Pietersen felt the weight of the world after joining IPL

Kevin Pietersen felt “the weight of the world” on him after his 2009 move to Royal Challengers Bangalore. The charismatic cricketer recently sat down and spoke to Betway about his career on the cricket pitch in a candid video in which he reminisced about his career.

Pietersen’s move to the Indian Premier League (IPL) cost the Bangalore franchise a whopping £1.1 million. A fee that may have been commonplace in the world of football at the time. But not one that the game of cricket had ever seen prior. Pietersen’s price tag made him the world’s most expensive cricketer of all time.

Joining the IPL

According to KP, the pace-setter at the time of his 2009 transfer to Royal Challengers Bangalore was the IPL. The league was entering its second season when Royal Challengers Bangalore splashed out on the flamboyant cricketer.

Although Pietersen was the most expensive cricketer courtesy of his move to the IPL, it didn’t go to his head. He was blessed to be around some of the game’s greats during his time in Bangalore. And the same later with his stint with the Delhi Daredevils.

The chance to train, play with, and compete against the top players in the IPL – and the world – allowed him to improve his game every day. Pietersen was able to see how others approached the game and prepare before taking to the pitch.

Pietersen arrived in Bangalore at just 28-years-old. He was entering his prime cricket years having already played for KwaZulu Natal, Nottinghamshire, and Hampshire. In July 2005, Pietersen made his England international test debut against Australia and his career sky-rocketed from there. However, it wasn’t until his move to the IPL that “England’s greatest modern batsmen” truly showed just how good of a cricketer he was.

Another planet

Compared to his time playing cricket for Nottinghamshire and Hampshire, Pietersen was exposed to team meetings that were meticulous in their planning and execution. The IPL was another world compared to the one Pietersen had come from in the United Kingdom. It was a world in which cricket was devoured by players, coaches, team owners, and fans like nowhere else. The hunger for cricket was the catalyst for teams taking meetings ultra-seriously with planning.

Pietersen was surprised by the amount of preparation players took before every game when he arrived at Royal Challengers Bangalore. From the time the players “padded-up” to when they walked out onto the pitch, the preparation and talk centred around the game. This was all that could be heard amongst the players and coaches.

In spite of the pressure on Pietersen, he stresses that the owners he played for in the IPL were extremely knowledgeable when it came to the sport of cricket. While some sports such as football have owners who make vanity purchases, the IPL was far different. Although working for a knowledgeable owner did create pressure, the IPL didn’t have a cut throat atmosphere where owners expected unrealistic objectives from the men on their teams.

Pietersen competed in the IPL with Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2009 and 2010. He then joined the Delhi Daredevils in 2012 and 2014. He will be long remembered as one of the league’s biggest acquisitions despite the amount of money in the IPL auction increasing in recent years. Pietersen will long have a special place for the IPL in his heart as well.

Check out the video interview with Betway.

Australian Cricket at its Lowest

The cricket world is in turmoil as never before. A national coach resigned, its captain is in tears. This is the culmination of a scandal, which occurred in play at an international match in South Africa. Fair play is a central principle in every sport, and especially in cricket, where offences of this nature are considered sacrilege.

Namely, the ball was manipulated with sandpaper, which deeply hurt the Australian image of sportsmanship. So far, the Australians were always cheering for their successful team. Now, they are ashamed. The game was available for betting at netbet.co.uk.

Steve Smith, the captain of the Australian national team, landed in Sydney after a long journey back from South Africa. “I know I’ll regret it for the rest of my life,” Smith said in a shaky voice as he sat sobbing in front of cameras and microphones and talking about the shame he had brought on his family.

Australian Cricket Team

When Smith left for South Africa for an international match, he was one of the best players in the world. He has returned as a deluded fraudster. He takes full responsibility, he said. It is the culmination of a scandal, which has caused the biggest turmoil in cricket in recent times.

