Kolkata: Kevin Pietersen, former England batting icon and now a TV pundit, had been a staunch backer of Indian Premier League (IPL) right from his playing days. It was hence no surprise when ‘KP’ found it ‘‘stupid’’ to blame IPL for the demise of England Test cricket after their 4-0 drubbing in the Ashes.
The humiliating manner of defeat Down Under, much in contrast to the absorbing contest in England in 2019, has opened up a can of worms with Test captain Joe Root blaming the surfeit of T20 cricket and the policy of England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) of prioritising The Hundred over the longer format. Root’s argument was promptly snubbed by Eoin Morgan, his counterpart in their white ball teams, when the World Cup winning captain said laying the blame on shorter formats is a case of looking for the scapegoat.
‘‘It’s a stupid logic, don’t blame the IPL for your Test failings. In any case, you have got only three players in the current Test side who play IPL regularly - Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler. Let’s face it, our county system is poor and we are paying the price for that,’’ Pietersen said during an informat chat with the media on the sidelines of the first-ever Legends League Cricket 2022 in Muscat.
Pietersen, almost a regular in Dubai, is in the Gulf again as a part of the World Giants team in the three-team exhibition T20 event which is being held from January 20-29. The other two teams are India Maharajas, Asia Lions and all the matches of the tournament are taking place at the Al-Ameerat Cricket Stadium in Muscat.
The nine-day long tournament will feature a host of retired stalwarts like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Daren Sammy and KP among others. The matches will be played in double round-robin format, with each team facing other two twice and the top two teams will battle it out in the final.
See, (Virat) Kohli is an entertainer - he is a batter who feeds the energy of the crowd to enthrall. I am also much of the same. I think it’s very harsh to criticise the modern day sportsperson but it could well be that Virat wanted to shed that extra pressure of captaincy under the circumstances
Asked if sees the Indian cricket team going through a period of transition after a change of captain in all formats and the coach, KP felt that more than two years of being a professional cricketer in a bio-bubble may have influenced Virat Kohli’s decision of stepping down from the captaincy. ‘‘See, (Virat) Kohli is an entertainer - he is a batter who feeds the energy of the crowd to enthrall. I am also much of the same. I think it’s very harsh to criticise the modern day sportsperson but it could well be that Virat wanted to shed that extra pressure of captaincy,’’ said KP.
How does he see the Indian cricket team’s fortunes unfold from here? ‘‘I love Rahul Dravid - he has done wonders with the young team and created this pipeline of talent. It remains to be seen how he handles the senior team. In terms of captaincy, there are spoilt for choice with Rohit the ‘Hitman’ the next in line and he has done some great things as captain for Mumbai Indians. KL Rahul is also there, Rishabh Pant - well not yet,’’ he said.
Speaking about the Legends League, KP said: ‘‘It’s a great concept to assemble and meet some familiar faces. This is the first series and we have had late call-ups. I believe there will be a second round in September and I hope to be better-prepared then.’’