South Africa's loss turned into England's gain when a frustrated Kevin Pietersen left his birthplace, Natal for Hampshire, annoyed by the former's quota system. After four mandatory years of county, the predestined England call-up quickly arrived in 2004.
Debuting on tour to Zimbabwe, Pietersen's 104 runs in three ODI innings were enough to retain his place in the one-day side for the series against South Africa and Australia-Bangladesh. Consistent ODI performances advocated a Test call-up for the 2005 Ashes. His fearless stroke-play made him the top-scorer in the series, playing a major role in England reclaiming the Ashes for the first time in two decades. Consistent performances in 2007 cemented his place in all forms of the game. A strong player on the drive, KP is a beautiful player of the hook and pull as well while his signature 'Flamingo' shot and the switch-hit is a spectator's delight.
When Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood gave up their roles as captains in the longer and shorter forms of the game respectively, the role was offered to Pietersen. Defeat in his first Test as captain was overcome when he led England to a 2-1 ODI series win at native South Africa. Backroom differences with the then coach Peter Moores led to Moores' sacking and Pietersen's resignation, ending his short stint as captain. An achilles injury served as a much needed break in his rigorous career, and he made a successful England return for retaining the Ashes in 2009. The year proved additionally fruitful when he was again one of the star performers in England's ICC World T20 win in 2010. What followed was a successful 2010-11 Ashes campaign down under, where he ended a 20-month long wait for an international ton with his first double century and followed it up with an Ashes win in Australia in 24 years.
KP was unfortunately ruled out of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup due to a hernia injury, which subsequently made him unavailable for that year's Indian T20 League. However, in 2012, he was transferred to Delhi from his former franchise, Bangalore. In the English summer of 2012, during South Africa's tour to the country, he was marred with a few controversies which got him dropped from the third Test. Further contract-related issues led to his immature retirement from ODIs which he later revoked. All issues sorted and buried, he was picked for England's successful tour of India where he scored a series-turning century in Mumbai that helped England win the first of their two Tests. The following year, he was once again ruled out of the Indian T20 League following a knee injury picked up during England's tour of New Zealand. Pietersen then returned for the Ashes in July 2013 and scored a sparkling century in the third Test at Manchester. Pietersen completed his 100th Test during the first Test of the return Ashes later that year but had a substandard series although he was the top run-getter for England who lost the urn through a 5-0 whitewash.
The fallout of the Ashes resulted in the ouster of coach Andy Flower and Pietersen’s relationship with the ECB management came in question once again. The ECB decided not to include KP on the tour to West Indies in February 2014 and speculated that it could well be the end for KP as an English cricketer. Pietersen himself made a statement in the matter, ‘Although I am obviously very sad the incredible journey has come to an end, I'm also hugely proud of what we, as a team, have achieved over the past nine years.’ In the same month, Pietersen landed a contract with the Delhi franchise for the 7th edition of the Indian T20 League and was also made captain of the team.