KP, ‘eye-candy’ signings and Aussies in NZ?

Kevin Pietersen’s temporary move to Surrey has created a piquant powderkeg in the Brit Oval dressing room. For Graham Thorpe, the man who, theoretically at least, is assigned to address the technical aspects of his game, was a frontrunner in questioning Pietersen’s diminishing returns at international level. It was two months ago when Surrey batting coach Thorpe claimed the 30-year-old KP was not making the most of his ‘monumental’ talent, and had been superseded by Eoin Morgan as England’s key player. “He no longer has the mantle of being the side’s linchpin,” Thorpe reflected. “A run of games littered with cameos is not sufficient.” Pietersen responded in kind by suggesting it must be nice to get into the newspapers occasionally. “I’ve got so much stick in my career that a bloke like Graham Thorpe coming out and saying what he needs to say is, honestly – water off a duck’s back,” said KP. There is history too as Pietersen’s emergence ended Thorpe’s Test career on the eve of the 2005 Ashes. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

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An even more spectacular fall from grace has been suffered by Ramnaresh Sarwan, who only last year began the Test series win over England with consecutive scores of 107, 94, 106 and 291. Back and hamstring injuries have hampered the 30-year-old in 2010 but he has still made 11 appearances for West Indies, which made his exclusion from their contracted players’ list due to ‘unsatisfactory’ fitness all the more eyecatching.

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Scotland’s U-turn on playing in Zimbabwe next month, following governmental advice that the African country has yet to undergo sufficient political reform, comes at a time when Zimbabwe Cricket are going to extreme lengths to persuade the rest of the cricketing world things are finally changing for the better. Forget the recent eye-candy signings of Allan Donald and Jason Gillespie as coaches in the revamped domestic competition, it is the re-engaging of more than a dozen ZC employees unceremoniously sacked during the Noughties regime change that is most significant. Those that had fled abroad were lured back and even provided with gleaming new water pumps – a necessity for healthy living in the country – at the organisation’s considerable expense. Pumps proved a primary target for looters during the emphatic social collapse of 2008.

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Leading Australians, including Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken, are exploring the option of playing Twenty20 cricket across the water in New Zealand during this Ashes winter. Lee no longer plays first-class matches while Bracken, his former new-ball partner in limited-overs internationals, has slipped down the pecking order. New Zealand’s 20-over competition takes place in December, while the Big Bash – Australia’s version – begins in January. Playing in both would increase an individual’s chances of making the lucrative Champions League.

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Players opting for the subcontinent’s 20-over pot of gold is an ongoing concern for international boards. Now, we are on the verge of a coach making the Indian Premier League his priority with Matthew Mott expected to sever ties with New South Wales after being interviewed by new franchise Kochi.

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