Kevin Pietersen: Four reasons why Andrew Strauss is wrong to exclude him from the England cricket team

 
Joe Hall
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Pietersen signed with Surrey in a bid to win back his England place. (Source: Getty)

Andrew Strauss has only just been unveiled as England's new director of cricket, yet there are already calls for him to be sacked after he decided against reintroducing Kevin Pietersen into the England team.

In his first press conference as director, Strauss had to deal with a tide of journalists' questions about Pietersen's exclusion - inquiries spurred on by a swelling anger and befuddlement among England cricket fans.

The former Test captain argued the decision was based on "trust issues" between the pair (contrasting with the undefined "cricketing reasons" the ECB gave for leaving out Pietersen last year), however he also revealed he'd offered the South African-born player a one-day international (ODI) advisory role.

Even with the ongoing soap opera surrounding English cricket the and continuing animosity between the maverick South African and his former team-mates, fans and commentators are asking why - with the Ashes approaching - personal problems can't be put to one side in order to bring Pietersen's talents back into the team.

He's still got it

Much has been made of Pietersen's advancing years and a supposed decline in form. He's now 34 years old and not since 1994 has anyone older scored a century for England at the Ashes. Yet while it's undoubtedly true that he is not as a consistently high scorer as he once was, a remarkable 355 not out posted for Surrey yesterday and today proved - with impeccable timing - that he is still one of the most outrageously skilled batsman and capable match-winners eligible for England.

It was the highest first-class innings of Pietersen's career to date - demolishing his previous best of 254.

Read more: Tremlett: KP and Cook are grown men and may have to forget disagreements

England have rarely had anyone as good

Kevin Pietersen's England career in numbers:

 

  • 8,181 test match runs.
  • 4,440 ODI runs.
  • 1,176 T20 runs.
  • 2,158 Ashes runs (highest this century).
  • 23 test centuries.
  • 35 half-centuries.

 

 

 

You could even argue they've never had a more talented batsman. The simple fact remains: Pietersen is England's highest runs scorer across all forms of cricket with a gargantuan total of 13,779 - 8,181 of which came in Test matches.

In 275 matches for England, Pietersen's averaged 44.30 runs per game. Only Joe Root and Jonathan Trott can boast of better averages this century. If you're not a particularly big cricket fan and you wondered what all the fuss was about - here's your answer.

Even on the wane, Pietersen was better than the rest

Much has been made of Pietersen's decline in form since he was stripped of the captaincy in 2008. In the 45 tests beforehand he averaged 50.48 and scored 15 hundreds, but in the 59 that followed his average dropped to a 44.53 average as he scored just eight hundreds.

In his last campaign with England, the 2013/14 Ashes series in Australia, Pietersen scored just 294 runs in 10 innings. It was a disappointing return for a player whose imperious performances in past series had helped sweep England to victory.

Read more: Pietersen eyes timely reminder of Test ability

And yet he was still England's top scorer in the series.

Pietersen, a middle-order batsman, would likely be vying for a place with Joe Root and Ian Bell if recalled to England's starting XI. Root has been one of England's best performers over the last 12 months with 1135 test runs and an average of 94.58. Yet Bell at number four has averaged just 36.81 in the last 12 months. Those are hardly numbers that demand keeping a player of Pietersen's ability out in the cold.

It's what the fans want

The Surrey fans' chants of "Are you watching ECB?" as Pietersen built up a bonanza of runs was telling - after a disastrous ODI World Cup people want to see him back involved.

Even those cricket lovers grated by his undoubted arrogance (of which there are many) it's impossible not to be intrigued with what tricks the risk-taking attacker has got tucked up his sleeve every time he walks onto the field.

News of Strauss' decision has delivered as much fevered discussion as any of the England team's recent performances. Even when he's not been playing, Pietersen has generated more interested Google searches than the England players struggling in his absence on the field.

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