Former England captain Mike Gatting believes Kevin Pietersen can be a modern-day Ian Botham in his new World Cup opening position.
Having deposed Steven Davies in the squad, wicketkeeper Matt Prior was favourite to partner Andrew Strauss at the top of the order, while Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott also had their supporters.
England sprung a surprise in Wednesday’s warm-up match against Canada, though, promoting Pietersen to the role.
Gatting feels it could be an inspired decision, citing the job the big-hitting Botham once performed in limited-overs cricket.
“It’s interesting to see KP opening because we weren’t quite sure what the coach was going to do with that position,” said Gatting at the launch of a joint venture by the Lord’s Taverners and the Macquarie Group to promote disabled participation in table cricket.
“It’s a very interesting step to take and it will be a talking point, but looking back to when I played one-day cricket, we used to open with Ian Botham.
“The fact is he is talented, can hit the ball through the field and over the top. He can really give impetus.”
Gatting feels the apparent decision to abandon the long-standing notion of opening with a gloveman – a move popularised by Australia legend Adam Gilchrist is a good one.
“What you want in the one-day stuff is for your best players to get in quickly and for a long time,” he continued. “Sometimes you put your wicket keeper up there and you can end up with a specialist batsman not getting as long at the crease. If Kevin gets going early then he has 50 overs to bat and it will be damaging for the opposition if he stays in.”
n The Cricket World Cup was sung in by Bryan Adams in Dhaka yesterday.
A short set of the Canadian rocker’s favourites seemed to provide ample entertainment for the 21,000 people inside the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Adams’s party piece concluded a colourful evening which began with the entry of England’s Andrew Strauss and the other 13 World Cup captains behind tournament mascot Stumpy the elephant in a succession of ornately decorated rickshaws.
They were presented to a hugely enthusiastic crowd, impatient for the tournament’s first game tomorrow when co-hosts Bangladesh and India will clash.