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Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen has revealed that he thinks it is “fantastic” that Joe Root has succeeded Alastair Cook as the country’s Test captain.
Root had served as vice-captain for approximately 18 months prior to replacing Cook as captain after the latter decided to step down following his side’s 4-0 loss to India towards the end of last year.
With Root being only 26, there is no doubt he has big shoes to fill. Nonetheless, Pietersen is confident that he will have a lot of success during his time as captain.
But, the 36-year-old is hoping that the added responsibility that comes with the leadership role doesn’t affect Root’s performance with the bat.
“I have loved him ever since his debut,” Pietersen, who had a short run as captain in 2008, told talkSPORT. “I was batting at the time when the wicket fell and he walked out there with a smile on his face, in India, when we needed to draw that Test match to win the series.
“Joe walked out there smiling, happy, laughing, joking and said, ‘alright lads, what is going on out here’. I thought, ‘oh my days, this guy is making his Test debut’.
“I think he has a wonderful, wonderful personality and I just hope captaincy doesn’t affect the way he plays because, having been in that role, it can go two ways.
“It can either really help your captaincy because you don’t think too much about your game and you do what you need to do and get on with it, or you can think too much about it, put too much pressure on yourself, and it hurts your game.
“I hope it doesn’t hurt his game because England need his runs and they need them against South Africa [in the Test series later this year].”
Meanwhile, Pietersen also revealed that he is glad to be back in England after travelling all over the world to compete in domestic Twenty20 competitions.
Pietersen was involved in the CSA T20 Challenge, Big Bash League (BBL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL). He was also supposed to take part in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), but pulled out in order to sign with Surrey and play in the Natwest T20 Blast.
Explaining his decision, Pietersen said: “It was a fairly easy decision because it means I can stay at home for the summer.
“I have had the most ridiculous schedule playing around the globe since October. I can now be at home all summer.
“I wouldn’t have played anywhere else other than Surrey. Surrey is my baby. I love the dressing room, I love the lads, and I absolutely love everything Surrey has done for me.”
Pietersen also made it clear that while he may never be able to add to his tally of international runs again, he has no plans to retire in the foreseeable future.
“I’ll stop playing as soon as I hate batting and hate trying to fight through bad form,” he said. “In the PSL [Pakistan Super League] I got a couple of first-ballers but I really enjoyed actually thinking, ‘right, how am I going to turn this around, what am I doing badly’, and then I hit 80 off 40 balls, 60 off 30 balls, 50 off 20 balls and I was able to turn around a bit of form and a bit of bad luck.
“As long as I enjoy the art of batting, I will continue to play. I am only 36 and I continue to whack the ball as well as I have ever whacked the ball – probably a little better at the moment. As long as it is still there, I will keep whacking it.”