Star all-rounder Shane Watson is sad that Kevin Pietersen is not playing international cricket anymore and wants someone like Australian coach Darren Lehmann to guide the maverick England batsman.
Pietersen’s career was cut short after the England and Wales Cricket Board decided to drop him from the team for the ongoing World Twenty20 Championships.
Watson said Pietersen’s absence is the tournament’s loss. “For me, it’s sad that Kevin Pietersen is not playing international cricket. He has always been one of my favourite players as he could take the game away anytime. I loved watching him bat in the way he took on bowlers in all forms of the game. But things now might just change with new coach. It’s a loss for the tournament that Kevin would not be there,” said the 32-year-old Watson on Tuesday.
Watson feels that just like Lehmann’s appointment as the chief coach helped a rudderless Aussie team get direction, it might just work for Pietersen and England if they get someone like him to guide them through this crisis. “Hope things work out for England as Kevin is an incredible player. Certainly they will miss his cricketing abilities and they need someone to help Kevin. To guide him in the right direction just like Darren Lehmann guided this current Australian team. Lehmann pointed the ship in the right direction and everyone was on board.
“Great coaches are those who were not only great cricketers but also those who get the respect when he walks in. Someone who does things for right reasons. My experience of playing with Kevin in Hampshire is that he is a good guy,” Watson said.
Although he has moved on since the infamous ‘Homework Gate’ episode happened during the away series against India last year, the scars still remain as he made it clear how Mickey Arthur’s removal and Lehmann’s appointment changed things for the better.
“Look since Lehmann came in, he has certainly made a huge change to our group. There was a period of time (Arthur era) which certainly wasn’t ideal for the team environment. Darren came in and turned things around. He knew having played the game as to what kind of environment is needed to get best out of us and made those changes immediately,” Watson said.
Watson also feels that Lehmann’s introduction has taken a lot of load off Michael Clarke, who he thought was trying to be “everything and everyone”. Watson said he is happy to play alongside Clarke for a common goal. “I am not specifically talking about my relationship with Michael. My relationship with Michael has been very good. He has been excellent in how he has run the team. Darren coming in has just taken the load off Michael more than anything else. Earlier, Michael was trying to be everything and everyone and Darren has helped us out.
“In any team, there are people with whom you share a close relationship but may be you don’t spend enough time with them off the field. A good team is one where you get along with everyone. Rather, you have to make sure you find certain things and bonds that ensure that we are moving in the same direction,” he explained. “This (rifts) has happened in Australian teams before. There were people who were not the best of friends but worked for a common purpose. That’s same for sporting teams as well as business teams,” said Watson.
With both Aaron Finch and David Warner being explosive openers, Watson will be batting at No 3 but he has taken the team management’s decision in his stride. “I am happy to bat at any position be it at Nos 3, 4 5 or 6. In my role in T20, I have batted for Rajasthan Royals at No 4 coming in at middle period and staying towards the end. I am really happy to be a part of this Australian team with so many match-winners. I would just be happy to contribute anywhere I bat.”