Pietersen relaxed about hot reception

Kevin Pietersen will be happy to carry on playing the 'pantomime villain' for South African crowds - because it makes him laugh.

It is also likely to mean England's mercurial batsman will be making important runs against the country of his birth in the forthcoming four-Test series.



Pietersen, still searching for a first big score since his return from four months out following Achilles surgery, is finding it a tough challenge to regain his best form.



But one thing the 29-year-old is entirely unconcerned about is the occasionally raucous and unwelcoming receptions from partisan home crowds as he makes his way out to bat.



The boos and whistles were especially notable before and after his short innings in England's one-day international victory over their hosts in Port Elizabeth.



But he said: "(Australia captain Ricky) Ponting gets abused in England; (South Africa skipper Graeme) Smith gets it in England; I get it here - many players get it all over the world."



Pietersen has no problem that reactions reserved for the best players in the world are coming his way.



"It's something you just have to deal with, and I don't mind it at all," he insisted.



"I find it quite amusing really. Of course you hear it. But some players, it gets them going. It certainly does with me."



The complicating factor for Pietersen is he decided to leave his native country and instead seek an international career with England.



That proved an astute move - in five years of Test cricket so far, he averages almost 50 - but appears to be one that still rankles with some South Africans.



Pietersen has no regrets.



"I take it as a compliment," he said.



"They don't want you out there playing; they want to try to get you off your guard. I seem to enjoy it.



"I hope everybody just respects the good cricket both teams play - and respects a good sportsman. That's all you can ask for."



Pietersen's hope is he can continue to keep the hecklers in full voice - by making big runs - but he is not finding it easy to re-attune himself at such short notice to the demands of cricket at the highest level.



"It's tough when you come back after a long injury - mentally and physically," he explains.



"It's quite difficult and I'm finding it quite hard.



"But I'm doing everything that I can to try to get myself back to where I used to be."



Several England cricketers of recent vintage have gone through similar experiences with injury - notably former captain Michael Vaughan and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff - and Pietersen reports he has had a lot of support and advice on how to make a successful return.



"People who've gone through this, had injuries and come back, have sent me good text messages - saying, 'it takes time', and 'just don't put pressure on yourself'.



"You've just got to go out there and do the hard work - which will eventually pay off.



"I'm not shy of hard work - and I've been putting in some really, really long hours."



Pietersen's situation has not been helped by the awful weather that has followed England around in South Africa, washing out two one-day internationals and robbing them of important practice.



"It's obviously really frustrating with this weather," Pietersen continued.



"But I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself to perform straightaway, because I know it's simply just not going to happen like that.



"I've got to wait and wait and wait - and hope it comes round soon."



The stakes are high for hosts who have just been knocked off the top of the world rankings by India and tourists still buoyed by last summer's Ashes victory, and determined not to repeat the mistakes of five years ago when they followed a long overdue victory over Australia with defeat in Pakistan.



"Both teams know how big this tour is going to be and we have to understand we're going to have to play really good cricket to win the series," Pietersen added.



"The confidence is good but we're also not going to take our foot off the gas.



"We know that, post-Ashes 2005, we took our foot off the gas and things did not go according to plan.



"There were injuries to big players in the squad but all our injuries appear to be under control at the moment - which is great news."



England are well led by captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower, and there is also good news of senior fast bowler James Anderson's knee trouble - which appears to be under control, despite another injection over the weekend.



"Both Andys are keeping us on our toes and we just want to continue where the boys left off at the Oval," said Pietersen.



"I had dinner with Jimmy last night and he said he's going to be absolutely fine - so I don't see a single problem with him."



Suggested Topics
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
science
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before