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KP meets his kryptonite. Again

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Tom Fordyce | 19:26 UK time, Sunday, 29 May 2011

Cardiff, Wales

On another blustery grey day devoid of almost any other excitement, you just knew Kevin Pietersen would be the one to light up Cardiff with some fireworks and drama.

Unfortunately for Pietersen, it wasn't a blazing century or all-out assault on the Sri Lankan bowling that did it. No buckles had been swashed nor thrills spilled before he fell, the victim once again of a curse that refuses to leave him alone.

According to Test Match Special scorer Malcolm Ashton, the batsman who would be king has now been dethroned by left-arm slow bowlers 19 times in his last 61 Test innings.

Neither are we talking about the cream of the world's twirlers. With the exception of New Zealand's Daniel Vettori, Pietersen has been banjaxed by a line-up of steady Eddies and honest toilers - Paul Harris, Sulieman Benn, Shakib Al Hasan, Yuvraj Singh, Abdur Razzak. He's even been seen off by Zafar Ansari, a 19-year-old first year student at Cambridge University.

It's a remarkable statistic, not only because of the percentage and names involved but also because it seems to get worse the more Pietersen insists that it's getting better.

Pietersen doesn't like the idea of being dominated by anyone, let alone a small, chubby Sri Lankan who is as likely to marry a pop star and pick up lucrative endorsements as Pietersen is to become a Buddhist monk.

As soon as he came in, Rangana Herath twirling round the wicket, he went after him, looking to prove to us all that the hex was simply hyperbole and the power all in his hands.

The scene was hardly set for him. More of the misty rain that had spoiled the first three days had swept across the city all morning, reducing an already small crowd down to a bedraggled hardcore, the atmosphere in the ground as dull as the skies overhead.

He had already made one risky foray - charging down the track to edge past short third man - before the spell struck again.

It was an ugly shot, even if the ball had some venom to it. Herath pushed one through a little flatter, the flat pitch sent it on even lower and Pietersen, backing away to leg, slapped down cross-batted and late as ball appeared to strike bat and back pad at exactly the same time.

Umpire Billy Doctrove initially gave it not out. There seemed to be too much bat in it for it to go any other way. But Sri Lanka referred it, and replays spelled out why.

Hotspot showed a bright disc in the middle of the bat, but also a small mark on the front pad. Crucially, slow motion indicated that the mark on the pad may have appeared fractionally first.

Third umpire Rod Tucker looked at it, and looked, thought about it some more and then looked again. KP stood mid-pitch, chin thrust out, waiting in a pose that spoke of unshakeable self-belief.

When Doctrove then nodded his head, made the scissors sign with his hands and raised the finger of death, Pietersen stayed frozen. For an age he stood there, the Sri Lankan fielders heading in the direction of pavilion first as drinks were brought on, before eventually glaring at the big screen and slowly slinking away with that Shere Khan glide of his.

Kevin Pietersen

Pietersen scored two centuries against Sri Lanka on their last tour of England in 2006. Pic: PA.

It hasn't always been this way for Pietersen. It was 63 Test innings before he was dismissed by a slow left-armer, although that was more because he almost never faced them - only three times, in fact, when he saw off 16 overs from Sanath Jayasuriya in Kandy four years ago, a little from left-arm wrist-spinner Simon Katich in 2005 and a smidge of Michael Clarke in Adelaide in 2006.

But the fact that it is happening now, and so often, is having a genuine and worrying effect on his career. Over those first 63 innings his Test average was 50. Over the last 61 it has dropped to 43.

What began as one technical problem now seems to be morphing into a mental one too.
He first found problems by planting that big front foot down the track and getting in trouble as the ball turned into him, either playing round the pad and being trapped lbw or edging and being caught close in.

Following a word in his ear from Rahul Dravid, he then switched tactics - opening up his body, moving that front leg out of the way - but that soon brought issues of its own.

Now he finds himself trapped in an increasingly vicious circle, too often playing too attacking a shot too early in his innings in a flawed attempt to bluster his way out of it. There is imposing yourself, and then there is impeding yourself.

Most top Test batsmen will have a small technical flaw exposed at some point in their careers. The great ones realise early, work assiduously and find a solution.

Pietersen does not stint when it comes to practice. His hard yards in the nets are familiar to anyone in the England or Surrey set-ups. On international duty he will also be able to work with Graham Gooch, who not only conquered a similar mid-career crisis of his own (the lbw tendency ruthlessly exploited by Terry Alderman et al in 1989) but helped bring Alastair Cook out of his doldrums last summer.

A solution he will have to find. In Friday's second Test he is likely to find Herath brought into the attack as soon as he arrives at the crease. In the series against India that follows he will then face the wiles of Pragyan Ohja.

Ian Bell has seldom shown the same self-confidence at the crease as KP. But en route to an unbeaten 98 he showed his team-mate exactly how Herath could be dealt with, advancing down the track to loft him high over the sightscreen for the first six of the match just a few balls into his innings. It was high on technique and almost devoid of risk.

Pietersen watched on from the England balcony, collars turned up to the chill wind, rubbing his finger repeatedly into his eye to fish out a stray eyelash.

