If there is any batsman in the world who bowlers hate the most to bowl at, it has to be England’s Kevin Pietersen. Shane Warne, the legendary Aussie leg-spinner who has been one of his greatest rivals on the field yet his closest friend off it, hails his style of batting and once went on the record to mention that “I don’t think he has an obvious flaw in his technique”. This speaks of the man’s tremendous talent that he possesses to become not just great, but also one of the finest batsmen to have ever played all the three formats of the game.
Kevin Peter Pietersen was born on June 27, 1980 in Pietermaritzburg in the Natal Province of South Africa to an Afrikaner father named Jannie and an English mother named Penny. His childhood was said to be strict and well-disciplined which perhaps explains the reason why he usually does not tend to lose his focus on the game, even if he is woefully out of form. He has three brothers, out of which one of them currently plays club cricket in England as well.
He made his first class debut for Natal’s B team in 1997 primarily as a classical off-spin bowler who could be a handy batsman lower down the order. But it was two years later that he came into the limelight in the ranks of English cricket as he impressed the touring Nasser Hussain and co. with a fine all-round performance in one of Natal’s matches against the nation. Followed by which he became all set to shift his cricketing base from South Africa to England, when Clive Rice, the then coach of the Nottinghamshire Cricket Club offered him a three-year contract to play for the club.
Although in South Africa, Kevin Pietersen will more or less continue to be a not-so-liked figure, if not hated, for being a ‘traitor’ to his country yet he knows best the reasons why has he turned out in English colours. He was said to have been frustrated at the racial ‘quota’ system which was unlikely to give him opportunities to pursue his career as a professional cricketer in his home country. This is because he was dropped from Natal’s first XI because the team was required to have atleast four non-white players in the team, and this happened just before he was offered the Nottinghamshire contract.
But at the county, he impressed for the next four years and by the time he joined Hampshire in October 2004, it was a foregone conclusion that he was to make it dramatically to the national team’s squad in the near future. This was also the first time that he teamed up with Shane Warne, who would prove to be one of his biggest sources of inspiration throughout his career. Within a month’s time of playing for Hampshire, he was selected to play in the one-day internationals in Zimbabwe for England after several star players were ‘rested’ and he wanted to make this opportunity count.
Kevin Pietersen’s best moments
The first of them was obviously making his ODI debut for England against Zimbabwe in Harare in the first of the four match series. But the country where he first made an impact in international cricket was ironically, South Africa. He scored an outstanding 108 off just 96 balls in the second ODI of the seven match series in Bloemfontein, which was the main reason why England managed to escape with a tie rather than a loss. This score was made despite a partisan crowd booing him in general, and turning his backs on him by the time he was back in the pavilion which obviously no cricketer cherishes. But KP can be proud of himself of playing such a knock, despite the odds against him and the threat of playing well against his home country.
A half century at Cape Town followed, which proved that his maiden one-day hundred was no fluke and he was at its destructive best in East London as well where he almost single-handedly took England to the victory post in a difficult run chase of 312 with another stunning 100, remaining undefeated in the end having taken 69 balls to get there, although England lost the match by 8 runs eventually. This was superb batting from a player who had the experience of playing only seven ODIs for England and the fact that he again had to face massive hostility from a crowd which was obviously angry at him. This hundred clearly showed the man’s attitude towards his game and what he expected out of it, and not to mention, what people can expect out of him in the future. A great was in the making as he proved himself to be a gritty batsman who had the firepower to destroy any bowling attack in the world if he is in his elements.
He seemed to be hungry for more success as he ended that tour on a high with yet another century at a venue aptly called ‘Centurion’. His 110-ball 116 was the top score of an England innings which folded for 240, and although the team lost again by 3 wickets, the crowd at the SuperSport Park acted as ‘supersports’ since they were floored by this innings and actually gave him a standing ovation for it. By the end of series, Pietersen was thrilled to win the player of the series award for scoring three centuries in a seven match series but Michael Vaughan, the first captain he played under paid tribute to his concentration levels by saying that he always looked at the ball, not at the crowd and that was the reason for his success.
