Sri Lanka in England 2011 May 24, 2011

Pietersen out to silence detractors


Only three Tests have elapsed since Kevin Pietersen produced the highest score of his international career, an unanswerably dominant 227 against Australia in Adelaide that ended the longest run-drought of his career. Whether, however, that was a freakish deluge or the start of a new phase in his ceaselessly fascinating career is a question that looks set to dominate England's early-season agenda.

Pietersen was certainly talking the talk as he faced the press in Cardiff ahead of Thursday's first Test. With a firm desire to look to the future, but an avoidable urge to hark back to the recent past, he reiterated his ambition in all three formats of the game, while at the same time taking a swipe at those in the media whom he believes are out to get him.

In particular, he took umbrage at reports that surfaced during the World Cup that he was preparing to retire from one-day cricket. That story gathered momentum when Pietersen turned down Andy Flower's invitation to "bite the bullet" after being diagnosed with a hernia, and instead flew home from the campaign to undergo surgery - via a night out in a notorious London nightclub.

When asked if it was a mistake to be seen out on the town while his team-mates were struggling to avoid early elimination from the World Cup, Pietersen was defiant. "Not at all. I don't see why I can't spend some time with friends and family members I have not seen all winter. I was really, really down at the time and wherever I went, whatever I was going to do, it was going to make the papers. Would I do it again? Yes I would."

"I was in ridiculous amounts of pain, trying hard to get through it game-by-game," he said of his injury. "I was shocked [by Flower] because I knew the pain I was in, but it's gone, I have dealt with all that kind of stuff. I don't want to look back. Everyone tries to bring me back in press conferences but I just want to forget about stuff and continue looking forward. I am fit, very ready, and very raring to go. The bug is back."

But beyond the bravado, the doubts still linger. As England embark on the start of a new four-year cycle, with the stated aim of becoming the No. 1 nation in world cricket, Pietersen's place in the pecking order has never seemed so precarious, not least because his mindset has never been harder to second-guess. He finished the 2010 home season on the sidelines after being dropped for the first time during the one-day series against Pakistan, while his scores for Surrey this year - 30 and 48 against Cambridge MCCU, and 58 (out of 506) against Essex - are hardly definitive proof of his renewed hunger.

With England's top three of Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott set in stone, and Ian Bell firmly embedded in the middle order, Pietersen is at best the fifth batsmen out of six on the current team-sheet. With Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara scrapping hard for that final berth, it could be that such pressure is what he needs to push on towards the greatness he still believes is within his grasp.

"There is a lot of chat about all these pressures on players," said Pietersen. "I think the strength in depth in English cricket is amazing and there are probably only a couple in the team who are not under pressure and that's great.

"But there are so many people who say I'm not loving it, that cricket's not my thing anymore," he added. "I love cricket, cricket is my everything. I'm 30 years of age right now, what would I do tomorrow if I didn't have cricket? I have only achieved half of what I've achieved in the game. I want to get 10,000 Test runs, I'm only four or five hundreds away from having the most for an Englishman [22]. I'm not far from what I want to achieve in the game.

"I just want a fair crack at it, because there's a lot of people saying things about me that are not true. A lot of people writing things about me that are not true, saying I want other things. I'm 30 years of age, I want to play for another five years. I don't want any more bouts of surgery, I want to get through doing what I want to do.

"I had a bad couple of years. I went away last September to do some soul-searching and sort myself out and tick some ticks and work with people who really know me inside out, and a month later I got a double-hundred in Adelaide and averaged 60 in the Ashes and I'm back playing as well as I have ever played. I am happy where I am as a cricketer at the moment."

Whether England are happy with where he is, is another matter entirely. Six years ago, when Pietersen exploded into Test cricket with his starring role in the 2005 Ashes, he was driven by a furious desire to prove his doubters wrong, and silence all those who criticised his motives and questioned his switch of allegiance from South Africa. Now, the doubters are mounting once again, but for vastly different reasons. Nevertheless, he knows what he needs to do to secure the last word.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Deleepa on May 27, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    You'll never get 10,000 test runs. Because you are not that good! Only got that big head of yours.....Great PLayers get 10,000 runs.

