Thursday, June 14, 2012

Who can replace KP?

Kevin Pietersen announced his retirement from limited overs cricket on Thursday and inevitably England fans and observers alike went into meltdown, with a divide between those who felt KP had been mugged off by the ECB for failing to accommodate his wishes to remain in the T20 setup on one side, others claiming he was in breach of his contract sitting on the other. KP always did divide opinion, didn’t he?

KP has been an artist with the bat as much as anything else over the years – an innovator, making strokes such as the Switch Hit and the Flamingo shot his own, not to mention scoring with a strike rate that had opposing bowlers quaking in his boots before a ball was even bowled. KP will be missed, whether you love him or despise him to your very core.

Pietersen, the best T20 batsman in the world, will now miss the World Cup later this year. England selectors and captain Stuart Broad therefore have the unenviable task of having to replace their match winner with only months to go before the tournament begins.

To help the ECB on their way, we’ve devised our own little scouting list, see if you agree with who we’ve got and who we’ve not:

Michael (Hampshire)

Carberry has been in and around the England set up for years, making his test debut in Bangladesh in 2010 before illness put his career on ice for over a year. Carberry has began 2012 strongly and played in the England Lions side that took on the West Indies in May. And with 290 runs in just four CB40 matches this season, Carberry is the leading run scorer in domestic One Day cricket so far this summer. At 32 however, England’s selectors may feel he’s too old as they look to build for the future.

Verdict: Look out for the slow left armer!

Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)

Yorkshireman Bairstow made his debut for England's one day side last September, impressing in the home series against India. He also played in the UAE against Pakistan, and made his debut at test level in May against the West Indies. Capable of explosive innings in the mould of KP, such as his superb 41 from 29 balls on debut against India in an ODI at Cardiff last summer, Bairstow, 23, is most certainly an England star in the making.

Verdict: Switch-hit for SIX!

James Taylor (Notts)

You couldn’t write the script, could you? On the day Pietersen retired from limited overs cricket two of his former counties, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire went head to head in a one day game at the Ageas Bowl. In that match, Notts James Taylor scored a fantastic 115 from just 89 runs, showing the sort of explosive strike rate and array of strokes that has made Pietersen such a hit with the punters over the years. At 22 Taylor also fits the ECB demographic to invest in youth, and with a maiden One Day International cap already attained against Ireland last July, Taylor will surely make the step up a regular one in the near future.

Verdict: Switch Hit for SIX!

Alex Hales (Notts)

Hales, also from Notts, is another young cricketer with England experience. He has appeared in 4 T20 games already including a debut against India last September and he also travelled to India a month later, appearing in both T20’s over there. And as if to emphasise his T20 pedigree still further, he was Notts’ leading run scorer in the format last season, scoring 544 runs. 

Verdict: Switch Hit for SIX! 

Nick Compton (Somerset)

To give you an idea of Compton’s form with the bat this year, he finishes May with 950 first class runs – 50 short of the prestigious 1,000 run mark which has been reached by the end of May only 9 times in 117 years. Impressive. With a One Day average of 40 over 88 games Compton has experience and form on his side. At 28 he’s still at the peak of his powers and having appeared for the Lions earlier this summer too, he is certainly on the ECB’s radar.

Verdict: Look out for the slow left armer! 

Jos Buttler (Somerset)

21 year old wicketkeeper batsman Buttler has already began the transition into England regular having appeared in seven T20 matches and a single One Dayer, against Pakistan earlier this year. Buttler has yet to find his feet however, with a top score of just 13 across the 8 innings. He has time on his side however and the additional bonus of being a decent wicketkeeper, so his future is bright, although perhaps not as a direct replacement for KP

Verdict: Switch-hit for SIX!

Ben Stokes (Durham)

Stokes is another young batsman looking to establish himself in England's limited overs sides now. Stokes had to miss the Lions match against the West Indies in May due to a back injury, and is perhaps not the golden boy he was a year ago having been leapfrogged by Mr Bairstow, but Stokes time will undoubtedly come for England, having performed well for England at Under 19 level in the past and his continued successes at Durham.

Verdict: Switch Hit for SIX!

Ok so we will miss KP and I for one will treasure the memories he’s given us. England’s T20 World Cup aspirations may lay in tatters on the floor of England HQ but the talent of batsmen available is high enough for us to be optimistic for the future, even without KP.

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