Little time for KP resolution
England have precious little time to decide whether Kevin Pietersen is a viable asset to both their immediate and longer-term future.
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Pietersen demonstrated at Headingley, first on the pitch and then off it, the conundrum laid before coach Andy Flower and England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Hugh Morris.
The mercurial South Africa-born batsman gave England a fleeting shot at a series-levelling victory, where none previously existed, as he took his Test tally above 7,000 runs in a scintillating 21st century at the highest level.
Then, after the rain-shortened match concluded in a stalemate, he not only reminded everyone of the other side of Kevin Pietersen but approached a possible endgame in his contractual wranglings with his employers by hinting next week's Test at Lord's may prove the last of his world-beating career.
The questions ECB must urgently address will bring answers to shape the remaining potential of the Flower-Andrew Strauss era which has pushed England to the top of Test cricket.
Will Pietersen's presence or otherwise prove decisive at Lord's - where England must beat South Africa to hang on to that number one status?
Is the continuation of his career crucial to their chances of winning back-to-back Ashes series home and abroad over the next 18 months?
Is Pietersen's baggage a likely hindrance to the team ethos so treasured by Flower and captain Strauss?
Then, perhaps most significantly, and depending on the above verdicts, is it worth brokering peace with Pietersen - and can they be seen to do so, or square it with themselves to appease the apparent agitator?
Former England captain Mike Gatting is not in the ECB frontline, but does have an association with the governing body as a grassroots ambassador.
His take was therefore instructive. Gatting spoke with the tone of someone prepared to let Pietersen call time on his own career, if he so wishes - and the alternative is problematic for all.
"I'm not sure why he wants to quit Test cricket now. But that's up to KP," Gatting told Sky Sports News.
"He's the man that makes the decisions, and nobody else.
"It'll be sad to lose him. But it will give somebody else a chance to come into the England team and prove their worth."
Whether Pietersen is picked for Lord's or not, with ECB central contracts to be signed next month, the timescale will be barely much longer for a solution to a problem many believe revolves around his desire to be free for a full Indian Premier League campaign next spring - at a time when England have Test obligations against New Zealand.
Gatting unsurprisingly identified Headingley Test debutant James Taylor, who shared a century stand with Pietersen at Leeds, as one player who could help England move on.
"The fellow he batted with for a little while, Mr Taylor, I'm sure he might like to play for England," Gatting added.
"When somebody stands down, it gives somebody else another opportunity.
"When somebody retires and thinks they're not going to play, it gives another person a chance.
"Young Taylor will be looking at it and thinking 'oh, if KP goes, I might have a chance of being a regular Test cricketer'
"It's very sad to lose such a talent as KP. But that's his decision - and for every one that goes, there's another one waiting in the wings to really play with a passion for the England team."
Gatting, the last man before Strauss to lead England to Ashes series victory in Australia, subscribes to the team ethos so central to the current regime.
"At the end of the day it's about the team, what goes on in the team, not about any one individual," he said.
"I'm sure Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss will look after the situation and they'll make sure that they do what's best for the team - because that's what it's all about.
"You need to be a team to get to number one in the world, so I'm sure that'll be the main thing on their minds - to make sure they get the team right and they've got a great chance going into the Test match at Lord's."
Taylor, meanwhile, is enthused by his first taste of Test cricket - and ready for his next.
"I definitely want a lot more," said the 22-year-old.
"I haven't spoken to either Andy. The team will be picked (for Lord's) next week. It's up to me to score some runs for Nottinghamshire ... keep knocking on the door so that they have to select me."
Taylor was privileged in his first innings to have a batting partner like Pietersen - back in the International Cricket Council's top 10 after his Leeds exploits.
"It was a tough position to go into on my Test debut against one of the best bowling attacks in the world," Taylor added.
"But I buzzed off Kev. What a position for me to be in, stood at the other end watching while he blazed it all around the park.
"It was a special innings from a special player. He just showed everybody what he could do."