“I’ve had enough, 20 overs of fielding feels like a Test match so it’s time to hang up the boots. I’ve got better and bigger things to go on to now”… These words came out from the mouth of one of the world’s most controversial yet most loved cricket players last week when Kevin Pietersen decided not to take part in the Pakistan Super League Playoffs, thereby putting a full stop to his more than a decade old career.
This came as a shock to all his fans who were hoping to see him play for another 7-8 months, although KP had hinted about his retirement earlier this year when he made the following statement:
“I just don’t see myself wanting to play cricket in December.”
The journey has been a roller coaster ride for KP
Pietersen had a very extreme career in terms of the ups and downs that came since his debut in 2004. His relationship with the ECB was never smooth and rifts were reported, be it with coach Moore 2008 that cost him his captaincy or the most damaging rift which led to his axing in 2014.
Despite all this, his performances were never affected which continued to improve over the years. The South African-born-English-batsman is the second highest run-scorer for England across all formats of the game despite being dropped from the national side four years back.
Though he was one of the players who was in news for all the wrong reasons, his 14-year-old career speaks volumes about caliber. Looking back to a controversial yet successful career, 2005 can be considered as the golden year for KP when he won the prestigious ‘ICC ODI Player of the Year’ and ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ awards. Due to his staggering performance that year especially in the Ashes series 2005, he was entitled one of the five Wisden cricketers of the year.
KP also captained the Poms from August 2008 to January 2009. In this short span of captaincy, he put up fantastic performances and also led England to a dominating ODI series win against South Africa.
After his sudden exit from international cricket (despite being England’s highest run-getter in a disastrous Ashes campaign), Pietersen has been a great asset in the KFC Big Bash League for the Melbourne Stars for 4 seasons (2004-2007), with 10 fifties to his name.
”I’ve had a wonderful career but I just don’t think I’ve got it in me to keep improving or try to improve.”
These words have broken the heart of every individual who has admired him over the years. He was the man who brought flamboyance and flair to the game of cricket, be it his invention of the switch hit or the ‘flamingo’ shot, or his ultra swaggy way-ahead-of-its-time hairdo.
One of the most stylish batsmen, KP played many valuable innings for his team. His epic 158 at the Oval against a hostile bowling attack can certainly be called one of the most historic knocks in the history of test cricket for it changed the whole complexion of the Ashes series which were being dominated by the mighty Australian teams for over 2 decades. Add to it another dazzling 151 at Colombo in 2012 and the career-defining 186 against India at Wankhede Stadium which left the Indian players and fans gasping for air. The list goes on and on but one thing is for sure, Pietersen had a knack of producing high-quality knocks which would always be etched into the history books amongst the list of most valuable tons for England.
With 32,797 runs and 32 hundreds across all formats of the game, Kevin Pietersen is undoubtedly the finest and most successful batsman for England. The quality of performances he has delivered for them in his illustrious career will be remembered forever by the fans and the England team itself.
If there is a book ever written about the world’s greatest batsmen, his name will surely be there because of an extraordinary and magnificent career.