The wrong award choice - part II
Late last year, I wrote about how Jacques Kallis' amazingly relevant batting display should have earned him the man of the series award
against India in the one-day series.
This time, I train my guns on Kevin Pietersen, one of Wisden's cricketers of the year
and the ICC's one-day player award winner for 2005
In the recently concluded one-day series against India, Pietersen scored 291 runs from 5 games
at an average of 58 and a strike rate of 93. Superb stats those, perhaps hinting that he was clearly the best batsman on view. The problem is that he didn't do what was expected of him - score centuries (or at least one!) as the
world's best one-day batsman. His scores were 46(49), 71(87), 77(82), 33(40) and 64(56). Not a single knock which had the potential to impact the way the game/series turned out. Even England's lone win was primarily because of a good bowling performance and a blitz start from Strauss & Bell. In fact, barring the last game, everytime Pietersen got out, England either collapsed or suffered a real scare (at Jamshedpur).
So effectively, he just didn't do what his job was, especially considering England were missing Marcus Trescothick
. For that reason alone, I'd have given Kevin Pietersen the Man of the Series award. His inability to make the big score was a huge
factor in India whipping
But that isn't all to this post. After the first day of the Mohali test
, he proudly proclaimed that mauling spinners was his idea of fun
Looking at the ball-by-ball commentary and the player-v-player stats for the one-day series, he scored 161 runs in 187 balls when spinners were bowling to him and 130 runs off 127 balls against the fast-medium/medium-fast bowlers. In addition, in the five innings he played (he didn't play at Goa and Guwahati
was a non-starter), he got out to Yuvraj Singh thrice and Harbhajan Singh twice.
After his slog-sweep triggered a shocking England collapse at the Kotla
, Pietersen continued to proclaim that the slog-sweep was his favourite and most effective shot against spin
This series, he has got out thrice playing the slog-sweep. It is almost becoming laughably predictable now that he will get out that way. In fact I did a bit of digging up on his past record against spin. From the various ball-by-ball commentary, and some of the instances where I watched the dismissal live), the likes of Clarke, Boje, Warne and (gasp!) Matsikenyeri had already dismissed him to slog-sweeps before he came to India.
During the NatWest triangular last summer in England
, I wrote:
I was checking on Kevin Pietersen's stats, given that he is fast approaching an iconic status as far as this blog is concerned. I found that in his brief one-day career so far, on the six occasions that he has been dismissed, four have been to spin. Add in the fact that Michael Clarke picked him up twice early on in the tour and there is obviously something for opposing captains to think about. From what I've seen, he does tend to go hard at the ball, preferably over the infield. So when you have someone bowling slow spinners, he could tend to either overbalance or lose control of his shot.
Kevin, you can keep hitting your favourite slog sweep. But if you hit two sixes in an over and get out in the next, there's no prize for guessing who won the battle and who won the war, although I hate using military metaphors in a cricketing context!