Darren Lehmann wasted no time ripping into Kevin Pietersen after his Melbourne Stars were hammered by the Perth Scorchers in their BBL semi-final on Tuesday night.
The Australian coach called on the Stars to “move him on” after Pietersen managed only five from 10 balls before succumbing to a rampaging Mitchell Johnson.
Pietersen was just one of the Stars batsmen to fall limply in a total of 8-136 batting first before the Scorchers breezed into this weekend’s final with a clinical seven-wicket victory at the WACA Ground.
Although Pietersen finished the BBL season as one of the leading run-scorers – with 268 runs at an average of 38.28 in eight matches – Lehmann didn’t mince his words on Twitter over what he thinks the Stars should do with their marquee international player.
— Darren Lehmann (@darren_lehmann) January 24, 2017
“@KP24 @tensporttv @BBL time for stars to move KP on ,spent to much money on him and didn’t win. Don’t want to listen to his excuses anymore,” he tweeted.
The 36-year-old is contracted with the Stars for next BBL season and is believed to be on a deal worth around $200,000 that includes TV commentary and promotion of the BBL.
Melbourne Stars boss Eddie McGuire used his Triple M radio program on Wednesday morning to hit back at Lehmann and defend Pietersen.
“KP is not the highest paid player at the Stars for a start, he has delivered is spades,” McGuire said. “The last three Big Bash Leagues, KP is second only to Chris Lynn for runs scored. He has brought in that many people.
“The last two years which team has had the biggest crowds in the history of the Twenty20 Big Bash? He is a crowd favourite.”
Pietersen, who also limped off with a sore hamstring while fielding, was Johnson’s third victim after the left-arm paceman’s two wickets in the first over of the match immediately put the Stars on the back foot.
On the player’s mic, he noted the WACA pitch was unusually slow before mistiming a wristy leg-side shot and was caught at mid-wicket.
Stars board member and chairman of selectors Damien Fleming also defended Pietersen’s contribution at the franchise in TV commentary.
“He does a lot of marketing, a lot of promotion. Up until now the Melbourne Stars are very happy with the way he has contributed,” Fleming said.
The Scorchers will host the final on Saturday night against the winner of Wednesday night’s clash between the Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers at the Gabba.