There have been times when Kevin Pietersen would be totally unconcerned by the happenings on the field. But the series against India has unfortnately not been one of those moments. The right-hander has been in sublime touch, taking the momentum away from India with knocks that showcased not only his ingenuity but also his determination to come good.
With his 358 runs at an average of 89.50 to his credit, Pietersen in the leading batsman in this series. And he isn’t done yet. In this interview, he speaks of England’s team ethos as the force that drives England — to the No.1 spot in the Test rankings and maybe even higher.
How does this experience compare to the 2005 Ashes win?
The team department is absolutely amazing and all we need to do is continue that and not let it get affected by anything that happens or any success that is achieved. I think we’ve proved that by winning in Australia and then coming back to England and beating India in England. We’ve obviously got a lot of hard work we’ve still got to put in and the good thing about this team is we’ll put that in.
Part of the shortcoming after 2005 was it fell apart all too quickly, it’s looks unlikely to happen again?
Well, we’ve got a real good structure in place and great people in place as well; the management and players – there’s a lot of mature players. You look at the number of games people have played, you look at the number of hundreds we’ve scored, look at the wickets the boys have started to take – we actually look like one of the senior teams in world cricket right now, whereas two, three, four, five years ago there were a couple of players who were experienced but we had a lot of inexperience. So I think we’ve got all departments covered and as long as each individual – including the guys in the squad who aren’t playing at the moment – keep striving to get better we’ll be okay.
Is it preparation that counts do you think?
Preparation and staying grounded as well.
Alastair Cook said this is the start of a journey, establishing yourself as a great side like West Indies or Australia – what do you have to do to keep moving forward?
Keep winning and making sure we keep trying to improve. If we keep trying to improve and we don’t get affected by any forms of success then we’ll be okay.
Does this squad have it in them to be like those great West Indies or Australia sides?
I hope so, who knows? You never know what’s around the corner because we might get four or five injuries this winter and then we’re back to square one again. But if we keep this squad of players together there’s no reason why we can’t keep on playing well.
Is it a challenge all great sides have to maintain hunger to keep winning year after year – do you guys have that hunger in you and won’t disappear?
I hope not. If it was going to disappear it would have disappeared after we’d beaten Australia in Australia so convincingly. But we’ve come back, we had a terrible World Cup and then got our heads together for the Test series this summer and we’ve won these three Test matches convincingly.
The team ethos seems formidable, tell us about it?
I think you’ve got a lot of experience and when you’ve got guys who, it’s wrong to say certain of their places, but guys who have done enough in this team to be sure of their own games and warrant being selected through a bad run of form, to keep getting the backing of selectors because the guys have done so well over the last however many years. When you have that confidence behind you as a player, you’re not so worried about your place. You’re really, really worried about doing your job well and also if someone else does well there’s no jealousy. There’s no jealousy in our dressing-room. If Cooky does well like he did yesterday, it’s absolutely amazing and you can feel it from me as a person to him, he knows I’m really ecstatic. When I hit a double hundred two weeks ago I knew that everybody in that dressing-room was so happy for me. Belly at Nottingham, we know that everyone is so happy. Bressie when he comes in, Broady turning games around this series as well, we’re all personally so happy because we’re not worried about our own jobs.
You look a relaxed player, as part of the team as much as you ever have.
Yeah, I love it, I love playing in this team. As I said in a couple of interviews after winning the (Twenty20) World Cup in the Caribbean last year, I was fortunate enough to have a good start to my career and score plenty of runs and get a lot of personal accolades but when you stand on a podium and lift a World Cup there’s no better feeling. It’s a team game. We got that feeling in the Ashes and we’re going to have that at The Oval next week and those are the kind of feelings I want for the rest of my career.
Does a winning team need friendships or are they a bonus?
You don’t need friendships, as long as you’re performing on the field you don’t have to love everybody in the team. The great Australian sides and the West Indians, not everybody loved each other in those teams. I’m not saying none of us like each other, we actually very, very much like each other in the dressing-room and there’s no jealousy, the boys are so happy when someone does well.’
The team’s goal was being No.1 in the world, what is it now, staying there?
The goal is obviously to continue doing the right things. I don’t think we want to make too much of a thing of being No.1 in the world because in England it’s a dangerous place to be. I know first hand that as soon as you reach somewhere people like to clean you out. We’ve got a lot of experience in our dressing-room, we know what we need to do and that is to concentrate on exactly what we’ve done this week. If we concentrate like we have this week going forward then why won’t we improve and continue getting these results? Straussy said at the end of the second Test, he doesn’t feel we’ve played our best cricket, we can still improve and he was right. We have improved and put on an unbelievable show this week.
Is this as good as you can play in a match?
I think when the great Australian and West Indian teams played for years and years they killed the opposition. I played against that Australian team in 2006 in Australia; I promise you now, every day’s play of those Test matches you weren’t looking forward to it because you knew you were going to get dealt with. That’s what I hope we can do to opposition but it’s going to be tough. We need to concentrate on doing what we do.
Do you think oppositions are fearful of playing you guys now?
Potentially yes. You look at that engine room, Matty Prior down to No.10 those guys there can score 150 runs and take the game away from you – we’ve seen it a couple of times already in this series. If we get ourselves into a bit of a hole at 120-8 or 80-5 we can still get 250-300 and then back our bowlers to do the business.
You mentioned the 2006-07 Ashes, you guys now have a chance to do that to India – is it a target to whitewash India?
That is a target, a huge target because I played against Australia when we did get hammered and it’s a horrible to place to be. So if we can inflict a similar defeat on India it would be amazing for us.