Cow Corner

Papers save bashing for Pietersen

Cow Corner

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As the newspapers surveyed the carnage of the high-speed train-wreck that was England's performance in the second Test against South Africa, the choice of potential targets for criticism were rich and varied.

Would Darren Pattinson prove the fall guy after an ineffective debut in replacing the injured Ryan Sidebottom, England's find of the last 18 months?

Or perhaps skipper Michael Vaughan, for his major role in Pattinson's bolt-from-the-blue selection and feckless batting performance?

Maybe coach Peter Moores for giving the Pattinson debut the green light, and failing to come up with an effective bowling plan for Ashwell Prince for the second Test running?

No, no and no. In fact, the newspapers saved the most caustic of criticism for a surprising target, Kevin Pietersen, following his ill-judged theory that the best way to bat for five sessions was to play in Twenty20 mode...

Derek Pringle, in the Telegraph, notes that there are two "I"s and no "Team" in Kevin Pietersen: "There are two things England can build upon. The first is that South Africa have led each of the last three series in England and not gone on to win any of them, so there is a pressure point there to be pushed. The other is the fight and tenacity shown by many of the batsmen here, though not Kevin Pietersen, whose five-ball cameo was a study in talent without responsibility...

"Mind you, he is not the first super-talented batsman who believes he is there to shape matches rather than save them. His brief pyrotechnics certainly provided further ammunition to those who believe Pietersen essentially pleases himself when he bats."

Tanya Aldred, in the Guardian, paints KP as a Roman Gladiator. Except that unlike Russell Crowe in the famous film, KP does nothing more dramatic than shaking his sword threateningly for a moment before he gets stabbed through the heart by a bigger man: "Kevin Pietersen stood on the balcony in the morning session watching Jimmy Anderson and Alastair Cook. He twisted and turned his tall primed body for everyone to see. This was a warrior and you could smell his anticipation . . . and the crowd's . . . and the South Africans'...

"And then? And then, to his fifth ball he tried a defensive shot, hung his bat out to a ball of good length and was caught behind. The South Africans went all Hiawatha in celebration. Pietersen looked in sublime form but he also looked a bit like a man who had been kippered."

Paul Newman, in the Mail, just tells it like it is: "What to say about Kevin Pietersen? On the face of it a six-minute, five-ball stay comprising 13 runs was complete lunacy given the situation in which England found themselves."

Colin Bateman in the Express: "Kevin Pietersen came out and smacked three fours off his first four balls and then got out to Jacques Kallis, undone by his own ego. It was exactly the approach England did not want from their star performer."

Chris McGrath, in the Independent, gets all Alanis Morissette on yo ass, before comparing AB de Villiers to a jar of Nescafé: "Pietersen was all glitter this time. He has often excelled in adversity, of course, and ironically was out to a ball he ultimately sought to leave. But the situation transparently required the heroic decaffeination achieved over the weekend by A B de Villiers, whose own instincts are no less belligerent."

Alan Lee, in the Times, says KP's indignation was stirred by the prospect of rabbit food for his lunch: "England were within 15 minutes of reaching lunch without losing a wicket when Anderson succumbed, but Kevin Pietersen appeared to have every intention of going to his salad with 50 to his name. Three fours were struck with dismissive authority, but the macho approach lasted only five balls."


COMING UP: County Championship action, and it's sunny across England! What are the chances?

TALKING POINT: Who disappointed most in England's woeful performance? What changes would you make for the third Test? And what factor suncream do you need to wear in the sun?

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