Colin Graves, the incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, made Pietersen a live issue again on Sunday when he said a return for the 34-year-old batsman was possible if he scored big runs in county cricket, an unexpected development which came hours after England’s nine-wicket thrashing by Sri Lanka in Wellington, the team’s third heavy defeat of a demoralising World Cup.
Pietersen was sacked after last winter’s Ashes whitewash in Australia, with Paul Downton, the managing director of England Cricket, citing his “disengagement” from the team as a primary reason for his banishment. The South African-born batsman’s subsequent autobiography, released last October and in which he was particularly scathing about Downton and Peter Moores, the England coach, appeared to end any hopes of a recall.
One interpretation of Graves’ comments is they were an attempt to stop the carping of Pietersen and Piers Morgan, his chief cheerleader on social media, about his exclusion from the England team. Indeed, putting the ball back in Pietersen’s court – and encouraging him to play county cricket when he is still without a county for next summer – could be savvy.
Whatever the motives, Broad insists it is an unhelpful distraction for a group of players who are attempting to resurrect their World Cup campaign by beating Bangladesh in Adelaide on Monday. “To be honest being with this group we have had a tough last week, this is a huge two-week period for us in this winter and World Cup and the last thing this group needs is a KP media storm popping up again,” he said. “I can’t be bothered with it because we have to genuinely get tight as a group and push towards this Bangladesh game and win it. It is surprising it has raised its head again.
“For our group it is poor timing. We don’t need that distraction. We’ve got better things to be focusing on.”
Broad did admit, though, it was up to England to start winning games of cricket again to make the issue go away. “Exactly, and it is in our hands.”
Pietersen took to Twitter on Tuesday to suggest the reason behind England’s faltering World Cup campaign was their obsession with statistics. He made the comments after South Africa passed 400 for the second successive game, as they piled up 411 for four during a 201-run win against Ireland in Canberra.
Initially he tweeted: “cricket lovers – if you don’t believe that world cricket has changed, then you never will! SA just scored 400 again in a 50 over game!” He then replied to a comment, writing: “@kingymoments: @KP24 but, but, but .... Why can’t England?!” Cos the best team isn’t playing & too interested in stats!”
Eoin Morgan, England’s one-day captain, opened himself up to ridicule after Sunday’s defeat, insisting his team’s score of 309 was around 30 runs “above par”. The fact Sri Lanka knocked off the runs with 16 balls and nine wickets to spare made that argument redundant.
Broad, speaking before Pietersen’s tweets, also admitted the team have become too obsessed with stats since the departure of senior players such as Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott. He said: “Yeah, but that is our fault as well because we’ve got it there to look at. On our iPads there is a dossier on the other teams and you can go into it if you want to, and there I am beavering away.
“When we were at our best, we had characters like Trotty and Swanny. They couldn’t give a crap what anyone else was doing. They hardly knew who we were playing against. Maybe as a playing group we can get stronger with not bothering what the opposition are doing.”
He added: “We did that naturally when we had a lot of experience in our team. Now is the time for us to find our identity, rather than not worrying about what everyone else is doing.
“I have been looking at things like where Dilshan’s strong areas are and where shouldn’t you bowl to Sangakkara, but actually from now on I’m not interested in that. I’m going to run in and bowl what I’m good at.”
Stuart Broad was with Hardys Wine at their Tintara Winery, selecting the wines to be sold at this summer’s Ashes series. www.hardyswines.com
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