Ian Baker - England must drop Pietersen
09 Mar 2010 - 13:56:09
A bore draw in Chittagong comes to a conclusion in England's final warm-up match before the two Test matches start in earnest on Friday. But are Alastair Cook and Andy Flower any the wiser over their selection?
Injuries to Stuart Broad and Graham Onions have certainly hindered England's Test plans but their exact side is proving very difficult to predict.
Over the weekend, UK journalists out here in Bangladesh took part in a sweepstake: predict the side for the first Test. And it was no easy task.
Five batsmen and five bowlers with Matt Prior at six? Six batsmen and four bowlers? Five batsmen, Prior at six, Luke Wright at seven and four bowlers? Out of those bowlers, how many spinners and how many pacemen? The permutations are seemingly never ending. I'd be amazed if any journalist has called correctly.
What team England will name and who they should play are two different questions entirely.
While Flower and Cook back Kevin Pietersen to the hilt, it is clear that patience is starting to run thin. This may sound controversial but I believe he should be dropped for the opening Test. Not necessarily due to his form but to ensure the side has a good balance to it and they can learn things they would not otherwise.
If KP hits a double ton against Shakib Al Hasan's minnows, what will it really prove? Far better to give Pietersen some breathing time away from the spotlight.
England appear likely to play the first option on the list - five batsmen, six if you include Prior. And if KP plays, there would appear to be no place for Michael Carberry. I'm not sure quite what will be achieved by Jonathan Trott playing in a completely different position opening with Cook.
I don't wish to sound too disrespectful to Bangladesh but England should and will beat them easily in Tests. There is a gulf in quality between the two sides so whatever side Cook starts with, it should be enough.
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