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Talking Point: Kevin Pietersen - the man England loved to loathe

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

Kevin Pietersen playing his best ever innings in Colombo in 2012

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With news breaking that Kevin Pietersen has become the latest victim of England's Ashes tour from hell, Citizen and Echo sports writer - and Barmy Army foot soldier - James Young gives his opinion on why it's a bad move for English cricket

ALL aboard a time machine, destination 1994 - the mantra by which English cricket seems to have chosen to deal with the Ashes shambles.

Time was that English cricket used to react to defeats with the call for a mass cull - get rid of the bloody lot of them the pundits would scream.

Those days had apparently gone, we were told they had become a thing of the past, but then we lost the Ashes, and lost them in embarrassing fashion.

So what's the answer to all that. Lose the best coach we've ever had, oh and the best player? He better go too.

Like him or loathe him, Kevin Pietersen was the stand-out talent to strap on a pair of pads and play for England in the past decade.

Destructive, maverick, swashbuckling and supremely talented, for some reason the majority of English cricket fans didn't like him.

More than 8,000 Test runs, 23 hundreds - many of them match-winners - it wasn't enough for some of his most vehement critics.

Okay he had a South African accent, but so did half the team of the 80s and 90s - and dare I say his English mother made him more English than some of his teammates.

For some reason, KP was always seen as an outsider. When he got out he was lambasted by nearly everyone. His face just didn't fit.

But when he single-handedly won games or sealed series like he did in his debut Ashes back in 2005 he rarely got the credit his talent deserved.

I was lucky enough to see the innings he called his best - a match-winning effort in the obscene heat of Colombo back in 2012. It was truly the work of a sporting genius.

No other England batsman could do what he did on that punishingly-hot day in the Sri Lankan capital, when he butchered a wily attack in 40 degree heat to make 151 from just 165 balls.

Better would come on the tour to India the following winter, making 186 on a pitch that bore a passing resemblance to the Gobi Desert to swing the series England's way.

The Mumbai knock came after a much-heralded reintegration into the England side following a publicised spat during the summer of 2012.

And yes, there were other troubles. Not least the saga that saw him resign the captaincy in controversial circumstances in 2009.

But his job was not to be popular, it wasn't to tow the line and be what Jose Mourinho called 'one of the bottle'.

Pietersen's job was to be the 'special one', to put bums on increasingly more-expensive seats and entertain crowds - something he did with greater regularity than any other English player in his generation.

English cricket will certainly be a poorer place without him and surely questions must be asked about why a maverick talent such as his could not be accommodated.

What message are we sending out to the talented kids for the future when we can't handle someone who is a little bit different?

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