'A privilege to work with Kirsten' - Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen, the new captain of Delhi Daredevils, has rated Gary Kirsten as the No.1 coach at the moment, and said the franchise is lucky to have the South African in its coaching staff, as it looks to rebuild after a poor 2013 season. Pietersen was speaking to ESPNcricinfo during a live video chat on Thursday where he took questions from fans via Twitter.
Kirsten, who had earlier coached India and his native South Africa, was appointed Daredevils' head coach for 2014 last September. Pietersen, who had represented Daredevils in previous seasons, was named captain last month. Pietersen said his interactions with Kirsten over the last few days, with the squad assembling ahead of the start of IPL 2014, have been "fantastic."
"Gary and I sing off a similar hymn sheet. It's an absolute privilege to work with Gary," Pietersen said. "He is probably rated the No.1 coach at the moment. Delhi are very fortunate to have Gary. He's got the personality that makes you want to really be successful for him and the franchise. He makes you feel happy about yourself.
"When he talks he means it and everything that comes out of his mouth makes sense. It has been fantastic working with him so far. We will do whatever we can to prepare ourselves the right way so we can have a fun competition."
Pietersen had had a shortlived stint as England captain and also had a brief period at the helm of Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2009. Now in his second time leading an IPL franchise, Pietersen said his outlook towards the job has changed since his early days, by drawing on his experiences in dealing with different people.
"I think my mindset has changed a hell of a lot. When I was thrust into the England captaincy, it was very difficult at that stage as I hadn't been through a load of processes and I've had a load of ups and downs since then," Pietersen said. "Only when you reach good heights and reasonably low lows do you understand everybody and everything. When you have a family you understand families, when you have kids you understand kids.
"When I took over the England captaincy I hadn't experienced a lot of those things. For me, understanding people, managing people and getting to grips with how everybody's feeling over a 6-8 week period is vitally important in making sure we are all happy and everyone's fighting for one result. The last 24-48 hours with these guys has been fascinating, in terms of achieving the goal. We can all learn from each other."
With the IPL's credibility hit by last year's spot-fixing scandal, Pietersen said it was important for players to remember why they took to the game in the first place and not worry about off-field issues.
"I hope I can speak for all players that we play this game because we love this game. It gives incredible highs, and lows too. You have to expect that. You go out there and play to the best of your ability and you just hope that people aren't putting a black line through days that you spend enjoying and having fun. Anything that happens in terms of the nonsense away from the field, we can't go in to that. We just have to be honest with ourselves and each other."
Pietersen, whose international career was put to an abrupt end by the ECB, however, hasn't given up hope on playing for England again. "I thought my time was up when things happened in January," he said. "But I love playing cricket and I am still hopeful of playing cricket for England again one day so I'm going to do everything I can to play to the best of my ability."