On the Front Foot: Pietersen's baby looms but England expect him to do his duty

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The Independent Online

England's thoughts are turning to Kevin Pietersen's baby. Sometime in the first fortnight of May, KP's wife Jessica is due to give birth to the couple's first child. Unfortunately, this coincides with the World Twenty20 in the West Indies. The batsman and parent is determined to be at both events. It may prove trickier than he suspects despite his blithe confidence that there are two flights a day to London from any Caribbean country in which England will be playing, thus ensuring his presence in the maternity ward. In the circumstances, the sensible course would be for Pietersen to withdraw from the squad and concentrate on family matters. He cannot do so, of course, because as soon as the present tour of Bangladesh finishes next Wednesday he flies to Bangalore to play for the Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League. There, he will get more bang for his buck, so to speak, earning for four weeks' work somewhere around £1m. He could hardly do that and then decline England duty. But there are other reasons, despite the team's managing director Hugh Morris's assertion that the England and Wales Cricket Board had to act as responsible employers. Morris added: "We have been trying to win a global event for 35 years now and not done it and that's a woeful record. We want to change that and to do that we have got to have our best players there." So presumably if England had won anything at all, KP could have rested easily at home looking after wife and child.

Off-spinning man of Kent

James Tredwell became England's 648th player when he was selected yesterday for the Second Test against Bangladesh. But he was also the first off-spinner from Kent to win a cap. The county has a rich history of providing spin bowlers to England: Frank Woolley, Colin Blythe, Derek Underwood, Min Patel and indeed the opening batsman Brian Luckhurst, whose slow left-arm orthodox had Gundappa Viswanath caught behind by county colleague Alan Knott at The Oval in 1971, though only just before India completed their first Test win in England. In addition, there were wrist-spinners Doug Wright, the only leg-break bowler to take more than 100 wickets for England, and Tich Freeman. But Tredwell is the first of an altogether more orthodox breed.

Dhaka doubles up

Dhaka is the second city to have hosted international matches for two countries. Pakistan played seven Tests there before Bangladesh gained independence and the city has now staged a further 14 at two different grounds. The estimable Benedict Bermange of Sky discovered that Wroclaw has hosted international football matches for both Germany and, after the Potsdam Conference of 1945, Poland.

Counties saving Face

Facebook, the social networking site, has been in trouble lately but it can be a force for good. A group has been set up there called Oppose a Conference System in County Cricket. Not before time. The idea of three conferences of six teams, based on picking names from a hat rather than merit, is bizarre, reckless and self-interested. Those who love the game now should join this group and, while they are about it, advocate the removal from the Championship of four counties.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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