05 February 2009

That’s two centuries KP has thrown away, but can he be criticised for scoring 97?

As far as cricket debates go, this is one of the more difficult ones to decide which camp to go in. After Kevin Pietersen hauled out to Sulieman Benn for 97 during England’s first innings in Jamaica, there were groans all around the ground.

“Why has he gone and done that? He could have nudged his way to 100 and then started to build a huge score for his team. Instead he has gone for the glory shot and thrown it all away. That’s why he should never have been captain.”

The above view is similar to that of many England cricket fans. They lay into Pietersen for failing to go on and make a big score. Then, they point to the fact that he did exactly the same thing against New Zealand last summer when he was nearing a century.

Some people disagree with the criticism Pietersen has received though.

“How can people criticise someone who is clearly the best batsmen in the team? If it wasn’t for Pietersen’s innings, England would be in a lot more trouble than 236-5 at the end of day one. Would people have been happier if he was out cheaply like Strauss or Cook so that he wouldn’t have thrown anything away?”

Which view am I closer to I hear you ask! Well, to be honest the second one. Yes, it is frustrating when a player gets out just before making their century and yes, KP played a silly shot at the wrong time. However, I find it very hard to criticise someone who has dug his team out of a hole with a gritty 97.

Pietersen must be thinking that he can do nothing right. Strauss, Cook, Bell and Collingwood didn’t make 97 runs between them and yet the one who did make a significant score is the one being singled out for criticism. I guess it is just a testament to how good a player KP is and how much is expected of him.

The only thing that I would be critical towards Pietersen about is his comments after the day's play. The ‘that’s they way I play’ line annoys me because for the majority of his innings, he was watchful and sensible. Then, he tried to shrug off the fact that he didn’t reach 100. I’m sorry KP, but your face said it all when you got out – you were livid with yourself.

Like I have mentioned though, I can’s criticise him too much. He is England’s best player by a long, long way and the team would be a lot worse off without him. In fact, I dread to think of life without KP at the moment.

In terms of the test match as a whole, well I would say that the cricket odds still expect an England win. As long as they can move beyond 300 in their first innings, they would have done OK. Then, on what is a surprisingly wearing pitch, the West Indies have to bat last and that has to be encouraging for the tourists. Monty Panesar in particular.

More from me next week.

By Thomas Rooney – a sports writer for Betfair – check them out for a grand national free bet


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