Do you remember the old Kevin Pietersen, the one who to the outside world seemed like a party boy from South Africa who was chasing the limelight. Since this time I believe his perception has changed so much. If you cast your mind back to around 2004, Pietersen was the young confident guy who had a mow hawk which was sometimes blue and sometimes blonde. He had publicly stated his love for his new country and showed this off with his new tatoo of the three lions.
His so called chasing of the limelight seemed to be on the field as well as off. The media made him into a bit of a celebrity after his marriage to popstar Jessica Taylor. It was as if they wanted him to be crickets answer to David Beckham.
The young KP seemed to have bags of talent and potential coupled with a reputation for not being a team player. This on a few occasions may have come across on the field with many believing that he sometimes used to play for personal glory rather than the teams success. I do not know the man personally but it always seemed like he was an individualist rather than a team player. After following his career a bit more I can say I was wrong about him.
He does not fit the normal stereotype of your regular English test player like others such as Alistair Cook do. He was brash, aggressive, very confident that he would become one of the worlds best players and carefree of any persons opinions. The key events of his early international career were the ODI tour of South Africa where he was given alot of abuse for leaving the country of his birth and the final Ashes test of 2005 where he announced himself to the cricket world.
A stick that people have used to beat KP with is the fact that he is South African, so every time he fails to perform people mention this. I do not know why this matters to England fans as he is the best English batsman. He has shown time and time again that he wants to play for England, and has been good for them as well.
Recently there has been an issue with Pietersen and the other players, which lead to an unfair exile. This and the Peter Moores affair which lead him to be stripped of the England captaincy are odd occasions where he has not faired well. At the start of his international career I would have put money on him being dropped by England for his awkward personality.
He has been the star for England since his first Ashes series, from this point onwards he has always been expected to be the best batsman for England. Like any person he has had his dips in form, but mainly seen good times with England. Another good thing about him is that he is a big game player, he has seen England to number one in the test rankings and a world T20 title. More recently Alistair Cook has taken over the mantle as being the go to batsman, this has been a really interesting period for KP. He is not talked about as often as Cook any more, this may not have sat well with the old Pietersen.
I think the old Kevin Pietersen would have tried to be more aggressive and make sure people talk about his game. In this period where Cook just keeps scoring runs he has quietly scored runs. He was a star in the Ashes win down under as well at the test victory in India, mixing well with the in form Cook. In my opinion he knows that there are two big series coming up which are back to back ashes and has put his head down waiting to star in these. I have no doubt that he will be a star in these series.
The reason I think he is focused on this double ashes series is that he had the chance to quit international cricket in 2012 and become a player like Chris Gayle, travelling around the world making big money in T20 cricket. He choose to go back to England and it would not surprise me if he ends up winning both of the series and retires.
He also has changed his perception off the field, it is evident that he is now a more mature person. His press conferences used to be very defensive, now he knows when to joke. He famously called Yuvraj Singh a pie chucker, for constantly getting him out. You would think that this could be something to get the Indian public as his enemy, on the contrary he is loved in India. Pietersen can count many top top international players as his friends, people such as Shane Warne, Darren Gough and Virender Sehwag. He always tweets when he arrives in India, this is normally in Hindi. From his tweets he does not seem like the arrogant person that I believed him to be at all, he seems very humble and down to earth.
I would say that because of the IPL his popularity has sky rocketed, he is now one of the most loved cricketers in India. This was rewarded by him earning a role on Indian television for the world T20 which he had been left out of by England. He has been the only England player that has made any sort of impact on the Indian Premier League, and constantly advocates for teams to buy others.
Being a Delhi Daredevils fan he is the stand out name in the side, despite there being many top stars. It was evident that their campaign fell short after he left last season. KP is in my top three players currently, he is only beaten by MS Dhoni, who has a similar story to KP and Virat Kohli. He is always a player I enjoy watching as a neutral and a player I fear when playing against India.