01 April 2009

Flintoff and Pietersen, overpriced and over there

One of the joys of the Indian Premier League is seeing how much players are bought for. If supporters like to compare the lucky ones’ value, then so do the players, and those taking part can be excused for raising their eyebrows at the fees Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen commanded.

As good as they are, the England duo are not as adept at Twenty20 cricket as many, including the franchise owners, think. Sure, they might do well in a ‘who can hit the ball furthest’ contest, but the newest form of the game is much more than big hitting.

Shaun Marsh and Gautam Gambhir proved last year that orthodox players can prosper in Twenty20, where brains as well as brawn are important.

The two leading runscorers of last year’s tournament are greatly experienced in the format, which is not the case for Pietersen and Flintoff. They have played 15 and seven Twenty20 internationals respectively and rarely feature for their counties in the Twenty20 cup due to England commitments.

Flintoff’s average of 12.66 from those seven innings tells its own story, and whilst Pietersen fares better, averaging 26.78, he has still under-achieved. One half century in 15 T20I knocks shows that he does not play the match-turning innings he regularly contributes in the longer formats.

Pietersen likes to size up the opposition bowling before launching his attack, perhaps explaining why his T20I strike rate is inferior to that of fellow attacking batsmen Andrew Symonds, Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle and Sanath Jayasuriya.

As well as suffering from inexperience, Pietersen and Flintoff will both be distracted in South Africa. Pietersen has by his own admission had a terrible few months and will have his thoughts firmly on home; Flintoff is under pressure to stay fit and will not be fully focused. His bowling, his main strength, might be compromised.

Both players will earn a tidy sum for their flying visits and their franchises might be left disappointed with what they get in return. The one winner from their IPL sojourn might be England, who can write off their chances in the ICC World Twenty20 unless their star players find some Twenty20 form.


cricketanalysisdotcom said...

I agree - the thing the very top top T20 players all have in common is that they are great at the short singles off good deliveries and running in between the wickets in general.
But Flintoff is a great limited overs bowler. Great pace and control. Even as a bowler alone he would be very valuable. Any batting is just a plus with him.

Vyom said...

Well, first of all the reason Pietersen and Flintoff were sold for such huge amounts was that they were the real star names available in the auction and hence the franchisees were keen on signing them. I am sure that they would not have got anywhere near as much as they have, if they were sold in the last year's auction.

Talking about their ability, you do have a valid point. They have underperformed in T20's so far but we all know how deadly they can be if they get it right. So let us just wait and see whether they can give enough value to the franchisees.

I think Flintoff would be a hit for sure, provided he remains fit.