A few months later, and KP was seen making his Test debut for England against world champions Australia in the first Ashes Test match of 2005 at Lords, the home of cricket. That too at the expense of veteran batsman, Graham Thorpe which proved the rapid strides he had achieved in the game which compelled the English selectors, led then by David Graveney to take such a massive risk. And he proved that they were not wrong after he scored a 57 in the first innings, which was a superb knock considering the pressure he was in, of making his debut and the team being in a precarious situation with the score being 18/3. He proceeded to become only the fourth player in the history of English cricket to have top scored on debut in both the innings and the eighth player to have scored two half centuries on his debut and the third cricketer to do so at Lords.
His other significant contribution in that series was in the final Test match in the same city, but at The Oval. Australia attempted everything in order to retain the Ashes, but Pietersen proved to be the main scourge in their pursuit with a 158 which was not just played to draw the game but was thoroughly entertaining as it involved seven sixes, which helped him achieve another record of being the England batsman to have the most number of sixes in an Ashes innings. It resulted in a draw and England regaining the Ashes after a huge gap of 19 years, winning the series 2-1. Pietersen was rewarded for his consistency throughout the series, as he won the player of the series award for scoring 473 runs in 5 Tests at an average of 52.55, and appropriately he shared the award with Shane Warne who was elected as Australia’s man of the series for his tally of 42 wickets.
KP’s heroics in South Africa and the Ashes series at home resulted in the ICC honouring him with the ODI Player of the Year as well as the Emerging Player of the Year Awards in 2005 as well as a place in the ICC World XI in both ODIs and Tests, which played Australia that year. Whereas, he was also declared the Member of the British Empire (MBE) despite actually being a South African by nationality, for his thrilling Ashes performances.
His next best moment in Test cricket atleast, came against the West Indies in the home series in 2007 when he hit his first double century in the format of the game and finally broke the rut of his highest score being 158 only, having got out previously thrice in his career on that score. It was at Headingley, Leeds that he scored 226 and it took him a mere 262 balls to get there and that was the main reason why West Indies lost by an innings and 283 runs, the largest margin of defeat for any team in Tests till date. Ironically he also overtook two legendary West Indian batsmen, Everton Weekes and Sir Viv Richards in being the batsman to have the second highest number of runs on aggregate after 25 Test matches.
It was in an ODI at Lords in June 2008 against New Zealand that KP was captaining the English team for the first time in an international match. He was after that named the vice captain of the team for the entire summer of 2008. But Michael Vaughan, the then Test captain was unceremoniously dumped from the team following South Africa winning the series in the third Test at Headingley and that ensured that Kevin Pietersen was to lead the Test team as well for the first time, in the final Test of the summer at The Oval. He became one of the few players to score a hundred on his captaincy debut, as that helped England beat South Africa and regain some pride in an otherwise 1-2 series defeat in 4 Tests.
However, that was the beginning of the most difficult phase of KP’s career and it was only until the World T20 in the West Indies in 2010, that he redeemed himself to be known as one of the best batsmen in the world in all the three formats of the game still. He had a slow start to the tournament, with 24 off 20 balls in the first match against the home team and 9 off 18 balls against Ireland in the final group game. But it was in the Super 8s that he struck gold again with an unbeaten 73 off just 52 balls in a successful run chase of 148 against defending champions Pakistan. Followed by which, his 33-ball 53 at the same ground, Barbados was crucial to take England’s total to 168 in the first innings and that proved to be adequate in helping the team beat one of the favourites, South Africa by 39 runs. Fortunately the team did not miss him as much in their last Super Eight contest against New Zealand although they looked more vulnerable, as KP flew back home to be present for the birth of his first child.
But he returned just in time to be a part of the playing XI for the team’s semifinal against Sri Lanka in St Lucias. Despite this being a much slower track and Sri Lanka having a dearth of slow bowlers, he proved that his earlier antics in the competition were justified, with a vital 42 off only 26 balls and he remained not out till the end, as England chased 132 with four overs to spare, winning by 7 wickets. And then, it was by the same margin that England defeated their archrivals Australia in the final at Barbados with Pietersen being happy in his mind as he scored a 31-ball 47, which was the key in guiding England’s run chase of 148 and the victory was achieved with three overs to spare. Appropriately, he was named man of the tournament for his outstanding run of form and his contributions being vital to the team’s first ever win in an ICC global event, hitting 248 runs at an astonishing average of 62 and a strike rate of 137.77.
