Pietersen shows Hundred way to revive England
As the post-mortem into England’s embarrassing Ashes campaign in Australia continues, former captain Kevin Pietersen has prescribed that a more compact first-class competition, modelled on The Hundred, might help the English Test team “return to its former glories”.
Pietersen, in a blog post on Betway, dismissed the existing County Championship, saying it is “not fit to serve the Test team” in its current form.
“With the money elsewhere in the game, the (County) Championship in its current form is not fit to serve the Test team,” Pietersen, an Ashes winner in 2005, 2009, 2010-11 and 2013, wrote.
“The best players don’t want to play in it, so young English players aren’t learning from other greats like I did. Batters are being dismissed by average bowlers and the whole thing is spiralling.”
Best vs best
The 41-year-old is impressed with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)’s new brainchild, The Hundred, a professional, franchise-based 100-ball cricket tournament, and believes that the tournament will be of immense help to the players.
“In The Hundred, the ECB have actually produced a competition with some sort of value. It is the best against the best, marketed properly, and the audience engaged with it.
“They got new people to the games and I can tell you that the players will have improved markedly for featuring alongside other greats.”
Pietersen advised the ECB that it should come up with a similar tournament in the red-ball format, where the English players can rub shoulders with top overseas players.
“They now need to introduce a similar franchise competition for red-ball cricket, whereby the best play against the best every single week.
“They would make money available to attract some of the best overseas players in the world and the top English players would benefit from playing alongside them.
“It would be a marketable, exciting competition, which would drive improvement in the standard.”
Pitch it right
To improve the batsmen’s skills, Pietersen pointed out that the ECB must do away with excessively bowler-friendly conditions. He proposed that it can be an eight-team round-robin league affair where pitches encourage strong batting technique.
“The pitches are monitored by the ECB, so that we’re not seeing majorly bowler-friendly conditions like we do now. We have to have good pitches that reward and encourage strong batting techniques, batting for long
periods of time, and that require skill from bowlers to take wickets.”
According to Pietersen, the County system can ideally work as the “feeder system”, where players are developed until they’re ready to step up.
“I can promise you that the current England team and lots of the best youngsters in the system still see Test cricket, in particular Ashes cricket, as the pinnacle.
“But the world’s best players are involved in the IPL, the PSL, the Big Bash, The Hundred, and so on, so it’s no good denying them the chance to make their millions anymore, as I was back in the day.
“We need to produce lucrative, high-quality, interesting competitions that reward and improve the best players. This could be one,” he wrote.
With England currently 0-3 down in the Ashes, Pietersen threw his weight behind captain Joe Root, arguing that he was leading a “low quality team” and so the situation was already hopeless.
“There is no point blaming Joe Root for what’s happened in Australia. He’s the only class batter in that team and has been tasked with leading an under-prepared, low-quality team into an Ashes series. It was a hopeless task.”
He also wants the ECB to realise that every time the England batting flops, plugging in a new man from County cricket is not the solution. The disease lies deeper.
“Things aren’t going to change by plucking the next batter from county cricket and sticking him up to open the batting. It’s failed too many times now. This franchise competition would be a fantastic opportunity to improve the standard of red-ball cricket and it is the only way for the ECB to show that they value Test cricket and value the paying customer.”
Written with agency inputs