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WATCH: Why Robin Peterson picked ‘modern Kevin Pietersen’ Tristan Stubbs without watching him play a match

Published Jul 29, 2022


Cape Town - Bristol had witnessed the birth of a South African-born international superstar before.

It was the glorious English summer of 2005 and a dashing right-hander was tearing apart the much-vaunted Australians. The primary difference being that he was starring for England, and his name was, of course, Kevin Pietersen.

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All of 17 years later it was Tristan Stubbs' chance to shine in Gloucestershire with a 28-ball 72 that included two fours and eight sixes in the first T20I on Wednesday evening.

And although he is in possession of a Dutch passport, Stubbs was crucially in the green-and-gold with a Proteas crest on his chest.

"Tristan reminds me of Kevin Pietersen. But a more modern version," says Stubbs’ Warriors mentor Robin Peterson.

"And it was on the very same field that KP made a name for himself when he won an ODI against Australia. He got something like 91 not out off 65 balls. That’s where Kevin Pietersen announced himself in white-ball cricket internationally. And Stubbsy has done just that."

Comparing a 21-year-old rookie, playing in only his third T20 international and after just one innings - albeit sparkling - to arguably England’s best-ever white-ball batter may sound ballsy to some.

But then it would be forgotten that it was the very same Peterson that picked Stubbs for his professional franchise debut from a net session and without ever watching him bat in an actual game.

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"The first time I saw him play in a match was for the Warriors in CSA's bio-bubble T20 competition at Kingsmead (2020). That’s the absolute truth," he said.

"I like the way he was hitting the ball. There is just a sound that comes off some guys’ bats when they hit the ball, and Tristan had that sound.

"But to be honest … It was actually our assistant coach, Baakier Abrahams, that convinced me. He said ‘This guy can play T20 coach’. People above us, were asking ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’ I was like ‘I’m not sure (laughs), but I have a feeling’ and our Director of Cricket Shafiek Abrahams backed us wholeheartedly from thereon."

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Stubbs has previously paid credit to former Proteas all-rounder Peterson and the Warriors backroom staff for instilling a simplistic game plan that encourages all the players the freedom of mind and the right to express their skill-sets.

It’s philosophy that Peterson, who this week graduated with a Masters of Sport Directorship from Manchester University, wholeheartedly believes in and which has allowed players like Stubbs to flourish.

"He sat next to me in the dugout during his first game, and he looked across at me and asked seriously ‘What must I do with my first ball, coach?’

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"I looked back at him, and said ‘Why are you asking me this? If the first ball is there to be hit for six, then hit it for six! Just go out and play your game.’ And that’s exactly what he did, he hit his first ball for six."

Stubbs has not stopped hitting sixes ever since. He bashed 23 in the Cricket SA T20 competition on his homeground St George’s Park earlier this year. It was 10 more than his nearest challenger, who actually played two more matches.

And with eight more in his first Proteas T20I innings, has he now not created the unrealistic expectation that there will be a fireworks display every time he walks to the crease?

"There will be that expectation because everyone is now aware of his potential. But it is now about defining what consistency actually is. He is not going to win every game. And neither should he. Maybe the next game is David Miller’s game … that’s just how T20 works," Peterson said.

"But I do feel that he has so much range that he can be consistent in the T20 format. He has a six-hitting game against spin, a six-hitting game against seam, and he is incredibly fit that allows him to run hard. So, for me, he’s got all the attributes to be consistent. We mustn't forget that is still a baby, only 21, and he’s still learning. But he’s a machine, competitive, gyms hard and hits more balls than anyone I know."