Kevin Pietersen: Nortje v Buttler was what the IPL is all about
The Betway ambassador reflects on the highlight of his time in the UAE and reveals the work that goes into his commentary career.
The most gripping passage of play I have ever covered
When you're commentating on games, you are lucky enough to be as close to the action as it is possible to get.
I felt that more than ever during the game between Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals in Dubai last week, when there was a passage of play which was as gripping as any that I have ever covered or watched.
Delhi Capitals were about to set Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje loose on Rajasthan openers Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler at the beginning of the second innings.
Immediately, in the commentary box, we were full of excitement and emotion, because it’s the best versus the best. Two of the fastest bowlers versus two of the best stroke-players around - it's what makes the IPL so magnificent.
It felt like a competition between Rabada and Nortje as to who could deliver the quickest ball. And when two bowlers are bowling at 145kph+, instinct takes over – which, in the case of Stokes and Buttler, means you’re about to see something pretty special.
Rabada started off at 146kph and Stokes whacked him through square-leg for four and then, when Buttler got on strike later in the over, he creamed a 150kph delivery through the covers. So both batsmen started off in glorious fashion.
When Rabada finished off, it was the debutant Pavan Deshpande who bowled the second over at around 139kph. I promise you that, as a batsman, those speeds make it feel like a spinner’s bowling when you’ve just been facing balls at 150kph. It was a decent over, though, and they took 11 from it.
But it was the third over, when Nortje came on to bowl, that I was out of my seat and saying on air that this is one of the best spells of cricket I had ever worked on.
Buttler whacked the first ball for six and lapped a 156kph delivery for four, but – just when it seemed as though he had won the battle – he set himself for a short final ball of the over and got knocked over by another delivery at around 155kph.
In the commentary box, we can assist in making things as dramatic as possible, but you need the players to be able to put the show on.
Those three overs were arguably the most fascinating of my commentary career.
I treat my commentary career like my playing career
All of the commentators have been involved in dramatic moments as players but, when something special happens, we’re still standing up in the commentary box and there’s that energy in the room.
It’s not something you force or talk about – it just feels so natural. You look around and see that the other commentators in the back of the box are all watching intently as well – none of them have gone for a coffee or are looking at their phones. That’s when you know something amazing is happening.
I prepare for the games in the same way that I did when I was a player. I like to be as meticulous as possible.
I like to commentate instinctively, like how I played. I try to call games how I would if I was batting or if I was captain. That way, I’m giving my true gut feeling on the situation.
Just like when I batted, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong.
I prepare for the games in the same way that I did when I was a player, too. I like to be as meticulous as possible.
You want to make sure that you can pronounce all the names, you understand what they do and you have a decent idea of the teams that are going to be selected. Preparation is the key to being able to tell the story and helping the viewer get as close to the action as possible.
I’m always trying to learn about the players and the art of commentary because you can never know enough.
As long as I have that approach then I will keep enjoying it and hopefully keep getting better.
Kings XI Punjab’s resurgence isn’t a surprise
The IPL is still well and truly alive, largely thanks to KXIP winning three straight games.
The frustrating thing for them is that they got close on so many occasions in the first half of the tournament.
They should have won the Super Over against Delhi Capitals and they should have beaten Rajasthan Royals, when Rahul Tewatia got the Royals over the line.
They could easily be top of the table, or at least up there.
It doesn’t surprise me that they’re making a late run, and they may nick fourth spot, but I still think that it’s a three-horse race for the title between Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Visit Betway's cricket betting page.