Kevin Pietersen sets the template for new England: Kumar Sangakkara

"I would say that KP started all that."

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Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Kevin Pietersen’s career ended in a disappointing manner. Pietersen was well on his way to create his own legacy in English cricket before a series of controversies derailed his career. That Pietersen was special was very much evident from his performance in the iconic Ashes series of 2005. His 158-run knock on the final day of the series had helped England regain the Ashes after 17 long years.

He had finished the series as top scorer, with 473 runs at 52.55. He was also named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year. In 2010, he helped England win their first ICC World T20- which remains their only ICC title till date. In 2011, he scored 533 runs at 106.60 in England’s 4-0 home whitewashing of India that secured them the No.1 ranking in Tests. The exploits helped him carve his own place in English cricket.

But things soon turned sour. He reportedly sent derogatory text messages about his captain Andrew Strauss, to South Africa players during the 2012 series at home. England dropped him for the following game. He returned briefly for England but was unceremoniously dropped following the team’s humiliating 5-0 loss in Ashes in 2014. He never played for England again.

Kumar Sangakkara hails Pietersen

Former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara’s comments about the controversial player just about proves his importance to England cricket. Writing for Wisden Cricket Monthly, Sangakkara hailed Pietersen and said that the latter set the template for current English side.

“I believe the impact Pietersen had on that England team of a decade ago continues to influence the attitude of the side you see now. Post-Pietersen, the new-look English batting side has gone for a new kind of intent, shown especially in one-day cricket. The variety they have in their line-up, the players they’ve taken risks with, I would say that KP started all that. He set the template for the new England,” he said.

“He had the wristy play of an Asian subcontinent player; the power on the short ball that you’d expect of a guy who grew up playing in South Africa on quick, bouncy tracks; and he had the skill to deny the movement that you find in England. He was a supremely accomplished all-round player,” he added.

Sanga’s take on the controversies

“I’m not privy to what really happened in the England dressing room, but in Sri Lanka, we had similar characters playing with us, but our culture and our tolerance levels are very different. We were able to manage those situations in our own way and get on with what we had to do. I can’t profess to know him too well, but in my dealings with him for Surrey, I always enjoyed his presence and his company,” he said.

Sangakkara signed off by hailing Pietersen as one of the greatest batsmen in the game, writing: “No matter whether you love him or hate him, whether you think he’s selfish or cocky, everyone looking at KP’s skill would have to consider him to be one of the greatest batsmen the world has seen.”

~Written by Bijoy

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