Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen on Thursday suggested that “harsh” bio-bubble life could be one of the reasons for Virat Kohli quitting Test captaincy as he backed Rohit Sharma to lead India in all formats. Kohli stunned the cricketing world by stepping down from the Test captaincy following India’s 1-2 series loss to South Africa. He had earlier relinquished T20 captaincy after the World Cup last year, something that led to a war of words with BCCI, leading to his removal from ODI leadership.
“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 Legends League Cricket. “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).” 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, with nobody watching.
“As a batter, I feed on the energy of players, and there are a lot of these players, be it in football, rugby, or tennis.” Rohit Sharma should be the 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. “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.
Pietersen is looking forward to Rahul Dravid’s progress as India’s coach. “He is a good friend,” said Pietersen. “He has done wonders for India’s youngsters, and I am looking forward to his progress with the senior players.” As for the captaincy, he feels India is spoilt for choice. “You have got Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul,” he said. “I have always loved the Hitman. He is a fabulous player. His captaincy has been great for Mumbai Indians. (As for) Rishabh Pant, not yet, but maybe one day yes.” He said it was stupid to blame the IPL for the demolition of England in the Ashes. “Very few of them play in the IPL,” he said.
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.