The Melbourne Renegades believe they can offer Kevin Pietersen a harmonious Australian home. Photo: Reuters
Cricket’s newest free agent Kevin Pietersen will be chased hard by the Melbourne Renegades, who believe they can offer a harmonious Australian home for the discarded England batsman.
As some in the cricket world reacted with disbelief at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to end the international career of one of the game’s most talented, watchable and difficult figures, Twenty20 teams around the world weighed up whether to chase him.
The Renegades, who almost signed Pietersen, 33, when he was estranged from the ECB in 2012, made immediate contact with his management. Pietersen and Renegades captain Aaron Finch played together at the Delhi Daredevils.
Kevin Pietersen’s career.
”We’d be thrilled to have him and would love to get involved in a discussion,” said Renegades chief executive Stuart Coventry. ”World-class players like him … don’t come around too often and he has got a terrific relationship with our captain.
”I think he’d fit in really well and Finchy in particular is a big rap for him. I think we could make him feel at home.”
Pietersen has been a divisive figure in several dressing rooms – before he played for England, his captain at Nottinghamshire infamously threw his kit bag from the balcony at Trent Bridge and in 2012 he was exiled from the England team for sending disparaging text messages about then-captain Andrew Strauss to South African players.
There was talk of clashes with (since-departed) coach Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook during England’s disastrous Ashes tour, including a row with Cook at a members’ bar at the SCG before the fifth Test. Cook was part of the decision to cut him, ensuring he won’t play in the World Twenty20 in March or next year’s World Cup. Instead, Pietersen is set to be a box office hit in the IPL and probably the BBL. Not all Australian teams will pursue Pietersen, who would command top dollar within the $ 1.05-million salary cap, a marketing deal from Cricket Australia and arrangements for his family.
The Melbourne Stars would struggle to fit him in after several players accepted contracts below market value to stick together. ”I don’t think we’d necessarily have the capacity for someone like KP and what he would be demanding,” Stars boss Clint Cooper said.
Both Sydney teams, the Sixers and the Thunder, are interested in Pietersen but will do their ”due diligence” before approaching him.
Two years ago Pietersen was one of four players CA earmarked that it was prepared to pay above playing contracts to promote the BBL. The others were Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Sachin Tendulkar. Sydney Thunder captain Mike Hussey now falls into the same category.
”We would have to make sure that he adds value across the league, not just to the team he is playing for,” BBL boss Mike McKenna said. ”It would be exciting if he [Pietersen] was interested. He is a great player and if he can bring the right values to a team and the competition it would be nice to have him play.”
The termination of Pietersen’s international career divided opinion. Gilchrist said he had suffered the common fate of the superstar who was bigger than the game, with officials eventually tiring of the divisions he created.
Others, including former England captain Michael Vaughan, lamented team management’s inability to ”manage a maverick”.
”That’s a big call regarding a big player, a big ticket item,” Gilchrist told SEN. ”He’s a guy who believes in his own ability as much as anyone I’ve ever come across and he expresses that unashamedly. That does divide opinion.”
Gilchrist said former teammate Warne had often been viewed in a similar light to Pietersen’s ego, but there was never any question about Warne’s commitment to the team.