One of the key reasons for England winning their Test tour in India in 2012-13 was the quality of their spinners coupled with steely performances from Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook. Now, with Australia set to embark on a four-Test tour to India, Pietersen has come up with advice for the visitors.
Speaking to Cricket Australia, Pietersen minced no words and warned the Australian batsmen of bettering their ability to play spin. “You’ve got to learn to play spin quick,” he said. “Learn to play spin very quick. If you can’t play spin, don’t even go.
“When you get there [India] you’ve got to practice it, and you can actually practice it here – I can do spinning drills in Australia, I did them … on a South African wicket to make sure that my feet were going and picking length.
“You can, you don’t need to be on a spinning wicket to play spin properly or practice spin, you can be on any type of wicket. It’s about picking length, and picking lines and getting your feet going.”
The last time Australia won a Test in India was in 2004. In their last trip to Sri Lanka, they were blanked 0-3, extending their dismal record in the subcontinent. Pietersen said if the Australian batsmen want to be successful in Indian conditions, they will have to be patient and not approach the ball by planting their front foot early.
“As soon as you start planting like a lot of southern hemisphere batters do – dead,” he noted. “Don’t plant your front foot. Wait for the ball, engage. Where is it? Pick it, and then play.
“[You have] plenty of time, if you can play somebody [bowling] at 150 [km/h] and get into good positions, [you can do it against] somebody bowling at 50 miles an hour. I always looked to score. I was always looking for a boundary every single ball. So I didn’t really change, it was just my feet that had to change.”
Pietersen was also quick to point out that the batsmen shouldn’t leave their aggressive approach to accumulate runs. “Whack it,” he said. “If there’s guys around the bat, it means there’s opportunities to score. And I know in all my innings … I was hardly ever caught at silly point or short leg.
“If you’ve got a short leg in, there’s a gap at 45, there’s a gap at square leg so I can sweep your first ball, I can hit your first ball through extra cover or I can run down the wicket and whack you straight.”
Pietersen also felt that the Australians need to play without the fear of failure to do well. “I didn’t ever fear failure. I didn’t care if I got out,” he revealed. “It [is not that] I didn’t care about my wicket, but I practiced well enough to know that I was going to be successful. End of story.
“I was going to be successful because I had self-belief that I had talent, and I had self-belief in my practice and my training so I knew that I was going to be successful. And I had the confidence – it’s not arrogance, it’s confidence – because I practiced incredibly hard and I trained away from cricket incredibly hard.”
Australia start their tour with the first Test in Pune on February 23 before heading to Bengaluru, Ranchi and Dharamsala for the remaining Tests.