He struggled then for the most of 2010 until the Ashes series in Australia, which bought the best out of him once again. He hit his second double century in Test cricket, incidentally in the second Test match at Adelaide, where he had also scored 158 in 2006. But this was an innings that outclassed all the others since he was able to counter his perceived weakness in playing left-arm spin well. KP played his natural game and that was the key to his 227, which is now his highest Test score till date. He also claimed the wicket of Michael Clarke in the second innings, which England needed since he was going strong on 80. That helped England beat Australia by an innings and 71 runs on the morning of the fifth day and shockingly, going 1-0 up in the series. Andrew Strauss and co. retained the Ashes with a 3-1 win in 5 Tests as Pietersen ended with 360 runs in 6 innings, averaging 60 in the series.
And more recently, he smashed two consecutive ODI centuries to help England whitewash Pakistan in what has become their ‘fortress’ and not just their home, United Arab Emirates by a margin of 4-0. But the icing on the cake was an unbeaten 62 off 52 balls in the 3rd T20 international in Abu Dhabi which was instrumental in England pulling off a narrow 5 run win and a series victory, 2-1. The innings also ensured that he is currently ranked officially as the World’s No.1 T20 batsman, overtaking his England teammate Eoin Morgan in the process. He is also the second highest run getter ever in this format of the game, with 1176 runs in 36 matches averaging 37.93 but more crucially has scored them at a strike rate of 141.51.
All these innings against Pakistan came when he opened the batting for England, and this promotion could be the team’s solution for their perennial failures in the ODI format, looking at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and especially it could solve their Asia syndrome since he is by far the best batsman in the team. He will definitely be the key in England defending their World T20 title this year in Sri Lanka.
Kevin Pietersen in the World Cup
KP has been a part of two World Cup campaigns for England. His presence was in the team was more notable in the 2007 edition in the West Indies, where he came into the tournament with his confidence high out of all the other batters in the team. England were on a high as well, having beaten Australia in Australia in two Commonwealth Bank triseries finals. The team’s first match was against New Zealand at Gros Islet and Pietersen impressed straight away with a 60 before being dismissed. He failed against Canada but made up for in the following game against the other minnows, Kenya with an unbeaten 56 which assisted England in qualifying for the Super Eights, although not in convincing fashion.
He hit a 47-ball 48 against neighbours Ireland at Providence in the first Super Eight game, as England won incidentally by the same margin. That was followed by a 80-ball 58 which was a very uncharacteristic KP knock since it was that sort of innings where he curbed his aggression to a huge extent even if wickets fell at the other end. He was yet again dismissed though, by Muttiah Muralitharan and unfortunately England lost by 2 runs to Sri Lanka at North Sound in what was a humdinger of a contest and perhaps that reduced the team’s morale to a huge extent.
At the same ground four days later, he scored his maiden World Cup century and fittingly against a side he loves playing, Australia. He took 122 balls to reach 104 and that was the only significant batting effort in England’s final total of 247. KP again proved to be the lone warrior as the defending champions won by 7 wickets. He was dismissed for 10 against Bangladesh and 3 against South Africa in the following games, but ended the tournament with a magnificent 100 off just 91 balls in Barbados against the hosts West Indies. The ton was the prime reason in England chasing down a total of 300 and a result that effort overshadowed Brian Lara’s farewell match and the fact that England were already knocked out of the tournament. It ensured that he finished the tournament as one of the highest run getters, with 444 runs at an average of 55.50 and being rated as the Worlds No.1 batsman in the ICC ODI rankings for the first time. He also broke Zaheer Abbas’ record of being the fastest ever player to score 2000 ODI runs in the process and is also the only batsman in world cricket currently, to have the distinction of being ranked as the No.1 batsmen officially in both ODIs and T20s in cricketing history.
Four years later, and he was not as a much success story. He was not in the best of form coming into the World Cup 2011, but the team management decided to promote him to open the batting with Andrew Strauss so as to solve their problems at the top of the order. His experience to play in Indian subcontinent conditions was relied upon heavily.
He started the tournament with a slow 39, because it came off 61 balls against the Netherlands in Nagpur which is not exactly an innings of KP’s high hard-hitting standards. He could have returned to form in a crunch game against India at Bangalore, where England were set a target of 339 to chase. He hit 31 runs off 22 balls, until he was undone by a freak catch by Munaf Patel off his own bowling. That innings was succeeded finally a fifty, to be more precise a 50-ball 59 against Ireland on the same ground but unluckily, England were sentenced to a shock defeat in the hands of the minnows courtesy Kevin O Brien’s century. But he failed against South Africa in Chennai as he was dismissed for 2, although England escaped with a narrow win courtesy a resurgent bowling performance.
