Kevin Peter Pietersen, more fondly known as KP, announced his retirement from all forms of cricket with a tweet on Friday the 16th of March. The tweet simply read ‘Boots up! Feet up!’ contrary to the character of the man who stirred up many a pot during his hay-day.
Born on the 27th of June 1980 to an Afrikaner father and an English mother in South Africa, KP played his formative years of cricket in South Africa before moving to England in 2000. He made his debut in an ODI against Zimbabwe in 2004 before making his test debut against archrivals Australia during the Ashes series in 2005. KP scored 8181 runs in 104 tests at a batting average of 47.28 with the highest score of 227 against Australia (see video) scoring 23 centuries in total. In 136 ODI matches, he scored 4440 runs and in 37 T20 international matches a total of 1176 runs. He once had the 2nd highest total from a player’s first 25 tests (behind Sir Bradman), top scored in both innings of test debut, had an ICC batting rating of over 900 and achieved 4000, 5000 test and 7000 runs quicker than anyone else in terms of days. Named England’s greatest modern batsman by ‘The Guardian’ in 2012 and ‘The most complete batsman in cricket’ by ‘The Times’ in 2008, KP was also the fastest to reach 1000 and 2000 ODI runs in the history of the game at that time. He also bowled occasional off-spin often filling in important overs whenever his side needed his services.
KP started off in the international circuit as a cocky 23-year-old with tattooed arms and a ‘dead skunk hairstyle. The arrogance was evident even from his outlook and demeanour. But it was arrogance backed up by performance where KP was capable of backing up his words and behaviour through his deeds on the field. In his Ashes debut innings at Lords, he came into bat at 18 for 3 and then 103 for 8 scored 57 in no time attacking Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee with disdain. In the 2nd innings also he scored 64 not out, although the English were trashed by 239 runs. In the final test of the series, he scored 158, his first test century finishing as England’s highest scorer with 473 runs.
Pietersen scored a monumental 142 at Edgbaston against Sri Lanka in 2006 during which innings he scored more than half of the side’s runs. His third six of that particular innings hit off Muttiah Muralitharan saw the introduction of the ‘switch-hit’ to the world where the batsman turned his body around as well as switched hands and hit the ball with such power that it sailed over the boundary. This shot where KP essentially batted as a left-hander made such an impact on the game that there was ensuing debate as to whether the shot should be banned. Tours to South Africa and Australia followed but he was still England’s best batsman in fast bouncy pitches as once acknowledged by Shane Warne.
KP captained the side briefly in 2008/09 scoring a century in his first test as captain against South Africa only to have his journey derailed in India in the next series. His captaincy stint was short-lived and KP concentrated on Test, ODI, IPL and other franchise cricket. His international career came to an unceremonious end in 2013/14 after a failed Ashes campaign. KP continued to play in T20 leagues around the world consistently featuring in IPL, BBL, CPL, BPL and PSL tournaments. He finally hung his boots after a good series in PSL 2018 being an important part of the Quetta Gladiators team.
Kevin is known the world over as a confident, no-nonsense individual. His audacious cover drives and pull-shots through mid-wicket hit with such immense precision and power are trademarks of the man when in full flow. KP was never known to be as someone who would get along with people well but his antics on the field will greatly be missed. He has had a few stints as a commentator in some T20 leagues and it would be interesting to see whether he pursues a career as a match commentator. Goodbye KP, wish you a very happy retirement!!