Shane Warne (left) termed Kevin Pietersen a ‘superstar and a wonderful player’ © Getty Images
By Julian Guyer
London: Jul 4, 2014
Shane Warne believes Kevin Pietersen will seize the chance to shine when they line up in a star-studded Rest of the World (RoW) XI side in the Lord’s Bicentenary match on Saturday. Warne, widely regarded as cricket’s greatest leg-spinner, will captain former Hampshire colleague Pietersen against an equally star-studded Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) team led by India hero Sachin Tendulkar.
Pietersen was controversially axed by England following the team’s 5-0 Ashes 2013-14 series loss in Australia even though he is England’s all-time leading run-scorer. South Africa-born Pietersen, a former England captain, hasn’t given up on an international recall although the present hierarchy, including Test captain Alastair Cook, are adamantly opposed to his return to the team.
Warne, who championed Pietersen’s case ahead of his Test debut in 2005, only to be on the receiving end of the strokemaker’s blistering Ashes-clinching 158 at The Oval that year, was in no doubt of his quality.
“KP is an absolute match-winner,” Warne told a Lord’s news conference on Friday. “He is a superstar and a wonderful player. He is fantastic to watch, I’m sure he will turn it on Saturday and smash it all over the park. He has played well over the years at Lord’s in his time with England and hopefully he can do that on Saturday.”
Warne has been repeatedly critical of Cook’s tactics in the field, most recently during England’s 1-0 Test series loss at home to Sri Lanka.
Although his colourful life off the field meant Warne never captained Australia in a Test match, he was widely regarded as one of the best tacticians of his age and did skipper both his home state of Victoria and English county Hampshire.
Asked for his thoughts on captaincy, Warne replied: “I think you can always improve as a player and as a captain, some people are naturally a leader and some people it doesn’t suit them.
“Ask Ian Botham, one of the best all-time cricketers but he always said captaincy wasn’t for him,” added Warne in a reference to the all-rounder’s unsuccessful spell as England captain in the early 1980s.
“You can improve but you are either a leader or you are not and if you are not a leader and you try to force something it doesn’t really work.”