Pietersen: Pressure to perform more on Tymal Mills than Ben Stokes

The left-arm fast bowler does not have an England and Wales Cricket Board central contract to fall back on, the former England captain points out.

Tymal Mills was bought for USD 1.9 million by Royal Challengers Bangalore.   -  Getty Images

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen believes pressure to perform will be a lot more on speedster Tymal Mills than all-rounder Ben Stokes in the upcoming Indian Premier League. Mills will turn out for Royal Challengers Bangalore while Stokes will represent Rising Pune Supergiants.

Both were bought for decent sums of money in the auction in February by their respective IPL teams. Stokes was bought for USD 2.16 million and Twenty20 specialist Mills for USD 1.9 million.

Asked about the pressure factor, Pietersen, a veteran of 104 Tests and a sought-after name in franchise cricket, gave an elaborate explanation. “In terms of performances, there will be a lot of pressure on Mills. He is getting a lot of money now but mind it this amount of money doesn’t survive a ‘large time’. It’s wonderful to get an unbelievable amount but he doesn’t have an international career per se to fall back on. He doesn’t have an [England and Wales Cricket Board] central contract like Ben Stokes has,” Pietersen told PTI during an exclusive interaction.

Pietersen opined that there was more pressure in the Twenty20 format as not many Twenty20 Internationals were held per year. “Mills is neither playing Test cricket nor playing [One-Day Internationals]. He is just playing T20 cricket and that’s just a couple of games. So there is a lot more pressure on a guy like Tymal Mills than on a guy like Ben Stokes,” said Pietersen.

Pietersen felt that Stokes should forget about the amount of money as this IPL will only be a patch of what is set to be a distinguished international career. “I had the same problem. I got USD 1.5 million (from RCB). It is something more that the people talk about rather than what the players talk. It’s also got to do with how players think about their game,” said Pietersen.

Narrowed focus necessary

“These (money) are part of perks of having played some very good cricket. He is being rewarded for his fantastic performances in his little career so far. In terms of longevity, it’s just a patch of his career, which he needs to enjoy a lot. He never demanded the money, he has been given the money,” the flamboyant former England batsman said.

He reminded that any failure, just like success, would be widely talked about, but a player should only concentrate on the on-field performances, which are in his control. “Soon as you start thinking about money and off-field matters, then you fail. I think Stokes will do very well, he has got a brilliant coach in Stephen Fleming and I think he will be guided well by Steve Smith.”

Pietersen believed the absence of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers’ will negatively impact Royal Challengers Bangalore, the team they represent. But in this format, it’s the performance on a particular day that matters rather than the presence of big names. “In T20 cricket, and I have played a lot of it, it doesn’t matter how your team looks on paper. It matters how you perform on a particular day. Anybody can win any game on a particular day, such is the format. Although Virat scored all those runs (in last edition), Bangalore didn’t win the title,” said Pietersen.

“Now, will that make Bangalore a weaker team? Yes, it makes them a weaker team as Virat is a superstar. He and [de Villiers] are the two best batsmen in world cricket. But they have players who have the ability to be counted. It’s something that Chris Gayle’s got to do. Shane Watson also,” he said.

Pietersen is in India for his maiden stint as an IPL commentator and analyst for television channel Sony Max’s Extraaa Innings.