Kevin Pietersen- The most controversial cricketer of this era

Ankit Banerjee

There are times when you come across people of whom you just can’t take your eyes off. Possibly, for the right or may be the wrong reasons. We remain curious to know all wrong things they do. The negatives in life can sometimes hold an appeal – like that of an unknown territory. Over the years we have loved people like Diego Maradona, we even accepted him gleefully after it was confirmed that he was taking drugs.

Tiger Woods is known for his sexoholic traits, but we are still fond of him. When Mr Shane Warne kisses Liz openly it creates news and we love to read through the lines.Remember sex-bomb Anna Kournikova? Why do we love her? Possibly, we like them more for their off-field activities.

Now again, the question about the most controversial cricketer of this generation Kevin Pietersen is,`Don’t we love him?` Surely the answer is ‘yes’.

Pietersen is widely portrayed in the media as having a self-assured personality, described by Geoffrey Boycott as being "cocky and confident".Brash, insecure and breathtaking KP is one of the most exciting batsmen ever to play for England. His lust for box-office performances make him a match-winner in all forms of the game but his ability to command attention is matched only by his ability to divide opinion.

South African born Pietersen took the world by storm when he broke into the International cricketing scene. The tour of Zimbabwe in 2003 caused several players to voice their concerns about the Robert Mugabe regime, the security issues in the country and the standard of the Zimbabwean side. Steven Harmison was the first to boycott the tour for "political and sporting reasons", and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was reported to be considering taking a moral stand himself. The England Chairman of Selectors David Graveney denied that the selectors would leave out players unhappy with touring Zimbabwe and would put their absences down to injury. Flintoff was, however, "rested" and Pietersen rushed into the squad "at the earliest opportunity". In the five match ODI series, Pietersen batted in three innings which included a score of 77 not out; he finished the series with an average of 104.00 as England won the series 4–0. This sent warning signals in the cricketing world, and he announced his arrival on the big stage.

Kevin Pietersen popularly known as ‘KP’ was upset not to be initially included in the squad to tour South Africa. With Flintoff withdrawing due to injury, Pietersen was recalled to the squad, and cemented his place in the first team with 97 off 84 balls in the warm-up match against South Africa A, in the face of a hostile crowd.

Throughout the tour, Pietersen was subjected to a barrage of abuse from the South African crowd, who regarded him somewhat like a traitor. Pietersen has always been subjected to criticism but still remains one of the biggest crowd pullers.

If we talk about English cricketers of the past, we will see they are cultured batsmen. The likes of Mike Atherton, Michael Vaughan, Graeme Hick, the list goes on. Hence we have always associated English Cricket with a lot of conventionalism, and there comes the most controversial cricketer of this era, and he is everything but conventional. He surely doesn’t come across as an English cricketer.

In the first ODI of the NatWest series 2006, Pietersen hit two sixes by "switch-hitting" en route to an unbeaten 110 against the Kiwis. While facing Scott Styris, colourful Pietersen turned his body around and switched hands (effectively batting as a left-hander) hitting two sixes over cover and long off. Because Pietersen not only reversed his hand position (as some batsman do while playing the reverse sweep), but changed his stance by rotating his body, these "switch-hit" shots were immediately followed by calls to outlaw them from the game. Although a similar shot was played when Pietersen reverse-swept Muttiah Muralitharan for six in Sri Lanka in 2006, he only switched hands and executed "the switch" after the ball was bowled, and not before, as in this case. This again proves the point that he just doesn’t fit in as an English cricketer. He truly is exotic to watch. Everything about him is not textbook and explicable, but we still ardently fall for this person. This Natalian also knows how to flat-bat notion’s back over the bowler’s head. He is just not a puffy cheeked teen, he is a ‘marauder’ in the real sense of the term.

The Times called him "the most complete batsman in cricket" and in 2012 The Guardian called him "England`s greatest modern batsman". This possibly defines KP to the core.

The game of cricket is losing out on the old day charm; hence it is even more important for cricket to produce more of such characters. Mr Kevin has always been in the news for all his wrongdoings off the field. That in turn has led to the downfall of this 32-year old. But we still believe he has a lot to offer to this game. So it’s high time his batting takes a Globetrotterish turn, as the decaying boxer winds up with chunks of his face on the canvas, all set for India, all we can say is, ‘Best of Luck’.