England played a T20 match the other day. I don’t really mind the international stuff the way I dislike the IPL, but I did actually forget that it was on and missed a pretty comprehensive defeat. Such things happen in T20s with regularity and there should not be too much read into them. The format has a sizeable element of chance about the result and sometimes it will swing heavily toward one team. Of course there is skill involved as well and South Africa may have simply been the better team (as I said above, I didn’t actually watch it so I don’t know), but it is important that no substantial conclusions be based on that match. That point also holds true for Australia’s super over defeat at the hands of Pakistan. Leaving aside the bizarre fact that they played a super over even though it was not a knockout match, the result sent Australia below Ireland in the ICC T20 rankings. But these are actually even less reliable than the results of one match; most international T20 matches are one-off affairs at the end of a tour and there are simply too few being played to meaningfully rank the teams. As amusing as it may be from an English perspective it simply does not mean anything.
Despite this, however, I did see a predictable and ridiculous conclusion almost immediately announced: that the defeat showed that England ‘needed’ Kevin Pietersen. It showed no such thing. Even leaving aside my personal feelings on the Pietersen issue; it should go without saying that if England needed Kevin Pietersen to win then they would never be able to win without him. And yet England beat the West Indies in the first T20 of the summer and won eight out of ten ODIs played without him. He might be a useful addition to the side; he might make England more likely to win, but that is also true of Matt Prior or a time-travelling Ian Botham from his pomp and no one would claim that England need either of them to win. In the same manner it is absolutely not true that England need Kevin Pietersen to win. This just seems to be a convenient refrain to spout every time England lose, regardless of the actual circumstances. It’s rapidly becoming as annoying and stupid as that ubiquitous ‘your boys took one hell of a beating’ ‘joke’ that is now said by someone after almost every single result. Both need to stop.