Former England captain Kevin Pietersen is all set to return to competitive cricket on English soil, beginning with this year’s T20 Blast – England’s premier domestic T20 league – where he will represent his county club, Surrey.
The 37-year-old had confirmed earlier this year that his stint with Surrey for the T20 competition would be his last one in England. Pietersen decided to skip the Caribbean Premier League in order participate in the blast.
The South Africa-born cricketer took to Twitter to announce his comeback to his adopted home and expressed his excitement at playing for Surrey after a gap of two years. He last appeared for the county for a T20 game in 2015.
Pietersen’s international career had come to a screeching halt, following a fallout with the then England coach Peter Moores and his revelations of dressing room incidents in his autobiography after the 5-0 Ashes drubbing in 2013-14.
The right-hander had also openly criticized certain members of the team, including the captain, Alastair Cook, and thereafter, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had severed all ties with the cricketer.
Pietersen, begrudged by the forced exile, didn’t mince with the words while taking the ECB to the cleaners as an immediate response to his sacking from the side. However, he has been forced to ply his trade in T20 leagues across the world, being unable to play international cricket for more than three years now.
Pietersen would be playing alongside Aaron Finch, his opponent from the Big Bash League – Finch plays for the Melbourne Renegades, while Pietersen plays for the Melbourne Stars – and his first appearance for the club would be on July 19 in the game against Essex.
In 181 T20s, Pietersen has 5258 runs at an average of 35.05 and a strike-rate of 136.82 with three centuries and 32 half-centuries. He has played for as many as five IPL teams – the Deccan Charges, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rising Pune Supergiant.
He appeared for the Supergiants (as they were known in 2016) in the ninth edition of the league, but had to bow out during the early stages owing to a hamstring injury. The English didn’t participate in the league this year.
It is a pity, really, that a player of his caliber, who was once the second highest run-scorer for England in Tests – with 8181 runs from 104 matches at 47.28 – has been forced to feed off local T20 leagues.
In 2015, when Pietersen had foregone the IPL in order to play for Surrey in the Division One County Championship in a bid to revive his Test career, he had hit a mind-numbing triple-hundred, a career-best 326* against Leicestershire.
Unfortunately, his bid failed when the director of England Cricket, Andrew Strauss, blocked Pietersen’s trail by explicitly stating the England have ‘moved on’ from Pietersen. Ultimately, the 37-year-old has swallowed the bitter pill and now travels around the world freelancing as a cricketer.