West Indies in England, 2009 May 6, 2009

KP will bounce back. He has to...

28

Let Battle Commence. Briefly. For a couple of weeks. And then let it commence again two months later. After literally weeks of waiting, England’s Ashes Test summer has begun − nine weeks, two Tests, a one-day series and a Twenty20 World Cup before the actual Ashes. The tension has proved too much for the Lord’s crowd, who have mostly not turned up. Either the cricket-watching public is pacing itself to avoid the risk of burnout in a long and demanding summer schedule, or it looked at the ticket prices, remembered what the weather in England in May is usually like, checked how the credit crunch is going, weighed up the pros and cons of watching Nash bowl to Cook, and decided to feed their families instead.

It seems that England (or at least large parts of the English media) have been building up to this summer’s showdown with their oldest enemy since approximately 13th September 2005. Perhaps they have been focusing so hard on it that they have at times appeared to ignore most other matches, series and tournaments in between, including the 2006-07 rematch in Australia (which, according to the internet, did happen, although for the life of me I cannot recall it, and remain convinced it was a hoax – the alleged 5-0 scoreline seems wildly implausible).

Despite this, England began the penultimate Test before the Ashes with a new-look team, including four players making their home debut, and only two remaining from the XI that played the first four Tests in 2005. England are thus likely to take on Australia with a team largely unencumbered by the scars of that victory. No-one will accuse England of being overprepared come July. (Australia could easily begin the series with only three of the players rumoured to have participated in the 2006-07 whitewash, so the message seems to be that winning the Ashes spells the end of your international career. Be warned, ambitious players. Success will be the seeds of your destruction.)

England badly need to win this microseries against West Indies, and to achieve this, their bowlers must rediscover the elusive feeling of bowling teams out twice. Recent history suggests Lord’s is not the best ground for them to attempt to do this. Pitches have tended towards increasing tedium over the course of a game, frustrating bowlers and spectators, and slightly devaluing the once-rare currency of the heroic rearguard.

As I began writing this blog (at the lunch interval of Day 1), they had made a decent start, and the match seemed to be repeating the pattern of the last three Tests in the Caribbean – a steady but undominant, unexplosive start by England’s batsmen in the face of some fairly low-intensity cricket by West Indies, on a pitch that offers the tantalising prospect of a high-scoring draw.

Chris Gayle chose to put them into bat, for two main reasons. One: why change his successful drawing formula from the Caribbean series? And two: to double his acclimatisation time before having to bat. It’s always nice to stretch your legs after a long flight, and what better way to do so than spending a couple of days standing at slip on the hallowed Lord’s turf? All good travel agents recommend it.

Gayle’s plan now looks in danger of being scuppered by one of his own players. Fidel Edwards, heroically but mostly unrewardedly thunderous for most of the series in West Indies, has just blasted out Cook and Pietersen in two balls, and suddenly the match looks far more interesting. Edwards, one of cricket’s most exciting bowlers, deserves more luck and fairer wickets.

Before those wickets fell, I had been in the process of confidently predicting that Pietersen would smash a brilliant century, based on the premise that his stint in the IPL had, contrary to popular opinion, provided him the perfect preparation for this Test. England’s key batsman appears to have played himself completely out of form, and did little to justify his bulging wage packet. My theory is that Pietersen is seldom more dangerous than when he has a point to prove – and is therefore almost certain to smash a brilliant century. If I may qualify my thesis slightly in the light of recent events, Pietersen is seldom more dangerous than when he has a point to prove, except when he still has a point to prove but has just been out first ball. And I’m sure if he had not been out first ball, or subsequently, he would have scored a brilliant hundred. My point therefore stands.

We will now see if Collingwood’s preparation for the Test – a paid holiday watching the IPL and making some new friends – can set a new template for success. If he scores a hundred, perhaps the ECB will consider forcing all England players to become non-playing members of Indian franchises. In which case, we can confidently look forward to newly stratospheric standards in county cricket as players strive even more desperately for international recognition. (Last-minute update: Collingwood out for 8. Bad news for would-be England cricketers. Hundreds of schoolboys abandon their dreams of playing international cricket. I owe Chris Gayle and his toss-winning decision-making an apology.)

