|Kevin Pietersen's worth knows no boundaries
||[Jun. 8th, 2009|12:42 pm]
Peter Bills' Wide World of Sport
Whether he was standing on one leg and unable to take many of the short, sharp singles that might have been on offer, Kevin Pietersen again reminded England forcefully of his value to the team in any form of the game.
Pietersen's 58 off just 38 balls in the T-20 match against Pakistan on Sunday was vivid confirmation of the old adage that form is temporary, class permanent.
One factor was demonstrated with brutal clarity: England cannot afford to do without Pietersen, Achilles injury notwithstanding, in this summer's Ashes series. If the Australians are to be matched, never mind beaten, England are going to need their only world class batsman. A rich haul of five fours and three sixes against Pakistan confirmed that Pietersen bats in a different world to most of his colleagues.
What makes the South African born player so invaluable is the confidence and yes, in part, arrogance that clearly infuses his whole being. The best players have always had that, a natural disdain for the journeymen who must plod in their wake. That is their genius and it remains as it always did an essential part of their make-up.
Pietersen can change a game, any game, within the space of an hour or less. His brutal power makes him a lethal danger to any opposition for bowlers, good and bad, can be made to look fools when confronted with his strength, touch and artistry. At times, these innovative qualities can drive you mad with frustration, as when he throws his wicket away in an international match on 96 or some such score. But true genius was always a flawed diamond to a certain degree. Yet it still sparkles brighter than the duller stones.
To suggest that England might not need the likes of Pietersen and Freddie Flintoff against Australia, as some foolish scribes have done recently, is to reveal a flaw in the logical thinking process. To beat any Australian team at anything, cricket, rugby, tiddlywinks et al, requires a special mindset. Those with a brazen, arrogant confidence in their own ability are an essential element of that process. Without them, the mundane proliferate and Australian teams rarely lose to the mundane.
You can bet that England captain Andrew Strauss is not one of those privately believing that Pietersen is not a ‘must' in his team for the 1st Ashes Test in Cardiff. Strauss won't want to go into any of this summer's contests against the Aussies without the player who is the most naturally skilled stroke maker in the England side, bar none.
For Pietersen's confidence, his ability in himself and belief that the team in which he plays can win no matter who they are playing is the kind of infectious quality so vital to success. In a two horse race, one side always has a chance. But in reality, England have little serious prospect of beating Australia this summer unless Kevin Pietersen is at the heart of their batting.
Sunday at The Oval didn't reveal that, it merely confirmed it.