It is sometimes suggested that Kevin Pietersen is England’s only player to be recognised worldwide for his T20 exploits. While it is true that of England’s core Test side, he is the only one with a truly high IPL demand, it also does disservice to another, somewhat more English export – and I’m not talking about Ravi Bop.
Luke Wright has played in T20 tournaments on four continents – Australia, the Carribean World Cup, this current World Cup in Sri Lanka and of course with his native Sussex in the English competition. It is Australia’s Big Bash League where he has been most successful, thumping his way to success with the Melbourne Stars including an unbeaten 117 from 67 balls. He has also signed up to play for the Pune Warriors in the next IPL.
Does Luke Wright replace Kevin Pietersen? No. It is likely that Wright would have played even with Pietersen available. Pietersen would inevitably have opened. Wright would have been included not only for his powerful batting, but also for his energy in the field and slightly-more-than-useful medium pace.
It is also unlikely that KP would have reversed the results of the two fixtures England have lost to date in this World Cup. In both matches, although the top of England’s order did indeed dribble rather than froth, it was the bowlers which allowed the opposition to set targets in excess of 180 (traditionally England have been successful in low-scoring T20 matches rather than in big chases – which rather goes against the old basmati grain; big sixes over short boundaries off medium trundlers seems to be the most complicated thing the IPL format stands for).
Can England win the tournament without Kevin Pietersen? Why not? They would probably require other teams to get rid of India and Sri Lanka, and I’m not sure I fancy them against Saeed Ajmal should they draw Pakistan either, but if the draw pits them against Australia or SA in the semis, then the shortest format is enough of a lottery to give England as much of a chance as any other. They certainly would not be favourites, but no side is ahead of the pack.