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This must not happen!

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Kevin Pietersen"I can't give any assurances that the next Test won't be my last," Pietersen said. "I'd like to carry on but there are obstacles that need to be worked out. There are other points I'm trying to sort out in the dressing room. It would be a huge shame. I love playing Test cricket for England, but we'll see. For me, the saddest part about all this is that the spectators just love watching me play and I love playing for England." After a fascinating day’s play, Kevin Pietersen’s statements were like a fat man fallen in a cake – quite disturbing.

This is a matter important not only to the ECB, but the entire cricketing world. Kevin Pietersen is a batsman the few remaining audiences will pay money to watch. His hundred in the previous Test was scintillating, not because of the amount of runs he scored but the manner in which he scored them. Up against the number one bowler in world cricket, Kevin Pietersen batted like a star. He made Dale Steyn look like a List A rookie bowler. A particular shot that stood out was the six straight over the bowler’s head. Dale Steyn was steaming in, swinging the new ball like he always does. KP took one step forward, watched the full ball swing and dispatched it with the same disdain as one would a fly.

His innings, Stuart Broad’s fifer in South Africa’s second innings and Graeme Smith’s declaration set up a brilliant final session. In pursuit of 253, England opened with Kevin Pietersen. Alistair Cook and Ian Bell are England’s current ODI opening pair, but KP was promoted up the order because even England accepts the fact that he is their best batsman. No team can afford to lose a player of his caliber, certainly not because of politics. He has admitted that playing in the IPL is one of the reasons, but there are several others. Reasons which are known to none save him. England is already sending a team without him for the World T20 this September. His retirement from ODIs has left him with a forced pink slip from the T20 squad as well. However, as controversial as it seems, ECB has done the right thing. For one-day cricket to survive, their rule makes sense. And no player must be allowed to by pass this rule. No exceptions should be made, even for an exceptional player.

The fact of the matter still remains, when this Test series is done, England and World cricket cannot afford to have Kevin Pietersen not playing international cricket. If that happens, inevitably the different leagues will win the battle against international cricket. The ECB must sort out this tussle of egos that is going on. From the outside, it looks exactly like that. Two people who know they can’t do without each other, going at it to see who comes out an unscathed victor. In the process, it is not one of them who is going to lose, but the audiences and the sport. That becomes an eventual problem for the ICC. Although an intervention by them right now will not be welcomed by the ECB, mediation is necessary. They may not be able to help solve the problem, but they must try. This no longer remains one country’s problem, but has become the fight for cricket’s survival. Whether or not this fiasco is handled properly will be learnt after the 3rd Test. Until August 20th, as dramatic as it sounds, the fate of cricket hangs in the balance.



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