The Ashes aftermath September 14, 2005

Pietersen lets the glory sink in


Kevin Pietersen lives up his hour of glory © Getty Images

The morning after the night before and Kevin Pietersen could still not quite comprehend the scale of his achievement in steering England to Ashes glory. The South African-born batsman, who produced a heroic 158 to secure the draw that clinched a series win over Australia, revelled in the adulation of thousands of fans who lined the streets of London to salute their heroes.

"It is pretty difficult to say personally how I feel. I think I will feel it today or tomorrow," he said. "This is the first time I have seen the public since the game. It will probably sink in in a couple of days' time."

After his amazing innings on Monday, Pietersen provoked huge cheers every time supporters spotted his streaked hair, fully vindicating his decision to opt to play for the country where his mother was born.

"Just to have a look and see what is happening is pretty special," he said before boarding the open-topped bus that carried the England players and their partners to Trafalgar Square.

"It is amazing, fantastic - for the profile of the game - and there is an absolute buzz. As English cricketers it is amazing."

Pietersen opted to play for England after deciding that his chances of playing for South Africa would be compromised by his native country's policy of giving priority to young black players as part of its efforts to overcome the legacy of apartheid for the sport.

Three centuries in one-day internationals against South Africa during the last northern hemisphere winter established Pietersen as an England regular, and he has quickly forged a strong bond with the rest of the squad.

"We are friends who enjoy each each others' success," he said. "It is remarkable to be part of this England team, everybody loves being in each other's company. The whole summer has been fantastic."

Pietersen would not be drawn on the abuse he received while playing for England in South Africa. "I'm not even interested in South Africa or the crowd [during England's tour], I'm just interested in here," he said.