What adjective would you use to describe England batsman Kevin Pietersen? Brash? Arrogant? Wanker, perhaps? Deluded KP will tell you he’s introverted?
“I’ve got this reputation of being confident, yet I go and do all these psychology tests and I’m an introvert,” Pietersen tells his former team-mate Andrew Flintoff in an interview to be aired on BBC Radio 5 this week.
“I’m very much an introverted person. I like my own company. I don’t really go out much. Why would I want to? I’ve got that many tapes of myself batting and it’s better than porn! I’ve watched them all heaps!”
“Sometimes when I send the missus down the shops I put on my breathtaking 158 at The Oval from 2005 or the brilliant double-hundred in Adelaide in the 2010-11 series. Then I get myself comfortable and give ‘little KP’ some time in the middle.”
The disarming revelation is one of many in Pietersen’s fascinating chat with Flintoff, a player with whom he occasionally sat next to during the years they shared an England dressing room.
In it, Pietersen discusses how he was possibly the greatest skipper of all time, reaffirms his ambition to clock up 20,000 Test runs and opens up about his hair.
Like many top sportsmen, Pietersen is an A-grade pullthrough but he couldn’t give a fat rat’s clacker as he’s KP and you’re not.
“Look. Having the great Shane Warne as my mate is mint,” says Pietersen. “But he threw the ball twice at me in Brisbane (during the 2006-07 Ashes series) and our discussions got really, really personal in the middle. Off the field he called me ‘c**t’, not KP or PK. He made me sad.”
However the fact that the English were on the receiving end of a 5-0 whitewash by Australia in that series didn’t bother Pietersen one iota.
“I was extremely disappointed. I didn’t deal with it the right way,” he admits. “I got 500 runs and nobody gave me the kudos I deserved.”
“Where was the ‘Well done, Kev! You’re fucking brilliant, KP!’ I was thinking ‘It’s not my fault we got smashed?’ I don’t think that went down well with some people. But fuck the lot of ‘em. I’m KP.”
As for his own legacy, in a closing passage to the interview tinged with regret, he concedes that his tendency towards being a tossbag may leave him short of his ultimate ambitions.
“I’ve always said I just want to get the best out of my talent and, of course, I have,” he explains. “When I’ve finished my career I just want to say I was the most awesomest batsman of all time.”
“But I know that because of the way I play I’m not going to have done the best I could because I wear a lid and you can’t really see my cool hair. I spend a fortune on the skunk stripe,” he lamented.