Flower vs Pietersen

According to the rumours, which would have been dispelled within seconds were there not an element of truth to them, Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen are at loggerheads with Flower wanting KP out and threatening to quit if he doesn’t get his way:

On Wednesday, Flower denied he issued an ultimatum that would see either him or Pietersen, 33, quit the team.

As with politics, denials in sports often serve more as confirmations than anything else.

There are a lot of people who can’t stand KP and would be happy to see him kicked out of the England side.  Opposition bowlers, for starters.  But the fact is KP finished the disastrous Ashes series as England’s top scorer with 294 runs to his name.  Whatever the reasons for England’s 5-0 drubbing, Kevin Pietersen is not to blame.

Some commentators are expressing surprise that a manager who has presided over a shambolic campaign and catastrophic defeat should be focussing on the removal of his top performer.  Me, I’m not surprised in the slightest.  The England cricket team is far from the only place where senior managers who have demonstratively failed to deliver what was expected turn on anyone who can be labelled as nonconformist – be it somebody who is outspoken, opinionated, or simply wants to play in the IPL.  In such situations, individual performance matters not one jot, slavish conformity is the only attribute demanded.

When things are going well, nonconformity is often tolerated, or at least ignored, as senior managers bask in the glory of their (perceived) own success.  Ironically, it is when things are going badly that the screws are tightened and dissent outlawed.  Note that Stalin didn’t have people shot for complaining about imaginary problems.  The sad fact is that in the bad times managers want their subordinates to behave like sheep, slavishly nodding in unison at whatever stupidity is being peddled from above.  Decent managers should never want oversight of a flock of sheep: Alex Ferguson demanded loyalty but not conformity (there’s a difference), and reaped the rewards when he retained the services of Eric Cantona.

I’m sure Andy Flower now wants a flock of sheep under him as this will allow him to write the prescription to his own failures himself, free of contradictory voices or people unhelpfully saying “I told you so” or, more cruelly, demanding “What the f*ck did you expect?!”  Such a situation should not be allowed by the ECB, but in the event he gets his way and KP is booted for being a consistent performer who refused to become a sheep, he won’t be the first.  Conformity, docility, and acquiescence are what modern managers demand, and performance, at times, barely seems to matter.

This entry was posted in General Observations, Sport. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Flower vs Pietersen

  1. Bardon says:

    I must admit I have only became aware of KP and his idiosyncrasies during this recent series. He first came to my attention when he arrived in Brisbane before the first test and made the headlines by saying he hated Brisbane. There was the flyover with his name and his infamous departure wearing headphones and saying he cant hear the press, it was obvious then that he was a first class prick. Contrast that with Broad who was getting a bit of good humored attention in the local press during the first test, he seen the funny side and turned up at the media conference with the Courier Mail under his arm that’s how it should be done.

    So he is obviously a strange one and he is obviously a very talented batsman as well. Sure he didn’t perform nearly as well as he could of but he was on the cusp a few times and it could easily have went his way no doubt about it. Not being a test aficionado I don’t necessarily share the purists concern with his or David Warne’s batting style.

    What I absolutely adore about this latest KP situation is that we thought that the fun was over with this English ashes train wreck, but it now seems to be continuing with this latest media speculation. This can only add to the laughing stock that this tour has become a label that they truly deserve with such a shambolic management approach. Trott, media management, Swann, the lack of management visibility at the awards and now KP. This new Managing Director better do something and he better do something soon.

  2. Tim Newman says:

    So he is obviously a strange one and he is obviously a very talented batsman as well.

    Exactly, and a decent manager would now how to incorporate such a character into his team. By demanding conformity and attempting to throw him out, the management is merely demonstrating their own insecurity and lack of managerial competence.

  3. Bardon says:

    Professional international level coaches and captains by definition should be highly proficient in people and team dynamic management techniques, no doubt about it. It’s not for me to say what the solution is here but it needs to be resolved now. Enough is enough.

    I have already said what I though of KP who is currently ranked as the 17th top batsman, there are no English batsman or bowlers in the top 10 by the way, which surprised me.

    There are two other persons that come into this equation Flowers and Cook.

    Flowers did not do or say one single thing on this trip that impressed me. He is not exactly a charismatic leader and his personality came across as he was only speaking to the media under sufferance. Definitely should be in the firing line for Trott for both allowing him to get into a breakdown situation and then announcing his condition to the world (first year nurses even know why you should never do this), speaking highly and glowingly of Swann when he done a bunk, must have been involved in the failed media blackout strategy, absolutely nowhere to be seen at the end of the series with his team. I don’t exactly like this guy.

    Cook came across as a a very passive captain, probably needs as many good batsman as he can get in his order, may struggle to control KP although given he is batsman as well this may not be insurmountable. Cook at the trophy presentations churned out all the old political correct cliches which was a big negative for me. At least he doesn’t use Twitter and KP should be told to shut the fuck up on Twitter for starters.

    So it needs to be sorted out and that is Downton’s job and he needs to do it now, there is no benefit on waiting on a long drawn out postmortem and data analysis to make a decision on this specific burning issue. The problem is sticking out like dogs balls for the world to see.

