Since Kevin Pietersen was axed from the England set up last year, it seems hardly a week goes by where he doesn’t register his interest in being back in the side. He has repeatedly said he was disappointed at being left out and that he’d love to play international cricket. “I’m desperate to play for England again,” he divulged after nailing a triple century for Surrey.
Even that wasn’t enough, and it looks increasingly unlikely that he’ll enter the fold once more before his career comes to an end. The worst part is, it wasn’t even Pietersen the cricketer that was the main cause, rather his status as an antagonist and likely some of the things he opened up about in his autobiography. It’s hard to see an athlete suffer because there are people who potentially don’t agree with him outside of his performances.
England come into the next Ashes series as major underdogs – when this article was produced, betfair have the Aussies 1.15 on to retain the urn – and a lot of that is down to a lack of firepower. As the saga continues it’s likely to get more hostile. To counteract that, we’re going to remember KP in a more positive light by looking at some of his finest moments in the country’s whites.
Becoming England’s top run scorer
In August of 2013, Pietersen really found his moment to become England’s top run scorer across all forms of the game. He hammered home a century in the third Test of the Ashes against Australia and edged past Graham Gooch. That’s an enormous moment for anybody but the style the South Africa born batsmen did it in just made it even more special.
The Ashes 2005
KP always seemed to find form when it mattered and he picked out his biggest innings when the pressure was on. As a relative newcomer to the England team in 2005, people weren’t expecting to rely on him so heavily. They had to though. Pietersen came through the series as one of the key players. He top scored the first two innings after some shaky batting from his teammates, and followed it with a vital 72 in the second Test.
He really came to prominence again in the second innings of the final Test and put in a heroic performance that pretty much gave England victory. His first Test century came as he closed out at 158 with seven sixes and earned himself Man of the Match as well as making him the top run scorer of the Ashes with 473.
ICC number one ranked batsman
The 2007 World Cup really saw the realisation of Pietersen as a dominant international force. Though England weren’t ultimately going to be successful, failing to reach the semi-finals, KP
became the ICC’s number one ranked ODI batsman after innings that included a century against West Indies, 104 off 122 against Australia, and useful contributions against New Zealand, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Ireland. Again, it was the big stages and the bigger encounters that really forced him to deliver. Any team would have loved to have him swinging for six high up on their order – being cemented as the best in the world really secured that notion.
Outside of these specific instances that showed his class, Pietersen was also partly responsible for bringing a whole new generation into the sport. His bullying style of batting was entertaining, the boundaries always flowed and there was never a boring innings. Though he was prone to lapses in concentration and spells of inconsistency, most of the prodigious talents across all sports have been.
Let’s remember him for the amazing innings and thank him for the contributions. Don’t resign him to a place in history where he’s not one of England’s greatest ever, because he is. Even an unfriendly face in his former captain Andrew Strauss admitted that.