Cricket

England selectors look to replace Pietersen

The post-Kevin Pietersen era will dawn on Monday when England name their first limited-overs squads since the retirement of their mercurial game-changer.

 
Post-KP era begins - CricketAFP
 

Pietersen's absence augments a head-spinning number of possibilities and opportunities for a new generation of up-and-coming batsmen.

The first complication, of course, is that all of the above must be pared down to the permutations which can be accommodated in a likely 15-man squad for three NatWest Series matches and then a probable 13 for a one-off Twenty20 against West Indies.

A second muddling aspect stems from the fact that Pietersen's final incarnation as a limited-overs batsman was as an opener, whereas the likeliest lads among those arguably ready to replace him appear to be middle-order specialists.

How to fill the vacancy at the top of the order, alongside Alastair Cook in one-day internationals and Craig Kieswetter in Twenty20, will be among the toughest of the logic problems England's selectors must try to solve.

Is it time, for example, for an Ian Bell recall - and if so, should England's most technically correct batsman be deployed at the top of the order or in Pietersen's previously immovable number four slot?

Or will there be a one-day international debut, at the age of 31, for bang in-form Michael Carberry? Certainly the Hampshire left-hander ought to be at the head of the queue as the only habitual opener among those as yet on the periphery of selection.

If the ODI equation is to be solved by those names, or maybe that of Steve Davies as a wicketkeeper who can open the batting, that still leaves much conjecture over the identity of Kieswetter's first-wicket partner in the shortest format.

One solution, logical after England retained Cook in their squad for three Twenty20s in the desert, is a recall to the shortest format for the ODI captain. Cook continues to impress with his ability not only to confound doubters by adapting to new challenges, but also ensure he does not compromise what he is already very good at.

England batting coach Graham Gooch knows of old, as Cook's mentor for many years at Essex, that his skills should never be pigeon-holed. On the topic of the opener's chances of adding to just four Twenty20 caps to date, Gooch said: "All I would say is that Alastair Cook, in every level he has played cricket, he has been successful - so you can read into that whatever you like."

PA Sport
 
 
 
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