London, July 9 : Former South African batting great Barry Richards has said that Kevin Pietersen, who is a South African by birth, will be the number one target of the Proteas when they take on England in a Test series from Thursday.
Richards, who has identified the right-hander as the key man for England yet again, believes that the South Africans are unlikely to forget the fact that they gave KP a baptism by fire during seven one-dayers in 2005, and he responded by cracking three sparkling centuries on England's last tour of South Africa.
KP has often received a lot of stick for his cricketing defection to England, both from players and the crowd.
Richards believes KP will still face an on-field barrage of abuse from the players.
He told SunSport: "Pietersen will again be the most important wicket for South Africa's attack - he's the man they fear. He's like Ricky Ponting for Australia. You fear he can up the run-rate at will and take the game away from you. The verbals happen in any international cricket series and people get targeted. Provided it doesn't overstep the mark, I believe that is what high level sport is about."
Richards believes James Anderson will be England's best hope - if his wicket-taking persona turns up.
Anderson, 26, has always been considered a topsy-turvy bowler, mixing rip-snorting deliveries with rank-bad buffet balls.
With 19 wickets in the recent Test series against New Zealand, he is the England bowler to watch out for, says Richards.
"Anderson is a very key figure for England and his battle with our captain Graeme Smith will be interesting. If he swings the ball, then Anderson will always cause batsmen problems. I've always felt Anderson needs protection in the field and it would make him a better bowler."
Richards will analyse England v South Africa for Five's peak-time highlights this summer.
Story first published: Wednesday, July 9, 2008, 14:05 [IST]
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