He got rid of that irritant, but a bigger one remains.


  • Comment number 1.

    It seems to me that no matter what he says, his heart is no longer in playing test match cricket for England. Especially if he is not the centre of attention. One decent score every series is not enough, fortunately we have the run scoring machines that are Trott, Cook and Bell in the team...

  • Comment number 2.

    Kevin Pietersen is a bad influence on the team. It is clear he has severe mental issues with coping in being in the team. He needs to stop making appearances at the Baftas and concentrate on working on his game. His average is sinking by the game and it is obvious he is least likely to be considered a team player. Not sure how long England can rely on him having an innings around the corner.

  • Comment number 3.

    and he should take his hands out of his pocket ? what has that got to do with it ? well maybe not seeking a solution to this rather simple problem (it must be ? these are the world's best spinners) so a similar sort of ego and arrogance

  • Comment number 4.

    I wish the knocking of KP woulds stop - the man is still committed to England and a class act - we are a better team with him in it.

  • Comment number 5.

    On his day, best batsmen in the world bar none. Get off his back and get behind him- the big scores will return.

  • Comment number 6.

    What I find interesting about this is the 3rd umpire changed the on field decision even though it was not 100% certain that his decision was wrong. With LBW decisions there is a clear mandate to stay with the on field decision unless it is 100% certain that the decision was wrong however here that was not the case. This inconsistency within the UDRS is something that should get ironed out by the ICC as it seems unfair.

    on to KP personally he would be one of the first names in the England team if I was picking it. He is a class batsman although temperamental and sometimes you have to accept not every person wears their heart on their sleeve even though they do care.

    Does KP care about playing tests for England? only he can answer that but I assume he does because he certainly doesn't need the money any more!

  • Comment number 7.

    It occurs to me that Pietersen has actually pulled off a brilliant piece of Trojan Horse-esque misdirection. Whilst doing not all that well with the Willow he has retained the tag of best English Batsman, taking focus away from the others and allowingb them to flourish. A glance at the recent performances of Trott and Cook speak to how an ingenious wheeze has been cunningly, nay brilliantly, executed.

    Well done that man. Selfless indeed.

  • Comment number 8.

    KP has not been himself since the Moores bust up in January 2009. There is a vicious circle in that the more he fails to achieve his and our high expectations of him, the more down on himself he looks and the more questions there are about whether he is interested or not.

    There is no doubt that KP is a thin-skinned individual, and that the Moores bust up has had a severe impact on him. It has not been widely reported who in the team set up was with him and who against when he made his stand against Peter Moores, but there has to be a feeling that there are some in the dressing room who disagreed with his stance and that must play on his mind even now two and a half years later as he plays alongside them.

    My own personal view is that he will get increasingly frustrated with the failure to achieve and the criticism he attracts in the press. By the 2013 Ashes sadly I fear we will find that KP is no longer part of the England team set up, having jacked it in and preferring instead to ply his trade in the IPL. I sincerely hope I am wrong as he has done some wonderful things for England, and if he can get back on track, has so much more to offer. Time will tell if my fears are realised!

  • Comment number 9.

    The ECB have to take a long hard look at themselves when the issue of KP's form arises. Their handling of the Moores/KP/captaincy fiasco was a farce and KP hasn't been the same since (acknowledge that injuries have played their part). Much as it was easy to criticise KP during that time, he was the only guy big enough to not only say clearly what he felt an underperforming team needed, but to also put his neck on the line to lead it. He is a team player, not in a conventional sense maybe, but when it comes to the crunch, you show me a world class cricketer and I'll show you a selfish b*****d!

    He's not first pick anymore, but would still be on my team sheet regardless of how many SLA'a the oppo had in their line up. It is a wierd little glitch though...

  • Comment number 10.

    His extended form dip is serious, but more is made of it than would be the case for others, mainly because of his history of confrontations, flash behaviour and self promotion.
    A classic "tall poppy" who has been a bit too sure of himself and not very mindful of others feelings, notably when he sacked Notts and Hampshire and tried to do the same to Peter Moores.
    Add in a cliche ridden and hyperbolic way of speaking in a strong South African accent and the irritation factor gets very high indeed. An obvious target for the media then when his batting frailties surface, which they regularly do, and he gives his wicket away trying to be over aggressive to prove he's still "the man".
    Only lots of consistent runs will shut the critics up, but time is running out.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think the "problem" with left arm spin is certainly more of a mental one now. As Tom rightly wrote, he now think that he has to dominate left arm spin to show that he doesn't have an issue with it. I suppose the problem with batsmen of his style may be that at their best they are dismissive and dominant, so when they are not at their best they believe that they way to get back into form is to try to be dismissive and dominant, rather than playing sensibly as they're not in perfect nick.

