IPL news February 5, 2014

What makes Pietersen a franchise-magnet

Factors such as supreme talent, complete availability, match-winner status, a polished and suave speaker, make Pietersen potentially one of the most attractive buys
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The ECB might have forced an abrupt full stop on Kevin Pietersen's international career. However, factors such as supreme talent, complete availability, match-winner status, a polished and suave speaker, franchises claim make Pietersen potentially one of the most attractive buys at the player auction.

On Tuesday, ECB and Pietersen parted ways mutually on the back of talks between the player and Paul Downton, the newly-appointed managing director of England cricket. It is understood that the ECB is on the verge of settling his contract soon, which will leave him a free agent.

Despite all the innuendos published in the media as reasons for his ouster, Pietersen remains a marquee player in the IPL. "People tend to look at young talent, match-winners and players whose calendars are free. Pietersen ticks all those attributes," a senior official with a franchise that has won the IPL in the past, said. "He is being portrayed as a bad boy. So he might have a huge point to prove. He might even want to lead the team and say that 'I am not a selfish player'," the official said.

With the IPL imposing a cap of nine overseas players, franchises are likely to cut back on spending on foreigners. However, officials point out there are many factors that elevate Pietersen's status. At 33, Pietersen is a senior player. A batsman who can silence the opposition with his explosive batting as well as change gears with a calculated assault. A superb fielder, and a decent offspinner.

"He will be a hot property, purely on the basis of his talent. He is a high-quality middle-order batsman. There are not really that many fitting that bill. You have explosive openers, but no one of his talent at No. 4 or 5," a franchise coach said.

Pietersen missed out playing the last IPL because of an injury, but was seen around to promote the Delhi Daredevils brand. He had transferred to the franchise from the now defunct Deccan Chargers in 2012.

Pietersen had made a grand entry into the IPL. Royal Challengers Bangalore bought him at the auction for the then record price of $1.55m, making him the joint-richest player in the IPL along with his former England team-mate Andrew Flintoff, who was bought at the same price by Chennai Super Kings. Pietersen played just six matches in his first year, but he was handed the captaincy immediately. He returned in 2010 to play seven matches at the back-end of the tournament and was instrumental in Royal Challengers finishing third.

For Ray Jennings, the former Royal Challengers' coach, Pietersen was always captaincy material in addition to being a match-winner. "An icon player is leading from the front. KP is a definite game-breaker. He is a very methodical player. He has different ideas. He is a different type of cricketer. When people want to win badly and set high standards, sometimes they are quite difficult to work with. I never had problems with KP. It is a pleasure to work with a guy like that who wants to win all the time," Jennings said.

Although franchise officials remain tightlipped about whether the former England captain might fetch over the $2 million Daredevils paid him, they are certain more than one team will be interested in him. Currently, Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad have vacancies and are likely to chase big-name players like Pietersen who could be part of the team's nucleus even if he does not get picked as a captain.

In a franchise-based sport, it is not just playing ability that determines a player's worth. Charisma, a positive attitude and global appeal are what franchises look for in a player because they want to promote their brand.

According to a former CEO of one of the original eight franchises, in a commercial venture like the IPL, you need a player like Pietersen to create the buzz, to interest fans to buy tickets, to have sponsors who don't mind paying an extra quarter-of-a-million dollars so he can get access to the player. "A few years back we picked a team based on just smart 20-over cricketers. We decided not to go chasing a big name," the former CEO said. "Sponsors came back and gave us their feedback saying is team mein dum nahin hain (three is not much weight in this team). There is no big name or star in your team. The sponsors are always looking for the buzz and star quality around the team."

