DateLine: 20th February 2007
One of the most exciting cricketers in the world Kevin Pietersens background is as interesting as his game or his lifestyle. Outspoken in his views and enthusiastic about the game Pietersens self confidence is legendary. This allied to his prodigious gifts, innovative cricketing skills and an uncanny ability to unleash the big hits have made him the crowd puller supreme. He openly ruffled feathers by turning his back on South Africa making it clear that he was fed up with the quota system. His eligibility to play for England came about courtesy an English mother and Pietersen wasted little time in displaying his astonishing talent and penchant for fours and sixes. In South Africa in 2004-05 undeterred by hostile receptions from the home crowds he blazed his way to a series of enthralling knocks the icing on the cake being an unbeaten century at Bloemfontein. Given his style of play there was intense debate whether he should be included in the Test squad but good sense prevailed and he made his debut against Australia at Lords in the famous series in 2005. He straightaway underlined his class by getting 57 and 64 not out (top score in both innings) and in the final Test at the Oval at a critical stage slammed a superb 158 to secure the draw that England needed for their first Ashes triumph in 18 years. More hundreds followed in Pakistan during the winter and against Sri Lanka in 2006 and for long Pietersen was averaging 50 "a phenomenal feat given his batting style". Not so surprising is his strike rate in ODIs that has hovered between 95 and 100 to go with an average of over 50.