As Pietersen turns 36 on Monday, is ouster from England cricket team remains speculative © AFP (File Photo)
As Pietersen turns 36 on Monday, is ouster from England cricket team remains speculative © AFP (File Photo)

Born to parents hailing from two different countries, Kevin Pietersen always had a career usually different from his other English teammates. There was no looking back once he chose England as his home under the influence of Clive Rice. Making his debut in 2004 against Zimbabwe, Pietersen was in no mood to waste time and quickly climbed up the ranks to become a constant performer for his side. As his mother is from England and father a South African, he chose to play for England as he felt the competition and political scenario in South Africa were hampering his career to progress in the desired manner. He donned the England jersey, and in a very short span into his career, was up against South Africa in an away series. ALSO READ: Sehwag wishes Pietersen on his birthday!

He was booed by the African fans in a high-voltage series. Though the series scoreline read 4-1 in favour of South Africa, Pietersen had more than announced himself in international cricket. He was the highest scorer in the series and even earned the Man of the Series award for his stupendous show with the bat. He was more than accepted in England; by the last match of the series, he won over the South Africans to his side.

His stature has grown from there on. In the famous Ashes 2005, he was new to the Australian attack that comprised of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie. He still did not fear any and played them with ease and aggression. He finished the series with 473 runs under his belt at an average of 52.55. Later, he helped England to their first ICC trophy by leading them with bat to the ICC World T20 in 2010 in West Indies.

Pietersen, off the field!

Like all others, he had his highs and lows. However, few have attracted as much attention from media, fans and other cricketers. For some reason he was always in the news. A positive personality on and off the field, Pietersen was regarded as arrogant by many sections of media at times.

Some, like Piers Morgan and Darren Gough, supported his behaviour by claiming that he is reserved in front of newcomers; on the other hand, if he builds a comfort zone of some sort, he stays loyal to his friends. Some English players, on the other hand, expressed that Pietersen was arrogant. Exactly why they made such complaints remains a mystery.

Turning point in his career

On South Africa’s tour of England in 2012, Pietersen, who took his team to various highs, was caught in a fix. He had apparently sent defamatory text messages to members of the South African dressing room, with Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, the then captain and coach, said to be referred to within the messages.

Failing to provide clarification on this matter, he was dropped from the remaining series but, later on, played for England in their 2-1 Test series win in India (2012-13) and returned for the 2013-14 Ashes. His failure with bat, though he was the leading run-scorer for his side, gave selectors a chance to drop him. This only showed that till the time his bat was doing all the talking, he was required; the moment his form dipped slightly, he was shown the doors.

The selectors termed this decision taken ‘unanimously’ which raised a few eyebrows of what was going inside the walls of England’s dressing-room. ALSO READ:Kevin Pietersen drops out Lord’s from his top 10 cricket grounds list

What led to Pietersen’s ouster?

Pietersen was England’s captain for a short stint from August 2008 to January 2009. It was an achievement of sorts, for not being fully English, he was still given the opportunity to lead his national team. His record as captain was mediocre, and was later on sacked along with coach Peter Moores. However, what Indian fans remember is the way he led England back to India shortly after the 26/11 Mumbai massacre.

Both of them did not appreciate their style of thinking and as a result, England slipped in the rankings. He came in the bad light of ECB ever since and his relationship never recovered from thereon. During his captaincy days, several players, acting as ‘typical Englishmen’ who did not approve him of as captain, primarily because of being an outsider. The ‘SMS incident’ after this just added fire to fuel and tore things apart for the stylish batsman.

What happens behind the doors of a team will always remain a subject of speculation for fans and media. Whatever story came out of his axing had to do about his style of thinking, blunt attitude was not taken well by the England camp. The world did is still left in dark regarding how a single person become the target of others.

Were ECB so incompetent that they could not handle a carefree, or perhaps reckless, man, in this case Pietersen? He was their a maverick, but he was, and remains a champion. He is still the leading run-scorer for his team across formats in international cricket. Does he deserve this treatment? He has time and again showed his interest in representing England and still flaunts his tattoo of “Three Lions” with pride. ALSO READ: Kevin Pietersen surprised at Ahmed Shehzad’s omission from Pakistan squad for England tour

Where did KP go wrong? What did he actually do? The texts he sent in 2012 were taken in a wrong way, or rather, in a way that ‘suited’ the board and other players best. Franchise-based cricket has brought cricketers closer than they were a decade back.

Unfortunately, ECB and men like England’s Test skipper Alastair Cook and team director Strauss have been vocal in not supporting him. Whatever the truth be, England and world cricket have lost an outstanding player. A player like him comes once in a decade and it was he who took England to play aggressive brand of cricket and come out of their comfort zone. The rise, fall and fallout of Pietersen has been peculiar. Years after being ignored by his side, his place and stature still remains unmatched.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)