Pietersen is part of a select band of players who transcend their cricketing talent and can double up as the brand ambassador. "He speaks very well. He is very courteous at sponsor events and mingles easily with both businessmen and fans. Some of the Indian players sulk and give the impression about what a drag it is for them to be present at these events. KP knows his responsibility as a main player. He knows his responsibility to both the franchise and the sponsor. So he brings a lot of value addition in addition to his cricket. He is a good asset both on and off the field. He brings that X-factor and oomph to a franchise," said a franchise head summing up Pietersen's off-field potential.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • test_cricket_lover on February 8, 2014, 13:52 GMT

    As Harsha Bhogle pointed out in his column sometime ago, England wanted Pietersen to be both a conformist and a match-winner. These two qualities never co-existed in a person. Pietersen is one of his kind. If it had not been for his bold and scintillating 158 on the final day of the final test Australia, England wouldn't have regained the Ashes after 18 long years. He also played a major role in t20 world cup which England won in 2009 - the first (and final?) achievement of England in limited overs cricket. I couldn't understand how ECB has forgotten all that. You have to have person of great character to do great things. Pietersen is just that. Anyways, I think it is good that Pietersen is now out of England team and I am sure there are plenty of opportunities awaiting him. Go Pietersen. Just one sad feeling though: I wouldn't see Pietersen playing Test cricket again. Thank you KP.

  • dummy4fb on February 6, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    ecb should change their attitude fellowing old models. we are in 2014 .so change into modern cricket. big bash . ipl makes good players aues, india on top of the cricketrs in the world. because sucess of these modern games.

  • dummy4fb on February 6, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    IPL will be perfect for Peitersen. He only has 2 months to piss people off.. He needs lots of short-term contracts.

  • sachin_equal_to_bradman on February 6, 2014, 16:53 GMT

    Whatever may be KP's wrong-doing,Whatever may be his behaviour..Whatever may be his attitude...Man you gotta love this guy...One of the most uniquely awseomest talent !!!!! Remember his MUMBAI innings??? Even he VIV would have astonished with such audacious batting...salute to this guy from indian fan....Had he been an indian, He would have earned great respect next to sachin and wall!!! World of cricket should not loose some unique players like Kohli,ABD,KP,STYEN,CLARKE,Mohammad Amir(currently in punishment) ...These guys are special talents...Rejoice them irrespective of the attitude...They should be punished only if they do something illegal....

  • HarrowXI on February 6, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    Common Gary Kirstan use right to buy card and buy KP for Delhi again. Make him captain for the squad. I am sure he will make Cook & flower to eat there words.

    Go Delhi derdivals. Be a champ

  • itsthewayuplay on February 6, 2014, 13:03 GMT

    Does this mean KP will be available for the Lord's bicentenary celebrations 50-over match?

  • PhoenixStrikes on February 6, 2014, 12:20 GMT

    I just don't understand ECBs policies..Pietersen is a class act and he is surely not the typical English 'disciplined and ethical' cricketer..but he is in different class of his own..a player like him comes rarely in a generation..of course he might not have been your ideal cricketer..but everything comes at a price.ECB should have found a way for him to continue playing for England..look at Virat Kohli,he has had his shares of attitude problems at the beginning of his career(* the finger in australia) but BCCI kept faith in him and look where he is today!! If you cannot manage a player like KP then you ought to blame yourself for this and to think that Prior,Anderson,Cook and Bell are picked again even when they didn't try to retaliate the aussie attack this ashes which KP atleast tried to do.(remember him taking on Siddle despite his poor form against the latter.)..Poor thinking this from ECB.

  • dummy4fb on February 6, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    Will South Africa welcome back its prodigal son KP into their fold? It is a question, And, not a suggestion!

    If they do, I would like to see him being made the Captain while playing against England.

  • coherent_critic on February 6, 2014, 11:57 GMT

    dd should use their right to match cards wisely..they must use that for viru ,kp and maybe warner..and then can build a team around them..they should also buy chand and groom him with proper guidance like rcb did for kolhi and rr are doing for samson.. chand is highly talented would be able to serve them for many years...this time as kristen is there i expect them to make sensible decisions which they havent done in past like not retaining players like gambhir, abd

  • dummy4fb on February 6, 2014, 11:56 GMT

    Delhi did a stupid thing by not retaining him!

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