Kevin Pietersen today swatted aside Australian attempts to goad him as he prepared for his 100th Test by revealing he aims to play for England for at least two more years.
In the build-up to the first Ashes Test, which starts at the Gabba at midnight tomorrow, Pietersen has been baited mercilessly by the local media, who have labelled him “arrogant” and claimed he is unpopular with team-mates.
None of their barbs are original but Pietersen caused a stir on Twitter by describing Brisbane as “boring”. The local press loved it, with the front page of the Courier Mail screaming “Pietersen Bags Out ‘Boring’ Brisbane”, and the 33-year-old expects a fierce reception when he walks out to bat for the first time in the series.
“I can’t help people thinking I’m arrogant,” Pietersen told the Evening Standard. “A lot of great sportsmen have that little bit of something to them that makes them try to be the best and wake up every single day wanting to improve. I call it confidence; you guys [the media] call it arrogance because it makes for a better headline.
“I actually respect the Australian journalists for the way they come at our positions. I think it’s fantastic. I’ve had it for many years and I know when I walk out to bat the Gabba is going to clout me.
“It’s something I laugh about and that’s why I responded the way I did [on Twitter]. I respect them for having a go at the English and certainly trying to club me. It’s brilliant. That’s what Ashes cricket is about.
“With the way I’ve played — certainly against the norm — I was clearly going to be identified and targeted by journalists. I’ve clearly had to back it up on the field and I’ve had fun. It’s been a great journey.”
Pietersen needed a cortisone injection in his knee earlier this month to improve his chances of lasting the series and there has been speculation for most of the year that he could call time on his England career at the end of this series.
“It’s my opinion I’ll be playing for a while yet,” he said. “I’m loving playing with this side, pulling on an England jersey and arriving in Brisbane.
“I’d love to score 10,000 Test runs and the World Cup 2015 is something I’d love to have a go at. So there’s that, and I’ve got home and away Test hundreds against each major nation — apart from South Africa.
“I think our tour to South Africa is in 2015-16. So if the old man [himself] can survive until then, I’d like to get there as part of the team. I sit here now still not believing I’ll have 100 Tests in the bank on Thursday.
Pietersen, however, did admit to errors of judgement during his time as an England player.
Pietersen, a controversial figure both on and off the field, was banished from the side during the summer of 2012 for sending text messages about then-captain Andrew Strauss to members of the touring South African squad.
Strauss resigned later that summer before Pietersen was restored to the side. Pietersen revealed he had met the former skipper yesterday and, while not referring directly to the incident, the 33-year-old hinted that he harboured some regret.
“I had lunch with Strauss,” he said. “Do you ever look at things and think why you’ve done things? We all make mistakes. We’re all getting on really well. We’re all winning together, we’ve played a lot of cricket together.
“These things happen. You have it in all walks of life. You have ups; you have downs. You learn from the ups. You learn from the downs.”