x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Pietersen expecting a hostile crowd for Ashes return

Kevin Pietersen says England should expect, and actually enjoy, the coming round of verbal abuse in Australia, reports Paul Radley.

DUBAI // Kevin Pietersen says Stuart Broad and his other England colleagues should regard any extra abuse they receive from the crowds in Australia this winter as a badge of honour.

England’s players will begin the defence of the Ashes urn at Brisbane on November 21, with the opening Test likely to be Pietersen’s 100th.

It is nine years since he started his international career, when he was subjected to fearful hostility from crowds in the land of his birth during his debut tour of southern Africa. The England batsman has been well-versed in dealing with abuse ever since, which he believes is a valuable skill to have on an away Ashes tour.

Australian coach Darren Lehmann suggested during his team’s defeat this summer that the supporters in the return leg should make the atmosphere as inhospitable as possible, and for the Broad in particular.

Even though the coach subsequently apologised for saying he hopes Broad goes home crying, it is unlikely any of the tourists will be made to feel overly welcome.

That is par for the course for an away Ashes series, though, according to Pietersen, who insists he welcomes the abuse as a sign of respect.

“I have mood swings: sometimes I go with it, sometimes I don’t,” Pietersen said, speaking at Emirates Towers yesterday. “It is a part of the game and a part of Ashes cricket. When the Aussies come to us, they get it. When we go there, we get it. I take it as a huge bit of respect when I go out to bat and the whole of the MCG or the whole of the Gabba hammer me when I walk out to bat.

“I get pumped up and I actually really enjoy it. These guys obviously fear me and I take it as respect.

“Ricky Ponting got it big time, Shane Warne got it, Glenn McGrath got it. I take it as a huge show of respect.”

If England do reprise the outcome of their 3-0 summer success over the Australians this winter, Pietersen will become part of a select group to have won five Ashes series. He says the bilateral series between the two sides has defined his career.

“I wouldn’t be going if I wasn’t looking forward to it,” Pietersen said. “Every Ashes series is huge. It defines your career. I have been lucky enough to win four so far and there are only a handful for us that have done so. If we win this one there will only be a couple of us that have won five, so I’m buzzing.”

Earlier this week, Pietersen was awarded a substantial libel pay-out from a UK-based optical services group for an advert that insinuated he tried to deceive Hot Spot during the Ashes.

Since then it has been announced Hot Spot will not be part of the Decision Review System during the return series.

Pietersen was ambivalent to the news, though, suggesting he is generally in favour of technology in the sport.

“I like technology in cricket,” he said. “I just think Hot Spot had a poor summer. We don’t make the rules, we play by the rules. Anything that means I get off the field quicker, I am all in favour of.”

pradley@thenational.ae