Cricket

Pietersen says 'Ciao, cricket' as career appears over

LONDON (AP) Kevin Pietersen has said "ciao" to cricket.

The former England batsman appeared to officially announce his retirement from the game in a series of posts on his social media accounts over Friday and Saturday.

"I loved entertaining you all!" the 37-year-old Pietersen wrote on Instagram. "Ciao, cricket! I love this game!"

The South Africa-born Pietersen has been away from the biggest stage since his England exile started in 2014 following the team's Ashes whitewash Down Under.

A prolific scorer in all forms of the game, Pietersen has 8,181 runs in 104 tests, 4,440 runs in 136 ODIs and 1,176 runs in 37 Twenty20 internationals.

Pietersen embarked on a nomadic T20 career after his time with England ended, taking in all corners of the globe, with the last 12 months an extended farewell tour.

In his last playing stint, he featured for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League, helping the team qualify from the group stage and move closer to a third straight appearance in the final. With the tournament moving from the UAE to Pakistan, Pietersen looks to have picked up his bat for the final time.

"Boots Up! Thank you," he tweeted. "Been told that I scored 30000+ runs which included 152 fifties & 68 hundreds. Time to move on!".

The former England captain, Michael Vaughan, described Pietersen as the "best batsman I had the pleasure to play with".

The England and Wales Cricket Board posted a message, saying "thank you" to the swashbuckling batsman, while former team mate Andrew Flintoff congratulated him on an "amazing career".

"Thank you for having a positive impact on mine too," said Flintoff, who played alongside Pietersen and skipper Vaughan when host England beat Australia in a thrillingly memorable test series in 2005 to regain the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.

Pietersen, England's fifth highest test run-scorer, was one of the finest attacking players the country has produced, emptying bars at venues around the world whenever he marched confidently to the crease at the start of an innings.

His unforgettable 158 in 187 balls, his maiden test hundred, on the final day of the series put the seal on an epic 2005 Ashes contest.

Controversy, however, followed Pietersen throughout his career and England's decision to send him into exile in 2014 split fans of the national team.

Pietersen has been heavily involved in rhino conservation in recent years and it looks like he will be spending more time in that arena in the future.

"Lots asking what I'm going to do next...I'm going to take the same passion and hard work into trying to save rhinos from extinction," he said. "If we all help it'll be greater than any of our achievements in any walk of life."

Updated March 17, 2018