Kevin Pietersen, one of cricket’s most flamboyant and controversial figures, has announced his impending retirement, stating that he expects to call a complete halt to his playing career by the end of the year.
Pietersen, 37, revealed his decision after taking part in the Stars’ Big Bash League defeat against the Renegades in the Melbourne derby.
“I’m done and dusted, playing days,” he said. “You get to that time in your career when you think ‘do I want this?’ I want it desperately at the moment … but I don’t think I will want it in 10 months’ time. I just don’t see myself wanting to play cricket in December.”
Pietersen said he would honour playing commitments with the Pakistan Super League and in his native South Africa, but that would be it.
Cricket commentary, an involvement in rhino conservation – he is having a house built near Kruger national park in South Africa – and involvement in cricket coaching are just three areas that have recently attracted his attention.
Surrey’s NatWest T20 Blast game against Sussex last season was dedicated to raising more for rhinos, with 1 of every ticket sold going to charity. Regrettably, Pietersen had to miss the game with a calf injury.
Pietersen’s move towards retirement began last July when he announced that, for the second successive year, he would not enter the 2018 IPL auction because the tournament had become “too long”. He also suggested that he would no longer play for Surrey in the NatWest Blast and, after much fanfare, only played two matches.
He also left the Renegades in early season to fly back to the UK for Christmas and celebrate his tenth wedding anniversary, only for frustration to strike on his return journey when his luggage was left in Dubai and he embarrassed Emirates into funding an emergency wardrobe for his TV commentary.
Pietersen is England’s highest run-scorer in all forms of the game combined and England have never entirely replaced him since he was dropped from the international teams over a dispute over team ethics following their previous disastrous Ashes tour four years ago.
Seemingly bound to become one of Twenty20’s most successful players, his star quality has not entirely been backed up by the performances that were expected as injuries – and perhaps a busy lifestyle – began to unsettle him.
His T20 appearances have increasingly been characterised by long periods off the field – and Saturday night was no different. He made 40 from 30 balls in the Stars’ 157 for 4 but then remained in the dressing room for what he termed “precautionary” ice treatment on an ankle injury as Renegades won by six wickets with 13 balls to spare.
But he has never lost the ability to charm – he has 3.5m followers on Twitter – so it was no surprise that he also expressed wishes to remain with Melbourne in some capacity. “This franchise has been so good for me at the end of my career,” he said. “I love Melbourne. I’ve actually really grown to love Australia and have a really good rapport with a lot of the Australian public.
“So to have some sort of involvement in the Stars going forward, because of how much I love this club, would be something of immense value to me.”