Cricket Comment: England need player like KP

Chris Tremlett
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Pietersen has been given hope of a return by new England cricket chief Colin Graves
He’s a matchwinner and was unfairly let go but a comeback looks unlikely to me

KEVIN Pietersen’s sacking last February was unfair and it was a shame for English cricket the way it happened but the timing of incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves seemingly handing him a lifeline has created an unwelcome distraction.

England have played some pretty bad cricket at the World Cup and have a couple of massive games coming up against Bangladesh and Afghanistan to ensure qualification to the quarter-finals and the side don’t need those sort of headlines.

Putting that to one side though, it would be good to see Kevin play for England again as they are crying out for a match-winner. There is a glimmer of hope for him but, realistically, it’s unlikely to happen after everything that has been said and done.

I have played a lot with Kevin over the years for Hampshire, Surrey and England and I can’t say anything bad about him. He didn’t put a foot wrong on that 2013-14 Ashes tour before his contract was terminated, despite claims to the contrary.

There was nothing I witnessed which was untoward and he was a positive influence in the dressing room and a big help to the younger players who could pick his brains and tap into his experience and vast knowledge of the game. In terms of having him around the team, I haven’t had or seen any problems with him in the last few years.

Kevin hasn’t played his best cricket in recent times and has had his injury problems, however if his body is in a good place there is no reason why he can’t hit previous heights.

If there was any chance of a return to the England fold, the very least he would need to do is the hard yards in county cricket.

Turning to the World Cup, England showed more intent against Sri Lanka and posted in excess of 300 but, as I’ve written previously, their bowling attack is so predictable. I maintain that off-spinner James Tredwell and Ravi Bopara would add much-needed variety.

I would also be thinking about restoring Alex Hales to the side. He is a natural ball-striker and Gary Ballance in that top three has not played with any real purpose. England need to play some positive cricket to win their last two Pool A fixtures.

There is a real need for impetus in the first 10 overs in order to get 80 or 90 on the scoreboard and build a platform whereby the ball can be knocked around for 20-30 overs. A total of 300 is then easily achievable.

England tend to make it hard for themselves, even when they do surpass the 300-mark. These two remaining pool games against less talented opponents are extremely winnable but it is not a case of going out there and trying to smash 400.

It’s hard to simply turn it around after three heavy defeats against Test-playing nations when you’ve simply been blown away. I don’t accept the argument that England are playing with fear, but they are in two minds about how to play.

We keep hearing the camp is in good spirits and confidence is high but that means nothing. England need to show some heart and fight and take some momentum from two victories into the quarter-final.

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