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School CP - August 2006

Corpun file 18276

Daily Mail, London, 29 august 2006

Courage and love make KP's world go round

By Paul Hayward


Popeye's swing with a bat and a fondness for the spotlight have taken Kevin Pietersen into two unfamiliar worlds.

Three, if you count the kerfuffle at The Oval 10 days ago -- which, Pakistan's Shaharya Khan claimed, arose only because Pietersen inflicted so much damage on the ball in a typically belligerent innings that the umpires mistook the scuffs for tampering.

But the first new world was England itself, which he loved straight away, followed by fame, which he liked enormously until "fabricated" kiss 'n' tell tales about him started landing on the nation's doormats and the cricketing establishment began grumbling into its microphone that he was too flash for his own good.

Still, there were compensations. The last 12 months have yielded a pop-star fiancee, five Test centuries, an automatic place in England's middle order, an MBE, Australia's scalp from last summer's Ashes and a new autobiography which conveys both his physical courage at the crease and his Tigger-like enthusiasm for the business of living.

"My life changed a heck of a lot, and I know why it changed so much," he says. "It was through hard work, through graft, as a result of the decision I made to come to England from South Africa. It hasn't been a fluke. I just think the recipe for success is hard work and believing in yourself and having the confidence to go out and perform on a big stage."

Pietersen's joie de vivre should really be available on the NHS. Together with his bottomless self-confidence, it renders him an exotic and easily misunderstood figure in the blokey world of the pavilion.



"Some people think I'm an idiot because I've got my viewpoint but I've had to make my way in this country. I had to make decisions by myself. I know I've bumped my head a few times, but I've learned from it."

In the book he admits to being caned as a boy at school and by his father, but waves away the modern assumption that children who are beaten end up damaged.

"I think corporal punishment was right. I was naughty at school I got caned ? so what?" he asks. "I don't think there's a problem with it. I got clouted ? so what? I saw it in a paper the other day ? Kevin Pietersen's dad clouted him. It wasn't malicious. My dad wasn't a malicious person.

"If you were naughty and messed up you got punished for it. A lot of kids get sent to rooms or corners or get ignored, I just got caned. Job done. There was no resentment, no grudges. Plain and simple."

Some think another, less private caning awaits this winter, but trepidation is far from Pietersen's vocabulary as he awaits the toll of the bell: "I can't wait. I love Australia. Great country. Great people. The sport's fantastic.

"That first session in Brisbane, there's going to be more perspiration when I'm waiting to bat or field than I've had in my life. It's going to be a massive, massive session."

The peacock-warrior looks ready.

2006 Associated New Media

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