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One tweet and one of cricket’s greatest entertainers has bid farewell to the game. Kevin Pietersen, in a not-so-shocking revelation, called it quits after playing his last Pakistan Super League game.
Pietersen was audacious, thick-skinned, out-spoken and not afraid to call a spade a spade, which was why he rubbed the English cricket administration the wrong way.
As the adage goes, if you live by the sword then you should learn to die by the sword as well. That’s how Pietersen’s international career came to an abrupt end after the disastrous Ashes 5-0 whitewash in Australia. England’s leading run-scorer in 2013-14 was singled out as a culprit for the side’s terrible campaign thanks to his perceived casual approach during various stages in the series.
But wasn’t it the same approach that made him the leading run-scorer for England over ten years, and the approach through which he single-handedly won England their only World Cup to date at the World T20 in 2010?
Amidst all this glory lies the journey of KP. From being perceived as cocky and arrogant with a spiky hairdo and someone who thrived on attention, he is arguably the finest cricketer to play for England.
It goes without saying that Shane Warne was impressed by Pietersen during his tenure at Hampshire and backed him so much that in his autobiography, Warne predicted he’d become the best player in the world in 2008.
A loss of form and injuries put a few roadblocks in his career from 2008-2011, but Pietersen overcome all of those odds to play 104 Tests for England, scoring 8104 runs, and 136 ODIs for 4436 runs.
He could produce spectacular innings from time to time, be it 158 runs off 187 balls against Australia in the 2005 Ashes decider or 227 at the Adelaide Oval back in 2010, which started the downfall of Australia in that series.
His 186 against India on a turning track is considered to be the best innings by a visiting batsman on Indian soil. And don’t forget his consistent run in the 2010 T20 World Cup where he won the tournament for England.
England cricket has a lot of reasons to be grateful to KP during his illustrious yet controversial career, which was highlighted by conflicts with players, coaches, captains and his forgettable tenure as skipper.
Down and out after 2014-15, KP still roared in cricketing news with his revealing autobiography. Along with scoring 355 not out playing for Surrey just before the 2015 Ashes campaign he made plenty of matchwinning innings along the way in the leagues around the world. He even flirted with the announcement of maybe playing for South Africa in 2018. But he probably lacked the trust from England cricket’s higher-ups to gain selection again.
The brand of cricket England have been playing in the ODI arena was trademark game of KP. As he confessed, he loves the aggression the side is playing with, no doubt why he is interested in taking up a coaching role with the side. Meanwhile his friend, Eoin Morgan, continues to lead with a style of play similar to KP’s.
It could be worth giving a chance to Pietersen to make a comeback, even for a short assignment. His first innings was grand, but his second innings could be even more magnificent. But even if that doesn’t happen, he has played an eventful innings in his long, glittering career.
Enjoy the second phase of life, KP!