England appoint their new captain August 4, 2008

Pietersen is the right man for the job

KP has the talent and intelligence to lead England and is sure to rise to the honour with pride
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Kevin Pietersen: England's new leader © Getty Images
 
The king is dead, long live the king. Kevin Pietersen's deck-clearing appointment as England's new captain, across all forms of the game, is a bold and welcome statement of intent from an England selection panel that, only two matches ago, stood accused of gross prevarication. Doubts are sure to remain about the wisdom of appointing a man whose first and only experience of leadership came in the final ODI against New Zealand in June, and who - when it suits the public imagination - is all too easily cast as an interloper. But make no mistake, Pietersen the best candidate for the job, and in fact the only one.

Like a city whizkid or a great captain of industry, Pietersen is ambitious for ambition's sake, which does not sit easily with those who misconstrue his motives. Englishmen in particular, with their ingrained love of the underdog, find it hard to accept those who aren't content merely to bumble along in life and settle for second-best. And yet, the basic premise of sport is the quest to be the best, a challenge that Pietersen has embraced as if he were Roger Federer or Tiger Woods. He has no interest in being anything less than the greatest player who has ever lived, but unlike so many wannabes who mouth off and then vanish, he has consistently shown the talent, chutzpah and audacity to back up his promises with deeds.

Of course, none of that automatically marks him out as captaincy material, for there is a selfishness that comes with the pursuit of excellence, which is a criticism that has been levelled at Pietersen ever since he turned his back on South Africa as a teenager and made the great trek north to Nottinghamshire where he began his assault on the England team. His days at Trent Bridge ended in acrimony in 2005, when his bags were flung out of the dressing-room window by his irate captain, Jason Gallian, and the nickname of "Ego", with which the South Africans have taunted him throughout this series, is clearly not a misplaced sobriquet.

And yet, despite the naked ambition, Pietersen has a self-awareness and diplomacy that only become apparent when you observe him at close quarters. The England captaincy is not something for which he has actively canvassed - in fact, this time last year he pulled himself out of the race for the one-day leadership, correctly ascertaining that he was not ready for such a role. Recognition has made him a more patient person, and a more likeable man too. The acclaim that greeted his century against South Africa at Lord's in last month's first Test was a heartfelt endorsement from a public that took its time to be convinced, but is now ready to embrace him as one of their own.

"I ummed and ah-ed last year, when I was asked whether I wanted the one-day captaincy," said Pietersen, "but my gut instinct wasn't right. Now I'm more of a rounded figure as a player, and I've got a lot more support from the lads. That's one of the most exciting things, all the text messages and phone calls from senior players in the squad who basically said: 'We're right behind you, we support you. Give it your best shot.' Once you've got the support of the lads around you, there's nothing more you can ask for."

Pietersen's brand of diplomacy, as with his cricket, extends beyond words and into deeds. Contrary to all the expectations when he arrived in the England side, with a badger-streak through his hair and bling dripping off every limb, he is the model professional. Nobody trains harder in the side, nor thinks more deeply about their game, and although it is easy to be sniffy about the pop-star wife and the appearances in Hello! magazine, when has Pietersen ever erred from the straight and narrow in his off-the-field life? His marriage seems as solid as can exist in celebrity circles - in fact, he said his wife, Jessica, was the first person he consulted when offered the captaincy - and he hasn't been seen the worse for wear in public since the Ashes party in 2005, when sobriety would have been a crime against team-bonding. He was certainly nowhere near the Fredalo scandal that scuttled England's World Cup campaign last year.

In some circles, such standoffishness would undermine his credentials, but the England captain cannot afford to be too wrapped up in the dynamics of the dressing room. "We really want to like him," was how one senior player described the team's relationship with Pietersen last year, a comment that suggested admiration if not an outright acceptance. But chumminess with his charges ultimately caused Michael Vaughan's downfall, after his misplaced comments about team unity in the Headingley Test, while Vaughan himself dismissed Andrew Flintoff's leadership credentials way back in 2005, correctly ascertaining that his matey nature would prevent him from laying down the law when it mattered. All the best leaders need a hint of the bastard about them. Vaughan had it, Nasser Hussain had it. Pietersen, one suspects, will produce it in spades when required.


The intelligence that went into Pietersen's Edgbaston onslaught augurs well for his captaincy © Getty Images
 

Talking of Vaughan, Pietersen's appointment is a fitting tribute to England's outgoing captain, whose influence on the squad over the past five years was so great, only the biggest boots in the team would be sufficient to justify the sacrifice he has made. When Vaughan left the field during the Edgbaston Test, it was Andrew Strauss who was left calling the shots, and no doubt he would have made an adequate replacement. But that would have been no more than a continuation of the stop-gap culture that has beset English cricket since Vaughan first succumbed to the knee injury that wrecked the continuity of his Ashes team.

Flintoff was a no-go, none of the other viable candidates - Strauss, Paul Collingwood and Alastair Cook - could guarantee their places in all forms of the game, and as Geoff Miller reiterated today, one of his primary aims upon accepting the role of national selector at the start of the year was to find a captain to draw all three facets of English cricket together. "We're looking for a fresh approach," said Miller, "and I'm sure he will take us forward in an exciting manner."

There's little doubt about that - although perhaps the biggest concern that surrounds Pietersen's appointment is the effect it could have on his own expansive game. The criticism that came his way after he holed out to mid-on for 94 at Edgbaston would have increased ten-fold had he already been captain, and yet, to drive Pietersen into his shell and deny him the right to play on instinct would be to halve the effect of his performances.

