Could this be the end for Kevin Pietersen and England?

Paul Newman
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
3:32 PM

Here we go again! The Kevin Pietersen saga rolls on – its taken up more space in this column over the past few weeks than anything else.

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Did we see this one coming? Did we really believe the England management would go down the route of dropping their star batsman in a Test match England must win in order to retain their status as number one nation in the world – and especially after Pietersen hit one of the most memorable Test match centuries we have seen in a very long time in the last Test match at Headingley?

Well, they did, and it was no surprise to me at all they took this route. Andrew Strauss, Andy Flower, Geoff Miller and Hugh Morris were left with absolutely no choice but to omit him from their side.

After Pietersen, in effect, refused to respond to the ‘text scandal’ concerning England players, the writing was on the wall.

All this just hours after Pietersen himself chose to tell the world, via YouTube, that he was making himself available for England again in all forms of the game after his recent announcement that he just wished to play Test cricket.

Here is a man who wears his heart very firmly on his sleeve but, by his own admission, sometimes gets things wrong.

So what happens now? I’m sure Pietersen and his advisors will want to hold further talks with the ECB to resolve this matter so that walking back into the England dressing room, when all this is finally resolved, is as painless for him as it quite obviously will be for some members of the England Test squad.

I don’t think he has any choice than to go back into county cricket with Surrey and try to help them avoid the possibility of relegation that currently hovers over them. He will not enjoy his return to the ranks, but I feel he has no choice.

England have taken a very bold move here and quite clearly stated that no one person is bigger than the game. They have taken massive steps forward over the past five years and will not allow even Pietersen to stand in their way.

He will now have to bow to the demands of the ECB, or his much publicised YouTube video will be of little consequence if his position in the England set-up becomes untenable.

The majority of cricket-loving fans will surely not want this to happen, but knowing Flower and Miller as well as I do, don’t be surprised if the name ‘Pietersen’ is removed from an England team sheet for some time, even forever.

• ANOTHER BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE AS RELEGATION BECKONS ACLE

Life at the bottom gets no easier for Acle. We lost again – relegation here we come.

The top two in the EAPL continue to play cat and mouse, with both Swardeston and Vauxhall Mallards posting 25 points each at the weekend. Five games to go, 150 points to contest and Norfolk sides still filling the top three places. Horsford’s drawn game at the weekend really means that, with a 32-point deficit over the leaders, they must look to win at least four of their remaining fixtures to have any chance. I really hoped this season presented them with their best opportunity of taking the title but, especially with captain Chris Brown missing this weekend due to coaching commitments in Barbados, at the moment it’s looking a longer shot than it did three weeks ago.

Another very big loss for Horsford has been the recall of Jaik Mickleburgh to the Essex 1st X1. This is fantastic news for us all, but his loss is a massive jolt to their title ambitions. I don’t see him figuring again this season for the Manor Park outfit so that puts huge responsibility on the shoulders of Chris Sabburg and James Wild to get the runs on the board to win the remaining five matches.

• NORWICH IN SEARCH OF THE DOUBLE

Norwich landed the first leg of what they hope will be a league and cup double when they beat Sprowston in the Carter Cup final at Manor Park on Sunday.

Although I was not able to attend the game – because of my duties with the Norfolk Ladies team – the outcome of the game was pretty much as I predicted last week.

I just felt that Norwich, with their all-round experience, including over 10 years in the EAPL, would have a bit too much in the 60-over format for a young Sprowston side that have been a revelation in limited-overs cricket this season.

Sprowston skipper Simon Chipperfield must have had his reasons for deciding to bowl first after winning the toss, but I was a bit surprised as I am a big fan of getting runs on the board and then applying pressure with the bowling.

Norwich had to work hard, though, for their 177 runs from 60 overs and on a day when 12 of the 19 wickets to fall were to be taken by spin – six of them to man of the match, Norwich skipper Ashley Watson – was that a wise decision in hindsight?

To be bowled out for 87 in the 29th over, less than half the allotted number, would have been extremely disappointing, but ‘Chippers’ admitted his men were well beaten by the better team on the day.

Prior to Sunday’s success Norwich had last won the Carter Cup in 2000 when I was fortunate enough to skipper them to victory over Norwich Wanderers, on the last occasion the final was held at Lakenham.

So now Norwich will be looking to build on this success by adding the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division title, but they must quickly put Saturday’s crushing defeat by Downham – which allowed Fakenham to close the gap to six points – behind them.

Victory for Fakenham has closed the gap now to just six points, a distance the West Norfolk team will be looking to bridge before both sides meet in the penultimate fixture of the season.

There isn’t too much to pick between the two – in fact, Fakenham are probably stronger now, with the acquisition of Sam Wells from Otago in New Zealand, than they were when they beat Norwich earlier in the season.

I have no doubts that the side coming out with a greater share of the points in that fixture will be the side contesting any potential EAPL play-off.

At the moment I’m not entirely sure how many other leagues from the feeder system will have a representative in any potential play-off but, from what I hear, there may only be one game. Will Fakenham take up that option; I’m absolutely sure they will. What about Norwich? I think as a club they have to, but I’m not sure how many of the current 1st X1 will want to ‘get back on the road’ again after experiencing the more leisurely Saturday mornings that the Norfolk Alliance offers. Watch this space!

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