Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 5th 2013 Contents A year ago, England thought they
could do without Kevin Pietersen. They
thought that the baggage he carries out-
weighs the gifts he brings; that his ability
on the pitch was negated by the prob-
lems in the dressing room; that there
were players in county cricket who could
compensate for his absence.
It was nonsense, of course. As England
proved when they launched a half-baked
defence of their World Twenty20 title
last September without the man who led
them to the title in 2010, Pietersen remains
indispensible. He is not only the best
batsman in this team, he might just be
the best batsman England have ever had.
If that sounds excessive, it is worth
reflecting that, during the course of this
innings, Pietersen became England s most
prolific run-scorer in the history of inter-
national cricket---a tally that combines
all formats of the game---surpassing the
record of Graham Gooch. Such statistics
never tell the whole story, but they do
tell a tale of consistent excellence across
all formats of the game.
It was exactly a year ago that we saw
the most obvious demonstration of the best
and the worst of Pietersen. A majestic 149
against South Africa at Leeds was counter-
balanced by the revelation that he had
exchanged less-than-flattering messages about
his captain, Andrew Strauss, with members
of the opposition and behaved in a manner
that did not always encourage team harmony
on the pitch and in the dressing room. "It s
not easy being me in that dressing room,"
Pietersen memorably complained in the post-
match media conference.
Yet it so often looks remarkably easy to be
Kevin Pietersen on the pitch. While his team-
mates, the sublime Ian Bell apart, stuttered
against Australia s admirable bowling attack
and the mounting pressure of the situation,
Pietersen showed dedication and discipline---
not qualities that are always associated with
his batting---as well as characteristic skill in
steering his side away from the rocks.
This was not vintage Pietersen. Bell, late
cutting beautifully and using his feet to the
spin in a manner that would have made even
Michael Clarke proud, looked the more accom-
plished player throughout their 115-run stand.
Pietersen, by contrast, played and missed often,
not least a nervous swipe outside off stump
before he had scored, and was fortune that
Australia did call for a review of a leg-before
shout when he was on 62.
But those near misses might have helped
Pietersen. Once set, he is prone to extrava-
gance---hubris, even---but the near-misses
provided the jolt he required to concentrate
anew; to demand more of himself and remind
him that the team required more.
Even if this innings was not, compared to
the mastery of Mumbai or the carnage of
Colombo, as eye-catching or inspiring, in
terms of context of the match and the series,
this was a highly impressive performance. For
it was an innings not just based around
Pietersen s natural skills---his hand-eye coor-
dination, his reach, his range of stokes, all
though there was evidence of all those qual-
ities---but around the match situation and the
requirements of his team.
"This innings will mean a lot more if it gets
us a draw or a win on day five," he said after-
wards. "It s nice to have personal achievements,
but it will only mean something if we get
something out of the game.
"It s the big stage. I like to perform on the
big stage when the team need me. I like to
stand up and be counted. As an English or
Australian player your career is defined in how
you play in Ashes cricket." (AP)
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, August 5, 2013
value to England
HAMBANTOTA---Seam bowlers Lonwabo
Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel took two wickets
each yesterday to propel South Africa to a
22-run win over Sri Lanka in the second
Twenty20 match for an unassailable 2-0 lead
in the three-match series.
Batting first after winning the toss, South
Africa made a competitive 145-6 and then
restricted the hosts to 123-7. Proteas batsman
David Miller made 36 off 21 deliveries and won
the man-of-the-match award.
Tsotsobe gave South Africa an ideal start
with the ball, dismissing Mahela Jayawardene
(6) and Dinesh Chandimal (2) early to leave Sri
Lanka on 27-2.
Kumar Sangakkara top-scored for Sri Lanka
with 39 off 35 deliveries, including four bound-
Jayawardene edged a good-length ball to
wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, while captain
Chandimal slashed at a delivery to also be
caught by De Kock.
Kusal Perera showed promise by making 21
off 22 deliveries, but was trapped lbw trying
to reverse sweep legspinner Imran Tahir.
The hosts lost Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo
Mathews and Sangakkara in the space of five
runs to slump to 90-6.
Tsotsobe returned 2-17. Morkel had 2-34.
Earlier, Miller, batting at No. 6, hit two sixes
and a boundary. JP Duminy made 30 off 23
Spinner Sachithra Senanayake and seam
bowler Nuwan Kulasekara picked up two wick-
ets each for the hosts.
Sri Lanka won the first match on Friday by
12 runs. The third match will be played in Ham-
bantota tomorrow. (AP)
South African bowler David Wiese, second right, celebrates taking the wicket of Sri Lankan
batsman Angelo Mathews, left, with Faf du Plessis during their second Twenty20 cricket match
in Sooriyawewa, Sri Lanka, yesterday. AP PHOTO
takes T20 series
against Sri Lanka
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