Kevin Pietersen reckons that without the services of the legendary off spinner Graeme Swann, it would not be easy for England to stop the young Indian batting line up in the upcoming 5-match test series.
Swann quit international cricket during the Ashes tour of Australia saying that his fitness was no longer good enough to play at the highest level. He claimed more than 250 test wickets for England during his career.
According to Pietersen, the thing because of which Swann was a great bowler was his ability to attack as well as defend simultaneously.
In his column for one of the English newspapers, Pietersen wrote, “Till the last season, whenever the team was under pressure, the captain used to give the ball to Swann and the off spinner used to deliver, but, Cook can’t do that now and that has made his job a lot harder. There is no doubt in my mind that Swann will be missed immensely in this series.”
After Swann’s departure, England has not managed to find out his replacement so far. In the test series against Sri Lanka, they tried Moeen Ali, but, it was clear that Ali was not posing any threat to the batsmen. He was, in fact, being taken for plenty of runs.
However, it looks like the English selectors and the team management has not got impatient with Ali and they are ready to give him another go against India.
Everybody knows how good the Indian batsmen are against the spinners. Not too many specialist spinners have been able to create impact on the Indians over the years. So, to ask a part time spinner to do a job against them and that too in English conditions is too much to ask for.
Alastair Cook’s captaincy is going to get tested big time in the test series against Sri Lanka that will start from Thursday. The Essex batsman who had given the charge of the English test side after Andrew Strauss’ retirement in 2012 is not considered as a natural leader by everyone. Many people believe he should never have been given this responsibility as he lacks man management skills.
Still, Cook has been getting regular support by the England Cricket Board. The ECB even sacked a few people from the set up who didn’t seem to be getting along that well with Cook. He has now been given the team of his choice. So, it’s the time for him to deliver as captain and also as batsman.
People shouldn’t forget the fact that on the Australia tour, not only did Cook fail as captain; he failed as a batsman too. He had gone there as one of the most experienced batsmen of the team having played close to 100 test matches, but, apart from a couple of decent innings, his performance was very, very disappointing from England’s point of view. So, he needs to revive himself as a batsman too.
Cook will have a new opening partner in the first test against Sri Lanka. It’s the Australian born player Sam Robson who will walk out with him to open the innings for England at Lord’s.
The England captain would hope that Robson does well and establishes himself in the team so that he gets a regular opening partner.
After the exit of Strauss, England has already tried three different people at the top of the order with Cook namely Nick Compton, Joe Root and Michael Carberry, but, neither of them has been successful.
The way Craig Kieswetter has been performing in the ongoing Natwest T20 Blast Competition, he might be in the England squad for the next T20 international that the Three Lions play.
The Somerset man has been ultra consistent in the shortest form of the game in England’s domestic circuit and this is not his story for this year only. He had done the same last year too and that’s why he was able to make it to the England World T20 Championship squad earlier this year when a player from the original squad had got injured.
However, one thing is for sure that even if Kieswetter returns in the English side this summer in the limited versions of the game, he would not be returning as a wicketkeeper batsman. That’s because Jos Buttler has already established himself in that role in both the One Day International and T20 teams of England.
So, Kieswetter would be called back as a specialist batter and that’s actually not such a bad thing for him. He would not have the pressure to show his skills behind the stumps and thus, he would manage to focus on his batting more.
However, there is one weakness in Kieswetter’s batting which the English domestic cricket experts often talk about. He seems to be fine when the field is up because in that scenario, he pierces the infield quite regularly with the help of his brute power and gets fours, but, once the field goes back at the end of the power play, he starts struggling to find boundaries.
Even in the T20 Blast competition this year, it has been seen that his strike rate remains very high in the first 6 overs and then, it comes down in the middle phase of the innings. So, it’s something which he needs to work on.
Jos Buttler is proving to be a high quality wicketkeeper batsman for England. The youngster has been playing useful innings regularly and has now almost established himself as a regular in the Three Lions set up as far as the shorter versions of the game are concerned.
