If Andrew Strauss & the ECB thought they were drawing a line under the Kevin Petersen story that has haunted the England cricket team for over a year, they could not have been more wrong. In an approach that reminded me of the team's planning for the disastrous world cup this past winter, they had a plan A, but no plan B, and against all obvious logic, when circumstances changed Strauss simply executed his Plan A.
He had decided, with some justification, to draw a line under the KP debacle once and for all, because it was hanging over England like a cloud. Timing seemed good - new England management and KP himself hadn't been scoring runs at Surrey, and was looking like his best days were over and therefore his claim on a place int he Eng;and side looked weak.
A meeting with Strauss was therefore scheduled after KP's last game for Surrey before he headed to India to fulfill his IPL contract. Not a bad plan, except that Kevin threw a mighty hammer in the works - or rather 355 hammers! - by playing the innings of his life that very day - it was Pietersen at his arrogant, commanding best: bars emptied, football was shoved off the back pages and cricket fans rejoiced in a performance the likes of which the combined England batting line-up haven't managed in over a year. KP was back, and with the Ashes looming large, fans foresaw a possibility our lack luster team might have a chance with our Kev at his best battering games away from the opposition.
Despite this massive change in the situation, Strauss executed Plan A and worse, he raked up his own personal animosity for Pietersen with his "trust issues" statement - well its been a PR disaster - once again Kevin's anguish has stolen the headlines eclipsing anything else Strauss might want to say at the start of his reign; we hear that potential coaches touted as favorites to replace Moores are now having second thoughts and if England do not dominate New Zealand over the next few weeks, the name Pietersen will echo around the cricket media and in the stands - expect to hear more chants of "Are You Watching Andrew Strauss?".
In fact there was an obvious, and logical Plan B and the only reason I can find for it not being executed was Strauss's personal feelings for Pietersen caused him to act out of spite and anger.
All Strauss had to say was that while the 355 not out had impressed the selectors, and made them think again about selecting KP, currently the England middle order of Ballance, Root and Bell was settled and the most successful part of the England team - there is simply no vacancy for KP at the moment. Additionally he could have added that even if selected, Pietersen at 34 would have been used as short term filler for this summer's Ashes, but at his age he wouldn't feature much further ahead in England's plans - at his age and with injuries catching up with him, Kevin is not going to take part in the next World Cup or the 2019 Ashes series.
Even as a huge KP supporter I see the logic in this and so would the media and public, because regardless of Pietersen's form, who would get dropped from the England team to make space for KP? if he were an opener it might be different.
This approach would have allowed Pietersen to save face and restore some pride, without actually re-entering the dressing room. It would have also left the selectors with the possibility of recalling Pietersen at any point this summer if injury or lack of form creates a space in the middle order - a possibility that would no doubt worry Australia!
Personal feelings and pride were clearly at the forefront of this new mishandling of KP. The
whole debacle was caused before, during and after the infamous 'firing, by poor man-management of 'talent' and Strauss's first performance as Director of England Cricket hasn't exactly given us confidence that lessons have been learned. No wonder Jason Gillespie's enthusiasm for the England coaching job has dimmed - who'd take on a losing side, low on confidence who despite that just turned down the best player available because of "trust issues" ? Really???