October 7, 2012

English cricket

England and Flower's power keep KP hanging on

The relationship between Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen has been jaggedly icy, but the ECB still considers Flower as the best person to reintegrate Pietersen into the team, be it in India or in New Zealand later on. It is a massive endorsement for Flower, but it can also be a burden, writes Vic Marks in the Guardian.

The chances are that Kevin Pietersen will be drafted into the Test squad for India (there is Ian Bell's planned paternity leave to use as an excuse, if necessary) unless the "reintegration process", outlined on Wednesday in Colombo, goes badly awry. And this makes some sense. If they are going to have him back, they may as well get on with it. But even though the "reintegration process" is due to take place behind closed doors, we will be talking of little else. The press corps can be rather more interested in archaeology than you might think.

In the Independent, Tony Greig tells Stephen Brenkley that Pietersen should never have been left out, despite his transgressions, because he is the best player in the side. Greig draws parallels to Geoff Boycott's difficult phase in the mid-70s when he badly wanted the captaincy. Thought he never captained Boycott, he would never have considered leaving him out of the side.

Greig, of course, sees and understands the concept of Pietersen being an outsider, not being a true-blue Englishman, and how that might sway judgements. But he believes that everyone is somehow manageable. Boycott's intransigence has eerie parallels, however. England hung on grimly on that 1974 tour and came to the Fifth Test still only 1-0 down after a series of rearguard actions. Boycott batted supremely in making 99 and 112, and Greig, having invented a brand-new style of off-break bowling, took 8 for 86 and 5 for 70 as England won by 112 runs.

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