When Buttler had first come into international cricket, he was just seen as a power hitter. But, in the recent times, he has proved that his game is not only about hitting fours and sixes. He can play sedately as well and can stay on the wicket for a long period of time.
Buttler has played a couple of very patient knocks on the ongoing England tour of West Indies.
First, he scored 99 in the third and final One Day International match played last week and then, in the second match of the T20 series yesterday, he scored another beautifully paced half century.
Although, he couldn’t win England the game yesterday but, he was praised by everybody for the way he took his team to a solid total.
There have been many people back in England who believe that Buttler should be brought into the mix for the test matches too as his technique is pretty sound and by playing these kinds of innings, the Somerset player is not doing his reputation any harm at all.
England has to play quite a few shorter version matches before their next test assignment and if Buttler keeps his good form up in those matches, the English selectors might be forced to consider him for the 5-day cricket as well.
On the negative side though, Buttler needs a bit of improvement in his glove work. His footwork behind the stumps doesn’t seem to be the best.
Craig Kieswetter has made his way down under to feature in the BBL (Big Bash League) for the first time. The young Somerset wicketkeeper has been signed by the Brisbane Heat which had won the last edition of the tournament.
Kieswetter who was a regular figure in the England ODI set up at one point of time has done a lot of hard work to get himself prepared for the BBL.
Talking to the reporters a couple of days back, he said, “I have trained really hard in the last one month or so and have done a lot of hard work on all aspects of my game to get myself ready for this wonderful tournament. Now, I’m 100% fit and really looking forward to featuring for the Brisbane Heat.”
“I also want to thank the people at my club for helping me to get back to 100% fitness. They have been very kind and I am really grateful to them for that.”
“I don’t have much time to get used to the conditions here in Australia. Just 7 days later, I would be making my first appearance for Heat and that too against the team of Alfonso Thomas. The Somerset fans would certainly be interested a lot in that game.”
Brisbane Heat’s first game in the upcoming BBL will be against the Perth Scorchers. That game will be played at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, Brisbane on 22nd of December.
The Brisbane Heat team is looking very strong this season. They have got guys like Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Daniel Vettori in the squad and one can imagine them to go all the way in the tournament and defend their title.
Heat had won the last BBL by defeating Perth Scorchers in the final.
Craig Kieswetter scored a flamboyant hundred for his county Somerset on the first day of the Championship match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Because of his effort, Somerset managed to get to a very good total in the first innings.
The Somerset skipper, Marcus Trescothick, won the toss in the morning and elected to bat first. There was a bit of movement in the air at the start and the Warwickshire quickies made full use of that. They bowled marginally full and created problems for the Somerset top order players.
Somerset was 3 down for just 60 odd runs when Kieswetter walked onto the park. The 25 years old wicketkeeper-batsman counter attacked straight away and released the pressure with a flurry of boundaries. His shots on the off side were pleasing to the eye. He just caressed them through the gaps.
Kieswetter put up a couple of good partnerships during his stay at the wicket. First, he added 89 runs with James Hildreth for the 4th wicket and then, he built a 100-run stand with Alex Barrow for the 5th wicket. These two partnerships brought Somerset’s innings back on track.
However, with the departure of Barrow in the 76th over, Somerset lost the momentum. The wickets started falling quickly which forced Kieswetter to start throwing his bat at everything and in doing that, he got dismissed too. However, before that, he had played his best inning of the season. He scored 148 runs off 192 balls with 17 fours and 3 massive sixes.
The tail-enders couldn’t do much for Somerset and the team got bundled out for 340. Keith Barker and Jeetan Patel were the stand out bowlers for Warwickshire. Both of them got 3 wickets each.
The Warwickshire openers came out to bat for just 1 over and they negotiated that safely. At the end of the day’s play, the score of Warwickshire was 0/0.