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Pietersen must banish the demons forthwith

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Oliver Brett | 14:50 UK time, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

England's two Tests in Bangladesh starting on Friday come with a sub-plot that threatens to be more fascinating than the main event.

Kevin Pietersen arrived in international cricket five years ago with such clamour that it seems preposterous for him to be locked in such a grim struggle to find form, and it is all starting to get a little bit out of hand.

It began when he lost the captaincy following an acrimonious tussle with the then coach, Peter Moores.

The ECB, as the employer of both men, sacked Moores and was about to do the same to Pietersen when, in January 2009, the skipper announced his resignation. He has been a shadow of his normal self since then.

In 2008 he hit five Test centuries; he has only managed one since, in the West Indies. Even taking into account the three Ashes Tests he missed through injury, that's still 12 Tests with just one three-figure score, a barren run by his standards.

The situation is even worse in one-day internationals when in the same period of time he has a best score of 48 in 10 innings.

It is important to add that Twenty20 cricket is providing some much-needed respite, but the really worrying aspect of Pietersen's demise is that things appear to be getting progressively worse in the more established formats.

Kevin Pietersen's dismissal on TuesdayBangladesh A wicketkeeper Saghir Hossain is most amused by Pietersen's plight

His last four scores in the Tests in South Africa? 0, 6, 7 and 12. His best score in the ODIs in Bangladesh? 22. His scores in the three-day match just completed against Bangladesh A? 2 and 20.

The strangest thing about Pietersen's current demise is his vulnerability when facing orthodox left-arm spin.

A variety of slow bowling often purveyed by those who seek chiefly to contain - think Ashley Giles - the angles have so bewildered Pietersen that he has now perished 33 times in his international career to bowlers like Daniel Vettori (New Zealand), Yuvraj Singh (India), Sulieman Benn (West Indies), and even Canada's Sunil Dhaniram.

England's best spinner of the 1990s, Phil Tufnell, was also a slow left-armer, and believes that while there are technical issues that need to be tinkered with, Pietersen will soon return to form.

Phil Tufnell in action in the 1990s

"I'm sure Andy Flower and the coaching team are looking into it as we speak," Tufnell told me.

"It's one of those things. Some batsmen can't play the short ball and keep getting out on the hook. When I came out to bat I just got a lot of bouncers because I was a bit scared.

"With Pietersen at the moment he seems to be getting out to the slow left-armers. He looks a little bit unsure in his defence and that means you don't have a steady platform to attack.

"There's a technical issue in that he is not a natural off-side player, he doesn't defend to mid-off. He wants to hit through the on-side but if his head is too far over he's an lbw candidate. Then if it turns a little bit he can find himself nicking to slip."

Tufnell, who firmly refutes the idea that Pietersen should be dropped from the England set-up, even temporarily, also refuses to buy into the notion that the loss of captaincy is a factor.

Instead he feels the Achilles injury that kept him out of cricket for much of last year might have had a bigger impact.

"Batting should be second nature to someone like him. But the injury might have been quite a bit more serious than we anticipated and I don't think it's helped his agility at the crease."

Bangladesh's cricket team may be deficient in some aspects, but in slow left-arm stocks they are not.

No less than three have been picked in their squad for Friday. England, on the other hand, have only one variety of spinner - Graeme Swann and James Tredwell both turn the ball the other way - so Pietersen can only rely on local net bowlers to practice his skills against slow left-arm.

It might have been an idea for Giles, now an England selector, to fly out and lend a hand. But currently donning his other hat as Warwickshire's director of cricket he is instead on a plane to South Africa for the county's pre-season tour.

Though he also had problems facing seam bowlers in the past 15 months, it is spinners of every variety who are likely to test Pietersen's resolve in England's next two Tests.

Pietersen and Ashley Giles on the final day of the 2005 AshesPietersen's final day century in the 2005 Ashes seems a very long time ago

Robin Smith, the last high-profile England batsman prior to Pietersen to have learnt his art in South Africa, became bedevilled by the slow stuff late in his career. He was once memorably compared by The Independent's Martin Johnson to a "lion in a delicatessen" and the same can apply to Pietersen.

When a batsman with Pietersen's strength and talent suddenly lacks confidence when facing spin, the game of cricket can look mystifying indeed.

The trouble is, if he doesn't get out poking around like an old lady at a church fete he gets out playing an expansive shot, which is exactly what happened when he was bowled by part-timer Mohammad Ashraful on Wednesday. Which, exactly, is the more pernicious mode of dismissal?

"You can create a lot of doubt in your mind," says Tufnell.

"It really is about playing every ball on its merits, but that does come with confidence and having a really sound defence."

So, just eight months from an Ashes series, England fans have every right to be concerned that the most naturally destructive batsman in the land is currently firing blanks.

If there is one man who can differentiate between form and class it is Steve Waugh, who said recently of Pietersen: "He is a great player and great players save their best for the toughest opposition.

"He will have a big series against Australia, I have no doubt about it, and will most likely be England's leading run-scorer."

When a man who has won as many Test matches as Waugh is in your camp, surely things cannot be that bad.

But it would help a great deal if we did not have to wait beyond the two Tests in Chittagong and Dhaka to see Pietersen find his mojo.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Pieterson should be dropped for the test. He is not contributing and you cannot pick on reputation alone. Suggest that he goes back to Hampshire and works on playing straight. He might also want to practice against left hand spinners.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would not paint KP with the same brush as Robin Smith.With KP,It's quite visible that he Is no longer enjoying his cricket.Nothing more to it then that,when he was in the mood, It did not matter what type of bowler ran up, it all went the same way.

    Needs to be less serious In his approach to rediscover and play with the instinct that rocketed him up the charts.

  • Comment number 3.

    Pietersen is a talent but he's also a confidence player. His cockiness and need to dominate bowlers are intended to mask an inner fragility. He's a classy enough batsman and is getting the coaching support he needs to ensure that he'll come back, possibly even better than before. Just about every player ever to play the game has had bad spell (don't forget, even Strauss was dropped) but good players come back stronger and I believe that's what Pietersen will do.
    I also believe that when he gets his confidence back he'll go on to get some big scores, as at the moment, if he gets to 50 or so he promptly starts swishing around, often getting himself out. That'll stop when he gets back to form.
    He needs an arm round him, not a telling off.

  • Comment number 4.

    KP's problem appears to be as much mental as well as technical.

    Any batsman going through a bad spell is encouraged to go back to basics. There is a lot of uncertainty whether he has the 'solid technique' to fall back on.

    So every shot you see KP appears hesitant not the confident KP we knew of old.

    Every ball is a torment not just those bowled by left armers. We've all been there but not in the bright spotlight of the international test arena!

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm fed up with all this talk of what a great batting average KP has, and the tired repetition of "Form is temporary; class is permenant". It is time for KP to be dropped, at least into the A side, for a while to let other prospects have a chance. Even if his form does return it is not going to be against Bangladeshi bowlers.

  • Comment number 6.

    RE: Kevin Pieterson being "Englands Best Batsman" as quoted still in th even in the current series in Bangledesh by most Radio 4 longwave commentators ! I still cannot believe that Kevin Pieterson can still be even considered "our very best batsman" by Dominic Booth at the end of last week ? OR at all suitable in his current form to be included in Friday's test match ? Almost anyone could play a bigger part ? Mr.Boycott's granny for instance ? as he so often quotes when thing go wrong.
    Pieterson has not redeemed himself for SO long that can anybody explain why we don't play Panasar, who at least saved the day at Cardiff the last time he played and I believe faced about 36 balls to avoid England's loss. OR Graham Bell who is always dropped at his first failiure We have endless other in form batsmen and bowler batsmen/allrounders waiting in the wings for their chance to play for England. Do listeners not think that Kevin Pieterson has now had his very last chance to prove himself in form--2runs, and a recent average of around 9 runs per innings in this series?
    Panasar could not possibly be any worse than Kevin Pieterson and we could do with a third spinner too ?

