The decision to omit Kevin Pietersen in this Thursday’s Test against Bangladesh is still rippling its way through cricket’s news agencies and journalists and, today, Mark Nicholas makes a strong case for his inclusion…at the omission of Thorpe (I guess).
Despite shiny Mark’s uncomfortably-vain image as presenter of Channel 4′s cricket coverage, he is actually an excellent journalist and a very good reader of the game. Reading his articles is a relief, and makes a change from listening to his uber-smooth but cringe-making delivery on TV. And it ought to be noted that he too is a Hampshire man, so it’s perhaps not too suprising that he’s calling for Pietersen’s inclusion.
Cynicism aside, the case he makes is fascinating. Kevin Pietersen must play against Australia. Ian Bell must play against Australia. He mentions, or hints, at the much-talked about (by English and Australian media) need for England to have young, scarless players; those who haven’t been”scarred” by Australia’s hammerings over the years (too much is made of this, in my opinion). These 2 players, Bell and Key, are certainly part of England’s future – and Graham Thorpe is England’s past – but can England afford to drop someone of Thorpe’s experience, grit, class and success against the Australians?
My gut feeling is they won’t, unless his [Thorpe's] eyes, back or sanity fail him at the last minute. Most countries around the world are desperate to replicate Australia in as many areas as possible – for instance, if this were an Aussie decision, Thorpe would have been given the boot by now, as Lehmann was not long ago. But England is England, and although they are becoming more radical in their selections, caution is still the buzzword and I expect Thorpe to play as many Tests this summer as form and fitness permits.
Quite where this leaves Pietersen, I don’t know. I can’t see England winning The Ashes unless Pietersen and Flintoff can really mess up Australia’s lines and lengths, but where to fit the bloke in? As Big Brother says: you decide