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'KP's indifference to spin is dangerous for England'

November 20, 2008 18:42 IST

Former England [Images] captain Mike Atherton has blamed Kevin Pietersen's [Images] dangerously indifferent and odd attitude towards spin bowling for his team's debacle in the one-day series against India so far and advised him to urgently change his mentality.

"The England captain's blinkered view has not served his side well in the opening two one-day internationals in India," Atherton said.

"Four months or so into Pietersen's captaincy is time enough to suggest that he does not consider spin to be a legitimate part of the game -- or at least an important part of a winning game plan -- and when you are in the middle of a tour to India, that is a dangerous attitude to hold," he wrote in his column for The Times on Thursday.

Atherton, who retired in 2001 and now the Chief Cricket Correspondent with the paper, said it was a well-known fact that spin played a significant role in the subcontinent.

"The lack of a specialist spinner for the opening two one-day internationals reinforced the impression given by Pietersen that spin occupies a place on the margins of his radar ... spin plays an essential part in any match in India," he said.

Atherton felt Pietersen was yet to understand the nature of Indian pitches and suggested an urgent change in his outlook towards spin might bring success not only in India but across the world.

"When (Steve) Harmison, (Andrew) Flintoff and James Anderson [Images] fail to complete their allotted ten overs, as they did in the second one-day international in Indore on Monday, you can be sure that the wrong team were chosen."

 "When the captain complains about the nature of the opposition's bowlers... you can be sure that he has yet to understand the peculiar nature of cricket in India," Atherton said.

"These are early days in Pietersen's captaincy - which in most respects has been outstanding - and the tour to India is in its infancy, but if his team are to make a success on their travels, a change of mentality is urgently required.

"Touring India requires all kinds of mental and technical adjustments, the biggest being that what works in England does not necessarily work on the sub-continent. It is a place where subtlety, in bowling and batting, will be rewarded," he added. 

The former batsman also said specialist spinner Graeme Swann appeared to be "the cricketer of last resort" in India.

"Now the inference is clear: spinners, in the world according to the England captain, are allowed to play a role, but only in so far as they are there as fodder for batsmen. It is almost as if they are a subspecies.

"...Variety is the key, and the ability to deceive through a flick of the wrist is no less important than being able to smash the ball out of the park or hurl the thing down at 90mph.

Atherton felt Pietersen's disregard for the art of slow bowling was a bit odd especially in the light that he himself started as a spinner.

"In one sense Pietersen's attitude to spin is odd, given that he started out as an off spinner... Maybe his disregard is based on his outrageous capabilities as a batsman. The greatest spinners of the modern era - Shane Warne [Images] and Muttiah Muralitharan [Images] - have suffered at his hands... but it may also be a product of his upbringing: you can take the boy out of South Africa [Images], but you can't take South Africa out of the boy," he said.

Complete coverage: England in India 2008

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