Image courtesy of: Sydney Morning Herald
“He has always been one of my favourite players as he could take the game away at any time”
Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has admitted “it’s sad that Kevin Pietersen is not playing international cricket” any more.
Watson also noted that England will sorely miss the services of the explosive batsman throughout the World Twenty20.
“For me, it’s sad that Kevin Pietersen is not playing international cricket,” Watson said. “He has always been one of my favourite players as he could take the game away at any time. I loved watching him bat in the way he took on bowlers in all forms of the game. But things might change with their new coach. It’s a loss for the tournament that Kevin will not be there.
“I hope things work out for England as Kevin is an incredible player. Certainly they will miss his cricketing abilities and they need someone to help Kevin. To guide him in the right direction just like Darren Lehmann guided this current Australian team. Lehmann pointed the ship in the right direction and everyone was on board.
“Great coaches are those who were not only great cricketers but also those who get the respect when he walks in. Someone who does things for right reasons. My experience of playing with Kevin in Hampshire is that he is a good guy.”
Watson also credits Australia head coach Darren Lehmann for turning the team’s fortunes around.
“Look, since Darren Lehmann came in, he has certainly made a huge change to our group,” he said. “There was a period of time (Arthur era) which certainly wasn’t ideal that team environment. Darren came in and turned things around. He knew having played the game as to what kind of environment is needed to get best out of us and made those changes immediately.”
Watson added that Lehmann has also taken a lot of pressure off captain Michael Clarke’s shoulders.
“I am not specifically talking about my relationship with Michael,” he said. “My relationship with Michael has been very good. He has been excellent in how he has run the team. Darren coming in has just taken the load off Michael more than anything else. Earlier, Michael was trying to be everything and everyone and Darren has helped us out.
“In any team, there are people with whom you share a close relationship but may be you don’t spend enough time with them off the field. A good team is one where you get along with everyone. Rather, you have to make sure you find certain things and bonds that ensure that we are moving in the same direction.
“This (rifts) has happened in Australian teams before. There were people who were not the best of friends but worked for a common purpose. That’s same for sporting teams as well as businesses.”
The 32-year-old also hinted that he remains interested in becoming Australia’s Twenty20 captain.
“It’s always a dream to captain your country and I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t want to,” Watson added. “But I am very comfortable where I am at the moment and the role that I have as an all-rounder in the team. George is a great guy and knows the game. He is also performing well. Specially in shorter formats of the game.”
Watson also believes that Australia have an excellent chance of winning the World Twenty20.
“This is an incredible squad,” he said. “Apart from Mitch Johnson, who is out with toe infection, this is best squad that we have put together in a T20 tournament. We have firepower in batting till No 10, a couple of very good death bowlers and a couple of very good new ball bowlers. We have a lot of balance in our team.
“In a knock-out tournament, you need a lot of guys who can make difference in the team and we have got those. T20 cricket is quite a fickle game as you can have a good day as well as a bad day.”