Category Archives: Kevin Pietersen

Lendl Simmons Was Cheated

Homer makes a great catch over at My Two Cents about today’s Lendl Simmons incident.

To recap: Simmons plays a shot, and Collingwood appears to catch the ball off the ground, but it’s not at all clear. Simmons walks off, but pauses just before the pavilion as his fellow players urge him to ask for a referral. Sir Ian Botham refuses his plea, saying, “Read the rules,” but Homer rightly notes that other batsmen — including none other than Kevin Pietersen — have stayed on the field longer than Simmons did.


Once More, Against the IPL

Homer and I engaged in some fairly live back-and-forth about whether or not the IPL means something, and whether or not it would hurt if it were postponed for safety reasons. I think the exchange is worth a read. 

I did have one more point to make, which I’m sure Homer will respond to: simply holding the IPL does not prove that India can host international sporting tournaments. Completing the IPL tournament without a security lapse or terror attack would. Continue reading

Why An England Ashes Victory Matters

1. It obviously depends on what happens in South Africa, but for now at least, Australia is on the ropes. If England manage to pull off a series defeat, they will finally and forever be knocked off their perch, and the door will swing wide open on their mediocrity. 

2. It will erase the horrors of the last Ashes, which evidently still haunts the team. (I think Pietersen noted once how difficult it was to hear cries of  “Five-Oh” when he was in Australia before losing a rib to McGrath.) Continue reading

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The Drama of a Batting Collapse

Is there anything better to watch? Alex Massie captures the sentiment:

All sports are on good terms with humiliation, of course, but there’s an extra-special comic quality to cricketing collapses that makes them much more galling, yet engrossing, than calamitous mishaps in rugby or football or other sports. It’s the sense one gets of a virus being passed from one batsman to his successor who proves equally susceptible.

While definitely mysterious, the batting collapse is also a sure sign of a team’s weakness and lack of confidence. You can’t really imagine Australia suffering the same fate, and until recently, you would have expected it of India (see “World Cup, 1996, semi-final,” or “Fourth innings, Fifth day, Any Test”). Continue reading

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Captaincy Changes in the Cricketing World

In the last year or so, we’ve seen the ends of Anil Kumble, Mahela Jayawardene, Michael Vaughan (and Kevin Pietersen), and Shoaib Malik. Only South Africa, Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand (kind of, considering that Vettori only took charge recently) have not made any changes at the top.

It’s quite a trend. We’re going to see younger captains (generally) lead the teams, and with most early in their tenures, we’re also likely to see some changes in line-ups and strategies. The climax of this all should be the 2011 World Cup, when the new captains will all face off against each other. Which of the young ‘uns will win? (Or will the older crew — Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting still pull it off?

The England Batting Collapse

In case you missed it — or want to watch it over and over again — England’s shambolic performance is available on YouTube, at

This has my favorite wicket, the late-outswinging-yorker that cartwheeled Pietersen’s off-stump:

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The IPL Auction Shockers

Before the IPL auction, some media observers pointed out that England’s dressing room might have an awkward morning-after. Flintoff and Pietersen were both expected to raise $950,000, but what would happen if no one bid for them, and what about their teammates — Collingwood and Shah — who were valued nearly 10 times lower?

I don’t think I completely buy that, though. Boys may be boys, and $1.1 million is certainly more than what Shah or Collingwood eventually received. On the other hand, none of these bids actually reflects cricketing sense. It reminds me of that a card game popular in India in the mid-1990s, when the market suddenly realized how lucrative the game could be. Essentially, you had cards with statistics of a player, and your opponent had his own. You then would pick one statistic — average, or number of innings, whatever — and if yours was higher, you could take your opponent’s card.

It didn’t really make sense then, but, what the hell, we were 10 years old. Continue reading

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The Fall of Monty Panesar

As a viewer, it’s not always easy to understand why some balls take wickets, and others don’t. Sure, there are some magical deliveries where the “swing works the oracle again,” but especially in sub-continental cricket, whole stretches of almost boring, steady batting will suddenly give way to a wicket, and for no discernible reason. 

Of course, that’s not the case: good bowlers try to take wickets with every ball, or at least set one up. You bowl three outswingers, then bring one back in; you bowl two bouncers, then send a “sucker” ball outside the off-stump; you bowl four flighted leg-spinners, then throw in a quick flipper. 

Monty Panesar, alas, understands none of these things. During the England’s tour of India, you could see how personality determines sporting character. Shane Warne, flamboyant and ridiculously confident and theatrical, beguiled batsmen into giving up wickets (see: “Adelaide, 2006“). Panesar, on the other hand, is mechanical and boring; commentators made fun of his constant mantra of “bowling in the right areas,” while even Michael Vaughan said that Panesar left all the fielding tactics to him (“He would only set university fields.”) Other than his arm ball, he refused to vary anything; each ball was as flighted as the last and at the same speed. No adventure, no out-of-the-ordinary. Just Plain Boring. 

There is another view, which came out a bit in his autobiography ( ruthlessly panned by one Cricinfo critic). Witness this exchange with then-skipper Andrew Flintoff:

When I knocked on Flintoff’s door and handed over the results he seemed a bit bemused. 
“This is what I’m thinking of doing,” I said.
“Ah, okay,” he replied, sounding as puzzled as he looked. “No worries at all, mate. I’ll take it all on board and you have a good night’s sleep.”
I decided I ought to leave quickly because I wasn’t sure whether he wanted me in his room.

Poor guy. Andrew Miller takes this passage as evidence that Panesar needs self-confidence and constant assurance, though it’s also possible that this guy can’t handle himself around greatness. There are some — like Kevin Pietersen, for instance, or even Harbhajan Singh — who relish the thought of establishing themselves. There are others — like Anil Kumble — who are happy to grind out their wickets, establish a reputation slowly, and become absolutely necessary.

Panesar, however, is neither: he is decidedly not great, but he also lacks that gritty determination that the latter category demands. Once he feels adrift, he just goes back to What He Knows, that “right areas” nonsense. And in the process, he becomes Ashley Giles: mildly useful, but thoroughly inconsequential.


Kevin Pietersen, Defeated

Have a look at the interview he gave to Sky News after he “resigned” his captaincy. It’s clear now that the whole problem arose when someone leaked his diagnosis that English cricket could not “move” forward with Peter Moores as coach. There’s an interesting moment here when the interviewer asks — for the third time, I think — whether Pietersen feels disappointed that “we” let you down. Pietersen replies — and rightly, I think  — that there’s no “we” and him, since he is English, and part of the ‘we.’

Which brings up a bigger point: Continue reading

England Sees Some Light

Finally, some sense from England:it removes Matt Prior from the top, since he hasn’t worked out consistently and isn’t good enough to be at the top (it reminds me of when India tried Nayan Mongia at the top, which was also dropped after a few matches). It then promotes Kevin Pietersen to No. 3, which is where he has belonged since he began in ODIs. The previous order made no sense whatsoever: why would you take O. Shah away from the lower-order, where he is more likely to consolidate? Geoffrey Boycott had it just right: Pietersen-Collingwood-Flintoff makes for an intimidating line-up, up there with the best in the world. 

There are some other problems: Continue reading