Why Kevin Pietersen should be in the England squad for the World T20
Before starting the article let me make it clear that I am a big fan of Kevin Pietersen, but this fact does not make me biased about the fact that he should be in the English team for the coming World T20. I have my fair share of reasons to feel the same.
Kevin Pietersen is in red-hot form at the moment. His winter stats comprising his participation in Ram Slam T20 and The Big Bash League stands at a pretty 724 runs from 16 games at an average of 55. The strike rate is 167 and he has got 2 hundreds and 6 fifties during the period. He performed well in the knock out games of both the tournaments and was the highest scorer for his team Melbourne Stars in both, the semi-final, and the final of the BBL. He was making it look ridiculously easy against some of Australia’s frontline bowlers and was clearing the long Australian boundaries with ease. The World T20 starts in March which is just a month away from now and England could do well with him being in the team and making the most of the form that he is in at the moment.
T20 Cricket experience
Kevin Pietersen is one of the most sought after player across the world T20 franchise tournaments. He is a genuine number 3 in any conditions and with the English team struggling to find some experience at the moment, he could well be the guiding light to this team. There is no doubt about the talent of new players on the block like Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley and David Willey, but how comfortable they would be in the Indian environment remains to be seen. The Indian conditions are nowhere close to what you find at the Lords and Nottingham. The pitches will turn and the boundaries will be short. Pietersen with his rich experience of playing in the IPL and his ability to play spin can be a source which spinners like Moeen Ali and Rashid can look upon. Having a senior member in the side like Pietersen will also help Eoin Morgan as he will have someone in the team who can come up with an idea or two when the going gets tough.
The experience of winning a World Cup earlier
Kevin Pietersen was the Man of the Tournament when the English side won their only ICC event till date, the World T20 in West Indies in 2010. He was one of the reasons the English side thrived in that tournament and his attacking strokeplay coming at one down did not allow the opposition bowlers to breathe easy. The English side’s debacle in the ODI World Cup 2015 was largely due to the inability of a player at the top of the order who has the right balance of forcing the pace and anchoring the innings. KP with his experience at number 3 is a perfect choice as not only can he force the pace but also has the necessary experience to play a sheet anchor's innings. With him coming next, the likes of Alex Hales and Jason Roy will have more confidence in going out all guns blazing at the start of the innings.
Big occasion player
Kevin Pietersen has several times accepted that he is an entertainer and loves the big stage. He was at the forefront in the last match of the historic 2005 Ashes when on the last day he hit a career defining 158 against the likes of Glenn Mcgrath, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and company to save the Test match and help England win the Ashes after 18 long years. He has played several innings like the 186 against India at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on a turning track which turned out to be a series-winning knock. Another innings which showed his class and bullying nature when he had the world’s best pace attack into submission at the Headingley in 2012 just before he was dropped from the team due to the text message issue. There are many more innings that come to mind where he has shown that he is once in a generation cricketer.
If cricket is kept simple and the only way to win a cricket game is by making runs and taking wickets, then I see no reason why his name should not figure in the team that’s taking the plane to India. It’s hard to think of any team or opponent who would be comfortable by his inclusion to play against them.