  • Comment number 7.

    The combination of left-arm round and his natural tendency to hit through leg results in him hitting across the line at an angle nearing 90 degrees. No wonder he finds it difficult! I don't see how he can correct this anytime soon without fundamentally changing his technique.

  • Comment number 8.

    His aggressive attitude is one reason why he is vulnerable to spin. The best batsmen to spin know when to be patient.
    Additionally, his footwork is more laboured than it used to be, perhaps he is subconsciously protecting his injured leg, although in the field he is agile enough.
    In the past, when playing to leg, his bat was straight and he directed the ball using a turn of the wrists. Now he plays often cross batted.

  • Comment number 9.

    Paul Norris, excellent comment. I totally concur.

    KP should come out all guns blazing... it could be said that he should do a flamer?

  • Comment number 10.

    My advice to all of you is to back him. Cricket is a sport where one mistake ends your innings so a run of bad form can happen. I would say to you have faith in talent and be patient.

  • Comment number 11.

    It cant really be a suprise that Peterson is struggling, he has had months out with injury then comes straight back to international cricket. To get some form back maybe he should go back and do a real pre season with his county before the summer internationals start ?

  • Comment number 12.

    I can't really see a better way for Pieterson to get his form back than playing against Bangladesh. It's been mentioned that they have an array of left-arm spinners, and so he'll be thoroughly challenged, and I personally think that's what KP thrives on. He'll come good, much like Strauss did that day in New Zealand.

    I'm personally more excited about Alastair Cook's potential as a second spinner after his sublime figures in today's warm up fixture.

  • Comment number 13.

    KP is heading the way of Flintof in terms of batting and he is not a good enough bowler.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think everyone is over reacting... I also think everyone should get off his back let him do what he does best and as for the calls for him to be dropped... well... thats the most obsurd idea ive ever heard. He can change a game in an instant, its pointless dropping him, prime time for him to get back into form against opposition like Bangledesh and also this summer before the ashes. Anyone remember this same situation with Strauss all im going to say is thank god he hit that 150 + score against the Kiwi's or else he wouldn't be captain, he wouldn't even be in the frame for selection now and the ashes would be still in Australia.

    So get off his back, all this media attention will make him think more about his shot selection and when he does play an attacking shot and gets out to it... i.e v Aussies and that sweep shot the media ripped him apart for playing his natural game... 'our best batsman' will sort himself out in his own time...

  • Comment number 15.

    i think that paul norris' explaination really sums up kp's game, and i think that he will get better at some point. all players have a down point, its just that kp is such a noticable player when he does badly, and so he gets more attention. a lot of other players would already be out of the team with his performance, but with kp, people know that he is capable of doing better!

  • Comment number 16.

    whether in this series or not, KP will return to form we should give him a chance and not drop him
    look at strauss and bell, both went through poor phrases but returned in excellent fofrm, we all know he is probably the best batsman in the team on a good day
    hopefuly itl b soon

  • Comment number 17.

    We need to wait for the test series proper before making a judgement about kp. Saying that, I think Steve Waugh is probably right. Either way, he shouldn't be dropped.

    I actually think (and this is obviously speculation) that his wife being pregnant is more of an issue than his injury. He got homesick a while back and I was surprised he even went to Bangladesh based on that.

    But we'll see

  • Comment number 18.

    I cannot believe peopel are callign for KP to be dropped. This is not football's rotation system. Pietersen is a world class player who is experiencing his first real slump in five years at the top level. Lets not forget that he has coem back from a very serious injury (rushed by the ECB), and now finds himself battling not only onfield problems, but mindless speculation from so called fans off the field. Form is temporary, while class is permanent. I agree totally with the line from Steve Wagh - players like Pietersen play much better with top level opposition...

  • Comment number 19.

    How much longer is Pietersen going to be indulged? I remember the furore every time Michael Vaughan went out to bat, and Andrew Strauss being dropped from the side - no-one had any special sympathy for them. Homesick - OK, so go home and don't spoil it for your team-mates.

    If he's more concerned about his wife's pregnancy, which I certainly don't criticise in any way but completely understand, he should rule himself out of the rest of the series for the benefit of the team so that they can regroup and play without him and he can be with his wife.

    Alex - he isn't changing any game in an instant and has not done so for some time now.

    Pietersen was ruled out of the Ashes because of his injury, and it did the England team no harm whatsoever.

    Personally I doubt whether he will ever get back to how he was between 2005 and 2008. However, I would be absolutely delighted to be proved completely wrong.

  • Comment number 20.

    I have to agree with a few of the comments on here that noone should be in the side purely on reputation, however I also think Pietersen will come through this drought of form and get back to his best.

    Interestingly I heard Geoffrey Boycott during the South Africa series say he thinks KP needs to go back to basics and play straighter until he is back in form as he is walking around the crease too much.
    Although Pietersen does make good use of the crease even when he is in good nick Geoffrey Boycott seemed to think he is hesitant and as such not far enough forward or back and ends up in no mans land .

    I would really like to see Eoin Morgan given a run in the side not necessarily at the expense of KP but maybe instead of Carberry who has not looked great in the warm up matches, Trott Could open maybe? just a thought.

  • Comment number 21.

    "Pietersen was ruled out of the Ashes because of his injury, and it did the England team no harm whatsoever."

    Did you not see the Headingly game? Middle-order scores of 1, 8, 0, 0, 3 and 4. In total, the middle-order averaged 24 each over the 3 games he missed.

    His form is extremely worrying though. He needs to score big in these two Tests, else he may end up being dropped. If he fails, he will need to go back to Hampshire and play as much as he can.

  • Comment number 22.

    See I wouldn't call making 20 from 22 balls in a large run chase when looking to win is a failure. I get the feeling we're all expecting too much from Pietersen far too soon.

    After all, he carried the team single-handedly for a couple of years not that long ago, so it's about time we started repaying our debt. Give him until the end of the home series against bangladesh, and if he is still not performing (I wouldn't take him to the T20 world cup, he can play for Hampshire instead), then we can look for someone else against Pakistan.

    Let's be honest, Pietersen has only recently recovered from a career-threatening injury and was throw straight in against the best team in the world, and considering that didn't do too badly. And the simple fact is he is the most talented batsman in England, bar none. With the Aussies coming up, we need to make sure he is firing, and the only way he can do this is through playing test cricket.

  • Comment number 23.

    Gotta love the media on this one. During the 2nd 20-20 against WORLD CHAMPIONS Pakistan the TMS comentator said "in form Batsmen Kevin Pieterson" in the next "50-50" it was "Out of form batsman Kevin Pieterson"

    With KP and the media it really is a case of he is only as good as his last match. Yes his average is going down but there are 2 main reasons for this.

    1 - He has only had 1 test series since a major injury, and that was in (for him) the most hostile environment in the world and was many months after said injury, he has had no game time to get himself back to "match fitness"

    2 - The loss of the captaincy. When awarded the captaincy he was playing well, he did amazingly well considering what was happening to come away from the lost India tour with his reputation enhanced, but then was publically humilliated by the ECB and stripped of the captaincy after admitting that him and the coach didn't get on, it wasn't a secret that KP as captain was forced on the coach, he was man enough to come out and say "this relationship needs sorting" and was castigated for it. Is it really surprising that this dented his morale? He's now playing second fiddle to a captain who has spent much of his career 1 game away from being dropped, isn't considered good enough for 20/20 and wasn't considered good enough for 1 day games until he became captain. The way he's been treated by the ECB is a disgrace and it's hardly a surprise it's knocked his confidance.

    His confidance isn't somthing the media help with either, he could hit a match winning 99 but still be lambasted the next day for not getting a ton. Because he was not born in England huge sections of the media seem to want to see him fail and they took a particular and obvious delight that neither him nor Trott did well in SA.

