Kolkata Knight Riders chief mentor David Hussey made a tongue-in-cheek statement with regards to new recruit Tom Banton and claimed that the youngster is the better version of Kevin Pietersen. Hussey further hinted at the possibility of KKR promoting Andre Russell up the order in IPL 2020.
Teams shelling out excessive amounts of money for an unproven overseas player on the back of Vitality Blast performances is a rarity, but such was the outlook of Tom Banton that Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) didn’t think twice before dishing out Rs 1 crore for the youngster in the auction. That was enough for the club to secure the youngster’s services and having had a stellar Big Bash League (BBL) and a promising home summer in English colours after being couped by the two-time champions, expectations from the bat of Banton are high, heading into the IPL 2020.
And ahead of the new season, KKR mentor David Hussey hyped up Banton even more, let the Aussie inside him take over and cheekily claimed that Banton is the ‘better version of Kevin Pietersen’. The 43-year-old, more sensibly, also spoke about the importance of the veterans in the side.
“He is new version or better version of Kevin Pietersen,” Hussey said in a virtual press conference, reported Hindustan Times.
“I am excited about all the signings. The overseas players haven’t arrived yet but we are excited to see Tom Banton play live, he was phenomenal in the Big Bash. But I think it is going to be the wily veterans in Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell who are going to be ultra-critical. They control the culture of the group and I think they are going to go a long way in helping the other boys, the newcomers, the youngsters.”
While it remains to be seen how Banton will be utilized, KKR are, in fact, with the bat, yet to truly figure out how to maximize the potential of their x-factor Andre Russell, who has often been under-utilized due to being batted too low down the order. Experts have been crying for KKR to promote ‘Dre Russ’ to No.3 or No.4 and now with the addition of Eoin Morgan, Hussey hinted that a rejig in the batting order might well be on the cards.
"If it benefits the team and helps us win games of cricket, why not? If he comes in at No. 3 and bats 60 balls, he might even score a double hundred. Anything can happen with Dre Russ. He is almost the heartbeat of the team,” the 43-year-old said.
Despite landing the coup of Pat Cummins for a staggering sum of Rs 15.5 crore, the most important signing for KKR in the auction was arguably that of England skipper Eoin Morgan, who they bought for a fee of Rs 5.25 crore. Hussey attested that he expects great chemistry between the southpaw and DK and added that the World Cup-winning English skipper is going to be a great ally for Karthik, who will skipper the side in the forthcoming edition.
"He's huge, isn't he? Classy player, classy performer, Morgan's going to be a great ally for Karthik.
"He [Morgan] may be fielding in the ring talking to the bowlers while the captain is behind the stumps keeping wickets. He's a cool, calm and collected person and will also be a handy batman controlling the middle overs with Karthik. I expect a really good relationship between them, and his calm head can win us many games through the tournament."
KKR will open their IPL 2020 campaign against Mumbai Indians at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on September 23.