"I hope it won't restrict the way I play, and I think it would be silly to start thinking that it will," he said. "I play the way that I play, and it's a way I've been successful so far in my career. It is exactly the way you need to play against South Africa, and exactly the way you need to play against Australia. You've got to be positive and aggressive, so hopefully it won't affect my batting."

The main point about Pietersen's aggression, however, is the intelligence with which he backs it up. So the shot that got him out at Edgbaston was an error, but what preceded it was breathless, brilliant, and meticulously planned. As Mike Atherton wrote in the Times last week, the justification that Pietersen gave for his audacious reverse-swept six off Muttiah Muralitharan on the same ground two summers ago was almost as impressive as the planning and execution that went into the stroke.

"To understand that shot you need to know that I had just come down the wicket to Murali three times; I had hit him over mid-off for four, through mid-off for four and then I had cut the doosra for four. Murali moved his mid-off and mid-on back and put men at deep square leg and cow corner. All my options had been blocked."

Pietersen may be a rookie leader, but he's been well schooled under Vaughan at Test level, and Shane Warne at Hampshire. If he puts that same inventiveness into his field placings and bowling changes, England will be impressively served in the coming years.

There will be those who doubt the wisdom of handing the captaincy to the best player in the side, and it's true that both Flintoff and Ian Botham were overwhelmed by the responsibility. But such an approach has rarely let the Australians down, and let's not forget that the last man to be appointed as England's full-time captain was none other than Vaughan, who was the No. 1-rated batsman in the world when he succeeded Nasser Hussain in 2003. Admittedly Vaughan's personal returns took a dip with the responsibility, but the handsome pay-off was six series wins in a row. At their current low ebb, England would gladly settle for a trade-off of that magnitude.

For all the positive signs, Pietersen's appointment will still be viewed in some quarters as a gamble. His media savvy and marketability are a boon for the English game, but those who look for historical parallels will doubtless fear that he is about to do what another South African-born captain, Tony Greig, did to the game in 1977. It is widely known how actively Pietersen has agitated for an IPL-shaped window to be created in England's schedule, and it was also noticeable how quickly he ducked the issue today.

And yet, the circumstances are somewhat different these days. Greig threw in his lot with World Series Cricket because the pay for international cricketers in his day was desultory. Pietersen, on the other hand, will not be wanting for remuneration in his new role. In this challenging era of attractions outside the Test arena, the ECB are expedient to indulge KP's ego, and give him the biggest job which he can ever attain. If he's half the man he's led us to believe he is, he is sure to rise to the honour with pride. His quest for greatness demands it.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shrini on August 7, 2008, 15:13 GMT

    English cricket is obviously at its lowest ebb. Once, they were a fortess at home. Today, India, Australia and now South Africa have defeated them. At this low period, KP is just the right man to lead England for 4 reasons:- 1.His flamboyant personality just lifts the spirit of the dressing room. 2.His agressive batting, and likewise his agression will naturally show in his captaincy. 3.He is probably the only player whose place is definite and cemented in this unsettled English team. 4.His fearless attitude will help the youngsters play their natural game. However KP's arrogance may also lead him into spots.

  • RohanMarkJay on August 6, 2008, 22:26 GMT

    Best of Luck to England and new Captain KP. Sad to see Micheal Vaughan depart the scene the way he did. He has been a fine captain for England and deserved to leave the stage on a high not. Heres hoping he returns to the England fold after a well deserved break and leads them in the batting averages again like before. One thing for sure I feel KP will take more risks against the opposition, this is not a bad thing because that is exactly how MV won the Ashes. So heres wishing England under KP best of luck and much success in their cricket. Especially against the aussies next year and beyond!

  • Sudzz on August 6, 2008, 12:22 GMT

    I think this is truly a knee jerk reaction to a situation that should have been handled tactfully.

    As a captain Strauss had proved his worth, yet he has been overlooked. In addition Flintoff the talismanic player that he is is also better suited. That he gave up captaincy sometime back is known but Im sure he could have been persuaded.

    Its a crying shame that the ECB could not find one home grown talent to helm its affairs and had to rely on a opportunistic outsider....

    Well only time will tell how things will pan out but I sincerely feel English cricket is poorer for this.

  • checkIndia on August 6, 2008, 2:15 GMT

    Its hard to believe tat a country which has 18 counties find it difficult to name a captain and still worse,they cud find only Pieterson.I`m a big fan of him but point is will he play in same aggressive mode? or will responsibility add burden to his shoulders and start in defensive mode?.. will he play his super power reverse sweep shots again after being crowned as captain???...I dont think so!!

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on August 6, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    Why can't England come up with 12 players who are English-born ? Strauss, Ambrose & Pietersen are all foreigners. Now they have a foreign-born captain.

  • cric8111 on August 6, 2008, 0:21 GMT

    Re: who has the ability to excel in all forms of cricket.

    So you want a jack of all trades but a master of none?

  • cric8111 on August 6, 2008, 0:19 GMT

    Re: England appoint their new captain

    Pietersen is the right man for the job

    Despite the undoubted reservations, Kevin Pietersen has the talent and intelligence to lead England.

    UNQUOTE:

    Sycophancy at its very best, Cricinfo style.

    Keep this article preserved please for if and when the Aussies wipe the floor with England next year I want to see what the headlines say and compare the two.

    England are so bereft of good talented players they had to name a transplanted South african player angry at the quota system in South Africa as their Captain.

