England’s win over India, South Africa’s thrilling draw against Australia, and New Zealand’s fighting start to the second Test in Sri Lanka - not to mention West Indies’ series clinching win in Khulna - have all combined to produce multiple contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award.
Most of the contenders are batsmen, with Ross Taylor, David Warner, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Alastair Cook, Mike Hussey, Graeme Smith and debutant Abul Hasan all hitting centuries - the latter from number 10. There were also two double centuries. Marlon Samuels hit a career-best 260 on a placid pitch in Khulna and later admitted that he should have made it a triple, while Michael Clarke set up what should have been an Australia victory with 230 against South Africa.
There is one man, however, who also reached three figures and who stands out from the aforementioned nine. Kevin Pietersen dazzled once again and was named man of the match for England in their unexpected series-leveling triumph in Mumbai. Despite his recent troubles, which he effectively admitted had adversely affected his performance in the first Test, Pietersen hit 186, in trying conditions, off only 233 balls. Without his innings, England would have been reduced to the one-man Alastair Cook show which they had been in Ahmedabad - probably with a familiar result. With it, they were a team transformed.
Considerable credit must also go to Monty Panesar who, along with Tino Best (six for 40 in Bangladesh’s second innings), was really the only bowler to prosper last week. Panesar, now more than six years on from his Test debut, was still as overjoyed as ever at each of his ten wickets which were almost as big a factor in England’s win as Pietersen. He, though, wouldn’t have had much of a chance to work his magic without Pietersen, whose “re-integration” process, according to Matt Prior, is now complete.
© Cricket World 2012
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