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July 2008
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Daniel Brigham: 10 reasons why Kevin Pietersen should be England captain

July 11th, 2008 by Daniel Brigham in England, One-day cricket, South Africa in England

Despite appearances, he’s an intelligent cricketer. His captaincy in the ODI against New Zealand was thoughtful and unhurried. He looked sure of himself and capable of correct decision-making under pressure. Sound unfamiliar?

He no longer has stupid hair. He’s left that to Ian Bell (apply glue to head, stick in hay bail) and Michael Vaughan (phone up Billy Ray Cyrus, ask to borrow hair).

He says interesting, astute things in press conferences. No other England player does.

His switch-hit shows how much he thinks about the game. While we don’t want to see Monty Panesar trying to switch to right-handed to smack Dale Steyn over mid-wicket (OK, we do want to see that, but he’ll never get it right) we do want to see England players thinking laterally about their game. Pietersen could yet be the next Bob Woolmer.

He knows how to win the big moments. As a team, England have been rubbish at this since the 2005 Ashes. A captain who knows when the crucial moments are and, far more importantly, how to win them, should infuse the same spirit in the rest of his team.

He gets photographed with celebrities in women’s magazines. So what? Well, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of extra publicity for cricket.

He’ll bat himself where he feels he is most effective. As England’s best batsman, this is a Good Thing.

He may not be the most popular guy in the dressing room but he is massively respected as a player. You don’t have to be liked to be a great leader, you have to be respected – ask Douglas Jardine (difficult I know, so you’ll just have to believe me). Young players will look up to him.

He’ll piss off opposition teams. Fletcher and Vaughan pissed off Ricky Ponting and he cried like a big George Bush baby as our generously-chinned friend Will Luke at Cricinfo and The Corridor expertly pointed out.

He doesn’t talk in the third person.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, One-day cricket, South Africa in England | 33 Comments »

Edward Craig: Bell still learning to bat time

July 11th, 2008 by Edward Craig in South Africa in England and tagged ,

Kevin Pietersen scored slow then quick. Ian Bell scored quick then slow. But that’s what partnerships are about. As long as you keep scoring then that’s all that matters.

Bell was given some cheap and easy runs early in his innings when the South Africans were focusing in KP. Then KP got in – he can do anything when he’s in so you might as well forget about him – and the South Africans concentrated on grinding Bell down.

Bell needs to relax, though, and not worry about his pace of scoring. There’s a sense that he is overly concerned about all this. Bat time, not balls or score, he’s that sort of player.

Whatever he wants, he can’t be something he is not (a destructive, hard-hitting player throughout his innings). Bell is an old-fashioned player who bats at an old-fashioned pace. He just has to remember that.

South Africa chose to field and didn’t get a wicket in the first session. England didn’t score that many runs. That they were wicketless was so important. It just dulled the edge to South Africa’s attack. Scoring runs fast is a good thing but if you can’t do that, don’t be afraid to grind and not lose wickets.

Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss knew that, Bell’s learning it.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in South Africa in England | 5 Comments »

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