Intercepting Mr Pietersen

The match between England and Sri Lanka at Cardiff is the first of a series of three.  It is scheduled for five days.  The fourth day’s play has just finished, but with a gloomy forecast for tomorrow it looks as if at least half of that time will have been lost to the unsettled weather, which has also continually altered the dynamics of the surface and the atmosphere on and through which the game is played.

Rain on days three and four has prevented the wicket from drying out and producing the interesting and result-inducing surface which might have been possible,  depriving one of  the best spinners in the world, Swann, and one who may be the most radical in method, Mendes, of fascinating conditions in which to weave their magic. 

Nor has the interest in this match been generated by the batting of the three centurions one of whom, Trott, compiled a double century.

No, the only talking point surrounds one man who scored just three runs in an innings that lasted but a few minutes.

After waiting as ‘next man in’ for 251 runs and about 24 hours, Kevin Pietersen walked to the wicket to be confronted by his Nemesis, a the left arm spinner in the person of Rangana Herath, who until Pietersen’s arrival had been bowling the defensive line from over the wicket, but who immediately changed to the attacking line bowled from around the wicket.

It is likely that Fate shielded Pietersen from Nemesis until his 34th Test when Daniel Vettori,  first exposed Pietersen’s Achilles Heel.  Since then he has been out to this type of bowler over twenty times in sixty innings.

Pietersen came to the fore as a highly unorthodox batsman.  Open-stanced and therefore open hipped, wide gaited, he used an exaggerated ‘trigger’ which took him well across to the off and, with the huge reach that his height and gait gave him, he commanded the bowling from outside the line of the off-stump where he could either smoother the ball defensively, ‘slap’ it through the covers if wide enough or smack it through the on-side, standing up-right on a straight front leg with the back leg off the ground to provide balance through the cantilever rather than through the orthodox manner of grounding it.

With this technique and his considerable self-confidence he tamed the mighty Warne in one of the great cricketing and Ashes winning innings at the Oval in 2005. 

There is an established caution against playing ‘against’ the spin and therefore the advice to the right hander is to manage the ball ‘in’ to ‘out’ through the off side.

Pietersen could defy this advice because of his huge height – he is 6 foot 4 inches – and the forward reach he can achieve quickly from his wide gait. This enables him to strike the turning ball early on the half volley or the full.  To cope, the bowler is persuaded to shorten his length giving Pietersen the scope to play back and strike the ball at its zenith.

To watch Daniel Vettori bowl may be to take a journey back a hundred years to glimpse Charlie Blythe.  Once Vettori had done the psychological damage that Warne could not achieve, others less gifted forced their way through Pietersen’s brittle confidence.  See ball, hit ball became see ball … turmoil.

Turning to Dravid, Pietersen was advised to adopt the ‘in’ to ‘out’ approach of an orthodox batsman.  The ‘trigger’ was changed as well as the tactics. Yesterday the shrewd Vaughan advised a straightening of the hip alignment in tribute to the classical approach to the sideways game.  It would work, but at a price.

On the other hand, Third Man has consistently urged this most treasured of individuals to rediscover his revolutionary talent of the romantic. 

The bowler, knowing that his best ball can disappear through or over cow corner, is pressured  into widening his line of attack, where Pietersen’s ‘slap’ will propel the ball through the covers, or into shortening his length so that Pietersen can press back onto the back foot where the horizontal bat tears the ball from its airy perch.

Yesterday on a pitch which was producing the odd shooter he just went back (towards the wicket and towards leg) and looked like a beginner. Genius and ineptitude sleep side by side in this man.

Meanwhile at World’s End the Squire has caught the coach into Town.  A meeting at the Star and Garter has been called.  “That cove Pietersen!  Won’t sleep in me own bed tonight, Third Man.”

Pietersen was ajudged LBW after being given not out on field by an umpire who thought that the ball had been struck by the bat.

A combination of heat seeking technology and a replay from square of the wicket on the off side detected that the ball had first glanced the batsman’s pad before being struck by the bat. 

He was given out under the terms of Law 36(1), Out LBW which sets out the conditions for a batsmen to be given out leg before wicket including (c) the ball not having previously touched his bat, the striker intercepts the ball, either full pitch or after pitching, with any part of his person, and clarified by Law 36 (2) In assessing points (c), (d) and (e) in 1 above, only the first interception is to be considered.

But ‘interception’ denotes ‘the obstruction of someone or something so as to prevent them from continuing to a destination’. 

The glance off the pad in this case did not or would not have prevented the ball from hitting the stumps – the destination.  It was minimal and the ball would have continued on to hit the stumps had the bat not literally intercepted it.

Plenty to consider in Pall Mall tonight.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Intercepting Mr Pietersen

  1. John Halliwell

    Good to see you back, TM. I wonder how KP would have fared against Johnny Wardle?

