The colourful 28-year-old is the man chosen to succeed Yorkshire’s Michael Vaughan as England’s 74th Test skipper and takes over the one-day leadership (both 50 overs and Twenty20) from Paul Collingwood.
Pietersen was always regarded as favourite for the two roles after Vaughan and Collingwood stood down from their positions on Sunday.
The selectors wanted one man to captain all three international sides, rather than continue with the split captaincy method they have adopted over the last year.
The Hampshire batsman, who failed to secure the one-day captaincy when the selectors chose Collingwood a year ago, fought off candidates such as Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Kent captain Robert Key.
“I’m very thrilled and excited to have been given the opportunity to captain England,” said Pietersen, who will lead the side for the first time as Test captain in Thursday’s final Test against South Africa at The Oval.
“It’s a huge honour and a terrific challenge for me at this stage of my international career.
“I have learned a great deal about leadership from playing under both Michael and Paul and fully appreciate the level of responsibility.
“My immediate priority will be this week’s fourth npower Test and I will be devoting all my energies to ensuring that the team are properly prepared and play to their full potential.”
National selector Geoff Miller, who heads the selection panel which chose Pietersen, confirmed his role as an established member of all three international teams was a key factor.
Miller explained: “We were keen to identify a player who could lead the team in all three forms of cricket and bring fresh enthusiasm and ideas to the role of captain.
“Kevin is a world-class player who will command the respect of the dressing room and I am sure he will be looking to lead from the front and work closely with both the players and the coaching staff to bring England success.”
Pietersen will lead a squad showing just one change from that which slumped to a five-wicket defeat at Edgbaston to secure South Africa’s series win with Essex’s Ravi Bopara replacing Vaughan, who has chosen to take a break from the game.
But the squad for the NatWest Twenty20 international and five-match one-day international series shows several changes with key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff coming in to replace Hampshire’s Dimitri Mascarenhas.
Sussex wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior has earned a recall as a replacement for Tim Ambrose, who scored just 10 runs in five innings in the recent series defeat by New Zealand, while uncapped Nottinghamshire all-rounder Samit Patel is included for the first time.