England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day August 3, 2013

Pietersen restates value to England

In the process of becoming England's most prolific run-scorer in international cricket, Kevin Pietersen re-emphasised his singular talent
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A year ago, England thought they could do without Kevin Pietersen. They thought that the baggage he carries outweighs the gifts he brings; that his ability on the pitch was negated by the problems in the dressing room; that there were players in county cricket who could compensate for his absence.

It was nonsense, of course. As England proved when they launched a half-baked defence of their World Twenty20 title last September without the man who led them to the title in 2010, Pietersen remains indispensible. He is not only the best batsman in this team, he might just be the best batsman England have ever had.

If that sounds excessive, it is worth reflecting that, during the course of this innings, Pietersen became England's most prolific run-scorer in the history of international cricket - a tally that combines all formats of the game - surpassing the record of Graham Gooch. Such statistics never tell the whole story, but they do tell a tale of consistent excellence across all formats of the game.

It was exactly a year ago that we saw the most obvious demonstration of the best and the worst of Pietersen. A majestic 149 against South Africa at Leeds was counterbalanced by the revelation that he had exchanged less-than-flattering messages about his captain, Andrew Strauss, with members of the opposition and behaved in a manner that did not always encourage team harmony on the pitch and in the dressing room. "It's not easy being me in that dressing room," Pietersen memorably complained in the post-match media conference.

Yet it so often looks remarkably easy to be Kevin Pietersen on the pitch. While his team-mates, the sublime Ian Bell apart, stuttered against Australia's admirable bowling attack and the mounting pressure of the situation, Pietersen showed dedication and discipline - not qualities that are always associated with his batting - as well as characteristic skill in steering his side away from the rocks.

This was not vintage Pietersen. Bell, late cutting beautifully and using his feet to the spin in a manner that would have made even Michael Clarke proud, looked the more accomplished player throughout their 115-run stand. Pietersen, by contrast, played and missed often, not least a nervous swipe outside off stump before he had scored, and was fortune that Australia did call for a review of a leg-before shout when he was on 62.

But those near misses might have helped Pietersen. Once set, he is prone to extravagance - hubris, even - but the near-misses provided the jolt he required to concentrate anew; to demand more of himself and remind him that the team required more.

Even if this innings was not, compared to the mastery of Mumbai or the carnage of Colombo, as eye-catching or inspiring, in terms of context of the match and the series, this was a highly impressive performance. For it was an innings not just based around Pietersen's natural skills - his hand-eye coordination, his reach, his range of stokes, all though there was evidence of all those qualities - but around the match situation and the requirements of his team.

"This innings will mean a lot more if it gets us a draw or a win on day five," he said afterwards. "It's nice to have personal achievements, but it will only mean something if we get something out of the game.

"It's the big stage. I like to perform on the big stage when the team need me. I like to stand up and be counted. As an English or Australian player your career is defined in how you play in Ashes cricket."

Such words are fine, but actions are far more revealing. Here, exactly a year after he was dismissed for his lack of team spirit, Pietersen reined in his natural instincts to leave the ball well, play straighter than is his wont and resist all those natural urges to attack and destroy to provide the contribution that team - a sometimes not-so-grateful team - required. He took them, just as he did at The Oval in 2005, a step closer to retaining the Ashes. And there really is not much more an England batsman can do than that.

You get more with Pietersen, though. You get rasping pull strokes off the seamers and fearless hitting down the ground off the spinners. And, to bring up his century, he lifted a short ball over cover in imperious fashion. Even at his most restrained, he is magnificent.

That England have not made this match safe already is due to a few factors. Firstly Australia, after taking advantage of winning the toss, have bowled and batted very well; secondly, due to another poor decision by the TV umpire that saw Pietersen incorrectly adjudged leg-before to a ball he had hit; and thirdly due to the continuing fragility of others in the England top-order.

While Alastair Cook's relatively modest form can be overlooked - he has been through this before and has earned the right to a great deal of patience - there is more concern about the ongoing problems of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root in their respective positions.

