Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Relish Smashing Start from Pietersen

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Relish Smashing Start from Pietersen

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

THE fear was that Kevin Pietersen's technique would not stand up to the harsh examination of Test cricket. And, even if did, he would soon let himself down by trying to win a big-hitting contest against Andrew Flintoff.

Well, after three innings at the highest level against the best team in the world, Pietersen's method looks wonderfully sound.

And, as for his temperament and cricketing brain, England could not have asked for anything more.

Okay, perhaps the shot that brought about Pietersen's demise for 71 at Edgbaston yesterday was just a little rash, given that the team were only seven wickets down at the time.

But any serious criticism would be horribly harsh, considering how he reined himself in while Flintoff played all the big strokes during a pulsating fifth wicket stand of 103, then attacked with precision as well as power until making his only mistake.

Pietersen wowed everyone with those three one-day centuries in South Africa a few months back.

He worried Australia by making 91 and 74 against them in this summer's limited-over matches and made them sit up and take note again with his disciplined knocks of 57 and 64 in the first Ashes Test at Lord's a fortnight ago.

In many ways, though, yesterday's effort was the best yet.

For a start, Pietersen came to the crease at a critical time with his team wobbling just a bit. A highly promising total of 164 for one had become 170 for three with the departures of Marcus Trescothick and Ian Bell and soon the scoreboard read 187 for four after Michael Vaughan's top-edged pull.

If England fans wanted some reassurance then looking at the previous partnerships this summer between Pietersen and Flintoff would not have helped.

Six stands - four in one-dayers and two in the first Test - had ended all to quickly. Indeed, 17 was their best effort together, thanks mainly to early exits from Flintoff.

One theory doing the rounds is that Flintoff has been unsettled by Pietersen's arrival in the England team. …

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