Befitting such a polarising career, Kevin Pietersen’s demise from international cricket has created a fierce divide of opinion in the cricket world.
Former Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist said the gifted right-hander had suffered the common fate of the superstar who had a persona bigger than the game, officials eventually tiring of the disruptions wrought by the matchwinner.
But others, including former England stalwarts Alec Stewart and Michael Vaughan, questioned the inability of administrators to handle the brilliant middle-order star.
Pietersen trudges off the field after being dismissed in the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney. Photo: AFP
Gilchrist compared England's issues with Pietersen to attempts at managing wayward AFL talent Brendan Fevola, the former Carlton full-forward whose career was brought to an end because of a string of off-field incidents.
"That’s a big call regarding a big player a big ticket item," Gilchrist told SEN radio on Wednesday.
"He a guy who believes in his own ability as much as anyone I’ve ever come across and he outwardly expresses that unashamedly.
Pietersen was irrepressible when he was on song. Photo: Scott Barbour
"That does divide opinion. Some people think that’s too brash and too arrogant and it’s not the way you go about being in a team sport.
"For me it’s a personality better suited to an individual sport, (but) there is a lot of those qualities and traits required in cricket.
"Kevin’s been an interesting proposition for team management and captains to get on top of. He had a crack at the captaincy himself and that led to an ego clash with the coach at the time so he’s quite a complex character that England has obviously had enough of."
Pietersen during what will seemingly be his swansong game for England, the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Pietersen’s controversial career came to a dramatic end on Tuesday night when officials announced they had "unanimously" decided to rebuild the battered England side without him following their team's abysmal Ashes thrashing in Australia.
Gilchrist said former teammate Shane Warne had often been viewed in a similar light to Pietersen’s ego, but the game’s best-ever leg spinner was significantly different.
"There was no question in his commitment to team and desire to be a good teammate and do the best he can for the team, coupled with that he was the best ever at what he did," Gilchrist said.
The Kevin Pietersen career
The tempestuous career of South African-born England batsman Kevin Pietersen never lacked controversy or drama. Photo: Getty Images
Former England Test wicketkeeper Stewart said it had been a bad decision.
"What is he 33, coming up 34? I still believe he would have had three or four years minimum at the top level ... and he has huge standards that he always looks to met," Stewart said.
"He’s one of the best trainers that I’ve seen and I’m sure he would have wanted to have continued."
Happier times: Pietersen kisses the Ashes urn last year. Photo: AFP
Former England captain Vaughan said questions had to be asked about why team officials were seemingly not capable of managing Pietersen.
He tweeted: "Sad way to end a mavericks England Career. @KP24 will be missed... Would love to know what he does that is unmanageable !!??" and "I care about the England team and that's why I want all the best players in the side. Its sad that we can't manage someone like @KP24".
I would have thought a new coach/director would want a full set of players to decide from himself..!!? IMO that would have included @KP24— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 4, 2014
Pietersen has now joined former coach Andy Flower, right, out the door. Photo: Getty Images
Broadcaster Piers Morgan, a friend of Pietersen, posted a series of bitter tweets, including describing his mood as "****ing furious". Morgan took aim at Alastair Cook by asking the England skipper if he was "still looking at the floor, ... like you were throughout the assassination meeting of @KP24" and signing off with #GutlessTwerp #KPSacked.
He also fired a broadside at England Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton, tweeting: "Has any sporting manager in history made such a complete arse of himself with his very 1st decision? Just go Downton, you fool. #BringBackKP".
However, former Test captain Mike Atherton said Pietersen had simply ran out of supporters among those that counted.
"Ultimately, he ran out of allies during the two days in which the final decision was made to cut adrift England’s leading run-scorer across all formats," wrote Atherton in The Times.
"Even Alastair Cook, the young captain who had taken Pietersen back into the fold after the retirement of Andrew Strauss, now wants to rebuild an England team without him."
Former Test medium-pacer Derek Pringle said Pietersen’s relationship with his team-mates had "shifted from good to bad to indifferent almost as long as he has been in the team".
"His behaviour, as it has done for a while, exasperated those in command. Many felt he was lucky to be given second chance after he messaged South African players about Andrew Strauss in 2012, a betrayal that saw him dropped for the first time in his career," wrote Pringle in The Telegraph.
"His return to the team for the tour of India a few months later meant he had to be on best behaviour, but when that lapsed, as it had done this winter in Australia with talk of stand-up rows with Andy Flower and Alastair Cook, something had to give."
Meanwhile, current players such as West Indies star Chris Gayle reacted with surprise at the decision. Gayle tweeted: "No @KP24 for the Caribbean tour later this month against W.I? That's really sad for English/International cricket! Don't let the fans suffer".