After 71 days of rumours, tweets, negotiations and apologies Kevin Pietersen's England exile is over. During these 71 days Pietersen has missed the conclusion of the big South Africa series, the retirement of his captain and the T20 world cup. When considering the winners and losers of this saga it occurred to me that there are no winners.
Firstly Pietersen: lets not forget that before he was actually dropped, he was forced to retire from international T20 cricket as he did not want to play ODI's. He has now signed up to play all forms of the game, so his little stand off did not work. He also had to miss the last test of the South Africa series, a match that could have kept England at number 1 in the rankings. This would have meant alot to Pietersen being South African born. The exile has meant that he had to swap playing to sitting in a studio with Saurav Ganguly. This maybe something which had pushed him to apologise. His other demand was that he should be allowed to play the whole IPL, this again he has given up. So in my opinion he has come back with his tail between his legs.
The team has also suffered due to his absence. They lost their best player for an important test match as well as the defence of their T20 trophy. The team spirit is also another issue which needs to be considered. In public all parties have welcomed him back into the squad but things were said and done which cant be wiped away so quickly. In reality it could be the case that like against South Africa he has more friends in the Indian team.
The ECB have not looked great in this whole situation either. David Collier the ECB chief executive was forced to apologies to the South African board after he suggested that South African players had provoked the text from KP. Also the fact that they had let this situation escalate, when they knew of the problems in advance of the South African series.
The ECB today launched a 'Brand New Schedule' for the next season. This includes a change from the block of T20 games to be spread over the season on Friday nights. They have also scrapped the 40 over format in favour of a 50 over format. These are changes which are good but do not go far enough. The T20 format was good when it first came in, but now needs a massive overhaul. They should adopt the franchise system that pretty much the whole world has adopted to great success, meaning there will be less teams but higher quality. I believe England have some of the best young players in T20 cricket but they do not get the same opportunities as a young Indian or Australian player would.
The English teams will not be participating in the Champions League next year, because the season will now start later and finish later, meaning that the last week clashes with the Champions League. I do feel for them here because it has been imposed due to last years bad weather in April. All in all this means that young English players once again will miss out on a big opportunity. This will not stop people like Pietersen going to play for his IPL team during this period.
The only good thing which has come out of the sorry affair is that Pietersen is back for the series against India. He is the best player and will provide much needed experience.