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Kevin Pietersen backs Sarfraz as Pakistan captain

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen has urged the Pakistan cricket authorities to appoint Sarfraz Ahmed skipper for the 2019 World Cup to take pressure off him, saying Sarfraz is a good leader and knows the game well.

Pietersen, who will retire from all cricket later this year, smashed a 34-ball 48 to lead Quetta Gladiators to a comfortable six-wicket win over Islamabad United.

After the match, Pietersen praised Sarfraz, also skipper of Quetta, and termed Pakistan lucky to have such a knowledgeable captain.

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“Pakistan is very lucky to have Sarfraz as a captain,” said Pietersen of Pakistan and Quetta captain.

“All the players like him. He has got a very good cricket brain and with World Cup just 12 months away, I think that it would be a very clever decision for Pakistan Cricket Board to say to Sarfraz, to take pressure off him, that ‘you are leading our team to the World Cup.”

Pietersen warned against replacing Sarfraz, who lost the one-day series in New Zealand 5-0 in January this year.

“You cannot replace a captain in the last 12 months because if you replace a captain after a captain does well like Sarfraz has done, he is a very good man and a great leader, so if you replace him that new captain can think that even he can get replaced before the World Cup.

“So from my experience you back your captain so if you back your captain, your players will feel safe.”

Pietersen admitted his role for Quetta has turned more responsible as he is playing for the last time.

“I am committed to Quetta because I have signed a contract and when I signed a contract I fulfil my obligations of performing to the best of my ability. That’s the bottom line, I am here to score runs. The team has been absolutely magnificent for three seasons and there is no reason why I should just wander around and try to help the team.

“That’s my role and it’s become even bigger role now that I am finishing and I am going into a different walk of life, on occasions, to be able to mentor the youngsters and lead by example.”

Pietersen said he did not want to continue and had enough of cricket.

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“I am done. I hate fielding. Fielding does my head in,” said Pietersen of his international career which began in 2005.” I have been very lucky to have played 20 years of professional cricket without any major injury. A lot of people say you leave while you are on the top, so if I can keep performing like this then it is good.

“As long as the team is performing, that’s all that really matters. I think for Nadeem (Omar). He is such a kind and wonderful man. I am so desperate for him to get a trophy.”

Pietersen said he was as committed to Quetta to win the Pakistan Super League after twice losing in the final.

“I have been passionate every single time I play for the purple team. Whether we win we enjoy together, whether we lose we build each other up and what Nadeem (Omar – owner of Quetta Gladiators) has created, what Sarfaraz has created and what Moin (khan) has created it’s a family team.

“Our team is a family team and they are incredibly humble and they are not super emotional like a lot of the other owners. They do not go dancing in the crowd but they give us our full support and we know that they back us. It’s important from a player’s perspective to know that if we lose the smile is there and the same smile is there if we win.”

Pietersen, who had refused to visit Pakistan for the playoffs and final — like he did last year — admitted to speaking to England and Wales Cricket Board director of cricket on a possible coaching stint.

“I had some good conversation with Straussy. Because he is going through some personal hardships at the moment and I am being serious when I say that cricket isn’t significant when Andrew Strauss is dealing with what he is dealing with his wife and cancer, ” said Pietersen of Strauss’ wife Ruth who is diagnosed with cancer in January this year.

“So you put all the nonsense to a side and I have actually spoken to him for quite a few times in the last couple of months. Cricket and a lot of other stuff that happens are gone, it’s insignificant, families are more important than all the nonsense. Cricket is insignificant to personal health. I am good with Straussy and I just wish Ruth all the best and hope, she can pull through, she is a fighter.”



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