    So yes KP has things he needs to sort out, mostly by having a few weeks in the nets against a decent left arm spinner, but he is a class batsman and without him on form we have no chance of retaining the ashes down under. England fans and the ECB should get behind him and do whatever is needed to get him in form for said tournemant, because winning the ashes down under would be the biggest England cricket achievment in decades!

  • Comment number 24.

    I have to admit that I am a little worried for KP, but even more so for the lack of respect that he is getting.

    It was really a no-brainer to anticipate that he would struggle on his comeback. He lost the captaincy in ignominious circumstances, tried to play through a serious injury and finally had to have surgery with a recovery that complicated through infection and went straight into international cricket with almost no preparation.

    It's hard enough to return from a major injury, but worse when you have to adapt to being a foot-soldier in a side led by someone else and one, to boot, that is doing rather well without you. Some players have never managed the transition (Tony Greig was a shadow of himself after Mike Brearley took over, Ian Botham was always very bitter about his sacking and never really got over it).

    A lot of people have said that Kevin Pietersen never was much of a player and was grossly overrated. Interesting point of view. He was captain for 15 matches: 3 Tests and 12 ODIs; 13 of the 15 matches were against South Africa or India (in India). The ODI v Scotland was rained-off, so we can't really count it. In the other 14 matches his figures were:

    628 runs @ 52.3, with 3x100 and 2x50 (considerably better than his career average) and 3 wickets @ 32 (again, far better than his career average). He scored centuries in 2 of the 3 Tests.

    In his 32 matches since losing the captaincy (13 Tests, 11 ODIs, 8 T20) he has 1258 runs @ 34.0, with 1x100 and 7x50. Three of the 50s and the only century came in the first 5 matches in the Caribbean. The contrast is stark.

    Maybe we are underestimating just how badly the last 15 months have affected him? Comments like "this is his default level of form" are as ill-judged as they are ill-informed.

  • Comment number 25.

    Everyone needs to just calm down, chiefly among those being KP himself. He's an exceptional player but he's not always going to be in great nick & will have to scratch around for his 50 at times like these and when the situation demands it. Someone needs to drum into him that he doesn't have to always force the issue & score a run a ball in the Test arena.
    There's no better place for him to be at the moment than out in the middle playing Tests against Bangladesh.
    I'm not sure it's worth getting worried about the Ashes yet, there's three Test series (and a whole glut of other international cricket) between now & then.
    Just a quick picky point Oliver - KP's most recent Test century was Port of Spain in March 2009. So only eight Tests since his last ton.

  • Comment number 26.

    A lot of world class players go through a dip (Steve Waugh, Gilchrist,Botham, and now KP), but would you rather have them in your team or against you? A big hundred will only tell us what we already know.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is not Pietersen's series of low scores that is of concern, it is the manner of his dismissals.
    Most have come about by poor decision making at the crease.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hopeforthebest, when someone consistently makes poor decisions, what does that tell you about his mental state?

  • Comment number 29.

    "In 2008 he hit five Test centuries; he hasn't managed one since. Even taking into account the three Ashes Tests he missed through injury, that's still 12 Tests without a three-figure score, easily his longest barren run."
    Leaving aside the argument that follows, it helps to get the stats right - KP's last test century was in fact almost exactly a year ago, in Port-of-Spain (setting up a declaration that almost tied the series). So it's only 8 Tests without a 100 - and only 13 innings, which while I agree not what you want from your no.4, is not exactly a catastrophe. And were it not for that suicidal run-out at Centurion, the issue wouldn't even exist.
    Inclined to agree with Tuffers; I seem to remember last summer that Matt Hayden - whose retirement was hastened by his own Achilles surgery - predicted that KP would take longer to recover and find it much harder to get back than he might expect.

  • Comment number 30.

    Apologies to Tino - didn't spot you'd raised the same point earlier

  • Comment number 31.

    Not entirely surprised with the calls for KP to be dropped. About 10 months ago the armchair critics were all clamouring for Collingwood to be ditched. Since then he has proved one of our most reliable batsmen in all formats. 6 months before that it was Andrew Strauss's turn.

    KP is a true batting talent. The current lull in form is almost certainly causing him to over analyse his game and therefore he runs the risk of tension and nervousness destroying the natural rhythm with which he plays. Hopefully he will be back to his old ways soon enough. England will certainly be needing him in Oz later in the year.

  • Comment number 32.

    25 and 29 - Yup, my bad. An oversight from me and an apology. I have made a tweak to the copy.

    As ever, thanks for all the comments.

  • Comment number 33.

    Pietersen's form is by and large a product of England management's inability to manage it's players properly, somethign that has cost them dearly over the years.

    He should never have been rushed back into the team for South Africa after his achilles injury, his movement at the crease was poor then due to worries about the ankle and your body develops a physiacla memory, a man wth an injured leg will limp far longer than the injury rally lasts because the body gets used to moving that way. By compromising then he is still struggling now. If his movement was bette then at least his defence would be more solid and confidence would be higher.

    Perhaps they are finally taking the hint (allowing Strauss time off).

    Dropping KP now won't help, the damage is done and the only way to undo it is let him find his footwork again, playing test matches (rather than ODIs) will help him to do that, going back to Hampshire in pre-season will not.

    I don't honestly believe the captaincy has anything to do with it either. Sure initially it will have probably cheesed him off and led to a loss in desire but I believe that is long gone by now, certainly if there was any issue with whether he wanted to be playing or not then he would have chosen to miss the Bangladesh tour in order to ensure being there for the birth of his child. To be half way around the world with your wife pretty much ready to pop shows more than enough commitment to the cause for me.

    He will come good again, probably before the Ashes as he is a big match player. He is like Flintoff and Botham before him, perhaps our best cricketer, perhaps not, but definately the one who opposing sides fear and value the wicket of more than any other.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am far more in favour of an england side that keeps faith in its players and allows them to gel. The 2005 ashes was a fairly consistant side and look how successfull it was. The problem with england in the past is that someone has a few stratchy games and players like pattinson get picked from nowhere (no offence pattinson, but that was insane)

    Only the coaching staff really know where Pietersen at both mentally and physically...I just hope he reads the beano and not the papers.

  • Comment number 35.

    I think the selectors for this tour saw it as a great opportunity to get KP back to form against "lesser opposition".
    Well it seems to be back-firing. He is likely to have more confidence problems than he had before the tour started.
    Maybe he is being kept in the team for his bowling???
    He should have been allowed to recover from his injury and get back to form with his county.
    The reluctance to drop him and bring him back before really fit smells of them doing a "Flintoff" all over again.
    Give him a break. He will come good, but don't batter his confidence further.

  • Comment number 36.

    #24 & #33 - Great posts. Won't bother going into all my thoughts on the KP issue as I think you've covered them pretty well. Except I will just mention.....

    ....that I think this is probably the most balanced KP discussion I've ever seen on the TMS blog. The majority of people seem to recognise his talent and the effect the past 12 months will have had on his ability to execute it and by and large people seem to think that the only way to reverse this is time in the middle. Couldn't agree more.

    What tickles me is that this only really seems to have become the predominant view since KP has hit a really poor patch of form. Previously, when he was getting out in the 90s or just after making a century (usually when trying to clear the ropes) people would come on here and start slating him as not being a team player or having an ego that needed taking down a peg or two. Now that he's getting out in the 20s the balance seems to have shifted towards cutting him some slack and giving him a chance. Us followers of cricket are a funny old bunch!

    Not convinced that we'll see him come to form in this series but does that mean I wouldn't select him in Summer? No chance. He's too good.

  • Comment number 37.

