Kevin Pietersen is one of England’s most prolific batsmen of all time © Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen, born on June 27, 1980, celebrates his 34th birthday today. Bharath Ramaraj looks at some interesting facts and anecdotes attached to the supremely talented batsman.
Kevin Pietersen has always been a box-office entertainer. He has subjected the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, and others to some breathtaking assaults. He has also hogged the limelight for controversies that seem to follow him everywhere.
The sheer unpredictability of the man results in fans making a beeline entry into the stadium to watch him bat. On the occasion of his 34th birthday, here are 10 things you would want to know about him:
1. Pietersen, born in South Africa, played for Natal against Nasser Hussain’s England in 2000. Pietersen was known more as an off-spinner then, but he did strike a power-packed innings of 61, batting as low as No 9.
2. Pietersen then migrated to England as a protest against racial quota and played for Cancock CC in Birmingham. He helped them to win the Birmingham and District Premier League.
3. It was Clive Rice, South Africa’s legendary all-rounder, who helped him by signing the precociously talented batsman for Nottinghamshire in 2000.
4. Pietersen came into the limelight when he thwacked a Steve Harmison-led Durham’s attack to all corners of the ground at Chester-le-Street in 2001 (109 off 139 balls). Harmison has since showered praises on Pietersen for that knock that hit Durham like a gale.
5. Pietersen, interestingly, took part in the Duleep Trophy in 2003-04 held in India. He played for England A (now England Lions). His merciless devastation of a South Zone attack consisting of S Sreesanth, Sunil Joshi and Ramkrishnan Ramkumar at Gurgoan made senior journalist Vijay Lokapally call him the, “best batsman of that tournament.”
6. Pietersen equalled Viv Richards’ record for the fastest to 1,000 runs in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). He did it in just 21 innings. He also was then the joint fastest with Zaheer Abbas to 2,000 ODI runs. His record has since been broken by Hashim Amla.
7. Pietersen also held the record for the fastest century by an Englishman. It came at East London, South Africa, when Pietersen’s deadly innings floored the South African bowlers. He made 100 off 69 balls. His record was broken by Jos Buttler, who scored a 61 ball-ton against Sri Lanka in 2014 at Lord’s.
8. Pietersen became a folk hero when he notched up a scintillating 158 at the Oval in 2005-06. During that innings, he also broke Ian Botham’s record for most sixes in a Test innings by an Englishman in Ashes history (7).
9. In 2005-06 in the second Test against Pakistan at Faisalabad, Pietersen hooked a Shoaib Akthar 95mph thunderbolt on the front-foot for a six. As if hooking a fast bowler on the front-foot wasn’t impressive enough, the fact that he played that shot when he was on 94 makes it even more surreal. The brilliance of Pietersen taking on Akthar is still remembered by fans and scribes alike.
10. Pietersen is behind only Don Bradman when it comes aggregating the number of runs in his first 25 Tests. He is also the fastest to 4,000 Test runs in terms of days.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)