    I think the issue of him not being a team player and not being interested in Test cricket is over blown, not everyone can be the life and soul of a team. I think KP knows that if he is to be considered a great of the game, as his undoubted talent says he could eventually be, then he needs runs to show for it. That, ultimately, will spur him on to great things. KP has 5 years of Test match cricket yet, I reckon he'll score in excess of 5,000 runs in that time.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think KP is committed and is not a bad-influence on the team, I take that as media revving things up. He does have a very clear technical/mentel problem and has not performed anything close to consistent since the Peter Moore's affair. The lad needs to be sent to Surrey to play first-class cricket and kept there until he starts dominating those bowlers again. It worked for Cooke, Strauss, Bell and has worked for countless players over the years it's the whole point of having the county system.

    The other side of the coin is you players like Bopara and Hildreth as well as others who are knocking on the door for England places. It's unfair to them consistently score runs at first-class level while watching a player fail all but once a series at Test level.

    Pietersen is a class act and I'd place a very high bet that if was properly dropped he would be back.

  • Comment number 13.

    Other batsmen have had far worse runs of form (Strauss, Cook, Collingwood) but KP is unfortunately not a very likeable character and doesn't have many fans in the media it seems. It would help if he were actually English or had a few 'man of the people' flaws... an alcohol problem might help.

    Get to work KP, and I don't mean any of your Soho cocktails, I'm talking bitter and cider.

  • Comment number 14.

    I dunno. Trott gets a 200 and you are going on about KP's issue as the main thing?

    Are we just spoilt too easily?

    The flaw against left arm spinners is now clear. Needs to be sorted or he loses his place. We have batting options.

    Good stuff Cook also, though shame he couldn't kick on.

    Can Swann take the wickets?

  • Comment number 15.

    It is clear that KP needs to change something, and that he needs to make that change very soon. It is well known that he works harder than most at his game, but I wonder how much is he trying to work smarter. Is there anyone in the England setup who has both his ear and his back (so to speak), and does he listen enough to make use of whatever help is available ? I certainly hope so, he is one of very few players in the team who can turn a match.

  • Comment number 16.

    Simon Katich bowls chinaman, not slow left arm. Turns it completely the other way!

    If you include dismissals by right arm leg spinners, I imagine his percentage of dismissals to spinners who turn it away from him is even higher!

    Warne 5 dismissals, Kaneria 3 dismissals, Afridi 1 dismissal and Kumble 2 dismissals. So that is another 11 dismissals he's suffered to leggies as well as the 19 to slow left armers (Vettori 4, Shakib 4, Benn 3, Harris 3, R.Hinds 1, Razzak 1, Doherty 1, Yuvraj 1 and now Herath 1)!

    So 30 dismissals out 118 in Test cricket for KP have been to spinners who turn it away from the right hander. Not good enough and such a fundamental technical and mental flaw over such a long time should lead to a spell out of the team until he can rectify it.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'm sure Pieterson can get over this, I think if England can get pieterson playing well against slow left arm bowlers (as i think he can), he can batter them in test matches when sides try to exploit this 'flaw'.

  • Comment number 18.

    Ian Morgan is an important cog in England's future. I think he should bat at # 4; not KP.

    Odds are Morgan would be celebrating a big innings at stumps tonight and KP still waiting his turn if he had come in after Cook fell. Can anyone explain why KP bats at number 4?

    In regard to his weakness against left-arm spinners, that is something that he and he alone must learn to overcome. One can be certain that coaches have advised him accordingly, but there is only so much a coach can do.

    This Test has proved, once again, that Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook are a major reason why England are on the verge of becoming rulers of the world in the preeminent version of the game.

    They have the mental toughness and stamina to bat for prolonged periods, an attribute rare in cricket.

    If play is possible tomorrow, England should bat on in preparation for Lord's. A declaration would be foolsh as it is a virtual certainty that there can be no result in this match.

    Go England!

  • Comment number 19.

    i think kps biggest problem is the mismanagement he has endured for the last 5 years.

    back in 2005 he came out all guns blazing and was brilliant - occasionally he would get out cheaply but he would always seek to get the upper hand on any bowler he was facing from the first ball.

    then came the criticism that he didnt know how to play test cricket and instead of acting like every match is a t20 he should slow down and learn to build an innings - and then came the problems...

    kp has spent the last 5 seasons trying to be a batsman that he isnt. he should stop listening to all those around him and do wht he does best. i personlly didnt see any "going after the bowler" in his short innings - all i saw was the usual over exagerated defensive shots that he does to show everyone that he can bat just like boycott if thats what people want to see. a few years back such mediocre bowlers would have been watching balls like the one that got him out sailing over midwicket and into the car park.

    soon enough kps career will be over and we will all look back on a great batsman whose greatest moments all came way back when he was a headstrong maverick - not the insular brooding outcast that he has been turned in to.

  • Comment number 20.

    Who knows what's going on behind the scenes ... perhaps KP has said that it's Test Cricket of the IPL ... so the option to spend some time with Surrey is not on the cards ?

  • Comment number 21.

    Just how real is KP's perceived weakness ? It is not good enough simply to quote how frequently he gets out to slow left armers without indicating how much this number deviates from what you might expect given the types of bowling he has faced and how much it differs from the norm amongst other top-class batsmen.
    There are roughly six types of bowler - three paces, fast-medium / off-spin / leg-spin and two hands, left and right. Left-handed bowlers are much rarer than right-handed and leggies are much rarer than the other two paces. So getting out to slow left armers just less than one in three occasions may not in fact be very significant statistically. Can anyone provide further enlightenment ?

