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Why dropping Pietersen was the correct decision
IN a sporting world in which player power has become rife, notions of deference, discipline and respect for the team ethic seem increasingly antiquated.
So with that in mind, Kevin Pietersen's omission from the England Test squad that will tour India this winter is to be welcomed.
He might be the best batsman in the country and he might be the one player above all others that spectators want to see, but the ECB still decided that after the events of the last month, enough is enough.
It could be argued that English cricket's rulers are reducing the likelihood of a series success by leaving Pietersen at home, but it is still nice to know that individualism and self-interest have their limits. There is no 'I' in team, but there is one in Pietersen, even if like so much of the batsman's character, it appears to be there more for show than for anything more substantive.
The derogatory text messages sent to members of the South Africa squad earlier this summer have been cited as the main reason for Pietersen's continued international exile, and while the 32-year-old has held face-to-face meetings with ECB board members Hugh Morris and David Collier, head coach Andy Flower and current and former captains Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss in order to apologise for his actions, his conduct clearly rankles.
There are strong suggestions that he is not welcome in the dressing room, hardly surprising given that he was willing to poke fun at his team-mates with the opposition this summer, and while you do not have to be liked to be a valuable member of a team set-up, a certain level of respect is clearly required, especially when you are about to embark on a gruelling tour of the Asian sub-continent.
Pietersen has never really been a team player, and while it is hard to criticise his self-absorbed batting style given his previous contributions to the England cause, it is hard to avoid the impression that international cricket is increasingly little more than a hindrance to his pursuit of personal riches in the IPL.
Nothing wrong with that of course, but you can't have your cake and eat it, and Pietersen is understood to have been one of the chief complainers about the ECB's current stance regarding centrally-contracted players being released to play in global Twenty20 competitions.
Quite understandably, the ECB want to prioritise the interests of the England team. More and more, those interests seemed to come into conflict with Pietersen's ambitions.
He has been here before of course, when his Test place was queried following his resignation as captain in 2009. Pietersen was forced to step down after an irretrievable breakdown in his relationship with head coach Peter Moores, who was also removed from his position.
Pietersen argues his belligerence was necessary to force through changes in the international set-up. From the outside, it looked like his ego and refusal to contemplate compromise running out of control again.
He was forgiven on that occasion and went on to play a pivotal role in England's 2009 Ashes success, but three-and-a-half years later, and there is unlikely to be such an amicable resolution.
With his career drawing to its end, there appears little incentive for the ECB to alter their current stance, even if next summer's Ashes series is bound to begin focusing minds.
Pietersen has burnt his bridges with his coaches, selectors and team-mates, and must accept the consequences of his actions as a result.
English cricket has lost one of its match-winners, but has regained its authority and leadership. In my eyes, that is a reasonable trade.
IF you're looking for another example of player power running out of control, you need only turn your attention to the current goings on at Newcastle United.
Demba Ba is reportedly unhappy because Newcastle are refusing to almost double his current wages of around £50,000-a-week.
With Newcastle refusing to budge as Mike Ashley rules out a return to the club's former big-spending ways, Ba claimed he was “not happy with some things” in the wake of Monday's draw with Everton and saw both his agent and brother criticise Magpies manager Alan Pardew for leaving him on the bench at Goodison Park.
Pardew insists he has no hard feelings and is expected to start with Ba when Norwich visit Tyneside on Sunday.
However, a lengthy spell on the bench could be just what Ba needs. Maybe then he can start to reflect on how petulant he has been and stop acting like a spoiled brat.
FINALLY, a bit of positivity to end with. I spent last weekend watching the Great North City Games on the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside and the Great North Run from Newcastle to South Shields .
Both events are an absolute credit to the region. Whether it was Mo Farah's first competitive appearance since the Olympics or the sight of almost 50,000 runners streaming across the Tyne Bridge, the double-header provided some of the highlights of the North-East sporting year.
The Great North Run has been around for more than 30 years now, and it is easy to take it for granted. But it remains a remarkable success story that commands worldwide attention.
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