England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, 1st day June 7, 2012

There's life after Pietersen - Gooch


Graham Gooch, England's batting coach, admitted that Kevin Pietersen's retirement from international limited-overs cricket has opened up a big hole at the top of the batting order, but insisted it is not so huge that it cannot be filled. Gooch, England's leading run-scorer in Test cricket, called Pietersen a "box-office player" but did not criticise the decision to step down from ODIs which has also led to the end of his international Twenty20 career.

"Kevin is a superb player for England in all forms of the game. He is a great entertainer," Gooch said. "He is a box-office player that excites the cricketing public not only in this country, but around the world. So before you ask me, is he going to be missed? Sure he is going to be missed. Any player who is capable of winning a match is going to be missed by a team. But he has to make his own decisions. He is the only one who would be able to give true insight into why he decided to retire from ODI cricket."

In a decision that caught everyone by surprise, Pietersen announced on May 31 that he was stepping away from ODI cricket (and, also, effectively Twenty20 as it is part of the ECB contract to be available for both formats) citing "the intensity of the international schedule and the increasing demands on my body," as one of the main reasons. Gooch did not want to be drawn into the issue of the schedules, which has become a talking point in the recent years with players deciding to give up one form of the game in order to extend their tenures in another version.

What Gooch, though, was certain about was England needed to move forward and there were good batsmen ready to fill in the vacancy left behind by Pietersen. "Life moves on, one door closes and another one opens. So you got to look at from the team point of view as an opportunity for someone else to make his mark, to represent his country, to win games for his country," he said. "I look it as an opportunity for another young player to grab that chance, to take that chance and achieve the highest honour of representing his country. I don't look back, I look forward."

Gooch, himself an opening batsman, was a supporter of Pietersen opening in the one-day game which began at last year's World Cup before resuming against Pakistan in the UAE where he struck back-to-back hundreds in, what ended up becoming, his final two ODIs. "I was always in favour of Kevin Pietersen opening the batting because I'm always in favour putting your best players in one-day and Twenty20 cricket top of the order; give them all the overs to make an impact," he said.

The England selectors will meet over the next few days to select the ODI squad to face West Indies and Gooch believes there are plenty of options on hand to replace Pietersen, picking out the likes of Craig Kieswetter, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. "The selectors will be meeting probably in the next day or so and formulating who they think is the best option upfront. We have got some exciting young players around: Kieswetter, Bairstow, Buttler are the guys who have been in and around the Lions and the one-day team. They are not new names, but are the guys I see taking England cricket forward over the next few years."

Kieswetter, who started his England career as an opener, was part of the last ODI series England played, in the UAE, but came in as a middle-order batsman after Pietersen's move to open. Buttler, a No.6 at Somerset, has played a solitary ODI (against Pakistan in UAE), but is known in the county arena for his innovative batting methods in Twenty20 cricket.

Bairstow, who has six ODI caps, made his Test debut against West Indies at Lord's but his fraught technique against the short delivery raised eyebrows about whether he was the right candidate to come in at No.6 in Tests. Gooch, one of the best players of fast bowling in the 1980s and 90s, said that it was too early to draw conclusions about Bairstow's technique.

"You don't judge a player on just a few good balls," he said. "I don't think there is any player that has ever played Test cricket hasn't punched one away in front of his face at some stage. Having been there myself, it is not a nice experience. You have to cope with that sort of bowling. I don't think you make judgements on just a short passage of play."

Gooch did not entirely agree with the theory that Bairstow had not faced the likes of Roach in county cricket but highlighted the pressurised surrounds of the international game as a key difference. "One thing that is not there in county cricket you don't get the tension you get in Test cricket, the feeling that you have to succeed because everyone is watching you and you are playing at the highest level. So the pressure is that much more at the highest level. That is something every top player, every top sportsman has to cope with: performing under pressure."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2012, 21:56 GMT

    @JG2704 - You exactly said what everyone are suspecting regarding KP. I also watched today's match. What was Ramdin thinking when he did that? (I did not like his actions on a lot of counts 1. He took shots against the KING!!! 2. Viv has every right/duty to say that he is not delivering, if Ramdin is not 3. His century has already addressed Viv's concerns 4. The match was a dead rubber and 5. England were not playing their best 11). There is a pattern in KP (only because three weeks before he claims, rightfully though, that he is in the form of his life and then he announces retirement???) and Ramdin incidents, makes you wonder when did commentators become such brutal force that players had to hit back for each of their comments/analysis? Slowly I am getting a feeling that commentators (media) words are having more weight than what should be. I do not think that it is good for the game.

