England in Bangladesh 2009-10 March 18, 2010

Pietersen slams Chittagong pitch


Kevin Pietersen believes he is back to his best form after battling to overcome his technical deficiencies against left-arm spin, but he has nevertheless voiced his criticism of the Chittagong wicket that aided his recovery in the first Test against Bangladesh. Pietersen made 99 in England's first innings of the series and followed that up with a hard-hitting 32 from 24 balls, but feels that the surface on which the match was played was bad for spectators, and by extension, the five-day game as a whole.

The Bangladesh series clashes with the glitz and glamour of the Indian Premier League, to which Pietersen will flying as soon as the second Test is over to link up with the Bangalore Royal Challengers, and while he was full of praise for the spirit that Junaid Siddique and Mushfiqur Rahim showed in extending the Chittagong Test into the final afternoon, he questioned the entertainment value on offer in a match that England, to all intents and purposes, dominated from ball one.

"I don't think the conditions are good for Test match cricket," said Pietersen. "Everyone is talking about where Test cricket will be in five years' time, and I don't think wickets like that are conducive to people watching. On day five of a Test match, you expect some spin and something in the wicket, because you need wickets that will produce victories or results. I don't think the wicket was great in terms of entertainment, but in terms of English toughness it was good for our young bowling attack."

"Bangladesh were good," he said. "They fought hard in patches, especially on the last day, but with the way Test match cricket is going and the way people are talking negatively about it now, as a Test match cricket lover [I am concerned]. If we had played India on that pitch, it would have been 700 plays 700 plays 100 for 1. It's not good for Test match cricket, because I want Test match cricket to survive for as long as possible. It tests every individual and toughens you up."

Pietersen's criticisms were echoed by one of his chief tormentors of the tour, the left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak, who felt that his team had been let down by the Chittagong wicket after packing their side with four spinners in a bid to exploit the turn that they had anticipated from the surface. "The Chittagong wicket was not very spin-friendly," said Razzak. "Nothing happened for the first two days. The ball just went straight when we bowled in the first innings, and though there was some bounce, it's useless without turn."

The net result, however, was a timely return to form for Pietersen, who has had to drag his game out of the doldrums after a desperate run of form which, he claimed, was triggered by a technical fault that crept into his game during the tour of South Africa in December and January. Following scores of 40 and 81 at Centurion - his first Test since undergoing Achilles surgery in the summer - Pietersen managed 56 runs in his next five innings of the series, and said that by the end of the tour "I didn't know where I was and what I was doing".

"It was strange," said Pietersen. "I felt in good nick after the Twenty20 in Centurion [his comeback match], but then something went wrong in the third and fourth Test matches. I looked at a lot of footage, and compared it to some footage from before, and I realised I had made some technical errors, and I wasn't playing the way I used to. But I've sorted that out now, and I feel a different player."

The root of Pietersen's problem had been in his trigger movement at the crease, which involves an exaggerated knee-bend at the point of delivery. "If you lose your technique, the more your head goes," he said. "I don't want to jinx [my recovery], but I honestly do feel really, really good about my game at the moment. It's a nice place to be compared to ten days ago when I needed something to click, and something to work on, which I love doing. Yeah, I feel good now."

"There was a little thing I needed to work on, technique-wise, against the left-arm spinners, but then spending two or three hours at the crease [at Chittagong] was important as well, because when you're going through a tough time you often think: 'wow, how do I get to 20, 30, 50 ...' So to get to 99 and 30-odd off 20, by when I was hitting a lot of my areas I used to hit - midwicket off the spinner, and hitting over the top - I'm pretty happy."

As a by-product of all the thought that Pietersen has had to put into his technique against spin, he has rediscovered an urge to work on his own offspin - the facet of his game that first earned him the chance to play first-class cricket for Natal. "I think I can get a lot more wickets bowling to left-handers," he said, "with some that turn, and some that don't turn.

"A lot of the decisions I have got in my career have been down to my bounce and pace, and the uncertainty of where it is going, so I think I can get quite a few wickets. I'm looking to bowl more, and I've actually spoken to Cookie about it and I keep saying to him: 'get me on here.'"

He might well be called upon to perform with the ball in Dhaka if the wicket is anything like as slow and low as the Chittagong surface, but whatever happens, Pietersen is adamant that England must finish the series with focus and determination - two traits that have often deserted them towards the back-end of lengthy tours.

