If ever there was any proof that Kevin Pietersen needed that the British media didn’t really love him, but wanted him as long as he was winning games for England, it came after the first ODI against West Indies, when Ian Bell, who replaced him got a hundred and won the game for England.
Pietersen had announced his retirement from one-day cricket at the start of the Test series and wanted to play the T20 World Cup, but the England Cricket Board decided that he had to be available for both the short formats of the game or not at all. They also downgraded his contract immediately.
Not that it makes a huge difference to Pietersen, who has got a good contract with the IPL franchise and will be in great demand wherever the T20 format is played. His scores in this year’s IPL for the Delhi team was simply outstanding and they badly missed him in the knockout stages where they stumbled badly.
As soon as Bell, who was not a regular in the England limited overs team got the hundred, the media was asking 'Kevin who?' and sticking and twisting it into Pietersen including former players. Pietersen has always elicited extreme reactions in supporters who either like him or loathe him. When it is convenient they will bring his birth in South Africa to explain why he acted in the way that he did and suggesting thereby that if he was a proper Englishman it would have been different.
Ian Bell is a talented player, who in the last couple of years has started to realise the potential that he has. His big test will still be when he comes to India later in the year, but he certainly has the skills to do well in the subcontinent. It is his temperament that will decide how he does in India. Because of his Englishness he has had more opportunities than say a Ravi Bopara, but to his credit he has grasped them well and is now a certainty in the England teams.
Last year when England played the World Cup they did not have Alastair Cook, who had scored so heavily in the Ashes series just before the World Cup. Now Cook is the skipper, and has shown the huge error that was made by omitting an in form player like him.
As skipper it was felt that he would be burdened and not score as heavily and quickly as the team would have wanted. In fact he has scored so many hundreds and at a good rate too that he is now England’s most reliable batsman in the 50 overs format.
In Sri Lanka the home team have won the series quite comfortably despite not scoring big totals. They have taken advantage of the fragile temperament of the Pakistanis and won when it looked like the Pakistanis were coasting to an easy win.
Sangakkara and Perera have been the standout performers for the Lankans in their one-day series win. Now the Tests start, but Misbah-ul- Haq is banned for a slow over rate and that is not a good sign for the Pakistanis.
The CEAT International Cricketer of the Week is Ian Bell for his magnificent century and that too despite having had 10 stitches inserted in his chin during a batting practice mishap the previous day.
Professional Management Group