England news June 21, 2013

Pietersen feared serious injury


Kevin Pietersen has marked his return to first-class action for the first time in three months by suggesting that his fear of prolonged injury lay-offs was precisely the reason why last summer he wanted to retire from England's one-day side.

There was no angry self-justification, no forceful opinion likely to incur the wrath of the England management, just a gentle acceptance in a chat on Talksport radio with his old England buddy, Darren Gough - billed as his only interview of the summer - that his injury might never have happened if he had been allowed licence to plot his own career.

Pietersen's disgruntlement over England's refusal to let him retire solely from ODIs - he was obliged to give up T20 as well - to an outburst after the Headingley Test against South Africa, a rift with the England dressing room, a stand-off with officialdom, exclusion from England's World Twenty20 squad and finally a triumphant return in the Test series against India as he agreed to continue in all three formats.

Despite being rested for the T20s in India and both limited-overs series against New Zealand, he suffered a badly bruised knee bone in Queenstown, which has caused him to miss both the IPL and Champions Trophy. While England face India in the final of the latter competition at Edgbaston on Sunday, Pietersen will be engaged in the third day of a Championship match against Yorkshire at Headingley. The English media he so mistrusts were out in force to watch him field on the opening day as he made a rare Championship appearance for Surrey.

In the interview, Gough suggested to Pietersen: "Only last year you were talking about looking after your body; you don't want to get injured playing all forms of the game. You went back on that, and ended up playing all forms of the game and got injured. So it highlighted what you were saying, that at some point every individual's body is going to break down."

"Exactly," Pietersen responded. "You can feel it as a player. I probably didn't go about it in the best fashion. You make mistakes, and you get over them, and that's the way you grow as a human being, by learning from things that you don't do well. So I take it on the chin, no dramas, it's just a case of looking forward and making sure that you do the right things now."

Pietersen's relationship with the English media has never been more strained. His disenchantment with the ridicule he received during his power struggle with England was deepened when it was erroneously suggested in New Zealand that his knee injury was not serious and that he was just trying to pick up an insurance payout from IPL.

"It was really bad," he said. "In New Zealand I couldn't duck a bounce, I couldn't sweep, I was in all sorts of trouble. I was on the strongest painkillers and eventually my stomach just gave up with me in the second Test match. I probably did it a lot of damage by playing, but I just tried to get through and played for as long as I could because I hate missing Test matches.

"A bruising on your bone is a lot worse than breaking it. You know with a break it'll be back. I've broken my arm, I've broken collar bones, I've broken my leg. I've broken plenty of bones and you know that within six, seven, eight weeks you're firing again. The bruising has been really frustrating but over the last three weeks I turned a real positive corner.

"I'm just going up to Yorkshire this week to get through four days. If I get runs, I get runs. If I don't get runs, I don't get runs. I just need to wake up on Tuesday morning or the day after being on the field knowing that my knee's not an issue.

"The professional in me will want to score as many runs as possible and that never stops, never fades, but the most important thing from this four-day game is to wake up every morning with no knee issue and to know that I've turned a good corner and I can handle a day in the field - because that's the only thing that hasn't been tested yet. I can bat in the nets, I've done all the fielding drills you can do but it's not the same as fielding for 96 overs.

Pietersen also dwelt upon the problems at Surrey which have seen Chris Adams sacked as team director and Alec Stewart, the former England captain, take temporary charge. He revealed for the first time - doubtless unintentionally - that Steve Davies' need to take a break from the game after the death of his team-mate, Tom Maynard, in a tube accident, led him to turn down offers of at least one England tour last winter.

If this was the case, it has never officially been made public.

Pietersen said the tragedy had "moulded the dressing room". He added: "The guys are really super-tight as they looked after each other so well last year. A lot of them took a big hit last year, but in terms of their performances, some of the guys have come back really well.

"I mean Steve Davies for one. He was hit by the Tom Maynard incident really hard last year. He went away all winter, turned down a few England tours and he said 'I need to go away, sort my head out' and I've never seen Steve Davies play as well as he has this summer. I mean, he's back and I think he's back a better player."

Pietersen was in affable enough mood to express his love for county cricket, even if it is a love from afar. "It serves a great purpose, it's a great learning facility. I learnt to be the cricketer I was through county cricket and the more you play it, the better you become. The more you do anything the better you become, so I love county cricket, it's a great form of the game, and it looks like it's still flourishing."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pravin on June 22, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Everyone saying that England has reached the final of an important 50 over match for the first time since KP's debut only because KP is not playing is seriously overlooking so many other factors. Have you ever seen such a weak Australian side, do you think Australia of noughties would have been so easily defeated by this English side? Do you think that a RSA team with Kallis and Steyn would have rolled over so easily? oh please!!!! KP is one of the best English bat in ODIs if not the best.