  • sunyl on August 5, 2008, 21:20 GMT

    KP England's Captian. I personally think that it's the death of English Cricket. Out of Thousands of county players we can not find a leader.I wonder why we play so much Cricket in this country when we can not get a decent 12 players let alone one capable leader. The talent is out there but never exposed in the shadow of established (often useless) players. Management do not have guts to explore new players and do not acknowledge the changing and dynamic nature of the mordern Cricket. We rest on our Laurels forever. KP is British by naturalization, but certainly not English. I know it does not matter, but in purist terms we have South African approach to Cricket than our own English way of Cricket. This is a 'quick fix solution', our cricketing infrastructure is very very weak, and I do not think this issue is being addressed at any level. I think management needs good overhaul.

  • EdwardMills on August 5, 2008, 19:56 GMT

    An unknown talent of Pietersen's till now was that he can clearly enable others to predict the future with absolute certainty. Otherwise, I'm not sure how to explain statements like "his batting WILL suffer from the responsibility". Wait till it happens - for every Vaughan whose batting suffered from captaincy there's a Gooch who was envigorated by it.

    As for "he wasn't born in England", nor was Andrew Strauss, nor was Nasser Hussain, nor was David Gower, nor was Pelham Warner for that matter. He has, I believe, stronger UK credentials than Robin Smith, Allan Lamb or Tony Grieg.

    Like every other captian - judge him by what he does, not who he is.

  • Razi_BC on August 5, 2008, 17:40 GMT

    KP is undoubtedly the best choice in English team cause he is currently the only player who has the ability to excel in all forms of cricket.

  • Shrini on August 7, 2008, 15:13 GMT

    English cricket is obviously at its lowest ebb. Once, they were a fortess at home. Today, India, Australia and now South Africa have defeated them. At this low period, KP is just the right man to lead England for 4 reasons:- 1.His flamboyant personality just lifts the spirit of the dressing room. 2.His agressive batting, and likewise his agression will naturally show in his captaincy. 3.He is probably the only player whose place is definite and cemented in this unsettled English team. 4.His fearless attitude will help the youngsters play their natural game. However KP's arrogance may also lead him into spots.

  • RohanMarkJay on August 6, 2008, 22:26 GMT

    Best of Luck to England and new Captain KP. Sad to see Micheal Vaughan depart the scene the way he did. He has been a fine captain for England and deserved to leave the stage on a high not. Heres hoping he returns to the England fold after a well deserved break and leads them in the batting averages again like before. One thing for sure I feel KP will take more risks against the opposition, this is not a bad thing because that is exactly how MV won the Ashes. So heres wishing England under KP best of luck and much success in their cricket. Especially against the aussies next year and beyond!

  • Sudzz on August 6, 2008, 12:22 GMT

    I think this is truly a knee jerk reaction to a situation that should have been handled tactfully.

    As a captain Strauss had proved his worth, yet he has been overlooked. In addition Flintoff the talismanic player that he is is also better suited. That he gave up captaincy sometime back is known but Im sure he could have been persuaded.

    Its a crying shame that the ECB could not find one home grown talent to helm its affairs and had to rely on a opportunistic outsider....

    Well only time will tell how things will pan out but I sincerely feel English cricket is poorer for this.

  • checkIndia on August 6, 2008, 2:15 GMT

    Its hard to believe tat a country which has 18 counties find it difficult to name a captain and still worse,they cud find only Pieterson.I`m a big fan of him but point is will he play in same aggressive mode? or will responsibility add burden to his shoulders and start in defensive mode?.. will he play his super power reverse sweep shots again after being crowned as captain???...I dont think so!!

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on August 6, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    Why can't England come up with 12 players who are English-born ? Strauss, Ambrose & Pietersen are all foreigners. Now they have a foreign-born captain.

  • cric8111 on August 6, 2008, 0:21 GMT

    Re: who has the ability to excel in all forms of cricket.

    So you want a jack of all trades but a master of none?

  • cric8111 on August 6, 2008, 0:19 GMT

    Re: England appoint their new captain

    Pietersen is the right man for the job

    Despite the undoubted reservations, Kevin Pietersen has the talent and intelligence to lead England.

    UNQUOTE:

    Sycophancy at its very best, Cricinfo style.

    Keep this article preserved please for if and when the Aussies wipe the floor with England next year I want to see what the headlines say and compare the two.

    England are so bereft of good talented players they had to name a transplanted South african player angry at the quota system in South Africa as their Captain.

  • sunyl on August 5, 2008, 21:20 GMT

    KP England's Captian. I personally think that it's the death of English Cricket. Out of Thousands of county players we can not find a leader.I wonder why we play so much Cricket in this country when we can not get a decent 12 players let alone one capable leader. The talent is out there but never exposed in the shadow of established (often useless) players. Management do not have guts to explore new players and do not acknowledge the changing and dynamic nature of the mordern Cricket. We rest on our Laurels forever. KP is British by naturalization, but certainly not English. I know it does not matter, but in purist terms we have South African approach to Cricket than our own English way of Cricket. This is a 'quick fix solution', our cricketing infrastructure is very very weak, and I do not think this issue is being addressed at any level. I think management needs good overhaul.

  • EdwardMills on August 5, 2008, 19:56 GMT

    An unknown talent of Pietersen's till now was that he can clearly enable others to predict the future with absolute certainty. Otherwise, I'm not sure how to explain statements like "his batting WILL suffer from the responsibility". Wait till it happens - for every Vaughan whose batting suffered from captaincy there's a Gooch who was envigorated by it.

    As for "he wasn't born in England", nor was Andrew Strauss, nor was Nasser Hussain, nor was David Gower, nor was Pelham Warner for that matter. He has, I believe, stronger UK credentials than Robin Smith, Allan Lamb or Tony Grieg.

    Like every other captian - judge him by what he does, not who he is.