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree with Deep-Heat insofar as KP is no longer a 'first pick'. I also understand why some fans question his commitment to England. But care is needed. Some have wisely pointed out that we fans are in position to come to conclusions, one way or another. For me the commitment issue only makes sense if, at the heart of the matter, the idea is that KP now regrets becoming English-qualified. I doubt that he has any such regrets, from which it follows that he is still committed to English cricket. For KP playing at the highest level just is playing for England.

    I don't buy into the IPL theory. Too low profile. As for the krytonite theory, the controversy of the referral will enable KP to avoid facing up to reality. But in fairness to KP, in my opinion it is the role of the batting coach to tell a batsman they have a certain flaw, vulnerability, etc. It's not a debating point. And the onus is not on KP to 'fess-up'. Coach and player should be working on the problem. And perhaps, given the furore this issue has provoked, England management should clarify this publicly. In that limited sense I think KP has perhaps been mis-managed.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry, missed out a "no": we fans are in no position.....etc.

  • Comment number 24.

    "9. At 22:55 29th May 2011, Deep-heat wrote:
    ........ He is a team player, not in a conventional sense maybe, but when it comes to the crunch, you show me a world class cricketer and I'll show you a selfish b*****d! ...........

    That is a pretty strong and misguided statement. World class cricketers like Chris Gayle, Sivnaraine Chanderpaul, Mahela Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Michael Clarke, Daniel Vettori, etc are not "selfish b*****d". And really, neither are KP or Ricky Ponting. Some greats do acquire a certain attitude and perhaps that is so for KP. However, is that entirely his fault? For far too long KP had been the only world-class player in the English team and the fans have showered their adulation on him and made him the deity of English cricket. Why blame KP alone? At this stage in his career he should be left alone to choose where and in what format of the game he wishes to be a part of. Failures are not directly co-related to performance or being a team-player.

  • Comment number 25.

    KP is an interesting one, firstly the old addage "form is temporary..." is obviously worth considering but I too have my doubts about KPs commitment to the team. When asked on TMS if he was committed to test cricket his answer was "yes... I want to score 10,000 runs". Helping the team win was not mentioned, helping the team reach No.1 in the world was not mentioned. This concerns me with respect to his attitude and back up some of the suggestions that he maybe isn't always in it for the team.

    Secondly I agree he is not necessarily first name on the team sheet. I feel that the time when he is asked to go back to county cricket to sort his game out might be fast approaching and allowing some of the young talented batsmen to come in, Hildreth or a young all rounder perhaps. He needs to find form this serious or personally I would find it difficult to justify his selection against India as his offering is not substantial enough at present.

  • Comment number 26.

    Pietersen's malaise against innocuous left-arm spin is quite unfathomable, but is probably more mental than technical.

    Part of KP's success in the first half of his Test career was his supreme confidence. The likes of McGrath, Warne and Murali - each one an all-time great - didn't phase him, and his cocky arrogance and absolute certainty in himself allowed his obvious talent to flourish.

    But what has become a blip is now clearly one that has left an ocean of self-doubt in KP and until he gets his head right, my bet is that he will keep finding new ways of getting out to the dreaded left-arm spinners.

    He could do with taking a leaf out of Jonathan Trott's book. Now there is someone that possesses immense mental strength: Jonathan Trott is a good starter

  • Comment number 27.

    For those asking if he really does have a problem, just look at his whole innings today. Simon Hughes wrote a good piece about it - he faced 5 balls from Herath and his response to each one was a premeditated miscue. It's a mental thing - he's thinking about it too much and it's led to him playing the bowler and not the ball.

  • Comment number 28.

    Here is a man who could do no wrong,and let's face it, exceptional on his day, but is has to be said: at the present time, he is no longer able to produce. It is, I think nothing more than a mental block. He needs to go away for 6 months, have a change of scene perhaps. He is suffering just like Paul Collingwood did.
    There is a lot of talent out there, all no doubt straining to get one foot in the door. Let's give them a chance! We don't really have a lot to lose, especially with Pieteresen in the form that he is.

  • Comment number 29.

    KP's got the "yips" pure and simple. It is wholly a mental thing and will need careful and expert coaching to get him through it!...speaking of "yip", and way off topic, but.....what is the point of Boycott?...He managed to "put Yorkshire" on TMS yesterday. Is it me? the guy is really starting to grate and become thoroughly objectionable!!

  • Comment number 30.

    KP has never had a technique but at the start of his career he had a great eye. He no longer has that - game over.

  • Comment number 31.

    Congratulations to double centurion Jonathan Trott. Bell is still ringing nearing the century mark. Good luck to KP.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Tom.
    I noticed you twittered something about Seagulls yesterday. Perhaps you would be interested to know they are in fact just Gulls. There is no such thing as a seagull.

  • Comment number 33.


    Pietersen bats at 4 because he is still a match winning batsman, albeit in poor form, so it makes sense to give him as much time to be able to bat as possible. Also, moving him down to number 6 to accomodate a batsman who has only played one series would be another huge dent in his ego and lead to him playing worse.

