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Pietersen has the midas touch - for now

Jonathan Agnew | 11:03 UK time, Saturday, 23 August 2008

Kevin Pietersen must be thinking that being captain of England is the easiest job in the world.

His batting is flourishing with the extra responsibility - just the 190 runs from two innings - and every plan he hatches in the field is paying off.

It won't last forever of course, as sport isn't like that but bearing in mind what an inexperienced captain he is, he is indeed fortunate that everything is falling into place so easily in his difficult early matches.

You make your own luck, of course...

It seemed extraordinary to see Pietersen loosening up to bowl with South Africa cruising along at 140-2 in the 26th over.

After all, KP's bowling figures in international cricket before this game were 2-112 from 18.5 overs - hardly encouraging.

But something stirred him to take the ball himself and, similarly, something stirred AB deVilliers to chip his sixth ball straight to Ian Bell at midwicket. It was jaw-dropping. And what about Jacques Kallis running himself out in Pietersen's next over? Amazing!

Is it that the very sight of Pietersen makes the South Africans lose the plot? I witnessed an interesting scene immediately after the toss at Headingley in which the two captains, Pietersen and Graeme Smith, had to select the replacement balls for the match.

Not a word was spoken. The body language was icy cold. Believe me, those two have more than merely a mild dislike for one another. Has that rubbed off on the South African team as a whole, I wonder?

Pietersen and Flintoff batted brilliantly together

The most heartening thing about England's victory was Andrew Flintoff's return to form with the bat.

His beautifully paced 78 from 70 balls was his most significant contribution for more than 18 months, and will do wonders for his confidence.

Previously, when Pietersen and Flintoff have batted together, their partnerships have degenerated into a contest between the two - but this oozed maturity as well as class.

Paul Collingwood is now free to return for Tuesday's game having served his suspension (although I am not sure how a match that was cancelled 24 hours in advance can really count!) and that means someone must give way.

Luke Wright looks the most likely candidate to step aside which would be a shame because I like his character and he is a very useful all round contributor.

But with Flintoff, Sami Patel, Collingwood, Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad all filling the middle order, competition for places is now intense.


  • Comment number 1.

    i dont see why wright didnt bowl, hes a very good tight bowler

  • Comment number 2.

    why bring in collingwood for luke wright?

    i believe that wright is a better bowler than bopara. which i thought was a shame because he never bowled.

    bopara's better when there's a collapse, he's proved that twice. but wright is better at scoring runs faster. and i firmly believe that he seems to exploit the the last 5/10 overs like flintoff, pietersen and collingwood do.

    but also where is dimitri mascarenhas? he can score runs very quickly scoring many sixes and is a very tight bowler. so he must be good for the middle or end overs of an innings because he hardly concedes that many runs.

    and i dont understand why cook is in the one day team instead of rob key. key has proved himself time and time again these last few seasons that he is a very efficient opening batsmen for this form of cricket. if he was in the team i also believe that it would be better for ian bell because he wuld know he has more competition because of key. so he would deliver the high scores that england have been waitin for. and anyway cook is hardly competition for bell in this form of cricket.

  • Comment number 3.

    crompton20 i definately agree with you!!!

  • Comment number 4.

    also bell needs to bat alot more like he did in the new zealand series, walking into the ball and scoring at 5 an over, theres no point batting down to 8 (possibly 9 with broad) with good explosive batsman if bells gonna take up 70 balls scoring at 3 an over

  • Comment number 5.

    We certainly need not to get too carried away by KP, he cannot possible carry on in this manner he is human after all. He needs the support of all his players. This was what ws nice with sveral team members.

    Bell if he is going to be the anchor in the team needs to rotate the strike

  • Comment number 6.

    I think Collingwood should come in for Bopara rather than Wright as the latter is the better all-round cricketer.

    I'm also surprised that you bought up the relationship between Smith and Pietersen again. They looked happy enough in each others company at the toss and in a recent interview with a well known cricket magazine Pietersen basically said that him and Smith and pretty much buried the hatchet.

    A good start for England last night and just as KP we need to keep that form up over the next four.

  • Comment number 7.


    Bring Collingwood in for Bell.


  • Comment number 8.

    I'm impressed with Pietersen and I was one of the Strauss for skipper brigage.

    I've been listening to the games on radio and watching highlights and my observation so far is that he is not captaining by numbers - which is good to see. Anderson wasn't needed to bowl the extra seven overs yesterday - so didn't. Patel came on, took a wicket, and was immediately replaced. In the test he used a cover-sweeper to stem boundaries; again not captaincy by numbers.

    Long may he continue to dumbfound those of us who were doubters. Hope he remains instinctive and imaginative.

