England’s Kevin Pietersen insisted Tuesday he is not arrogant, just confident, as he prepares to pad up for his 100th Test in this week’s Ashes opener against Australia.
The South African-born star batsman was splashed on the front page of the local newspaper in Brisbane this week under the headline: “He’s so arrogant not even his own team likes him.”
But Pietersen, 33, tagged “Mr Ego” by the Brisbane Courier-Mail, responded to the claims at a media conference before Thursday’s first Test at the Gabba.
“I’ve got to be confident in my ability,” he said.
“Clearly, as a South African coming into England, I had to really fight some tough battles and had to be single-minded in achieving what I’ve had to try and achieve.
“I can’t help people thinking that I’m arrogant. I think a lot of great sportsmen out there have that little bit of something to them that makes them try and be the best and want to be the best.
“I call it confidence. You guys (media) call it arrogance, it makes for better headlines.”
There has been speculation that Pietersen might retire after this Ashes series, but he made it clear he has unfinished business ahead.
Pietersen wants to retire with 10,000 Test runs (he currently has 7,887), he wants to win the 2015 World Cup with England and he wants to score a Test century in his country of birth, South Africa.
“Fortunately with this side we’ve won everything. We’ve won a T20 World Cup, we’ve won Ashes home and away, we’ve won in India,” he said.
“The World Cup 2015 is something I’d love to have a go at with England. I’ve (also) got home and away hundreds against each country apart from South Africa.
“Our tour to South Africa is 2015-16. If the old man can survive until then, I’d like to get there.”
Pietersen said there was no issue between him and his English teammates heading into the new Ashes series, adding he had learnt from his mistakes.
“We’re getting on really well, all winning together,” he said. “We’ve all played a lot of cricket together ... these things happen. You have ups and downs. We all make mistakes.”
Last year Pietersen was cut adrift from the England team after sending disparaging texts about teammates, including then-captain Andrew Strauss, to South African rivals.
However, he said England’s team culture was strong again and revealed he had dined with Strauss this week in Brisbane.
Pietersen, who has scored four centuries against Australia, was reflective as he approached his 100th Test milestone.
“There has been some real good stuff and I’ve really enjoyed the journey. Where my career is at now, I don’t think I can be any happier,” he said.
“Clearly there’s been some bad stuff, which has been well documented. As a person you grow when you make mistakes. That’s where you learn the most. If I hadn’t have learnt, I wouldn’t be sitting here on the eve of my 100th Test match.
“The team we’ve got now, the players, the experience we’ve got in the dressing room, the knowledge knowing that we didn’t play as well as we could have and we still won in the summer.
“Also knowing that we can improve a hell of a lot, and that we’ve beaten Australia here before, gives us a lot of confidence going into the series.”