    Your point about batting all day today is also misguided. If we can get a full days play (big if i know) then we can score a quick 80-100 in the first hour of play and try and skittle them from there. Unlikely i know, but you should always try and win the game, as much for the spectators who pay money to watch the game as well as showing positive intent. I don't think Australia in Steve Waugh's time would be trying to bat all day today for a boring draw...

  • Comment number 34.

    @24 - are you sure you want to open your list of non-selfish world class cricketers with Chris Gayle?

  • Comment number 35.

    Fordyce, as with other sport commentators, is being rather unfair to KP.
    Did you see the delivery that got KP? A delivery that kept wickedly low and it was amazing that KP almost succeeded in getting his pads out of the way before he connected with his bat. As it was, it needed the intervention of the third umpire to see the faint mark on the pad to overturn the on-field decision of not-out.

    I suspect that Fordyce wrote much of his piece before the match, hoping that KP would, indeed, fall to a left-hand spinner and thereby make Fordyce headlines. I believe also that Fordyce did not watch any replay of the dismissal, or that he chose to ignore the fact that the pitch played a massive part in it.

  • Comment number 36.

    I've only skimmed the comments so maybe I've missed someone else saying this, but the biggest issue with KP's dismissal yesterday is that IT WAS INCORRECT!

    Maybe someone knows a different rule to me, or there is an official interpretation somewhere that I'm missing, but on the laws of cricket, as listed on the MCC website, the decision by an international umpire with the benefit of a replay was, quite simply, wrong.

    I'm assuming we all know the LBW law, its law 36, and points a-d deal with the ball pitching and striking etc. as we're all familiar with. Point 'e' on the other hand, states quite clearly, that "but for the interception (of the batsmen's body) the ball would have hit the wicket". I have added the brackets for clarification as it is obvious from the context when you've read points a-d. We know for an absolute fact that the ball WOULD NOT HAVE HIT THE WICKET (sorry about caps but I don't know how to do italics on here) because he absolutely middled it with his bat. Therefore Pietersen was not out.

    I was playing yesterday so I don't know if this was discussed on the television or radio at the time, but I contend that the decision was incorrect, and there's either a clarificatory debate to be had or someone can point out to me why point 'e' of the law doesn't matter in this case.

  • Comment number 37.

    to Orangputeh, i agree KP is receiving a huge amount of stick, and i hope that most of us agree that we all want KP to find the form of a few years ago and begin to dominate the international scene once again! But whether or not he was unlucky yesterday, the fact remains he has been out 19 times in 61 test innings so almost 1 in 3, and those facts speak for themselves, not to mention the significant lack of hundreds (bar the mamouth double ton in Australia) and drop in average

  • Comment number 38.

    Pietersen has always been a bit of a show-pony but while he scored runs it did not matter much. But now that he is having something of a sustained bad trot (no pun intended), the kindest thing would be to drop him from the test team until he rediscovers good form in county cricket. Form is temporary but class, genuine class, is permanent. If he really has the stuff of legend then he will at some point, force his way back in with the sort of county scores that cannot be ignored. But right now he does not justify regular test team selection. Not even batting at six.
    On a different note what precisely is the point being made at #3?

  • Comment number 39.

    @Glencoyne - "World class cricketers like Chris Gayle, Sivnaraine Chanderpaul, Mahela Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Michael Clarke, Daniel Vettori, etc are not "selfish b*****d"."
    Do you really want to put Gayle,Chanderpaul(last year has been painful, with him gobbling up balls and making life difficult for the team) and Tendulkar(his brouhaha over Dravid's declaration when he was at 195) in the list? KP is a world class batsman.But he can be a bit of a baby.Similar to Yuvraj.Dropping him might not be that bad an idea if his poor form keeps up.We guys dropped Yuvraj and he turned out to be the MoS for us at the WC after he had time to reflect on his choices and work on his troubles.I am a big fan of KP and hope he sorts out his form sooner rather than later

  • Comment number 40.


    Very, very wrong. Half of Swann's wickets are LBW when batsmen push forward with both bat and pad and it hits pad first then on to bat. Are you saying that any incidents like this should be given not out? The rule is that if the ball would hit the stumps but for the pad getting in the way then it should be out, regardless of what happens after it hits the pad.

  • Comment number 41.

    @40 is that your entire argument? Have you read the law? You could actually make a case based on part 2 of the law, then I would respond to that, but you haven't managed that.

    To answer the point, such as it is, that you do make though, there is a clear difference between batsmen playing the bat down the wrong line, and the ball deflecting and deviating from pad to bat, and what happened to Pietersen yesterday where he played a shot down the correct line and hit the ball with the middle of his bat.

    The law is quite clear and says that the ball 'would have hit the wicket'. I even quoted that bit in my post for you. It is clear that Pietersen's delivery would not have hit the wicket, because we saw him hit it away despite the fact that it didn't deviate off his pad. Therefore, as I said, and you have completely failed to refute, unless there is an official interpretation of that law that I don't know about, he should not have been given out.

