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View From the Middle: In Tests, there is nowhere to hide. Somehow, Twenty20 cricket isn't the same
Thursday 07 June 2012
We all respect Kevin Pietersen's decision to retire from one-day international cricket, and I can understand that, at some point, a player might want to prioritise. I can say, however, it's not a call I feel I'm close to making right now.
I want to get back into the one-day team and, at 30, I feel as though I'm coming into the best years of my career, so I want to play as much as I can for England. I want to play more than 100 Tests – I've reached 76 – and to be involved in all forms for the next five or six years.
Kev's move to quit the 50-over game also shows that he sees Tests as the No 1 form, and that's a credit to the five-day game. He wants to play as much Test cricket as possible, and we've seen certain players, like Brett Lee, retire from Test cricket to prolong their careers in the limited-overs game.
I'm back at Edgbaston, my home ground, for today's match against West Indies, and it's a place that holds so many memories. I remember scoring my first hundred, as a 10-year-old against Gloucestershire Under-11s, on the Colts ground. I recall my first-team debut for the county aged 17, even if I made a duck.
There are England memories, too. I was on the field when Geraint Jones took the catch to dismiss Mike Kasprowicz to win England the 2005 Ashes Test here, probably one of the greatest games of all time. And last year, I had a beer in the home dressing room after helping England beat India and reach the top of the ICC Test rankings.
This place was such a part of my life as a cricketer, and it makes you wonder about the ambitions of young kids today. When I was a youngster, I wanted to play Tests for England. Now, it's possible that kids are looking at playing in the Indian Premier League and that they're not bothered about playing for England. Instead of working on batting for a whole day, they might be trying to learn to hit the ball out of the ground or flick it over their heads.
The IPL is a great tournament and I'd like to play more Twenty20, so this is not a criticism, just an idea about how life will go. There is no reason why Twenty20 and Test cricket can't carry on side by side. The important thing, though, is for us to look after the longest form of the game. If you asked all international cricketers which form of the game gives them the most satisfaction, I'm sure the majority would say it was Tests, so we have to make sure it is seen as the most important.
You go back in history and look at the records of the great players. We've seen Viv Richards here as a commentator for this series: a legend of the game and the sort of player you can measure yourself against. Twenty20 just doesn't have the same kind of kudos. One year, someone will hit the ball out of the ground, but the next, there will always be someone who comes along and can hit it further, so it's such a short-term thing.
In Tests, there is nowhere to hide. If you've a problem against the short ball, your opponents will find out and challenge you. If you have a weakness outside off stump, it will be exposed. Somehow, Twenty20 just isn't the same.
I've heard this week that no Warwickshire batsman has scored a Test hundred for England at Edgbaston, and while it would be lovely to change that this week, making a century at my home ground is not on my list of goals and I'm not going to sit here worrying about it. I was in the team here last year when we reached No 1 in the rankings, and I'll look back on that just as fondly as I would a Test hundred.
It's important not to get too keyed up when I go out to bat here. That probably happened to me last year and I played too aggressively. Hopefully this time, I can contribute to the victory that makes it a 3-0 series win for England.
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