We’ve talked about England’s ability to keep control in the field, we’ve discussed our long batting order, here’s the next reason why England will give the Aussies a good old fashioned drubbing this year: it’s Kevin Pietersen, of course. With thanks to guest writer Shaun Edwards.
“Let each man think himself an act of God, His mind a thought, his life a breath of God; And let each try, by great thoughts and good deeds, To show the most of Heaven he hath in him”
Whatever else he may be (I like most people, carry my own personal views with regards to his loyalty), Kevin Pietersen is, on his day, probably the finest batsman in the world. He is a cut above not only everyone on the Australian team, but everyone on the English team, too. Watching Kevin Pietersen at his best cannot be a mile away from having seen Sir Viv in full flow (something I am regrettably a bit too young to have done). No-one, not even Chris Gayle, could destroy Dale Steyn in this manner. Those two shots (and do watch them) were against good length balls by the very best bowler in the world.
A couple of years ago, in the post-world no.1 lull (not helped by the humbling in the UAE against Pakistan) I’ll admit I was one of the guys who wanted KP dropped. I felt his ego had been swollen by the Ashes win and the series victory against India (he scored a double hundred in each), and that it would soon get the better of him. In the end, it briefly did, though not in the manner I was expecting.
His innings in Colombo against Sri Lanka, and at Headingley against South Africa, were both extra-ordinary feats. They were innings that could not have been played by anyone else, and England would have lost both games without them.
Then came the texting affair. I’m on Graeme Swann’s side in that I felt Andrew Strauss deserved far better than to have had his final test tainted by one man’s stupidity. Pietersen was rightly dropped, and when he had shown due contrition, he was rightly accepted back into the fold.
The one truly brilliant batsman on either side walks onto the field with the three lions tattooed onto his arm.
Like Alastair Cook, Pietersen has proven himself to be a man for all conditions. In 2007, he dominated Warne at Adelaide. He was the only man who looked remotely capable of dealing with Glenn McGrath’s extra-ordinary spell at Lords in 2005. He has dispatched six-hits from Murali and bouncers from Brett Lee over the rope.
If he has a flaw, it is on only the fastest and most bouncy wickets against the very quickest bowlers. Like the rest of the England line-up, he was undone by sheer pace at both the Wanderers in 2010 and in Perth during the last series. The latter venue, though, will be the only true trampoline on offer during the ten tests, with The Oval now far more likely to offer assistance to spin rather than pace.
One genius innings from KP will win a test match. On current form it seems that he will score at least one in each of the two Ashes series this year, and maybe even a couple more than that. It’s worth observing that as well as the Ashes trophy, Pietersen also has records to play for. When he finally retreats to become a T20 outlaw, Pietersen will want those 10,000 runs on the board, and I’m guessing he’ll want thirty centuries plus.
Make no mistake: the Australians fear Kevin Pietersen. They are right to.