England's desire to keep faith with its players would once have been admirable; now it just makes the management and captain look incapable of making tough decisions.
England’s defeat in the second One Day International made for painful viewing. Watching the defeat, the team’s second mauling in four days, was bad enough, but the post-match interviews were the icing on the cake for England fans frustrated by their team’s performance and composition.
In the era of Team England media training and clichéd soundbites, Kevin Pietersen was never going to do anything other than defend his players and the team’s selection policy, but it would have been refreshing if the skipper referred in some way to the problems that seem so obvious to so many.
Darren Gough accused the England management of favouritism in their selection policy and it is hard to disagree. Tim has referred to the absurd preference for Alastair Cook over Dimitri Mascarenhas and the mystifying absence of Graeme Swann and it appears these choices are those of the captain.
Pietersen has been keen to stamp his authority on the job, and whilst his instinct and man-management have paid some dividends – notably the rejuvenation of Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison - his apparent omnipotence in selection is dangerous for those whose faces don’t fit.
A hierarchy has been established that makes objective decisions difficult and results in selection choices being based on factors other than form, balance of the team and conditions.
It is ridiculous that Swann is not playing. It is odd that Matt Prior is retained as opener despite scoring one half century in his 29 ODI innings. It is debatable whether Paul Collingwood and Steve Harmison should be in the team at all.
Sweeping changes are dangerous and it should be acknowledged that India are playing supremely well, but we all have our favourites, don’t we KP?
My team for the third ODI at Kanpur: Bell, Bopara, Pietersen, Shah, Flintoff, Patel, Collingwood, Prior, Swann, Broad, Anderson
Written by Philip Oliver, a sports writer who blogs about cricket betting.