They didn’t always see eye-to-eye in the dressing room but Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad have agreed on how England’s bowlers should bowl to Chris Gayle.
England take on the West Indies in the final of the World Twenty20 tonight and Gayle looms as a key figure in the match.
The powerful Jamaican smashed an unbeaten 48-ball century in the Caribbean side’s opening match of the tournament against England, the only loss for Eoin Morgan’s men so far this tournament.
After suffering a hamstring injury in the West Indies’ next match, Gayle has failed to register double digits in his only other two hits for the tournament, with the likes of Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons and Andre Fletcher stepping up with the bat in his absence.
Pietersen, however, still regards Gayle as the major obstacle between England and a second World T20 title.
“Chris Gayle is the king of the castle but West Indies have proved they are not a one man team,” Pietersen wrote in a column for The Telegraph.
“Pitching it full and straight to Gayle early on is the way to keep him quiet. He has been dismissed by full pitched swinging balls in the last two games and that is a key plan for knocking him over early on.”
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Despite his reputation as a power-hitter, Gayle often takes his time at the beginning of T20 innings.
Many, including Pietersen and Broad, believe it is at the start Gayle’s innings where opposing sides have the best chance of knocking him over cheaply.
Broad, who was left out of England’s squad for the World T20, echoed Pietersen in suggesting England’s bowlers should attack Gayle’s stumps at the start of his innings but also said they shouldn’t forget about using the short ball.
“England had success with an early bouncer against Gayle in the past so don’t be surprised to see the bowlers go short early, with fine leg back, and bowl short at his right ear,” he wrote in The Daily Mail. “No width, because he’ll uppercut you, so really tight to leg stump.”
“You’ve seen some bowlers have success by bowling really full and straight at him. David Willey has been outstanding early on for England and although he’s a left-arm over bowler, he gets great shape on that new white ball, so you could see a slip in and a full swinging delivery.
“No tall man likes a really full ball early and Willey has taken wickets in the opening overs throughout the tournament.”
After blasting a crucial 44-ball 78 to lead his side to victory in their semi-final against New Zealand, Jason Roy has been an important part of this new-look England team.
Pietersen was full of praise for Roy, stressing the freedom that he, and the rest of England’s batsmen have been given by coach Trevor Bayliss, has been a major factor in their success in the tournament.
“Jason Roy epitomises this England side,” Pietersen wrote. “He is a wonderful player. If he plays the same way tomorrow as he did in the semi-final against New Zealand then he can be a matchwinner again.
“I have already spoken to him and said just that. He is hitting strong cricket shots and when a free-spirited player like him is full of confidence he is very hard to stop.
“I have tried to keep him under my wing for a while because I love the way he plays and how he is a 360 degree player.
“It is encouraging to see a youngster like Jason being given the freedom by England to make mistakes. He is enjoying the environment. All the players are loving it and that is being reflected in results.”