  4. Australia had a manager who wanted slavish conformity in Mickey Arthur. They got rid of him, thankfully.

    Different people are different. They have different motivations, different sleep patterns, different talents, and respond to different incentives. Good managers (of which there aren’t really very many) understand this. Dealing with it properly requires giving different people different treatment without giving them special treatment.

    Former Australian manager John Buchanan really didn’t get on with Shane Warne. At the end of his career, Buchanan wrote a book and gave interviews, and he said his greatest regret was that he had “failed” with Shane Warne. This struck me as a strange thing to say, because throughout Buchanan’s tenure Shane Warne stayed in the side, contributed to the team, took a ton of wickets and won a lot of matches. That doesn’t strike me as failure, especially. Failure would have been if Warne had refused to play and/or had been sacked, or if he had stopped taking wickets.

    Manager is a different job for the Australian team than it is to the English team, though. Australia did not have a manager until 1985, and the manager doesn’t select the team – the captain and manager largely have to take the team they are given. On the two occasions I can think of in which there has been serious conflict between the captain and the manager, the manager has been sacked. Even the selectors don’t ultimately choose the captain – this seems to be a complex process akin to choosing a Pope. Since Allan Border was given the job in 1985, Australia have only had five permanent captains – Border, Taylor, Waugh, Ponting, and Clarke. This is a tiny number compared to England or just about any other test team other than South Africa, who also seem to do this in much the same way as Australia.

    As a general thing, I think the role of manager is generally given less respect in Australian sport than in the UK. For one thing, the job title is often “coach” rather than “manager”, which doesn’t sound as senior. There is a sense that this person is a hired assistant rather than the man in charge. Things have changed a little now, but it also used to be a famously low paid position. A few years ago, Geoff Marsh quite the job because he couldn’t support his family on the tiny salary.

  5. dearieme says:

    ” Conformity, docility, and acquiescence are what modern managers demand, and performance, at times, barely seems to matter.” The coming of the Goths/Huns/Franks etc will change all that.

  6. Bardon says:

    I guess we will just have to wait until Graeme Swann releases his book to find out what really happened in the dressing room. This should happen prior to the ECB making a move.

  7. Tim Newman says:

    Flowers did not do or say one single thing on this trip that impressed me.

    Same here. Any approach is fine when you’re winning, but this debacle called for some sort of leadership, of which we saw none. “More of the same” was about as radical as it got.

    At least he doesn’t use Twitter and KP should be told to shut the fuck up on Twitter for starters.

    Agreed.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    Dealing with it properly requires giving different people different treatment without giving them special treatment.

    Exactly. This is personnel management 101, but most managers – not just those in cricket – don’t seem to realise this.

    Even the selectors don’t ultimately choose the captain – this seems to be a complex process akin to choosing a Pope.

    What amused me about Clarke’s selection is that IIRC he wasn’t even asked. Ponting resigned, and by default Clarke is now captain. Just like that.

    This is a tiny number compared to England or just about any other test team other than South Africa, who also seem to do this in much the same way as Australia.

    I think Smith is an anomaly which came off the back of the Hanse Cronje scandal. He was young enough to be “clean”, and maintained his form long enough to still be in the job over a decade later. I think the appointment of Smith was an extraordinarily bold move which has paid off handsomely.

  9. Bardon says:

    This article is backing KP as its all about bums on seats. And is its really 100 quid for a ticket to an English cricket game?!

    “Cast against that, you have Pietersen: absolutely a child of the age. Always expressive on the field and off it, emotional, egocentric, a Twitterer, a celebrity, a commercially-savvy headline machine with star quality, a martyr streak and a constant need for attention. He has become cricket’s Princess Di to Flower’s Queen Elizabeth II, and we all know who won that PR war.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/kevinpietersen/10561787/Kevin-Pietersen-is-box-office-so-there-can-be-only-one-winner-in-his-battle-with-England-coach-Andy-Flower.html

  10. What amused me about Clarke’s selection is that IIRC he wasn’t even asked. Ponting resigned, and by default Clarke is now captain. Just like that.

    Oh, it wasn’t just like that. The selectors had to propose it to the board, the chairman of the board had to approve it and the board possibly even had to vote on it. What likely happened is that this was done before Ponting resigned. The next captain was chosen well before the old one left, and a clear succession plan was put in place. This happened for the transition from Border to Taylor, from Waugh to Ponting, and from Ponting to Clarke. The time it didn’t happen was from Taylor to Waugh. In that case Taylor retired well before the board wanted him to, and Waugh was appointed due to being seen as the best man available in a situation with a lack of an anointed successor. Shane Warne thought he should have been made captain, which explains a lot of his subsequent dislike of Waugh and Buchanan. The board had made it clear that they would never allow Warne to be captain because of his assorted off-field scandals.

    There doesn’t appear to be any anointed successor at the moment, though. If Clarke’s back was to give in and Australia were to be looking for a new captain now, I am not sure what they would do. You could give it to Haddin for a year or two, I suppose, but that could only be very temporary given Haddin’s age.

Comments are closed.