Root has enjoyed a fine start to his international career and, such is the faith that the selectors have in him, is sure to win a lengthy trial at the top of the order. But it is worth remembering that, even when he made his century at Lord's, he survived an early edge past the keeper that should have been taken and suggests he is yet to conquer his issues with the new ball outside off stump. Had he been caught, he would have failed to make 50 in seven innings as an opening batsman for England.

Bairstow remains unconvincing. He adds dynamism in the field and clearly has ability as a stroke-making batsman that, aged 23, may develop into something more tangible. But he will have to learn greater patience and discipline outside off stump if he is to enjoy a successful career at Test level. At present it is simply too easy to dismiss him.

Australia provided an example of the value of an allrounder in the line-up. Shane Watson's miserly 15 overs not only eased the burden on the main seamers, but maintained control throughout an attritional day. England could do with such an option, though there are caveats with all three of their own all-round options - Ravi Bopara, Ben Stokes and Rikki Clarke - but each of them would add a bowling alternative while hardly reducing the amount of runs coming from the No. 6 position at present. Bairstow, it should be noted, currently averages 31.37 in his 11th Test; slightly fewer than Nick Compton (31.93) when he was dropped.

England feel they can do without an allrounder at present. But what days like this underline once again is that they cannot do without Pietersen. It is to the benefit of the individual and the team that a way has been found to manage and accommodate him. Talents like this emerge very rarely.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jmcilhinney on August 4, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    KP has done a great deal for England cricket. He has had his downside too and we shouldn't necessarily simple ignore that because of the good things he's done but, on balance, England cricket is richer for his having been part of it. From the sound of things, his body is really starting to let him down so maybe the return Ashes will be his Test swansong. If that's the case, you have wonder whether he will continue to play limited-overs cricket up to the 2015 WC. I'm sure that he'd love to win a WC and England may be a chance, although I can't see them being favourites.

  • dunger.bob on August 4, 2013, 1:28 GMT

    The thing that impressed me the most about this innings was, as George says, the application and match awareness that went with it. .. He was forced to grind it out and keep a lid on it. And that's exactly what he did. .. still had a bit of Kev about though. .. hitting Lyon out of the attack was a bold move by any standard.

    I may be Aussie, but I admire the way KP plays his cricket. Bold and fearless most of the time. Not completely self obsessed when he's in a tough match but still wanting to make his mark on the opposition. Sounds OK to me.

    I think every team needs someone like him to turbo charge their batting. .. England, you're lucky to have a player of his talent in your ranks. .. If you really don't want him, send him our way. I'm sure we could find a spot for him.

  • on August 5, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    It's such a pity that KP isn't English - it really does take the "honor" out of being an English cricketer. Having said that, I wish Ian Bell was South African and playing for my team!!

  • Dilmah82 on August 5, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    It's surprising how so many English fans like to KP bash at any chance. I think almost all other test nations would be happy to have someone of his caliber in their Test XI at present. And if KP is out of form after being away injured before, what do you say about the form of Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, or constant underachievers like Stuart Broad? KPs Test record in terms of runs, innings played, average and 100s is similiar to Cooks

  • on August 5, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    ya they need kp and trott and millions other foreign players to win in different grounds and different part of the world since they r incapable with their england lads

  • GenuineNumber11 on August 4, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    England need KP to prevent them from being the most boring team ever. Winning is more important than entertainment from a team perspective, but it not good for the game. Trott, Cook, etc are unlikely to be remembered in 30 years time with the same fondness as Viv, Gilchrist, Hayden, Sangakarra, Lara or Tendulkar. I certainly don't watch the cricket to see conservative, efficient cricket and I doubt that too many youngsters do. Cricket needs guys like KP who can dominate an attack and create a legend.

  • MaruthuDelft on August 4, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    But Petersen is not that good in ODIs. He entered the international scene through some good ODI innings but was never good thereafter. I think his century in the 2007 WC against Australia also was not a good one.