Smith and vice-captain David Warner had instigated their fellow player Cameron Bancroft to sandpaper the leather ball during Saturday’s game against South Africa. The so-called ball tampering deteriorates the flying ability of the ball, which means a massive disadvantage for the opponent batsman.

A camera was filming Cameron, the action flew open, and the outcry was huge. The Australian Cricketers’ Association barred Smith and Warner for twelve, Bancroft for nine months from all international and national games. They also have to do 100 hours of volunteer work. In addition, coach Darren Lehmann resigned, who had previously stated that he knew nothing of manipulation.

In order to understand the whole vortex, which was caused with a little sandpaper grinding, one must gain basic understanding of the nature of every sport. Fair play is not a mere phrase in cricket, but a central principle. The Australians have violated the spirit of cricket, especially in Australia and other Commonwealth countries where cricket is a national sport.

So far, the national team was an integral part of the Australian national pride. The Australians won four of the last five Cricket World Cups. This fraud is very sensitive to the Australians. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that it had been unimaginable so far that the Australian cricket team could be involved in a fraud.

However, in the past, the Australians had accumulated incidents that did not necessarily match the noble spirit of the sport. They are regarded as rather unpopular with the competitors, which is not only because they often win. Instead, the Australians like to use other unclean methods – and behave not necessarily exemplary.

Do you remember David Warner colliding in the stairwell with the opposing player Quinton de Kock? This aggressive nature of the team says so much about them according to recently retired international Ed Cowan. In order to regain the trust of the public, the team needs a major overhaul. Looks like it has just started.

England Squad to Tour India

The England squad picked to tour India later this month looks an exciting mix of youth and experience. I like the way the selectors are gradually introducing youngsters into the set up and giving them a look at international cricket- before taking them back out of the firing line, this squad seems to be a continuation of that policy.

Ben Stokes has apparently been left out so he can undergo rehab on his injured finger. I’m not sure if this isn’t a diplomatic way of dropping him, but either way he didn’t do himself justice against India and he deserves a chance again when he is 100% fit.

The England management seem to have learnt a lot from their experiences with Adil Rashid and I hope that Ben Stokes will benefit from those mistakes and not just be discarded after one iffy series, that would be a backwards step in my view.

Jonny Bairstow secured his selection with his match winning performance in Cardiff, and another player I like the look of is Jos Buttler, who is included in the T20 squad – again, he is getting a feel of being around the set up.

The reason why I like these two is because we lack a rope clearer at 6 or 7, we obviously have Pietersen and Morgan when both fit, but I’m not sure of KP’s long term role and a lot of the big hitting seems to fall to Morgan and he can’t keep doing it on his own.

Moving onto KP and I heard it mentioned by Paul Newman of the Daily Mail that Pietersen’s so called rest from the Indian home series was supposed to act as a bit of a kick up the arse and that if all went well there was a real chance he wouldn’t have been recalled for this tour, he claimed Eoin Morgan’s injury left the selectors with no choice.

I don’t wish to disagree with someone who is in the know more than I ever will be, so I will have to take his word on this. But if this is the case, it sounds like Pietersen’s ODI career could be on borrowed time unless he makes a marked improvement very quickly.

Personally I think Ian Bell is very lucky to keep his place, he’s been different class in the test matches, but is still to convince me he is a real ODI player and he seems to have no real role in the side. Maybe the Trott at No.3 dilemma keeps him in and around the squad in case England decide they want a more versatile player in that role. Who knows, as the team seems to still be searching for it’s best formula.

Onto another rested or dropped player, Jimmy Anderson, a closer look at his career figures show he has played 151 matches, with 204 wickets at an average of 30.89.

Here is a breakdown of those stats….

Home – 62 matches, 91 wickets, 27.80 average.

Away – 62 matches, 73 wickets, 35.94 average.

On neutral venues (World Cups, Tri-Series in Australia) – 27 matches, 40 wickets, 28.70 average.

