The England squads for the ICC World Twenty20 and One Day internationals have been officially announced today and it will come as little surprise to many cricket fans to see the absence of the controversial Kevin Pietersen.
Selector Keith Miller’s explanation for the decision was that ‘Kevin Pietersen’s future involvement is still being determined and he was therefore not considered for selection’.
Pietersen is currently feeling the wrath of the ECB after it emerged that the talismanic star had been trading texts with South African players during the recent three match test series. Players are permitted communication with opposition but the context of the texts, believed to be criticising fellow England squad members, have lead to a full enquiry into the series of events.
It is just another twist in Pietersen’s year following his decision back in May to quit Limited overs cricket to focus on Test cricket. The void departed by Pietersen was hardly noticeable however as England romped to One day series wins over West Indies and Australia, prompting Pietersen to make a drastic U-turn and rescind his retirement from the shorter forms.
England will therefore head into their defence of the World Twenty20 tournament without the 2010 man of the series. Pietersen played a key role in England’s achievement scoring 248 runs at a strike rate of 137.77 back in the West Indies and much pressure will now fall on the shoulders of the squad rookies. Jonny Bairstow (23), Jos Buttler (21) and Alex Hales (23) will all battle it out for a starting spot and attempt to prove the selectors right in their decision to drop KP.
All three have undoubted talent and have displayed this playing for their respective counties although it remains to be seen whether they will be able to step up and have the same impact. It appears on the surface that England are blooding the talent for the future but selectors will most definitely be desperately aiming to retain the trophy.
Aside from the Pietersen exile, Stuart Broad has been rested for the Natwest Series against South Africa starting on Friday, but will captain the Twenty20 side, a squad containing a large Notts contingent of Broad, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Michael Lumb and Alex Hales.
Sri Lanka’s pitches will prove a hefty challenge, with England traditionally having struggled on Far East territory. Selectors will have been encouraged to experiment with little to lose in doing so.
The ECB have shown courage and bravery to dismiss Pietersen from squad contention and will now have to wait and hope that their risky decision pays off.
England Squad for Natwest Series vs South Africa: Alistair Cook (c), Jimmy Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes.
England squad for ICC World Twenty in Sri Lanka: Stuart Broad (c), Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.
image: © Gareth Williams