  • on August 4, 2013, 13:15 GMT

    KP is undeniably brilliant, but for me I'd have to rate Cook, Bell and Trott higher; a bit more level headed. It seems Pietersen's been working on his watchfulness though, .. and when he gets in an imperious frame of mind there's no more entertaining batsman in the world. I agree with Jono Makim, that they should stick with Root at the top. He's obviously got x-factor, technique and he'll get assistance from Cook you'd think. @ Ken Aziz: for sure Bell is the Batsman of the series so far

  • on August 4, 2013, 13:11 GMT

    Kp well done as they say class is permanent form not so take note selectors

  • sportofpain on August 4, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    KP IS England's best ever - England should be able to recognize that but many fans do not. It is a shame - he is great, he needs his space and should be forgiven his indiscretions - of which there could be more in the future.

  • jmcilhinney on August 4, 2013, 14:07 GMT

    KP has done a great deal for England cricket. He has had his downside too and we shouldn't necessarily simple ignore that because of the good things he's done but, on balance, England cricket is richer for his having been part of it. From the sound of things, his body is really starting to let him down so maybe the return Ashes will be his Test swansong. If that's the case, you have wonder whether he will continue to play limited-overs cricket up to the 2015 WC. I'm sure that he'd love to win a WC and England may be a chance, although I can't see them being favourites.

  • dunger.bob on August 4, 2013, 1:28 GMT

    The thing that impressed me the most about this innings was, as George says, the application and match awareness that went with it. .. He was forced to grind it out and keep a lid on it. And that's exactly what he did. .. still had a bit of Kev about though. .. hitting Lyon out of the attack was a bold move by any standard.

    I may be Aussie, but I admire the way KP plays his cricket. Bold and fearless most of the time. Not completely self obsessed when he's in a tough match but still wanting to make his mark on the opposition. Sounds OK to me.

    I think every team needs someone like him to turbo charge their batting. .. England, you're lucky to have a player of his talent in your ranks. .. If you really don't want him, send him our way. I'm sure we could find a spot for him.

  • on August 5, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    It's such a pity that KP isn't English - it really does take the "honor" out of being an English cricketer. Having said that, I wish Ian Bell was South African and playing for my team!!

  • Dilmah82 on August 5, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    It's surprising how so many English fans like to KP bash at any chance. I think almost all other test nations would be happy to have someone of his caliber in their Test XI at present. And if KP is out of form after being away injured before, what do you say about the form of Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, or constant underachievers like Stuart Broad? KPs Test record in terms of runs, innings played, average and 100s is similiar to Cooks

  • on August 5, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    ya they need kp and trott and millions other foreign players to win in different grounds and different part of the world since they r incapable with their england lads

  • GenuineNumber11 on August 4, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    England need KP to prevent them from being the most boring team ever. Winning is more important than entertainment from a team perspective, but it not good for the game. Trott, Cook, etc are unlikely to be remembered in 30 years time with the same fondness as Viv, Gilchrist, Hayden, Sangakarra, Lara or Tendulkar. I certainly don't watch the cricket to see conservative, efficient cricket and I doubt that too many youngsters do. Cricket needs guys like KP who can dominate an attack and create a legend.

  • MaruthuDelft on August 4, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    But Petersen is not that good in ODIs. He entered the international scene through some good ODI innings but was never good thereafter. I think his century in the 2007 WC against Australia also was not a good one.

  • on August 4, 2013, 13:15 GMT

    KP is undeniably brilliant, but for me I'd have to rate Cook, Bell and Trott higher; a bit more level headed. It seems Pietersen's been working on his watchfulness though, .. and when he gets in an imperious frame of mind there's no more entertaining batsman in the world. I agree with Jono Makim, that they should stick with Root at the top. He's obviously got x-factor, technique and he'll get assistance from Cook you'd think. @ Ken Aziz: for sure Bell is the Batsman of the series so far

  • on August 4, 2013, 13:11 GMT

    Kp well done as they say class is permanent form not so take note selectors

  • sportofpain on August 4, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    KP IS England's best ever - England should be able to recognize that but many fans do not. It is a shame - he is great, he needs his space and should be forgiven his indiscretions - of which there could be more in the future.