  • John on June 10, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    @Srinivas Pachari on (June 10 2012, 13:29 PM GMT) To be honest - as I have said before - I don't think this is anything to do with managing the players schedule etc. KP was playing the best cricket he had in a long while (perhaps ever) in the last batch of ODIs/T20s he was playing in UAE so it does seem strange that KP would want to stop playing all formats when he is in such a rich vein of form. Still think it is to do with the fine he recd from the Knight comments. I obviously don't know what goes on behind closed doors but we've not heard that KP has tried to reason with ECB re the schedule - if that was the reason. I do think ECB were wrong to fine him re Knight. Holding said that he thought Ramdin should be fined for his written retort to Viv when he got his 100. What is wrong with a bit of free speech/passion?

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    @JG2704 - I agree with your comments. But I am disappointed that ECB chose to look ahead of KP instead of managing him properly.

  • Srinath on June 10, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    @5womanbats no team can continuosly keep winning.in fact in those tournaments u mentnd in which india lost they had lost many of their first choice players due to injury.the point i am trying to tell is that india are a better ODI unit than england anyday.especially withut KP england dont have chance

  • Martin on June 10, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    @rsrinath. India fans raised the subject of England ODI performance calling it "pathetic". Wombats simply reminding India fans of reality. If India were so marvellous they would have beaten Eng, SA, Aus, Zim and Bang. The facts are that they didn't so one can conclude - they aren't.

  • John on June 10, 2012, 9:58 GMT

    As I have said on a number of occasions , I'm sceptical about KP's official reasons for retiring from the OD/T20 formats. I mean he looked positively rejuvinated during the last batch of ODIs and T20s etc (and compare that to the way and team Eng looked in India) and I'd like to think that KP would have given Eng more warning about retiring. As for the future , who knows. KP is a huge loss , no doubt and esp the form he was in in the last batch. But others have also done well for us in T20s.Obviously fans from other countries have seen little of our up and coming talent. If guys like Buttler, Bairstow, Stokes etc continue their mediocre form in Eng colours then it's not looking good. If however these guys can transfer what they've done for their counties onto the international scene then maybe things don't look so bleak

  • John on June 10, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    @Srinivas Pachari Comparing 2 batsmen from different eras is a very subjective thing. ACC to the ESPN stats Cook (with 19) has not actually surpassed Gooch's record of 20 test 100s yet. Cook looks like doing it in much quicker time but then you have to also take into account the quality of bowling Gooch will have faced. Would Cook have faced a pace bowling attack of Garner,Holding,Roberts,Croft or the amount of bowlers who have the quality of Hadlee , Mushtaq, Wasim,Waqar, Donald, Lillee , Thompson , etc? Also it could be that Cook is a particularly decent batsman rather than Gooch being not very good. Also of you talk about Gooch's loser life (one o) and this subject is on T20s/ODIs - well Gooch never played a T20 but Eng made it to 2 OD finals in his era and have not done so since

  • Srinath on June 10, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    @5womanbats" thrashed by SA in SA" if 3-2 loss is a thrashing accordng to you then what will you call england's 5-0 defeat in india?then again "thrashed by sri lnka and aus in aus" for your infrmtn we defeated sl in 2 matches and lost only one(we even chased 320 in 36 odd ovrs).of course we lost to bang in asia cup but in the very next match we bounced back making a mockery of 330 trgt agnst pak.this english team cant even dream of scripting such victories.please don't compare england with the world champions bcos we all know how horrible this england team is in ODI format.espcially england without KP should work hard to earn 'UPSET' victory agnst evenassociate nations in ODI's

  • John on June 10, 2012, 3:31 GMT

    I think that England can still win the the T20 WC because T20 is undoubtedly more open than the two longer forms. That said, the loss of KP will certainly make it less likely. One innings is crucial with much greater frequency in T20. Obviously others will have to step up and England's success will depend on whether they do or not. England don't really have anyone to outright replace KP's explosive potential but that potential hasn't always been fulfilled anyway. If they can fill his spot with a good player and see some improvement form a few others then they will be able to pick up the slack. One key is Kieswetter. He did very little down the order in ODIs while KP opened in UAE. If he opens again and can make some runs and then someone else makes some runs down the order where he was previously then that's accounted for the runs that left with KP.

  • Sidharth on June 10, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    i agree with nasser hussain..more often than not.. but the question remains.. who are those better teams?? India.. i doubt.. with all the people here in india.. i couldnt find 22yr olds in this cricket team as promising as stokes, taylor, butler, finn, bairstow.. which in itself is the sole reason why i believe england's future in this sport is far from bleak in ALL 3 Formats. people say tht rahane, pujara n tiwary(manoj) are remarkable. i feel pity for those blokes. i dont find a chance of them playing consistently at the top.. specially since our rajya sabha mp has decided to stay in mumbai and attend parliament proceedings flying to delhi whenever he feels like.. australia.. with all due respect to its pedigree of producing wonderful teams n players over the years. i couldnt find young talents to name.. cummins, pattinson has got strides to make before they r classified as finn's level.. considering his exploits in the sub continent. i believe england are contenders 4 the top spot.

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