Those who accuse Kevin Pietersen of only caring for one opinion – his own – may need to reassess. England's best batsman has admitted that widespread criticism of the poor shots that saw him dismissed in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff – an ungainly, lunging sweep in the first innings, a misjudged leave in the second – has been hard to deal with.
Despite the fact that Pietersen top-scored in England's first innings with 69, and contributed many more runs than Ravi Bopara, Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss over the course of two innings, attention has focused on his batting failures – a fact he finds "sad and frustrating".
"It's hard. It's difficult when you come in for a lot of criticism when you don't think it's justified," he said. "But you just have to concentrate on your job, making sure you work just as hard, you don't get disillusioned and don't let anyone grind you down because there are four Tests to go."
He insists that he will not allow the adverse comments to affect him. "I'm 29," he said. "There are still five or six years left in me, so you can't let a few days of negativity or feedback [upset you]. There's been a ding-dong over me. It's sad and frustrating but you have to keep doing the business."
Given his record, it is understandable that more should be expected of him than others: Pietersen has been far and away England's finest batsmen since he came into the side in 2005. Even in the last Ashes series in 2006-7, when Australia won 5-0, Pietersen averaged more than 50.
"Maybe it's because of what I've done in the past five years. You get a tag attached to you," he said. "It's hard because you are identified as the big wicket or whatever.
"So I concentrate on the little, simple things: batting, catching, concentrating on helping my mates and making sure we try to win."
The Hampshire batsman, who resigned following a brief stint as captain at the start of the year following a dispute with the former coach Peter Moores, also denied he was a divisive influence on the side and said that captain Strauss had his full backing. "What I try to do is be honest and supportive of my captain and my team-mates – I help out wherever I can," said Pietersen. "A lot of people don't know me. If the people who write what they write knew me, there would be a lot of different things said.
"There have been a lot of people who I've met in the past couple of years that have said to me: 'I can't believe how people get you so wrong'. Those things that people text and tell you are really nice."
While there are those who want Pietersen to be more cautious, the former England captain Michael Vaughan has urged him to keep on attacking. "What we expect from Kevin is for him to play to his maximum ability. He got out playing a shot he'd played before and knocked for one," Vaughan said.
"But what I'd have liked to see was Kevin taking on [Nathan] Hauritz down the ground a few more times and hitting him for six. I've seen him do it to Shane Warne, so I'd like him to attack a little bit more."Reuse content