  • Comment number 9.


    Better still, bring back Trescothick.


  • Comment number 10.


    Trescothick was AWESOME today! Did you see that?!


  • Comment number 11.

    Great captaincy firstly in not allowing under the weather Anderson more than 3 overs, and secondly bowling himself - (some excellent captains in all forms of the game can perhaps justifiably be criticised for under bowling themselves) and I hope he will be determined now to become an all rounder and the established 2nd spinner in the England team.
    Bell and Prior wasted the power plays, perhaps Bell should make way for Collingwood and Luke Wright promoted to open- then we will see 6 runs per over or better for the first 10 overs with hopefully no more than 1 wicket down in the next game.
    Great work from our bowlers grabbing 10 wickets with everyone except Anderson challenging the Saffers, good work from Patel, I hope he establishes himself in the side.KP and Fred showed everybody that this was a decent batting wicket, even if nobody else managed a big score

  • Comment number 12.

    Pieterson looks like he is doing the obvious things well which Vaughan never seemed to do. He seems to react quicker to situations. Great captiancy with Patel and Anderson and he will definately get the best out of Harmison and Flintoff the two most important members of the team. The one day side should be in my mind:












  • Comment number 13.

    Congratulations to KP and Team England. The skipper and Freddie had a glorious partnership after a fine opening stand between Bell and Matt Prior. Though the openers consumed almost half of the allotted overs, England were able to post a modest score which they defended well with decent bowling and smart fielding. One thought Prior did well with his elegant batting and sound keeping where he had a hand in three South African dismissals. For South Africa Kallis as usual was impressive. Jacques is indeed a top quality allrounder for some time now. Best wishes to the two sides in the encounters to come.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 14.

    why the hell would you want luke wright to open!!! every time they have made him an opener he always failed to get runs!!! he's best at no.5, 6 and 7.

  • Comment number 15.

    Wow! What a great game to begin the OD series. Makes you think again about 50 overs games.

    It was a very good team performance that won the game. It would be easy to say that Pietersen, Flintoff and Harmison won it but it would be curmudgeonly to criticise anyone in the team for their performance today.

    It is time for us moaning minnies ( me for one) to back off a bit, just enjoy what happened today and hope we can keep it up.

    KP seems to have coaxed Harmison out of one-day retirement. That’s good captaincy. So was his batting, his bowling and management of his bowlers. Just now he can’t do anything wrong.

    It would be nice to think he could coax Tresco out of England retirement. After all, there is nothing wrong with using players at home who refuse to tour, if they are the best available. Many people have said that Harmison, even if he doesn’t have problems similar to Tresco’s, will never be the same man in foreign climes. Horses for courses. The important thing is to put ourselves in a position to win.

  • Comment number 16.

    Glad to hear others mention Trescothick's name.

  • Comment number 17.

    "The man is a superstar, some people are born into this world who are just superstars.

    "The ability Flintoff has with that cricket ball when he bowls is absolutely phenomenal."

    The words of the England Cricket Captain describing the greatest cricketer in the world.

    ""Let's face it, Flintoff is an awesome player who has the respect of cricketers all around the world"

    The words of Ponting, The Australian Captain.

    For all Prawn Vaughan lovers and Yorkshire Nationalists, read ,digest and be humbled.
    Great watching the Peterson Flintoff duo in full flow, must nbe the best sight in Cricket

    Bazthe Aces

  • Comment number 18.

    Great result. Unfortunately I didn't see the game as it started at 11pm here in OZ.

    One thing that I do know though is that the Australian media are suddenly talking and writing about the England team.

    I was a Pieterson doubter as far as captaincy was concerned but I would love nothing more than to be proved wrong.

  • Comment number 19.

    The most successful England captain ridiculed again? Must be the same sports "fans" who slate Paula Radcliffe.

    One does worry that Wright, Bopara and Mascharenas might fall into that sad category of "can do it for county but not for country". One hopes any of the trio improves to be an international class act.

  • Comment number 20.

    You're right desertferret. Michael Vaughan was fantastic for English cricket. He was inspirational as a captain-particularly in 2005!

  • Comment number 21.

    neonSockMonkey (where did that come from?):

    Yes I agree with you that Tresco back in the team would be pretty marvellous, but I don't think it's going to happen. It must break his heart to see what he could be contributing to the England team, in all forms of the game.

    His role in the 2005 Ashes will not be forgotten but is often understated, with most of the credit going to the "fabulous four", Harmison, Hoggy, Flintoff and Jones. England batted first in most of the games and, at lunch had usually scored more than 100, for the loss of, at most, one wicket and often at a rate of five runs an over. Tresco didn't score a ton in that series but, together with Strauss, more often than not, gave England a solid foundation for a big score. I am convinced that if Strauss had a partner like Tresco, he would still be capable of finding his confidence again.