    The case where a batsman 'hides' the bat behind the pad is different, and at the very least the law fails to take account of this situation at all.

    Go to the MCC website, read law 36 (especially part 2) then come back and have another go.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the problem is that you don't have a firm grasp of the law. Once the ball hits the pad, any interceptions after that are irrelevant in the umpire's judgement of whether to give a batsman out LBW. On your advice I have checked out the MCC laws, where it states that 'only the first interception is to be considered' meaning the fact that it hit the bat after hitting the pad is irrelevant. Also your argument that KP's bat was directly in line with the ball is flawed as it is impossible for umpire's to tell how big a deviation off the pad the ball took and thus whether his bat was in line or milimetres away from the line. At the moment, no technology exists to determine this either so it is impossible for you to say that KP definitely would have hit the ball without the deviation from his pad.

  • Comment number 43.

    Also, the fact that none of the expert Sky commentators, BBC journalists or newspaper journalists have mentioned your point would suggest that it is wrong.

  • Comment number 44.

    @38, re. Last part of your post: sorry, mate, can't help you as I haven't a clue despite re-reading it thrice.

  • Comment number 45.

    Pieterson is a bad influence and should be dropped from the side until he learns a little more humility and team spirit. Yes, he is a capable batsman on his day, but do we really need his prima donna attitude. I think not.

  • Comment number 46.

    I have a firm grasp of the law, and unfortunately also a firm grasp of the English language and of the principles of logic.

    The 'only the first interception is to be considered' point is the key one, which is why I pointed you to it, but given that point 1c of the law refers to the striker intercepting 'with any part of his person' (with no reference to the bat) it is normal for any subsequent references to interceptions to be presumed to be the same unless specifically stated otherwise. This then means that 2a is not intended to be anything to do with the bat, but instead is there so that you can't be given out LBW if the ball deflects from your front pad on to your back, and its the back pad contact that conforms to the law. This refers to a situation where the contact on your front pad may have been outside the line of the stumps, and you would have 'played on' off the front pad but for your back pad being in the way. Thus the case that Pietersen should have been given out can be made on these grounds, but at best the law as written is ambiguous and unclear, and I am arguing that the common sense interpretation of the language used in the law is that given that we know the ball would not have hit the wicket, the batsman should not be given out.

    You say: "your argument that KP's bat was directly in line with the ball is flawed as it is impossible for umpire's to tell how big a deviation off the pad the ball took and thus whether his bat was in line or milimetres away from the line". Actually, this supports my argument. The batsman does not have to prove that he's not out, the umpire has to be convinced that he's out. Any doubt works in favour of the batsman, so again, Pietersen would be not out. Where there is trouble here is in the Graeme Swann examples you mention, where the umpire would have to take into account an extra factor before giving the wicket, but I don't think this would be too difficult to enforce using slow motion replays. It may also require a specific law about the batsman 'hiding' the bat behind the pad, which could be done with reference to whether or not the batsman is making 'a genuine attempt to play the ball' as it is in the case where the contact is outside off stump.

    I also believe section 2b of the law is relevant to this argument, as it refers to the assumption that the ball would have continued, irrespective of whether it might have pitched or not. This is designed so that a spinner can get an LBW from a full toss, but it is also an opportunity for the law to specifically mention that the bat preventing the ball from hitting the wicket doesn't count, and it fails to do that.

    As I said, there may be an official written interpretation of this law that the ICC or MCC or whoever issue to umpires which clears this up, but the way the law is written, and the key phrase 'would have hit the wicket' in section 1e suggest that a batsman should not be given out when hitting the ball the way Pietersen did yesterday, because that ball would NOT have hit the wicket. The other case where the ball 'might not' have hit the wicket (a spinner's full toss) is dealt with specifically in the laws, but the situation where the bat would prevent it from doing so is not.

    The bigger issue which is part of the motivation for me making this case is whether 'morally' a batsman should be out in that situation. The LBW law is designed so that you can't simply protect your stumps with your pads. Pietersen wasn't doing this, and the tiny flick off his pad as he middled the ball can be considered a pretty technicality in my opinion, and absolutely not what the rule is designed for.

    All in all I think at the very least the law needs to make clear. Should the bat be considered when deciding whether or not the ball would have hit the wicket? I don't think that section 2a is clear enough when it says 'only the first interception is to be considered', given the context of how the word 'interception' has been introduced in the law. Therefore either, (a) the law is written perfectly well and Pietersen should have been given not out yesterday, or (b) the law needs to include a specific reference to the bat not being a legitimate means of preventing the ball from hitting the wickets after the initial contact with the body.

  • Comment number 47.

    Only just seen #43. Hope you don't really think like that, or do you love the Emperor's new outfit?

  • Comment number 48.

    @5 Are you his mum? Not even the best batsmen in the team. As an Australian, I feel I'm fairly neutral on this topic and he seems to me like a bit of a Mark Waugh. Just because he scores relatively quickly and plays some elegant strokes does not make him the best batsmen or the one with most natural ability whatever that is. He regularly gets out to "inferior" bowlers and he is certainly being given a lot more leeway by selectors than less flamboyant players. For some reason I expected better from English selectors than my own.