But it was revealed that Kevin Pietersen was playing in pain throughout the four matches he had featured in and he was advised to return home, after the Ireland contest so that he does not aggravate his hernia injury. He was replaced by Eoin Morgan in the squad, who was injured prior to the tournament.
However, Pietersen’s overall World Cup record is impressive. In 13 matches, he has scored 575 runs at an average of 47.92. His presence may have made a difference in England’s otherwise topsy-turvy 2011 campaign in the subcontinent, where they were knocked out in the quarterfinals with a humiliating 10-wicket defeat in the hands of Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.
Kevin Pietersen’s ODI cricket records
Although he had a fabulous start to his ODI career in South Africa, many still feel that Pietersen has the potential to become a much better one-day player and he has not done enough justice to his format of the game with the talent and ability he possesses, since he tends to prefer Test cricket more.
Following that tour of South Africa in 2005, his next ODI assignment was the triangular series between Bangladesh and Australia at home, prior to the Ashes. He did not get to bat in three of the matches and that perhaps affected his rhythm to a certain extent. He scored only one half century, i.e. a 91 not out off only 65 balls to help England defeat Australia in a match in Bristol. Whereas, in the 3 match ODI series against Australia again, he scored an 84-ball 74 in the final ODI at The Oval, although the world champions won by 8 wickets as England’s 228 did not prove to be adequate in the end.
He had productive tours of Pakistan and India which were to follow, in the 2005-06 season with several half centuries on the way, even as the century remained elusive. In a span of 7 ODIs across the Indian subcontinent that season, he scored 375 runs at an average of 53.57. England won the series in Pakistan but lost miserably in India. But KP’s aggressiveness as a ODI batsman was something his country had never seen in the past, and he was depended on to improve England’s record in this format of the game, which has dipped since the 1992 World Cup final defeat to Pakistan.
Otherwise, he did not a great calendar year of 2006 until a superb World Cup in the West Indies where he averaged 55.50 in 8 games, scoring two more hundreds in the process. Another modest home season followed against West Indies and India as he hit 251 runs in a span of 10 matches, with two fifties against India in the seven match series. After a good outing in the World T20 in South Africa, he struggled to adapt to Sri Lankan conditions with just one half century in the five match series. That was followed by another average series in New Zealand, where he scored 185 runs in what was yet again a five match series.
But Pietersen hit back in the home series against New Zealand in June 2008 where he registered his sixth ODI hundred batting at No.3, a 110 not out off only 112 balls in the first ODI at Chester-le-Street which became more known for the ‘switch-hit’ shot, which he bought out for the first time by any batsman in international cricket. The ton assisted in England winning by 114 runs but a string of poor scores to follow reflected on the team’s performance, which dropped severely and New Zealand won the series 3-1.
His first match as permanent captain of the England team began in style as he scored 135 runs in 3 matches, averaging 67.5 as England whitewashed a strong South African side 4-0 in the 4 matches. But even as he thrived in India, the team struggled to respond well to his captaincy and it suffered a, what could be called a ‘tit-for-tat’ whitewash in the hands of MS Dhoni and co., losing all the five matches. KP scored 225 runs in the 5 matches, with his seventh ODI hundred coming in the final match in Cuttack as he remained unbeaten on 111 off just 128 balls, to take his team a total of 270 after 50 overs.
But the years of 2009 and 2010 were extremely poor for him in the ODI format, since he resigned as captain after 10 ODI matches and suffered from injury for the majority of 2009. While he seemed to be low on confidence in the 2010 season, and perhaps due to poor form he was dropped from the English ODI team for the first time in his career for the five match series against Pakistan at home and actually was asked to return to first class cricket for a short period of time to regain his touch which was crucial for the team to succeed in the future.
He made a comeback into the side in the seven match series in Australia, following the Ashes and the two T20 internationals played. It was a good return to the team for him as he scored 78 off only 75 balls in the first match at Melbourne, although he missed on another potential century and the fact that England went on to lose by 6 wickets, in the last over. He could only score 107 runs in the remainder of the series, but was still a part of the 15 man squad which was to travel to the Indian subcontinent for the World Cup.