    So the bowlers always had a lot of runs to play with, something that is no longer happening. The psychological advantage of having a big score behind them, often scored at a very fast rate, cannot be overestimated. This is not to say that the bowlers didn't do an extraordinary job that year, because they did.

    As you say, Tresco ran wild again today as he so often does. 184 runs off 122 balls, on any wicket, is very impressive. The Taunton wicket can be a featherbed at times and today, Gloucestershire, with far inferior batsmen, were up with the rate and narrowly won by the D/L method when rain intervened.

    Having said that, it is obvious that Tresco is by far the best English opening batsman in county cricket. and we need him down in Somerset! You may have seen, too, that Kieswetter got a ton today, batting alongside Tresco. Once he has sorted out his nationality status and gained a little more experience, he may well be the wicket-keeper/batsman that England have been looking for for so long.

  • Comment number 22.

    Obviously, I meant "underestimated" not overestimated.

  • Comment number 23.

    Just looking at Durham fast bowler Mark Davies's stats and they are surely a match for anyone, a first class bowling average of 21.57! Why isn't he ever mentioned in the England reckoning?

  • Comment number 24.

    Bell and Cook are both definately great technical players but don't seem to be suited to one day cricket.
    We need people who can make most of the power plays but not give their wicket away.
    What do people think on who should open for England odi's?

  • Comment number 25.

    Pieterson is smart in recognising Freddy and Harmy feed off each other on the field, off the field and in the dressing room. He is channeling their experience and double barrel (12 bore) potential. When Freds bullying batters, Harmy turns on with the ball and is a handful.

    Pietersen has been smart enough to know that to win against big teams he has to get this weapnary fettled and firing.

  • Comment number 26.

    I have never been much of a Pietersen fan, but you have to give credit where it is due and say he has made a great start to captaincy. It is as if he has been a bit of a bored school boy over the last couple of years, and while he has done better than most of the other batsmen, still seems to have not quite fulfilled all his potential. He is clearly a guy who needs big challenges.
    Let's contrast Ian Bell - does he really look like a man who relishes the tough times? I don't deny his talent, but he simply has not stepped up his level consistently after a very long run in the side. I am sorry, but one decent innings this year on a batsman's pitch is not good enough.

  • Comment number 27.

    what a start for kp and england team in this odi series !!!!
    i had my doubts over kp as captain but he keeps me proving the doubters wrong.he made some good decisons and in the field and led from the front in batting. i am sure most of us agree that kp brings out the best from harmy n freddie.i suspect the reason why MV couldnt get the best from them or from the team was may be because the team was losing confidence in him because of his form.who knows ??
    even thou it may seem it was kp harmy n freddie who won us the match but i think it was kp who got the team to up their game and show their talents.
    bell is a class player but he gives the impression that he is trying too hard.he was trying to play the anchor role but he needs to constantly rotate the strike so he doesnt feels under pressure.give me a series or 2 more and see .....

    with colly coming back i think its right to drop luke but wouldnt be surprised if kp chooses to retain the same 11 ...


  • Comment number 28.

    'For now' is right, Aggers. I like a lot of what Pietersen has said and done for England - but it's when the team has a run of poor results and the pressure on the captain accumulates that personal performances begin to suffer....but of course, I hope it doesn't happen.
    As for Trescothick, anyone who had visions of him being coaxed out of retirement just doesn't understand the nature of his illness.

  • Comment number 29.

    our team should be


    or u could play luke wright instead of bell. graeme swann didnt perform badly, how come he is included anymore. patel should play and swann could open batting as he has done it for notts

  • Comment number 30.

    also, u cant get rid of shah as he has been probably our most consistent odi player over the last 12 months maybe apart from pietersen

  • Comment number 31.

    Kevin Pieterson is beginning to flourish as a Test Captain. His harnessing of the exceptional Flintoff to the reemerging Harmy is now showing results which is great after a simply abysmal period when Vaughan completely lost the plot and his form but did the right thing in falling on his sword.

    Great things lie ahead if we can fine tune the team for the onset of the Aussies.

    Winning breeds condidence, ask Michael Phelps or Chris Hoy so more power to your elbow KP

  • Comment number 32.

    Anderson/Sidebottom (whoever is on form)

    if no Tresco, then:

    Anderson/Sidebottom (whoever is on form)

  • Comment number 33.

    Why change the team that has just had a great win. Especially as Collingwood is batting like my gran at the minute.

