Ashes fever has some men in its strange grip already. A delerium is drifting through the English media. Some of them even think Kevin Pietersen should be dropped.
As Shane Warne said yesterday, averages don't tell you everything, but they are instructive. Pietersen's 'slump' over the past year has seen him average 42 in Test cricket, a figure also known as the career stat for the other batsmen in the top six. There was also the matter of his man of the series performance in the T20 World Cup as more evidence, as if it were needed, of his big game temperament. The misinterpretation of his ego has been reflected on before, and Mike Brearley put a calm hand on the fevered brow yesterday too.
Those figures, anyway. Against Australia, Strauss averages 38, Collingwood 35, Cook 25 and Trott, from a couple of innings an unrepresentative 80. Of the side's much discussed 'depth', Ian Bell averages 25 and Ravi Bopara 15. Pietersen has made 1,116 runs against them at 50.72.
Warnie's point was that it's when you make the runs that counts. Strauss was the only man on either side to make two hundreds in the 2005 series and he got another in 2009. Collingwood has a double hundred in Australia. Trott made a hundred on debut. Pietersen has hundreds home and away. The ingenue Morgan has an ODI century against them.
By contrast, Bopara melted and Bell, who has played against them more times than Pietersen, has one innings of note, in the first dig at the Oval. He has passed 50 eight times without making a hundred, and in one more game than Pietersen, he has scored almost 500 fewer runs.
If England can get their best side on the park, they have a fair chance. It's a chance than thins with proper examination of their 'depth'. KP will be fine and is key as ever. The problem positions are at two and three in the order, and neither Bell or Bopara can bat there, as any stat you like will tell you.
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