WHEN Kevin Pietersen signed for Hampshire in October 2004, he already knew what he wanted.
“I want to play for England for the next ten to 15 years,” he declared.
Instead we have to be grateful for nine years from one of England’s most gifted batsmen of all time.
The Pietersen Era included four Ashes series wins, the World Twenty20 title, World Number One status and much else besides.
Now it is over, the fall-out is well and truly underway.
Say what you like about him, and he certainly polarises opinion, but KP will be greatly missed.
The grief being felt by some fans has been likened by Jonathan Agnew to when David Gower played his last game for England, although I had more sympathy for Hampshire legend Robin Smith when he was jettisoned by his adopted country, aged 32.
At 33 (he will be 34 in June), Pietersen was not going to be around forever and still at least has the IPL to focus on. Maybe a transitional England side will now be greater than the sum of their parts, which they certainly were not in Australia.
But there is no doubt Pietersen’s absence makes us weaker. So why get rid of him?
Essentially it comes down to a personality clash with more than one person and his influence on the team dynamic.
But the lack of detail from the ECB means very few people know exactly what went on behind the scenes in Australia, prompting a mass of conjecture.
Surely if there was one incident that made his place in the side untenable we would have heard about it.
It’s not as if he has ‘done a Dani Osvaldo’, but this has been coming.
We have been here before on more than one occasion.
Pietersen joined Hampshire amid acrimony at Notts, where he threatened legal action if he was not allowed to leave (his coach at Trent Bridge was Mick Newell, who is among the contenders for the England job).
Then there was his rift with Peter Moores five years ago, which resulted in his resignation as England captain and England’s last search for a new head coach.
Pietersen was never a popular figure among Hampshire fans, but his time with the county was less controversial.
Shane Warne, Hampshire’s captain for most of Pietersen’s appearances for the county, is fully behind his former teammate, tweeting: “...just heard the sad news re KP that he has played his last game for England, to me it's a disgrace & a joke! The ECB is in a shambles.”
Two of Pietersen’s more recent Hampshire teammates have also backed him.
Liam Dawson, whose second first-ball dismissal of Pietersen last year was followed by the Surrey man being booed off the Ageas Bowl’s outfield, tweeted: “...he is destructive and a match winner, just what you need in international cricket. Who cares about his ego he wins games.”
Pietersen’s lukewarm commitment to his Hampshire career was highlighted after his last appearance, against Surrey in 2010, when he revealed he did not know who Chris Wood was following the youngster’s match-winning three-wicket haul.
But Wood was presumably in agreement with Chris Gayle, who will be captaining the West Indies against England later this month, when he retweeted: “Was really looking for the hype of having @KP24 in the caribbean, would be big tickets sales for us. #Sad - Learn to MANAGE Big Names!!”
Tellingly, however, Chris Tremlett - Pietersen’s Hampshire and Surrey teammate – is the only player to have made public his support for his England colleague.
“Sad to see what has happened with @KP24.Been a great player for England and a match winner. I wish him all the best in the future,” the Southampton-born fast bowler tweeted.