The first book (Crossing the Boundary) written by Kevin Pietersen was published in 2006, only a year after he made his Test debut in the Ashes 2005 opener at Lord’s.
Book collectors can’t think of a cricketer writing a book so soon. And Shane Warne, as maverick as they come, was surprised at first with the timing when he was asked to pen the book’s foreword.
Warne’s opening lines were: “When I was asked to write the foreword for Kevin Pietersen’s book I thought, what the hell is he doing a book for after only a year in the game at the highest level? Then, when I thought about it a bit more, I quickly recognised that the KP story has already been a complex and interesting one.”
Despite Warne’s afterthought, it sure was too early. However, there’s no problem in the timing of Pietersen’s latest book, the one which will have the England and Wales Cricket Board embarrassed.
In fact, even before the book has hit the stands, Pietersen spoke about how his Board leaked stories to the media to make him look bad. “The way the ECB works is, it uses the media to get messages out there. If the ECB could never get at me because they knew they couldn’t really squash my personality they would leak story after story to try to get me through the media. But unfortunately, I’ve got incredibly thick skin, and it never worked,” Pietersen said on Monday.
Indeed, Pietersen has some horrible stories to tell about what happened in the England team and all that sniggering towards outfits from this side of the world will hopefully abate now.
There have to be two sides to the story, but Pietersen has a better platform to tell his side. And he gets paid for doing so as well!
By exposing English cricket’s underbelly, Pietersen has also crushed the theory of sub-continental teams being the only ones that have infighting and dissent and that true team spirit is only found in the change rooms of the English and Australians.
Pietersen’s issues with Zimbabwean team director, Andy Flower may give some the impression that he has a problem with authority. While the jury can be out on that, in his first book, he recalls the time when former Australian great, Rod Marsh called the shots at England’s academy in Loughborough, which is near Pietersen’s first county, Nottinghamshire, where he was not exactly controversy-free. Marsh and his assistants dealt with Pietersen like he should have been dealt with in the England set-up. They told him that they had heard about his antics at Nottinghamshire but didn’t believe those stories and that they would judge him on merit. Pietersen appreciated that and he made the most of his academy stint under taskmaster Marsh.
Pietersen wrote in Crossing the Boundary: “Rod Marsh was disciplined. I liked him. He also believes, like me, that the harder you work and the tougher you are, the better player you’ll become. I wished he had been in charge at Notts (Nottinghamshire).”
Interestingly, Pietersen said that he got along “very well” at the academy with Matt Prior, who he now accuses of leading the bully brigade in his England years.
Doubtless, Pietersen’s new book, KP The Autobiography will go down as one of the most controversial cricket books of all time, but hopefully it will have some tasty side dishes too (now that controversy has become the main course) his unbeaten double hundred against India at Lord’s in 2011 when the next highest scorer was Prior with 71, and his match-turning 186 against the same opposition at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai two years ago.
It would be a great shame if Pietersen’s controversial side dilutes his batting brilliance and passion to succeed, just as former England captain Nasser Hussain discovered on his 1999-2000 tour of South Africa. After claiming four England wickets for KwaZulu-Natal with his off-spin, Pietersen headed to the visitors’ dressing room to ask Hussain about the possibilities of spending the 2000 English summer on the greens. Hussain passed on the telephone number of his brother Mel who could help Pietersen earn a spot at his club, Fives and Heronians, but the young turk was aiming to play for Hussain’s county Essex. By 2001, Nottinghamshire signed him on.
It’s safe to say Pietersen will never play for England again and the record books show he played in 104 Tests and scored 8,181 runs. The fact that only one England teammate Alastair Cook can boast of a similar tally, proves that Kevin Peter Pietersen was a special batsman.
Clayton Murzello is mid-day’s Group Sports Editor