Sri Lankan cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara has shed light on one of the titans of cricket - Kevin Pietersen and his style of playing, calling him one of the greatest batsmen the world has seen, as well as, crediting him for setting the template for the new England.
Sangakkara said that Pietersen was a very unconventional ‘English’ player and what people are seeing the attitude in the current England Team is the influence of South African-born England batting legend.
Pietersen, who is regarded as one of the most destructive and flamboyant players in the world, called off his career with 23 Test hundreds, as his edginess and cockiness didn't fit perfectly in the English dressing room, resulting in him losing his place in the national side and never returned back.
With over 8,000 Test runs and 4,000 one-day international runs, Pietersen ended his career as one of England’s greatest-ever players and Sangakkara has offered an insight into his wisdom.
Sangakkara wrote in Wisden Cricket Monthly, “I believe the impact Pietersen had on that England team of a decade ago continues to influence the attitude of the side you see now. Post-Pietersen, the new-look English batting side has gone for a new kind of intent, shown especially in one-day cricket. The variety they have in their line-up, the players they’ve taken risks with, I would say that KP started all that. He set the template for the new England.”
He continued, “He had the wristy play of an Asian subcontinent player; the power on the short ball that you’d expect of a guy who grew up playing in South Africa on quick, bouncy tracks; and he had the skill to deny the movement that you find in England. He was a supremely accomplished all-round player.”
On his batting, the Lankan legend being the sixth leading runscorer in the history of Test cricket further added that Pietersen was unorthodox in his approach and no one could stop him from hitting on his day. He further added, “KP on his day could dominate anyone. It didn’t matter whether he read you or not. If he couldn’t read you, he would try to attack you even more with unorthodox shot-making. He had this horror run against left-arm spin for a long time, and that period was probably the only time when you could look at him and tell how vulnerable he was, but then at times, even against top-quality left-arm spin, he had his days. Against Rangana Herath at Colombo in 2012 – when Rangana took six wickets – KP struck the most incredible 151. He singlehandedly took the Sri Lankan bowling attack apart.”
Meanwhile, Sanga also said on the English dressing room air, “I’m not privy to what really happened in the England dressing room, but in Sri Lanka, we had similar characters playing with us, but our culture and our tolerance levels are very different. We were able to manage those situations in our own way and get on with what we had to do. I can’t profess to know him too well, but in my dealings with him for Surrey, I always enjoyed his presence and his company.”
Sanga continued, “He’s actually very much like a lot of other people who play sport for a living. All of us have various insecurities and weaknesses and it’s up to the dressing-room culture to be accepting of those strengths and foster them to a maximum, while also creating an environment where those weaknesses don’t have a knock-on effect on the other players as well as the individual himself.”
Sangakkara signed off by saying, “No matter whether you love him or hate him, whether you think he’s selfish or cocky, everyone looking at KP’s skill would have to consider him to be one of the greatest batsmen the world has seen.”
(With Metro UK Inputs)