Graeme Smith, one of cricket’s most lauded opening batsmen and captains of all-time, has leapt to the defence of Kevin Pietersen.
Smith, who played 347 times for South Africa, including 117 Tests, is reported to have told the UK Telegraph that ‘some of the stuff [in Pietersen’s book] I can believe and having played against him we always said if we could get a win and get ahead they would turn on each other,’ in reference to the comments around a culture of bullying in the England camp, in Pietersen’s autobiography, ‘KP’, which launched this week.
‘A lot of the stuff he has touched on in his book, the bullying stuff, you experienced playing against them and used it as an asset against them.
‘KP is a draw card and the world loves to watch him play the game. It is sad he is not playing international cricket anymore and man-management is a big factor in why he is not there.’
And outspoken former England opener Geoffrey Boycott also said that Pietersen is right to be ‘miffed’ that he was cast from the England team. ‘I’d be miffed if my career had been finished for no reasons given,’ he said. ‘It’s actually a pretty big thing when you’ve got a very talented player … (and) a country says, “Fine, we want to move on without you”. I think [both parties] have a duty to the public to say what their reasons are.’
Pietersen left South Africa to pursue a career in England and he made his international debut in 2004, in the ODI arena against Zimbabwe. In his fifth match he played against the Proteas and scored an unbeaten 22, and followed that with scores of 108 not out, 33, 75 and 100 not out as he won man of the series in his first appearances against the country of his upbringing.
Now 34, Pietersen was jettisoned after playing 104 Tests, 136 ODIs and 37 T20s. He scoed 23 Test hundreds and nine ODI tons and totalled nearly 14 000 runs for England.