He only played four matches there as he was injured again and struggled to find form in the home series against Sri Lanka. This prompted the selectors to try out several young players for the future; although according to them Pietersen was ‘rested’ for the series due to the tiring Test series against India. But he needed that break badly and it seemed evident in what was another fine series for him in India, where he averaged 42.5 in the four matches he played. Although, his 170 runs could not help England avoid suffering another ODI series whitewash in the country.
England then played Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates where KP was again asked to open the batting for the team, this time alongside current England skipper Alastair Cook. He failed to capitalize on the starts he got in the first two matches, but in the second half of the four match series, he smashed back to back hundreds to ensure that England whitewashed Pakistan 4-0. His 111 not out came off only 98 balls in the third match in Dubai, while at the same ground in the next match, he hit 130 runs off 153 balls which helped England pull off a nervous run chase of 241 in the last over.
Overall, Kevin Pietersen has scored 9 ODI hundreds in as many as 127 matches, scoring 4184 runs at an average of 41.84, and a strike rate of 86.76, still making him one of the most dangerous batters in this format of the game, although he can perform much better in the future.
Kevin Pietersen’s Test cricket records
Unlike ODI cricket where Pietersen has failed to dominate as such, in Test cricket he grew leaps and bounds after an extremely successful Ashes series in 2005 at home. The next assignment for England was the tour of Pakistan, and this was to be KP’s first toughest Test in the longer version of the game. He scored what was a well-deserved century at Faisalabad in the first innings of the second Test match which eventually helped England settle for a draw, after the home team posted an imposing 462 in the first innings. He scored 201 runs in the three Tests played, averaging 33.5 which was modest considering his form in the Ashes. Unfortunately, England lost the series 0-2.
England’s difficult winter season in the Indian subcontinent was extended with a tour of India, where Andrew Flintoff led an injury-stricken team to play a much stronger Indian side in their own backyard. Pietersen had a similar outing in India, scoring 216 runs in 3 Tests, averaging 36 but much more was expected from him as he was one of the stars of a weakened batting line-up. But Flintoff bought within them a fighting spirit and as a result, the series was drawn 1-1.
But the good times were back at home as he scored ironically another 158, this time against Sri Lanka in the first Test at Lords which ended in a draw. He backed that up with 142 in the first innings of the following Test at Birmingham, as he played Muttiah Muralitharan exceptionally well which included the reverse sweep, which turned out to be a prelude of the switch hit. He did not contribute much for the rest of the series, and as a result the series was surprisingly drawn at 1-1, with Pietersen scoring 360 runs in the 3 Tests, averaging 72.
Against a much potent Pakistani bowling attack and in what were extremely traditional swinging conditions in Headingley, he hit a quickfire 135 in the first innings of the third Test which ended in England winning by 167 runs. England went on to win the series 3-0, with Pietersen aggregating 347 runs in 4 Tests, averaging a brilliant 49.57.
However, it was in Australia that he showed his maturity as one of England’s top batsmen in just a span of 18 months, as he finished as the highest run getter for England in what was otherwise a traumatic Ashes series for them. He scored 158 in the first innings of the second Test at Adelaide, incidentally this being the third time he reached the score and not gone past it, which meant that this was at the time still his highest Test score. In the entire series, he scored 490 runs at an average of 54.44, being the only England batsman to provide some resistance to the Australian attack.
After a successful World Cup, Pietersen was all set for the home summer against West Indies and India. In the first Test at Lords against the Windies, he scored a 109 in the second innings which accelerated England’s pace of scoring and gave them an outright chance to defeat the visitors, but rain played truant to their chances and the match ended in a draw. But his 226 in the next Test at Leeds helped the team win and he registered his highest Test score ever. He scored 466 runs in the series, averaging 66.57.
But the team had a tough assignment, which was to play India at home and again KP was the standout batsman for the team in what was another lost series. His 134 at Lords in the first Test was instrumental in England almost pulling off a dramatic last day victory while his 101 at The Oval resulted in another draw. He had a poor game however, in Trent Bridge which probably explained England’s 7 wicket defeat and the 0-1 series loss subsequently. His aggregate was of 346 runs in 3 Tests, averaging 57.66.
