The cats finally out of the bag, as a combination of Michael Vaughan been interrogated on BBC 5Live and an ECB leak to the Mirror’s Dean Wilson, have all but confirmed Alastair Cook put the block on any potential Kevin Pietersen return to the England Test team.
While on 5 Live’s Tuffers and Vaughan show on Tuesday night and under heavy questioning from presenter Mark Chapman, Vaughan finally admitted that during his conversations with Tom Harrison about potentially becoming England’s new Director of Cricket, that it would be a discussion he would need to have with the current captain (rather than Harrison) if he wished to recall Kevin Pietersen at any stage.
That confirmed to me that Cook was the real reason behind Pietersen’s omission. Then if any further evidence was required, it emerged on Thursday when Dean Wilson reported that Cook has issued a ‘Me or Im’ ultimatum to the ECB, and that the ECB had felt they had no option but to back Cook for the time being.
This can be further backed up by the fact that Strauss admitted that beyond this summer who knows what might happen regarding Pietersen playing for England again, suggesting that Cook might not be in the job for much longer, and if this situation arises, all bets are off and Cook’s Pietersen veto would be in the past.
If you interpret things this way, it is hardly a ringing endorsement for Cook as a Captain from his bosses, but it all adds up.
I personally think this Pietersen issue is far from over. If he keeps his own and Piers Morgan’s mouth shut (a very big if), keeps his head down and continues to score runs, then I can see him back in the England fold if Jason Gillespie takes over.
All this uncertainty doesn’t seem to have made much change in the betting for the next England coach, as Jason Gillespie still heads the betting at 6/4. This is despite reservations from the likes of Matthew Hayden and Yorkshire Captain, Andrew Gale, who both suggested that as his own man, Gillespie might not be interested in a job that come with preconditions attached.
And added to that, who knows if Gillespie would want to work with a captain like Cook anyway? Given his Yorkshire connections, and his known preference for attack minded cricket, Gillespie might insist on Joe Root being England captain instead, thus reopening the door to Pietersen, and yet another humiliating u-turn by the ECB – now who could see that coming?
The bookmakers currently offering 6/4 on Gillespie to be next England cricket coach are bet365 and Ladbrokes (both bookmakers who’s free bets can be used to make risk free money using the Profit Maximiser service). Also making Gillespie favourite are Paddy Power at 5/4, and Betfred at 11/8.
Next in the betting comes Justin Langer at 5/1 with Totepool and Betfred, with Paul Farbrace at 6/1.
If you are considering a bet on this market, it could be worth deciding whether you believe the ECB want a ‘yes’ man, or whether they are prepared to be bold and go for a coach who will probably want full control?
England take on New Zealand in a two Test series starting at Lord’s on Thursday (21st May). England are currently 6/4 to win the 1st Test, with the draw at 2/1, and the Black Caps are 12/5 to get the series off to a winning start.