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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor