Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe said Kevin Pietersen has been unable to lose the bitterness of his past, which forced him to leave Natal in South Africa as a young man and seek cricketing opportunities in England. (Kevin Pietersen salutes Rahul Dravid)
Pietersen, who was controversially sacked from the England side after an Ashes whitewash against Australia, Down Under, released his bare-all book, KP: The Autobiography, where he picked on teammates and former coach Andy Flower besides accusing senior players of allowing a bullying culture to develop in the dressing-room. The revelations drew mixed reactions and Pietersen was once again subjected to intense criticism from men he had once played cricket with, men he once called friends. (Kevin Pietersen book has tarnished England cricket: Cook)
Crowe, one of the more charismatic captains to have ever led the Black Caps, said Pietersen's story of a kid who left his home shores to travel to a distant land and represent an adopted country had taken a sad turn, given everything he had achieved and subsequently destroyed. The brash right-handed batsman made a sensational debut against Australia, slamming two half-centuries in 2005, a year after he first played ODIs for England.
"It is a sad story of a kid who never grew up. With sadness normally comes sympathy, but in this case there need not be any now. This young, brash kid from Pietermaritzburg has had more chances to step out of his shadow, and has ultimately, going by this week's example, accepted very few," Crowe wrote for ESPNcricinfo. "The record of the batsman will speak of something, but not of the man, for it never came to be. KP simply remained an insecure kid.
Now, at 34, he is ship-wrecked, his international cricket career well over, his esteem in his adopted country utterly compromised. He may as well go back to Natal and start again."
Many believed Pietersen was among the best batsmen in the world, even when the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid were in full bloom. He had smashed his way to 4000 runs in his first 45 Tests and bowlers the world over shuddered at the thought of bowling to England's new middle-order star.
However, Pietersen's dizzying heights soon came crashing down when as a captain, he got into tiffs with coach Peter Moores, who was removed from his role. He was co-incidentally named coach again after Flower's tenure was over in 2014. In the following years, Pietersen would also get into trouble over texting South African cricketers derogatory messages about former England skipper Andy Strauss. Removed from the national team, Pietersen was reintegrated during the tour of India, where he got back to scoring match-winning hundreds yet again.
The joy of England fans watching Pietersen decimate bowling attacks remained short-lived as he soon started developing differences with captain Alastair Cook in the wake of a horror Australian tour that ended early this year.
Pietersen's fall from disgrace and the affection of the cricket-loving public in his home remained a mystery and Crow, much like former England captain Nasser Hussain wondered if the cash-rich Indian Premier League had anything to do with it.
"Did the IPL become his new focus and paymaster once disposed as a Test captain? In his bitterness did he turn his energy off England, in defiance of England, switching his allegiance to grow his own marketable brand? We are left to ponder all that this week.
What he cannot deny is that his batting numbers went down while his behaviour got exposed, his attitude changed towards ODIs to play more IPL games, the runaway train crashing inevitably," Crowe wrote.
Crowe, one of the most outspoken commentators of the game feels his autobiography "reeks of ego and a falsehood. It is not one of a man's truth, but of a wayward youth. Make no mistake, despite its superb authorship, this book is feeble, even pitiful, definitely unnecessary."
Pietersen knows his England career is now over. After such unsettling claims, the England dressing-room will no longer be a welcome place. But the 'kid from Natal' will always be remembered for once leading England to the top of the world, before crashing down on his face in the most unglorious manner.