The sporting misfits
17 August 2012 | JON SWIFT
For something like a patented Brat-o-Meter would have given those who tend to forgive and forget a chance to gauge fully and scientifically just how much fertiliser Kevin Pietersen has managed to direct at the air conditioner over the past week.
Pietersen’s mind-blowingly naive antics fall some way short of the kind of chaos a man like boxing’s Mike Tyson has shown himself capable of in the not so distant past.
But it is also worth mentioning that the tattooed Tyson is a ghetto kid rescued by his first trainer Cus D’Amato and not the product of the type of school with all the traditions so beautifully portrayed by John van de Ruit in the Spud series.
Quite simply, Pietersen, a vastly superior cricketer when he puts his mind to it, has acted like the proverbial spoilt brat.
The reasons for him leaving South Africa to play in England are not an issue here, but his commitment to his adopted country very certainly is.
Pietersen has the three lions of England tattooed in his flesh – thankfully not across his face as Tyson opted in his own indelible decorations – but surely, that illustrates a fairly serious statement.
And he contrived to play a truly memorable innings at Headingley for England and do the unthinkable by denigrating the team’s coach and captain virtually simultaneously. That’s a hat-trick of the kind you don’t want behind your name.
You could also argue that the explosive individual who is Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez is a far bigger head banger than Pietersen.
And in some respects you could very well be right. For he showed absolutely no respect for his manager Roberto Mancini by flatly refusing to come off the substitute’s bench in a Champions League match against Bayern Munich and then awarding himself an unscheduled holiday in South America.
The basic difference is that Tevez is a proven sporting mercenary, a player who has seemed to show scant regard for the basic terms of his contracts at home in Argentina, with West Ham, Liverpool and ultimately City.
He certainly will never play for England and as soon as Mancini can find a replacement, the chances are logically weighted on Tevez being slapped on the transfer list with some alacrity.
Pietersen is different in that he has done some great things on the sportsfield with and for England. The country has been good to him.
But like Tevez before him, Pietersen has not learnt two basic rules: don’t undermine whoever it is who pays the rent and the rest of the world can’t be wrong about you.
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