To attack or not attack is Pietersen's quandary

The world's top players are divided on what the new England skipper must take.
Kevin Pietersen displays his usual attacking style of play during the thirt Test between England and South Africa.
Kevin Pietersen displays his usual attacking style of play during the thirt Test between England and South Africa.

Silverstone / Melbourne // Andrew Flintoff has urged Kevin Pietersen not to alter the way he bats after becoming England's new captain. Pietersen is England's leading batsman with an average in excess of 50 in Test and one-day cricket and has become renowned for his exciting approach which includes the innovative "switch hit" shot.

Flintoff believes it would be a mistake if Pietersen decides to curb his style after taking over from Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood as dual captain of the one-day and Test sides. The Lancashire all-rounder says: "Kevin has got to play the way he wants to play. Look at his stats. He is better than anyone [in the side] so why would you change? Let him go and do his thing. "He is a fine player. He has got confidence by the bucketload and he will probably take that into his captaincy. The one thing we don't want is for him to change.

"He goes out to bat and will bat left-handed, switch shots and all those things. But he doesn't just think about it on the spot. You watch him practice in the nets. "For the 2006 Ashes series in Australia he worked so hard at dealing with the short ball. He works so hard on his fitness as well. Quite a lot of thought goes into the way he plays. "He averages 50-odd with the bat in both forms of the game and he is an unbelievable talent.

"Everyone will ask 'will his batting be affected?' but knowing Kevin, he will probably average 70 as captain." However, Pietersen's former Hampshire teammate, Shane Warne, admits that he will need to "reconsider his whole outlook". Warne says: "Kevin Pietersen now stands at a crossroads in his life as well as his career. Being England captain will take up more time than he can imagine and he will need to reconsider his whole outlook.

"To be successful a leader must be a giver not a taker - to his team, fringe players, sponsors, the public, everyone." Flintoff believes Pietersen will have the confidence and self belief to think he can replace Vaughan, who won 26 of his 51 Tests as captain. "I don't think he will be thinking of the boots he's got to fill. He will have a plan of what he has to do and how he wants to go about it," says Flintoff.

Pietersen accepted the captaincy only after making amends with the coach Peter Moores. He held talks with Moores aimed at salvaging an increasingly fractious relationship between them which threatened Pietersen's willingness to take the highly-scrutinised role. But asked whether he believed they could take the team forward together, Pietersen stressed: "I don't think I would be sitting here today if I wasn't 100 per cent confident that everything is going to be perfectly fine.

"He [Moores] likes to challenge us on a daily basis. There are a lot of strong characters and opinionated people in the dressing room and yesterday I sat down with Peter and we had a really good discussion on how we want to take this team forward. "My position as a player to becoming captain is now totally different and we need to unite and get on to the same hymn sheet and we need to get this team going forward.

"He likes to challenge players, but the crux of yesterday's meeting was to determine and decipher where Peter and myself can take this England team." * PA Sport

Published: August 5, 2008 04:00 AM


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