The swaggering, flashy batsman with a mouth to match has been the main target of Australian media in the Ashes build-up, eclipsing even unpopular bowler Stuart Broad.
     
"He's so arrogant not even his own team likes him," read a headline in Brisbane's Courier-Mail, while another report said he was "widely despised in the cricketing community".
     
But Pietersen, whose South African accent has marked him out as different for his entire England career, has shown every sign of relishing the exchanges.
     
Like Broad, who is under attack for failing to give himself out at a key moment in the last Ashes series, Pietersen has happily returned fire.
     
In mainly good-humoured exchanges on Twitter, Pietersen labelled Australians as "convicts" and suggested nobody outside the country had even heard of Brisbane.
     
As he approached the 100 Test milestone, Pietersen, who has survived turbulent times to remain a linchpin of the England side, explained why he can come across as brash.
     
"I've got to be confident in my ability," he said.
     
"Clearly, as a South African coming into England, I had to really fight some tough battles and had to be single-minded in achieving what I've had to try and achieve,” he said.
     
"I can't help people thinking that I'm arrogant. I think a lot of great sportsmen out there have that little bit of something to them that makes them try and be the best and want to be the best,” he said.
     
"I call it confidence. You guys (media) call it arrogance, it makes for better headlines."
     
Pietersen, born and raised in South Africa, has been a controversial figure since opting to represent the native country of his mother.
     
Even his telling contributions with the bat have failed to convince doubters, who still question whether the man with the Three Lions tattoo should be wearing an England shirt.

(Agencies)

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