The Surrey squad were taking part in a pre-season inter-squad practice game at the Oval yesterday when the news of Kevin Pietersen’s return to the club was confirmed. What a great signing he is.
Kevin is world class and hopefully he will score the volume of runs he needs to put pressure on the England selectors. As I have written previously, I was disappointed when his central contract was cancelled and it would be great to see him back in an England shirt.
I don’t think the New Zealand series, which starts on 21 May at Lord’s, is realistic for Kevin irrespective of the number of runs he may or may not score in the three championship games beforehand. He will be targeting the Ashes, that will be his focus.
However, he will only stand a chance of getting back into the international fold if England are playing badly. If everyone is scoring runs, no matter how well he is playing, I don’t think he will be picked.
But there does tend to be at least one guy not performing with the bat, and if Kevin is scoring double centuries for Surrey then there will be a huge clamour for his recall.
In terms of his potential reintegration into the squad given reported friction with Test skipper Alastair Cook, I don’t think it would be too much of an issue.
They may have had a few disagreements during the 2013/14 Ashes series but they are both grown men and, if Kevin plays well and gets back into the side, I’m sure they can come to agreement for the sake of English cricket.
In any case Alastair has his own form to worry about after starting the domestic season inauspiciously with scores of three and five for the MCC against Yorkshire in the champion county match in Abu Dhabi.
He’s been inconsistent for some time and is without a Test century in 31 innings, with pressure inevitably building. It becomes a confidence thing. It’s the same as a bowler, if I’m not taking wickets regularly or without a five-for in a while it can affect you.
If Alastair makes runs in the West Indies, against opposition who will not be the strongest, it will make it a lot easier for him going into the summer series against New Zealand and Australia and help end speculation about his captaincy and place in the team.
I know he works really hard on his game and I’m convinced he will bounce back, he certainly has the temperament to. It only takes one big score to get that confidence and rhythm back.
Hopefully he will re-find the form he showed during the 2010/11 series when he was simply imperious, scoring 766 runs in five matches at an average of 127. He is a class player and one of the best ever to have played for England.
It has been suggested that the Test captaincy may be a burden. I don’t believe it is, unlike the one-day leadership. His tactics were bland during the Ashes in 2013/14 but he has grown into the role and started to find his feet against India last summer.
If the captaincy is a burden or develops into one, he would have to consider giving it up in order to concentrate on his batting but only Alastair truly knows whether it is or not.
I will finish as I started with a word about Surrey. Even without Kevin we would have been looking for promotion this season, but now, there really are no excuses. It’s a big year for the club and we need to get out of Division Two.
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