Kevin Pietersen called time on his extraordinary career two years ago.
Here, the PA news agency looks back over some of his most memorable innings in England.
The knock for which KP will be remembered most fondly by many, as England clinched the Ashes in memorable fashion in 2005. Pietersen was already a star in the making, gatecrashing the sport’s most historic series with his ‘skunk’ hairstyle, brash demeanour and predilection for dismissive six-hitting. Then, in the decisive fifth Test of the series, he graduated to the big leagues, recovering from being dropped by Shane Warne to secure the return of the urn with his maiden Test century.
Sometimes in sport context is king. To watch highlights of this innings is to
watch a master of his craft – a true alpha male performance as he dominates a
supreme pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis. At times it seemed nowhere was safe to bowl to the swaggering presence of Pietersen at the other end. To watch it with the benefit of hindsight makes it all the more remarkable. At the end of the match Pietersen gave an astonishing press conference during which he indicated it could be his penultimate Test match, spoke cryptically about tensions with the England and Wales Cricket Board and memorably claimed “it’s tough being me” in the national side.
Remarkably, given his free-hitting reputation, Pietersen only scored one ODI
century in 52 innings on home soil. But that one will go down in history as the
one where he debuted the fully-formed ‘switch hit’ in all its glory. Taking the
reverse-sweep one step further, Pietersen chose his moment against Black Caps medium-pacer Scott Styris, changing his grip and stance to reflect that of a left-hander and clobbered a brilliant six. Just in case anyone failed to appreciate the complexity or innovative nature of the stroke, he repeated the
dose soon after. Much debate over the shot’s legality followed, though there
were more imitators than bemoaners.
On the grand occasion of the 2,000th Test, and with England needing an emphatic series win to go top of the ICC rankings, Pietersen played a gem at the home of cricket. It was truly an innings of two parts, his first hundred coming in tricky batting conditions and occupying 215 balls – slower than he had ever moved to three figures before. Having shown unusual pluck in service of the team, he then relocated his muse, scoring another century in just 111 deliveries with 11 fours and a six. England went on to win the game, series and number one spot.
The Foxes attack in this unusually high-profile Division Two championship
match was not one of the more challenging Pietersen had faced during his career. But, as so often with the mercurial middle-order batsman, he picked his moment with uncanny perfection. At the time he was trying to resurrect his international chances in a rare first-class stint with Surrey. Naturally, he reeled off the best first-class score of his life, just two shy of the best ever by a
Surrey player. By the time Andrew Strauss, then ECB director of cricket, confirmed the door remained permanently closed, Pietersen had already crafted a storming riposte in over seven-and-a-half hours at the crease.