Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kevin Pietersen? I have my doubts.

Just a quick posting about the England captaincy.

I think I'm one of many to mourn the passing of Michael Vaughan from the captaincy; he's been a tremendous boon to English cricket and is a fine cricketer and team leader. Out of form with the bat just recently, to be sure, but nonetheless a skillful and thoughtful player of the game. All things must pass, as George Harrison so sagely noted in his album title of the same name, and perhaps it's right for Vaughan to stand down now and make room for some new blood at the top.

Whatever is said about his most recent years in charge (and the team hasn't performed at its best for a while) this is the man who steered England to an historic Ashes victory in 2005. Remember how the sports pages barely bothered to report the start of the football premiership three years ago? That was because Vaughan and his men were walking all over the Aussies. That doesn't happen very often, and the man should be remembered as a captain and lauded for that.

The selectors have found themselves having to find a new captain (for both tests and one day games, as Paul Collingwood has gone too) and have plumped for Kevin Pietersen.

Without any doubt, Pietersen is a talented and remarkable player. He's an obvious asset the team - anyone who can bat left or right handed on alternate balls to confuse the opposition has a prodigious gift. He's a big hitter and a big personality.
I do, however, wonder whether he's the right man to lead the team. Another cricketer whom I remember having the characteristics of big hitting and having a big personality is Ian Botham. I bow to no one in my admiration for his feats on the field, but he was a godawful captain. I fear Pietersen might be the same: all gung-ho spirit and "up-and-at-'em-lads" rather than being able to play the long game of attrition that is so often demanded in this sport.
Does he really have the man-management and motivational skills to bind a team together into a winning unit or is he just a bloke who can hit cricket balls very well without necessarily inspiring those around him to do so? I hope he's the former, but I think he might well be the latter.
Time will, of course, tell...

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