Kevin Pietersen bowled over by 100th Test cap

Pietersen will become just the 10th England player with 100 or more Tests

 England’s Kevin Pietersen   during an England nets session at The Gabba, Brisbane, Australia, yesterday. Photograph:  Gareth Copley/Getty Images

England’s Kevin Pietersen during an England nets session at The Gabba, Brisbane, Australia, yesterday. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

 

Kevin Pietersen acknowledges his mistakes but insists he has no regrets as he approaches the “surreal” moment of his 100th Test match. England’s most talked-about cricketer will reach a century of caps tomorrow at the Gabba, when Alastair Cook’s tourists begin their bid for a fourth consecutive Ashes series triumph.

Pietersen will become just the 10th England player with 100 or more Tests to his name. It all so nearly did not happen, however, for the South Africa-born batsman — because of last year’s breakdown of a working relationship with then captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.

Only a period of “reintegration” ensured Pietersen’s return for last winter’s tour of India, and he has since added a historic series victory there and last summer’s Ashes success to his CV.

High and lows
Pietersen addressed a media conference at the Gabba yesterday, for the first time apart from in a post-match environment since Colombo 14 months ago, and did not seek to hide away from his lows as well as his highs.

The former include sending “provocative” text messages about Strauss to his compatriots in the South Africa touring team, at a time in summer 2012 when differences with his employers at the England and Wales Cricket Board had become intractable.

Pietersen said: “When you’re riding the crest of a wave and everything’s going really well for you, it’s hard to learn. “But when you make mistakes in life, business, anything, that’s when you learn.

“I think as a person, you grow when you make mistakes. “We’ve all made mistakes in all our lives. “That’s when you learn the most, and if I hadn’t learned I wouldn’t be sitting (here) on the eve of my 100th Test match.” The 33-year-old insists he holds no grudges against those who have chronicled his turbulent yet brilliant career, warts and all.

“I think 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. “The good has been good; the bad has been bad. Where my career is at now, I don’t think I can be any happier. I’m incredibly happy.”

Elite group
As he stands on the verge of joining an elite group, Pietersen can scarcely believe the company he is about to keep. Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement after his 200th Test three days ago, and centuries reached by England footballer Frank Lampard and New Zealand rugby player Dan Carter spring to his mind.

“I sit here now still not believing I’ve got 100 in the bank on Thursday. “It’s quite surreal. Talking about 100th Test matches is a weird feeling for me personally. “If you look at what happened last week with Sachin, saw in the rugby with Dan Carter and saw Lampard in the football — these are the kind of guys I look up to and wish I was.”