“In India, as a cricketer, it is very difficult to go and walk the streets,” according to former England batsman Kevin Pietersen. The former Indian Premier League most-expensive player recently spoke with Betway about his career in the cricket league and its lasting impression on him.
Pietersen joined the IPL in 2009 when Royal Challengers Bangalore paid a then world-record fee of £1.1 million at the league’s annual player auction for his services. Pietersen captained both the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Delhi Daredevils during his time in the IPL, scoring over 1,000 runs in 37 league matches.
Born in South Africa, the former England cricket international is one of the IPL’s most famous foreign players of all-time. His move to the IPL in 2009 helped create a buzz about the league outside of India. Although the league had been prospering and changing the face of cricket, Pietersen’s arrival was one of the first that perked eyes and ears on British soil in regards to the IPL.
Pietersen spoke candidly in the interview with Betway explaining the vast differences between playing cricket in the IPL and other leagues around the globe. According to Pietersen, the bonds built between the players at IPL clubs are stronger than those elsewhere courtesy of the amount of time spent together. Due to players being segregated from the rest of the population in India, players create connections with one another.
“Cricket is a religion and you are worshipped in the country,” Pietersen explained. “So, what you end up doing is spending so much time on your team floor, with your teammates, eating together, playing FIFA together, practicing together, travelling together, playing together – your just with each other.”
It is the time spent together that creates an emotional attachment between the players and the club as well. Pietersen reflected on playing test cricket in England while his club team competed in the IPL on the same day and the effect it had on him as a player.
“You are very emotionally attached to your team,” Pietersen said. “I think that got me into a lot of trouble as well with the ECB. I was being pulled back off after a couple weeks in India in the IPL coming back – and I had one eye on the test match, and if my team was playing on that day, I was really into it. Like, Delhi – come on, come on, come on!”
Pietersen ended his IPL journey in 2017 with Rising Pune Supergiants. His time with the club was cut short due to injuries. He appeared in just four games for Rising Pune Supergiants before the club released him to the IPL auction. Although it wasn’t the best ending to his illustrious career in the IPL, many fans look back on the batsman’s earlier seasons with Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Delhi Daredevils as Pietersen’s best years.
Just one year after being released by Rising Pune Supergiants, in March 2018 at the age of 37, Pietersen retired from the sport with little else to prove. The great batsman retired from cricket as England’s second-highest run scorer of all-time. He accomplished the feat across all three cricket formats.
YouTube: Kevin Pietersen – What the IPL means to me