Kevin Pietersen says ‘Ciao, cricket’ as England player appears to retire

Kevin Pietersen said previously that he did not envisage playing cricket beyond the end of 2018, and would call time on his cricket career. (AFP)
Updated 17 March 2018
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Kevin Pietersen says ‘Ciao, cricket’ as England player appears to retire

LONDON: Kevin Pietersen dropped a strong hint that he has retired after the polarizing former England star decided not to join Quetta Gladiators in Lahore for their Pakistan Super League play-off.
Pietersen helped Quetta qualify from the group stages in the Twenty20 tournament, but with the event now moving from the UAE to Pakistan, he appears to have opted to bring down the curtain on his controversial playing career.
The 37-year-old batsman hinted at his long-expected retirement with a Tweet which simply read “Boots Up! Thank you” before expanding on his situation on Saturday.
“Someone just tweeted to tell me that I scored 30000+ runs including 152 fifty’s & 68 hundreds in my pro career,” he wrote on Instagram.
“4 Ashes wins. Home & away! T20 WC win. Beaten India in India. Home & away 100’s in all major Test nations apart from Bangladesh.
“All dedicated to my family who have just been the most unreal supporters through thick & thin! I’m super proud of everything!
“Thank you for all the quite lovely msgs! I loved entertaining you all! Ciao, cricket! I love this game!“
A post on Quetta’s Twitter feed read: “You will be missed @KP24 Great career!! Thank you for everything. Wish you could stayed with us till PSL final but we respect your decision.”
South Africa-born Pietersen is believed to be ready to move on from cricket as he devotes more time to his conservation work with rhinos.
England’s second-highest run scorer across all three forms of the game, Pietersen won four Ashes series and hit 8,181 runs in 104 Tests.
He has been away from the sport’s top level since his England exile started in 2014 when he was a high-profile casualty of an Ashes thrashing in Australia.
The flamboyant Pietersen’s attitude on the tour was criticized by some within the England camp.
He tried to revive his Test career, hitting an unbeaten 355 for Surrey, but it was not enough to convince the England and Wales Cricket Board to take him back.
He embarked on a nomadic T20 career after that, taking in all corners of the globe.
Pietersen, who had a brief and ill-fated spell as England captain, will be best remembered for his sublime innings of 158 in the fifth Test against Australia at The Oval in 2005.
That heroic effort ensured England got the draw they needed to finally reclaim the Ashes, with he also produced epic knocks of 227 against Australia in Adelaide in 2010 and a brilliant 186 against India in Mumbai in 2012.
Given his often divisive nature, it was fitting that Michael Vaughan, a former England captain, admitted his old international team-mate was a tremendous talent, even if he wasn’t always easy to deal with.
“Well done KP on an fantastic career. Not everyone’s Cup of Tea but you will do for me. Best Batsman I had the pleasure to play with. 1st England batsman that put fear into the Aussies,” Vaughan tweeted.


Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

Updated 22 September 2018
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Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

  • Mohamed Salah's record-breaking season has focused attention on the Premier League's Muslim players and fans.
  • Past three players to win Player of the Year have all been Muslim.

LONDON: The face of English football has changed unimaginably since the start of the Premier League in 1992 — not least in terms of the number of Muslim footballers plying their trade in the most popular league in the world.
Twenty-six years ago, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nayim was the league’s only practicing Muslim. Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 40 Muslim players gracing England’s top flight — many of them global stars such as Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. 
This is a hugely welcome development for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and its education adviser, Riz Rehman, who is himself a Muslim. 
Rehman’s role involves him supporting players of different backgrounds — including Muslims — and aiming to boost their participation in football. Little wonder, then, that he is delighted that the past three winners of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award were all Muslim — Salah, Kante and Riyad Mahrez. 
“It’s great for the Muslim community — young people, players, aspiring players and coaches — that three Muslims have won this award and that two of them (Salah and Mahrez) are Arabs,” Rehman told Arab News. 
“It’s very important because it’s created more awareness about Muslims being good at the game and sport in general. It’s important we highlight this.” 
Leading Muslim footballers’ soaring success and stardom have coincided with rising Islamaphobic attacks in Britain following the Brexit vote in 2016. Regressive attitudes toward race, religion and immigration have raged in some parts of the country, as Rehman acknowledged. 
“The biggest misconceptions are that Muslims are all terrorists or that they are all Asian and have long beards,” he said. “Isolated incidents are giving Muslims a bad name.” 
Mercifully for Rehman and the PFA, the likes of Salah and Kante are portraying Muslims in a far more positive — and realistic — light on and off the pitch. 
During his sublime 2017-18 season, Liverpool star Salah topped the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 32 goals and reached the Champions League final. His unstinting brilliance led to him being serenaded with his own song by Liverpool fans, which includes the line: “If he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim too.” 

