England in subcontinent conditions against a side that had lost one of their previous 15 one day internationals and had just stuffed them three zip in the test series. I think those odds will have been pretty high.
And the return of the ego. Now I was proved right that getting rid of Bell was good for England but Pietersen finally did something to merit his place. Things made easier in the third game as his nemesis Rehman was out though back for the fourth and final game the ton Pietersen got when he was missing probably went some way to negate the mental effect of a left arm spinner coming on.
What also helped was the lack of close fielders in modern one day cricket. It was a thought brought up by Simon Hughes in commentary on TMS during the fourth game. England struggled when the Pakistan spinners were on and they were crowded by close catchers. Couldn’t hit over and couldn’t knock singles, things just got bogged down and they got themselves out. But with the stereotyped one day captaincy the field in this series was spread as far wide as possible within the fielding restrictions.
So much of the pressure is removed. You just wonder what would have happened if they’d played it like one of the test matches. It would have removed any sort of comfort zone from batters who had really struggled like Pietersen. ODI cricket needs a captain to do something like that or they’re just gonna keep changing the laws to combat it becoming predictable and stereotyped, played by the numbers – so many overs do this, next do that, every game.
On that basis, though Cook did well with his two tons – as did Pietersen – they were match winning in a way I would have given the player of the series to Finn. His bowling was outstanding when you consider the last game was his worst statistically when he only took two wickets and went for a whole 4.2 runs per over. Thirteen wickets for 134 runs in 40 overs – so only 3.35 runs per over and wicket average 10.3 – for a paceman on those pitches. Think that might deserve it a bit more.