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Popularity no bar as Pietersen corners glory

Kevin Pietersen surpassed Graeme Gooch as England's highest run-getter on Friday. It's funny because the batsman contemplated retirement last year after a quarrel. Sai Mohan reports.

cricket Updated: Aug 25, 2013 02:29 IST
Sai Mohan
Sai Mohan
Hindustan Times

Kevin Pietersen surpassed Graeme Gooch as England's highest run-getter, across formats, on Friday. It's funny because the batsman contemplated retirement last year after a quarrel with the team management. But Pietersen, like other 'bad boys' of the past, has powered past obstacles, and how!

It was only in October last year that he accused teammates Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann of setting up a parody Pietersen Twitter account that got the South African-born into trouble with the England Cricket Board bosses.

If administrators and coaches compiled a report card of KP's career, it'd be pinned with red dots. He walked out on South Africa cricket, angered teammates at Nottinghamshire when he first landed in England and was thrown out. He has had public spats with England coaches, Peter Moores - it cost his captaincy - and Andy Flower. Even the South Africans haven't made him feel welcome.

England's greatest
Former South Africa skipper and administrator, Dr Ali Bacher, felt though Pietersen has earned his stripes representing The Three Lions, he owes his success to his motherland.

"Personally, I take pride in the fact that he's a product of a very good skill structure in Natal. He's had an outstanding upbringing. I just hope he will one day acknowledge that his upbringing was an important contributor to his enormous success."

Bacher didn't shy away from questioning Pietersen's character. "As far as the South Africans are concerned, he is not held in high regard as a person, the reason being, there was a time when he rubbished South Africa and said some very nasty things. In the past, South Africans like Tony Greig, Allan Lamb and Kepler Wessels have gone on to represent others with pride. And none of them said anything anti-South African. Due to that, he'll always have some haters here."

Asked if he expected Pietersen to scale such heights when he left South Africa, Bacher said: "No, when he was playing for Natal as a youngster, he was not a star. He bowled off-spin and batted No 7. Obviously, he had lot of confidence in his ability. To his credit, he went across to England and became a star."

First Published: Aug 25, 2013 00:23 IST