    I've suggested all along that Bangladesh is probably the worst place for any out of form batsman to be.
    Low, slow pitches demand a higher degree of concentration and a good technique, the ball coming onto the bat at a reasonable pace would be far better.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think it's ridiculous that you can go through an entire article on Pietersen's "grim struggle to find form" without directly mentioning his Achilles injury once. Pietersen himself has recently referred to the SA Test series as on a par with going to the World Cup after sitting on the sofa for several months - can we really be surprised that he is taking a while to get back into his stride? (Oh and by the way Oliver - Pietersen scored 70-odd in the first Test, something you have conveniently ignored here by only referring to "his last four scores in SA"). I wonder if some of us would be more sympathetic to Pietersen's struggles if we had actually seen the wound on his leg, witnessed his rehabilitation period. From what I heard it sounded like a horrible injury.

    But none of this in the article. Nope, you start the article by mentioning the now-pretty-much-irrelevent Moores episode, implying that the reason for Pietersen's problems is a dramatic shattering in confidence dating back to that saga. Makes a better story, I guess.
    Come on BBC - a little more depth and insight in your sports articles please.

  • Comment number 39.

    How about dropping KP down the order? His bowling seems to be going better than his batting right now (even without the help of an incompetent umpire), and he could be the third spinner (or even the second, as I'm not yet convinced by Tredwell) batting at no 7. That would open up the way for the "extra" batsman earlier on - a good idea on these pitches - and not expose any untried (Finn, Shahzad) or half-fit (Broad) quick bowlers to torment in a not-very-pace-friendly environment. I'm afraid if that didn't work I'd be very inclined to drop him. If your head ain't right when you play Test cricket, you need to go away and get it sorted. He wouldn't be the first to benefit from time out (Strauss). He might even come back a better player, and hopefully more of a team man than an egocentric prima donna.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good luck KP. I'm sure you will come good.

  • Comment number 41.

    38. You're wrong. Having already mentioned that he missed three Ashes Tests through injury, I then include this further down:

    ------------

    Instead he [Tufnell] feels the Achilles injury that kept him out of cricket for much of last year might have had a bigger impact.

    "Batting should be second nature to someone like him. But the injury might have been quite a bit more serious than we anticipated and I don't think it's helped his agility at the crease."

    -------------------

    We all make errors. But if you're going to launch a huge diatribe agaisnt me and the BBC in general please try to read all the words in an article that offends you, not just the ones that suit your argument

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with post 38. With selection issues people do often pick and choose stats. Didn't Pietersen get a 60 odd in the Pakistan 20/20? The World Champions.

    I remember Vaughan was given time during his bad patches (until he retired crying)

    Poor old Pietey....if you want to attack him fine, lay into his appalling beard, but leave his batting alone.

  • Comment number 43.

    The whole selection issue for the Test is getting very interesting now, with KP right in the centre of the debate. Although #39 suggests moving him down the order, an alternative is to bump him up to 3.

    I don't think that anyone in his right mind wants England to go into the Test with only two front line seamers (if either of them goes in the fetlock in the first half hour we will be royally stuffed! - sorry Oliver, technical term there!) but even the Swamy wants us to pick two spinners (note: Giles and Batty took a total of exactly 3 wickets between them in 220 overs on the last series in Bangladesh, so maybe Swamy has an ulterior motive). It looks like the attack will then be Broad, Bresnan and either Finn or Shahzad + Swann and Tredwell (I think that I might just take a punt on Finn there, but it's a big one as he didn't exactly rip through many CC2 line-ups last season, albeit in a dysfunctional Middlesex attack).

    This would mean going in a batsman short and Carberry looks to have done just enough to be the one to make room.

    With Trott opening with Cook, you then promote KP to 3 to protect him a little from the spinners and also maybe give him a vote of confidence.

    It's a slightly risky strategy but then, what isn't? Picking Carberry as a debutant is also a little risky. Prior, Broad, Swann and Bresnan are a capable enough lower-middle order.

    Of course, the alternative is to remember just how little impact Giles and Batty made in the Tests in 2003, go with a seam-orientated attack and bully the batsmen the way that Harmison and Johnson did.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think this has been coming and it's all a matter of how Pietersen copes with it mentally. We all know that on form he's a brilliant batsman. However it has been apparent throughout his career that he carries some sort of nerves or weight of expectation which lead him to always a) do something risky to get off the mark and b) do something risky to get through the 90's. In the past, once he's achieved these aims he's freed himself up and gone on the play his game.
    I just wonder if with the pressure he and the media are putting him under following a run of bad scores (pressue which is slightly unfair given that he had a bad injury and then came staright back with no cricket under his belt to play SA in their own back yard, one of the hardest series in world cricket at the moment) that he's now always feeling these nerves or weight of expectation and rather than doing daft things just to get off the mark he is continuting to do so until he reaches 30, or 40 or whatever, and always coming unstuck.
    Essentially he is our best batsman and this is a good opportunity for him to get a big score and get his confidence back. If he fails, he will have a few knocks in county cricket to try and get his confidence back. He'll be fine because he is such a fantastic batsman but he does expect a lot from himself and does put a lot of pressue on himself and maybe somebody needs to put a metaphorical arm around him and give him some moral support, rather than looking at his (relatively short term) failings.

  • Comment number 45.

    14. At 5:56pm on 09 Mar 2010, Alex Gilson wrote:

    I think everyone is over reacting... I also think everyone should get off his back let him do what he does best and as for the calls for him to be dropped... well... thats the most obsurd idea ive ever heard.

    ------------

    Hyperbole is no way to win an argument. Is it so absurd that so many people should be asking for a batsman who has not seen form for two years to be dropped?

    We HAVE backed him, he's had numerous chances. There is no point using up a slot in the team with a man who is simply not performing and does not look likely to perform on a Bangladeshi pitch. Someone else should be given a chance to shine.

  • Comment number 46.

    Tredwell was at 10 for the 50 over game and I have seen him very capably open the batting for Kent (I am in no way suggesting he should for england) I think Bresnan Swann and Tredwell make for a good lower order batting line up....it's good to see more and more bowlers who can bat!

  • Comment number 47.

    It's all very well for people to keep repeating he's a great world class player and saying get off his back, but since his comeback from injury, he is not playing like a world class player and no amount of wishful thinking can disguise this fact.
    It's true that certain people are taking pleasure at 'kicking him whilst he's down' but quite probably these same people have done the same to almost every England player at some time.
    However, his loss of form is a serious matter for both himself and the England team.

  • Comment number 48.

    Stargazer. Don't talk about fetlock injuries when I have several ante-post betting slips for the Cheltenham Festival I am nervously clinging onto!

    I take your point about the Giles/Batty ineffectiveness but at that stage Gilo was bowling poorly anway and dear old Gareth B has always struggled in England colours.

    The red ball does absolutely nothing in Chittagong for the seamers. Swann and Tredwell should be able to bowl long spells and those two, Collingwood - who was virtually bowling spin here the other day - plus two specialist seamers is my bowling attack.

    I pick the team as follows:

    Cook, Carberry, Trott, Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Tredwell.

    If Broad doesn't come through his fitness test, I put Finn at 11 and Swann and Tredwell get pushed up one.

    If we fail to take 20 wickets in the match then we add a bowler for Dhaka, and that would be a seamer.

    I don't see any reason to shoehorn Trott into the opener's role and drop Carberry just to give ourselves an extra bowler.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    Pietersen has a a lot talent, he just hasn't got the brain to match it.

  • Comment number 51.

    Oliver - I wouldn't put too much cash on that team if I were you. The noises coming out of the England camp, say 5 bowlers.

  • Comment number 52.

    Given that our bowlers can bat a bit and can also pick up an injury at any time I'd say that going in with 5 is a given?

  • Comment number 53.

    Oliver, this is one occasion when I am with hopeforthebest: I think that we need 5 bowlers more than we need the extra batsman.

