'Boots up!' Kevin Pietersen departs UAE hinting at the end of cricket career

Former England batsman has opted not to travel with the Quetta Gladiators to Lahore for the Pakistan Super League play-off

Kevin Pietersen, third from left and pictured playing for the Quetta Gladiators in 2017, has seemingly played his last professional game. Satish Kumar / The National
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Kevin Pietersen has suggested that he has called time on his playing career after deciding not to travel with the Quetta Gladiators to Lahore for their Pakistan Super League play-off.

The former England batsman, who has been publicly edging to retirement over recent months, helped Quetta qualify from the group stages and move closer to a third successive final appearance in the Twenty20 tournament.

However, after playing all of their matches so far in Sharjah and Dubai, Quetta will now return to Pakistan to face Peshawar Zalmi at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday - and Pietersen has opted not to travel .

In a video posted on the Quetta Gladiators' official Twitter feed, Pietersen said: "Hi guys, it is with a very hardened heart, a very sorry heart, that I have to leave Dubai, going back to London now.

"I wish I could travel but unfortunately family's very important, family decision, and I hope that you can respect my decision and my family's decision not to travel."

Pietersen said he would continue to support Quetta as they looked to finally win the tournament after losing in the 2016 and 2017 finals.

He added: "I'll be totally on top of everything we do over the next couple of days. Third time lucky, remember."

Quetta tweeted: "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."

The decision not to travel to Pakistan appears to mean that Pietersen's final game as a professional cricketer came on Thursday, when he scored seven runs in Quetta's six-wicket defeat to Islamabad United in Sharjah.

Pietersen, 37, posted a brief Tweet on Friday night which appeared to hint at retirement, saying: "BOOTS UP. Thank you."

Accompanying an Instagram picture apparently showing Pietersen with his feet up on a plane, he wrote: "Boots up! Feet up! Family, animals, golf...!"

A T20 specialist since his high-profile England exile in the wake of the 2013/14 Ashes, Pietersen has been saying farewell wherever he has gone over the last year.

The South Africa-born batsman played his final professional match in England with Surrey last summer and bid farewell to the Big Bash with the Melbourne Stars in January.

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 captained England - briefly - and was Man of the Tournament as England won the World T20 title in 2010.

His international career ended acrimoniously, never playing for England again after a high-profile falling out following the Ashes whitewash four years ago.

T20 country-hopping followed, along with a move into broadcasting.

Former teammates and opponents have been paying tribute to the batsman, including the likes of ex-England captain Michael Vaughan and former West Indies skipper Darren Sammy.

Vaughan said Pietersen was the best batsman he had played with.

He Tweeted: "Well done @KP24 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 .. #WellDone"