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Pietersen’s knee issues have heightened his fears about sustaining a career-threatening injury
England batsman Kevin Pietersen has for once not been the talk of the town as he continues to nurse his knee just days before the start of the historic Ashes series, which begins at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on July 10.
In an exclusive interview on Talksport radio with former England pace bowler Darren Gough, Pietersen calmly recalled how he wanted to quit the ODI side last summer due to his fears of sustaining a career-threatening injury, given his huge workload.
However, the stylish batsman did note that if the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had let him have his way last summer, then he would have never fallen victim to this persisting knee injury.
Pietersen’s calls to end his ODI career was met with a swift denial by the ECB, which then ended up escalating into a mini Cold War, with relations between the two parties hitting an all-time low.
In fact, the situation got even worse and Pietersen decided to quit all limited overs cricket, which meant that he missed the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last September.
However, tensions between Pietersen and the ECB first begun after rumours emerged that the South African-born batsman had sent text messages to the South African national team during their tour of England, in which he spited former England captain Andrew Strauss and even detailed how to dismiss him.
Pietersen’s face and name was splattered all over the media that summer as he was also involved in an altercation with debutant James Taylor in the dressing room.
It was only after his triumphant Test series against India in November last year that Pietersen agreed to resume representing England in all three formats once again.
Pietersen sustained his knee injury during England’s tour of New Zealand in February and as a result, he was forced to miss his beloved Indian Premier League (IPL) and the recently concluded Champions Trophy.
In the Talksport interview, Gough asked Pietersen: “Only last year you were talking about looking after your body; you don’t want to get injured playing all forms of the game. You went back on that, and ended up playing all forms of the game and got injured. So it highlighted what you were saying, that at some point every individual’s body is going to break down.”
“Exactly,” Pietersen replied. “You can feel it as a player. I probably didn’t go about it in the best fashion. You make mistakes, and you get over them, and that’s the way you grow as a human being, by learning from things that you don’t do well. So I take it on the chin, no dramas, it’s just a case of looking forward and making sure that you do the right things now.”
The English media have always been quick to ridicule Pietersen and after his knee injury, there were reports stating that it was not as serious as it seemed and that the 33-year-old was just looking to get his money from the IPL and enjoy his lavish lifestyle.
However, in an attempt to plead his case, Pietersen said: “It was really bad. In New Zealand I couldn’t duck a bounce, I couldn’t sweep, I was in all sorts of trouble. I was on the strongest painkillers and eventually my stomach just gave up with me in the second Test match. I probably did it a lot of damage by playing, but I just tried to get through and played for as long as I could because I hate missing Test matches.
“A bruising on your bone is a lot worse than breaking it. You know with a break it’ll be back. I’ve broken my arm, I’ve broken collar bones, I’ve broken my leg. I’ve broken plenty of bones and you know that within six, seven, eight weeks you’re firing again. The bruising has been really frustrating but over the last three weeks I turned a real positive corner.
“I’m just going up to Yorkshire this week to get through four days. If I get runs, I get runs. If I don’t get runs, I don’t get runs. I just need to wake up on Tuesday morning or the day after being on the field knowing that my knee’s not an issue.
“The professional in me will want to score as many runs as possible and that never stops, never fades, but the most important thing from this four-day game is to wake up every morning with no knee issue and to know that I’ve turned a good corner and I can handle a day in the field – because that’s the only thing that hasn’t been tested yet. I can bat in the nets, I’ve done all the fielding drills you can do but it’s not the same as fielding for 96 overs.”
Pietersen also took the time to talk about the problems Surrey have faced over the past year, from the tragic death of Tom Maynard, which the 33-year-old claims “moulded the dressing room” together, right up to the recent firing of team director Chris Adams.
“The guys are really super-tight as they looked after each other so well last year,” he said. “A lot of them took a big hit last year, but in terms of their performances, some of the guys have come back really well.
“I mean Steve Davies for one. He was hit by the Tom Maynard incident really hard last year. He went away all winter, turned down a few England tours and he said ‘I need to go away, sort my head out’ and I’ve never seen Steve Davies play as well as he has this summer. I mean, he’s back and I think he’s back a better player.”
The South African-born batsman also took the opportunity to express his love for county cricket.
“It serves a great purpose, it’s a great learning facility,” he said. “I learnt to be the cricketer I was through county cricket and the more you play it, the better you become. The more you do anything the better you become, so I love county cricket, it’s a great form of the game, and it looks like it’s still flourishing.”