  • Razi_BC on August 5, 2008, 17:40 GMT

    KP is undoubtedly the best choice in English team cause he is currently the only player who has the ability to excel in all forms of cricket.

  • delboy on August 5, 2008, 15:28 GMT

    Obviously my attempt at a posting yesterday ruffled a few feathers..and was promptly rejected. As a club coach I'll put the interests of GRASSROOT cricket first and ask; are we ever likely to see an England team featuring players which have grafted their way thru the excellent academy and county structure rather than being imported and given a game (captaincy) at U19 then not eligible to represent a county or play a senior test then decide their is more to be gain if they revert to their original nationality?

  • Percy_Fender on August 5, 2008, 14:51 GMT

    When Nasser Hussain resigned in the midst of a series and Michael Vaughn was made captain, the English media and the people, felt he was the next Peter May. Importantly amongst his other achievements as a batsman, he won a stirring duel over the Ashes in 2005. That made him and the players he led in that series, a group that the whole of England felt gratified to. As a result, that team established a lien on selections. It is with fear that the selectors address the problem of loss of form by any of that team. Whether it is Hoggard or Harmison, Flintoff or Jones, the matter is approached with trepidation it seems. The point is that we are three years ahead of that mwmorable series. There are many players in England who deserve a break. Sadly they are held back only to accomodate these galacticas. Who knows the next Botham or Gower may be just lurking around the corner. Let it not be that they lose their motivation as a result of this mindlesness of the selectors.

  • Vilander on August 5, 2008, 13:31 GMT

    The author says " Englishmen in particular, with their ingrained love of the underdog, find it hard to accept those who aren't content merely to bumble along in life and settle for second-best. "

    Second best...this is the funniest thing..english writers seem hell bent in proclaiming their test team second best after every test series defeat..

    Does this mean second best in the series or in the world ? if its the latter i can only laugh at their hipocracy.

  • Ramamurthy on August 5, 2008, 12:52 GMT

    ECB have done a grave mistake by giving KP the captain's role. A fine cricketer and too good a batsman, and his talent will be unnecessarily wasted by this responsibility. It is not necessary that a good cricketer be a good leader. I have always felt and seen that A Strauss should be the skipper even ahead of Vaughan. There are already rumblings on this in the team. Some are born leaders, some by hard work, while others just should not step into the shoes. There are innumerable examples. The captain is just as good as his team and vice-versa. It's going to be difficult for England in the near future. It is good to build the future, but again, it is more wise to build a better team performance and then select the skip'r. Example - Anybody in Australian team can captain, as every members role is defined and they perform, except for a few hiccups. Strauss is a keen observer and can produce better results. Ramamurthy Iyer

  • Davidash on August 5, 2008, 12:02 GMT

    As a keen South African cricket fan, I can only say that I hope the English selectors knew what they were doing when they appointed KP as their new captain. One thing we South Africans don't mind is a bit of aggression in sport. What we dislike is arrogance - and KP has it all. From the tattoos, the earrings, the selfishness as a player and finally the faux English accent, he takes the cake! Questions also need to be asked regarding the rude remarks he made about his country of birth and the "Muppet" captain of the team that has just beaten England comprehensively. From another perspective, I am delighted that his new position will exclude KP from being included in the line-up for our national cricket side. We want good cricketers who understand the culture of the game on our side.

  • fast_gun on August 5, 2008, 10:59 GMT

    I just want to say well done to Kp for attaining what he attained since leaving S.A. and the best for the future. But being a South African myself I feel he could've lead the South African team had he been more patient, so you know what he can stay there, right where he is. And I will rejoice everytime he looses to S.A.

  • Chris.Rulz07 on August 5, 2008, 10:20 GMT

    KP is definitely a great batsmen and he's all English. But I don't think he's the man for the job. KP should be the captain of the one-day side to get more experience of captaincy and Andrew Strauss should captain the Test team. He might not be in form at the moment but he should've done enough to keep his place in the side and captain the team. KP still has a long way to go and is only young and still needs to learn the game. This is a very bad decision, keeping the long term in view, for England because the captaincy will hurt KP's performance

  • citykitty on August 5, 2008, 9:24 GMT

    C'mon England- no matter if you're a KP fan or not, if you're an England cricket fan then you need to back him. England supporters are too well known for wanting to knock people down, and at the moment, England cricket is down. KP is an outstanding batsman, and appears to want to win for England. He seems a very driven person, and this will allow him to maintain his batting, maybe even get better (look at Ponting and Jayawardene in recent times). If KP doesn't get results straight away the public, media and selectors need to stick by him-give him time. Plus, give him a consistent team that he can work with. You don't see too many changes to the Australian team, and look at their success. Give the Ambroses, Broads and Andersons of the team a decent run in the side and a chance to establish themselves. So all of England, get behind KP and support him in his bid to lead England back to the top of world cricket- you know that's where he wants to be, so back him all the way.

  • Quizzey on August 5, 2008, 9:23 GMT

    Will KP be a good captain? Only time will tell. I don't think he'll be a successful captain though. The one common theme regardless of the forum or article one is reading is KP got the job because he is the only one assured of being picked on the teamsheet every time (apart from Flintoff). So what does that say about the England team? There isn't one. Cricket is a team game so regardless of who the captain is, or his experience or the lack of it does not really matter unless the other 10 members of the team turn up on a consistent basis and that does not look likely in the near future. Also, comparing KP to Ponting or Smith is a silly argument as that is taking the players they had to captain in their respective teams out of the equation. Ponting had Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Langer, Gilchrist, Lee, Martin, to name but a few, in the team when he became captain. When you have players of that calibre, leading the side becomes a whole lot easier. Who does KP have to captain apart from Freddie?

