All entries for Monday 19 January 2009

January 19, 2009

Strauss backs Pietersen to shine in West Indies

After all the controversy surrounding English cricket over the last couple of weeks, it seems that the time has finally come to start previewing the West Indies tour. It is a very important series for Andrew Strauss’ England as they look to gain some momentum ahead of the Ashes and victory is an absolute must.

So, what have the English media decided to quiz Strauss on ahead of the tour? Kevin Pietersen of course! The former skipper – who has dominated the headlines since dramatically resigning from the role – will now play under new captain Strauss. This has got many people taking.

Can he revert back to just being a player? Will he allow Strauss to get on with the captaincy? How will the other players see him after the poor handling of his resignation? Will he get on with temporary head coach Andy Flower ok?

Well, as much as I am a big advocator of the notion that it isn’t about Pietersen anymore, the views of Strauss on the Hampshire man are worth mentioning.

The new skipper has backed Pietersen to ‘score millions of runs’ during the two upcoming test series against the West Indies. Strauss then went on to state how passionate Pietersen is about playing for England and that eventually, he can become a ‘legend’ of the game.

In all fairness though, nobody has questioned Pietersen’s ability with the bat during the last couple of weeks. He is England’s best batsman by quite some distance and nobody will disagree with that. What about his attitude though? That is, after all, what came under the most scrutiny as a result of all of this.

Strauss – who has been having lots of conversations with Pietersen since being appointed – has revealed that he has been ‘pleasantly surprised’ by his star batsman’s attitude.  So, if this is to be believed then there should be no problems inside the England camp as far as Pietersen is concerned.

Overall, it is Strauss’ view that the tour will ‘bring people closer together’ and go someway to recreating the unity that was so apparent during England’s victory in the 2005 Ashes series. Everything has to be about moving forward as a team from now on. No more talk of past events involving Pietersen and Moores please!

In terms of a final word on Pietersen though, it has to be said that he could do with some runs in the coming months. As much as his ability hasn’t been questioned, a couple of hundreds for England next month would probably win back some fans that he may have lost recently.

So, what are England’s chances of winning in the Caribbean? Well, the cricket odds probably expect them to come away with a series victory, but this is more to do with West Indies’ current plight more than anything. In reality, it could be a very close series.

Personally, I am going to place a cricket bet on it being a 2-1 victory to England in the four match series. I am happy with Strauss as captain and believe that he will lead the team to an important win. I’d also be tempted to stick a few quid on Pietersen being man-of-the-series. Simply because he is normally one to respond his critics in some style!


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