Kevin Pietersen is set to join an elite group of England Test match cricketers in a few hours as he reaches 100 appearances for his country, and admits it is series like the Ashes where his career will be defined.
The 33-year-old has already won four Ashes series on his way to becoming England’s leading run scorer across all formats of the game, yet the desire and excitement is as strong as ever for the determined batsman.
Pietersen has hit 23 Test centuries in his 99 matches to date with the first coming against the old enemy in 2005 at the Oval. He destroyed the Australian bowling attack on his way to a game saving and ultimately Ashes winning innings of 158 which kick started his career as the explosive batsman the country have come to love.
Play gets under way at midnight GMT as England start their defence of the famous urn in Brisbane and Pietersen has exclusively told GiveMeSport he is anticipating a fantastic few days ahead.
“The excitement is the same as ever, I cannot wait,” he said.
“It will be a memorable occasion and what a fantastic place to play at the Gabba, in a packed house in an Ashes series, the only thing that could have made it better was if it was in England but look, it’s a great place to play cricket.”
The opening day of an Ashes series has often set the tone in previous years and Pietersen says gaining the upper hand at the Gabba is crucial in front of their impressive visiting support.
“It is a huge series and you want to land blows early on and that first day is filled with excitement as the countries build up for it and you get a lot of viewership so it’s a series where your careers are defined so it’s something that the lads cannot wait to partake in,” he added.
“The Barmy Army are amazing and the following is incredible so I can’t wait to hear them supporting the boys.”
Ahead of his 100th Test, Pietersen has been in the spotlight in the Australian media too which led to the batsman saying he’d rather be on the front pages in Sydney because nobody outside Australia has heard of Brisbane.
He has no such complaints with the host city for the second Test though as he admits that is his favourite venue in Australia after hitting two centuries in his two appearances there.
"Adelaide Oval is my favourite ground in Australia but they’ve changed a lot of the ground now so it will be interesting to see what it’s like now and it’s a drop in wicket there and I really enjoy batting on that but I don’t know what it’s going to be like this year,” Pietersen explained.
“Having said that, you can make the wicket what you want it to be but I think it will be pretty similar to last time and hopefully it is.”
Question marks have been fired at the Surrey batsman as to when he will retire on the eve of becoming the 10th Englishman to reach 100 Test caps but it is clear he is planning ahead for years to come on the international stage.
“This winter is a tough one but I think every winter that I’ve played has been a tough one,” Pietersen continued.
“I think next winter is the only one that’s quite easy with only a few ODIs before Christmas then the World Cup afterwards.
“We’ve got to concentrate on this winter, try and stay injury free and see where we get to.”
“I just want to stay injury free and I’ll get to where I’ll get to.”