    Definitely the team selectoon could go any of three or four ways. But, with a question mark about Broad's fitness, an extra seamer is indicated. Do you really think that we would risk 2 seamers, one of them coming back from injury, plus Paul Collingwood???

  • Comment number 54.

    In these conditions, Collinwood IS a fifth bowler. It's not like out other seamers are going to get much more off the pitch than he would anyway. The team suggested by Oliver should be able to take 20 wickets and score upwards of 650 runs in 5 days, which should be enough.

    Regardless, Carberry should play, he deserves his chance. If anyone misses out it should be Bell, not that he's done anythign wrogn, just that Carberry, Trott and Pietersen all need to play for form or evaluation and Colly is too useful as a bowler.

  • Comment number 55.

    Presumably, if england are playing 2 spinners, we can expect them to be bowling the majority of the overs, therefore do we need 3 seamers? Collingwood can do fill in, even bell and trott have bowled their little trundlers at test level. Collingwood is a clever bowler and it is mentally where bangladesh often fail.

  • Comment number 56.

    You're right hacker. In the end it boils down to whether England select players who are 100% fit. If they do, then the likes of Collingwood and Broad should be able to bowl reasonably long spells in conditions that are not unpleasantly hot.

    If they don't, then they're not going about the selection process in the right way anyway...

    By the way, in extremis, England even have people like Pietersen and Trott to send down an over here or there.

  • Comment number 57.

    Hackerjack - So your plan is too stack the team with players seeking form and an untried opening batsman?
    That sounds pretty dangerous to me.

  • Comment number 58.

    Hackerjack, you can defend multiple options here. The latest piece on a certain well-known cricketing website now suggests that the preferred option is 4 bowlers. I'd be worried though about any option that places too much load on Staurt Broad and could, potentially, leave Paul Collingwood to take the new ball, with his 15 wickets @ 60.8 in his 57 Tests.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hit "post" instead of preview! I was going to add that Paul Collingwood's bowling would be essentially a negative option to spell other bowlers: you cannot tout him as a serious wicket-taker.

  • Comment number 60.

    Playing the extra batsman would also, of course, be England's way of saying they're worried about the runs Pietersen will produce

  • Comment number 61.

    Admit it, Oliver. Whichever way the selectors jump, your mate Swamy will demonstrate that it's a guaranteed disaster for England. And the sub-eds keep headlining his posts! :-) [I keep trying to draw him on his pre-tour prediction of a Test and ODI whitewash for Bangladesh]

    Whichever way the selection goes, let's be positive and go for the throat. We want to win both Tests and win them well.

  • Comment number 62.

    It's pace bowling that Bangladesh most often succumb to, so I'm not convinced that two off spinners is the best choice.
    6 batsmen, Swann and 3 seamers seems much better.
    Scoreboard pressure can account for wickets also.

  • Comment number 63.

    #6 Ahhh the famous Graham Bell

  • Comment number 64.

    Bopara for KP I'm afraid..

  • Comment number 65.

    63. At 2:12pm on 10 Mar 2010, massivemeatball wrote:

    #6 Ahhh the famous Graham Bell

    ---------------------------

    Invented the telephone before bowling for England :D

  • Comment number 66.

    Hackerjack - So your plan is too stack the team with players seeking form and an untried opening batsman?
    That sounds pretty dangerous to me.

    -------

    That's pretty much it yes. We can talk all we want about it being disrespectful to Bangladesh but in the end the pictue is biger than this one series regardless of who it is against.

    Getting Pietersen in form, letting Trott grow into the team and giving Carberry a chance are all important for the future of this team, as was allowing Cook the chance to show himself as a potential captain. We will not get a better chance to experiment in the test arena in the next few years than this so take advantage of it I say.

    The only worry I have is Broad's fitness, as has been stated we don't want Colly opening the bowling in the second innings. But like I said, I'd prefer to see Bell sit out the first test is we need five proper bowlers to play.

  • Comment number 67.

    Hackerjack, Oliver addressed this, but slightly misses the point, I fear. Yes, Stuart Broad will only be picked if he is 100% fit but, he won't be 100% match fit in the sense of having bowled overs recently. He can't know and the physio can't know whether or not, after 20 overs or a particularly intense effort, his body won't start to give problems again. You can't reproduce match intensity in a fitness test and someone coming back from injury IS susceptible to aggravating a previous problem, or suffer a new injury if overloaded.

    Colly with the new ball in the 2nd innings is not a comforting prospect.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hackerjack - The time to experiment is in England against Bangladesh, not here in conditions which favour them more.
    When the WI came to England last year the selectors introduced both Bresnan and Onions.

  • Comment number 69.


    I've said previously that I wouldn't have selected Pietersen for the Bangladesh tour. Back in the West Indies last winter, his language on the pitch and off the pitch said that he didn't want to be there. I think a lot of people totally underestimate how hurt he felt by the way he was treated as captain, and he has every right to feel hurt. We've all seen what it took for John Terry to be deposed as England football captain. Pietersen's removal as captain was performed with far less grace and decorum.

    I'd have told Pietersen to forget about the Bangladesh tour, go and spend time with his wife, and go and play IPL cricket. The mojo simply hasn't been there in his batting. A complete change of environment playing IPL cricket might have been just what he needed. I'd have had no problem with KP going to India and Eoin Morgan coming into the squad in his place even before Morgan's heroics in the ODI series. Out of Morgan and Carberry, I know who I think will have the longer England career.

    On Pietersen's technique, it's a small thing. The front leg has been going too far over to the off side. You saw it perfectly with the LBW decision that dismissed him in the ODI series off Abdur Razzak (I think it was, brain is a bit soft this afternoon). The bat was almost diagonal across the front pad. Had it been straighter, he would have got some bat on it. The front leg goes toward extra cover, the bat tries to come across it toward midwicket, and he ends up playing all around it. He'll get it back. Hussey had a dreadful run and now he's back to form.

    In terms of selection, I'll agree with Oliver on the team front. I'm not the biggest fan of Carberry but he's been picked to replace Strauss and so must play. Trott at 3, KP at 4, Collingwood at 5, Bell at 6... if Broad isn't fit, bring Finn in. The wicket isn't the sort to scare batsmen with seam and we don't have a Harmison or Flintoff figure to intimidate the Bangladesh players as we may have done in the past. We should be looking to outscore them heavily and give the spinners plenty of work.

    Cook, Carberry, Trott, Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Tredwell.

  • Comment number 70.

    Andy, we scared them with seam in 2003. Steve Harmison took 9 wickets in the 1st Test and Richard Johnson 9 in the 2nd. At the same time, Ashley Giles took 1 wicket and Gareth Batty 2 in more than 110 overs each. In the 1st Test we played Harmison, Saggers and Clarke and in the 2nd, Johnson, Saggers and Clarke and the Bangladeshis came, saw and surrendered.

    The question for me is the quality of the spinners. Is the 2nd off-spinner good enough to be a better wicket-taking prospect than an extra seamer. If it were an off-spinner and a slow left armer, it would be an easier decision. I just suspect that the batsmen will play Tredwell more comfortably than Finn.

    As for Carberry, as the selectors did not take a 3rd opener, they obviously thought that they had enough batting cover in the squad. Trott does open in the shorter form of the game, so it is not a completely left-field pick. You could argue that we want to take a good look at Finn and Tredwell more than at Carberry and that will most easily be accomplished by trusting the batting to be good enough to make a dcent score and giving the bowling some extra firepower. We DID play 5 bowlers in 2003 and we needed them.

    You can also say, as Oliver points out that, by picking 7 batsmen we are just showing fear that Pietersen and Carberry won't score enough runs to justify their selection.

  • Comment number 71.

