Tributes pour in ahead of Pietersen’s 100th Test match

Image courtesy of: The Guardian

“He’s a box office player and [it’s] a box office occasion to go to your 100th Test”

Tributes have been pouring in for England batsman Kevin Pietersen ahead of his 100th Test match, which will come against Australia in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain led the tributes, stating that Pietersen has been the national team’s “box office player” ever since he made his Test debut during the 2005 Ashes series.

“He’s a box office player and [it’s] a box office occasion to go to your 100th Test. It’s fitting really,” Hussain told Sky Sports News. “It’s been an up and down journey. There’s been a lot of incident on and off the field. But it’s also been a good journey to watch.

“When he bats you definitely stand up and watch. He’s a phenomenal player. He disappoints at times. He polarises opinion, not everyone likes him. (But) we’ll miss him when he’s gone. He’s played some seriously good innings for England with some seriously good shots.

“The way he bats has been absolutely brilliant over the years. English cricket owes him, the way he plays, the way he entertains. There have been incidents, but that’s all part of being Kevin Pietersen. It would be a pretty dull world if it was all boring batsmen and no incident and it was all Cook, Trott and Bell, lovely, nice guys who don’t cause you any problems at all. I think cricket it better placed for having the likes of Kevin Pietersen. There’s some characters in the game and he is certainly one of them.”

Former England pace bowler Bob Willis stated that Pietersen can “single-handedly” win matches for his side.

“England’s batting line-up is largely very efficient but Pietersen is an outstanding presence in the side – we saw that as soon as he burst on the scene with those three one-day hundreds against South Africa in early 2005,” Willis added. “You don’t have to like and love everyone you play with and Pietersen has had his issues with virtually every dressing room that he’s been in but the fact remains he’s an awesome talent.

“If Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar are at the top of the tree, then the likes of Ricky Ponting and Pietersen are just behind them.

“Bowlers generally win Test matches but Pietersen, on occasion, has single-handedly on occasions put England into positions to win games.”

Australia opening batsman David Warner noted that he was a fan of how Pietersen “always comes out with that swagger” and let “his ego take over”.

“He’s obviously a very good cricket player,” Warner said. “He plays how he wants to play the game. He always comes out with that swagger. He lets his ego take over. And that’s probably helped him. If he goes into his shell it probably doesn’t help his cricket. We respect him as a cricket player – he’s a fantastic player. What he does off the field, that’s his own thing.”

Australia all-rounder Shane Watson simply branded Pietersen as “one of the best in the world”.

“He’s probably one of the best in the world, in all conditions,” Watson said. “All around the world he has scored runs. It’s always the way he takes on the game. It’s something you enjoy watching, but not particularly bowling to him. I know cricketers around the world enjoy watching him bat. I know that’s how the public see it too – he’s always taking on the game no matter what the situation.”

However, Australia left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson was in no mood to praise the South African-born batsman ahead of his landmark Test, saying: “We’re not thinking about the opposition at the moment. To be honest I couldn’t really care.”

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