Pietersen hangs up his boots in ODIs and T20Is
Eight years ago, a youngster breezed onto the international scene in style and there was no looking back from then on. Kevin Pietersen, a lanky and confident boy gave English cricket a whole new dimension with his breathtaking strokeplay. So, after successfully amassing 4184 and 1176 runs in ODIs and T20Is respectively, there is little doubt that he has left a huge void in the English team as he bid a sudden farewell to international limited overs cricket on 31st May 2012.
Right from the moment Pietersen stepped onto the cricket field, it was evident that he would be every opposition captain’s nightmare. Having qualified to play for England, he made a strong debut in the one-dayers with a half-century in only his second game but this was just the warning before the storm. On 2nd February 2005 at Bloemfontein, England were struggling at 67/3 in the 16th over against South Africa. Just when it seemed that the hosts were in a comfortable position, a blitzkrieg struck the Proteas as Pietersen in only his sixth ODI blasted his way to 108 not out off just 96 balls coming in at No. 5 to power the visitors to a competitive 270. The match ended in a historic tie and Pietersen was named the Man of the Match. The hostility of the South African fans turned into respect as he went on to score two more centuries in the seven-match ODI series and finished as the highest run-getter grabbing the Man of the Series award in just his second series. He became the joint fastest batsman to reach 1000 ODI runs. Consistent performances in the 50-over format paved the way for his selection in Tests. With a spectacular display of batsmanship, he was influential in ensuring that the Ashes changed hands after a long span of 18 years as England outclassed Australia for the first time since 1987.
A flamboyant personality, Pietersen believes that attack is the best form of defense and his counter-attacking tactics made him rule the fiercest of bowlers in the international arena. His adaptability to all three formats of the game was magnificent and his performance in the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 helped England win their first ever major ICC tournament as he scooped up the Player of the Tournament award on the way. He was not only useful with the bat but also with the ball, being called upon to break partnerships at crucial junctures. He had the honour of captaining England in ODIs and Tests, a dream that every player relishes in his career.
He reserved his best for last as he helped England restore pride after being hammered in the Test series in a recent UAE tour against Pakistan. His stoic display against a strong Pakistan spin attack helped him register his highest individual ODI score of 130 as he attained a second-best Castrol Index of 51 and powered England to a 4-0 clean sweep over their opponents in the ODIs with two consecutive centuries. England ended with 61 points on the Castrol Index, a staggering 30 points ahead of Pakistan in the series. He ended his career as the No.1 batsman in the T20Is with a healthy average of 37.93. He was a thorough professional and a fierce competitor on the field, but with a lively demeanour off it.
With classy drives, crushing pulls and hooks, sublime flicks and audacious switch-hit reverse sweeps, Pietersen has entertained the cricketing fraternity to the core. With an important ODI series against Australia and the ICC World Twenty20 just round the corner, England will surely miss his services in the shorter formats of the game. We hope that he continues to enchant us with his array of strokes in the longest format of the game which he will still play.
He started with a bang; he ended with a bang. All of us at CastrolCricket.com wish Kevin Pietersen good luck on the road ahead.