You can’t deny that we had a good day – a very good one, even. When Sri Lanka were recovering to a strong position on Monday afternoon, we would have sold our own grandmother for a first innings lead of 185. But don’t you get the feeling that it could – and should – have been even better?
Despite the excellent platform, the second half of our innings dribbled away. From the position we were in when KP reached his ton, a score of 500-plus looked well within reach. The top four had done so much hard work in wearing down and nullifying Sri Lanka’s bowlers, that those coming in were able to bat without pressure, and perfectly set to take advantage.
And yet it didn’t happen, and even the bullish Pietersen admitted that the final session was disappointing. One of Bell, Prior and the lower order needed to make a half-century to consolidate our position, but all failed. And we may come to rue that.
How many can we chase down in the fourth innings? Such challenges – remember Abu Dhabi? – are hardly England’s strong point. If Sri Lanka make 300 second dig, our target of 115 could prove extremely awkward.
Perhaps I’m being too negative. Sri Lanka will need to bat very well to put us in that position. All of our top four made fifties, and two went way beyond that. In cricket, the pendulum swings, and it’s almost the natural order of things that a period of dominance is countered or nullified.
Well played, KP. This blog has always been a cheerleader for Pietersen, and it was marvellous to see him so firmly back in the groove. When he really gets in, he can change the whole tone of a match, almost out of nowhere.
You can only wonder why it’s taken five test matches to finally regain his mojo, but then you could say the same about all our batsmen. Why haven’t they played in this way – sensibly and patiently – all winter? Was it hubris, over-confidence, lack of practice, nerves, or naïveté?
KP nowadays seems to oscillate permanently from brilliance to tortuousness, and we may just have to accept that this is how he’ll always be – for the rest of his career. Never again will he be a consistent force. Instead, he’ll lurch randomly, haphazardly, and without warning or logic, from one extreme to another.
We’d be interested to hear your take on Switch-hit Gate. Personally, I think it’s a wonderfully audacious piece of cricket, and not to be discouraged. The most effective aspect of the stroke, perhaps, is the brutal way it skewers the bowler – possibly the most total humiliation known to the game.
But Jonathan Agnew made an interesting point in his BBC column today – about how the device could be used to disrupt, delay, and effectively cheat, by a side trying to bat out time towards the end of a match.
Have you ever seen a switch-hit executed, or attempted, in a match you’ve actually played in. We’d revel in any stories you may, albeit apocryphal, of village cricketers attempting a KP. Did they come anywhere near pulling it off? And how did the rest of the players react? We’d love to know.