In this week's iafrica.com debate, under-fire sports ed Rob Peters takes on outspoken business ed Ebrahim Moola on whether or not South African-born batsman Kevin Pietersen is a loss to SA cricket.Kevin Pietersen is far more than a cricketer, argues iafrica.com's Business Editor Ebrahim Moolla, he is a brand, a franchise, the show-stopper with cross-over appeal. What debate? Would you refuse Don Bradman a turn at the wicket, make Imran Khan bring the drinks and relegate Viv Richards to the stands? Kevin Pietersen transcends the game. He is a brand, a franchise, the show-stopper with cross-over appeal. KP could easily be in Hollywood or the House of Lords, such is the man's charisma. He represents the evolution of the game from a twee, limp-wristed game of rounders to a high-octane slugfest suited perfectly to an audience with a concentration span about the length of Glenn McGrath's batting average. By contrast, gangly sixth-former Shaun Pollock has all the personality of a soiled thigh-pad. Pietersen could fill out Yankee stadium in the middle of the World Series ? without him and his ilk cricket will remain the poor cousin of other sporting codes. This is the man the IPL's Mumbai Indians were willing to part with $4-million for, a valuation streets ahead of any other player. You can be sure Gerald Majola and Cricket SA would be channeling funds out of township development programmes and into Kev's pockets were they sure of enticing him back to his native shores. Not that it'd matter too much, Pietersen plays calypso cricket in an English cold snap and fires the dreams of kids everywhere, not to mention his teammates. And the special one has an ace up his sleeve: he bowls off-spin. Sure, he's not in the Murali class, but when the South African idea of a strike-bowling spinner is Paul Adams, then you've got to grab him with both hands. You're better off giving him the last over than that prodigious turner, Graeme Smith at any rate. Yes, KP is cocky, arrogant and has strutted around with a dead skunk on his head. He's earned the right to, averaging fifty in both long and shorter forms of the game and with only the Don himself scoring more runs in his first 25 Tests. And unlike Herschelle Gibbs, he can also weigh in with big scores away from the Wanderers. Similarly brilliant in the field, he is the complete package and harnessed in tandem with the trusty Jacques Kallis, would have seen SA give the Aussies something to think about. Is it any wonder he brought the Ashes back to England? Not only does he make okes like Rob cringe with jealousy, he also develops new strokes and offends the crusty folks at the ICC. His patented switch-hit is already proving to be a smash-hit. Reminiscent of the legendary West Indian Rohan Kanhai with his 'falling hook' shot. Even the little master Sachin Tendulkar has tilted his cap at KP's genius. Endorsements don't get any better than that. Is Kevin Pietersen a loss to SA cricket? Just watch the England-SA Test series if you're not convinced. The only thing the South African tourists will be eating at lunch are humble pies and sour grapes. And it's not unprecedented; KP plundered four centuries on England's 2005 tour of SA. For the record, I haven't even mentioned the chance of catching the luscious Jessica Taylor (or maybe even Caprice) in the crowd.
If cricket was not a team game sports ed Rob Peters might have conceded that Pietersen was a loss to South Africa. If for example, he was a loud-mouthed and far less humble version of Roger Federer, it would be hard to see him turning out in English colours at Wimbledon. But Pietersen is nothing like Federer, not in ability and certainly not in the way of humbleness. Is Kevin Pietersen a loss to South African cricket? Certainly not. And before you begin foaming at the mouth, pointing to statistics and moaning about quota selections, let me explain that statement. If cricket was not a team game I might have conceded that Pietersen was a loss to South Africa. If for example, he was a loud-mouthed and far less humble version of Roger Federer, I would admit that I would find it hard to see him turning out in English colours at Wimbledon. But Pietersen is nothing like Federer, not in ability and certainly not in the way of humbleness. Cricket, you see, is a team game. The dynamics of a team dictate that not necessarily all the best players do well when placed together in the same unit. And let's be honest, Pietersen's nature is unlikely to heighten the success of the South African team, if anything it would only serve to split it apart, because despite his talents as a cricketer, his attitude leaves a hell of a lot to be desired. Although I would love to be able to point to a lack of ability on Pietersen's part, that would be foolish because he is undeniably talented. But he is also equally brash and divisive. A character like him would certainly not serve the Proteas dynamic well. In a country that is constantly treading on egg shells as it is, we do not need the likes of Pietersen to tell us how hard done by they are. Pietersen has largely blamed racial quotas for his decision to leave South Africa, but a closer look will reveal that Pietersen was being kept out of the team by white players ? certainly not by non-merit based selections, well maybe non-merit, but not racial. I have never understood why, as South Africans, we continue to look at the ones that got away rather than those that stayed and fought for their places in the team. Batsman Neil McKenzie is one that immediately springs to mind, while on the other side of the coin fast bowler Makhaya Ntini has fought tooth and nail to prove he is not a 'quota' selection. Those are the kind of players I would want in my team. The Proteas are the number two-ranked team in both versions of the game ? ODI's and Tests. Perhaps we should focus on what the team has achieved without Pietersen, than what they could have done with him in the side. So is Pietersen really such a loss to the Proteas? Not as far as I'm concerned.