In India – 12 matches, 12 wickets, 48.16 average.

The stats show that he is better at home than on his travels, especially when his travels take in India. On top of that he also had an absolute disaster at the recent world cup, but the quandary is that based on his home form of last summer, he would surely keep his place in the team.

Similar to Paul Newman’s opinions on Pietersen, I am taking the same view with Jimmy Anderson that this is a selective resting/dropping. It makes absolute sense and is a canny decision from the selectors, I made the point at the start of the summer that it could be better to leave him out of the ODI team for the good of his confidence and test career, he obviously doesn’t have a problem in England, but on the road he has taken a hammering at times and we don’t need his confidence taking a battering again.

Also, can you really build your bowling attack around a player who can only really play at home?

I think if the likes of Dernbach, Woakes and Meaker have a good series the selectors might well reduce Anderson’s ODI outings even more. The selectors are trying to develope a pool of fast bowlers and it makes sense not to flog Anderson on the sub continent, where he doesn’t have a great record. We may as well save him for the test matches, where he seems much more at home – and make use of the pool of bowlers we are developing in series like this one.

Another South African place of birth is included in this squad in the form of Stuart Meaker, I don’t want to go all deep and meaningful on this issue and I have my views on Pietersen, Trott, Kieswetter and even Eoin Morgan.

I might well be giving the game away when I say that I regard Meaker as English/British, like Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior and Jade Dernbach, Meaker’s family brought him to England at a young age and he was schooled, taught and brought up in this county.

He was a juvenile when his parents (presumably) made the decision to come to this country, he hasn’t sat down and made a conscious decision to switch allegiances for cricketing or financial reasons. So I have no problem regarding him as an English product.

One final footnote to end on. When are cricinfo going to update Samit Patel’s cricket online profile photo? I checked the squad on there prior to writing this piece and I noticed they’re still showing an old photo of him with his 3 chins. Come on, he’s made the effort, so get it changed cricinfo 😉

Was it really that bad after all for Australia?

I know that in Australia losing an Ashes series 3-1 to England is seen as a bit of a disaster. Losing it at home in such spectacular style (like they did), is probably regarded as a major disaster.

At the time I didn’t think the future of Australian cricket was as bad as we were led to believe it was. They still had quality players like Watson, Clarke, Ponting, Hussey, Haddin, Harris and on his day (once every 12 months) Mitchell Johnson.

Obviously England were the better team, but the gap between the sides was probably slightly exaggerated by the fact that England were in top form, while Australia were a team with no confidence that descended into a shambles by Sydney.

The chopping and changing of players, the provisional 17 man squad, etc, all these thing obviously didn’t help, as has just been pointed out by Shane Watson in his new book.

Just a few months on and look at things now. Michael Clarke has settled in fairly well as captain, Australia are starting to climb the test rankings again, they have just won a test series on the sub continent, they are still the No.1 ranked ODI side in the world, they have a top class all rounder (something lacking in most other test teams) and Phil Hughes and Shaun Marsh are starting to settle in at test level.

In Sri Lanka the batting looked in good shape, but I’m not totally convinced by the attack. When Ryan Harris doesn’t play it looks fairly average, and Harris doesn’t have the greatest fitness record. Newcomers Nathan Lyon and Trent Copeland did ok, but neither of them really set the world on fire and I’m not sure they are the answer (although in fairness I didn’t see enough of the series to judge them, just their online stats). While Mitchell Johnson was his usual self, need I say more.

With that in mind, there is still plenty of improving to be done. But I do have to ask myself, was it ever really that bad?

An up and down series

It was a great finish to the ODI series against Sri Lanka, but over the course of the 5 matches I wouldn’t be getting too carried away with the win as there seemed to be more questions than answers that emerged from it all.

Starting on a positive note and one major plus to take from the series was Alastair Cook’s batting. Cook never took a backwards step, he led from the front and went some way to proving his critics wrong and showing everyone that he is a capable 50 over batsman.