When it comes to away from home, Pietersen’s misery continued with unproductive tours to Sri Lanka and New Zealand after the home summer, even as England won in New Zealand 2-1. He hit a well-deserved 129 in the final Test at Napier which was not only a match winning effort, but a series winning one as well.
It followed with three centuries in the home summer of 2008, one against New Zealand which was another series winning effort and two against South Africa, one of them coming in the final Test at The Oval where he was the captain of the team and he won England that game by 6 wickets. He ended with 607 runs in 11 innings that summer, again averaging above 50.
He was the England captain on the tough of India and won hearts, especially of Indian fans for bravely leading his team for two Test matches to be played in the country, despite the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. His 144 at Mohali was his maiden Test ton in India and his second in the Indian subcontinent, as that was crucial in England eventually going to draw the game rather than lose, and England lost the series 0-1.
Following his resignation as captain after only three Test matches, KP was selected to play in the five Tests in the West Indies. His sensational 102 off just 92 balls in the second innings of the fifth Test of the series at Port of Spain almost won England an away Test, as the team fell short by two wickets in bowling out the West Indies in their stuttering run chase of 240.
But his worst home summer was around the corner as he completed the two match series against the West Indies but failed to play the entire Ashes series against Australia, having participated in the first two Tests and scoring just one fifty, which was in the first innings of the first Test at Cardiff, until he was dismissed to a ridiculous reverse sweep off the bowling of Nathan Hauritz, the off spinner. However, he suffered an Achilles injury which meant that he had to sit out for the rest of series and watch from the sidelines, his teammates celebrating the regaining of the Ashes by the margin of 2-1.
2009 was definitely not a year he would wish to remember, as his tour of South Africa was horrendous and his best effort in the series was a scratchy 81 in the second innings of the first Test at Centurion. His form was patchy even at the beginning of a new year, i.e., 2010 in Bangladesh where he missed out a century by just one run, in the first innings of the first Test in Chittagong. His weakness towards left-arm spin was bought about even more as he was dismissed by either Shakib Al Hasan or Abdur Razzak.
Whereas, most of 2010 was worse than 2009 in Test cricket as his Test average fell below 50 for the first time with a poor home summer against Bangladesh and Pakistan. Pietersen admitted that he was extremely low on confidence, and perhaps this is why sometimes he can look shabby when he is batting. But that confidence was back in Australia where he ended up with 360 runs in the series, which included a majestic 227 in Adelaide to help England win the Test and go 1-0 up, with three to play.
In the home summer of 2011, he scored two fifties in four innings against Sri Lanka but hit back against India with a breathtaking 202 not out in the first Test at Lords, which demoralized India completely and subdued them to a crushing defeat. In the process, he also became the fastest batsmen to reach 6000 runs in Test cricket, taking 128 innings to get there and exactly 6 years since this match begun on July 21, 2011 and the Lords Test of the Ashes 2005 also begun on July 21, 2005 where Pietersen made his debut.
But his 175 at the Oval was made in much tougher conditions and was a proof that he was back to his very best and like he rightly said, “I have fallen back in love with the game again”. England won that Test too and became the Worlds No.1 Test team with a 4-0 whitewash against India. Pietersen was crucial in the series win since he finished with 533 runs in 6 innings, with an average close to 90.
His away woes just does not seem to end though, as in the United Arab Emirates he had a horrible tour against Pakistan where he averaged for the first time under 15 in a Test series, England lost all the Test matches there.
Kevin Pietersen in the Indian Premier League
In early 2009, despite resigning as England’s captain, Pietersen had atleast something to cheer about when he was bought for $USD 1.5 million by the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise, owned by the Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya. That made him the most expensive player of the Indian Premier League that season, alongside his England teammate Andrew Flintoff. And a few days later, he was appointed as the captain of the Bangalore side, replacing Rahul Dravid who was scheduled to go home at some point of the tournament to attend the birth of his second child.
Under Pietersen, Bangalore won only two of the first six matches that they played and he himself was suffering from a slump of form although he knew the South African conditions perhaps better than any other player in the team. He was asked by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to leave the tournament mid-way due to the English summer beginning in a few days time, with the West Indies coming over. Perhaps, that was a blessing in disguise for the fading side, which rejuvenated itself under the inspirational captaincy of Anil Kumble in order to eventually make it to the finals of the tournament.