  • ruester on August 4, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    Can't England fans give credit to both batsmen. Bell and KP are terrific players with different styles and temperament, they are both a joy to watch. I wonder how many batsman score chance less centuries or don't have a little luck when scoring big. As a club cricketer who has scored hundreds, I have always had a little luck or given a chance which was not taken. It's the same for all batters no matter what level, rarely do players make a "perfect" century. Applause KP for being a great player as is Bell and enjoy their runs and not knock them all the time. We needed our best players to perform yesterday and they did.

  • Poodie on August 4, 2013, 9:27 GMT

    We seem to have such short memories. Kevin will play a few more important innings', make himself invaluable, and then make some pathetic demand of the ECB or do something divisive in the team. He only does it once he has leverage, which at the moment he is slowly building up again. He keeps his mouth such when he knows he is replaceable. You all love him now because he's a humble match-winner/match-saver. Trust me, that guy isn't around for long, his stocks are rising and he knows it. This cycle has repeated so many times but very few seem to notice.

  • mahjut on August 4, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    KP was rightly disciplined when he stepped out of line. England have not needed him on this tour so far (and if Aus had been sensible in their use of DRS his contribution would - even in this match - have been noted with a pat on the back and a "shame you couldn't have done a bit more") ... Bell is now a more consistent operator and Cook has always been (as was Strauss). It is timely that KP steps up (as he damn well should as a "cricketing genius (eyeroll)" and senior member of the side especially as he's being regularly outplayed by the new lads) as the evergreen Prior is beginning to brown around the edges!

  • B.C.G on August 4, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    My,my,my..........the KP whinging has already started.Don't compare Bell to KP.Both debuted in 2005,yet only one of them smashed Warnie,McGrath,Steyn!!!!!!to all corners of the park;won England their only World trophy(man of that series);demoralised Indian spinners on a raging turner with the series in balance & Bell is not the one.

    @heathrf1974-Wasn't Bell also lucky?Why keep on talking abt luck?

  • on August 4, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    Pietersen's unflattering messages about Strauss may have been Not The Done Thing, but they were not incorrect: Strauss was past it. And (let's give credit where it is due) man enough to admit it just one game later. Pity that the Powers That Be decided to shoot the messenger, but KP has had the last laugh.

  • on August 4, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    The problem with bringing back anyone like Bopara is that they can't hold up an end in the fashion that the Flower/Cook game plan demands. Root is more than capable of getting through ten overs in a day, particularly against this Aussie team and yet he was never give a spell because they never want to lose control of the scoring rate. The Aussie batting would have smashed any two bit seamer on this pitch.

    I said it before the series started and i'll say it again now, KP is England's best batsman. Bell has been their best, easily, in this series, but KP is still the wicket any opposition captain would take first, he is just so dangerous once set, like a Ponting or Richards, he will take you down and there is nowhere to bowl at him.

    I can't believe people are calling for Root to drop back down the order, after 5 innings, including a massive ton against a very strong seam attack he is being written off, are you people crazy?!

  • on August 4, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    If Australia should go on to win this test, the decisive moment was NOT KP's dismissal but the beauty bowled by Harris that removed Ian Bell for a mere 60. Had he not been removed, England would have cleared the follow on some time before close of play and left Clarke no option but to set England a tempting target, a target that England, with signs that Cook and Pietersen are beginning to find form, would quite likely get. On dismissals such as Bell's an entire series may hinge. That said Pietersen played a courageous innings, an innings fraught with false shots typical of a player finding his form in the middle and one that in the end could turn out to be pivotal for England.

  • Bonehead_maz on August 4, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    Hi NBZ1. I know what you mean but he's way better than Dexter ? and unlike anyone in the list you mentioned (except perhaps Compton). He's pretty damned good ! I'd say the scariest (from opposing point of view) England batsman I've seen. Would have thought certainly best since at least May ? But lol if things keep going like this series, we'll be saying Bell's better ?

  • on August 4, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    My, My, My. How we put KP on a pedestal, whether he deserves it or not. His century was borne more out of luck than the gifted player he is. Like Bell and Cook, his contribution would have been in the low sixties. Unlike Bell and Cook, KP wants and takes center stage with an air of selfishness that is not team first, but KP first. If KP had scratched his way to a double hundred which is what England needed, I would allow for some of the excesses stated by this writer. In this Ashes series, Ian Bell stands out by far the most talented English batsmen who could save England and I wish writers would place credit where credit is due.

