There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the England recently over two individual players in two different team sports.
In the one sport, the individual had arguably his best season for his team and has now decided to seek greener pastures elsewhere as he felt his team lacked ambition. In the other sport, the individual played a key role in a scintillating batting performance and then unwisely decided to allegedly send derogatory text messages about his team and coach to the opposing team.
The first individual is the most recent former Arsenal captain, “we don’t need Batman, we’ve got” Robin van Persie. The Dutch marksman had arguably his best season in an Arsenal shirt as he scored 30 Premier League goals and helped to elevate his former team from 17th position (at one stage) to a final position of 3rd on the Premier League table. Van Persie made his intentions clear on 4 July when he releases a statement saying he wanted to win trophies and that he and club disagreed on the way that Arsenal FC should move forward.
The second individual is Kevin Pietersen – the South African-turned-Englishman – who can be a game changing batsman when the mood suits him. During the first test against South Africa at the Oval, the English batting attack (such that it was) was completely annihilated and none of the English batsmen emerged with any credit, including Pietersen himself. During the second test, however, the English team recovered some modicum of respect with a much improved batting performance including an impressive 149 in the first innings.
Then Pietersen decided to shoot himself in the foot. South Africa’s tour manager, Dr Mohammed Moosajee, confirmed a report in the Mail & Guardian publication that Pietersen had been sending texts to his friends and compatriots in the South African team during the second test. The contents of the texts were not confirmed, but the word on the street is that they were “less than flattering” about captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower as well as other England team members. Moosajee stated that the texts were simply “friendly banter” and refused to discuss the matter further. The furore over textgate left the England Cricket Board with no choice but to drop Pietersen from the team for the 3rd and potentially decisive test against South Africa.
The wailing and gnashing of teeth has predominantly been from certain supporters and fans of Arsenal FC and the England cricket team. The Arsenal fans are aggrieved by the fact that Arsenal has become a “selling club” with a “lack of ambition” and some supporters are (yet again) calling for the head of manager Arsene Wenger. With the England cricket team, certain supporters are unhappy that one of England’s best batsmen has been excluded from the line-up, potentially weakening the English team just before a vital game.
With the RvP departure, the Arsenal fans should actually be applauding Wenger for this piece of business. The Arsenal manager did not have a choice with this one. Van Persie had refused to renew his contract, which is due to expire in 12 months time and Arsenal could not afford to let him go on a free transfer when that contract elapsed. In addition, van Persie has struggled with injury problems during his time at Arsenal and the 2011/12 season was the first season he managed injury free. For Arsenal to get over GBP20 million for a 29-year-old player is a canny piece of business. Arsenal supporters should applaud van Persie for his efforts during his time at the club and wish him well for the future.
As for Pietersen, he is but one man among eleven. The man has talent for scoring runs but he is not the be all and end all for this England cricket team. Making such a big fuss about one individual is actually disrespectful to the rest of his teammates. It makes it seem as if the team is incapable of winning without Pietersen.
Perhaps the best way to summarise the two situations is that there is no I in team.