Pietersen sees power in the ranks
Kevin Pietersen is confident England have as good a chance as anyone to prevail in a World Twenty20 tournament that seems too close to call.
There appears to be no clear favourite to reach the final at Barbados’ Kensington Oval on May 16, and England arguably have their best opportunity to end their long drought to win an ICC event.
To reach the final, England will have to qualify from Group D in Guyana next week, come through the Super Eight stage initially at Bridgetown - where they have just won both their warm-up matches against Bangladesh and South Africa - and then emerge from a semi-final in St Lucia.
Pietersen, who made a first-ball duck against South Africa yesterday upon arrival after spending time with his pregnant wife, is encouraged by what he has seen so far.
“It’s a great start by the boys. It’s important to win, because it becomes a habit,” said Pietersen.
“I think we’ve got a good chance. We’ve got some pretty good spin bowlers - Swanny’s (Graeme Swann) obviously world-class; (Michael) Yardy’s performed brilliantly in the two warm-up games, and I think I may have a trundle in Guyana on those wickets.
“If we field well, take all our catches and have some moments of brilliance, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go a long, long way.
“But anyone could win this tournament - it’s very unpredictable.”
Pietersen is ready to see slow bowlers dominate many matches.
“Most of the wickets are taken by spinners, and lots of spinners open the bowling here," he added.
“But we have those weapons in our locker as well, so we’ll be able to use them if we need to.”
Eoin Morgan was the match-winner with the bat against South Africa, and Ravi Bopara likewise against Bangladesh, though he was dropped to accommodate Pietersen at number three the next day.
The new-look opening partnership of Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb has yet to fire.
But Pietersen believes there is potential for big runs right through the order.
“Our batters seem to be in pretty good nick,” he said.
“It would be nice to see Kieswetter get a few; Lumby’s obviously in some good nick from the IPL (Indian Premier League) - and our seamers are doing an okay job as well.”
Pietersen himself fared well at the IPL, and it seems his rehabilitation as a world-class batsman - after ankle surgery interrupted his Ashes campaign last summer - is continuing.
“As an international sportsman, you’re always learning,” he said. “I hope I’ve come out of a bad patch - I feel in pretty good nick at the minute.
“But let’s wait and see. In a Twenty20 tournament, anything can happen.”
Meanwhile, Pietersen is preaching a policy of patience for all batsmen, on wickets which are likely to have little pace in Guyana and St Lucia and plenty of turn at all three venues.
“I reckon batters are definitely going to have to be a lot more patient,” he said. “They’re certainly not wickets for strokemakers.
“You’re going to have to gauge the wicket, the circumstances - and a lot will depend on which part of the innings you come in at. It will probably be a patience game.”