Kevin Pietersen’s success at the top of the order would play a key role in England’s success at the World Cup
Kevin Pietersen’s success at the top of the order would play a key role in England’s success at the World Cup

 

By David Green

 

A few weeks ago whilst bemoaning England’s atrocious form in the never-ending ODI series with Australia, we suggested on Twitter that Kevin Pietersen should be promoted to open the batting for the World Cup.

 

We didn’t for a minute think that Messrs Flower & Strauss would be reading, but perhaps they were?

 

We at “The Reverse Sweep” believe that his bold move (albeit belated) makes a lot of sense. Here are a few reasons why…

 

He thrives in a new challenge

 

Pietersen seems the type of guy who thrives on a new challenge being someone who gets easily bored with the mundane. We can empathise with that, given that we yearn for a fresh adventure from our sleepy work-by-numbers IT Sales position. Pierersen’s ODI form may have been stale over the last couple of years, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him flourish in his new role. Just as he did when facing a vociferously hostile South African crowd in his first proper taste of international cricket in 2005 or when he made his Test bow in the Ashes of the same year. Pietersen tends to swim rather than sink, when thrown in at the deep end.

 

He likes to be the main man

 

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but Pietersen’s form for England has been heading in the wrong direction just as some of his team mates have stepped up to show that England’s batting is not a one-man show. In ODI, Eoin Morgan has usurped Pietersen as England’s most important batsman, but with the Irishman injured and Pietersen’s ego no doubt boosted by his promotion up the order, Flower’s punt has a good chance of paying off.

 

He can take advantage of the Powerplay overs

 

The Powerplay overs will be crucial in this World Cup as once the ball gets softer, runs will be much harder to find. Is there anyone better than Pietersen to get the England innings off to a flier? We can’t think of anyone better in the current line-up.

 

He isn’t a wicket-keeper – thank God

 

Pietersen’s promotion to open with Andrew Strauss consigns (temporarily at least) one of the longest running and most unsuccessful experiments in the recent history of the England ODI team. That is the strange obsession of the keeper having to open the batting. Matt Prior in particular, has had enough chances first up for it to be blindingly obvious that he is not suited to the role – far better to have him down the order to add some momentum in the later overs.

 

KP scores hundreds

 

Ok, not for a while, but he does have seven one-day centuries to his name. As Virender Sehwag showed against Bangladesh, if your opener scores a hundred you are more likely than not to win an ODI match. Pietersen seems best equipped in the England line-up to perform a similar role and with a career ODI strike rate of 87, if he does get a hundred; he is likely to do it quickly.

 

He is still England’s best ODI batsman

 

His crown may have slipped in the last few years, but with Morgan absent, Pietersen is England’s best ODI batsman. He once averaged over 50 in the format – a phenomenal feat. Ok, he is now down to a more modest 41, but now that he has up to 50 overs each innings expect that figure to rise sharply over the next few weeks.

 

He loves the big stage

 

Pietersen was voted player of the tournament in last year’s World T20. He likes to strut like a peacock on the big stage. And his World Cup record is very good – he averages over 55 from his nine matches with two hundreds and three fifties. Flower’s decision is starting to look wiser by the minute.

 

Why not?

 

England’s recent World Cup record is shocking and they have been looking for a dominant opener in the 50 over game ever since the enforced retirement of Marcus Trescothick. Fortune favours the brave, so with any luck Flower and Strauss will be rewarded for their bold move.

 

(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also @TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfil his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)