Which is perhaps why Pietersen says in his book that "I was no villain". Yet it somehow suits him, this role of half England hero, half England villain. If ever there was a modern-day cricketer who lives by the saying that it is better to burn out than fade away - or it is better to guarantee yourself Marlboro Menthol Cigarettes a lifetime of media work than playing Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty at the Tring Playhouse next Christmas - Cigarettes Wholesale it is Pietersen. A slow decline into the past tense was never going to be his style. If he can't be the hero in everyone's eyes, then it's better to be the villain. At least, that way, he is still being spoken about.

And, like most cricketing villains, he certainly deserves to be talked about. Because, like the names already mentioned - Miandad, Holding, Chappell, Grace, Lara, Warne, Botham, Richards, Akram - Pietersen Newport Carton was a winner. Whether that was driven by self-interest or team-interest, it mattered not: on the field, Pietersen's mind was set on winning matches. He did this Cheap Cartons Of Cigarettes in a manner very few England cricketers have managed: by bringing matches alive, by inducing shivers in the crowd, by bullying the world's best bowlers. He was as much a man apart on the field as he was off it.

He was an electric eel in a goldfish bowl, energising a lazy passage of play with a switch-hit off Murali, or a daring dash down the track to Dale Steyn, or hooking Brett Lee into an incredulous, cheering Oval crowd. Like Grace, Pietersen has done more than any of his England contemporaries to increase cricket's broader appeal and to enrich the game.

At the moment, Pietersen's batting is sadly overshadowed by politics, sniping, half-truths and untruths. It is his fault as much as anyone's. Given the passage of time, though, and Pietersen's otherness, his stubbornness, his willingness to talk out of line, his showmanship will all be part of what made KP the most interesting and talked-about England cricketer of his generation.

Some fans - many of them - may have booed and hissed him, may have revelled in their outrage against him, but these indiscretions and warts (not, thankfully, of the Shoaib kind) might not place him anywhere near the top of cricket's long and varied list of villains, but they are all part of what has made him the rarest of sporting beasts: a great England cricketer.

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