First a Rs 9 crore contract and now, Kevin Pietersen is set to become Delhi Daredevils captain for IPL 7. The franchise bought him back on Wednesday after utilising their Rights to Match card and they want to build their team around the England middle-order batsman whose international cricket career was abruptly cut short by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) following the Ashes debacle.
“Yes, he (Pietersen) will be the captain. Basically, it was between Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik but the former has more international experience and is a huge influence on the youngsters. He was informally our leader in 2102, nurturing young talents and was excellent at that. He couldn’t play last year because of an injury but he understands our system,” a team insider told The Indian Express.
“Karthik, too, has leadership qualities and will be a part of the think-tank as we want to form a leadership group. He will complement Pietersen well,” he added.
The official reaction from the team, however, is a little guarded but there’s enough indication that Pietersen would be given the charge. “He’s certainly in the mix (to become the captain),” said bowling coach Eric Simons.
Franchise CEO Hemant Dua was effusive in his praise.
“Pietersen has always been fantastic with us. I don’t know what exactly happened between him and the ECB. Nor do I care. He has always been a positive influence in the dressing room, a perfect pro and the right man to help the young players grow into the job. There was an uncertainty over his availability, which was the reason we didn’t retain him. But once he became available, we were always going to buy him back. Captaincy, I would say he definitely has a very big chance,” Dua told this paper.
Asked about the Pietersen-Kirsten combination, he said: “Kirsten is a great coach and fantastic man manager, and Pietersen is world-class. We are really looking forward to this combination.”
Pietersen was sacked by Paul Downton and company for being a “divisive force” in the dressing room and his alleged non-cooperation with England captain Alastair Cook. The story is completely different in Delhi.
“Pietersen played eight matches in 2012. He was exceptional. He was excellent in the dressing-room and colourful off it. We could never miss out on a player of his class,” Delhi team mentor TA Sekhar said.
ECB’s pain is Delhi’s gain.