Pietersen cannot replace Flintoff fire
Tuesday 08 February 2005
If England's thoughts are beginning to turn to home it is not entirely because home is where they want to be. With only one week, two internal flights and three matches left of this tour it is natural that the attention of some of the squad should shift, whatever some observers may opine about the need for hard-nosed, focused professionalism.
But these home thoughts from abroad also have a different stimulus, since home is where Andrew Flintoff has been for the last 10 days. This one-day side have missed him desperately as any of his colleagues readily admit.
At the weekend, Flintoff's best friend, Stephen Harmison, said: "He's a massive part of this team, not only for his batting and bowling but because he's such an infectious character."
Yesterday, in the wake of the 108-run defeat in Cape Town on Sunday which allowed South Africa to take a 2-1 lead in the series, Andrew Strauss said: "Fred's a big loss in one-day cricket because he fulfils two very important functions. It's a little bit more difficult without him."
Strauss, as he probably knew, was understating the point. The man who has taken Flintoff's place in the team, Kevin Pietersen, has done everything that could reasonably have been asked of him with an unbeaten hundred and a 75 in four innings. But he cannot bowl Flintoff's 10 overs and England are having to mix and match from among the rest of the 11 to make the 50-over quota.
Having longed for Flintoff, who is recovering at home in Cheshire from surgery on the troublesome bone spur on his ankle, the obvious next thought is much more pleasant. It is the prospect of Flintoff and Pietersen together in the same one-day team. This is now as mouth-watering for England as it should dry the throats of opponents. They are two of the longest and hardest hitters anywhere.
Hard hitters, of course, need somebody to provide ballast, which is Strauss's job. He has had a lean time of it so far in the one-day series - 69 runs in four innings - after a wonderful run in the Test rubber, which has deprived England of a solid platform.
Strauss insisted that this was nothing to do with motivation. "This is a big one-day series and they've shown us over the last couple of games that they are a very good one-day side," he said.
"If we want to develop as a side leading up to the World Cup in 2007 we've got to try and ensure we use every series en route to that to improve, learn and gain experience. Nobody can take a back seat."
England have the makings of their most efficient one-day side for almost 15 years, not least because they now have some reasonable fielders. But Flintoff's absence and the complete loss of form of Harmison and Jimmy Anderson has exposed the bowling. The most efficient performer over the four matches has been a 34-year-old with a dodgy knee and a tendency to put on pounds, Pietersen's new best friend, Darren Gough.
It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959
Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
...and the perfect time to visit them
Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result
Manchester United official team photo: Antonio Valencia and Anderson pull the funniest faces
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt, including Danny Welbeck must be more clinical and Hector Bellerin debut
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal player ratings: How did Ozil and Welbeck do in Germany?
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Liverpool 2 Ludogorets 1 player ratings
- 1 iPhone 6 review: bigger, thinner, faster, brighter - Apple proves you can make the best better
- 2 Sports Direct security guard allegedly banned Jewish schoolboys and told them: 'No Jews, no Jews'
- 3 Watch a man race the Circle line - and win
- 4 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 5 Kanye West halts concert after two fans don't stand up - doesn't realise one is in wheelchair and the other disabled
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'