The most revealing comment in Kevin Pietersen’s denial that he will retire from one-day international cricket after the World Cup came not from the man himself but his agent Adam Wheatley, who claimed: “Kevin would like to make it clear he will continue to play ODIs for England as long as he is selected”. Word is that a proposal to step down from one form of the game is neither a recent development nor news to Pietersen’s employers at Lord’s. Crucially, however, the ECB’s central contracts demand players are available for all cricket for England within each 12-month period, and breaking that understanding voids the agreement. So Pietersen, openly critical of England’s schedule in the aftermath of the Ashes tour and increasingly a devoted family man following the arrival of son Dylan last May, would technically forfeit his right to a full year’s pay with a withdrawal of labour. One way around that, should the 30-year-old indeed want to lessen his load, would be to persuade the hierarchy to overlook him for 50-over cricket for the final six months of his deal. A precedent of sorts was set last month when Paul Collingwood announced his exit from Test cricket – his contract will be honoured because the departure was mutually agreed. But England are loath to lose players in their prime, as emphasised by the revamping of the contracts system last summer. The new three-year rolling agreements have been heavily incentivised in a bid to deter players from opting for the Indian Premier League over international cricket: a separate ‘pension’ pot based on weight of appearances now sits alongside the main contract. Points are accrued for each appearance at a significant tournament, such as the Ashes or World Cup, and converted into pounds, with a regular player in all forms of the game capable of earning six-figure sums per annum to be invested for retirement.
The changing complexion of one-day cricket in Australia contributed to the drama of an incredible contest between Tasmania and Victoria in Hobart. The Tasmanians took a point for being comfortably ahead at the halfway stage of the 45-over, split-innings game, and Victoria were reeling on 157 for six, with less than 10 overs to go, in pursuit of 259 for victory. Enter Glenn Maxwell, an unheralded number eight, whose astonishing hitting saw him clock a new Australian domestic record for the fastest 50. He brought up the landmark in just 19 deliveries and finished with 61 off 27, before Peter Siddle sealed a one-wicket win.
While Andrew Flintoff has been taking on the world on mainstream television – or a collection of ex-pros in bizarre pursuits around the globe, to be more precise – Surrey’s official radio commentator Mark Church has been taking on his own sporting challenges, nominated by supporters. He opened with a battering in the nets from former Surrey pace bowler Alex Tudor and is now looking for more imaginative suggestions to screen on the club’s website.
Plenty of punters were left in a sweat during England’s scratchy World Cup warm-up win over Canada in Fatullah. What should have been a formality turned into a nip-and-tuck victory for Andrew Strauss’ side. So imagine the heart-rates of those Betfair customers who piled on England at miniscule prices during the match – a whopping £443,452 was waged at odds of between 1-25 and 1-100.