Kevin Pietersen aims to provide necessary freedom to teammates as captain of Delhi Daredevils. In an environment that is usually less forgiving for mavericks of his ilk, the 33-year-old seemed to be battling undue pressure and scrutiny.
No longer bound by those invisible ropes, Pietersen will bring a “relaxed” outlook to captaincy.
“It’s important to make everyone feel it’s their team. We don’t want to build a team that has to go in a certain direction. It might not help if some players don’t like that direction. It’s important to not set strict guidelines. And when you lose, the worst you can do is put pressure on your players.”
Pietersen believes he has a coach who “sings from a very similar hymn sheet” in Gary Kirsten. The Surrey batsman revealed that he met Kirsten in Cape Town a couple of weeks ago and discovered that they share a “relaxed” vision.
The past six months have been horrendous for English cricket. Even more so for Pietersen. After learning that he wouldn’t be considered for a place in the national team, he expressed disappointment in no uncertain terms. Yet, when he comes to bat during the IPL, the motivation to prove his critics wrong will not feature as prominently as one would think.
“I don’t play cricket to make any point. I have played 104 Tests, played everywhere for a decade. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone anymore.”
Neither is Pietersen affected by the controversies suffered by IPL over the past year. But he insists that players found guilty of sporting fraud should be severely punished.
“As a captain, I can’t do anything once a player is in his bedroom. There’s nothing anybody can do. I have been quite vocal on cheating. If you fix matches, then you should never play cricket again. I love cricket.
“It has given me a wonderful life. It has been an incredible and honest journey.”
While mentoring is generally considered to be an appropriate method for drawing youngsters away from such vices, technical mentoring attracts Pietersen more. Not only does it give him a chance to help a young batsman, it also allows him to re-learn cricket.Opportunity to develop
Moreover, IPL has given Pietersen an opportunity to develop as a batsman.
“A few years ago, when I had a well-documented problem against left-arm spinners, I had an e-mail conversation with Rahul Dravid. The issue wasn’t as big as the media presented. But I asked him for tips and insights. I had some great e-mails from Rahul. And playing left-arm spin has been a breeze over the past two and a half years. If it wasn’t for the IPL, I wouldn’t have been able to tap into that knowledge.”
Looking ahead to the seventh edition, Pietersen revealed he had enjoyed the longest break from cricket since he debuted for England a decade ago.
“This break has done me a world of good. When I resumed batting two and a half weeks ago, I was so excited to bat in the nets at the Oval.
“The weather has not been too bad (in London). So, I had some good sessions with Graham Ford (Surrey coach). He’s my mentor. I have always sought his help.”