London: Kevin Pietersen’s decision to quit limited-overs cricket for England will leave a “big hole in his life”, according to South Africa’s Test captain Graeme Smith.
“It’s impossible to know what you’re giving up, and how hard it will hit you, until it’s gone. One-day cricket has been a big part of his life for a very long time and, right now, he thinks he can just walk away from it. Maybe he can. But I think he’ll quickly find there’s a big hole in his life which isn’t as easy to cope with as he may think,” Smith said in an interview with Wisden EXTRA.
“I don’t have any inside information at all, so I’m just looking from the outside, but if there’s any truth that his decision was partly based on the disagreements he had with the ECB and the way they treated him, then I believe he’ll find it even harder to come to terms with the way his one-day career has ended. He just seemed to be back to his aggressive, attacking best, too. Very strange that he should give it away,” he said.
Smith, 31, had himself stepped down from the ODI captaincy after South Africa exited the 2011 World Cup during the quarter-finals but did not reckon he was going to follow Pietersen into retirement. “He’s just turned 32, only a bit older than me, but I reckon my best ODI form is ahead of me, not behind me. I’m very keen to play limited-overs cricket and I’m still very ambitious,” he said.
South Africa will play three Tests against England starting this week. Having overseen a famous Test series win on English in 2008, Smith was confident of his side’s chances.
“England are more disciplined, smarter and better prepared than four years ago, and all the players who are still around from the last series have got better. They are a very, very good team at home and deserve to be ranked No. 1,” he said. “But we have also got better and we’re also pretty useful in English conditions. They have home advantage and they’re ranked ahead of us, but I’m not going to compete for underdog status! If some people want to make us favourites then I’ll take that as a compliment, not reject it.”