Rain delays buy England time to ponder Pietersen's replacement
There were compensations for the England selectors yesterday as play was called off for the second successive day in the Third Test. They might not be grateful for it now but the abandonment shortly after lunch gave them more time to ponder one of their greater conundrums of recent times.
By Monday evening, they will have to decide who is to open the batting with Alastair Cook in the one-day team, now that Kevin Pietersen has retired from all limited-overs cricket. Nor will they necessarily have shared the public pronouncements of sympathy for Pietersen during their deliberations.
He has left them in a hole which might not be adequately filled during the one-day series against West Indies, which starts a week today.
Pietersen and the team management seemed certain that he would open until the next World Cup – but then came his decision to withdraw.
There are several options, none of which are perfect. The selectors might well return to Craig Kieswetter, who had opened in the previous 11 matches before Pietersen was convinced that his future lay at the top of the order.
But Kieswetter's drop to number six firmly indicated that they were not certain of his qualities and to restore him would almost be to admit second best. He has yet to fire for Somerset in one-day cricket this season.
But if not Kieswetter, then another dasher will have to be found to complement what are still perceived to be Cook's more stately skills. As it happens, Cook's scoring rate in runs per hundred balls in the four matches in which he opened with Pietersen – admittedly a small, but not wholly insignificant sample – was 88.98 compared to Pietersen's 84.38.
But despite his added gears, Cook may remain the kind of batsman around whom the others play. Ravi Bopara has become almost a staple member of the team after 72 ODIs and his scintillating 120 from 100 balls opening for Essex last Monday may make him a candidate. Bopara and Cook know each other as well as any pairing in English cricket, having first started together as boys throughout the Essex age-group sides.
There remains the feeling that Ian Bell, still England's most technically gifted batsman, has unfinished business in the one-day arena. Bell began his international one-day career as an opener, in Zimbabwe in Harare eight years ago, and although his last run there of 14 matches in 2008 was not a resounding success he is a much more mature player these days. Certainly the experiment with Bell as the finisher at number six last summer was a failure.
It is possible the selectors might plump for one of the young guns such as Jonny Bairstow but that would be a gamble. But they should have had plenty of time to muse. The Test match meanwhile, the first since 1964 in England whose first two days have been abandoned, should finally begin today.
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1 player ratings: Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata on target - but who scored highest?
Juventus vs Real Madrid match report: Carlos Tevez gives Juve the edge after goals from Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo
Gareth Bale performance slammed by Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Lee Dixon: 'His team-mates can't be happy'
David Beckham reveals secret of his success: I 'stayed in to watch Match of the Day' rather than go out with friends on a Saturday night
Cristiano Ronaldo sticks up for Japanese boy after he struggles to speak Portuguese
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils