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Kevin Pietersen says ‘ciao’ to cricket, the game he loves

Batsman scored 23 Test hundreds.

A “super proud” Kevin Pietersen has said “ciao” to cricket after his career ended earlier this week.

The former England batsman – who has been quite publicly edging closer to retirement over recent months – had been playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League.

He helped them qualify from the group stages and move closer to a third successive final appearance in the T20 tournament, but with the play now moving from the UAE to Pakistan, Pietersen has picked up his bat for the final time.

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Kevin Pietersen has retired

The 37-year-old hinted at his long-expected retirement on Friday with a Tweet which simply read “Boots Up! Thank you” before expanding on his situation on Saturday.

“Someone just tweeted to tell me that I scored 30000+ runs including 152 fifty’s & 68 hundreds in my pro career,” he wrote on Instagram.

“4 Ashes wins. Home & away! T20 WC win.  Beaten India in India.  Home & away 100’s in all major Test nations apart from Bangladesh.

“All dedicated to my family who have just been the most unreal supporters through thick & thin! I’m super proud of everything!

“Thank you for all the quite lovely msgs! I loved entertaining you all!  Ciao, cricket! I love this game!”

In truth, Pietersen has been retired from the biggest stage since his England exile started in 2014, a high-profile casualty of the 2013/14 Ashes whitewash defeat.

He embarked on a nomadic T20 career after that, taking in all corners of the globe, with the last 12 months an extended farewell tour.

Speaking to Quetta’s Twitter feed on Friday, he said he was leaving with a “hardened and sorry heart”.

Quetta tweeted: “You will be missed @KP24 Great career!! Thank you for everything. Wish you could stayed with us till PSL final but we respect your decision.”

The decision means that the final score of Pietersen’s 20-year career was seven against Islamabad United.

That, though, tells little of his story.

Pietersen will ultimately be remembered as one of the best English batsmen of his generation, if not all time.

His latter-day T20 exploits will not detract from 23 hundreds across 104 Test matches, four Ashes wins or 8,181 Test runs.

Man of the Tournament as England won the World T20 in 2010, Pietersen is England’s second-highest run-scorer of all time across all three formats of the game.

As his cricket has wound down, his conservation work with rhinos has increased.

A loyal family man, Pietersen recently shared a picture on Instagram explaining how he would no longer have to say goodbye to his loved ones again.

Pietersen’s final appearance in England – the country he will be forever associated with despite being born in South Africa – came with Surrey last summer. His stint in the Big Bash with the Melbourne Stars over Christmas was his last taste of the big time.

Modest returns in the PSL came and now his work is done.

“Time to move on,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Moving on is what England did after the horror Ashes tour of 2013/14.

Pietersen’s attitude was criticised by some within the England camp and he never played again. He tried to revive his Test career, hitting an unbeaten 355 for Surrey, but it was not enough to convince the England and Wales Cricket Board to take him back.

The governing body did thank Pietersen, though.

A former England captain – albeit briefly – Three Lions fans will best remember him for his Ashes-winning 158 in 2005, a 227 against Australia in Adelaide and a brilliant 186 in Mumbai in 2012.

Aside from that, the swagger and the haircuts allowed him to stand-out, not to mention the switch hits – a pre-cursor to a new generation of English batsmen.

Former team-mates and opponents have been paying tribute to the flamboyant batsman, including the likes of ex-England captain Michael Vaughan and former West Indies skipper Darren Sammy.

Vaughan said Pietersen was the best batsman he had played with.

He Tweeted: “Well done @KP24 on an fantastic career … Not everyone’s Cup of Tea but you will do for me … Best Batsman I had the pleasure to play with … 1st England batsman that put fear into the Aussies .. #WellDone”

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