  • Comment number 49.

    Given KP's history...including his departure from Notts...and comments from an ex England skipper I am coming around to the view that his long term problem is mental rather then technical. However after spending hours on the bench I suspect that any batsman was "up for a fall". I wish him well but fear for his future. Good luck KP...

  • Comment number 50.

    Mike Allison, it appears our debate has reached a stalemate as some parts of the law clearly support your argument while others go against it, as proven above. I do take your point though about the spirit of the LBW and the fact that Pietersen's dismissal yesterday was not really what the LBW law is about, though again I struggle to see how this could be policed effectively.

    I should probably explain my comment about no one else seeing your point of view a bit more clearly. The fact that Pietersen is a player who attracts so much attention that even his dismissal for 3 yesterday gained more media coverage than Jonathan Trott scoring a double ton would suggest that someone of the myriad journalists who cover cricket would have picked up on your point if it were a valid one. Believe me, I hate the attitude of people to the media today as they just accept everything they say, so my comment was not a case of emperor's new clothes

  • Comment number 51.

    I'm not sure we've had a debate yet. So are you saying:

    (a) the law says that Pietersen was not out. (My contention)
    (b) the law says that Pietersen was out. (What everyone seems to think, though only the ambiguous section 2e makes any potential reference to it, and I don't think it actually does)
    or (c) the law is not written well enough to deal with the Pietersen situation and needs to be added to or clarified?

  • Comment number 52.

    Why must the boy be kicked while he is down ? KP has a great talent, he trains really hard, he IS a team player [dispite what some may like to think] he has a true loyalty to his team and to England and he is going through a bad patch at the moment. I'm sure he will conquer the hoodoo . He is far too good a cricketer not to
    So just give him a chance to face his demons. I HAVE FAITH IN HIM AND SO SAY ALL OF US

  • Comment number 53.

    Before reading the law I thought that Pietersen should have been given out, but after reading it I am starting to think that the law needs to be added to as it does not deal with this kind of situation.

  • Comment number 54.

    To Sweater 001 & Mike Allison,

    Anything less than manly hugs between the two of you would cheapen this wonderful on-line 'ding-dong'. Thanks to both for keeping at it. Informative, well-written and an essential part of this great game's ethos.


  • Comment number 55.

    Sorry tom but these sorts of comments always irritate me. So 19 out of his last 61 innings he has been dismissed by left arm spin. Do you care to comment on anymore of the stats than that. I mean that is less than one in three times and you have only counted the last 61 innnings is there any reason for that? Or is it simply to make the statistics look better in fact what you neglect to mention that he was never dismissed by a left arm spinner in his first 50 tests. Yet at this point I don't remember you or anyone else mentioning this fact. By the same logic that has been applied recently it would suggest early in his career he was a master against left arm spin?

    Perhaps these statements would carry a lot more weight if you gave the appropriate information. For example if you had given the overs bowled per dismissal it might provide an insight into whether or not this is an actual frailty or not. It should be obvious that if a third of the bowling you face if left arm spin then a third of your dismissals should be by left arm spin. Without the information on overs faced per bowler type the only stat you have bothered to quote is pretty useless.

    I hasten to add that I am not saying that KP does not have an issue with left arm spin but if you are going to use statistics make sure they are relevant.

  • Comment number 56.

    I don't know the smiley for a manly hug... :-)

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm going with c) leaning to b)
    My view is that, as written, the law suggests that the out decision is both justified and correct - my reading is that the subsequent use of the bat should be ignored, although I see were you're coming from.

    Personally, I would like to see a clarification to 36.1.c - allowing a not out call for an insignificant interception - namely one which will neither i. prevent the ball striking the stumps, or ii. make the playing of a subsequent shot easier. This also covers the 'hiding behind the pad' situation, where even if the ball isn't deflected away from the stumps initially, it could be deemed it caused the deflection onto the bat, so by point ii would still be given out.

  • Comment number 58.

    In fact 10 mins on cricinfo leads me to these statistics. Against left arm spin KP survives an average of 69.4 balls. Compared to his normal average of 77.1 balls whilst this is a difference I'm not sure it's massive. There is also the fact I only calculated this using the bowlers you listed above. I'm sure it's possible there are left arm spinners he has faced and not got out to which would increase his statistics but hey lets not let that small fact spoil it.

  • Comment number 59.


    I agree that more context is needed in terms of amount of left arm spin faced, but Tom does explain why he omits KP's early tests - he didn't face left arm spinners, except a couple of spells from Sanath Jayasuriya, and the odd over from Michael Clarke, and Chinaman Simon Katich.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am a little surprised about this debate which seems to focus on technical issues regarding abstract discussions on KP's last dismissal and not his performance over the last year or so. I am a fan- I guess many of you are. As I suggested above KP has a weakness, not against left armed bowlers, but somewhere else. He, I think, has showed his true colours with his dealings with Newell, Moores and others. I think that he needs to come to terms (as others mention above) with his role in the England side.