Mohamed Salah has created a positive image of Muslims during his record-breaking year in the Premier League. 


Many social media posts and videos showing young supporters copying the Egyptian maestro’s overtly religious goal celebration have also been posted many times. This involves him performing sujood, the Islamic art of prostration. 
“Things like that are really helping to bring down barriers in the game,” Rehman said. 
Likewise, he cites the fact that Salah and his Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, visit a mosque every week after training for Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer. 
Meanwhile, only last Saturday the humbleness of Chelsea’s irrepressible midfielder Kante — who has two Premier League winners’ medals and one FA Cup success to his name — was widely hailed. 
After missing his Eurostar train to Paris, Kante — who achieved World Cup glory with France in July — was invited home for dinner by Arsenal fan Badlur Rahman Jalil after meeting him while praying at a London mosque. Remarkably, Kante duly obliged and spent the evening watching Match of the Day and playing the FIFA video game with Jalil and his friends. 
“People are more aware that we have Muslim players in the game,” Rehman said. “Players are not afraid to come out and embrace the fact that they are Muslims and showing the world that they’re good people.” 
But are the PFA — and clubs in the Premier League and England in general — doing enough to increase Muslim representation in English football? 
“I think things are better than ever. A lot of clubs are working hard on all-inclusive programs,” replied Rehman, who was a promising youth-team player at Brentford before injury cut short his career at the age of 17 in 2000. 
“We deliver workshops aimed at club staff to educate them about better engaging Muslim communities. We get staff and coaches together and tell them more about Islam, what it involves and discuss Ramadan and how it might affect performance and participation at all levels. 
“On the back of that, hopefully clubs will deliver programs around the needs of the community. There are clubs like Crystal Palace who are looking to deliver Asian-specific programs to get more Asian kids playing football, more Asian coaches and look at the Muslim community as well.” 
Rehman himself helped organized an Iftar event at League One outfit Portsmouth earlier this year, which “went really well.” 
“We also had players come along to support the day. Clubs such as Crystal Palace, Leicester City and a few others are showing an interest in holding similar events next season. 
“Leicester City are a club with a massive Asian community and we are supporting them with trying to set up some programs.” 
Also high on Rehman’s agenda is encouraging more BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) coaches into the game. As well as sitting on the advisory group for the Premier Leagues Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme, one key program he is involved in is “Sidelined-to-Sidelines.”

N'Golo Kante has been one of the best players in England's top-flight since he moved to the Premier League three years ago. 


This was established by the Zesh Rehman Foundation — which was set up by his brother, a former Fulham defender — to address a shortage of qualified South Asian coaches. 
“We are setting up sessions to try and recruit young coaches at clubs like Crystal Palace, QPR and Chelsea,” Rehman revealed. “Coaches wearing those club badges become role models and are able to influence their own communities and encourage more kids (from under-represented ethnicities) to take up the game.” 
Rehman is keen to recruit more Muslim “ambassadors” at clubs “up and down the country” to emulate the likes of the inspirational Salah. 
“We want them to work with the community, local groups, mosques, and get players to actually go into those communities and build links with the clubs. It’s a two-way thing.” 
Progress has also been made in attracting more Muslim supporters to Premier League matches, Rehman added. Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion are among the clubs that have multi-faith prayer rooms to cater for their increasingly diverse fanbases, he said. 
“Some clubs sell halal food, too, so there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a worldwide game now. Mo Salah has reached out to a lot of people. I think Muslim communities themselves have to make an effort to go to matches. 
“It’s not an overnight success, but you do see different communities represented on match days, week in and week out.”