The (revised) Confectionery Stall prediction for the Lord’s Test: Pietersen to bounce back from his first-innings blob with a brilliant, point-proving century.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dim Rat on May 8, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    looks like KP wont need to bat again in this match! let alone score a hundred i think England would have had better Ashes preparation if the original Zimbabwe tour went ahead instead of this pathetic West Indian side!

  • Matt Fallaize on May 7, 2009, 23:40 GMT

    Now that's satire.

  • notaniplfan.com on May 7, 2009, 13:07 GMT

    nothing related to this blog but do you have statistics of number of catches dropped, misfielding, comical runouts in the IPL.The quality of cricket is really gone down and these are the number that should be highlighted instead of whos getting richer by how much

  • CRICKET EXPERT on May 7, 2009, 11:49 GMT

    PEITERSEN IS A HYPOCRITE. HE WAS TOO TIRED TO GO TO WEST INDIES BUT IT IS OK FOR HIM TO GO TO IPL STRAIGHT AFTER???

  • Raza on May 7, 2009, 11:19 GMT

    No doubt if few more selections goes to RB's way he would def become the right contestant to fit in the shoes of Naseer Hussain . As far as KP is concerned that man has had so many chances and its time for him to either perform or step back and give a chance to a youngster.

  • Harsh on May 7, 2009, 10:58 GMT

    Well, If KP and Gayle are under-prepared because of IPL, what explanation do you give for Bopara's century and Edwards 4 for? Didnt they play in IPL too? Stop blaming IPL for everything. Will you tell Lampard or Gerrard to stop playing 80 games per season for their clubs and rather concentrate on their England Career? I am a huge fan of test and one-day cricket but i would rather watch Sachin face Kumble, Sanath face Murali or Gilly/hayden face Warne.

  • Kris on May 7, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    KP is a lot of froth. It is disappointing to see how a few seasons ago, we all thought that he was world class. He is a selfish person who is using the game for his own benefit without contributing to it. Given the way English cricket operates, he will remain a hangover on the current team, so much that the team itself stands as the best example of over rated under achievers.

  • Seth on May 7, 2009, 9:29 GMT

    I am happy that Ravi Bopara used the opportunity to prove himself. This hundred of his should have rung bells within Bell and Vaughan. If Ravi proves to be consistent then the selectors will have tough choice when it comes for the No.3 spot.

  • Ravi Kumar on May 7, 2009, 6:43 GMT

    Two things are getting a bit tiring now that England are playing a test match:

    1. Gayle's late arrival for the series - everyone from Andrew (Strauss) to Zaltzman has a view on it. It seems to have affected the England team more than it did Gayle.

    2. The Ashes: Agreed, Australia are not looking as strong as they did in 2007, but England are worse. But considering that England and its fans, and writers have, have been building up for this since the last Ashes, and given England's "form", the noise levels might yet be disproportionately high for what may yet prove to be a damp squib.

  • krishna M Gurung on May 7, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    i think strauss's english team must have thought their batsman will dominate the 1st test but only Bopara was the pure lucky batsman. Gayle will now try to draw the lord's match which is badluck venue for england.Inform player is that which themshelves try to adjust in any form of the game.

  • Dim Rat on May 8, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    looks like KP wont need to bat again in this match! let alone score a hundred i think England would have had better Ashes preparation if the original Zimbabwe tour went ahead instead of this pathetic West Indian side!

  • Matt Fallaize on May 7, 2009, 23:40 GMT

    Now that's satire.

  • notaniplfan.com on May 7, 2009, 13:07 GMT

    nothing related to this blog but do you have statistics of number of catches dropped, misfielding, comical runouts in the IPL.The quality of cricket is really gone down and these are the number that should be highlighted instead of whos getting richer by how much

  • CRICKET EXPERT on May 7, 2009, 11:49 GMT

    PEITERSEN IS A HYPOCRITE. HE WAS TOO TIRED TO GO TO WEST INDIES BUT IT IS OK FOR HIM TO GO TO IPL STRAIGHT AFTER???

