Even people who don’t follow cricket know who Kevin Pietersen is. Bursting into the spotlight during England’s glorious 2005 Ashes win, KP, the South African with the three lions inked on his arm.
Coming soon after his acrimonious exit from the ECB setup, though it covers all aspects of his career, it’s his time with England that this book focuses on.
I’m not the biggest cricket fan. I keep up to date with the England team, watch the Ashes, World Cup etc, but that’s about it.
I’ve always wanted to go to a match, but without a decent county side the opportunities are limited. The closest I’ve got to a cricketer is, ironically, walking past Kevin Pietersen and his family on holiday in Dubai when we were staying at the same hotel.
I often read sports autobiographies, I admire the hard work and sacrifice professional athletes make to reach the top of their game, as well as the mental mindset to deal with the pressure. But in terms of honesty and openness, Kevin’s has to be up there with one of the best.
Having had his ups and downs, falling outs, (accidental) twitter outbursts, captaincy issues and controversial behaviour – Kevin covers it all. And where he was wrong he puts his hands up and admits it, apologises for his actions.
This was the most refreshing part of the book, the same goes for the goings on behind the scenes at the ECB. When you look back and see what KP had to deal with, and the clear double standards afforded to him, you can see why at times he had outbursts or seemed disinterested in the game.
I wouldn’t really class the book as an autobiography, as it focuses mainly on the latter half of his England career. It also focuses a lot on the behind the scenes element of the game, rather than actual matches – which is what makes it so interesting, as this is the stuff we don’t see as the public.
Kevin talks about what he sees as a bullying culture in the dressing room, remarking that even other international teams were shocked at the way the bowlers treated the fielders during games.
He also tells of his disagreements with coach Andy Flower, and several of the players, such as Prior, Strauss and Broad.
KP also addresses the mental issues surrounding his game, how self doubt creeps in and going through periods of struggling with bad form. He tells how the nerves are still there every match, and his outward attitude and body language is often a front to how he feels until he gets a few balls under his belt.
Interestingly when in a rut he would go to the nets, usually on foreign soil where he was open to abuse, and work through his batting, determined to iron out his errors from the day. Harder to focus, but when you can get into the zone with people having a go from a few feet it makes standing in the centre a bit easier.
Even a sometime cricket fan would find this book interesting, a great insight into the top level and how it’s not always a bed of roses behind the scenes.