Ray Jennings, the coach of the Bangalore Royal Challengers, has said he isn't too bothered about Kevin Pietersen's recent history with the England team and the events surrounding his quitting the captaincy, following a fractious relationship with the then coach Peter Moores. Pietersen will join the franchise in South Africa for the IPL, which begins on April 18.
Jennings said he could relate to Pietersen's personality, which, he said, was very similar to his own. A former coach of the South African senior and Under-19 team, he is known for his aggressive coaching style but was confident of a sound working relationship with Pietersen.
"I don't care a damn what happened with the England job. Kevin and I are on the same wavelength - that's all that matters and I just don't believe he will behave like people believe he can behave," Jennings told the Guardian. "The important thing is Kev's the type who likes to prove people wrong. He's like me - he likes to push fingers up people's noses. I understand the guy and where he's coming from. Whatever his so-called personality weaknesses are, I back him 100%.
"People have to understand that there is a different set of permutations out here from what happened with England. I've clashed with some of my cricketers before, too, but that's my style. It doesn't concern me who he's clashed with. I believe there absolutely has to be tension within any relationship. If there's no tension, there's a lack of respect. I respect Kevin and he respects me. It will be a whole new relationship."
Pietersen, for whom this is the first IPL season, was bought by the franchise for a record US$ 1.55 million. In order to familiarise himself with the team, Pietersen asked for photos of all his team-mates and Jennings was impressed with that attitude.
"Small things like that convince me he's going to do well," Jennings said. "He's a top professional who plays to win. I like that kind of guy. He also understands South African conditions. It will be tough in that environment but he's a fighter. He's got a personality that's got him to where he is now and he's not going to change it."
Pietersen will captain the franchise in the first two weeks before heading home to face the West Indians for a Test series.