Pietersen Out — For Good

THE loss of Kevin Pietersen for the rest of the tour with a broken rib seems to seal England’s fate, but the tanking they took in their Twenty20 international against Australia summed up their chances in the three-nation one-day series with their hosts and New Zealand.

Last night’s heavy defeat by Australia at Melbourne in the opening match was no surprise. It was a desperate throw of the dice to bring back Michael Vaughan from serious injury as a batsman and captain for this Commonwealth Bank Series. Ladbrokes offered 16/1 against starting with a century (he didn’t) and 8/1 against a duck (he didn’t).

Vaughnie is a great guy, but this comeback is just stupid after more than a year out. Tomorrow England are due to announce their preliminary 30-man World Cup squad. Are any of you available out there? England are bottom of the pile of major nations, with only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe below them in the ICC rankings. As coach, Duncan Fletcher has presided over an alarming slump in one-day cricket, even though as Zimbabwe’s captain in the Seventies he was very resourceful in making the most of things.

Fletcher has been using one-day matches as a gateway to Test cricket. The inexperienced fast bowler Sajid Mahmood is a classic example, only a fringe member of the Lancashire team in the short form before he appeared in the ICC Champions Trophy in India. Andrew Strauss would not normally have been considered an international one-day opener, though he pulled up trees in Test cricket. I would be surprised if Ed Joyce makes much of an impact in the next few weeks.

The best-of-three final starts at Melbourne on Feb 9.

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