This, that and the other. Mostly the other
In a shocking development, Kevin Pietersen has signed for Pakistan.
Pietersen's move from Surrey to Sialkot is the third eye-catching transfer of the summer, after Robin van Persie became a Manchester United player and Kristen Stewart became single.
At a hastily convened press conference in Lahore, Pietersen was quick to emphasise that his move was not motivated by money. "It's a freedom thing," said the 32-year-old batsman. "There's a flexibility about Pakistan which will suit my style."
Pressed on this point, Pietersen expressed an affinity with the driving habits of his new compatriots. "On the way from the airport to the PCB, I saw SUVs flatten cyclists, I saw sedans cut across three lanes to take a sharp left turn, I saw 17 children in a back seat, I saw a goat stuffed between a married couple on a motorbike. I saw my future here. It's a place you can do what you want."
The talented strokemaker said he hoped to follow an esteemed tradition of middle-order batsmen from the country, listing Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and VVS Laxman as heroes. "Also, I'm just being honest, but my doosra is better than Saeed Ajmal's," Pietersen said in a humble voice.
The addition of such a star figure in the dressing room is bound to spice up an already hot-headed Pakistan team. Does Pietersen want the captaincy? "No, no, no. This is another reason I'll be happier here. In England there was always insecurity from the leader because I was the only ex-captain in the team. In Pakistan there are usually five or six."
Pietersen has also shown a flair for coming out of retirement, further proof this could be a match made in heaven.
Asked if Pakistan's current "wandering" status might put him off his game, Pietersen said he would feel at home not having a home. "I am like modern finance: I am on the move, I go where the action is. People say home is where the heart is and I am a big man with a big heart. It can contain continents."
It is believed that the recent huge growth in Pakistan's telecommunications industry was a major factor in Pietersen's move. Call- and particularly SMS rates are among the lowest in the region, as mobile companies jostle each other in fierce competition to capture the burgeoning market. "Yes, it did play a part," the player admitted. "I flicked the TV on and at least 70% of all the ads were about mobile deals. This is a forward-looking place."
"Also," said Pietersen, "the chairman has assured me there'll be no quota system here. That's why I left South Africa, but here minorities are not given positions in society when they don't deserve it. Actually, it's quite the opposite," he added with a chuckle.
Pietersen also expressed gratitude at the instant hospitality of his new nation. "In the chairman's office I was looking at a map of Pakistan. In the north-west there was a large province called K-P. I pointed at it and said 'Hey!' and the chairman smiled and said the province had recently been renamed. I must say, I have had many welcomes, but nobody has ever named a whole part of a country after me."
There was but one minor note of discord when a reporter asked Pietersen how he intended to play for the Delhi Daredevils in next year's IPL, given that Pakistanis have been given the cold shoulder for the past three seasons. A sudden expression of horror came to his face, as if he had just been told Andy Flower was marrying his sister. Pietersen put one hand over the microphone and whispered frantically into the ear of the PCB official by his side. At this point the power went, a common occurrence in Punjab of late. In the hot, dark silence of that moment, all that could be heard was a strange, orphaned cry, with an accent part Natal, part southern England, part Eurotrash, a haunting voice from everywhere and nowhere, which muttered: "Will the internet still work? I need to get on Twitter."
An unidentified voice replied "No", and, with that the press conference ended and the next great, unpredictable chapter in Kevin Pietersen's career began.
Imran Yusuf is a writer based in Karachi. He tweets at imranistan
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