    In a series that will not need the impact players who can change games such as Pietersen you could say that omitting him can only be good for the younger players. However when Iqbal undoubtedbly makes a 50 and Trott and Cook perhaps get given LBW early, everybody knows that Bell is only going to do the same. So including Pietersen has to be a must and include Morgan over Bell because we know Morgan needs a chance.
    The Line-up should be -
    Cook
    Trott
    Pietersen
    Collingwood
    Morgan
    Carberry- why should he have to open on his debut?
    Swann
    Broad
    Bresnan
    Tredwell
    Finn

  • Comment number 72.

    We mustn't forget Pietersen bowled 8 overs taking 1-36 in the third ODI against better opposition than Treadmill's 6-95. Pietersen in 4 overs also took a wicket that day. Do we really need so much off spin when Broad is not match fit?
    with 5 bowlers maybe 4 should be seamers, as I said earlier seam has mostly been successful against this opposition.

  • Comment number 73.

    Stargazer:

    We scared them in the past with big tall seamers. Harmison, Flintoff, even Richard Johnson, all three are/were big men. In 2003, the Bangladeshis were not adapt against firepower like Harmison. They've come a long way since then. Right now we don't have a tall man of genuine pace. Broad and Finn are not outright quicks in the Morne Morkel role. So compared to our attack of the past, our seamers are not as potent. Now our spin attack in the past with Giles and Batty compared to our options now is a lot stronger. Swann is on current form the best off spinner in the world and Tredwell took wickets against the A team.

    India played six batsmen in both Tests against Bangladesh and played the keeper at 7 (NB. Yuvraj didn't bat in the 2nd Test)

    http://www.cricinfo.com/bdeshvind2010/engine/match/434256.html

    http://www.cricinfo.com/bdeshvind2010/engine/match/434257.html

    That Indian attack in both Tests wasn't special. Zaheer bowled well, Ishant has been out of form for ages, the two rookie spinners in Mishra and Ojha are feeling their way, Bhaji was up and down...

    Against England, the Bangladesh strength is in its bowling. In the batting stakes, only Tamin Iqbal and Sakib, with possibly Rahim, stand up to be counted. With the ball, the myriad of spinners that they will play are their chief weapons. Bangladesh have shown many times that concentration fades away after they've been chasing the leather.
    What I want to see from England is to bat Bangladesh out of the game. Even in the glory days under Vaughan, it was rare that we batted sides to the point where our bowlers could revel. We did at Lords last year against Australia but we don't do it enough. India bat sides to the point where the opposition is intimidated by the total. If India can play six batsmen, why shouldn't England?

    "The question for me is the quality of the spinners. Is the 2nd off-spinner good enough to be a better wicket-taking prospect than an extra seamer."

    If they're both rookies in the form of Tredwell and Finn, does it matter? Tredwell has been on the county circuit for ages, is more experienced than Finn or Bresnan in terms of age, has been with the England squad regularly, and has performed on big tournament days like the T20 with Kent. Throw in the wickets against Bangladesh A and I think he's not a risk to play at all. He's a flightier bowler than Swann and it was clear that his style of bowling tests the patience of the younger less experienced Bangladesh players.

    Trott should only open in an emergency. We saw for ages how Ian Bell was mucked around playing multiple roles in both Test and ODI squad and how that affected him. Trott was given that number 3 slot against South Africa. If the selectors truly believe he is the man for that slot, then he stays there against Bangladesh and Carberry opens. I don't think they were ever thinking of Trott opening ahead of Carberry expect as an emergency measure in case of injury.

    "You could argue that we want to take a good look at Finn and Tredwell more than at Carberry and that will most easily be accomplished by trusting the batting to be good enough to make a dcent score and giving the bowling some extra firepower. We DID play 5 bowlers in 2003 and we needed them."

    We might have needed 5 bowlers because we didn't get the runs to put pressure on Bangladesh. The highest England score in the series was 326 all out. In the Second Test, Clarke and Giles bowled 9 overs between them in the first innings and a paltry 6 overs in the second innings! Bangladesh in total faced 99.2 overs in the game. If you remove the opening pair of Hoggard and Johnson, then the trio of Saggers, Giles, and Clarke bowled 34.1 overs between them in the match! Hardly proof that we needed five bowlers.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sol/shared/bsp/hi/cricket/statistics/scorecards/bangladesh_v_england_test_match_series_bangladesh_v_england/6391/html/scorecard_hi.stm



    "You can also say, as Oliver points out that, by picking 7 batsmen we are just showing fear that Pietersen and Carberry won't score enough runs to justify their selection."

    Again, I'll go back to India. By picking six batsmen and Karthik or Dhoni at 7, where they showing fear that new players wouldn't score enough runs to justify their selection? India had their game plan. Go and score a stack of runs, put the Bangladeshis under the cosh, and winkle them out. We need to follow that.

  • Comment number 74.

    Andy, Rikkie Clarke was off the pitch sick most of the match. That's why he hardly bowled.

  • Comment number 75.

    So much focus on Pietersen's loss of form, almost to the point of hysteria... and even talk of dropping him.???

    Any opposition captain would love to see an England teamsheet without his name.

    Everyone, with the exception of Bradman, has sticky patches in their career; with a genuine class player, you just have to keep playing them and wait for it to come right.
    The thing is, other lesser players have similar blips, and there's so much less focus, seems Pietersen is a victim of his own success, and the English disease of wanting to bring the best down.

  • Comment number 76.

    Stargazer:

    So Rikki was off sick and we still won that easily... how does that back up the assertion that we need five bowlers? Crikey, we must have beat Bangladesh then with two good seamers per game, Giles and Batty bowling big jumbo pies n' mash throughout, and then a mish-mash of whoever doing whatever in between lavatory trips!

    It baffles me how people are calling for five bowlers now against the 'mighty Bangladesh batting' and yet tons of people were saying we were cool with four bowlers for the West Indies tour, the last Sri Lanka tour, the Indian tour, even during the Ashes at times last year.

  • Comment number 77.

    I am amazed that a number of people here are advocating dropping Ian bell - the second highest run scorer in South Africa, and one of only two England centurions on that tour!

    Wise up!! Morgan has done NOTHING in county championship cricket to warrant being included over Bell!

    I will get pilloried for this - but KP SHOULD be dropped - any other batsman, perhaps with the exception of Cook - who was an Essex rteam mate of the coach would be dropped!

    Carberry has shown nothing special, so methinks trott could open.

  • Comment number 78.

    An interview with Cook on cricinfo is now suggesting 6 batsmen, both spinners and 2 seamers. If this correct, it will probably be the first time England have gone with such an attack.
    The idea of 2 seamers, Broad yet to declared fit and Bresnan ( Finn on standby) looks pretty thin to me.
    England will need to win the toss, post a big score and get last use of the wicket when relying on so much spin.
    The two spinners will be under tremendous pressure to perform.

  • Comment number 79.

    I think it's fair to say that another sign of KP's lack of confidence of late is that he hardly ever uses the 'reverse sweep' anymore!

    That aside, I do wonder if Andy Flower should take a little time to try and provide some coaching to Pietersen on how to deal with the spinners. What we mustn't forget is that in his prime the England manager was one of the finest players of spin bowling in cricket and anyone who was lucky to have witnessed that innings of 232 not out in India in 200 will agree with that. The fact that Flower was a lefty and so had no real problems against left-arm tweakers aside, to me it all seems to be about the mindset of a batsman, how to exercise patience and know which shots to play and which balls to either defend or attack. If flower can sit with KP, watch videos of his dismissals and tell him where he's going wrong, I'm sure it can work wonders.

    It's interesting to note just how a little discussion with a coach can improve a player's game, I'm thinking here of KP's IPL coach Ray Jennings and former South Africa bowler Andre Nel. Now we all know that Nel isn't the greatest bowler in the world, he had plenty of limitations. But Nel was quick to credit his former provincial and national team coach for enabling him to overcome a form slump and become a better bowler, and mind you, they didn't even have to practice much!:

    http://www.cricinfo.com/iccct2006/content/story/262805.html

    And lest we forget, Jennings was actually a wicketkeeper!

