If there is any batsman in the world who bowlers hate the most to bowl at, it has to be England’s Kevin Pietersen. However, he is not exactly England’s. He is South Africa’s. He was born in Pietermaritzburg, Natal. He played in the country till he was 15. Until it was time that the quota system based on race, took place.
This didn’t allow Pietersen to play for South Africa. So he left his home country and went to his mother’s country, England. From thereon, Pietersen had every incentive to make it big as a cricketer. His story is inspirational so much so that he is undoubtedly my favourite player.
His rise has been majestic, and this was proved when he got a call up to play for England in a one-day series in Zimbabwe in 2004. However, what amazed me was his concentration which made him determined to make it big in international cricket.
And I was won over with his performances in South Africa in 2005. People abused him for being a traitor. However, despite the pressure, he went on to score three hundreds in seven one-day matches.
And he was humble enough to give the credit of his amazing debut to his then-captain Michael Vaughan, who told Pietersen to only watch the ball and nothing else.
His performances further at home against Australia and Bangladesh caught the eyes of the English selectors who had an otherwise tedious job to select the best 15 players to challenge the Australians for the Ashes in the summer of 2005. And he was preferred ahead of Graham Thorpe!
Pietersen made sure that he lived up to the faith that his captain Vaughan and coach Duncan Fletcher had in him, by top-scoring with a 50 in the first Test at Lords.
Though England lost badly, yet it helped Pietersen to get better and better. He ended the Ashes with 468 runs in 10 innings, which aided England in winning the coveted prize.
He followed that with his second test hundred in Pakistan, making him already England’s Mr. Reliable. However, as his stature was increasing, England became lackluster as they were beaten 0-5 by Australia in 5 Tests, in the process losing the Ashes.
Pietersen’s critics questioned his match-winning ability. However, he continued his good form despite England exiting from the Super 8s stage of the World Cup 2007.
He scored a double-century against West Indies at Leeds, as the innings yet again showed how much he loves dominating a bowling attack right from the world go. His form never dipped as he proved himself to be a perfect batsman.
He scored Test hundreds in New Zealand, India and West Indies over a period of two years. His tally of Test hundreds is now 16.
However, cracks began to appear in Pietersen’s batting when he was made captain in 2008. Though Pietersen continued to score, but his knocks were not convincing enough.
A strained relationship with the then coach Peter Moores, didn’t let him do well and the team. It resulted in an Ashes-like whitewash in the ODIS and a defeat in the Test series in India. A modest showing followed against the West Indies away and at home.
And then his downfall began. It is ironic that the man, who rocked the cricketing world with a fantastic debut against Australia, is four years later not making an impact against the same opposition and it results in him losing his form. Pietersen didn’t play three Tests of the Ashes 2009, which England won.
And further irony was that he failed in the same format of the game in a country where he made his mark as a top cricketer. And in his ‘home’ country, South Africa. He struggled right throughout the tour.
This had a multiplier effect as he didn’t play as the real Kevin Pietersen in Bangladesh. In fact, the mediocre Bangladeshi bowling attack was able to invent something which no other country had done in the past. An easy way to get him out is with the use of a left-arm spinner.
This weakness made Pietersen vulnerable and pundits believed that it would take some time before he regained his form. And he did soon. Pietersen makes the statement ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’ so valid. He played well for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2010 in India, for a team where he is the million-dollar man.
A successful IPL resulted in an equally successful World T-20 in the West Indies for Pietersen. He was a major force in England winning a global tournament in 35 years.
This was proved with him winning the man-of-the-tournament award. Currently, he must be the happiest man in the world as he has been not just a loyal English cricketer with a tattoo of the 3 lions, but also a complete family man having just witnessed the birth of his first child with wife, Jessica Taylor.
He has always been a good son too, according to his mother. Can there be another Pietersen? I don’t think so. Not at the moment.
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