Dubai: Former England captain and legendary batsman Kevin Pietersen feels that cricket currently only has two real superstars.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News during the Al Nabooda Insurance Brokers (ANIB) KP24 Foundation team’s match against ICC Academy warriors team as part of Pietersen’s ten-day cricket and education camp, Pietersen said: “I think Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers are the only absolute superstars in International cricket. Jos Buttler from England too. I can watch him bat and among the bowlers there are not many except Mitchell Starc from Austraila, Dale Steyn from South Africa — but no one else.”
When asked whether he feels that there is a dearth of talent in world cricket, Pietersen said: “There are many very good players but there are not absolute stars. Cricket lost a lot of the stars like Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Brett Lee, Freddy (Andrew Flintoff) and Chris Gayle. International cricket have lost all these guys and it is sad because people like entertainers, entertainment and characters like them.”
Pietersen, known for his entertaining batting, has also been ignored by the England team after the infamous fall-out. But he still keeps fit despite not playing international cricket.
Pietersen said: “I train almost every single day and I have never been as fit as this for a very long time. I know there is a lot of travelling coming up and my schedule gets busy from end of next week. So I have been training super hard.”
When Pietersen is so much in demand by cricket leagues around the world, how does he feel about being ignored by England? “I am not worried about England, a lot of people worry more than I do about England. I have the best life now. I pick the tournaments that I want to play in and I go there travelling with my family. Nobody can tell me I cannot have my family with me. I go on holidays whenever I want to go on holidays. In T20 cricket you still can earn a very good living, better than probably lots of international cricketers, so I can’t complain.”
Pietersen will be seen in action during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in February. “It is fantastic to be playing in PSL. Last year’s PSL was magnificent, well set up and well run, well structured and well organised. It was a fun tournament to play. The draft (Wednesday) night was very entertaining.”
Pietersen was known for his ability to play on sub-continent wickets, what does one need to be good on these type of wickets? “You have to play spinners well and you have to be stronger on your game plan. If you are stronger on your game plan (you) shouldn’t worry too much because in the sub-continent when the spinners are bowling it gets very crowded around the bat, at silly point, short leg and leg slip and you can get flustered very quickly. If you keep yourself calm, play your way and don’t worry about other things you will be able to bat well. If you think about things more positively then you can be successful.”
Does Pietersen think there is an imbalance in competition among teams, as teams struggle on wickets away from home? “It’s a generational thing. People play a lot in certain areas (and) play better in only those areas. I don’t think you are ever going to change that. For example, New Zealand is struggling in India because the wickets in New Zealand where there kids play and grow up with are not like wickets that you play in India. So unless you go and play a lot there you are going to struggle. You need to get very familiar with the conditions as Indians are as good as anything in their home pitch.”