Friday, 27 August 2010

Time to ring the Bell on Pietersen's Ashes?

With England's batting form in their last three Test innings more dismal than the current bad weather that keeps interrupting play, questions are starting to be asked regarding the batting line-up for The Ashes.

With Kevin Pietersen unable to play so much as a recorder at the moment, let alone a nicely timed cover drive or even one of his trademark cringeworthy sloggy sixes, do the selectors need to take action or is it too late?

In his Test innings against the touring Bangladesh and Pakistan, Pietersen has so far recorded a very modest average of 27.75. For a number 4 batsman, Mr Pietersen, that's quite frankly not good enough.

But who, if anyone, to replace him with? England have no Test series' remaining before travelling Down Under, so to unsettle the side could be catastrophic. However, there's an option which would rock the boat slightly less, in already established Test international Ian Bell.

Before his season was hit with a metatarsal injury (yep, one of those again!) in the recent One Day series, Bell was flying - averaging 61.8 in the Tests with Bangladesh (home and away) and South Africa at the turn of the year. That's much more in-line with the form expected and required of a number 4. Infact, even opening batsman and captain Andrew Strauss could do himself a few favours by following Bell's lead.

So, fitness providing, there is a ready-made replacement for Pietersen waiting in the wings. But the question still remains as to whether it would be best for the team to suffer changes with no Test preparation remaining. Sure, Bell knows the players and the set-up, he's far from a newby to the scene. But he has been playing at number 6 recently and his form has vastly improved for it. Whether he could handle the pressure of stepping back up the order is another matter - not that he has particularly big boots to fill right now!

And if it was deemed best for him to remain at 6, that leaves the question of whether the other players could remain settled whilst shuffing up or down the order themselves. The England selectors need to weigh-up whether bringing back Bell from injury, undoubtedly having a better season than Pietersen to-date, is worth the risk of unsettling the batting cohesion.

But with Old Father Time watching over Pietersen's latest Golden Duck at Lord's this afternoon, maybe the clock is ticking for the out of form batsman.

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