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Crossing the Boundary by Kevin Pietersen

Release date: 08th September, 2006
Publisher: Ebury Press

List Price: 18.99
Our Price: 9.49
You Save: 9.5 (50%)
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Crossing the Boundary
By Kevin Pietersen
Ebury Press price: £9.49 saving 50% on rrp

At first glance, publishing another autobiography of a cricketer who has played less than two years at international level may be seen as folly on a par with offering £5million for a five-book deal to a 20-year old Premiership footballer with anger management issues.

Yet what makes Kevin Pietersen's effort likelier to succeed than his footballing counterpart, both commercially and critically, is that he is a man with a story to tell.

Born in South Africa to an English mother and an Afrikaans father, Pietersen grew up in a comfortable rather than affluent environment. With three brothers, he made the most of an outdoor lifestyle which promoted sport and physical exercise as essential parts of an all-round education.

But having risen rapidly through the ranks of junior representative cricket and into the Kwazulu Natal state side, he was dropped from the team in favour of a coloured player as a result of South Africa's quota system. Following a meeting with Ali Bacher, head of South African cricket, which left him pessimistic about his future chances, he decided to accept a contract with Nottinghamshire and leave the country of his birth for good.

Pietersen was hugely successful at Nottinghamshire and was soon considered a future England player. Although he had a British passport courtesy of his mother's origins, he still had to complete a four-year residency qualification, but as soon as he did, he was selected for the England one-day side and the rest, of course, is history. His impact was immediate: he scored three centuries in the one-day series in South Africa in 2005 before playing a major role in England's capture of the Ashes last year.

In addition to his cricket, Pietersen has become something of a style icon. His infamous hairstyles, tattoos and penchant for expensive jewellery have provided ample material for other sections of newspapers as well as the sports pages.

For most of this enjoyable book, however, one can hear the authentic voice of Pietersen. His passion for cricket, his obvious self-confidence are all on show and for this we must thank his ghost-writer, Paul Newman. As was the case with his previous collaboration with Nasser Hussain during the writing of his autobiography, 'Playing with Fire', Newman has ensured his subject does not sounds as though he has swallowed a dictionary.

While the main talking point in Pietersen's book is his exit from South Africa and the reasons for it, there are several other controversial areas which, thankfully, he does not attempt to gloss over. For example, his success at Nottinghamshire was tempered by a clash of personalities with coach Mike Newell and captain Jason Gallian and the pair do not escape some acerbic comments. Likewise, Pietersen is singularly unimpressed with the behaviour and demeanour of South African captain Graeme Smith.

As a result of the Nottinghamshire episode, rumours began to circulate which suggested that Pietersen was a difficult person to deal with and not a team man. For a while, this almost put paid to his international progress, but as this autobiography reveals, he has a disarming charm that has allowed him to quickly establish friends and compete on the same level as the world's best cricketers. As Duncan Fletcher, the dour England coach, remarks about the composition of a team with Pietersen in it: "You've got to have the odd nutter." Pietersen fits the bill ideally.

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