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Why I didn’t want to make a fuss about retiring from cricket

8 April 2018

9:00 AM

8 April 2018

9:00 AM

‘Ah, the old man injury!’ That’s what people said when I busted my calf a couple of years ago. At the time I laughed it off because in more than 20 years I’d never suffered any serious injuries, aside from my knee in 2012/13. No back problems or proper muscle tears. I was having a great time on the T20 circuit, playing to 84,000 spectators in Melbourne. Then, last year, I tore my calf again playing for Surrey. At that point I started to worry that it was going to happen all the time. When you sign these T20 contracts the last thing you want is to have to leave after a couple of games. I lost interest very quickly and decided that once I’d fulfilled my obligations over the winter, that was that. I didn’t want to make a big song and dance about retirement. Just a tweet: boots up, over and out, see you later. 

I’ve enjoyed watching the reaction in the media. You realise that when you’re playing, people are there to take potshots at you. I didn’t grow up with tall poppy syndrome in South Africa, and I hated it when I started to experience it in the UK. I didn’t want to do press conferences because I hated everything the media stood for, and when they had the opportunity to take me down, they did. But you also know that when sportsmen retire, the potshots have to stop, so people might as well say something nice. Still, I was flabbergasted to read Andrew Strauss say I was the best cricketer he’d played with. He was the one who made me stop! A couple of my buddies were fuming but I laughed and told them not to worry about it. There’s so much water under the bridge now. It’s gone. The only line I really enjoyed was a report that said I was like an annoying alarm clock for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that kept going off early. I was the first to play in the Indian Premier League, and that contributed to my demise with England. Now they send players off every chance they get. I was always ahead of the ECB and they hated it.

This is an extract from Kevin Pietersen’s cricket notebook, which appears in this week’s Spectator


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