“I scored 350 against Leicestershire for Surrey a few years ago and, honestly, I had faced better club bowling. That’s the reality.”
Kevin Pietersen has expanded on his calls for an overhaul of the county system which would see the current 18 first-class counties replaced by a franchise red-ball competition.
“The best of the best would play against each other every single week, with eight to 10 matches played per team every season,” he wrote for BetWay. “The rest, who shouldn’t be playing first-class cricket, can go and play minor counties and improve their game.”
Pietersen’s calls for the new competition come off the back of concern that interest in the longer format game is waning, as evidenced by what he feels has been a lack of interest in the current Test series between England and India.
“To see the Test series between England and India completely slipping under the radar in England, in terms of the media and social media conversation, is very sad,” he said. “I’m a purist. One of the greatest achievements of my career was reaching 100 Test match caps. The literal blood, sweat and tears that go into a Test career are what makes the longest format the best. It now feels like interest in the format, ahead of a series between two giants of the game, is dwindling and it’s really worrying.”
Pietersen believes that the current structure that sees 18 counties competing in the first-class structure is diluting the standard leading to a disinterest in the format and also meaning players are not being sufficiently prepared for the international game.
“I won’t settle for mediocrity. I never did as a player and I won’t now. There are too many first-class cricketers in this country – far too many,” he said. “We should be able to produce opening batsmen who come into international cricket and clean up, but we don’t. Why? Because the standard of county cricket is rubbish. Plain and simple.”
Pietersen also argues that by streamlining the first-class game, the best overseas players would “reconnect” with English domestic cricket.
“As an overseas player, why would you drive up and down the country on small money playing four-day cricket in the cold when you can earn hundreds of thousands in a quickfire franchise competition? The format has to be made fun again and that happens by creating an elite competition that everybody wants to play in.”
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