County news April 2, 2015

Pietersen reminded of the 'respect' agenda

Dean Cosker is one of many county pros eager to pit themselves against Kevin Pietersen © PA Photos

Glamorgan's veteran left-arm spinner Dean Cosker has brushed aside whether he might be included in Kevin Pietersen's list of the "muppets" that he believes are filling up the lower ranks of professional cricket in England to no apparent purpose.

But he has taken the chance nonetheless to reference the "respect and humility" that he believes are the cornerstones of the county game.

There was no disguising the anticipation from Cosker, in common with all of county cricket's relatively unsung professionals, as Pietersen prepares to make a startling re-entry to Championship cricket this month in the hope of forcing his way back into England's Ashes line up.

Cosker, 37, is about to notch up his 20th season in first-class cricket, a commendable record but a world away now from his time as an England A tourist in Sri Lanka when he briefly hoped to break into international cricket in the early 1990s. That break never came, but he knows he will be playing a supporting role in the most highly-trumpeted comeback of the season when Pietersen pitches up in Cardiff on April 19.

He has dismissed Pietersen twice before - two wickets of the 589 he has taken in first-class cricket - and he knows that his bowling style has been held to cause the batsman problems at the height of his career.

``Luckily enough, we've got a left-arm spinner that might be able to get him out,'' Cosker said, with a grin. ``That's the plan.''

Pietersen's renewed hope of a Test recall - despite his sacking after the 2013/14 Ashes whitewash - has been encouraged by several conversations with the ECB's incoming chairman Colin Graves after Graves suggested that if he wanted to be considered he would first have to play county cricket.

As he prepares for this unfamiliar feeling, and wondering if he can rekindle his ambition in front of modest crowds on the county circuit, Pietersen might regret his reference to some English professionals as "muppets'' who might be better advised to get another job.

Cosker, speaking at the ECB's launch of the county season, made light of that but there was no missing his keen anticipation of the joust to come. "I don't think professional players really take that on board,'' he said. "Every professional cricketer has that professional pride, so I don't think it needs anyone to rile them in that way.

"I've always been taught to respect the game in any way you can. As soon as you start disrespecting the sport, then it gets a little bit awkward.

"It's respecting your opposition, whoever they are, and I'm sure Kevin has played against worse, and better, players than myself. So it's all about humility and respect.''

That reminder delivered, Cosker expressed the frisson of excitement in the Second Division this season as Pietersen attempts to challenge assumptions - still firmly implanted for many - that his England career is at an end.

"`It's great to see Kevin playing in championship cricket - we want to be bowling against those kind of players,'' he said. "I've played against him quite a few times, and managed to get him out a couple of times. That's not to say he hasn't smashed me out of the park as well.

"There's been a lot of hype about how he does or doesn't play left-arm spin very well. But I'll just be going about my usual business.''

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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