Nishad Pai Vaidya elucidates why Kevin Pietersen is England’s complete modern day batsman.
With a dint of panache and the air of domination, Kevin Pietersen is easily one of the most entertaining batsmen in modern times. There is never a dull moment with him at the crease as he has this burning desire to get the better of the bowlers throughout the innings. Some call it arrogance, but for Pietersen it is his natural ability to score runs at will often confounding the opposition. It is no surprise that an attacking batsman of his calibre has gone on to become leading run-scorer for England in international cricket.
Plying his off-breaks in the late 1990s in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Pietersen would have hardly imagined that he would be a frontline batsman for England. It is quite ironic that he played for Natal against Nasser Hussain’s England side in 1999-2000. Today, he stands way ahead of the members of that England side. It hasn’t been a very smooth journey, but a rewarding one with exhilarating peaks marred by unnecessary controversies.
Here is a list of leading run-scorers for England in international cricket:
*Tests+ One-Day Internationals (ODIs)+T20 Internationals. Qualification: minimum 10,000 runs
Despite having a more attacking approach when compared to the others, Pietersen’s average is much better compared to other prolific scorers for England. He has also become the leading century maker for England in international cricket with 32. Alastair Cook is second on that count with 30. While some of his team-mates do feature in this list, it is difficult to compare Pietersen’s feats those of the yesteryear.
Graham Gooch and David Gower played in an era where the West Indian pace battery was at its peak. Gooch saved his best for the West Indians and had numerous battles against them. Gower was one of the most elegant players and had been a vital cog in the English middle-order in the 1980s. In between that era and the ongoing one came Alec Stewart. He could open the batting and also kept wickets when needed. Thus, his feats with the bat are also remarkable. However, one may still be able to say that Pietersen has the advantage over Stewart.
When compared to his team-mates, Pietersen is head and shoulders above the rest. The others are more orthodox and stick by the copybook. Some of them only dominated one-day cricket in patches, but Pietersen has been assertive in all formats. Even in T20 cricket, he has shaped England’s fortunes by playing a pivotal role in their ICC World T20 triumph. Thus, in their current setup, he is one complete batsman — who perfectly fits the bill in the modern era.
Although he has an obvious attacking approach, Pietersen has shown that he can temper his game and adjust the pace accordingly. Modern players can make up for lost time in a matter of overs. Even if they start slow, a few big hits gets them back into their rhythm. The ones who can combine those contrasting approaches and shift gears seamlessly are true modern batsmen. Pietersen has already overhauled one summit for his country, but there are a few more to come. If he stays fit, the 33-year-old easily has a few good years ahead of him to rewrite the record books and set new benchmarks for the batsmen to come.