  2. John,
    Did you see that Johnny W’s son made contact with a comment or two here: https://downatthirdman.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/locked-in-mortal-combat-%e2%80%93-great-cricketing-rivalries-1/
    JW was by many accounts helpful to young Lancashire League players who sought his advise.
    Whether Mr Pietersen would have sought him out after a match for a pint and a chat is another matter.
    TM

  3. John Halliwell

    Thank you for the link, TM, it makes very interesting reading. I was a boy in the mid to late fifties when England had the finest team in the world, and several outstanding slow bowlers: Laker, Appleyard, Lock, McConnon and, of course, the great Wardle. Laker stood out in my imagination – because of ’56; Wardle seemed somehow to get ‘lost’, probably because of the problems he had with authority, which I didn’t understand. If I may, for a few seconds, enter the land of ‘what might have been’: I wonder if Laker would have picked up 19 at Old Trafford if Wardle had played instead of Lock? I suspect not.

    Your post on JW from 2010, and the very interesting comment by son John, sent me looking for Johnny’s autobiograpy ‘Happy Go Johnny’ which I found and ordered on Amazon. I look forward to what promises to be a fascinating read.

    Nasser Hussain often laments the lack of a true ‘mystery’ bowler in the current England team. Oh for a Wardle.

    • John Wardle

      Thanks for the comments re my father Johnny Wardle. I hope you enjoyed the book. I can recommend Alan Hill’s biography “Cricket Conjurer” which goes some way towards explaining why he “disappeared”.
      My views, for what they are worth are as follows; Dad would have relished bowling at KP. He liked people who would take him on. Given that KP, fine player though he is, has shown some frailty against sla, dare I say of not quite the class as JHW? I think it would have been a fascinating contest. I’m sure father would have looked to feed him a few and then hold on back a bit to get a leading edge.
      On the 1956 issue many contemporaries, Evans, Bailey, Richardson on “Cape Summer” available from MCC shop, have said that Johnny would have taken a bigger share of the wickets than Tony Lock did. Dad didn’t say much out of respect fro Jim’s achievements but looking at what happened on a similar drying wicket in 1953, Wardle 4-7 (then dropped!) and Laker 2-16 one rather suspects he would. Where then Laker’s iconic status? Before 1956 he was not an automatic choice. Indeed at the beginning of 1956 father thought he was still in with a chance. And why wouldn’t he when the respective figures of the three bowlers read;
      All Tests In England
      Tests Wkts Runs Avg Tests Wkts Runs Avg
      Wardle 22 74 1601 21.63 13 55 1068 19.41
      Lock 11 39 1303 33.41 7 25 585 23.40
      Laker 24 86 2365 27.50 16 54 1379 25.53
      Incidentally the wickets at Trent Bridge and Lord’s were known to be unhelpful to spinners whereas Old Trafford and the Oval were notoriously helpful. Wardle played 9 of his 13 Tests at the first two grounds whereas Lock hadn’t played any and Laker only 4. Who would have thought he would play only a further two Tests in England, both, of course, at Lord’s. Oh for a Wardle indeed!

  4. John Halliwell

    Hello John. Thanks for your comments, and the pointer to Alan Hill’s biography, which I have just ordered from Amazon. Yes, Happy Go Johnny was a great read; I was particularly interested in JHW’s account of the 54/55 tour of Australia. It was very interesting to read his views on the outstanding players involved; he clearly had a great regard for the remarkable Appleyard and what he might have achieved in the game if his health had been more robust. Observing Tyson from a matter of yards must have been quite an experience, and that Adelaide Test was clearly an outstanding memory. I was also fascinated by his view that Hutton was the best batsman he ever saw and that Bedser was the finest bowler of his (JHW) time. There is so much of interest in the book, not least Johnny’s ideas for changes to the county game. He clearly had acute foresight, particularly when one considers the developments that have occured in recent years.

    JHW was clearly a truly great bowler; how I would have loved to have watched him weave his magic at the peak of his powers.

    • John Wardle

      Glad you enjoyed the read John. The fifties cwas a remarkable decade for cricket talent. I’m sure you will find much to interest you in “Cricket Conjurer” not least the effect Lock had on father’s destiny. Alan Hill goes into even greater depth in “Tony Lock Aggressive Master of Spin”. in this he describes Lock’s three phases, the middle one where he was incredibly successful coincided exactly with Surrey’s seven consecutive championships which had a massive influence on Yorkshire both dressing room and committee room as well as followers. Looking at that and the stalled England career of my father explains how he became so bitter and helps to explain why Yorkshire dispensed with his services when he was acknowledged as the best spinner, wrist spinner at least, in the game. If Lock had had to bowl as he did in his first and third phases how different would be the tale. fortunately father went on to enjoy great success and popularity in Lancashire league and with Cambridgeshire.
      Best wishes
      John

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