The Sporting Chameleon

an absolute cheesecake of a sports blog

Pietersen injury highlights a wider problem for the game

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KEVIN PIETERSEN has been forced out of the rest of this summer’s Ashes series with an achilles injury.

The loss of their best batsman is a huge loss for England.

And it now means, following Andrew Flintoff’s looming retirement (although Flintoff will limp through the rest of the series), the IPL has cost England probably their two best players and definitely their two most marketable.

For a gentlemanly, non-contact sport cricket loses a huge proportion of its big names to injury.

England already went into this series without former captain Michael Vaughan and fast-bowler Simon Jones, with injuries having curtailed their careers.

Likewise Australia have been without potentially their best bowler, Brett Lee, and their best all-rounder, Shane Watson, for the first two tests.

No wonder the ECB has pulled the plug on its proposed second Twenty20 tournament – the IPL rivalling P20.

Cricket finds itself in a tricky situation.

Test cricket is still the highest level of the game and is consequently its most sacred.

Twenty20 is the new kid on the block and has quickly become the sport’s most exciting and lucrative format.

The ECB has also removed the Pro40 competition from its 2010 schedule, meaning county cricket will feature no one-day league from next year.

It is rare the ECB gets a decision right, but this is one the ICC should pay attention to, as the one-day format, whether 40 or 50 overs, has no place in the modern game.

Cricket needs its box-office stars, such as Pietersen and Flintoff, fit and firing for its box-office occasions, such as the Ashes.

But the sport’s grand fromages are putting the money, before the players.

Cycling’s administrators are not holding two Tour de Frances a year, just as FIFA is not tempted to make the World Cup an annual event.

And if the world’s best cricketers are going to continue to be able to play cricket, there needs to be less not more of it taking place.

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