Kevin Pietersen has played for Dolphins. Played for Natal. Moved to Nottinghamshire. Then to Hampshire. Now, after having played two ODI World Cups, won a T20 World Cup, getting named ICC ODI Player of the Year in his very first year, the flamboyant batsman will no longer be seen in the limited overs game.
Starting off as an off-spinner who could bat, who would have thought that KP would go onto win a T20 World Cup for England and not South Africa, his place of origin. No one would have imagined him as an ‘Ashes hero’. In spite of all this a fair share of the English fans still do not consider him their own.
Whatever their opinion may be, KP certainly was exciting to watch. I myself, was never a big fan of this attacking batsman, however, he did make the game interesting. On his day, he could dominate good attacks and put England in superb positions.
The beginning of his ODI career went nearly perfectly as he went onto equalize Sir Viv Richards’ record of fastest man to 1,000 ODI runs in just 21 innings. First I saw of KP was when he scored 75 against his native side in SA in a losing cause. In spite of the match being a one-sided game, his batting was enjoyable to watch. Later, he went to top score in the series with 3 hundreds and deservingly won the ‘Player of Series’ award as well.
For most of his first 5 years in ODI cricket, he managed to be superb averaging over 40 each year and scoring 7 of his 9 ODI centuries in this period. In this period, Pietersen even led the English team to a 4-0 win against the Saffers. However, 2009-11 were the years when the tall lad struggled. In 36 ODI matches in this period, he managed no centuries and merely 3 fifties.
In the World Cup of 2011, three matches played by him were at Nagpur and Bangalore (2). In spite of these being high-scoring pitches, KP failed to impress. Later in 2012, he managed to gain back some form scoring 2 centuries at his new position, opening the batting. Yet, he probably wasn’t enjoying the ODI game and wished to not play it. Hence many of his team mates like Jonathan Trott were not surprised at his decision.
However, KP wanted to stay for the T20Is and particularly for the upcoming T20 World Cup, where England will defend their title. However, thanks to ECB’s stupid contracts, KP was forced to quit both the forms of the game. This was clearly a very bad call from ECB, considering the ‘Man of the Tournament’ in the only ICC Trophy they have ever won, was none other than this man.
Whether this will hurt England or not, only time will tell. But one thing is for sure that whoever replaces him is unlikely to have his intimidating presence or carefree attitude. And that I shall definitely miss. Bairstow or any other new player who gets a go, may do a job better than KP, but won’t do it the way KP could.
The innovative yet controversial switch-hits showed not only his talent, but also how much he worked on his game. Many times, watching KP bat reminded me of Matthew Hayden, whose large figure and aggressive style of batting upset the rhythm of a number of bowlers. Sometimes, he even reminded of Virender Sehwag with his habit of backing himself no matter what.
Some former players like Nick Knight have gone onto say, England is a better ODI side without KP. He may usually be remembered for crucial performances in the Ashes, or a superb run in tests against the Indian side in 2011, and Test hundreds in 3 consecutive tests, but his contribution to ODIs cannot be forgotten.
The controversial career will surely be remembered, for the issues on and off the field, for the flamboyant hairstyle when he arrived, for the habit of talking his mind, but mostly for his destructive style of batting.