Kevin Pietersen believes South Africa have a lot more to lose than just a series if things don’t go their way, raising the question of the quota system.
Writing in his Daily Telegraph column, Pietersen says there is a lot of discussion within South African sport about the impact of transformation. ‘Quota systems in rugby and cricket have caused a lot of soul searching with some questioning whether it has taken precedence over picking players on talent,’ he writes.
‘Clearly something has to be done to promote the sport. Only seven of the 87 players picked by South Africa since readmission have been black Africans. The game has to be made attractive and open to all.’
But, he adds, ‘Not long ago I thought England would lose this one easily. Now there is far more at stake for South Africa. Cricket needs the national team to win at home, so there are a few issues that England can use to their advantage and why I say this is a huge series for cricket in South Africa.’
The one extra advantage England have, he says, is the series kicking off in Durban.
‘England have not lost a Test at Kingsmead since 1928 and we won there by an innings in 2009. South Africa have never enjoyed the Boxing Day Test experience in Durban.
‘The travelling fans have a big role to play, he says. ‘This series will feel like playing in Barbados, where the majority of the fans are English. It is a home game for Alastair Cook’s team.
‘The rand is very weak to the pound. The Barmy Army will feel like they are eating and drinking for free so the atmosphere should be very good for the England players which will help ease some of the intensity they will feel on the field.’