<div class="img-caption-wrap "> <img alt="Kevin Pietersen excited ahead of playing 100th Test for England" src="https://st2.cricketcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/cricket/image_20130823214404.jpg" title="Kevin Pietersen excited ahead of playing 100th Test for England" /> <div class="img-caption-wrap "> <p class="imgcaptionnew" style="width:618px;"> Kevin Pietersen is on the verge of becoming the tenth batsman to play 100 Tests for England © Getty Images</p> </div> </div> <strong>Perth: Oct 30, 2013 </strong><br /> <br /> <a href="/tags/Kevin-Pietersen/post" target="_blank">Kevin Pietersen</a> as long flouted conventional wisdom in a career that has taken him to within one match of playing 100 Tests for England. Such an approach may help explain his success on the field and problems off it.<br /> <br /> Born and raised in South Africa, but with an English mother, there are those who contend the outspoken Pietersen, 33, is playing for the wrong country.<br /> <br /> Moreover his reason for shunning <a href="/tags/South-Africa/post" target="_blank">South Africa</a> -- frustration that a post-apartheid quota policy was harming his prospects -- touched a nerve.<br /> <br /> Equally, there are plenty of others who say Pietersen was not the first young sportsman to make a pragmatic choice, and that any doubts are more than offset by his impressive Test record of nearly 8,000 runs at an average of more than 48, with 23 hundreds.<br /> <br /> For the most part, during what has been a largely successful time for <a href="/tags/England/post" target="_blank">England</a>, that latter viewpoint has been the one held by the selectors.<br /> <br /> Certainly, the superlative quality of several of his innings is beyond question.<br /> <br /> His maiden Test century was an audacious counter-assault against an attack including<a href="/tags/Glenn-McGrath/post" target="_blank"> Glenn McGrath, </a>Brett Lee and Shane Warne that saw England wrest back the Ashes in 2005.<br /> <br /> And in Mumbai last year, he made 186 against India on a spinners' pitch where most batsmen were struggling just to stay at the crease.<br /> <br /> That South Africa, who classed him as an off-spinner who batted, didn't quite realise what they had may have been down to Pietersen's departures from orthodoxy.<br /> <br /> An initial overly-long stride forward, and an ability to whip off-stump deliveries through midwicket, are not in the coaching manual.<br /> <br /> And few players as talented as Pietersen can look so nervous and uncertain in the early stages of an innings.<br /> <br /> Yet the combination of will, a fantastic eye, skill and a 6ft 4in frame all allow him to play shots few others can match.<br /> <br /> England's desire to have a captain across all three formats saw Pietersen given the job in 2008, and it might have been the making of an outsider trying to fit in.<br /> <br /> But after a falling-out with coach<a href="/tags/Peter-Moores/post" target="_blank"> Peter Moores</a>, Pietersen's tenure lasted barely five months before both men lost their posts.<br /> <br /> Last year's Headingley Test against South Africa encapsulated the rollercoaster England career of Pietersen.<br /> <br /> Having produced a match-saving century where <a href="/tags/Dale-Steyn/post" target="_blank">Dale Steyn </a>and <a href="/tags/Morne-Morkel/post" target="_blank">Morne Morkel</a> were treated like club bowlers, Pietersen gave an equally stunning post-match press conference.<br /> <br /> "The saddest part about all this is that the spectators just love watching me play and I love playing for England," he declared.<br /> <br /> "But the politics is what I have to deal with personally and it's tough being me in this dressing room. Playing for England is tough. We'll see."<br /> <br /> These comments chimed with the idea of Pietersen the mercenary, after he clashed with England's management over his desire to play more lucrative Twenty20 cricket abroad.<br /> <br /> Soon afterwards it emerged he'd sent "provocative" texts allegedly critical of then England captain Andrew Strauss to South African players.<br /> <br /> Pietersen was briefly dropped by England, only to be recalled when Alastair Cook took over following Strauss's retirement.<br /> <br /> In short, Pietersen -- who averages nearly 50 against Australia -- can be difficult, but is worth the trouble.<br /> <br /> Now the question is whether there's any more trouble to come in the later stages of his international career.