Pietersen plays for himself: Buchanan
AUSTRALIAN coach John Buchanan has accused England star Kevin Pietersen of selfishness during this Ashes series by distancing himself from his teammates and dictating where he bats.
In a verbal barb sure to spice up next week’s final T e s t i n S y d n e y , Buchanan said he had not s e e n a n y e v i d e n c e suggesting the tourists’ best and most confident batsman was a team player.
England yesterday confirmed Pietersen batted at No. 4 in the second innings of the fourth Test in Melbourne because he was tired of batting with the tail, which he had done regularly this series at No. 5.
Before Thursday, Australia had questioned why England had waited until the fall of the third wicket before sending in their most destructive batsman, and Buchanan said Pietersen would be determined to bat at No. 4 so he could impose himself on the fifth Test, which starts on Tuesday.
‘‘I would be expecting Pietersen to be constantly chipping away at (England coach) Duncan Fletcher about where he bats and how he can impact on the game,’’ Buchanan said.
‘‘Now he has got the opportunity, so let’s see him deliver that in Sydney if that’s where they stick with him.’’
In a further backhander, Buchanan said Pietersen often appeared removed and distant from his teammates on the field, given he was a good in-fielder but spent a lot of his time patrolling the boundary.
He s a i d d i f f e r e n t characters were essential to any side, but made a point of singling out the high-profile Pietersen.
‘‘Pietersen certainly talks about himself as a team player and I don’t personally see any evidence of that, but that’s f r o m a d i s t a n c e , ’ ’ Buchanan said.
‘‘I’m not in their dressing room but he could be one of the greatest team men of all time.
‘‘That’s a question for you to pose to Pietersen or England team management.’’
Pietersen spent 2005 batting at No. 5 for England, batted No. 4 for most of 2006 and then dropped down for the Ashes series.
He averages over 50 in both positions.
Fletcher said Pietersen felt most comfortable batting at No. 5 but had asked he and captain Andrew Flintoff for a promotion because he did not want to be again stranded with tailenders.
In four of seven innings t h i s s e r i e s w h e r e Pietersen batted at five, he either holed out chasing quick runs or was left not out after running out of partners because of England’s woes in the lower order.
Pietersen discussed a promotion with Fletcher and Flintoff halfway through the MCG Test.
‘‘He said ‘I’m batting with the tail a lot, I’d like to bat four’,’’ Fletcher said.
‘‘We said ‘are you sure you want to bat four and move up?’, and he said ‘I’d prefer to bat at four instead of being caught with the the tail we’ve got at the moment’.
‘‘So we said ‘go in at No. 4’. Kevin will bat four right through the Sydney Test match.’’
Fletcher said Paul Collingwood had been supportive of swapping positions because he recognised Pietersen was the tourists’ best batsman.
DEATH RATTLE . . . Kevin Pietersen doesn’t need to be told he’s just been clean bowled
by Stuart Clark on day three of the fourth Test at the MCG