THE KP LEGACY

Hav­ing ‘done it all’ in the game, the Pune star is look­ing at groom­ing the young­sters. And that’s what he wants to be proud of

The Economic Times - - Sports - Bo­ria Majumdar

Two tow­er­ing sixes in his brief fif­teen minute stay at the wicket and it was ap­par­ent to one and all at the Wankhede in Mum­bai on Satur­day that Kevin Pi­etersen is in omi­nous touch. One of the best play­ers of the last decade, Pi­etersen has had the most in­trigu­ing ca­reer of all. Dropped from the Eng­land team for rea­sons other than cricket, you still tend to ques­tion if An­drew Strauss is in­deed do­ing the right thing by keep­ing him out of the Eng­land team. Pi­etersen, how­ever, seems to have moved on.

“When I look back at my ca­reer, when­ever it may have started many years ago I tend to feel I have done it all and had my mo­ments. Now it is time to give back to the game by spend­ing as much time as pos­si­ble with the young­sters. It gives me great sat­is­fac­tion to see the young­sters grow and if I can con­trib­ute to their growth it will be a legacy I will be proud off”, says KP.

To hear the words ‘when­ever my ca­reer may have started’ makes you feel slightly awk­ward. How can KP for­get his de­but se­ries, which made him an overnight star? Eng­land had won the Ashes af­ter years and Pi­etersen was the toast of the British cricket es­tab­lish­ment. But that’s what KP is all about. In­trigue. And per­haps more in­trigue.

So, it of great in­ter­est to know if Pi­etersen has the same level of mo­ti­va­tion left when he ap­proaches the many T-20 leagues in dif­fer­ent parts of the world? Does he have his own ex­pec­ta­tions or is it all about en­joy­ing the game now?

“I don’t do ex­pec­ta­tions. Never have. All I want to do is go out there and en­joy the game, try and con­trib­ute to my team the Ris­ing Pune Su­per Gi­ants and spend time with the younger play­ers. If I am able to con­trib­ute to the team I will feel I have done my bit.”

KP, al­ways a man of strong views makes no qualms about the fact that Test cricket is in dire need of in­no­va­tion. When asked if T-20 is in­deed the fu­ture, Pi­etersen, a purist, had this to say, “If you see the suc­cess of the T-20 leagues around the world you have to agree peo­ple are en­joy­ing this for­mat. The world T-20 is yet another ex­am­ple. And ex­cept Eng­land Test matches are go­ing empty in most parts of the world. As a purist I do feel con­cerned and think the ICC needs to bring in more in- no­va­tions to en­sure Test cricket con­tin­ues to be rel­e­vant. When the first Day Night Test match was played in Ade­laide it was a very suc­cess­ful ex­per­i­ment. How­ever, as a player I’d not want to play in twi­light be­cause when the light changes it makes it very hard for the bats­man. But as en­ter­tain­ers we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­ter­tain the spec­ta­tors and it may well be that Day-night Test cricket is the way for­ward.”

Pi­etersen, picked up for a lit­tle more than Rs 3cr in the auction by Pune, is all praise for the IPL. When asked as to how does the IPL man­age to find new bands of sup­port­ers, Pi­etersen main­tains that the IPL has played a very im­por­tant role in im­prov­ing player re­la­tions across the world. “When you are shar­ing a dress­ing room with some­one for close to three months, you tend to de­velop a cer­tain bond­ing with the player. He be­comes a mate and it is im­pos­si­ble to sud­denly turn against him or sledge him when you are play­ing for your na­tional team. The IPL has brought play­ers from across the world to­gether and in that sense has done great for world cricket. At the same time it has not re­duced com­pe­ti­tion. You al­ways want to be one up on your mate. This makes the IPL that much more com­pet­i­tive and ex­cit­ing.”

Make no mis­take Pi­etersen is a f lawed ge­nius. In fact, ev­ery per­son born with tal­ent ex­traor­di­naire will have his own is­sues. Pi­etersen does as well. How­ever, the KP play­ing in IPL 2016 wishes to be re­mem­bered as the crick­eter who has en­ter­tained us for years.

But will that sat­isfy the scores of KP fans and those who have for­ever wanted to de­code the man? For ex­am­ple, as an­a­lysts it is im­por­tant for us to know how he had made it all pos­si­ble? What made him tick? Why did he make Eng­land his home and tat­too the three lions on his body? How did he play that mag­i­cal in­nings of 158 in 2005 against the Aus­tralians win­ning back the Ashes af­ter 19 years?

While he him­self doesn’t want to be quizzed on these is­sues, suf­fice to say he still has the power to en­ter­tain and en­thral - the six of Harb­ha­jan Singh could only be hit by some­one with ex­tra­or­di­nary crick­et­ing tal­ent. RPSG, the IPL as a tour­na­ment and In­dian fans should en­joy watch­ing him for as long as he is around.

Pi­etersen (L) & Ricky Ponting stare at each other be­fore the Pune-Mum­bai match The fans should en­joy watch­ing him for as long as he is around

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