London, Oct.9 (ANI): England's best batsman Kevin Pietersen is raring to go back to South Africa, the land where he grew up, and says that he is more than ready to cop a few abuses, as he sees such diatribe as a compliment and acknowledgement of his cricketing ability.
Pietersen hasn't played any cricket since the second Ashes Test at Lord's, but was yesterday named in the one-day and Test squads for the tour to South Africa, which starts next month.
"I won't rush it if I'm not ready. I still have five or six years left with England, I hope. These days you can play almost 100 Test matches in six years," The Independent quotes him, as saying.
Though the year 2009 hasn't gone all that well for him, both on and off the field, KP says he is pretty much happy and satisfied with the way things are at the moment.
"I married a pretty famous girl, and when we drive through town there's usually a car following us, when I walk out of my front door in Chelsea there's six guys waiting for me. Jess and I don't like red-carpet things, we'd rather be at home with a takeaway, so the attention is hard to deal with, it makes you feel on edge," he says.
For a man of Pietersen's unwavering self-belief, and for that matter his Natal background, being stripped of the England captaincy was at least as devastating as being given it was flattering. He felt he was growing into the job nicely when he was sacked.
"It was frustrating. I put into writing all my suggestions, as I was asked to, and [Andrew] Strauss has got the benefit of all that. I've just had to watch it unfold this summer, which has been extremely hard for me, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise for me to be injured and away from everything so I could try to get my hunger back, because it certainly was dwindling," Pietersen said.
When asked to be more specific about the ways in which Strauss has reaped the benefits of his suggestions to the ECB, KP says:
"He has a coach he can work with. I never had that. I didn't have the power or authority to run the team. I never had that as England captain."
"I had my reservations about Andy when he was second-in-command, but I promise you, now he's doing such a fantastic job. I speak to him regularly, I ring him about stuff, and he's such a good listener," Pietersen adds.
When the talk shifts to the Strauss-led tour to South Africa, he says: "Yeah, I love playing South Africa for obvious reasons, and I haven't played Test cricket there, so I really want to do that, and be part of a team that builds on the momentum of winning the Ashes."
Does he anticipate a hostile reception when, wherever it might be, he strides out for the first time? After all, in 2005 he was abused loudly and mercilessly.
He smiles. "Well, Strauss is South African, [Matt] Prior is South African, so is Jonathan Trott, so it won't just be me." But he is the man those Afrikaaners in particular love to hate, isn't he? "Yeah, but I take that as a compliment, the same as Ricky Ponting does when he comes here. I enjoy it, actually." (ANI)