  • Comment number 61.

    jevans90 - but why omit them if he is just weak against left arm spin why would he not have succumbed to jayasuriya as well. If you do it as I suggest on the basis of balls per wicket then including the earlier innings makes sense. Indeed tom makes a point that he gets out to the "steady eddies" presumably suggesting the issue is so bad that the quality of the spinner is not relevant. I don't understand what point tom is trying to make and to me it seems like lazy journalism jumping onto the bandwagon doing little to no research into the matter. Having realised I left out doherty and factoring that in KP's average balls faced against left arm spin (Vettori, Paul Harris, Sulieman Benn, Shakib Al Hasan, Yuvraj Singh, Abdur Razzak and Xavier Doherty) he is better against left arm spin than types of bowler and I haven't included clarke, jayasuria etc.

  • Comment number 62.

    Hey, sixth wicket's just fallen.....England ARE the Barcelona of Test cricket. Eat that!

  • Comment number 63.

    England have done it. What a side! Tom's flabbers have been given a thorough gasting (to quote the man himself). Unbelievable. A game to make fools of us all (well, me at least). Come on England. Take a bow.

  • Comment number 64.

    I agree unbelievable, R. Just shows (see my posts earlier) cricket is just like life- it's all in the mind!

    Hope this spurs KP on.

  • Comment number 65.

    Sorry, but I'm 'on one'. I was filleted by the United/Barca final (forgive me, I'm a United fan since 1967). Life goes on, but sport is important to all of us. That's why we post our nonsense.

    But this England team.....what can I say. Alison Mitchell summed better than all her colleagues put together: she tweeted that this side does special things. Final? What final?

    I'm over the moon. Fickle as ever, but over the moon. Come on England. You're simply AWESOME.

  • Comment number 66.

    Wow! Congrats! Utterly unbelievable!

    At stumps last night, no one in their right mind would have wagered that England would have defeated SL by an innings and 14 runs. There must be a sour bookie somewhere out there this evening.

    It is probably the most unexpected Test victory in the annals of history, one synonymous to high-stake poker.

    Take a bow Andrew Strauss and mates for pulling this off.


  • Comment number 67.

    Congrats England! I hoped Swann would be dangerous, but with Jimmy out I thought any slim chance of victory had gone. Was lucky enough to be listening as it happened.

    Chuckle. Normally it's us on the receiving end of that sort of ambush. Wonderfful to see us doing it. I second all the plaudits for Strauss and Flower and heck everyone associated with this win. Well done boys and girls. Well done indeed.

  • Comment number 68.

    Would KP really not want to be a part of this team? You've got to be joking. England Test cricket is where it's at. As someone said above, maybe this astonishing team performance can help KP through his difficulties.

    Dilshan has said (quite understandably in the circumstances) that his side will forget about this nightmare, regroup and head to Lord's. They may forget until then. But when their two openers mark out their creases for the first SL innings, the memories will come flooding back. This has been a ruthless scarring. And England, who need a white-wash summer in order to achieve their goal (No.1 in Test rankings) have just completed the first step.

    I wonder how India will view the result. All I'm saying is that it would not surprise me if England white-washed both teams.

  • Comment number 69.

    #16, OhMattyMatty. You bring up some interesting stats - very interesting - but I think I disagree with your final judgement. If the problem was simply with bowlers who turned the ball away from him then this wouldn't be such a big issue. It would basically be technical rather than mental, and therefore could arguably be more easily cured.

    Thing is though, look at your list of leggies compared to the list of SLAs: Warne, Kaneria, Afridi and Kumble! There's no shame there (especially when you bear in mind that his figures v Warne outclass pretty much everyone but the Indian middle order and Kallis). Any top batsman can get out to a top leggie. It happens. You just have to look at the list of SLAs he has got out to to realise that it isn't quite so simple as the ball leaving the bat.

  • Comment number 70.

    No true cricket aficianado can assert that India in the number one Test team. Winning on flat surfaces and in oppressive heat does not prove much. They will have a chance a few weeks' time to make things clear when they clash with a confident England squad.

    Today's dramatic capitulation by the visitors would rival any other of its kind in history.

    Sri Lanka may wanna blame the miserable weather for their historic collapse.

  • Comment number 71.

    Give KP a break. He averages over 48 in Test Cricket the same as Alistair Cook, in spite of his recent problems with LAS. This is higher than Andrew Strauss 42; Ian Bell 45; Eoin Morgan 34. Only Jonathan Trott has a higher average amongst England's current batters. Let's get behind him, he will come good - you can be sure of that!

  • Comment number 72.

    After watching KP in the ashes from within the grounds you cant deny is not a team player. He was top draw with the barmy army and you could see how much he loves playing for England. KP is still the most destructive batsman england have at their disposal and it would be waste of some amazing talent to drop him. Ask most teams in the world and many of them will say that KP is still the one that scares them the most. OK he has a glitch in his armour but no one is perfect. Look at Cook 12 months ago and look where he is now.

  • Comment number 73.

    It is about time KP started to earn his place as he is a total waste of space, he thinks he should be in the team just because of some past good scores, but one good score in five games is not good enough. Get him out of the team. and pick other players who are not getting the rub of the green. He has had is chance and BLOWN IT.


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