationship with the authorities never really recovered and he has insisted on being released to play in the extremely lucrative India league during the winter.
The latest problems which have resulted in him being dropped for a vital and deciding Test match against South Africa are the most serious.
In the previous test Pietersen was seen laughing and joking with the South Africans – on the field. When he was told to stop by captain Andrew Strauss and Coach Andy Flower he swore at them – characteristically in Afrikaans. Worse still he sent text messages to two South African players in which he criticised Strauss and Flower. When asked to explain what was going on – he refused.
The team management had no alternative other than to drop him. He was an outcast in the English dressing room and a disruptive influence. England needed to win the last test to stay on top of world cricket but that doesn’t matter to Pietersen. He has his own personal case to make.
The English selectors said that the success of the test side had been based on unity and trust. Pietersen fails on both points and the wisest course would be to remove him permanently from the test squad.
After the wild Olympic success of Team GB – a team that featured athletes from every background working together with discipline and determination – there can be no room in British sport for self-interested stars, wherever they are born.
More Mo Farahs, no Kevin Pietersens is the way forward.