International Cricket Council player rankings? Whatever. Everybody knows when it comes to the best batsmen in the world that right near the top are Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen. Come Saturday night, we’ve both got a chance to remind you why.
I first met KP about a decade ago, when one of the English TV channels brought me over for a competition to see which player could hit the biggest sixes.
My first impression was that he looked like a skunk, as it was the time he had that big blonde streak running down the middle of his hair. The other was that the boy could hit. I’m pretty sure he actually won that competition, against me. Beginner’s luck!
Later in 2005 KP and I ended up playing together, in one of those World XI matches that was played under the roof in Melbourne, which has ended up being my home with Melbourne Renegades. We’ve crossed paths a lot since but it’s always been on separate teams, initially when the West Indies were playing England but even other things like the Indian Premier League, the Caribbean Premier League and now the Big Bash League.
I think it’s better we’re opposed to each other. I think it pushes us a bit harder to outdo the other one, which is good news for everyone watching.
I don’t really watch a lot of cricket. Beyond checking out who I’m coming up against, I tend to deliberately keep my distance, because I don’t want to get caught up in it. I like to be entertained, and unfortunately I can’t kick back and watch myself play.
It’s very important to entertain. That’s my objective. It’s really good to be the sort of person that people look up to, as an entertainer. They look for big sixes, they look for runs. T20 is about entertainment, and I think I’m one of the few people who can do that on and off the field.
I haven’t thought deeply about who’d be in the top 10 batsmen I’ve played against, but KP would definitely be in there. He is an entertainer, too. My teams have been on the receiving end of some of his big innings, like when he made a century in the 2007 World Cup and the time he made a double-century in a Test in Leeds.
He’s a class player, one of the best around the world. It makes no difference that he’s no longer representing England. He’s a big wicket. You always want to get him out as early as possible, as he’s definitely the type of character who can win games on his own.
It was a boost to the CPL to have such a big name in our tournament as KP last season, when he came to play for St Lucia.
It’s funny. We don’t know each other well, yet we’re often in communication, if not through Instagram and Twitter then through WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger.
Staying at the same hotel, we get the chance to have breakfast together, or even a beer when it’s a bit later in the day, like we did when we posted a pic of it on Instagram a few weeks ago. We might also hit a few clubs as well. Cricket is typically off the agenda. We just sit around and talk crap, basically.
Speaking to KP, the other day, he said his golf was helping him hit sixes, because he plays so much of it and is getting better at just teeing off. It shows that even at 35 you can learn something.
We’re definitely still two of the best players in the world. I’m still actually playing for my country, and should be there for the World Twenty20 if I’m fit. It’s unfortunate for him, but at least he’s going to have the chance to watch me!
KP can play, but when it comes to hitting there’s no contest. KP is not even close to me. We had another six competition last year, before the CPL, and I proved that. But, to be fair, he does have the switch hits.
The MCG boundaries will be a good test, even for me. They’re big! I’ve had to organise a few gym sessions, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, to make sure I can clear the boundaries come Saturday. Fingers crossed.
I don’t just hit bigger than him. I’m also a better entertainer. Clearly. While for most people in Australia – and for me too – the match will be Stars versus Renegades, for most people overseas it’s purely going to be KP versus Chris Gayle.
For entertaining, of course I’m going to be better than him. Of course I am! I’m the biggest entertainer in the world right now in cricket. No, not just the world, the universe. I’m the #UniverseBoss, not just the #WorldBoss.
Fans want to be entertained, especially when you have the entertainers on separate teams. They pay a lot of money to come and see us, so we want to deliver.
When we, the Renegades, beat KP and his Stars he’ll definitely have to take me out and buy me a few beers. If we lose, I’ll tell him he’s still got to buy me a few beers. That means whatever happens I’m on the winning side.
It’s my first derby, and I’m looking forward to it. It should be a cracker. People will definitely still turn out to watch us, even though we’re not on the international scene at the moment. You don’t pass up an opportunity to see KP playing against Chris Gayle, because we don’t know what will happen in the future.
But we do know what will happen on Saturday night: we’ll both be swinging, and swinging hard. If you’re in the crowd, mind your heads.
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