Kevin Pietersen has labelled England’s handling of Joe Denly as “atrocious” after the No.3 was dropped one Test into the summer.
Denly was outperformed by his Kent teammate Zak Crawley in the first Test of England’s series against West Indies, scoring 47 off 128 balls in the game compared to the younger man’s 86 off 153. It continued a pattern of Denly making starts, scoring slowly, and not kicking on in Test cricket, but it has been suggested that this is a role England asked the 34-year-old to perform, with the term ‘Dentury’ coined to note when he reached his target of facing 100 balls.
Pietersen said that asking Denly to mould himself into that role did a disservice to his traits as an attacking batsman.
“The way that Joe Denly has been treated over the last two years, being told by senior management to just try and face 100 balls, is atrocious,” the former England batsman wrote on BetWay. “I saw what Denly did in the Big Bash a couple of seasons ago. He turned up and started whacking everybody all around Australia. The guys at my team, Melbourne Stars, couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I played with him in the first part of his England career, too. He always looked to attack and get after the bowling.
“He has every shot. He’s got a wonderful cover drive, he plays the pull shot, he plays the hook shot. I’d definitely like to see him be given the opportunity to go out and bat freely. If that doesn’t work then he’s not good enough for Test-match cricket. Good night.
“But you can’t tell him to change his ways, just face 100 balls, and then drop him because he doesn’t do it. It’s truly abysmal.”
Denly’s career is now likely to be over, but Pietersen said he would have given him more chances and an attacking brief. “With Joe Root coming back into the side, I would have sat one of the youngsters out and allowed Denly an opportunity to play his way, with more freedom,” he said.
It’s part of what Pietersen feels is the biggest issue facing the England team: an ability to score 400 regularly.
“Having done pretty well in South Africa, England didn’t play as well as they should have done at the Ageas Bowl,” he said. “It’s so easy to start talking about the bowlers – particularly the absence of Stuart Broad – but the bigger talking point should be how they go about scoring 400 runs. They have a huge issue in the batting department and have done for a while now.
“England used to score 400 regularly. Cook, Strauss, Trott, myself, Bell. We used to cream 400 runs. It is a strategy issue, for sure.”