Ever since Kevin Pietersen made his first steps in English cricket it’s been impossible to take our eyes off him. The anticipation of his qualification to represent England; his stunning entrance into international cricket; those unforgettable Ashes moments in ’05; his ill-fated stint as captain; the glorious double ton at Adelaide to help lift the urn Down Under; and so on, and so on.
Here at AOC we’ve followed him as closely as anyone; in fact a suited and booted, bleach-blond 24-year-old touted as the saviour of English cricket graced the cover of just our third issue back in July 2004. Two more exclusive interviews with Pietersen have followed in the years since – often he’s been charm personified, occasionally he’s been frosty and defensive, but he’s always proved entertaining.
As the Pietersen story takes yet another dramatic twist – with reports suggesting that he is set to be added to the touring party to India having originally been left out of the squad – we look back at his evolution in English cricket through extracts from those three interviews.
Fiona Nicholson spoke to Pietersen back in July 2004 after a hugely successful winter with England A, just six months before he announced his arrival on the international stage with three centuries in the ODI series against South Africa.
KP on… a topless photoshoot for Notts
“There were four of us forced to do it. Apparently we were the four best looking lads at Trent Bridge, but I dunno about that. It was fun and as long as it brings other interest and other people to the game I’m up for it.”
KP on… maturing as a batsman
“I’ve had a really good winter with the Academy and with the A team in India and I think I’ve come back a much better player. I’m now trying to play more mature, matchwinning innings, not just flash-in-the-pan knocks and I’ve started this year grinding out every single score I’ve made.”
KP on… choosing England
“I wanted to play cricket where you are selected on merit, where I could enjoy myself and not worry that even if I was performing I still might not be playing in the next fixture. I wanted to have no pressures on me except the pressures of scoring runs and taking wickets.”
KP on… being the saviour of English cricket
“I’m not the saviour of anything yet. I just want to concentrate on playing well for Notts at the moment. My first aim is to win a trophy with Notts and if the England call comes then so be it.”
KP on… singing the national anthem
“I sang every word. I passed a few tests in the dressing room last year. I sang it twice actually, so it wasn’t just a one off and the English boys couldn’t believe it. Little do they know how much I know and how much support I give this country.”
Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior on tour with England A in 2004
Of The Soil
Phil Walker sat down with Pietersen in August 2009, a few months after losing the England captaincy.
KP on… finding acceptance
“I realise that I’m South African playing for England and all the connotations that go with it, but I find it so difficult that I’ve always got to prove things to people. That’s one of the hardest things that I face in my career.”
KP on… making the headlines
“Some days you say things which on a good day you might not have said, but on a bad day you tend to say them. Like everyone does. But I’ve got to live with the fact and realise that what I say also makes the headlines, which I’ve realised in the last couple of months again.”
KP on… his media image
“It’s a tricky one. Because people who know me know exactly what I’m like. And it’s quite difficult, because you look at the stuff that’s written or the stuff’s that said, and people who don’t know me come to their own conclusions. Believe me, I am a very warm-hearted, kind, polite person who does what he does to the best of his ability.”
KP on… career targets
“I’ve probably got five, maybe six years left playing for England. I’ve got goals in Test match cricket. I want to try and score 10,000 Test match runs. I’m playing in a happy dressing room, a winning dressing room, playing with a winning combination.”
KP on… taking risks
“I’m a calculated risk-taker. I’m a positive player who has to take criticism. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t – that’s life.”
The Lone Ranger
And Phil Walker caught up with Pietersen again last July as England prepared to launch their assault on the top of the Test rankings against India.
KP on… dealing with criticism
“It used to annoy me. I used to get all huffy and puffy and puff my chest out and say: ‘What the hell? Why are they saying this?’ But you know what? I don’t care now; I’ve got absolutely no interest in what’s written.”
KP on… straight talking
“It’s got me into trouble lots of times. People don’t like to be honest, but I like to be honest. I’m not a person who wants to beat around the bush and say things that I don’t feel. I want to be the person I am and that’s who I’m going to be for the rest of my career.”
KP on… falling out of love with the game
“I wasn’t interested at all in what I was doing. I was doing it because I had to do it, and because there’s nothing else I could have done.”
KP on… whether he’d captain England again
“I’d take it. I’ve given it a lot of thought. I think there’s definitely enough water under the bridge for me to take the job, and if given the opportunity I’ll take it with both hands and know that I’ll be able to do a better job, even though statistically I wasn’t that bad as captain.”