The past seven days have seen several players produce performances of the highest order for their respective countries, with four centuries and five five-wicket hauls being recorded.
To begin with, the two matches in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, involving Afghanistan and the Netherlands in Sharjah, and Namibia and Canada in Windhoek, produced some exceptional cricket. Afghanistan looked to be second favourites in the UAE when they were dismissed for just 129 – Mudassar Bukhari taking six for 43 – in their first innings, but fast-bowler Izatullah Dawlatzai returned match figures of nine for 69, while debutant wicket-keeper Afsar Zazai rescued them in their run chase with an unbeaten 84 and they crept home with three wickets in hand.
Meanwhile, over at the Wanderers Cricket Ground, home captain Sarel Burger produced a display of all-round excellence with four for 42 and 135 early in the match to set up Namibia’s comfortable win, while Christi Viljoen’s seven for 61 in Canada’s second innings completed the job.
However, it is from Test cricket that this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week has come, with Kevin Pietersen’s epic 151 earning him the award. There were other candidates – perhaps most notably Graeme Swann (match figures of 10 for 181); Mahela Jayawardene (105 and 64); and Shiv Chanderpaul (103 not out in Barbados) – but it was the manner in which Pietersen made his runs as much as anything that saw him take the award. In an England first innings where no other batsman struck above 52 runs per hundred balls, Pietersen’s strike rate of over 91 showed he was back to his best, as did the controversy over the switch hit when he was nearing his century.
The 31 year-old has endured plenty of criticism of late – especially of his form in Test cricket, which has been woeful – but he looked to be getting back to his best in the One-Day Internationals that followed England’s Test humiliation against Pakistan, and this innings, played with the bravado of his youth, seems to have completed the process. England fans can only hope that his good form continues.
© Cricket World 2012