Love him or hate him, its time to accept, barring some miraculous or humiliating u-turn from the English Cricket Board, the Kevin Pietersen saga and his swashbuckling international career is over.
As we look forward to the one day series in the West Indies, the T20 World Cup and the summer tests against Sri Lanka and India respectively, the question of who should fill the boots of KP and the gargantuan hole left by him in England’s middle order is one that requires an urgent answer.
James Taylor would be my first pick. He may not be the tall, muscular, imposing Pietersen figure but then again, neither were Tendulkar or Bradman. Taylor never got a fair opportunity in an England shirt to demonstrate his remarkable talents; he was afforded only two tests against a South African side at the pinnacle of their form and abilities in 2012.
An average of over forty-eight in first class matches is extremely promising, as are his one day averages of over fifty and plus thirty-five in T20. Surely such records cannot be ignored by the ECB selectors. Furthermore the Nottinghamshire batsman scored an unbeaten double century for the England Lions in Sri Lanka earlier this month whilst current test players such as Jonny Bairstow failed to impress against the Sri Lankan bowlers.
Irish convert Eoin Morgan is arguably England’s best one day batsman, he clearly possesses adequate talent but hasn’t translated it onto the five day field. Despite only averaging thirty from his previous tests, Morgan has excelled in the one day format, often batting with the tail or slogging at the death. Like Pietersen his exploits can turn the game on its head, but questions remain over his ability against spin, after England’s struggles against Pakistan in the U.A.E
Another player who I believe was cut far too soon from the England team is Nick Compton, whose form in New Zealand was quickly forgotten after failures in just two tests in the return series last summer. He has nine tests under his belt and if Root fails to adjust to life as an opener, the return of Compton to the team would allow Root to drop back down the order.
A final, and less conventional, name for the number four spot could be Middlesex batsman Sam Robson, if the ECB truly wish to look forward. He scored a well constructed 142 for the Lions this Spring and the Australian-born youngster has impressed in his first few English county seasons. Maybe the sacking of England’s talisman and all the problems he supposedly brings has created an even bigger headache for the ECB in terms of selecting a player able to replace him.
Image courtesy of The Telegraph