  • Dummy4 on May 26, 2011, 17:25 GMT

    Cool comments. Couldn't have agreed more with 5wombats. He needs to stay away from Press and spend more time on the pitch. Score a couple of big hundreds in a series and everybody will shut up.

    There are a lot of good players waiting in the line (rightly pointed out in the article) and I don't think talking can carry him to the next series. The only think that can is - match winning hundreds. Thats all that matters - irrespective of what records he wants to set or what people talk about in talk-shows or how he feels about his achievements as a cricketer... nothing really matters.

    Whether he can - I don't think anybody doubts that but will he? I don't know. Only time will tell. I would love to see a 200-ball 150 from him, for sure.

  • Jason on May 26, 2011, 13:15 GMT

    @Yevghenny, It still doesnt alter the fact that KP cant be classed as a match winner when hes only made 3 significant contributions out of 17 games, since returning from injury in Oct 2009. Stop reading what the press say and start looking at the facts.

  • Chetan on May 26, 2011, 9:59 GMT

    @Valavan: Is the T20I really means you the best part of Cricket. if so, then I'm sorry to say u really don't know much about cricket. Ranking is not just the all. Playing a good cricket overall means a lot. no matters whether u loose or win. There's one team to loose and one to win. One who plays better cricket and hold their nerve will win. SA doesn't ever win a world cup that doesn't mean that SA cricket team is bad. Right now India has played a good cricket since 2007 which leads them top of the ranking. Meanwhile in ODI's Australia is at top. But their most points where from the past performances. The points they gain when they were at their best. @Trickstar: first u boost up ur knowledge of Cricket then ask some one else. I think so England are more media concern over India. Don't u? Just see KP, cook, even ur coach and others too. See ur hand b4 pointing 1 finger to other. 3 fingers r pointed towards u.

  • Martin on May 25, 2011, 19:21 GMT

    @Optic; I'm sorry for your hernia issues. Regarding KP - I've said before and I'll say it again; this guy needs to shut up and play. I am not a KP basher - I'm a VERY frustrated KP watcher. I was at the Oval in 2005, I saw THAT INNINGS! When you have seen something like that it's inclined to leave an impression. An innings of genius, in the circumstances - amazing. So, we know he can play & that's all we want him to do - PLAY. It's a huge mistake for him to talk! Meanwhile; it's nice to see so many commenters - @Sudhakaar, @Anna Bhar and other friends from India joining in. @Ankit Singh; your "It seems england are content with regaining ashes even if it is at the cost of being at the bottom of the rankings table" is a particularly memorable one. Keep 'em coming.

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2011, 18:11 GMT

    @Valavan - I do not regard 20-20 as cricket itself :). So if Indians do not win it does not matter. Chill my friend

    @Trickstar- I am a great fan of English Cricket and SL cricket, to put in correct perspective I am a great cricket fan :). Seeing the current form I think SL will win whether Murali is there or not.Anyhow may the best team win :)

    Regarding Petersen - He should concentrate only on cricket. He is a wonderful player and hope he finds some form

  • G on May 25, 2011, 14:38 GMT

    "and once you take out the 227 runs from Adelaide, his average drops from 60 to 26.6. That doenst make him a match winner."

    To be honest, that makes you sound like a bit of a pudding - let me get this right, a person's average drops if you take away a match winning double century??? HOLD THE BACK PAGE!!!

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    @trickstar... India are the no.1 test side in the world.. and the WORLD CHAMPIONS in ODI's ... and as far as england go, they can only take ashes seriously.. anything else does'nt matter to them... does it..? It seems england are content with regaining ashes even if it is at the cost of being at the bottom of the rankings table... SO.... this summer.... there is going to be an england wipe-out..!

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    Looking forward to this one, both teams seem fired up. Should be a great start to the summer !

  • Jason on May 25, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    @ammanna, whether KP performs or not is irrelavent, of the 3 ashes games England won he only performed well in one (Adelaide), the other two games he was over shadowed by Trott, Cook and even Bell with the bat and lets not forget the bowlers at Melbourne and Sydney. In total he manged 360 runs from 6 innings, and once you take out the 227 runs from Adelaide, his average drops from 60 to 26.6. That doenst make him a match winner.

  • No featured comments at the moment.