Pietersen signs for Hampshire
Pietersen, 24, ended his four-year stint with Nottinghamshire when his contract expired in September, bringing down the curtain on an increasingly unhappy spell with the county. He had tried to move at the end of 2003 following a much-publicised falling-out with Jason Gallian, the captain, but was persuaded to honour the last year of his contract.
"I am delighted that we have picked up a player of Kevin's class, the explosive batsman that I feel we have lacked and one who is capable of turning a game on its head very quickly," said Paul Terry, Hampshire's manager. "He is ambitious and hungry to succeed and the England selectors have already shown how highly they regard him."
"I believe that Kevin Pietersen is the most exciting prospect on the county circuit," added Shane Warne, Hampshire's captain. "He is a real matchwinner and a welcome addition to our great squad who will fit in with our guys beautifully. As well as strengthening our batting, his offspinners will be an added bonus. I was very impressed with him when we played each other and I am very excited to have a player of his quality join us at Hampshire."
Pietersen spoke of the challenge of batting on a Rose Bowl wicket that still has to bed down. "It would be easy to have gone to a club with a comfortable flat wicket and score a pile of runs," Pietersen told the media at The Rose Bowl on Tuesday morning, "but I see the Rose Bowl as a challenge, and I believe that things are improving out there all the time".
It was widely reported that Pietersen wanted to move to the south, preferably to a Division One county, but Surrey and Middlesex, at one time to be the leading candidates to sign him, both said that they were not interested. Speculation then centred on Kent, but in the end he plumped for a move to Southampton.
And so Pietersen, who next month will be joining the England one-day squad for their tour of Zimbabwe, opted for the challenge of helping Hampshire try to maintain their new position in the top flight.
Pietersen was born in Pietermaritzburg and has an Afrikaner father, although his mother was born in Kent. He emigrated from South Africa because he felt that the quota system limited his opportunities.