  • shumit on August 5, 2008, 9:11 GMT

    Congratulations to England! They have just managed to scuttle the last threat that the English Teams offered to their opponents. KP will play a few great innings, a few horrible ones, a lot of really mediocre ones, and be the Azharuddin of England. His aloofness is not cultivated, it is inbred. His ego is not a facade, he was born with it. His impetuous nature is not temporary, he will take it to his grave. But then, what if I am completely wrong, and he famously vanquishes Australia in the next Ashes single-handedly? I am a fan of KP's batting. It is as pure and natural as anyone in the world. He is also my candidate, along with Sehwag and Jayawardene, to be the most likely successor to Lara's 400 mark.

  • Nabil.H on August 5, 2008, 8:02 GMT

    I really think England have shot themselves in the foot here, big time. My reasons are as follows. Vaughan was a great captain, the guy took the art of captaincy to a different level. Mark my words he will never be replaced. The only reason he was forced to retire was the English media's relentless hounding of him in the preceding weeks, sort of what they do to most of their sportsmen/women. They just have this habit of kicking a man when he is down - sad really, after all that Vaughan did for English cricket. The media more than any other entity is to blame. Vaughan being a thorough gentleman had no option but to retire gracefully rather than being further berated by the media. He gave the excuse of captaincy affecting him and making him a changed man as a result. I believe that was eyewash. He had had enough of the media bashing.

  • vswami on August 5, 2008, 7:03 GMT

    KP's game is an attacking one with considerable amount of risk taking. That's acceptable as a normal player, but as a captain who needs to set an example, his risk taking will repeatedly be called into question, especially when it doesn't come off. What if he gets out at an important stage of a Test match, caught at the boundary to a switch shot. The criticism he will face will drain him out. The key question is, how effective will KP's game be if he starts playing more conservatively. Its to the benefit of opposition that the best player in England team will have to change his game and become less of a destructive force. And there is no one to replace his attacking ability.

  • Nutcutlet on August 5, 2008, 6:36 GMT

    Everyone has had, or is having, a guess at how KP will captain England - an interesting pastime, being a prophet! What is certain is that the 24/7 nature of the job(s), as Alec Stewart has rightly called it, will limit the length of his career as a cricketer. Once everyone has got over the current excitement and England have lost the Ashes again (because that's what really matters) expect a climbdown, unless it has been a close series and England have fought well. By this time Alistair Cook will be ready to be installed as skipper, Moores will go - and a new cosy club will start to form. It does seem that changing room sociability is a prerequisite to England selection. For now, pundits should look around and check out some of KP's Hampshire mates. Moores will ensure there is a Sussex representation too...and so it will go on.

  • Anathema on August 5, 2008, 6:30 GMT

    i am waiting to hear what Geoffrey Boycott has to say. Clive Rice definitely saw some talent in the lad and i wish him all the best as skipper. We definitely lost out when our policies tossed him from South Africa. I would love to have seen that 434 match with Smith, Gibbs & KP - the target would have been reached in 40 overs. Best of luck Kevin.

  • The_other_side on August 5, 2008, 4:33 GMT

    I am a big fan of free spirit in cricket, right from the days of Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Viv Richards to Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist and KP. I think such people are immensely gifted, vastly talented and are the kind of people who attract people to cricket. They are God's gift to cricket but none of them are good captains. It's like Kim Hughes resigning after Headingley 1981, Allan Border after Chennai or Madras 1986 (tied test).Vaughan the best captain and batsman for England in the last 15 years retires after a fighting loss by England and KP is elevated as skipper. What if KP was the skipper-he played the worst shot of the match. Sometimes English selectors fail to put their best foot forward.

  • Brendanvio on August 5, 2008, 4:04 GMT

    Well this is certainly an appointment that will polarise opinions. KP was probably the only logical choice in hindsight (Strauss could have had the Test job, but I still don't think he's a given for this side) as he will play over all formats as England's best batsman. He also has a stronger personality than anyone else in the team. KP will not back down from the challenge of captaincy, but I see a problem with his temperament (thus disagreeing with you Andrew). I think he could be goaded easily by opponents (Smith and the Australians immediately come to mind) but I don't think his batting will be effective. It's touch and go, he needs to inspire England to better performances than they've been displaying this series.

  • Phat-Boy on August 5, 2008, 1:14 GMT

    I can't believe how consistently Pietersen gets this 'selfish' tag because of one shot or mistake that gets him out. The guy plays attacking cricket - I didn't see anyone labelling Collingwood selfish when he ran down the wicket to Harris the other night - you can't have it both ways. Either criticise him every time he attacks regardless of whether it comes off or not, or don't criticise him at all. That is the way he plays. I know as an Australian that Ricky Ponting doesn't get given the 'selfish' label every time he drags one onto his stumps while trying to hook a fast bowler. Why should Pietersen not be treated the same way?

    Yeah, he ran up the wicket and holed out. On 94. After backing himself and attacking his way to those 94 runs and putting England in a great position.

    God some people are hard to please.

  • hornet18 on August 5, 2008, 1:02 GMT

    Whether KP will be a good captain - only time will tell. I would suggest that either way interesting times are ahead for England. I am not English but I find English cricket dissapointing due to their traditional reliance on foreigners. I am not trying to be sarcastic when I say that sometimes I feel I am watching a bit of a World XI rather then a team that represents the passions and spirit of England.

