Who do they think they are?
Egopendium: can you contribute?
Ashes 2005 v Ashes 1899. Can you compare?
Regardless of that, statistics are the refuge of the not-quite-great-cricketer and I would not fuddle my brain or yours with more of them. I was THE great cricketer for 44 seasons; Kevin may already be on the wane after 14. There is only one matter of record which I remember and of which I am proud. It was usually expressed at the entrance to cricket grounds: Cricket match Admittance 6d. If WG Grace plays Admission 1/-. I am happy to look at Kevin Pietersen in that light.
I was popularly known by my soubriquet of WG, throughout England and not just in cricketing circles. He is KP and has also transcended cricket, although to a smaller extent and with the help of a comely girlfriend. If he plays, the entrance fee does not go up but I can accept that gate receipts do. That is because, as a batsman, he is capable of the spectacular and, increasingly, the spectacularly stupid. These tendencies make him highly watchable to both sets of supporters at any game in which he plays. If the game were the same today, his rashness at the crease would mark him out as inferior to me. Clearly it's not, so I will not carp at his technique with bat or ball. I guarantee he would not take any notice if I did nor would I expect him to. I do not see myself in KP the cricketer but there may be more of me in KP the man than I care to acknowledge.
Photo: Kevin Pietersen, buzzincricket.co.uk
Image: W G Grace, news.bbc.co.uk
Photo: Ashes team 2005, lords.org
Photo: Ashes team 1899, enotes.com
I admit it now: cricket provided me with a lifestyle that simple doctoring could not. I was an amateur, a gentleman player. Gentlemen deserve the appropriate expenses and I made sure that mine were generously given. I had to cover the expenses of a locum for my practice and I don't believe that £20 a game was exorbitant despite being considerably more than a professional could command. It's a half pint besides the gallons that Pietersen earns but I admit to the size of my expenses to make it clear that I do not begrudge him the amount he is making from the modern game. Cricket is to be enjoyed by the players equally as much as the watchers and a man's worth has to be recognised.
The cricket purists cavil at some of Pietersen's stroke play. I am less critical. I changed the way a bat was wielded and will not complain if Pietersen outrageously abandons the techniques I introduced. The pitches and bats are better and there is less need for discipline, more room for invention. It is in the nature of us both to be revolutionaries.
I also warm to Pietersen because he is a boisterous player, happy to war with words against his opponents. We called it 'chaff' you call it 'sledging'. To me, and to him, the idea that gamesmanship is 'not cricket' is nonsensical. It upsets Australians in general but not Australians in particular. As Pietersen is friends with Warne so was I with the Billys Murdoch and Midwinter. If the Press rail against you then I see it as an advantage on the field. It is time to confess, however, that the advantage is not always to your own side. It was quietly spoken in 1882, and certainly never in my presence, but the Ashes were fired from my 'unsporting' behaviour. I ran out Sammy Jones in a most ungentlemanly manner, which so incensed Spofforth that he bowled far better than he had a right to.
Pietersen has twice played his part in wiping out the memory of that first Ashes defeat. Any man who does that has my respect and my thanks.
W G Grace’s opinion was interpreted by Will Coe Jan 2011
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Pietersen riles people, especially Australians. That is a characteristic I am proud to share and, in all probability, initiated on the cricket field. That apart, the relevance of my comments on his cricketing ability is highly questionable. In case that remark reeks of an humility for which I am little known, let me explain.
When I played it, cricket was as emblematic of the Englishman's character as the longbow had been five centuries before. It was not a sport: it was the physical expression of a national psyche. When I wore the white flannels, only Queen Victoria and William Ewart Gladstone embodied England to the extent I did. That will never be said of Kevin Peter Pietersen, notwithstanding that he is not English. I am not decrying the man, I am establishing that cricket is not what it was. Football is now the yardstick and we are poor at it because we are a lesser nation than we were.
You could list Pietersen's achievements to date and be forgiven by some (not by me) for comparing them with the start of my cricketing career. He was the fastest batsman to reach both 1,000 and 2,000 runs in One Day International cricket, and took the shortest time to reach 5,000 Test runs. As if the game was the same! Gentlemen played in my time, over the proper period, on pitches that could hobble cattle and without boundaries that gave you respite from running. I didn't score 126 centuries, I ran them. I knocked over 2,876 first class wickets without ever bowling overarm: I launched the ball from waist height. Have I established that statistical cricketing comparisons between players in the First Test against Australia and those in the most recent one would be ill founded and silly?