Thursday, May 31, 2012

KP retirement raises pertinent questions

Kevin Pietersen has announced his retirement from international limited overs cricket – but is to continue in Test matches and the IPL.

The decision is not that surprising given the intense demands placed on players nowadays, as the fixture list is crammed with more and more matches with each passing year.

The modern international cricketer is virtually forced to choose between different forms of the game and with age not on his side, a 32-year-old Pietersen has made the logical choice.

After all his loyalty to England and Test cricket is well known and admirable. But like so many of his peers, the riches of the IPL are also one of the modern game’s star attractions.

KP’s decision to continue with the two forms of the game comes at a time where the ICC's cricket committee is to meet and discuss, among other things, the relationship between the IPL and the international calendar.

While it shouldn’t be a case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’, the rapid growth in popularity of the IPL simply cannot be ignored and I believe that should the two forms of the game work together they can be mutually benefit.

Players should not be forced to choose between huge riches and the pride of playing Test cricket for their country, or what could be known as the ‘Chris Gayle syndrome’.

A dedicated window for the IPL to be played will allow more cricketers to play in the tournament without hampering their international sides – witness the current West Indies team, shorn of two of their best players, as evidence of this.

If an agreement cannot be reached then the IPL will carry on regardless, it is growing year-on-year, generating millions not just for the players but the game as a whole.

Maybe then in the future players of the ilk of Kevin Pietersen will not feel forced into choosing where and when they can play their cricket, while the paying public won’t fork out their cash to see a side shorn of its best players, who are off chasing the pound signs on foreign shores.

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