Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Kevin Pietersen wants to be Sachin Tendulkar

Kevin Pietersen has always been seen as somewhat of an arrogant player. While nobody can look inside his head, it seems like an accurate assumption. Others have speculated that his arrogance is part of a deep seeded insecurity about himself. What some might see as arrogance, others can see as a need to please, a need to be liked and revered.

Sachin Tendulkar has spent his whole career being revered. No cricketer, bar perhaps Don Bradman, has ever had the amount of adulation that Tendulkar has received over his career. Whereas Pietersen has always strived towards that sort of adulation, Tendulkar has received gracefully it as a side product of his success doing the only thing he wants to do in life.

Kevin Pietersen wants to be Sachin Tendulkar, he desperately wants that idolatry, he desperately wants ever more fame and success. Most of all, he wants the freedom that Tendulkar has in the Indian team, to duck out of series at the drop of the hat.

Given that Tendulkar has been ‘rested’ for four out of six ODI series since the World Cup in 2011, and was hardly a regular before that, it’s hard to avoid the interpretation that he picks and chooses his own series. He’s been resting up at home when India beat Sri Lanka in an away ODI series, yet for the series before that he turned out at the Asia Cup, to notch his hundredth hundred (and arguably lose India the game in the process).

Before that he was rotated in and out in the Australian tri-series, but he missed two series against England, home and away, an away one against West Indies. It’s now early August, and the last game Tendulkar played was in the IPL for Mumbai Indians. Yet, he still needs more rest, and can’t bring himself to play the ODI series against Sri Lanka.

His schedule is the one that Pietersen is aiming for, virtual ever present in Tests, technically not retired from ODIs – but only coming out for the big occasions – and playing the entire IPL. The only difference is that Tendulkar is no part of the T20 set up for India whilst Pietersen has made clear his desire to play in the World T20 later this year.

The only problem is: Pietersen isn’t Tendulkar. He’s a very good, bordering on great, batsman but he isn’t the national icon that Tendulkar is. That means he can’t get away with what Tendulkar does. The ECB have been as intransigent with Pietersen as the BCCI have been flexible with Tendulkar, but the comparison is worthless. The BCCI make special arrangements for Tendulkar, but Pietersen cannot expect the ECB to do the same thing for him.

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