  • Delly on August 4, 2008, 23:49 GMT

    After the Mumbai test which England famously won to level the series against India, I was at the bar in the Taj hotel when I was aggressively shoved to one side by someone from behind. I assumed it was an English lagar lout but when I turned around it was KP himself - a South African lagar lout. Nobody should begrudge a professional plying their trade where the oportunity arises but to denigrate one's country of origin in the way that KP has done shows a distinct lack of judgement and maturity which no amount of tattoos and hollow emotion for his adopted can hide. There is no doubt that KP is a very special cricket talent but equally I have no doubt that as a person he leaves a lot to be desired. The country of my birth, India, is my 1st team and England was my 2nd but with KP at the helm any support I manage to muster will be as superficial as he is.

  • JonoD on August 4, 2008, 23:27 GMT

    I'm rather surprised by this article from Andrew Miller. I generally regard him as an astute cricket journalist with a good understanding of the game but I think he has skipped over one of the most important aspects of being a cricket captain, the ability to gauge a match and your opposition. Choosing a captain almost purely because they are the best player in the team and play all forms of the game is ridiculous. That's how Australia ended up with Ricky Ponting, a fantastic cricket but not a very astute or tactically aware captain. To me KP has never really shown that he can can understand the ebb and flow of the game. This is what makes the great captains great. Time will tell but I think this is not a very considered dscision, more a case of thinking that there was no one else.

  • Kathiyawadi on August 4, 2008, 22:31 GMT

    I would think that the captain is going to be about as good as the team, so England need to sort out their players before going ga-ga over KP. I don't think they are even as close as South Africa or India in challenging Australia.

  • mashedupmatt on August 4, 2008, 21:40 GMT

    Good luck KP - Vaughan did the right thing by stepping down when he did, and he's an even better fella for doing so. I wish KP all the best, as so many "best players in the team" have failed - he has the qualities to make it though - brilliant in all forms of the game - he needs to work on his bowling though as he tweaks it big style and would be an extremely valuable asset as a 2nd spinner. Best of luck to Vaughan in going back to making big runs - I'd love to see him wrestling his way back into the side on the back of some huge scores - exciting times for England (I would have considered bringing back Simon Jones for the final test though!!!)

  • inswing on August 4, 2008, 21:29 GMT

    KP is the best batsman, and the only player other than Flintoff with a guaranteed place in all sides. But it is a bit amusing to see Andrew Miller try to put a positive spin on his negatives. "there is a selfishness that comes with the pursuit of excellence"? A lot of people have pursued and achieved excellence without being selfish. Take Waugh or Lara or Tendulkar or Ponting. None of them are known for their selfishnesses or ego the same way KP is, and they know everything about the pursuit of excellence. . A senior player said "We really want to like him", and this is a comment that "suggested admiration if not an outright acceptance"? Sorry again. Nine out of ten times, "we want to like him" is the polite half of the sentence "we want to like him, but he is such a jerk, it is hard."

    Who knows, KP may turn out to be a good captain. A captain's role is overrated anyway. If a few players are in form and England win a few, things will be great. Otherwise, things can go south in a hurr

  • mdferdaus on August 4, 2008, 21:18 GMT

    It's a shame that people still can't accept KP as an English Man. I strongly cricise those people who can enjoy KP's batting while seatin on the coach with glass of wine, they can sing 'barmy army' song when peterson saving england from the certain deafet, but they can not get behind when Peterson announced as English Captain. Shame on them.

    Well yah i agree with the fact that captaincey could affect KP's batting as he is the best batsman in the current team, but i also personaly bealive that he has strong character, he knows how to handle the pressure, and deliver the best of it.

    Some people concerning about his captaincy experience. Where as i would like to ask did Stever Waugh have enough experience before taking over the responsibility as Aus captain?

    So lets put all these controversy aside and give KP the best support for his long captaincy career.....cheers KP.

  • Dixy109 on August 4, 2008, 20:49 GMT

    Let's not forget that KP has spent the best part of nearly three years under Shane Warne's tutelage at Hampshire and what better way to prepare for the rigpours of captaincy than watching one of the most intuitive and finest cricket brains going around at work. It is clear Pietersen is not a team player as he has proved time and again in selfish innings such as the one at Edgbaston. However perhaps captaincy may mature Kevin Pietersen as a player and help reign in some of his agression in the best interests of the England team. I am still not sure they Kevin Pietersen wil garner the same respect Michael Vaughan did with his teammates. He may also be difficult to love at times. One thing's for sure... with KP in charge it's likely to be a long and bumpy ride. I would just like to end by thanking Michael Vaughan for 5 years of great captaincy and by wishing KP the best for the future. I'm waiting to be impressed... There's only one more thing that remains to be said. Come on England!!!

  • phoenixsteve on August 4, 2008, 20:32 GMT

    KP as England captain eh.... well, they've done it and there's no turning back now. Personally I fel that they have made (another) HUGE mistake. KP has greatness within his grasp - but his EGO and 'pop-star-wanna-be' attitude keep getting in the way. The captaincy will feed this ego and further obstruct him achieving this potential - at the same time bringing English cricket down to an all time low. ( I predict) As an England fan I really hope that I am wrong, time will tell...... Good luck KP. Come on England!

  • Natural_Outswing on August 4, 2008, 20:28 GMT

    Vaughan was a great captain because he took the intent to dominate as a batsman that he showed six years ago in Australia and applied it to leading the side. KP has shown even greater chutzpah with the willow, and now he has grown up some, his captaincy will be fascinating. Any erosion to his batting average from the extra responsibility - and he might not be affected at all - will be compensated for by more consistent performances from the other batsmen. This is gonna be good.

