Saturday 24 March 2018

Cricket: England risk Pietersen pique after Twitter fine

Derek Pringle

The England and Wales Cricket Board obviously feels it needs to spice up the series against the West Indies with a handicap system -- it has risked alienating Kevin Pietersen by fining him £3,000 for Twitter offences ahead of today's second Test at Trent Bridge.

Pietersen questioned Nick Knight's right to be in a Sky commentary box alongside Ian Botham and Nasser Hussain. Sky bankroll the game -- their latest four-year deal is worth £260m -- but, on this occasion, the ECB appears to have been unduly sensitive in punishing him.

"It's a difficult one," said England's captain Andrew Strauss.

"Twitter is a great way for individuals to express their opinions and to garner positive publicity for the game. But we have conditions of employment that don't allow us to talk about everything and anything.

"We can't criticise the International Cricket Council, we can't criticise umpires and, in this case, the ECB wasn't happy with Kevin's comments with regard to our broadcaster. That's their right as a board."


The next few days will determine whether England prosper or suffer from punishing Pietersen.

The West Indies competed well in the second half of the first Test at Lord's and, with the weather set fair, they should give a better account of themselves here.

Ravi Rampaul, missing from Lord's with a stiff neck, is expected to return for the injured Shannon Gabriel, and could enjoy bowling at Trent Bridge almost as much as James Anderson has, with 33 wickets in five Tests.

England will almost certainly stick with the team who brought victory at Lord's.

Tim Bresnan did not excel there but he did take 7-96 here against India last year and is likely to hold off the challenge of Steven Finn, not least because his batting is superior.

Their visitors, having realised that pitches deteriorate over five days, are set to include Shane Shillingford, a frontline spinner.

His only way in is in place of Fidel Edwards, whose creaking body seems able to supply one burst of pace a day, but not two.

If it happens, captain Darren Sammy will be first-change seamer, a promotion beyond his means in most conditions but not perhaps here if it swings.

The West Indies, who last played here in 1995, have never lost a first-class match at Trent Bridge, which is some record away from home. If they maintain it, Pietersen's tweets really will be worth reading. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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