20140901

Pietersen in profile: a dispassionate view ahead of the controversial star's own version of events

Kevin Pietersen's autobiography is due out next month, with a promise to reveal the detail of his parting of the ways with the England cricket team, until now shackled by the confidentiality clause that accompanied his dismissal.  Its impending publication has been a long time in the public domain, allowing rival publishers to offer something by way of competition.

More often than not, such spoilers are barely worthy of mention, old material rehashed in haste by a writer with no sources of information beyond a pile of newspaper cuttings or, these days, whatever he can turn up on Google.

Simon Wilde's book, On Pietersen: The Making of KP, is considerably better than that, being not so much a biography as an appraisal, in the form of a series of essays, by the Sunday Times cricket correspondent, who has reported on Pietersen's career in its entirety, certainly since he first crossed England's radar, and has diligently gone back to many of the coaches and fellow players who worked with the South African-born star in the days when a future with the Three Lions tattooed on his arm was not even a dream.

Each essay has a theme, some relating to aspects of Pietersen's character, others to his cricket in technical terms, such as his weakness against left-arm spin or his invention of new shots.  The format enables Wilde to cover all the significant moments in Pietersen's career and relate them to others.  It works very well.

No cricketer in recent times has intrigued and infuriated to the same degree as Pietersen and Wilde makes an honest attempt to understand the complexities of his personality.  It is a balanced account that acknowledges that he could be a divisive and disruptive presence but which also offers sympathy for him and a regret that he would ultimately prove too difficult for England to manage.

Simon Wilde is the author of several excellent cricket books, including objective portraits of Ian Botham and Shane Warne.

Buy On Pietersen: The Making of KP (Simon & Schuster) from AmazonWaterstones or WHSmith.

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