Alex Massie

KP replaces MV vs SA

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So, as expected, Kevin Pietersen will captain England against South Africa at the Oval. A dubious gamble in my view, given the potential for the captaincy to adversely impact impair (thanks mystery commenter!) his batting, just as it did Michael Vaughan. Then again the selectors ensured that they had very few options, thanks to their criteria. As Geoff Miller said today:

"In choosing a new captain, we were keen to identify a player who could lead the team in all three forms of cricket and bring fresh enthusiasm and ideas to the role of captain."

In other words slap and tickle 20/20 cricket helped determine the choice of a captain for the test match XI. Since Pietersen and Flintoff are the only players guaranteed a spot in 20/20, 50 over and five day cricket it had to be him. This is madness, but a fresh reminder (if you really needed it) that all the talk of keeping test cricket as the pinnacle of the game is just that: talk.

And the idea that England need the same skipper in all three forms of the game is itself based on nothing more than a hunch. India, for instance, seem to manage fine with Dhoni captaining the ODI side and Kumble helming the test XI. In any case, the idea that the test captain must be able to hold down a place in the 20/20 side is a typically depressing notion that, alas, should surprise precisely no-one...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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