  • ashwingirish09 on August 4, 2008, 19:42 GMT

    I personally feel Pieterson is the best option which england have in hand now...apart from him i dont see any body else in the team who is stable as him.Hope he gets the full support from the team...they need to regroup together as a team for the fourth test..England needs to prove a point atleast in one day format.Wish Pieterson all the best...!!

  • BoldRed on August 4, 2008, 19:21 GMT

    Cannot believe some of these comments...despite KP's faults who else could do it should be one question? Giving the captaincy to the player who we rely not only to bowl the best, but to bat too is simply too much to ask. Freddie, like Beefy before him is best left to concentrate on his main skills rather than thinking in the field all day. Strauss, Cook, Bell are all too fragile to be captain, especially Cook and Straus who need to focus on their opening only.

    He does play erratic risky shots, but that said he can also take a bowling attack apart. I was annoyed with him holing out on 94, but then he had single handely got us back into the game, & should be given credit for the way he helped Collingwood through the start of his innings. With SA's pace attack out of the game, KP was effectively also putting Harris out of the game. It was a gamble which he lost, but it was close to coming off.

    I think this will be the making of KP, I certainly hope so!

  • JackJ on August 4, 2008, 18:30 GMT

    Warm congratulations to Kevin! It couldn't happen to a more deserving cricketer. KP made the England side the hard way, by packing his bags in SA and spending 4 long years qualifying. There were no guarantees offered, only his incredible self-belief and determination to succeed took him through. With qualities like that, how can he not win? My only worry is that the leadership role might hurt his magnificent batting, as it has for so many. However, Kevin has a good mind, and thats half the battle. He's an avid student of the game and that will carry him very far as he dons the new mantle. First thing I'd do if I were him is to appoint a couple of lieutenants to help him. Flintoff, Strauss and another senior would be good. He can't do it on his own. He should assess the performance of every player and identify any shortcomings, in a positive light. Then a program for each player to follow to improve. Lets face it, this side has underperformed for a while and KP must fix that first.

  • dunmoo on August 4, 2008, 18:26 GMT

    It is sad that England is not able to select an English player as captain. KP plays well, but does he represent England, is he an English player? I grew up in the same town as KP, he left at the age of 20 or something, he is a South African.

    What message does this send to the English sporting youth? KP left South Africa because of the quota system in cricket, but I think England should have a quota system to help develop local talent, their county teams are overrun, but those are clubs. It is truly sad that the only choice for captain of a national side is a foreigner.

  • king1985 on August 4, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    Its good news, i think he is the only stable player at this time in the English cricket team. He has a mature mind. I think he will be successful. Good Luck KP!!

  • r1m2 on August 4, 2008, 17:41 GMT

    I do not think KP is the best candidate for the job and I find this decision to be a total misjudgement. I think Flintoff on evidence is a better captaincy material than KP, but even Flintoff to me is not captaincy material. I think the perfect replacement as the captain would've been Cook. Cook to me shows the same calm and levelheadedness under pressure as Vaughan did in his pomp. I also think it's ridiculous to risk the best batsman England has had in some time with the added pressure. KP now averages 50, even if as the captain his batting remains respectable and average drops to 40, who's going to make up for these 10 runs per innings? The rest of the lot seems barely good enough for 40 or less per innings. I think by the end of the last test against South Africa, Mr. Andrew Miller will have some flaws to report on, and by end of Winter's thrashing he will be convinced KP was definitely NOT the right man for the job. But that'll be too late for the Ashes.

  • whoster on August 4, 2008, 17:40 GMT

    First and foremost, I believe that the whole England side will get behind KP. It certainly is a statement of intent to appoint him captain, and he'll bring charisma to the role. Of course, we have to wait and see what happens, but I've no doubt he has the right credentials to take over from Michael Vaughan. KP is the model professional - NO cricketer works harder on their game. He has a deep love of the game, and he'll be a great motivator. His ambition is limitless, and if that ambition rubs off on those around him, then there's cause for optimism. He looks after himself away from the spotlight, and is a great believer in the fact that you only get what you work for. I hope he'll get the country right behind him, and it's about time some sections of the media and fans stop criticizing him for playing the way he does. This man has carried the England batting for too long now, and its about time others put their hand up and produced consistent scores. All the best KP!

  • DeepPoint on August 4, 2008, 16:40 GMT

    Finally a voice of reason - I cannot believe people who believe Peitersen's South AFrican origins should be held against him? Do his runs for England come marked with an asterisk? The only genuine risk in making him captain is that he does not have any experience. But he has done everything required of him. Here's hoping he injects some dash into England cricket and makes next year's Ashes a fight to remember.

  • rshah007 on August 4, 2008, 16:31 GMT

    I think Vaughan has been a wonderful captain over his period. Pietersen will be a good captain as he is confident in his play, well respected and has a quick thinking mind

  • pragmatist on August 4, 2008, 16:25 GMT

    Good luck to KP but personally I'm not particularly thrilled with this. And as for a "deck clearing appointment"... the selection of Bopara is the only real difference in selection from the past 9 months or so. A wasted opportunity.

  • azaro on August 4, 2008, 15:51 GMT

    I am sorry but I do not agree with Andrew Miller on this. Pietersen has shown himself bereft of tactical acumen and 'batting by and for numbers' rather than by the situation. His immense talent with the bat hides this because he gets away, more often than not at the moment, with risks that he should not be taking in many of the test situations. The Aussies will expose this next year, RSA did a pretty good job of preventing him from helping England in this series. I hope I am wrong; he has a few years left before his eyesight is not quite good enough to hide his technical misjudgements, I hope he has the intelligence and cricket acumen to learn quickly. The 600lb gorilla in the room is of course...who else is there; sad indictment of English cricket given the money that is poured into it.

