Alex Massie

Why is Kevin Pietersen Playing in the Twenty20 World Cup?

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Every so often someone at Lords remembers to trot out the line that Test Cricket is and must remain the pinnacle of the game; every time this happens something pops up that makes it harder than ever to take the ECB seriously when they say this. Not that the ECB are the only culprits; the ICC is just as bad. The latest evidence supporting the sense that given the opportunity to protect or devalue test cricket he people running English cricket will invariably choose the option that most damages the greatest form of the greatest game is the news that, despite being injured, Kevin Pietersen expects to play in this month's World Twenty20 Cup.

Well, why not? It's not as though there's an important test series starting in July is there?

A couple of other things: Pietersen is still two weeks away from being able to run. So, clearly, it makes sense to play him in a series of smack-and-giggle Twenty20 fixtures that can only exacerbate the chances of him aggravating the injury and, therefore, quite possibly missing the Ashes. Somehow, I doubt the Australians would be so reckless with, say, Ricky Ponting's fitness. Then again, they're not fools.

Secondly, Pietersen apparently injured his ankle and achilles tendon by running on tarmac roads. Handily, this supports my long-held view that the best way to be fit to play cricket is to, like, play cricket and that much of the obsession with "fitness" these days is pointless at best and quite possibly does as much to hurt players as help them.

Twenty20 is fine* and just a bit of fun and all that but, no mater how much it may please the marketing men, it's not cricket that matters in the way that test cricket matters. You know this because the marketing men are very excited by Twenty20. Naturally, then, it's interests must be put before those of the cricket that really does matter, just as the interests of people with at best a passing interest in cricket must be placed ahead of those of the people who actually love the game. This latter group, you see, are part of the problem, not the solution.

*As an occasional diversion and spot of jollity. An entertaining couple of hours to spend with some big hitting, some pals and a few tinnies. But that's all. Not nothing, but not the Second Coming either.

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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