"The key to this week is finishing the tour well and concentrating on the Test match," he said. "What matters is winning the series, because we often don't finish tours the way that we would like, we sort of veer off at the end of a series because we want to get home, because we travel so much. The key to the team this week is to really make sure we grind it out here and get a good victory for Cooky [Alastair Cook], because he's done a great job on the field and off the field. We want to serve up a good victory for the chef."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anush on March 20, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    KP says "English toughness". Is he implying that English are tougher than others? Is toughness a quality of English?

  • Alex on March 19, 2010, 15:57 GMT

    i agree with neutral fan. the pictch offered nothing to the bowlers as siddique and rahim and the england batters showed. a good test pitch should offer something for both fassets otherwise we will continue to see high scoring draws when two even sides are competing. Pietersen is one of the best layers in the world and therfore his opinion IS important. he is a cocky guy yes but he's passionate about test cricket and i agree with his opinion.

  • Dre on March 19, 2010, 15:14 GMT

    I'm not reading too much into his 99 because as he himself stated the pitch was as flat as a road. @ lancer38 "Why does KP think his opinion is important"?.... because he IS AN INTERNATIONAL CRICKETER. I personally could never stand his cockiness BUT ALL international cricketer's opinions are fairly important...once it is about cricket of course. We don't have to agree with him or any other cricketer of course and their opinion isn't gospel but it is still worth something I assure you. If you don't agree with his comment, that is your right but rather than drop a lame comment, why not explain why you don't agree?

  • Josh on March 19, 2010, 13:33 GMT

    Thebeaker - umm i cant even understand what ur saying?! haha something about Mathew Hayden? name me one cricket who is austalian? are u trying to say italian or australian? maybe your talking about some rare cross breed austalian who looks like Mathew Hayden? but yeah u make a good argument mate lol

  • Alex on March 19, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    jezzricho - i'd have to agree with beaker. is pietersen vanilla? was flintoff vanilla? james anderson who boomerangs it both ways and sorts you lot out, vanilla? granted every team has vanilla players but this is test cricket not t20. I mean look at Hussey, nothing exciting there. and don't even get me started on katich, he gets runs but i'd rather watch my gran bat as it would be far less filthy. Calling England talentless just shows how much of an aussie moron you are. i'm playing cricket in australia in the next couple years and i'm sure as beaker said as i've met many aussies that you are in the minority.

  • COLIN on March 19, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    The interesting point made in the interview relates to KP's technique - and what it says about the massive support staff that England have at their disposal.

    He has been moving around prior to delivery for a long time now - at Lords last year it was clear to see that his "knee bend, head move,early movement" didn't compare favourably with the rock solid technique Clarke showed. Good to see that he's looked at what he's been doing wrong and started to rectify it - but what were his advisors doing when it was pretty clear to an amateur like me where at least some of his problems lay?

  • Ben on March 19, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    jezzricho - I am not suprised that I was correct in predicting your an auzzie, your just like all of them that come over here to play club cricket - arrogant! When I visited a few years ago I did not hold much hope for the type of people I was going to meet, fortunetly for your country your a minority, most are alright! I wouldn't get started on the way players carry themselves, look at the way Matthew Hayden acting throughout his career? Name me one cricket who isn't austalian he didnt think he was arrogant and distrespectful? As for england being minnows what does that say for you guys? You've lost to us in two of the last three test series!

  • Michael on March 19, 2010, 7:11 GMT

    KP says he is back to his best, but he was playing against Bangladesh, on a pitch that did nothing for the bowlers. Sorry KP but you need to do it against teams better than this.

  • Sarfin on March 19, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    i couldn't agree with KP.he criticized the pitch because his team couldn't get wickets cheaply in 4th innings?then may i ask why they lost 7 wickets in 3rd innings just for 209 runs??if it was such a worthless pitch, they should have scored those runs losing 1/2 wickets.I am waiting for the Dhaka test.as i know that is a spin friendly pitch.u'll have enough turn from 3rd day.welcome Mr. KP

  • VENKATACHALAM on March 19, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    Bang on target KP about the pitch at chittagong.Any major test playing nation would have scored atleast 600 on that wicket in the first innings. It was a test pitch not too disssimilar to graveyards like ahmedabad,nagpur etc. To take 10 on that pitch is a testament to Swann's skill and hardwork. he is an unlikely gem from england, and is a great long term prospect.

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