Kevin Pietersen has marked his anticipated England comeback by boldly predicting that Alastair Cook has the ability to challenge Sachin Tendulkar’s world-record number of Test runs.
Tendulkar, with 15837 Test runs, is more than 2000 ahead of his nearest rival, Ricky Ponting – and he is not quite finished yet. Cook remains 8000 adrift, although he has regularly matched Tendulkar at the same stage of his career, leaving Pietersen no doubt the record is within his compass.
Pietersen, who is expected to return for England on Thursday in the second T20 international against New Zealand, has always freely admitted that he has little knowledge of cricket history, which will be a relief to Cook, who has enough problems to deal with in managing England’s Ashes campaign without being tipped to surpass the most celebrated living batsman.
Pietersen’s accolade for Cook came in the second part of a pre-recorded interview with Darren Gough on Talksport — an interview which, in protest at the English media’s coverage of his controversial career, he has billed as his only pronouncement of the summer.
“His first series was against India away and we beat India,” Pietersen said of Cook. “He’s done exceptionally well, his cricket just keeps getting better and better. “For me he’s the right man to lead England, he’s doing a great job for us and he will continue to get better and better and break every record anyone’s ever set, certainly in the English game. He’s on target to go for Tendulkar’s numbers, if you look at the numbers and look at his age.”
Pietersen also offered glowing praise for another colleague who is tipped to have a long and fruitful England career in Joe Root — not that he was overly aware who the young Yorkshireman joining England on tour for the first time in India last winter was.
“I never knew of him, I never heard of him, because when you’re on the scene and young players come you just don’t,” he said. “But I knew that he was going to be good when he walked out to bat in Nagpur in his first Test match.”
By the time Root made his debut England were 2-1 up with one Test to play and needed to avoid defeat to win their first series in India for 28 years.
“I was batting and … we just didn’t want to let India back into it at all and he walked out and — just his face walking towards me for 20 metres — I thought this kid’s going to be a flipping superstar.”It was just the confidence that he walked out to bat with in his debut Test match in India, two spinners bowling, from each end, we’d just lost a wicket or a couple of wickets and he walked out with a smile on his face, and went ‘All right lad, you okay, you’re playing well there’. And I was like, ‘Mate! I’ve played 90 odd Test matches and I don’t walk out like that’. But it’s brilliant for English cricket, absolutely brilliant.” (cricinfo)