England news June 26, 2013

Cook can go past Tendulkar - Pietersen


Kevin Pietersen has marked his anticipated England comeback by boldly predicting that Alastair Cook has the ability to challenge Sachin Tendulkar's world-record number of Test runs.

Tendulkar, with 15837 Test runs, is more than 2000 ahead of his nearest rival, Ricky Ponting - and he is not quite finished yet. Cook remains 8000 adrift, although he has regularly matched Tendulkar at the same stage of his career, leaving Pietersen no doubt the record is within his compass.

Pietersen, who is expected to return for England on Thursday in the second T20 international against New Zealand, has always freely admitted that he has little knowledge of cricket history, which will be a relief to Cook, who has enough problems to deal with in managing England's Ashes campaign without being tipped to surpass the most celebrated living batsman.

Pietersen's accolade for Cook came in the second part of a pre-recorded interview with Darren Gough on Talksport - an interview which, in protest at the English media's coverage of his controversial career, he has billed as his only major pronouncement of the summer.

"His first series was against India away and we beat India," Pietersen said of Cook. "He's done exceptionally well, his cricket just keeps getting better and better.

"For me he's the right man to lead England, he's doing a great job for us and he will continue to get better and better and break every record anyone's ever set, certainly in the English game. He's on target to go for Tendulkar's numbers, if you look at the numbers and look at his age."

Pietersen also offered glowing praise for another colleague who is tipped to have a long and fruitful England career in Joe Root - not that he was overly aware who the young Yorkshireman joining England on tour for the first time in India last winter was.

"I never knew of him, I never heard of him, because when you're on the scene and young players come you just don't," he said. "But I knew that he was going to be good when he walked out to bat in Nagpur in his first Test match."

By the time Root made his debut England were 2-1 up with one Test to play and needed to avoid defeat to win their first series in India for 28 years.

"I was batting and… we just didn't want to let India back into it at all and he walked out and - just his face walking towards me for 20 metres - I thought this kid's going to be a flipping superstar.

"It was just the confidence that he walked out to bat with in his debut Test match in India, two spinners bowling, from each end, we'd just lost a wicket or a couple of wickets and he walked out with a smile on his face, and went 'All right lad, you ok, you're playing well there.' And I was like, 'Mate! I've played 90 odd Test matches and I don't walk out like that.' But it's brilliant for English cricket, absolutely brilliant."

"You go through rocky patches in every walk of life - business, marriage, as a kid, through your teenage years. In a dressing room not everyone's going to get on"
Kevin Pietersen

Pietersen, no stranger to controversy, even expressed admiration for the way Root handled himself in the wake of the Walkabout bar incident in Birmingham in the early hours of the morning when David Warner pulled off a wig Root was wearing and, literally, threw the first punch of the Ashes summer.

According to Pietersen, the affair was exaggerated by the media - a view not shared by Cricket Australia, which quickly banned Warner until the start of the Ashes series. Root was unfazed, though.

"He knew the media were going to be on him all day and he'd had a haircut - he looked sharp! I think he knows how to deal with it," Pietersen said. "I saw him that day and he couldn't believe what was being made of it, but welcome to English cricket and welcome to how the media works."

Specifically referring to Wisden's assessment of Pietersen as "arrogant, self-pitying and isolated", Gough drew attention to the fact that Pietersen's relationship with the English media is now as unhealthy as with any player since Tony Greig conspired on behalf of Kerry Packer's breakaway World Series Cricket in the 1970s.

Pietersen responded: "I've been burnt too many times and it's just a case of me now concentrating on my cricket and playing my cricket as best I can because that whole situation hurt my family too much. I get it all day every day.

"Somebody asked me yesterday, 'Can you take some constructive criticism?' I said, 'Excuse me? You're talking to somebody who has it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.' So it doesn't affect me, it's water off a duck's back now. I have absolutely no interest in it but it hurt my family and my best mates.

"You go through rocky patches in every walk of life - business, marriage, as a kid, through your teenage years. In a dressing room not everyone's going to get on and I know you had altercations in your dressing room.

"I know some other great players who I speak to in other countries when I hear the things that go on in other dressing rooms now and it happens, it's going to happen. Unfortunately it was quite a famous fall out because of what happened but, no, everything's absolutely fantastic, we showed that in India the way we got on and played well and beat India in India.

"I just want to get the best out of my talent. I just live for each day, I play each day. I go out and try new things. I've got that personality, that impatient personality, that wants to try things, wants to do things, wants to achieve things and I'll never stop trying."

