Life after England began for Kevin Pietersen this week. On Tuesday Pietersen signed a deal with Surrey to appear in the Natwest T20 Blast and on Wednesday he was brought by the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League auction for $1.5 million.
Pietersen will become somewhat of a T20 globetrotter over the coming years, and this week marks the start of that journey.
However, there was some surprise surrounding his IPL auction figure of $1.5 million, with some news sources suggesting he could earn as much as $3 million.
Why was Pietersen’s price lower than expected?
Are his best days behind him? Perhaps.
His best days may well be behind him, but when considering skill in this debate, it is perhaps more pertinent to assess his T20 record specifically, which rather than being poor is simply bare in recent times.
Pietersen has not played nearly as much T20 cricket as most other major players in the last few years, and although he played an integral part in England’s World T20 victory in 2010 his appearances in the format have been sporadic to say the least. And while he still may be capable of playing outstanding match-winning innings, the evidence of that has been in short supply of late.
Was fitness an issue? Again, perhaps.
Pietersen has had difficulties with his troublesome knee throughout his career, and franchises may have been wary of such an injury occurring again.
However, Pietersen will now play less cricket than ever before in his career, and although more energetic, 20 overs in the field is considerably less strain than the days on end accustomed with Test cricket. His knee may well play up, but it’s tenuous to suggest that as a reasoning for his lower-than-expected fee.
Did Delhi get a bargain? Kinda.
If we are talking in cricketing terms and considering his T20 form, then Delhi probably paid a fair and sensible price for Pietersen.
However, if we are looking at this from a commercial and business view, then Delhi did get a cracking deal. Pietersen’s face on an advert will sell shirts, toothpaste and mobile phones aplenty. He’s an irresistible commercial asset.
Why Pietersen was brought for $1.5 million.
The IPL is changing. If anything that is what Pietersen’s price demonstrates. For franchises, cricketing value is growing in importance while business value, although still relevant, is dwindling in significance.
KP’s commercial appeal is huge, but his cricketing appeal is not as big as it used to be, and in a league increasingly decided by the quality and depth of local talent in teams, the franchises will all have been reluctant to splurge big money on a single individual such as Pietersen.
Does this mean Pietersen is in for less money than thought? Not really.
The IPL is at the forefront of franchise league development, and Pietersen’s brand value will supersede any cricketing judgement in leagues such as the Caribbean Premier League and the Big Bash League in Australia.
His IPL salary may be smaller, but he’ll still earn a tonne of money from other leagues and from advertising around the world.
In Pietersen’s new world he is a great commercial product as much as he is a great cricketer.