Tuesday 9 December 2008

KP, King of Cow Corner

Events like those in Mumbai ensure that you watch what you write. Getting run out for 99 is not a tragedy. Losing by an innings is no massacre. Yet it's hard to sum up Kevin Pietersen's attitude to spin bowling without saying that he lives and dies by the sword. 

He is the man who switch hit Murali for six at Edgbaston and reduced Warne to bowling outside leg stump for hour on end in Adelaide. Not since Lara has anyone mastered those two in such a way. It was not just a case of batting well against them. Other men have done that. It was the raw desire to humiliate them that set Pietersen apart. It was ego. It was war.

When he got his 158 at the Oval in 2005, Warne dared him to hit over the top. 'Bring your cow corner up and I will,' Pietersen replied. Warne did, and so Pietersen did too. Again, he didn't just want to flick Warne through the infield and milk him until England were safe. He wanted to put him in row Z. 

His hundred in the last ODI in Cuttack looked ridiculously easy once he was set. How well he plays India's spinners may decide how much chance England have of a result in the Tests, if the others can stay in for long enough. 

You know what he'll try and do. It's the way he does that's most interesting. When he brought out the switch hit, he said he'd woken up on the morning of the match and imagined how it felt to play it first. This is true of any good batsman, I think. You have to be able to feel where your feet and wrists and hands will be, and how they'll move; you need to see it before you can do it.

Graeme Smith has been trying to talk up the prosaic Paul Harris before the Australia series. 'We have seen some of the finest batsmen from India and Pakistan, plus Kevin Pietersen in England, taking him lightly and paying the price.' 

The only reason Harris got Pietersen is the same reason other so-so spinners have got him and will again: because he doesn't believe they can bowl to him. For KP, spin is not an invitation to a subtle dance for session after session. He'll live and die by the sword and while he lives, it's tempting to say it's a slaughter - in the purest sporting terms. 

1 comment:

Damith S. said...

Reckon he has taken a leaf out of Sehwags book. He is probably the only other batsmen I can think of who seems to have a severe dislike for spinners that they feel the need to send them over the ropes for ever taking up the whole thing.