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  • azaro on August 4, 2008, 15:51 GMT

    I am sorry but I do not agree with Andrew Miller on this. Pietersen has shown himself bereft of tactical acumen and 'batting by and for numbers' rather than by the situation. His immense talent with the bat hides this because he gets away, more often than not at the moment, with risks that he should not be taking in many of the test situations. The Aussies will expose this next year, RSA did a pretty good job of preventing him from helping England in this series. I hope I am wrong; he has a few years left before his eyesight is not quite good enough to hide his technical misjudgements, I hope he has the intelligence and cricket acumen to learn quickly. The 600lb gorilla in the room is of course...who else is there; sad indictment of English cricket given the money that is poured into it.

  • pragmatist on August 4, 2008, 16:25 GMT

    Good luck to KP but personally I'm not particularly thrilled with this. And as for a "deck clearing appointment"... the selection of Bopara is the only real difference in selection from the past 9 months or so. A wasted opportunity.

  • rshah007 on August 4, 2008, 16:31 GMT

    I think Vaughan has been a wonderful captain over his period. Pietersen will be a good captain as he is confident in his play, well respected and has a quick thinking mind

  • DeepPoint on August 4, 2008, 16:40 GMT

    Finally a voice of reason - I cannot believe people who believe Peitersen's South AFrican origins should be held against him? Do his runs for England come marked with an asterisk? The only genuine risk in making him captain is that he does not have any experience. But he has done everything required of him. Here's hoping he injects some dash into England cricket and makes next year's Ashes a fight to remember.

  • whoster on August 4, 2008, 17:40 GMT

    First and foremost, I believe that the whole England side will get behind KP. It certainly is a statement of intent to appoint him captain, and he'll bring charisma to the role. Of course, we have to wait and see what happens, but I've no doubt he has the right credentials to take over from Michael Vaughan. KP is the model professional - NO cricketer works harder on their game. He has a deep love of the game, and he'll be a great motivator. His ambition is limitless, and if that ambition rubs off on those around him, then there's cause for optimism. He looks after himself away from the spotlight, and is a great believer in the fact that you only get what you work for. I hope he'll get the country right behind him, and it's about time some sections of the media and fans stop criticizing him for playing the way he does. This man has carried the England batting for too long now, and its about time others put their hand up and produced consistent scores. All the best KP!

  • r1m2 on August 4, 2008, 17:41 GMT

    I do not think KP is the best candidate for the job and I find this decision to be a total misjudgement. I think Flintoff on evidence is a better captaincy material than KP, but even Flintoff to me is not captaincy material. I think the perfect replacement as the captain would've been Cook. Cook to me shows the same calm and levelheadedness under pressure as Vaughan did in his pomp. I also think it's ridiculous to risk the best batsman England has had in some time with the added pressure. KP now averages 50, even if as the captain his batting remains respectable and average drops to 40, who's going to make up for these 10 runs per innings? The rest of the lot seems barely good enough for 40 or less per innings. I think by the end of the last test against South Africa, Mr. Andrew Miller will have some flaws to report on, and by end of Winter's thrashing he will be convinced KP was definitely NOT the right man for the job. But that'll be too late for the Ashes.

  • king1985 on August 4, 2008, 18:15 GMT

    Its good news, i think he is the only stable player at this time in the English cricket team. He has a mature mind. I think he will be successful. Good Luck KP!!

  • dunmoo on August 4, 2008, 18:26 GMT

    It is sad that England is not able to select an English player as captain. KP plays well, but does he represent England, is he an English player? I grew up in the same town as KP, he left at the age of 20 or something, he is a South African.

    What message does this send to the English sporting youth? KP left South Africa because of the quota system in cricket, but I think England should have a quota system to help develop local talent, their county teams are overrun, but those are clubs. It is truly sad that the only choice for captain of a national side is a foreigner.

  • JackJ on August 4, 2008, 18:30 GMT

    Warm congratulations to Kevin! It couldn't happen to a more deserving cricketer. KP made the England side the hard way, by packing his bags in SA and spending 4 long years qualifying. There were no guarantees offered, only his incredible self-belief and determination to succeed took him through. With qualities like that, how can he not win? My only worry is that the leadership role might hurt his magnificent batting, as it has for so many. However, Kevin has a good mind, and thats half the battle. He's an avid student of the game and that will carry him very far as he dons the new mantle. First thing I'd do if I were him is to appoint a couple of lieutenants to help him. Flintoff, Strauss and another senior would be good. He can't do it on his own. He should assess the performance of every player and identify any shortcomings, in a positive light. Then a program for each player to follow to improve. Lets face it, this side has underperformed for a while and KP must fix that first.

  • BoldRed on August 4, 2008, 19:21 GMT

    Cannot believe some of these comments...despite KP's faults who else could do it should be one question? Giving the captaincy to the player who we rely not only to bowl the best, but to bat too is simply too much to ask. Freddie, like Beefy before him is best left to concentrate on his main skills rather than thinking in the field all day. Strauss, Cook, Bell are all too fragile to be captain, especially Cook and Straus who need to focus on their opening only.

    He does play erratic risky shots, but that said he can also take a bowling attack apart. I was annoyed with him holing out on 94, but then he had single handely got us back into the game, & should be given credit for the way he helped Collingwood through the start of his innings. With SA's pace attack out of the game, KP was effectively also putting Harris out of the game. It was a gamble which he lost, but it was close to coming off.

    I think this will be the making of KP, I certainly hope so!