Cow Corner

England better off without KP

Cow Corner

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The news
that Kevin Pietersen will return home from the World Cup because of his hernia
injury did not unduly concern Cowers when it reached him on his little field.

For the
last five years England fans have heard it said by the experts that Pietersen
is the key batsman in the England line-up.

From the
moment he waltzed on to the scene in the winter of 2004/5 and bludgeoned three
hundreds against the South Africans in hostile conditions, KP has scaled peaks
higher than most of his team-mates have ever reached.

He reached
1000 ODI runs in 21 innings - a record which only Viv Richards had previously
managed in the history of the game.

And in
those days, the England ODI side was an afterthought to the Test side, a regular
source of embarrassment, rather than merely an occasional one like it is today.

But it's
not the case any more.

England got
better, Pietersen got worse.

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Pietersen (pictured above with awards after his first series against South Africa)
came into the 2007 World Cup averaging 56.62 in one-day internationals. Coming
into this tournament that average has slid to 41.34.

averaged 30.60 in the four years between the two tournaments - form that would
have seen most batsmen cast aside.

Pietersen's reward for these relative failures was a promotion up the order, a
last-minute recalculation as England's previous plans for Andrew Strauss to
open with Steven Davies and then Matthew Prior were discarded.

That did
look like a promising move, though in their four outings together Strauss has
on the whole been the more aggressive batsman of the duo.

replacement at the top of the order could come in the form of in-form Jonathan
Trott or Ian Bell - or even Ravi Bopara. The latter would be Cowers' preference
after the Essex man showed his mastery of Indian wickets to play a patient
rebuilding innings against the South Africans, and an expansive cameo to finish
off the Dutch. England do have options.

And despite
having missed out on selection for the World Cup with a broken finger, Eoin
Morgan is, on form, a better option than Pietersen.

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He'll boost
a middle order that is lacking spark and imagination with Paul Collingwood and
Matt Prior desperate for form and Michael Yardy failing to translate his
batting nous to the limited-overs international game.

at his best would grace any team, but the current version of Pietersen offers
England is of far less use than what Morgan can provide.

For a long
time his batting has not been carefree and confident, brash enough to believe
that no total was unreachable and no bowler good enough to bowl to him.

England will
also separately need to evaluate whether it was worth risking Pietersen knowing
he had a hernia problem. So often, players carrying an injury end up going home
anyway - it's just that in this case, the replacement may mean the news is a
blessing in disguise.

Despite a
disappointing time in Australia, it is Morgan, who averages 40 and has hit
three tons in the last year for England, who can improve the England team.

have already proven themselves capable in this tournament of absolutely
anything. Chasing 338 against India for a draw, defending 171 against the
talented South Africa, or squandering a match-winning position against Ireland
- England have managed it all already.

So if
Morgan has a chance to play himself into a little form ahead of the quarter-finals,
then England can rightly approach those games not just believing, but knowing
that anything is possible.

Do you agree with Cowers that England are
better off with Morgan in and Pietersen out? Get involved in the debate by
leaving a comment below.


The two
worst teams in the World Cup met today in Group A to settle the question of what
happens when a resistible force meets a movable object.

Canada, as
it turned out, were a cut above Kenya in the unofficial wooden spoon game,
bowling their opponents out for 198 and knocking off the runs with four overs
to spare.

It's fair
to say, however, that the game did not quite capture the imagination of the
Delhi public...

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intriguing debate simmered during the Canadian chase about the future of the
teams at the tournament - what to do to keep these nations at the tournament
and make sure they are competitive?

ranged from giving them more matches in domestic cricket (for instance,
integrating Holland and Ireland fully into the county cricket structure, or
getting Kenya into the provincial game in South Africa) to having a play-off
tournament for the Associates just before the World Cup proper to make sure
that the best of the rest were at least represented at the tournament.

One thing
few fans were keen on was to miss out on the minnows altogether.

And despite
the two sides on show having little to play for but pride, an entertaining game
provided us with some glimpse of why that is.


STAT OF THE DAY: Ashish Bagai (64 not out) and Jimmy
Hansra (70) put on 132 together for the fourth wicket in Canada's reply. A good
partnership, but one made special by the fact that it was Canada's first of 100
runs or more in World Cup history.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Confirming the BREAKING NEWS mate:
I fly home tonight. Out of the WC & IPL.. Absolutely devastated!!" Kevin Pietersen reminds us all that
Twitter is not just a place to document your bathroom habits - it has a knack
of being first to the big stories.

were already an unbelievable squad and NOW­ they have only gotten BETTER. Australia
in the final­ for sure. Hussey should have been there. But a somewhat­ strange
decision to get a batsman for a bowler." Rob reacts to the news that Mike Hussey's World Cup dream is alive
after Australia confirmed the left-hander as the replacement for smooth Dougie
Bollinger. Another change which may have strengthened a major nation...

COMING UP: The cricket keeps on coming, and on
Tuesday two of the strong sides in Group A meet in Pallekelle, Sri Lanka. Pakistan v New Zealand face off with
Pakistan unbeaten and the Kiwis coming off the back of a thumping victory over
Zimbabwe. Play starts at 9am UK time.

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