by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (May 12 2009)
Better Late Than Never
They wanted to play in the IPL and after the Allen Stanford fiasco the ECB agreed, so Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and Paul Collingwood joined Dmitri Mascarenhas in the second IPL, which was hastily moved to South Africa, following security concerns in India.
Flintoff picked up an injury and despite securing the most lucrative contract in the IPL, Pietersen failed to deliver. Only Bopara made an impact, but it ended too soon as he had to return for the Test Matches, along with Pietersen West Indies captain Chris Gayle arrived in England just two days before the Lords Test Match. Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor also arrived late.
Former Surrey and England batsman Graham Thorpe says that Gayle got what he deserved for treating the tour with disrespect, as he had no preparation time, nor a chance to acclimatise, but that is a tad unfair. Pietersen did worse than Gayle, but he was not subjected to the same criticism. In fact, he has been treated sympathetically. In his absence his IPL team has started winning as well. He has suffered a loss of form, but don’t blame the IPL or Twenty20 for that. Pietersen’s form suffered since he lost the captaincy, amid allegations that colleagues wanted him out as well, but why is Gayle criticised and not Pietersen?
If Gayle failed to prepare adequately by coming to England so late, then so did Pietersen, Bopara, Taylor and Edwards too. Current captain Andrew Strauss may be a safe pair of hands, but to use his own phrase, he made sure that England hit the ground running and won a first Test for the first time in a while.
Bopara performed well in the IPL and batted magnificently when England needed it most. “It was crucial to the outcome of the Test Match,” said Strauss about Bopara’s 143 at Lords. “It wasn’t easy to bat on day one. The wicket was a bit green. It nipped around a bit and someone needed to stand up and play the conditions well and he did that. It’s really encouraging when you see that from a guy who hasn’t played a lot before because it was an examination of his temperament and his character more than a guy who has played Tests for a while and so for him to come through that I think he will get more confidence.”
And what about Pietersen? “There was a time over the last eighteen months when we relied on him far too much,” said Strauss. “He’ll come back. Obviously great players come back quickly and he’ll score hundreds for us this summer.”
Pietersen’s form might be a concern now, but don’t blame the IPL. It will make them better players and did Bopara no harm, especially with the Twenty20 World Cup due to start in England shortly.