  • Raza on May 7, 2009, 11:19 GMT

    No doubt if few more selections goes to RB's way he would def become the right contestant to fit in the shoes of Naseer Hussain . As far as KP is concerned that man has had so many chances and its time for him to either perform or step back and give a chance to a youngster.

  • Harsh on May 7, 2009, 10:58 GMT

    Well, If KP and Gayle are under-prepared because of IPL, what explanation do you give for Bopara's century and Edwards 4 for? Didnt they play in IPL too? Stop blaming IPL for everything. Will you tell Lampard or Gerrard to stop playing 80 games per season for their clubs and rather concentrate on their England Career? I am a huge fan of test and one-day cricket but i would rather watch Sachin face Kumble, Sanath face Murali or Gilly/hayden face Warne.

  • Kris on May 7, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    KP is a lot of froth. It is disappointing to see how a few seasons ago, we all thought that he was world class. He is a selfish person who is using the game for his own benefit without contributing to it. Given the way English cricket operates, he will remain a hangover on the current team, so much that the team itself stands as the best example of over rated under achievers.

  • Seth on May 7, 2009, 9:29 GMT

    I am happy that Ravi Bopara used the opportunity to prove himself. This hundred of his should have rung bells within Bell and Vaughan. If Ravi proves to be consistent then the selectors will have tough choice when it comes for the No.3 spot.

  • Ravi Kumar on May 7, 2009, 6:43 GMT

    Two things are getting a bit tiring now that England are playing a test match:

    1. Gayle's late arrival for the series - everyone from Andrew (Strauss) to Zaltzman has a view on it. It seems to have affected the England team more than it did Gayle.

    2. The Ashes: Agreed, Australia are not looking as strong as they did in 2007, but England are worse. But considering that England and its fans, and writers have, have been building up for this since the last Ashes, and given England's "form", the noise levels might yet be disproportionately high for what may yet prove to be a damp squib.

  • krishna M Gurung on May 7, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    i think strauss's english team must have thought their batsman will dominate the 1st test but only Bopara was the pure lucky batsman. Gayle will now try to draw the lord's match which is badluck venue for england.Inform player is that which themshelves try to adjust in any form of the game.

  • Hemant on May 7, 2009, 5:27 GMT

    England’s key batsman appears to have played himself completely out of form, and did little to justify his bulging wage packet. My theory is that Pietersen is seldom more dangerous than when he has a point to prove – and is therefore almost certain to smash a brilliant century. If I may qualify my thesis slightly in the light of recent events, Pietersen is seldom more dangerous than when he has a point to prove, except when he still has a point to prove but has just been out first ball. And I’m sure if he had not been out first ball, or subsequently, he would have scored a brilliant hundred. My point therefore stands.

    You remind me of Douglas Adams also..

  • tristan Mills on May 7, 2009, 5:00 GMT

    As a South african looking obejectively at English cricket I can only see a sorry mess, sad though cause it is evident that you guys have an amazingly talented bunch, and the 2005 ashes proved that you guys can be world beaters...... I read and interesting piece the other day about the IPL being generally shunned back in England, wake up and smell the coffee, get a move on or lose out......enjoy it for what it is , get as many of your guys to play there and just roll with the times.......good luck..

  • Nathan on May 7, 2009, 1:59 GMT

    Nice work as usual Andy. The real problem is that KP is obviously still upset with Allan Border's comments about him during England's last tour down under (I can verify it did occur ... it's the '05 series I'm not sure about). How can you expect the man to score runs when he has to cope with issues such as an ex-player making a justified remark about him years back? He'll be OK once he finds his dummy and puts it back in his sooky gob.

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2009, 0:39 GMT

    ooh yeah! this blog just hit a sweet spot in my jugular, i'm feeling lilies all over! Yes indeed, I have been Zaltzmaned!!! (zaltzed doesn't roll off the tongue as easy, Minkesh).

    Also, Satish's advice for Andy, to try comedy as a career has to qualify as one of the funniest responses I've ever read on this here board. Good cricket all around - well played & well fielded!

