Kevin Pietersen: County cricket is not fit to develop great batsmen
The Betway ambassador discusses why England are short of Test-quality batsmen, and writes that India may struggle in the World Test Championship final.
Franchise cricket has seen the demise of the county game
First of all, I love franchise cricket.
I think it’s wonderful for the game and I think it’s great for players that they’re earning the kind of money that they’re earning. I’m not being down on it for a second.
But it also explains why England’s Test match batting is currently so diabolical and hasn’t been good for a number of years.
When I started out, we had greats of the game in the county system.
Virender Sehwag, Stephen Fleming, Jacques Kallis, Shane Warne, Shaun Pollock, Waqar Younis, Mushtaq Ahmed, Glenn McGrath, Shoaib Akhtar, Allan Donald. The list goes on.
County cricket was where people learned their game and that’s where they got their experience.
What’s happened in the last few years is that franchise T20 cricket has taken salaries through the roof, and made it easier for the best players to earn a lot more money for a lot less work.
Since the franchise T20($$$$$$) started, hardly any of crickets GREATS have played full seasons of County Cricket.— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) June 13, 2021
HUGE gap between County & International cricket, hence the Test match batting woes!
In turn, it’s led to the demise of techniques in England – not necessarily because all of England’s players are playing in franchise cricket, but because they are no longer learning from the best on that circuit.
England have so rarely scored 500 or 600 in the last few years. Kids these days are just not learning the game, because they’re not coming up against any great players.
Name me any of the great bowlers currently playing in the County Championship? Kagiso Rabada, Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc – none of them are here.
Why should they? Who in their right mind would want to trawl up and down the M1 for six months for a quarter of the money they could earn in a domestic league in Dubai or in the IPL?
So Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence have hardly ever played against top bowlers in the longer formats, where they can test their techniques, their powers of concentration and everything else that it takes to cut it in Test cricket.
England are also lacking a quality franchise tournament
With franchise cricket the clear allure for all of the best players in the world, it is imperative that England creates a quality competition of their own.
It would have been of huge benefit to England’s struggling youngsters to have played more cricket with the some of the best players in the world.
We will see how The Hundred looks this summer. It’s a shame, albeit understandable with all of the uncertainty going on, to see lots of the top Australian players pulling out.
But look at all of the talent that comes through the IPL in India. When I played in the Pakistan Super League, the talent around was frightening.
The best players in the world are now playing in the PSL, the CPL, the Big Bash. All of these countries have got leagues where their young domestic talent is rubbing shoulders with the best from a young age.
You get to watch how they practise, how they understand the game. You learn from them.
It would have been of huge benefit to England’s struggling youngsters to have played more cricket at young ages with the some of the best, most experienced players in the world.
Unfortunately you don’t see it anywhere near enough in county cricket and haven’t done for a number of years.
England have to try and get their young players into the best franchise leagues around the world so that they can learn from the best.
New Zealand’s preparation could give them the edge over India
New Zealand have had fantastic preparation for this World Test Championship final.
They’ve played two Test matches against England, and basically outplayed them in both.
You can’t prepare for a Test match in England having been involved in an IPL that was called off a month ago and with no proper warm-up matches at all.
They’re playing with a Dukes ball so if the weather isn’t great over the first day or two, those swinging and seaming conditions will really favour New Zealand.
Their pace bowling against England was fantastic – Tim Southee at Lord’s and then Matt Henry, who probably won’t even play in this match, at Edgbaston.
You only get one or two chances in a one-off Test match, and I fear that India may be behind on their preparation.
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