Proper cricket discussion in here only - bastardised forms of the game, like pyjamas cricket can be discussed elsewhere.
I just see that Pietersen scored a century in his first game as England and Wales captain before being dismissed. That’s an excellent start for him. I was posting about E&W over on the betting forum about a month back. I mentioned that, even though they’d won home and away series against New Zealand in the past 6 months or so, I didn’t think their bowling attack would pose any problems whatsoever for Australia next summer.
If you think back, they had Flintoff batting at #6 in 2005 and then another 3 seam/quick bowlers in Harmison, Hoggard and Jones. Three of those four are fast, two of them can reverse swing the ball and Hoggard was bowling his outswingers as well as he ever did. Fast forward to the start of the South African series when Flintoff wasn’t in the side and they only had three seam bowlers in Broad, Sidebottom and Anderson. Broad can bowl quick but is raw and while the others are decent swing bowlers, they didn’t have anyone with express pace and their attack looked lightweight and lacked depth and variation.
Add Vaughan’s inability to get a run and their other batsmen failing to convert 30s and 40s into centuries and you can see why South Africa went 2-0 up ahead of this last test of the series. Vaughan was a supremely gifted captain but even that couldn’t mask his complete lack of form and it was the right time for him to resign. When I was watching him lately I couldn’t believe this was the same player who enjoyed such a run of outstanding innings in Australia in 2002/03. Giving KP the job was a bold move but I was speaking to the bhoy about it and we agreed he’s brash, confident and arrogant enough to possibly pull off the responsibility of being the leader, tactician and main run-scorer.
At least by getting the job now he’ll have plenty of cricket as captain in the winter to prepare for the Ashes next summer. Their batting line-up still looks a little brittle though. Strauss hasn’t recaptured his 2004/05 form and while Cook’s been regularly in the runs, the Aussies sussed him out by pitching the ball up full to him a few winters back. Collingwood and Bell mix big scores with runs of poor form and Flintoff has struggled with the bat in recent times. So there’s going to be huge pressure on KP to get big scores.
Broad’s an excellent lower order batsman but his primary job is as a wicket taker and he should be picked for the winter tests to aid his development ahead of the Ashes. Harmison bowled well yesterday but it remains to be seen whether he has the application and desire to have another go at the Ashes. He doesn’t travel well and it’ll be intriguing to see if he’s picked for the winter tour. But if they’re to have any chance of taking 20 wickets in a match against Australia, they’ll need pace, bounce and hostility. Flintoff will provide it alright and Harmison is their best option to complement him if he has the hunger to do so.
It should be a belter of a series but South Africa travelling to Australia before then promises to be just as good.