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I thought Warne was an idiot, admits Pietersen

Published: Sunday, December 24, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:Kevin Pietersen admitted he thought Shane Warne was an "arrogant Australian idiot of a cricketer" after the pair clashed during the first Brisbane Test of the ongoing Ashes series.

Last month at the Gabba, Warne almost hit Pietersen when throwing the ball to Australia wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist.

An unimpressed Pietersen fended the ball away with his bat and made his feelings clear to Warne, whom he has often cited as a close friend.

Warne is Pietersen's captain at English county Hampshire and last year championed the South African-born shotmaker's cause ahead of his Test debut in the first Ashes clash of the 2005 series.

All that though was forgotten out in the middle at Brisbane. "For a few mad seconds I thought, mates or not, I am never going to speak to that dickhead again," Pietersen told the News of the World, Britain's biggest-selling Sunday tabloid newspaper.

"The Ashes battle of 2005 was never like that," added Pietersen, who was dropped early on by Warne during his innings of 158 in the final Test at The Oval in September last year which sealed England's 2-1 series win.

However, he insisted that his falling-out with the champion leg-spinner did not last long. "We chatted at the end of the Test and got over it."

Australia are an unbeatable 3-0 up in this series heading into the fourth Test starting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground - Warne's home venue - on December 26.

Earlier this week the 37-year-old Victorian, just one dismissal away from becoming the first man to take 700 Test wickets, announced he would retire from Test cricket at the end of this Ashes series.

Pietersen, who said Warne was "the greatest bowler who ever walked on this planet," added: "Shane has been a major influence on my career. He's one of the reasons I moved from Nottinghamshire to Hampshire."

And he praised Warne for the way in which he still managed to be Australia's star during the 2005 Ashes despite the highly public collapse of his marriage to wife Simone.

"Splitting with Simone must have made those summer months in England last year so tough - yet he took 40 wickets and scored nearly 300 runs."

And Pietersen, 26, who again scored 158 in the second Test of this series, at Adelaide, said he'd never known anyone more competitive than Warne. "He never stops. Shane seriously expects to get a wicket with every delivery.

"Warney is box office - that is what every cricketer should aspire to be.

"Take our confrontation in Brisbane. There's no denying it got the pair of us going and, for the next couple of hours, our battle was compulsive viewing as neither wanted to let the other win.

"I'm pleased that almost every time Shane Warne has been billed to face Kevin Pietersen, we've provided entertainment for cricket fans."

But for all Pietersen's success against Warne, the spinner made amends when he bowled his Hampshire team-mate around his legs in the second innings at Adelaide where his four-wicket haul turned what looked like a draw into a six-wicket win for Australia.

"The batsman might win the battle but never the war," Pietersen admitted. "It takes just one good ball or one stupid shot and it's 'See you later'."

AFP

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