Former England batting star Kevin Pietersen has called the “text scandal”, which involved provocative messages he had reportedly sent two years back about his then skipper Andrew Strauss to friends in the opposition South African camp, as the biggest regret of his illustrious career.
The incriminating texts had led to the enigmatic batsman being dropped from the England team for the third Test at Lord’s after he had scored a breath-taking century against Dale Steyn and company in the previous match.
Pietersen had publicly apologised to Strauss and the rest of the English dressing-room but was made to spend close to six months away from international cricket.
“Andrew Strauss is a great friend. I was just in a bad space. We were not having a great relationship at that time. It should never have come out, all that nonsense. That wasn’t a special time at all,” said Pietersen.
The 33-year-old, who will lead the Delhi Daredevils in IPL-7, was speaking at the latest edition of Express Adda in the capital on Tuesday.
While Strauss retired from international cricket following that series, where England conceded the No. 1 Test ranking to the Proteas, the affair cost Pietersen an appearance at the World T20. And it wasn’t until November of that year that he was “reintegrated” into the England team with new captain Alastair Cook playing a lead role in the process.
Pietersen returned to the centrestage with a blitzkrieg ton in Mumbai against India. The 186 made on a Wankhede Stadium pitch turning square not only proved his worth again, it also set up a historic series win for England.
But the flamboyant right-hander believed the greatest achievement of his career was the role he played in England regaining the Ashes in dramatic fashion in what was his debut Test series back in 2005. Pietersen had scored a defiant 158 during the fifth Test at The Oval to save the match and bring the urn back after 19 years.
“I was going to say when we beat India two years ago but I think I have given Indians enough stick. When we won the Ashes in 2005, that sort of changed the face of cricket in the UK. In terms of team stuff, that was a very special time to be part of England and the sort of transformation in cricket, from the grassroots level actually,” he said.
Hailed as one of England’s greatest batsman of all time, Pietersen has played 104 Tests in which he has 8,181 runs at a healthy average of 47.28. While his career might have been stalled as of now, he hasn’t given up completely on playing at the highest level again. In fact, he’s confident of fulfilling a lifelong ambition.
“Yes, maybe I’ll still get to 10,000 (Test runs),” he added.
In addition to being a behemoth with bat in hand, Pietersen was never far away from the news through his career, hogging headlines for both good and bad reasons. Along the way, his relationship with the English press often bordered on the acrimonious. And he insisted that he had no interest in what the media had to say.
“I don’t read the media, especially in England. No interest. I’ll have a look at it and stuff. I will obviously see it through Twitter. You sort of gauge what’s going on. But I have got no interest in what those…gentlemen…have got to say,” said Pietersen.
In less than a week’s time, the former England captain who led his country in three Tests and 12 ODIs will spearhead the Daredevils’ challenge in the UAE as they look to turn around their fortunes in the IPL. Calling Delhi a second home and his favourite city in India, Pietersen spoke about being impressed by the new-look of his team.
“I do come to Delhi a hell of a lot. I built such good relationships in 2012 and we had such good time, both on the field and off the field. I like Delhi as a city, it’s just a good place to come. It’s not as crazy as the rest of India in terms of the traffic and the madness. It has some wonderful restaurants, the hotels. We get looked after really well here,” he said.
“This year is a blend of youth and experience. I think the gentlemen who went to the auction have done a fantastic job in acquiring some really solid Indian players. We have got some fantastic Indians in our side who want to perform. I have met a couple of them today and there is a great little buzz. Sometimes with superstars you don’t get that buzz,” Pietersen added.