Tuesday, August 11, 2009

KP The Biography of Kevin Pietersen - a review

By early summer 2009 Kevin Pietersen has played 52 Test matches in just four years scoring some 4500 runs at an average of around 50. Whilst for KP to cash in with an “autobiography” in 2006 after just a year in the game was premature for there to be a provisional biography now is perhaps not unreasonable. Except that “KP Cricket Genius” is a “cash-in” as well – clearly timed to appear before the 2009 Ashes series and also to attract buyers whilst the KP England captaincy affair is till fresh in the mind. One day, no doubt, someone will write an in-depth and thoughtful analysis of the phenomenon that is Kevin Pietersen. Wayne Veysey’s ill-written, woefully edited, cliché-ridden little book certainly isn’t that. Full of typos, gratuitous factoids, hero-worshipping hyperbole, needless insults and wearying repetitions the book may appeal to the semi-literate KP fan – but cricket enthusiasts looking for real insights into Pietersen will have to wait.

The book could be required reading on a sub-editing training course – as an example of what can happen if editors are slipshod. Sensitive readers will be shaken by the frequent use of the abbreviation “X1” for a cricket eleven instead of “XI”, by the occasional use of the term “cricket player” rather than “cricketer”, by the ignorant assertion that in South Africa all black people were called “coloured” and by countless other inaccuracies and solecisms. To some extent this is a shame because to be fair there are some insights into KP’s character and background and the description of (for example) the struggle between Pietersen and Peter Moores is good. But the insults really should have been edited out. To say that Andrew Flintoff was once “…boozing his hefty Lancashire contract up the walls of Preston’s public houses” is crass and Ian Botham’s lawyers might be interested in Veysey’s allegation that Beefy got “fat and complacent in the second half of his career”.

The best thing in the book is Clive Rice’s thoughtful foreword but Rice’s assertion, that Pietersen “knew full well that in South Africa he wouldn’t be given a chance because of the stupid quota system” is as ignorant as it is offensive. KP would surely have made it in South Africa despite the quotas, just as fellow-whites AB De Villiers, Johan Botha, Albie and Morne Morkel, Roel Van der Merwe, Dale Steyn, Paul Harris and others have recently made it. This key aspect of Pietersen’s life demands more balanced and sensitive treatment than it gets in this pot-boiler.

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