    Btw, I predict that all the IPL stars (including gayle) are going to do horribly well in this game thus giving old english test cricket snoots one less tut to tut.

  • AaZ on May 7, 2009, 0:22 GMT

    sorry but who really cares bout Petersen. England are wasting his talent by making him captain.

  • nelstar on May 6, 2009, 23:25 GMT

    I think that pietersen is so over rated his ego is the biggest thing on him...He said that Chanderpaul is a selfish man when he (pietersen)does notin team wise to help out... as a senior player he don't look or act as if he cares so people don't expect notin from him he cares about number 1 himself....

  • Andrew on May 6, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    Your right, KP does have a point to prove. I just hope he proves it before the ashes as the longer this slump goes on the more chance i feel of him getting angry against your old enemies and thrashing a big century against us Aussies. He does seem to play his best against us. Were all following this test down here to see how you guys might be. It will be iteresting to see you guys bowl.

  • Bob Jacobs on May 6, 2009, 20:50 GMT

    What Petersen and Bopara have in common is a cool temperament. Bopara showed his in the World Cup in West Indies. I remember being amazed as I listened to the radio as he shepherded England home in a precarious situation (I forget the game). Petersen has repeatedly played his own game regardless of the circumstances, effectively winning the Ashes for England in 2005 by riding his luck. He's come unstuck a few times recently but don't write him off yet. Nice sophistry though!

  • Joe Schmoe on May 6, 2009, 19:41 GMT

    Comedy gold, Andy.

    "England are thus likely to take on Australia with a team largely unencumbered by the scars of that victory."

    "on a pitch that offers the tantalising prospect of a high-scoring draw."

    "for two main reasons. One: why change his successful drawing formula"

  • Jude Armoogan on May 6, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    This article is the reason English cricket cannot progress . Because people like Mr Zalztman keep on making excuses for the players . KP and by extension the whole English team is the same team that came to the West Indies and I am positive if it were not for the elimination of referrals, the total would have been much less and I am positive that England will not only not regain the Wisden tophy but also be given a severe beating by the Aussies

  • P.Satish on May 6, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    Hilarious stuff about KP's point to prove!!

    You can really be funny at times why don't you try it as a career? There is some talent.

  • Pompous Git on May 6, 2009, 14:11 GMT

    What has the world come to, if the pathetic excuse for cricketers - the upstarts with spiky hairs, flash cars and flashier blades - are allowed to walk the hallowed turf at The Lords, let alone play on that mecca of cricket!!

    The beauty of test cricket lies in the fact that the spectator can safely get their fortty winks while a true professional grinds the opposition to dust and then a thoroughbred fast bowler unleashes the venom and skittles England out for under a 100 and following-on, we have the true genius fighting a rareguard, failing heroically running out of partners in the penultimate over of the test.

    As for this test match, I predict a Ravi Bopara century will seal the No.3 spot for a while so that he can fail repeatedly till the end of the summer and we can return to our debate over Bell, Shah or Vaughan.

    Pieterson is still counting the dollars from IPL. Unfortunately, everytime he reaches 10, he gets a sore itch to switch the currency bundle.

  • Minkesh on May 6, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    Another brilliant piece or should I write, picking up from IPL's DLFed for a six, I have been Zaltzed! Ironic that our national Twenty20 skipper did not even get a look in for a spot in Delhi Devil's Twenty20 playing XI for even one game in South Africa. Hmmmm! What should we expect from the squad in the coming world cup then is anyone's guess. Flower's assessment is also proving wrong that IPL stars are under-prepared as Bopara and Edward proved i.e. if you proved in IPL, you can also perform at test level.

  • boom on May 6, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    If I may qualify my thesis slightly in the light of recent events, Pietersen is seldom more dangerous than when he has a point to prove, except when he still has a point to prove but has just been out first ball. And I’m sure if he had not been out first ball, or subsequently, he would have scored a brilliant hundred. My point therefore stands.

    ------------ classic andy, I know one when I see it !

