Change of pace: Less fiddling with field keeps bowlers content

Pietersen's consultation and encouragement are welcome change

Kevin Pietersen is not the type of man fast bowlers generally warm to. In the main we are a breed of bitter and twisted martyrs who love to whinge about the unappreciated hard work we put in on a daily basis and the physical toll it takes on our bodies. Prima-donna batsmen who revel in and play up to being in the limelight are definitely not our pints of bitter.

Yet in the opening three days of the Fourth Test, England'sfast bowlers appear to have responded positively to Pietersen as captain. It is not the endless words of encouragement they receive from him at mid-off or the countless reassuring taps on the backside that have led to them enjoying his new position; it is the fact that they now feel involved with what is taking place out in the middle.

Michael Vaughan was an outstanding England captain, but there were many times during his reign when he set fields for his own inquisitive pleasure without consulting the person whose job it was to let go of the ball. Most bowlers, rather than risk confrontation with their captain, tolerate such treatment, but there are very few who enjoy such an autocratic approach.

In my Middlesex career there were times when a bored or frustrated Mike Gatting used to get a little funky with his field placements, but it did not last long if John Emburey or I were bowling. We would occasionally throw the ball back at him and tell him to bowl to the field because we were not prepared to.

Nobody dared to do that to Vaughan or Nasser Hussain, who treated his bowlers in a similar manner, and it seems nobody will need to react in such a way to Pietersen, who continues to work closely with his bowlers. Fast bowlers enjoy simple fields – three slips, gully, cover point, mid-off, mid-on, square leg and fine leg – and they like them to remain in position for at leasta couple of overs before theyare altered.

For a bowler there is nothing more off-putting than a captain who, without consulting you, constantly changes the positions of fielders as you make your way back to your mark. When you turn and look at your field you stand there thinking, "Does he want me to bowl at the batsman hoping to bring silly, short, backward bloody midwicket in to play, or does he want me to continue plugging away outside off stump?" If it comes off and the fielder takes the catch he is a great captain; if the ball gets spanked through square leg your leader gives you a killer stare.

In the long run England's bowlers will benefit from thinking for themselves. Nobodytold Glenn McGrath or Curtly Ambrose how to bowl. Like all good bowlers they worked out how to dismiss batsmen through their own experiences. There will still be times when the consensus gets it wrong, as happened yesterday morning. Stephen Harmison and James Anderson, England's stars of the first innings, were poor. In perfect bowling conditions the pair bowled too short and too wide.

It was left to Stuart Broad to show them the error of their ways. With his fourth ball to Neil McKenzie he hit the jackpot, bowling the South African opener off his inside edge.

The introduction of Andrew Flintoff brought an end to the "aim at the stumps" strategy. After a brief discussion with Pietersen the field for Hashim Amla was again set for short- pitched bowling.

England have used the tactic against Amla throughout the series, but the South African's average here is 54. It isn't working. The plan shows that bowlers can get it wrong too.

But the cliché that a captain is only as good as his bowlers still rings true. If Pietersen can get Harmison and Flintoff firingas they did in 2005, winning the 2009 Ashes may not be as distant a dream as it currently seems.

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness