A strain to his left calf prevented mercurial batsman Kevin Pietersen taking to the field for Australia’s second innings in the second Ashes Test and he is now considered a doubt for the third instalment of the series at Old Trafford.
Whether he’s passed fit to participate or not, though, dominant England should have no trouble wrapping up the win that will guarantee them a hat-trick of Ashes triumphs and a price of 4/6 for them to win the third Test should not be knocked.
There’ll be plenty of understudies desperate for a crack at the beleaguered Aussies should Pietersen fail to reach optimum fitness, though the England hierarchy is faced with a slight headache of which to pick.
Joe Root’s match-winning 180 in the Three Lions’ second innings means he isn’t going to be dislodged from the top of the order, which deems a reprieve for Nick Compton unlikely, though not impossible.
Shifting Root down to four is an option for Andy Flower, but after decimating the Australian attack with a level of excellence that far surpassed his 22 years of age, it would be an unwise avenue to take.
One-day specialist Eoin Morgan has found himself way out of the Test reckoning of late and Ravi Bopara is sidelined with injury.
Drafting Compton back in and playing him at four, therefore, would be a low-risk alternative to Pietersen in what is a match with a lot at stake in, despite the obvious discrepancy in quality between England and Australia.
It’s fair to argue that South African-born Compton didn’t get a fair crack of the proverbial whip after being dropped despite hitting two tons in his nine Tests, and a second spell in the team is definitely merited.
Plus, a Test against the inferior Aussies could be the perfect platform for Compton to churn out some big scores on the international stage.
Whoever the selectors choose to replace Pietersen, one thing that looks likely is that, with Pietersen’s fitness now in a race against the clock, his 20/1 rating to be the top run scorer of this summer’s Ashes should be steered well clear of.
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