Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen will never play for the Proteas.
It was rather sad to read of Pietersen entertaining thoughts about playing for the Proteas.
Those were the musings of a man who cannot grasp the fact that his Test days are done; the night has drawn in, the river has run dry. However unjustified, however cruel, however talented; he is finished as a Test player.
The prolific, but maverick England batsman last played Test cricket in January 2014, when he was dumped from the team after the Ashes whitewash. It was the end of a turbulent career that began in 2000, when he left South Africa, citing discrimination because of the quota system as the reason for throwing in his lot with England.
He has since gone out of his way to assert his Englishness, having the Three Lions tattooed on his arm and kissing the badge with slightly too much enthusiasm; as if such a statement would make him more welcome.
He has made no secret of his desire to play for England again, just as they have made it abundantly clear they will not have him.
Since then he has wandered the world playing T20 cricket: the IPL, the Big Bash, the Caribbean League, even the Ram Slam; making huge sums of money, but obviously not fulfilling his real need: true recognition which comes through the purest form of the game.
But through it all, he has asserted the importance and prestige of Test cricket.
So it was a natural reaction when a (possibly mischievous) journalist suggested that the Proteas might be an answer. In 2018, he would be eligible, having not played for England for four years.
‘It is a thought,’ he said.
Regardless of his batting ability (which is unchallenged), that thought is the ultimate whimsical pipe dream. If he thought he was unwelcome in 2000, he would most certainly be unwelcome in 2018.
Pietersen would be approaching his 38th birthday when he becomes eligible. He would, presumably, have to commit himself to playing for a franchise such as the Dolphins. Perhaps his presence might even raise the attendance from negligible to sparse, though I doubt it, given the apathy of the cricket public here. And he would be hard-pressed to fit in the Big Bash, and possibly other lucrative opportunities.
It would be a full circle, for it was his desire to play the rich IPL series, in preference to 50-over matches, that caused the first ructions with the England hierarchy in 2012.
But above all, Cricket South Africa is looking to the future; perhaps, even now, to beyond AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, looking for young players of merit who actually want to play for their country. Players who will follow Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma and take the team forward.
Kevin Pietersen is not one of them. Besides, How much would it cost to have the tattoo removed?
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix