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Lions den awaits prodigal son

2009-04-17 18:20

Cape Town - England batsman Kevin Pietersen returns to South Africa for his first taste of the Indian Premier League (IPL) knowing many from his homeland are unlikely to welcome him with open arms.

Since choosing to represent England instead of his country of birth and citing selection 'politics' as his reason for leaving South Africa, the controversial 28-year-old has been unpopular here.

Now he returns as captain of Bangalore Royal Challengers, and local fans will have a difficult decision to make when the Vijay Mallya-owned franchise face Rajasthan Royals at Newlands Saturday.

While South Africans will be tempted to jeer the Pietersen-led outfit, Bangalore have several home favourites in their ranks, including Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and new star Roelof van der Merwe.

Competition rules restrict teams to selecting four non-Indians and this means only some of the Proteas will be in the side, but their presence in the Bangalore squad could cause friction.

Pietersen's relationship with South African players has been tumultuous, notably when he first played for England here in a one-day series four years ago.

Tensions have eased since and there was little friction when South Africa toured England last year.

However, with a sell-out crowd confirmed for the opening IPL double-header, a feisty reception awaits Pietersen and his every move on the field will be closely watched.

He also has plenty to prove to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after they axed him as captain this year when his disapproval of then coach Peter Moores was made public.

AFP

Comments
  • Gavin M - 2009-04-17 23:02

    Having read his book and listened to him interviewed I think he's a bit of a mixed bag. It seems that whenever he opens his mouth it is only to change feet. He is as selfish a player as Kallis but that is one of the best reasons to have him in your team - he constantly puts pressure on himself to achieve. However, when things don't go his way he sure can seem to sulk. Still, I do agree that politics drove him away and I don't blame him for that. And for those who disagree with that, consider the fact that he has a test average of over 50 - then ask yourself, why was that not good enough for SA? Anyway, whenever he plays there is always going to be a spectacle.

  • Anonymous User - 2009-04-18 08:15

    He was not going to make the SA side because of quotas, do you blame him for moving? I don't, and he is a great cricketer the stats tell a story. Go Kevin you good thing

  • Al - 2009-04-18 09:23

    Well Goolam Bodi was favoured ahead of KP when he was in KZN - where is Goolam today???? Good luck KP!

  • ShaneA - 2009-04-18 12:03

    Just like so many other topics of conversation in SA, most people in SA choose not to try and learn the full story because, perhaps, complaining about quotas, BEE, AA, etc. makes better conversation around the braai. KP, while he has turned out to be a fantastic player did not start out that way. Go read http://www.abcofcricket.com/Article_Library/news220605/news220605.htm. In addition to this article, I read elsewhere (and for which I stand to be corrected) that KZN cricket even offered to help pay for his tertiary education. If quotas are preventing white cricketers from representing SA then how on Earth did Smith, de Villiers, Steyn, etc. make the side! I don't know when last KP looked at the SA lineup but Ntini is the only black african and Amla, Duminy, Prince are there on merit. KP's (monumental) ego was hurt - simple! If he had just played cricket instead of mouthing off no South African would have had a problem - same as Clyde Rathbone. So many other SA born sportsman have represented other countries in rugby and cricket and have never been hated for it.

  • NathiK - 2009-04-18 12:23

    I respect KP as a professional cricket player otherwise off the field he's a plonker. He'd far be a better person if he played his cricket and shut his gob.

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