Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen has suggested that the “harsh” bio-bubble life could be one of the reasons for Virat Kohli’s stunning decision to quit Test captaincy and backed Rohit Sharma to lead India in all formats of the game going forward.
Kohli stunned the cricketing world by stepping down from the Test captaincy following India’s 1-2 series loss to South Africa.
He had relinquished T20 captaincy after the World Cup last year, and was subsequently removed from ODI leadership, leading to a war of words with the BCCI on the sequence of events leading to these developments.
“People who are critical of the modern day sportsmen I think are foolish because these bio-bubbles are very hard to play in,” the former England star batsman told PTI in a group interaction on the sidelines of the Legends League Cricket here.
“It will be very unfair to be too harsh, to be critical. Because you have not looked at Virat Kohli. Kohli needs crowds, he gets going (from it), he is an entertainer.
“I think it’s very difficult for his personality to perform to the best of his (Kohli’s) abilities (in the bubble),” he reasoned as he reflected on sportspersons’ life in a COVID-scarred world.
The 33-year-old Kohli held the record for most Test wins by an Indian captain (40) with only Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, and Steve Waugh having won more matches than him.
Pietersen said he was not surprised when Kohli quit captaincy from all formats.
“A lot of players have suffered. It is the greatest job in the world. But when you put them in a bubble, it’s certainly not the greatest job because there is no fun,” the 41-year-old said.
“I’m actually not surprised that Virat wants just a little bit of a break from that extra pressure because it’s damn difficult playing in these bubbles,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to judge all International sportsmen, be it premier league footballers or any sportsman around the world, playing in a pandemic.” Pietersen said from his perspective, he would not have performed well for two years without any crowd in the stadiums.
“As a batter, I feed on the energy of fans, and there are a lot of these players, be it in football, rugby or tennis.”
Rohit Sharma should be captain, Pant’s time will come
Vice-captain KL Rahul is leading India in the ongoing ODI series in South Africa with Rohit Sharma injured. Pietersen backed Rohit to captain India across all formats once he regains fitness. The big-hitting batter is expected to be back for the home limited-overs series against the West Indies next month.
“I’ve always loved ‘Hitman’ Rohit Sharma. He’s a fabulous player, every time he’s batting I’ve got to watch. His captaincy is great for the Mumbai Indians too. So he’s probably next in line,” Pietersen said.
Rencently, legendary Sunil Gavaskar backed Rishabh Pant to be the Indian captain, but Pietersen said the wicketkeeper’s turn would come later.
“You are spoilt for choice… But Pant not yet, maybe one day… But when you have got Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul you have got some mighty cricketers.”
Full faith in Rahul Dravid to tide over the transition phase
Pietersen also backed head coach Rahul Dravid to steer India through the transition phase that is upon the team.
“I love Rahul Dravid. I’m looking forward to his progress with the national side. He has done wonders for the youngsters…. So I’m looking forward to seeing him progress with the senior players,” Pietersen said.
Legends League will grow the sport in Oman
The Englishman is part of the World Giants, which will open its campaign against the Asian Lions team in the Legends League Cricket here on Friday.
“Believe me, when you get over the white line, you want to play well. We all are looking forward to it.
“This first edition will be a difficult one purely based on the fact that there was a lack of time, but when season two happens in September, the guys will be much better prepared. Growing the game here is our responsibility,” he concluded.