Five games obviously doesn’t make him the finished article, but the early signs are good for Cook and England.

He also didn’t shrink under the weight of the captaincy, he didn’t look out of place or out of his depth at any time. All-in-all, it was a decent start for him.

I’ve made it clear on here before that I’m no fan of the three captain policy, but that’s not Cook’s fault and any criticism on here isn’t a reflection on him, more the policy.

On too other issues, and the reason why I started by saying I won’t be getting too carried away with the win was because of he 2nd and 3rd games. England were woeful, Sri Lanka cruised to victory in those two games without breaking sweat.

In the 1st and 4th games England were victorious more for being able to better exploit the conditions. Why this fails to help England prepare for future tours and World cups is that there is no other countries apart from New Zealand and occasionally South Africa where England will come across these conditions.

These sort of games are no preparation for England, they are just England playing in English condition, where we are expected to perform.

England were taught good lessons on the flat bed tracks of Leeds and Lord’s, the batting on flat pitches is a major problem and is an area of our game where we really need to sharpen up our act.

I’m still not convinced we have the right balance in the batting line up, a lot is made of Cook and Trott at the top of the order, but if Cook continues at his current strike rate then it won’t be a problem.

The real imbalance for me is Ian Bell coming in at No.6, he just doesn’t look suited to batting there. Batting Bell there is going to cost him his place in the side in my opinion.

Another area in which England could improve is with the bowling options. Since Collingwood has been dropped, we haven’t got a reliable 6th bowler.

I would have liked too see Samit Patel get a run in the side as a batsman. He averages 40 in 1st class cricket, so why can’t England take a look at him at No.6? Batting there he gives England a 6th bowler, and also a slow left arm option.

Another positive to come from this series is Jade Dernbach, it was good to see him get England over the line. He looks to have that bit of something about him, the sooner he is made to feel like he belongs in this side the better, his variation and guile could be priceless in limited overs format.

I was also pleased to see England weren’t afraid to drop Stuart Broad. That’s not meant as a kicking for Broad, as I still see him as a long term part of the England set up.

Where I am pleased is in the fact that it shows that England aren’t afraid to make difficult decisions, it is also a further reminder to the rest of the players that none of them are assured of their place in the team.

And finally a special mention for Graeme Swann, congratulations to him on becoming the world No.1 bowler in 50 over cricket. It’s further recognition and just reward for his outstanding form over the last 24-30 months.

Selectors stick with Eoin Morgan after all

I am pleased too see that Eoin Morgan got named in the England test squad at the expense of Ravi Bopara today. I was certain that Bopara had it for his bowling, but I had obviously and wrongly got caught up with the media opinion on this.

I said all along that if it was purely down to batting, that I’d go for Morgan. It is also a selection based on consistency, something that this team’s success has been based around.

Another thing this team is built on is ‘strength of character,’ a fact not lost on Geoff Miller. On explaining the decision to go with Morgan, Miller said, “Ravi has been getting a lot of runs for Essex, but the controlled innings that Eoin played just gave him the nod. That innings really just showed us what he is capable of doing. It shows his strength of character.”

The last three words of that sentence are telling, ‘strength of character.’ Something that the selectors clearly look for these days, something which they – and I also – believe Morgan has a lot of, compared to Ravi, who I don’t believe has displayed too much of, over the years.

Ravi has had a reasonable start too the season, two centuries isn’t a bad return, but he hasn’t produced the type of form that has demanded the selectors pick him. Whereas Morgan comes back from IPL, plays one innings, and it’s an innings that has almost demanded his selection.

I’m glad to see the selectors retain Chris Tremlett, assuming the reports are right and Steven Finn is in as cover, then Tremlett will obvioulsy play. It would have been interesting to see what the selectors would have done had Tim Bresnan not got injured. Stuart Broad was always going to come back, so would it have been Tremlett or Bresnan who would have made way?