  • Comment number 34.












    This would of been my original team.

  • Comment number 35.

    good to see all this chatter about treso coming back into the england squad. alas alas i fear the self confessed revelations in his new book that he cheated throughout the 2005 ashes series will hinder any chance of that. i wonder if that has made the headlines in the uk?! no wonder he retired he didn't want to get thrown out for being a cheat!

    i always maintained 2005 was a fluke, and now my suspicions have been confirmed; england won the ashes by deception, and they have the hide to complain that australia's sledging is 'just not cricket...'

    pot... kettle... black... hey...

  • Comment number 36.

    I've long been a fan of Shah and was always frustrated by his batting down the order where he rarely had a chance to show what he was capable of. For a couple of games last year he was batting down at 7 which is an absurd position for a specialist batsman. Yes he is a good finisher of an innings, but he can be so much more than that.

    It's good that Pietersen has shown confidence in him and given him a proper opportunity to bat in a position where he will be able to make runs in every innings. All Shah has to do now is take that opportunity.

  • Comment number 37.

    Is it just me, or is anyone else amazed the two first one dayers are being played on Friday and Tuesday around the bank holiday? Is this just contempt for cricket fans who have to work?

  • Comment number 38.

    FiveForOne - possibly an attempt to avoid clashing with the olympics too much? Still a bonkers idea mind you!
    Simonk133 - You have a good point about Shah, and I feel similarly about Stuart Broad. He seems such a natural batsman, but how on earth will he develop his play? He won't get any decent innings down in the bowels of the batting line up with all these one day matches that are coming up. Part of me wishes he would get dropped so he could get a few knocks with Notts, because I think he is driving in the wrong direction with his career at the moment.

  • Comment number 39.

    Can anyone tell me why there is no international cricket over the main summer bank holiday???

    Olympics over - football dire. Couldn't believe it after thursdays win that the next odi is TUESDAY when everyone back at work.

    Crazy - another owngoal for cricket administrators

  • Comment number 40.

    It's simple, 2 words MARK RAMPRAKASH

  • Comment number 41.

    Watching bell bat at headingly was a shambles how many aussies would be proud of 35 off 70 balls with no boundries during his entire innings through the powerplays-its just not odi cricket and england cant carry people like that! England were very lucky on friday south africa pressed the self destruct button when they were cruising but all credit to england when they got a sniff they took there chance! Will be a different story when they have the morkels back! Collingwood has to play his bowling is very handy and he would strenghten our batting line up! I also think england would benefit from a left hand right hand opening pair make it harder for the saffer bowlers! So lets see if bell can manage a better strike rate than 50 in the next game

  • Comment number 42.

    why are you not slating KP aggers? you usually do, even if he scores a bagful of runs.

    Him and flintoff would make englands all time XI easily.

  • Comment number 43.

    The criticism for Bell is harsh. Surely he did the openers job of seeing off the new ball. Cricket is about building partnerships and he and Prior did that. For god's sake England still scored 280 and won the game. The 20/20 revolution is great for cricket but it doesn't mean that all formats of the game must go the same way. Im sure England would have struggled if he was out for early doors trying to smash the ball to all parts.

  • Comment number 44.

    That doesn't excuse Bell for not taking more singles.

    20/20 will change one-day game-play--and having a pedestrian opener not only adds pressure to the following batsmen, but will simply make us "not good enough" to compete against the best.

  • Comment number 45.

    To me winning the toss and batting first was a big factor in the win. With the match being day/night batting under the lights with the white ball SA were always going to struggle once we had posted a good score.

    The big thing now is winning today a putting SA 2 down and under pressure! Lets win the first three a put them out of their misery. Better still all five! I would love to hear what Smiffy thinks then.

  • Comment number 46.

    This is off topic but there's nowhere else to post it... I'm quite surprised that Marcus Trescothick's confirmation that England utilised a particular brand of mints to achieve a perceived advantage in bowling during the 2005 Ashes series rates no mention on the BBC's cricket site. Whether it was an actual advantage or not is going to be up for debate, but that it might have been is particularly newsworthy in terms of the potential ramifications in regard to tactics in cricket.

    There's little doubt that it's fairly unpolicable, as the ICC have already indicated. Nevertheless, if it is an effective tactic, the ramifications are huge. Should schoolboy cricketers be experimenting with mints to gain an advantage..? In their understandable desire to not in any way tarnish the memory of a thrilling test series, should British websites completely ignore this newly confirmed rumour? Nathan Bracken mentioned the possibility of mints as a tactic in a minor radio interview after the Ashes and was savaged by the media for daring to suggest such a thing that is now in retrospect excused by the old 'everyone does it anyway' reasoning along with the 'sour grapes, how dare you' attack.