Pietersen also has ambitions to follow the footballer David Beckham and his wife Victoria into the fashion industry. "These last three months that I've been injured I've had quite a bit of time on my hands to sort the business side of life out," he said. "I am heavily involved in a clothing company and a footwear company in India. I've got some different stuff, other things on the horizon that I'm negotiating, talking about and signing off."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 1, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    In fact it was an interesting comment made by KP. I think KP is right and it is statistically possible in a country like England which plays more tests than any other format of the game. The following are the reasons. 1) England plays more tests than India-Tendulkar had played 327 test innings over 24 years career span while Cook had played 163 innings in 7 years. By doing this he had actually made up for the relatively late start for his carrier than Tendulkar (age 16 vs Age 22). 2) Cook is an opener and hardly plays down the order. So he has every chance of scoring runs in both innings of a match. Tendulkar played down the order for number of matches. 3) Cook doesn't bowl and field mostly in the slips cordon - Tendulkar bowls in ODIs and TESTS so he had to sit out for number of games due to injuries. Cook has less chances of getting injured. 4) Cook even loses his captaincy, it is going to better his performances batting wise. 5) Peak age for batting is between 28-35. Cook is 28

  • Colin on June 29, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    I sense a bit of hyperbole here. I did not hear the interview but assume KP has been quoted accurately. In which case whilst he said ' he will....break every record anyone's ever set, he then qualified this by saying' certainly in the English game'. In terms of Sachin he said' He's on target to go for Tendulkar's numbers, if you look at the numbers and look at his age." which is a reasonable comment and a long way from saying he will do it. But then a headline that read' KP says Cook is very good' doesn't make such good copy.

  • Harish on June 29, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    He might make the runs as he likely to get challenged by only the SA pace battery. When you look at Sachins record you see bowling packs get destroyed by him like wise by Grt Lara. He will remain a batsmen who will at the most, raise feeling in the Bowlers mind similar to that by Rahul Dravid(Damn, i will have to bowl and bowl and bowl... )

  • Dummy4 on June 29, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    Yes KP may be right in his opinion, but i will say that alistair cook is very lucky not to face Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath,Muthaih Muralidharan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Wasim Akram, Imran Khan Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose, Ian Botham and Sir Richard Hadlee. But the legend scored these runs against all these legendary bowlers...

  • Yogarajan on June 28, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Nice comments by KP. He has all the rights to give those comments. But the fact if you look back at sachin's career, it would be a nightmare for any current test cricketer to surpass sachin. Infact If you closely observe. sachin had some breaks such as injury and " rest" in some test matches. If those had not happen sachin would already had have another 40 Tests plus 3000 odd runs. Cook is just 28 now. Every cricketer including Cook( "Virat Kholi" in this case as some people compare with ODI's) has to through a " Lean patch" in his career called "form"and "injury". and more over I don't think he will play after 36. So its very clear. May be he can surpass Punter which is a possible one But one to go through Sachin must be sachin Himself. I don't find as such anyone now. May be born somewhere or yet to be born. I believe Sachin's record of test centuries and Runs will last more than 50-75 Years( may be 100). Records are created to be broken, but certain records are created to admire.

  • Dummy4 on June 28, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    Sachin has records with great consistency except for the year when he had an elbow injury and after 2011. To keep such an average after all these years either in one day matches or tests is almost impossible in this modern era. For any of the current players to keep such an outstanding form for many years seem very unlikely. With current changing trends of cricket and fastness of the game I seriously doubt if anybody can withstand in international cricket after 35 years of age. All hard working talented cricketers can not be Sachin. Sachin is gifted, he is loved by the whole cricket world unlike any other batsman and there are many reasons for it. If any one can come close to him thats a good thing for cricket and to people like us who can enjoy cricket again.

  • H on June 28, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    @jay57870 yep. What makes Sachin special isn't the numbers. It's the man. He's an icon, a man who's carried the hopes and dreams of a billion people every time he's gone out to bat, and yet never made it seem like a burden, as he effortlessly faced the very best bowlers the world has ever seen. Even after 23 years of international cricket, he still plays with the same boyhood love of the game, as if it's not a job to him but a pleasure. He wants to win, of course, but he wants to enjoy himself, and entertain the fans at the same time. And it's that spirit, of fun and enjoyment, that inspires so many and creates such a fervent following among his fans. Sachin still, two decades after his debut, embodies the joy of the game many of us felt playing it while growing up. He still carries himself like that 18 year old that walked out at the WACA to face Merv Hughes and Craig McDermott on a venomously fast pitch. It doesn't matter what records get broken, there will only be one Tendulkar.

  • Michael on June 28, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    Tendulkar is like one of those batteries with double the life of any of the others on the market. Whatever he has is just that much better.

  • Jay on June 28, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    David - KP also proclaimed last year that Tendulkar is the "greatest ever" to have played the game of cricket! So when KP says "Cook can go past Tendulkar", he must be taken seriously. Yes, it's statistically possible for Cook to cross Sachin's Test runs. Cliche: records are meant to be broken, right? As for Sachin, he couldn't care less. For him it's only his youthful "passion" for cricket that's kept him going - and reinventing himself - for 23+ years. That's what sets him apart: his phenomenal Staying Power! His physical endurance & mental toughness: to play through pain & injury; rebound from slumps & fatigue; handle adversity & crises; and face constant scrutiny of media & public worldwide. Add to it: his humility, integrity & character. Tendulkar is the world-class benchmark! The obsession is universal. TIME Magazine proclaims: "We have had champions ... legends, but we have never had another Sachin Tendulkar and we never will"! That's the challenge, alas, Alastair Cook faces!!