  • heathrf1974 on August 4, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    It wasn't a bad innings by Pietersen but he had a bit of luck. He is still a bit out of form, but still scoring a quick century shows how damaging he can be.

  • on August 4, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Pietersen is the best batsman in english cricket ,no one else has the right to discredit what he has done for english cricket ,the way he dismantled mc grath and warne in 2007 -2008 ashes is legendary ,and he has thrived well in other countreis like sri lanka ,south africa ,pakistan , india ,australia ,and even in the west indies ,he's played well under pressure and his range of shots on the front and back foot are second to none hell ,if he want's ,he could become the best batsman the world has ever seen ,but it's all on him to do if he so desires,he is that good.

  • on August 4, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    Plain and simple, I think that even though Compton was slow at scoring but had big partnerships with his captain. Nick did make a century in NZ but didn't do well at the start of the English summer. Sometimes its not always about making centuries but consistant runs which Compton did. Root was making runs in the middle so why change things.

  • NBZ1 on August 4, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    " He is not only the best batsman in this team, he might just be the best batsman England have ever had.

    If that sounds excessive.."

    It IS excessive. I like Dobell's articles a lot, but he does have a penchant for supreme hyperbole that may be unmatched on either hemisphere of cricket writing.

    (For those who truly believe Pietersen is the best English batsman ever, check out the profile of players like Hobbs, Hammond, Hutton, Compton, May, and Barrington.)

  • neil99 on August 4, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    The last few paragraphs are mystifying calling for England to return to the "bits and pieces" cricketer who is test standard with neither bat nor ball. This is a retrograde step, which thankfully we moved away from sometime ago - Derek Pringle, David Capel, Ronnie Irani, Chris Cowdrey, Chris Lewis, Dermot Reeve some of the "also rans" mooted to be the new Beefy.

  • humdrum on August 4, 2013, 1:54 GMT

    It says volumes for the man that despite an uncomfortable dressing room, he has found the motivation and the energy to consistently deliver the goods over the years.A tribute to his character as much as to his skills.Arguably, the aussies would put more value on his wicket than that of captain cook and that is saying something.He has certainly given england a realistic chance to save this test,though winning it seems far fetched at this point.

  • neil99 on August 4, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    The last few paragraphs are mystifying calling for England to return to the "bits and pieces" cricketer who is test standard with neither bat nor ball. This is a retrograde step, which thankfully we moved away from sometime ago - Derek Pringle, David Capel, Ronnie Irani, Chris Cowdrey, Chris Lewis, Dermot Reeve some of the "also rans" mooted to be the new Beefy.

  • jackiethepen on August 3, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    We're carrying two rookies. The problem is that Root was batting very well at 6 and really offered the team a lot in that position. Why not try Carberry opening? Surely he would contribute more than Root at 2 and Root would certainly be better than Bairstow at 6.

    Without Bell I'm not sure where England would be at the moment. He has batted himself into sublime form but it was his do or die attitude at Trent Bridge which rescued England. He then did the same thing again at Lords. It's great to see Bell at his best again so the boost to his morale is obvious. The reality is though that Bell isn't going to score in every Test. Let's hope the top order follow KP's lead.

  • MB40 on August 3, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    Strange call for Rikki Clarke: he averages 35 in FC matches - which, against Test class bowlers is unlikely to produce noticeably better results to the 31 of Bairstow or Compton. Meanwhile his 34 with the ball comes at 3.5 an over in FC matches - which does not bode well if England want economical, "dry" bowling to relieve the other seamers. Whilst I believe Stokes will be a future England player, he has gone at nearly 5 an over in Durham's very low-scoring match against Middlesex, so doesn't seem ready for an England all-round role yet. Ravi Bopara, I could believe in.