    Forget the series result - numerous Australian cricketers and commentators have said what's done is done, and the following 5-0 reversal has wiped away most Australians' lingering resentment. But something here is not right. Is it fair or not; and if it is, why deny it so strenuously. And if it is, should everyone be trying it? Or allowed to try it..? Frankly, I hope not, as it opens up a whole new avenue of cricketing advantage that has very little to do with what we traditionally associate with the game... It ought to be a concern, regardless of who utilises it.

  • Comment number 47.

    Aggers, Why can't you give the bloke some credit without waiting for his downfall? We need to get behind this captain, as he looks really enthusiastic about the team, and their chances against anyone.

  • Comment number 48.

    what's with the "body language" link? Are you trying to suggest that love and hate are linked for KP and Smith ... !?

  • Comment number 49.

    here we go again superlatives such as new dawn midas touch heard it all before lets win some test series against the aussies south africans or indians or how about a world cup or even any one day trophy before we acclaim him as the messiah lets just wait and see he might be another brian

  • Comment number 50.

    I had better shut up about Stuart Broad going in the wrong direction with his career after events at the Bridge.
    Thanks for proving me wrong!

  • Comment number 51.

    great start by KP and england. Well done.
    As a south african i hate the fact that we are losing to an england team captained by a south african reject.However, since deciding to play for england, he has shown the proteas what they missing.
    word of caution: enjoy the run for now as it won't take long for the english press to slay him once the results turn the other way.
    you've heard it here first! Pietersen's has had it easy so far and we can only judge him after a year or 2.

  • Comment number 52.

    After the recent 2 - 1 Test Match loss to South Africa I was not really looking forward to a 2 week business trip to SA starting from this weekend. Amazing what a couple of weeks can do to change everything.

    Firstly, the SA performance at the Olympics was so embarassing I am not sure even I will be able to bring up the subject in polite company. Ok, I obviously will have to (it has to be done!) but I will be very careful when and where and in front of who I do it as they are almost as bad losers as the Aussies are.

    Secondly, whatever else happens in the One-day Series is not that relevent anymore as this has been very one sided and over as quickly as it could be. We need to bear in mind that England are not considered one of the better One Day sides and are well down the ICC List. To be thrashed so badly in 2 of the 3 matches to date has really surprised me. I expected SA to win as they are one of the few teams who have competed with Australia.

    Thirdly, most of the SA people I have spoken to still consider Kevin as a traitor but then most of them still think a now ex-captain of theirs (Ex is both senses of the expression) was framed by the Indians and innocent of corruption. Considering how religious many of them are I am a tad surprised none of them have said something like the plane crash was God's judgment on Hansie but there you are. To be fair, I did not think it was true when the news broke as I thought he was the last person on earth who would do such a thing but you learn something new every day.

    I digress - I honestly did not expect such results under Captain Kev - not now and not ever. Maybe he is a much better leader than he comes across as but maybe most sportsmen just prefer to play under somebody with charisma rather than too many brains. Poor Michael gets lumbered with a bizarre decision which effectively ends his career as captain and everyone conveniently forgets that he led England to the most unexpected Ashes victory in a generation (well, seemed more like a era than a generation) and the most memorable sporting event of my life. Kevin comes in and makes it seem like it is easy and I only hope he takes defeat and the bad times as graciously as Vaughny has.

    I remember the first time I read or heard Napolean's strange comment about wanting a lucky general and not a good one. I thought that was complete rubbish all those decades ago and that it was a typical daft French thing to say. I now know exactly what he meant and that he is correct - some leaders get their chance at the right time and in the right place. I hope King Kevin proves he is not a flash in the pan but I doubt he will match Michael's record in Tests. If he proves me wrong I will be delighted for him, England and all the supporters who (along with the Rugby crowd) epitomise the best characteristics of the English - one of which is taking to heart players like Kevin and Monty who may not be pasty faced Anglo-Saxons but are still appreciated for their spunk and contribution to the cause. It is great to have so many players of South Asian origin playing for us nowadays and if any of the Aussies want to make the long journey back and join the cause then the more the merrier!

    In summary, I am now really looking forward to the trip to SA as I will be serving large portions of humble pie rather than having to eat them. I may lose a bit of business along the way but it will be worth it! Lovely country by the way - Cape Town is easily the best city I have ever been to and I have visited around 85 countries.

    Regards, Joe Perriman.

  • Comment number 53.

    I find it interesting! Kevin is full of self confidence and this attitude is being passed on to his team. Look at the results. It must be due to positive thinking and not the woeful "well we did our best!!!"


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