    I'm sure that if Flower is concerned about his star batsman's difficulties against spin, he should take a little time to go over things with him and coach him on where he's going wrong. It just seems so silly that when there is such a rich resource of know-how available at your feet as it were, you don't try to make the best use of it!

  • Comment number 80.

    Pietersen is without doubt our best batsman. Yes, he is currently out of form, but it is unrealistic to expect anyone to be immune to losses of form. Perhaps he needs a few weeks (or months!) to go back to Hampshire, have some down time and try to rebuild some stability in his batting form. Think Andrew Strauss a few years ago. He was woefully out of form, went back to his county and returned to the England set up a stronger and better player. Pietersen would certainly benefit from something like this. Sadly, it seems we do not have quite enough confidence in the depth of our batting to take the initial leap of having to face a test without Pietersen in the line up.

    Still, form is temporary, class is permenant...

  • Comment number 81.

    Andy, you see how there are various ways of looking at this depending on whether it is our batting or our bowling that worries you most :-). Who would be a selector?

    In general, I am a traditionalist. I want to see a balanced attack and cover in case someone pulls a hamstring on the first morning (e.g Martin Bicknell in the 4th Test in 2003, or the Antigua Test in 2004 when we had one bowler banned and another injured and Marcus Trescothick ended up holding the seam attack together). That means that I prefer one or two out and out quicks, a seamer and two, contrasting spinners (like Edmonds and Emburey or Panesar and Swann). That covers you for all conditions. Particularly if there is any doubt about one of the seamers, as there has to be in the case of Broad, having just two is a risk. How you assess that risk depends on the fears of the particular person doing the risk assessment.

    If we go with the 7+2+2 option, that does depend on us winning the toss and making a huge score to exploit a turning pitch on days 4 and 5. It could though leave us very exposed if things go wrong. Bangladesh seem similarly orientated to winning the toss and then exploiting a turning track at the end of the match.

    In 2003 we had Mark Butcher in dreadful form and very slow tracks where fast scoring was difficult; we also had a tail that was very much less proficient at batting than the current tail. In general, 350 was regarded as a pretty decent effort at the time.

    On the Rikki Clarke incident, he actually came back out to bowl, took a wicket and then almost beat the dismissed batsman back to the pavillion. Englishmen can go down sick on the sub-continent because they are not used to the conditions and that kind of thing is easier to cope with if you have the extra bowler.

    Anyway, it isn't my decision. You back our bowlers and are worried about the batting. I'd back our batters, but am a little worried about the bowling. For what it's worth, it seems that the selectors have been changing their ideas over the last week and are now tentatively in favour of 7+2+2, having favoured 6+3+2 initially. It may be that there is confidence that Stuart Broad really is 100% fit and ready and that has swayed them. It also seems that Carberry is now favourite ahead of Trott to open, so you may get your wish. I don't care which way it goes as long as we aren't saying "I told you so" after day 5 with a glum expression.

    I must say that this is the first time that I am really looking forward to a Test v Bangladesh as an exciting test of the side.

  • Comment number 82.

    Stargazer:

    Have you read Duncan Fletcher's blog in the Guardian? A very good read:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2010/mar/11/kevin-pietersen-england-duncan-fletcher

    My thoughts with the bowling is that, whatever side we put out, it's going to be inexperienced. If Broad is fit, he's going to be our most experienced bowler. Our options on tour now aren't experienced men.

    Broad 26 Tests
    Swann 16 Tests
    Plunkett 9 Tests
    Bresnan 2 Tests
    Finn 0 Tests
    Tredwell 0 Tests
    Shahzad 0 Tests

    Even if we play five bowlers, you're talking about Swann and Broad being the only guys in double figures, with Bresnan, Tredwell, and maybe Finn all coming as rookies. With an attack like that, getting bowled out for 300 would put major pressure on them. I suspect Sidebottom's selection on this tour wasn't so much because of what he could do but because there was a palpable lack of experience with Anderson crocked, Flintoff retired, and Harmison out to pasture, and the selectors thought we needed someone who could exert control and who has been around a while. All those plans have pretty much gone out of the window. With such an inexperienced bowling lineup, I'd much rather have six batsmen and Prior at 7 to give the bowlers a really big score to play with. I'd much rather see how the new boys in Tredwell and Finn do with the ball, and also see how the all-rounders like Swann, Bresnan, and Broad do with the bat. If they bat well, maybe we can then look at dropping a batsman for the Second Test and going with five batsmen, Prior at 6, the Bresnan-Broad-Swann trio and 7 to 9, and then two bowlers in Tredwell and Finn.

    If we go for four bowlers, then Broad only plays if 100%. By the reports, I think Flower wants to get Finn in there. If Finn does play, then one of Broad or Bresnan will open with him, and then the two spinners.

    I don't disagree that balance is important. In this case, the pool of players we can select from is pretty unbalanced because of injury. In those situations, I'd go on the side of caution and, as I say, I'd rather have six batsmen setting up a big 500+ score for four relatively inexperienced bowlers to play with rather than getting diddled for under 300 and having five inexperienced bowlers having to make up for the continued failings of our top order. I'd come back to this idea of batting sides out of the game. India and Australia do it. South Africa do it as well, as they have done with Smith, Kallis and Amla especially. We need to learn how to do that as well.

  • Comment number 83.

    Andy, agree totally. I am also terrified of the Amjad Khan effect where a rookie who looked good in CC2 is called up as cover and promptly shows that he is so far short of Test class that it's embarassing. There are no two ways about it: this is going to be a rookie attack and if Broad is unfit the attack will look like the one that Australia put out against us in the 1st Test in 1986 (an unmitigated Australian disaster).

    I trust the guys on the spot to make the right decisions. But if we do go with two seamers, I pray that Stuart Broad will not be pushed too hard or asked to bowl through mild pain and just make things worse. We really do not want to see Colly and Bresnan taking the new ball because there is no one else available. Only the selectors on the spot know the risks here. In Finn's favour is his height and bounce and, Corporal Jones, them Bangladeshi's don't like it up 'em. Selecting Finn would at least allow Stuart Broad to be ordered to pitch the ball up, which makes him ten times more effective.

    I'll have a read of the thoughts of Chairman Dunc. From all the reading that I have done this week though there seem to be as many theories on 1st Test selection as there are experts (in the Daily Telegraph, Steve James said "that you surely cannot play six specialist batsmen and two spinners. To go into a Test with only two out-and-out seamers would be suicide. So if Tredwell plays, Carberry can’t. And so Jonathan Trott must then open."

  • Comment number 84.

    Stargazer, after life with Flintoff, I hope England have learnt that they can't push bowlers through the pain barrier as you end up losing out. With respect to Bangladesh, pushing Broad to play against them is different to pushing Flintoff through the last Ashes series. The prize was greater than and Flintoff knew he had a finite lifespan at Test level.

    On the Steve James article, I see no reason why it is a suicidal policy to pick two seamers. As I've said already, India chose two out and out seamers in their series against Bangladesh (Zaheer Khan and Sree Santh, then Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma), and won. If you want to take it further, India also only picked two seamers for the home Test series against Sri Lanka, which they won. Suicide? No! It was a case of the batsmen scoring heavily and backing the bowlers. Let's face it, over the last five years and even in 2005, it wasn't England's batsmen who won us games. Our bowlers have gotten the batsmen out of the mire countless times. We don't consistently make big scores as a team. We need to change that and doing it against Bangladesh is the perfect place to start.