  • MB40 on August 3, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    Strange call for Rikki Clarke: he averages 35 in FC matches - which, against Test class bowlers is unlikely to produce noticeably better results to the 31 of Bairstow or Compton. Meanwhile his 34 with the ball comes at 3.5 an over in FC matches - which does not bode well if England want economical, "dry" bowling to relieve the other seamers. Whilst I believe Stokes will be a future England player, he has gone at nearly 5 an over in Durham's very low-scoring match against Middlesex, so doesn't seem ready for an England all-round role yet. Ravi Bopara, I could believe in.

  • jackiethepen on August 3, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    We're carrying two rookies. The problem is that Root was batting very well at 6 and really offered the team a lot in that position. Why not try Carberry opening? Surely he would contribute more than Root at 2 and Root would certainly be better than Bairstow at 6.

    Without Bell I'm not sure where England would be at the moment. He has batted himself into sublime form but it was his do or die attitude at Trent Bridge which rescued England. He then did the same thing again at Lords. It's great to see Bell at his best again so the boost to his morale is obvious. The reality is though that Bell isn't going to score in every Test. Let's hope the top order follow KP's lead.

  • neil99 on August 4, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    The last few paragraphs are mystifying calling for England to return to the "bits and pieces" cricketer who is test standard with neither bat nor ball. This is a retrograde step, which thankfully we moved away from sometime ago - Derek Pringle, David Capel, Ronnie Irani, Chris Cowdrey, Chris Lewis, Dermot Reeve some of the "also rans" mooted to be the new Beefy.

  • humdrum on August 4, 2013, 1:54 GMT

    It says volumes for the man that despite an uncomfortable dressing room, he has found the motivation and the energy to consistently deliver the goods over the years.A tribute to his character as much as to his skills.Arguably, the aussies would put more value on his wicket than that of captain cook and that is saying something.He has certainly given england a realistic chance to save this test,though winning it seems far fetched at this point.

  • neil99 on August 4, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    The last few paragraphs are mystifying calling for England to return to the "bits and pieces" cricketer who is test standard with neither bat nor ball. This is a retrograde step, which thankfully we moved away from sometime ago - Derek Pringle, David Capel, Ronnie Irani, Chris Cowdrey, Chris Lewis, Dermot Reeve some of the "also rans" mooted to be the new Beefy.

  • NBZ1 on August 4, 2013, 2:21 GMT

    " He is not only the best batsman in this team, he might just be the best batsman England have ever had.

    If that sounds excessive.."

    It IS excessive. I like Dobell's articles a lot, but he does have a penchant for supreme hyperbole that may be unmatched on either hemisphere of cricket writing.

    (For those who truly believe Pietersen is the best English batsman ever, check out the profile of players like Hobbs, Hammond, Hutton, Compton, May, and Barrington.)

  • on August 4, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    Plain and simple, I think that even though Compton was slow at scoring but had big partnerships with his captain. Nick did make a century in NZ but didn't do well at the start of the English summer. Sometimes its not always about making centuries but consistant runs which Compton did. Root was making runs in the middle so why change things.

  • on August 4, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Pietersen is the best batsman in english cricket ,no one else has the right to discredit what he has done for english cricket ,the way he dismantled mc grath and warne in 2007 -2008 ashes is legendary ,and he has thrived well in other countreis like sri lanka ,south africa ,pakistan , india ,australia ,and even in the west indies ,he's played well under pressure and his range of shots on the front and back foot are second to none hell ,if he want's ,he could become the best batsman the world has ever seen ,but it's all on him to do if he so desires,he is that good.

  • heathrf1974 on August 4, 2013, 5:49 GMT

    It wasn't a bad innings by Pietersen but he had a bit of luck. He is still a bit out of form, but still scoring a quick century shows how damaging he can be.

  • on August 4, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    My, My, My. How we put KP on a pedestal, whether he deserves it or not. His century was borne more out of luck than the gifted player he is. Like Bell and Cook, his contribution would have been in the low sixties. Unlike Bell and Cook, KP wants and takes center stage with an air of selfishness that is not team first, but KP first. If KP had scratched his way to a double hundred which is what England needed, I would allow for some of the excesses stated by this writer. In this Ashes series, Ian Bell stands out by far the most talented English batsmen who could save England and I wish writers would place credit where credit is due.