In the next season, he entered the tournament right after the tour of Bangladesh, playing in the team’s eighth match which was against the Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. It marked his grand return to form as he hammered 66 off just 44 balls to guide the team home by 6 wickets. He went to score 170 runs in the next six matches that he played, overall averaging 59 with a strike rate of 150.31 as his contributions proved to be the key in Bangalore finishing third that year in the IPL and in the process qualifying for the Champions League T20 in South Africa, where he unfortunately could not play due to his commitments with his new county, Surrey. But he would have to give credit to the IPL for getting back in good nick at the right time as his run aggregate in the World T20 in the West Indies helped England win the championship eventually.
But in 2011, Kevin Pietersen was not retained or bought again by the Royal Challengers Bangalore, although he was assured that he would continue to be the brand ambassador of one of Mallya’s liquor products. He was purchased instead by the Deccan Chargers for $USD 650,000, almost half the price of what he was paid for the previous two seasons. However, he decided to skip the IPL due to a surgery on his abdomen and instead prepare for the home summer against Sri Lanka and India.
As a result, he was apparently signed for $USD 1 million by the Delhi Daredevils to play for them for the next two years, just before the IPL auction. Pietersen is likely to be available for a maximum of nine matches in the competition, which can help Delhi’s fortunes change after a miserable IPL 2011, where they finished bottom ranked. He will come into this year’s tournament as the World’s numero uno T20 batsman.
Kevin Pietersen and controversies
Pietersen has been no stranger when it comes to grabbing the headlines for the wrong reasons, since he portrays himself to be arrogant and brash although according to Michael Vaughan, he is not. His strained relationships with many of his opponents have been made evident in the media. Graeme Smith, the South African Test captain does not like Pietersen because Smith calls him patriotic and believed that KP ‘slated’ South Africa. KP called him ‘an absolute muppet, childish and strange.’
So it is with Australia’s ex-captain and legend Ricky Ponting who in the year 2011 termed Pietersen as arrogant and challenged him to play well against them. While Pietersen began his feud with Yuvraj Singh in 2008 by naming his style of bowling as ‘left-arm filth’ and called him a ‘pie-chucker’ for the same. He may be respected by fans across the world for entertaining them, but when it comes to opponents, he does not stand in their good books with the best example actually being Australia, which in 2006 called him ‘The Ego’ since he personified that quality the most according to them.
His switch hit shot also came much under scrutiny from 2008 till date in fact by several renowned TV commentators and other cricketing pundits. They demanded that the shot should be outlawed by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) since it becomes unfair for the bowler who generally bowls to a steady batsman. Pietersen becoming left-handed, according to them means that the bowler too has a right to bowl anywhere from the wicket or in fact change his arm without letting the umpire know, which is actually unlawful.
The MCC eventually okayed this shot to be played in international cricket since it is a sign of ‘innovation’ and evolution for the game, which is one of their primary objectives. Thus, Pietersen who could not take the criticism about this shot, finally was permitted to play this shot and has thrilled the world over with it. It has grown so popular that Pepsi, a world famous cola brand decided to make him one of the drink’s brand ambassadors during the World Cup 2011 due to this shot, which fits perfectly to their tagline ‘Change the Game’.
In the beginning of 2009, he publicly had a fall out with then England coach Peter Moores about certain issues, as Pietersen wanted to lead the team in his own way and believed that Moores should not come in between. As a result, Moores was sacked as coach by the ECB and Pietersen shockingly resigned from the post, perhaps on the insistence of the board. KP was perhaps responsible for one of the most turbulent times in English cricket as the team continued their struggle in the West Indies under a new captain in Andrew Strauss.
Come 2010 and when he was dropped from the ODI team, he was so upset about it that he used Twitter, the social networking website to speak up his mind and actually abused the ECB and the selectors for the decision. He was criticized by them for the same and it created a huge uproar in the cricketing world since the news spread like a virus. It was only after he deleted that comment and publicly apologized for the same, that he was forgiven by the ECB and was picked for the Ashes in Australia.
But all said and done, Kevin Pietersen will definitely go down as one of the most versatile batsmen to have ever played the game since he revels in the extremist formats, Tests and T20s equally well and still has years left him to better his performances in the one-day game, as he gains experience by the side and is already one of the seniormost members of the team. May he continue to thrill everyone with his switch hits, the ‘Flamingos’ and the uppish drives off his bat as long as he plays!