Kevin Pietersen: Any one of four teams could win the IPL
The Betway ambassador previews the final week of the IPL, laments Jofra Archer’s latest injury and analyses England’s appointment of Brendon McCullum.
The right teams are at the top of the IPL table
It’s going to be a fantastic final week of the IPL.
It feels right that the two teams definitely through to the play-offs are Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants. I’ve been very impressed by both. The fact that they are new franchises means that they have approached this competition with no fear and a fresh slate, which has worked for them.
Lucknow batting for 20 overs without losing a single wicket on Wednesday was incredible. It’s not something you can ever imagine happening, considering the risks you take and the shots you play.
Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul always had the potential to do something special as an opening partnership but that was crazy and puts them in a great position to go on and win the tournament.
The race for fourth is gripping
The race for the play-offs is well and truly on after RCB got the job done on Thursday.
I still see Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals getting in there, though.
I’m really hoping Rajasthan can go all the way in the memory of Shane Warne. It feels like there should be a special energy in that franchise at the moment.
Delhi are another team that I follow closely and always hope do well. Mitchell Marsh is flying at the moment and Kuldeep Yadav is a match-winner, so I think if they get into the top four they will be dangerous.
Devastated for Jofra Archer
It’s terrible news for poor Jofra Archer that he’ll miss the whole summer. He’s shown moments of brilliance for England and other teams and it’s just a horrible blow for him.
It’s difficult to imagine him recovering from this to play long-form cricket again, that’s the horrible reality. Hopefully he can still carve out a top-level white-ball career.
His stress fracture to the back follows a pattern of these injuries being sustained by England bowlers.
I do think that the number of sports scientists can complicate things far too much. When I was playing, fast bowlers used to bowl a lot of overs in the nets and got bowling fit.
They went through the hard yards in their preparation and weren’t molly-coddled in between games. Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Glenn McGrath and all the other greats weren’t told how many balls they could bowl by a sports scientist every day. They knew their bodies and got properly fit.
It feels now like England’s fast bowlers can’t cope with tough, long days with the ball because they’re not used to it.
Delighted with England’s Brendon McCullum appointment
Brendon McCullum is a very interesting choice as England’s Test match coach.
I think his brand of cricket is one that will be along the same lines as what Rob Key and Ben Stokes want. It’s also what the paying public want to watch.
Something needed to change, and this is positive change. England will now have lots of discipline, but also be encouraged to play naturally. Don’t be scared, don’t be timid, go out and do your thing.
McCullum also isn’t scarred by England’s recent failures. He only knows positivity, and he’s only known success as a leader of a Test team after his time as captain of New Zealand.
The selection of Harry Brook in the Test squad follows his blueprint. I said that Brook should be in the Test squad when I saw him play in The Hundred last summer. He is a natural talent, and has to be backed.
Even though the rest of the squad is quite similar, hopefully McCullum and Stokes can get them playing better cricket.
I don’t believe that these aren’t the best players in England, I just think that the standard of players coming out of the county game is poor. Hopefully McCullum can get more out of them.
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