  • Oliver Jones on May 6, 2009, 13:59 GMT

    Brilliant as ever Andy. Any ideas for new XIs yet? Shocking England call-ups XI such as Usman Afzaal, Rob Key, Steve James and Darren Pattison is surely worth a punt?

  • Jay on May 6, 2009, 13:57 GMT

    I fully concur. If Pietersen was not dismissed until he completes his hundredth run I was sure he woulda scored a century.........

  • Hiren on May 6, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    Ravi Bopara has proven himself once again, I hope this will open England's team selector's eyes. They have been ignoring this man for ages. I hope Ravi gets atleast as many chances as Bell had. Then we'll see who's better batsman!! Well done RAVI.

  • nitish on May 6, 2009, 13:54 GMT

    :)

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • nitish on May 6, 2009, 13:54 GMT

    :)

  • Hiren on May 6, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    Ravi Bopara has proven himself once again, I hope this will open England's team selector's eyes. They have been ignoring this man for ages. I hope Ravi gets atleast as many chances as Bell had. Then we'll see who's better batsman!! Well done RAVI.

  • Jay on May 6, 2009, 13:57 GMT

    I fully concur. If Pietersen was not dismissed until he completes his hundredth run I was sure he woulda scored a century.........

  • Oliver Jones on May 6, 2009, 13:59 GMT

    Brilliant as ever Andy. Any ideas for new XIs yet? Shocking England call-ups XI such as Usman Afzaal, Rob Key, Steve James and Darren Pattison is surely worth a punt?

  • boom on May 6, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    If I may qualify my thesis slightly in the light of recent events, Pietersen is seldom more dangerous than when he has a point to prove, except when he still has a point to prove but has just been out first ball. And I’m sure if he had not been out first ball, or subsequently, he would have scored a brilliant hundred. My point therefore stands.

    ------------ classic andy, I know one when I see it !

  • Minkesh on May 6, 2009, 14:09 GMT

    Another brilliant piece or should I write, picking up from IPL's DLFed for a six, I have been Zaltzed! Ironic that our national Twenty20 skipper did not even get a look in for a spot in Delhi Devil's Twenty20 playing XI for even one game in South Africa. Hmmmm! What should we expect from the squad in the coming world cup then is anyone's guess. Flower's assessment is also proving wrong that IPL stars are under-prepared as Bopara and Edward proved i.e. if you proved in IPL, you can also perform at test level.

  • Pompous Git on May 6, 2009, 14:11 GMT

    What has the world come to, if the pathetic excuse for cricketers - the upstarts with spiky hairs, flash cars and flashier blades - are allowed to walk the hallowed turf at The Lords, let alone play on that mecca of cricket!!

    The beauty of test cricket lies in the fact that the spectator can safely get their fortty winks while a true professional grinds the opposition to dust and then a thoroughbred fast bowler unleashes the venom and skittles England out for under a 100 and following-on, we have the true genius fighting a rareguard, failing heroically running out of partners in the penultimate over of the test.

    As for this test match, I predict a Ravi Bopara century will seal the No.3 spot for a while so that he can fail repeatedly till the end of the summer and we can return to our debate over Bell, Shah or Vaughan.

    Pieterson is still counting the dollars from IPL. Unfortunately, everytime he reaches 10, he gets a sore itch to switch the currency bundle.

  • P.Satish on May 6, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    Hilarious stuff about KP's point to prove!!

    You can really be funny at times why don't you try it as a career? There is some talent.

  • Jude Armoogan on May 6, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    This article is the reason English cricket cannot progress . Because people like Mr Zalztman keep on making excuses for the players . KP and by extension the whole English team is the same team that came to the West Indies and I am positive if it were not for the elimination of referrals, the total would have been much less and I am positive that England will not only not regain the Wisden tophy but also be given a severe beating by the Aussies

  • Joe Schmoe on May 6, 2009, 19:41 GMT

    Comedy gold, Andy.

    "England are thus likely to take on Australia with a team largely unencumbered by the scars of that victory."

    "on a pitch that offers the tantalising prospect of a high-scoring draw."

    "for two main reasons. One: why change his successful drawing formula"