Kevin Pietersen has revealed the upcoming KFC Big Bash League could be the final act of his illustrious cricket career, admitting his energy to keep playing is "dwindling".
Since being controversially banished from the England Test side following their 2013-14 Ashes whitewash, Pietersen has become one of the most sought-after T20 players in domestic leagues around the world.
But the 37-year-old admits his fourth BBL season with the Melbourne Stars might be his last playing appearance anywhere before he calls time on a top-flight cricket career that began nearly two decades ago in his native South Africa.
"I am definitely coming to the end of my playing time," Pietersen told cricket.com.au. "So I am definitely going to enjoy the last few digs.
"It's fairly close.
"It's the practice that you look at and you just think, 'do I want to do it?'
"I've still got the energy at the moment but it's dwindling."
Asked directly if this could be the last time cricket fans see him play, Pietersen said: "Possibly."
In January last year, the Stars announced that Pietersen had signed a contract that tied him to the club until the end of this BBL season.
The dynamic batsman pulled out of this year's edition of the Indian Premier League ahead of the auction, while he played his final match in the United Kingdom in July after signing off with a two-game stint with Surrey.
He has been retained by his Pakistan Super League side Quetta Gladiators following last month’s draft, having played in the first two editions of the United Arab Emirates-based tournament, though his involvement in that tournament (which begins in February) is unclear*.
Pietersen said although he's determined to help the Stars attain their first BBL title this summer and pass on his wisdom to their younger players, he’s able put the tournament into perspective.
"I’m coming to the end of my career," said the former England captain.
"My career is not going to be defined on how I play in the Big Bash.
"My career has already been defined by all my ups and downs though a long career.
"It’s my job to come here and help others, help the youngsters, be a good influence, be a positive influence on the team.
"That’s what I’ve done for three or four years."
Should he hang up the boots after this summer, it would end a long-running playing association with Australia.
The right-hander stormed onto the international scene during the 2005 Ashes with a debut century at The Oval that helped England end a 16-year drought against their bitter rivals. Pietersen also played integral roles in England triumphs in 2010-11 in Australia and the 2009 and 2013 campaigns at home.
His 227 in Adelaide in 2010 is regarded as the one the finest innings the famed rivalry has witnessed, though England ended Pietersen's international career in a wholesale clean out following the 2013-14 whitewash.
Pietersen has been the leading run-scorer for Melbourne Stars in each of his three seasons with the BBL club, though a maiden title remains elusive for the MCG-based side despite being a consistent presence in the finals since the tournament's inception.
While his willingness to speak his mind and natural flair made him a target of Australian crowds during his international career, Pietersen suggests the BBL changed his perception of the country.
"I absolutely love Australia," he said.
"Great golf courses and great cities … Magnificent restaurants, great people.
"I had a love-hate relationship when I played for England but I've been wearing this (pointing to his Stars shirt) for three or four seasons, I love this place.
"Whenever I get the opportunity to come to Australia with Australians and be part of the Australian set up… it's amazing. It's such a beautiful country."
*Following the original publishing of this article, Pietersen tweeted in reply to a query regarding his involvement in the PSL, saying "Yes I will be at PSL".