Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen on Tuesday became the first overseas cricketer to deliver the MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) awards event here.
In the lecture, which has been previously addressed by the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Farukh Engineer, Pietersen expressed his delight on being chosen to deliver the speech, making him the first non-Indian to do so.
Talking to the Afghanistan players attending the awards ahead of their maiden Test match against India, he said, "There are many others infinitely better qualified to describe the social, political and cultural impact of that sporting leap. But I know what it means as a sportsman."
"Because, in my humble opinion a hard fought five-day test match remains the greatest all-round challenge in modern day sport."
"A challenge as mentally demanding as it is physical. A challenge demanding the very highest levels of concentration of technique, of determination, of stamina, all, for the batsman at least, with no second chances," he added.
"Don`t restrict yourself to a form of cricket that, however brilliant, doesn`t require mastery of every skill. Only Test cricket can do that. Ask Jos Buttler who scored so prolifically here at the IPL before his recall to the English test team whether he valued any of those stunning 20-20 knocks for Rajasthan as highly as the man of the match in the second test match vs Pakistan last month at Headingly," Pietersen said.
His selection was met with a fair amount of dissatisfaction among the officials of the BCCI, with the apex cricketing authority`s acting secretary Amitabh Chaudhary expressing his displeasure regarding the same.Pietersen`s selection came after Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara was unavailable due to his commentary commitments.
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and former England captain Nasser Hussain were the other two candidates in the shortlisted panel.
In his mail to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and BCCI officials, Chaudhary lashed out for keeping the three office-bearers--including acting president CK Khanna and acting treasurer Aniruddh Chaudhary--in dark by picking a former overseas cricketer to deliver the speech.
The BCCI acting secretary further revealed that he had earlier suggested the names of Erapalli Prasanna, Abbas Ali Baig, Nari Contractor - all of whom had featured alongside Pataudi.