'Pietersen move up the order is permanent'
by Cricket Archive Staff Reporter

Ground:Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Scorecard:Australia v England
Player:KP Pietersen, A Flintoff, SR Clark, PD Collingwood, CMW Read, AJ Strauss, MJ Hoggard, JM Anderson, RT Ponting
Event:England in Australia 2006/07

DateLine: 29th December 2006


Although the experiment was an initial failure, England captain Andrew Flintoff said Kevin Pietersen's move to No.4 in the batting order was permanent.


Pietersen was promoted from No.5 on what turned out to be the final day of the fourth Ashes Test against Australia here Thursday, but was bowled for just one in a rare failure for the series.


The tall and powerful batsman received an almost unplayable delivery from Australian seamer Stuart Clark, the ball jagging back off the pitch and spearing straight through his defences.


Paul Collingwood batted at No.4 in the first innings here and made a double century in that position in the second Test, but Flintoff said Pietersen would again be given the role in the fifth Test in Sydney, starting on January 2.


Flintoff said the supremely confident Pietersen himself had instigated the change. "Kevin asked if he could bat at No.4 and he's been in good touch," Flintoff said. "He started the tour batting at five and he feels he can do the job at No.4 so he asked to go up there. The way's he's been playing, you wouldn't say no. He's been fantastic all trip, so why not give him that opportunity he wants?"


England are unlikely to make many changes for the Sydney Test, with few selection avenues left after a disastrous series. Opener Andrew Strauss battled the flu here but is certain to play. Swing bowler Matthew Hoggard looked troubled by a side strain when he bowled on the second day and could be a doubt, which could open the door for James Anderson to return. Wicketkeeper Chris Read was sharp in taking six catches in the Australian innings and showed impressive resilience with the bat in England's second innings.


Flintoff again dismissed suggestions his own form was being affected by the rigours of captaincy. "I've played a hell of a lot worse than this in my career," he said. "It is not through lack of effort, I'm just not in the greatest form of my life. I am trying and hopefully I can turn it around in Sydney."


Flintoff also defended the decision to bat when he won the toss, with Australian captain Ricky Ponting later noting that he believed England's only chance of winning was to bat first.


"We thought that batting first was the best option," he said. "We thought it might deck around a bit for the first hour, but get better as it dried out a bit. But it was tough to bat on."


Despite having a horrific run in the match with umpiring decisions, Flintoff said it was no excuse for a three-day defeat.


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