When I look at English sport at the moment, my biggest feeling is where has our bulldog spirit gone? Where is the tenacity, where’s the aggression? It feels to me that we put more emphasis on being gentlemen and and behaving in the right way, then we do on winning world competitions. This issue is stressed by player’s we continually leave out, when there presence within a squad could have lead to an all together different result.
This point is coming into key provenance again in the shape of Kevin Pietersen and the England cricket team as they prepare for the world T20 tournament in India. Pietersen is arguably in the form of his life, having just come off the KFC big bash in Australia scoring four half centuries, more then anyone else in the competition. Since November last year Pietersen has eight times gone past fifty and twice converted those into centuries. The argument will be that these performances came in second rate domestic competitions. However, with he rapid advance in T20 cricket, and the development in franchise tournaments, teams are full of talented players. Pietersen’s strike rate of 136.76 is also something to be marvelled at. Only four players in the likely WT20 (looking at previous squads and the one day team for the series against South Africa) squad have scored T20 hundreds and those are not recent. Pietersen has scored two hundred’s and four fifty’s in the past three months. His non selection would be idiotic. Every team has a spark who can set lift the whole team, and the likes of Australia and New Zealand have many! To win a WT20 you need class batsman who can attack and score runs in any situation. The other thing that Kevin Pietersen has in his favour is he has played in india, in the IPL, and has scored a ton in indian conditions.
The reason for not picking Pietersen is the fall out he has had with former England captain and teammate Andrew Strauss who is now the director of England Cricket. Having said there is a lack of trust between he (KP) and the England setup. The advice given too Pietersen was to go away and just keep scoring runs. That’s exactly what he has done. It feels to me that Strauss is more worried about his reputation and looking stupid by going back and picking Pietersen now after those comments then he is about winning the WT20. However at the end of the day; as an England cricket fan, and an English sporting fan, I am tired of us underachieving and always being the nice guys who finish second. We need to re-kindle our cut throat spirit that Flintoff brought, the aggression, thats why Ben Stokes is such a crucial addition to the side, and why KP would be a great addition, aside from his talent, he always stands up when things get heated. Anyway, back to Strauss, he needn’t worry about looking daft, we’ve all seen it before, I’m sure everyone remembers that ball in the 2005 Ashe’s from Shane Warne!
The further argument for KP’s non selection is that it would cause too much of a stir in the dressing room. Yes, a happy team means a well jelled unit, likely to play well together, but at the end of the day, not everybody in the changing room is going to get along. We have all had team mates who push our buttons and we wish weren’t there, but, for the sake of the team you get on with it and leave it all at the door. Furthermore; its like we are forgetting that for these boys, this is a job. You are never going to get along with all of your colleagues, but you deal with it to get the best results, so why is that different now?
To conclude, as a fan, I want what is best for the England team. If that means back tracking and picking a bloke you’d excluded, do it. The players would pull together because of what it means for us to try and win this upcoming tournament. More to the point, its their job. Pietersen is in the form of his life and could potentially win us this tournament if selected. I say pick him, even just in the short term and then discuss any further issues ahead of the season at home, but I want silver wear and I’m sure a lot of England fans feel the same way.
Oh – one last thing before I go. Who on earth keeps deciding to leave out Luke Wright? He is the third highest scorer of centuries in T20 cricket at any level – he currently has six. He also has twenty six fifty’s and a strike rate of 147.41, he is just the kind of fire power we need at the top of the order to make use of the power play. That’s a better strike rate than the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Brendon Mcullum. A quick start can make or break a T20 side. He’s been out in the wilderness a while, but the same as KP, you want your best players, playing in the biggest games, so get him in.