    The India-Sri Lanka series scorecards:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/shared/fds/hi/statistics/cricket/scorecards/2009/11/84169/html/scorecard.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/shared/fds/hi/statistics/cricket/scorecards/2009/12/84170/html/scorecard.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/shared/fds/hi/statistics/cricket/scorecards/2009/11/84168/html/scorecard.stm

    James would pick Trott to open. Firstly, it sends totally mixed messages. If Trott is picked to open, then in less than ten Tests he's gone from lower middle to number 3 to opening. We tried something similar with Bell and it didn't work. Secondly, we knew there was an opening slot available and there was no immediate shoe-in for that slot. Carberry opened for Hampshire last year and scored heavily. What message would it send to him if he isn't picked for an opening slot and Trott is slotted in there? "Sorry Carbs, we think you're good enough to tour with us but not good enough to open, and we'd rather have a guy who isn't a regular opener for his county, who went from middle order to number 3 against South Africa, ended up finishing that series batting in a frankly schizo manner, so now we want to give him the chance to test himself against the new ball?"

    Steve wants Trott opening with Bell at 3. Ha! An untried opener followed by a bloke who has a pretty poor average at 3, who is then followed by KP, a dude who has taken on the role of Out Of Form Man (handed down from Collingwood last year). Why not just fly Neil Carter out there? He can bowl, plenty of opening experience... :D

    I've heard the CC2 arguments many times and it holds no sway with me. Go back to our 2005 Ashes side and see how many of those were in Division 2 at the time. It's no different to the Trescothick and Vaughan elevation to the highest level. Other players scored more runs more often but something was seen in those guys that went beyond county level runs. Amjad Khan wasn't someone I ever rated as a serious international prospect. Finn is someone who has had a lot of attention and who has been allowed to develop at county level, almost a reversal of how Anderson found himself in international circles. I wouldn't worry about him at Test level. His action and approach are far more repeatable than Amjad Khan's ever looked. When nerves are strong, you fall back to your trusted technique, and I'd put my faith in Finn.

  • Comment number 85.

    Errrr, Andy, I'm not so worried about Finn either, as I have stated repeatedly, although having followed Middlesex assiduously last season and barely missed a day in any competition, I can count on the fingures of one hand the times that he ran through a side. But Tredwell was also plying his wares last season in CC2! Actually, that was not intended as more than an example: any rookie can go horribly wrong and the last two disastrously wrong selections were both CC1 bowlers and both in the last 18 months.

    I disagree strongly with you on CC1 and CC2. The level is very different indeed. In CC2 you might have a class new ball bowler and/or a class spinner, but the change bowling is much weaker. In CC1 you have sides like Durham where a player with Test caps is struggling even to get into the side because the attack is so strong. The strength in depth in CC2 is far less and that is why CC2 sides that get promoted are almost always relegation candidates from CC1 the following season. CC1 is concentrating the talent and the gap is getting ever-bigger.

  • Comment number 86.


    Stargazer, I won't disagree that there is a difference between the first and second division if you take the composition of teams as a whole. Durham compared to someone like Leicestershire is no contest. However picking individual players from CC2 on their own individual merits isn't a bad thing. A good player is a good player, irrespective of his division. The distinction between CC1 and CC2 isn't as pronounced as the Premier League and Championship in football, or the jump into the Guinness Premiership in rugby union. You may find a youngster has more chance in CC2 to actually break through and get first team experience because he's not playing for a wealthy team who can load up with Kolpak players a la Somerset (my team), who frankly have wasted a whole year of development to my mind when it comes to their young spinners.

    In the top flight, a youngster might come in, bowl a couple of bad spells, and get dropped. In the CC2, he could bowl a couple of bad spells and still have a chance to continue in the side due to a smaller squad, and a lack of a replacement thanks to lower cashflow. Once the implications of the Kolpak changes have had time to affect county cricket, not to mention the playing of younger players as the ECB desires, I suspect the gap between CC1 and CC2 will actually reduce.

    In the case of Finn, his actual stats might not be the greatest over the course of the season but he at least has bowled a good number of overs. We know he can take a decent workload and that he won't be undercooked coming into the Test arena. Were he in a side full of Kolpak players, it's unlikely he'd have bowled as many overs as he did.

    I see CC2 as a place where young players will be introduced to county cricket. Over time, they might well transfer to wealthier clubs. That's pretty inevitable, given how the money is flowing in some areas. I don't like it but it's hard to see that not happening. In many ways though, it will help England. CC2 will be a feeder league and more impoverished sides will come up and hopefully do a Birmingham City, and hopefully Surrey will stay in the lower division :D

    Side note: as a Middlesex fan, what's your feelings on Dawid Malan? I've got him as an outside tip for a World Cup squad place if he has a good 2010 season.

  • Comment number 87.

    KP will come good, he is class, & class is permenant, form is temporary. When he came into the England team, he looked to dominate from ball one & scored at a rapid rate. Since he became captain he has looked to be a lot more circumspect & has been looking to build innings & not been anywhere near as aggresive, which I believe is against his natural instincts. As a few other posters have said previously, I think that he needs to have an arm around him, I think he needs to be told to go out & play his natural game, switch hits & all. He will come good & I for one will not be surprised if he scores a big century in the First test. Remember Beefy, & the stick he used to receive when off form - he always used to respond & KP will too.

  • Comment number 88.

    I'm getting heartily sick of the expression "form is temporary, class is permanent', if it were permanent why do so many players have to retire?

  • Comment number 89.

    Well I thought I had got the team right when I saw Carberry had been picked. Then I found they had left out Tredwell! I really hope Swann enjoys bowling 40 overs a day

  • Comment number 90.

    Oliver - Two spinners from 4 bowlers was always a strange idea. With Pietersen bowling quite well in ODI and warm up, leaving out Treadwell was not so foolish.
    Historically Bangladesh has mostly been more vulnerable to pace.
    I did warn you not to put money on your team selections.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oliver:

    The non-inclusion of Tredwell opens up some thoughts though. Did they decide on three seamers because Broad isn't 100%? It must be for that reason. Had he been fit, would Sidebottom have played? It certainly looks that way. IT certainly doesn't make Liam Plunkett look good when he doesn't play and Finn slips straight in there. I don't think Will Smith will have to worry about Plunkett being away during next county season on England duty too much... (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/counties/durham/8562223.stm%29

    Now let's get 700 with the bat.

  • Comment number 92.


    KP batted well for his 99 in a massive partnership of 170 runs with his skipper. Congratulations to Kevin and centurion Alastair Cook.





    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 93.

    A wonderful refreshing innings of 99 by KP today has done him a world of good. Of course he was aided by some pretty poor captaincy, soft bowling and at times shoddy fielding, but just the way he was able to pace himself against the quicks and more importantly play the patience game against the spinners was a delight, he effectively forced the spinners to bowl some rubbish to him. I think it's fair to say that he's learned from his mistakes and will use this as a fine springboard. After all, you can only do well against what's in front of you! And if as I said earlier he will have been guided by Andy Flower, then the manager should also take a bow!

    Sad that it took a vicious arm-ball to get rid of him, but the best thing about getting out for 99 is that he'll remain hungry and keep improving himself!

    Good to see you back, KP!!

  • Comment number 94.

    I think girlondonblogger and all u doubters better enjoy a huge slice of humble pie... a refreshing and wonderful knock by kapes today... poor shot was his downfall though... other than that one lapse in concentration, he looked exceptional!!

  • Comment number 95.

    Pieterson is a great player.He has played a great deal of cricket where he was always the main scorer and expected to be and then he got injured as cricketers often do.He has found it hard to return and seems distracted most of the time plus he is always the target for every bowler to dismiss and rightly so.I dont doubt he will return to his most glorious best but perhaps he just needs to feed off some easy bowling to rack up his self belief again.Rest Pieterson and bring in Kieswetter,he is another great player destined to play test cricket.A team with both Pieterson and Kieswetter would be a sight to see if both got their eyes in,the bowling would be destroyed and records broken.

 

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