    Simplifying everything to this extent is erroneous, this team lost to a sri lankan team which is not even at its best, almost lost to new zealand. Just because Australia is not a force it was and South Africa is without its best, doesn't mean this English team is better off without KP. So many teams are in transition phase, be it Australia, India, RSA, its just that India has coped well. Please consider all factors while analyzing the situation.

  • Sam on June 22, 2013, 15:54 GMT

    Root appears to be the only English batsman to come in and prove himself since Trott'e entry (at least in Test cricket.) Bell is averaging a mere 32 with just one century in 19 Tests since the beginning of 2012. Bairstow and such are yet to establish themselves. OTOH, KP is a proven player so I don't get all those who are predicting that he won't be missed and other players would take up the slack after one ODI tournament though they lost the ODI series that preceded it. Even in this tournament, England was not too far from losing to NZ in the semis. Also, the management has zero problems with having different coaches and captains for different formats so why not allow players to choose which formats to play?

  • Jane on June 22, 2013, 14:20 GMT

    @loke-cricfan - Er, have you noticed that without KP in the team England have reached a final of a 50 over ICC tournament for the first time for many years? They have never done so when he has been involved. KP can be a match winner; when he's good he's fantastic. Sadly, he has only been on top match-winning form in this format on two or three occasions since 2008. Those two centuries in UAE v Pakistan beginning of 2008, and the odd 50. Without him the batting lines up may look stodgy and less exciting but it has so far done the job. We also have a superb bowling unit that provides lots of excitement.

  • Anupam on June 22, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    @ SamuelH on (June 22, 2013, 12:05 GMT) Yes I'm also agree that KP is having high workload and don't want to play ODI. The thing that hurt is instead of workload & pressure he is participating in 2 months IPL without any complain. ENG want to preserve him for international event and don't want him to get injured in IPL or to put extra load while playing in IPL. Hales is the perfect man for ODIs.

  • Jane on June 22, 2013, 14:03 GMT

    Everyone is agreeing that there is too much cricket and sympathising with KP. But there is a mysterious failure to notice that when Pietersen asked the ECB if he could give up 50 over cricket he also wanted to play in the IPL for longer than the 3 weeks the ECB allowed England players to participate in that tournament. If he had not been injured in NZ this year, Pietersen would have been playing in the IPL.

    Strikes me as hypocrisy to claim there is too much cricket but still to have the time and energy to play in a domestic tournament overseas that involves a lot of travel and the potential for injury. Surely players of the calibre of Pietersen should give priority to their international commitments; after all, that is what he will be remembered for in the years to come.

  • John on June 22, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Oh, come on- 13 tests, 5 ODIs and 0 T20Is in 12 months and England is overworking him? In the same period M. S. Dhoni has played 10 tests, 20 ODIs and 12 T20Is for India AND kept wicket AND captained the side and he's almost the same age as Pietersen and he's not unable to play because of injury. Pietersen's a batsman, not a fast bowler. It's too bad he was injured, but to say "See, I was right, I'm playing too much cricket" is just self-serving nonsense.

    The good thing about Pietersen's injury is that it has given Joe Root the opportunity to play ODIs and he's grasped it with both hands. England haven't been to the final of a major ODI tournament since Pietersen's debut in November 2004 and guess what? He's not playing and they are in the final of this tournament.

    At his best KP's a fine batsmen. His attitude is another story.

  • Samuel on June 22, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    Personally have no problem with KP not wanting to play ODIs, even if he would improve the side greatly. He & Swann have both been saying for a while the workload is too much and that if they had to lose one format, 50 overs would be the one they would drop. Let both of them drop it: I would much prefer them fully fit for Tests & being experienced heads in the T20 side.

  • ESPN on June 22, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    When at full flow this guy is the best player in the world and he not being there might just be the difference between England and India on Sunday

  • Anupam on June 22, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    In todays cricket fitness is a big issue. Really look at Indian players - role models on fitness. In Ashes COOk , KP, Prior, are the key men for Ashes. I still have doubt on Trott's performance against Aus. Compton not only score very slowly but he put on pressure on other batmen. Big test for ROOT great expectations from him in his early career. Root looks more promising than Compton. Hales, Bopara & Taylor can replace Compton. Trott & Copmton are the weak point of ENGLAND. COOK, ROOT, Trott, KP, Bell, Compton, Prior, Swann, Finn, Jimmy, Tremlett/Onion. But Moral of the story is ENG will win.

  • John on June 22, 2013, 2:22 GMT

    KP is the new Flintoff. If he's fit and in the team fine but if he's out injured or what not, no biggie especially with the emergence of Root and Bairstow knocking on the door. I'm sticking to my prediction he won't be playing for England by this time next year. He won't be missed by most Eng fans and surely not by the dressing room, rehabilitated or not.

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