How will English Cricket Fare Without KP?

England

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Published: 27/05/2014

The Kevin Pietersen affair has divided an English cricket establishment which is still reeling from a thorough thrashing in Australia. But where does the England team stand today, and what sort of immediate future do they have? The rather dismal surrender of the England side, being bowled out for just 99 against Sri Lanka in the second ODI, has led to calls for Pietersen to be reinstated by some England fans.

However, realistically Pietersen should have been jettisoned after the Strauss incident. If I had been Strauss, I would have made it clear that I didn`t want him anywhere near the team. What many people seem to be forgetting is that Cook argued strongly for him to be reinstated.

But Pietersen didn`t live up to the mantle of being an outstanding player. He was merely a good player in his last years. In Pietersen`s last two years as an England player, he averaged 38, scoring four centuries. Not bad, but we`re not talking about a really top drawer performer any more. And this isn`t a small sample size, this is 26 tests, 1/4 of Pietersen`s test career. As Ed Smith put it: "I`ve been a supporter of Kevin Pietersen`s play, but his form had regressed to the ordinary, by his standards. The upside was diminishing and the downside, according to Paul Downton, was increasing." If people want to pretend that he was still a world beater, that`s fine, but it doesn`t stand up to any scrutiny. He was on the way down the mountain.

Let`s be generous and say that the ability and potential was still there...what wasn`t still there was the application or end product. I`ll whack the spinner over the top for six when England are trying to bat for draw. Right, I`ve done that. I don`t care that they`ve put a fielder there, I`ll just do the same thing again. Whoops, I`m out. Never mind - that`s just the way I play.

At a certain point it`s not worth accommodating someone who`s alienated every team that he`s ever been part of, and even some that he hasn`t been involved with, and who was desperate to play IPL so he can make tonnes of money and feed his own ego, which is the only thing he ever cared about in the first place.

The sacking of Pietersen cannot hide the fact that England have been rubbish at ODI cricket for 20 years with or without him (and his record in ODI cricket, aside from his first spectacular major series in South Africa is pretty moderate). The last time they were halfway decent was in the 1992 World Cup. In the next World Cup, Sri Lanka essentially revolutionised the game, and England have never even come close to catching up.

When you look at the top ODI performers for England, Anderson has taken the most wickets, but is the 23rd highest among all nations, while Collingwood has scored the most runs, and he is 66th in the all-time list. It is scarcely believable that England don`t have any of the top 65 all-time run scorers in ODI cricket, I can barely believe it myself, but I know it`s true because I just looked it up and took the time to count the list.

We`ve never been any good, we`ve never remotely prioritised limited overs cricket, and we never will. The best thing to do is to go into these matches with absolutely no expectation then you`ll never be disappointed. Alternatively, if you can`t do this, take solace in the fact that when England lose it`ll give you something to complain about, which is where we English really excel!

In terms of the test side, I`m sure they`ll do okay in English conditions, but they`re not going to be a top side for quite some time. We`ve had a good trot, we won three Ashes series in a row, won in India, got to World number 1, and barely lost a series except to South Africa for a few years. Now we`re going to have a crap period.

I grew up watching England in the 80s and 90s, so strap yourselves in, the descent has only just begun!

And keep your money in your pockets when you feel the inclination to bet money on England for the time being, with the possible exception of test matches against moderate opposition in English conditions. Even then, the lack of a quality spinner will unquestionably cause them massive problems, unless Monty Panesarís career experiences an Indian summer.

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