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Kevin Pietersen: English Cricket’s Talented Anti-Hero

Kevin Pietersen talks to the media
Kevin Pietersen talks to the media
©Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

In the world of cricket, few players have been able to generate the same levels of intrigue as Kevin Pietersen. Despite being born in South Africa, the right-handed batsman was eligible to play for England, and few can argue that he didn’t shake up the sport at international level. Given how the now 40-year-old's international England ended, debates will rage on over whether England gave up too soon on Pietersen. So, let’s consider whether the now 40-year-old should have been given another chance. 

Forever an Enigma of Cricket 

For those who followed English cricket during Pietersen’s selection, many describe him as a once-in-a-lifetime talent. According to data from ESPN Cricinfo, the Pietermaritzburg-born batsman registered 8181 Test runs between 2005 and 2014, placing him in the all-time top 30 at the time of writing. Regarding English players, this return puts Pietersen as the fifth-highest scoring English batsman in the history of Test cricket, behind only David Gower, Alec Stewart, Graham Gooch, and Alastair Cook, respectively.  

Moreover, it’s a testament to the South African-born batsman’s points-scoring prowess that he ended his career having achieved 23 centuries, and three 200-plus tallies, as per Cricbuzz. Throughout his time with the England team, the now 40-year-old produced some of the finest performances that spectators have seen. For example, Pietersen’s 158 at The Oval against Australia in 2005 will live long in the memory, along with his 186 in Mumbai against India back in 2012.  

International Cricket’s Loss was Domestic Cricket’s Gain 

For all of his flaws, Pietersen is undoubtedly one of the most naturally-gifted batsmen that the 21st century has produced. Although English cricket has perhaps moved on from the era of Andrew Straus, Cook, and Pietersen, it’s debatable that the sport’s spectators were robbed of a seeing a few more years of KP – as he is nicknamed – on the international stage. It’s no secret that Pietersen was an outspoken character, but, in many ways, that was part of his appeal.  

While off-the-pitch controversies and poor shot selection brought about the end Pietersen’s international career, this opened the door to new opportunities. In many ways, the right-handed batsman was one of the driving forces behind the growth of the Indian Premier League during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Upon moving to the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2009 for around £1.19 million, Pietersen became one of the IPL’s most expensive auction players, as per The Economic Times. 

On a personal level, this enhanced Pietersen’s reputation further because of India’s love of cricket. This admiration for the sport is not only evident from the founding of the IPL, but also the game’s popularity at online betting sites. Regarding how cricket betting works, while you can read all about it here, various bonus opportunities become available upon registering an account with trusted providers. From there, different cricket-related markets are made accessible, including the ICC ODI World Cup, IPL, T20 World Cup, and much more. Pietersen's charisma and appeal certainly helped to further this market within the industry.

A Loss to World Cricket 

Regardless of whether you admired Pietersen or not, it will be a while before English cricket sees another quite like him. While he was divisive in much of what he said and did, his batting and points-scoring ability spoke for itself. Because of that, he will forever go down as one of the all-time greats