By Sam Tomkinson.
Kevin Pietersen, arguably England’s most destructive player, has decided to retire from ODI (One Day International) cricket. It comes as no surprise that Pietersen has decided to call time on a diminishing 50 over career; however, thanks to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s selection policy, Pietersen’s decision also amounts to an effective retirement from T20 cricket – which is astounding.
The 31-year-old is the leading T20 batsman in world cricket, who lit up the IPL with a fantastic century. Pietersen was also inspirational in England’s T20 win in the Caribbean. With only four months to go until the next T20 tournament, his decision to retire seems all the more surprising; even though Pietersen has said he would like to continue playing T20 internationals, the ECB have shown no intention as yet of changing their policies.. This begs the question: who will replace him?
There is a young crop of English talent bursting on the scene, which has been characterised as part of the new T20 generation. The likes of Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Ben Stokes will be laying claims to a role for the national side.
The only problem is that these players lack international experience. There are, in fact, few English cricketers with experience either at international level or in T20 competitions around the world. Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan look to be the two players adding experience to the young England side.
Even though he is one of the leading all-time run scorers in the format, it seems that the England selectors are reluctant to call on Owais Shah. His run scoring record is second to only a handful, however he is susceptible to a run out and is not the most athletic in the field, something that England players pride themselves on.
A strong case exists for the return of Luke Wright, a century scorer in the Big Bash league and useful all-rounder. Wright is, however, useful but cannot be described as world class. England requires a world class number three to succeed in Sri Lanka.
This summer’s Friends Life T20 (beginning on 25 August) should shed some light on who will be able to replace Pietersen as England look to retain their title in the subcontinent. Hopefully, one of England’s young pretenders will shine and grab the opportunity with both hands, otherwise it will be an immense struggle for the national team to be successful in Sri Lanka.
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