Former team-mates salute Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen may not be the most popular man in Australia following his heroics at The Brit Oval but there is one small corner of Sydney which will be forever in his debt.
Pietersen, England’s hero on the final day of the Ashes Series with a swashbuckling 158, played for Sydney University, Australia’s oldest cricket club, three years ago and made a key contribution as they clinched their first Sydney Premiership title in 89 years back in the summer of 2002-2003.
"His potential was so obvious back then," said Sydney University chairman Ian Foulsham. "He was a man with a huge future and ability beyond belief."
Pietersen, who scored 765 runs at an average of 84 for the students, had been recommended to University player and former Australia international Greg Matthews by Aussie leg-spinner Stuart MacGill, who had seen him play for Nottinghamshire.
Commentating for the SBS television network shortly after England regained the Ashes, Matthews said he expected Pietersen to make 8000 runs in his Test career.
Pietersen's ability to score so many runs at the highest level would not surprise University first grade captain Shane Stanton.
"I'm not surprised that he is doing so well in international cricket," Stanton said. "To be honest, I expected him to do a little better than he did in this Ashes Series.
"He believes attack is the best form of defence - he showed that on many occasions during his season with us.
"There was one patch in the middle of the season when he hit 600 runs off 550 balls. He got us home a few times."
Stanton said Pietersen was welcome in Sydney any time.
"My advice to him is don't ever change - come back soon."
Club secretary Darby Quoyle claimed the remarkable thing about the time Pietersen played for the club was that he only cost $6,000 (£3,000).
"We only had to pay half his airfare and his accommodation while he was here," Quoyle said.
"But he never played in the Grand Final - he had to go back to England for the county championship.
"However, if you had taken him out of the equation, I doubt if we would have reached the final and beaten Penrith.
"I have never seen a batsman dominate like he did that season and I have played grade cricket for 20 years. He was so focused and self-absorbed."
Club player Ed Cowan added that he had already texted his friend.
"I was devastated from an Australian viewpoint about losing the Ashes but delighted for Kevin," Cowan said.
"I caught up with him in London in April. Kevin can be hard to get to know at first but once you get past the brashness he's a really genuine guy.
"He loves his cricket and the mates and friendships he has made through the sport."
Cowan said one partnership, with number nine batsman Peter Sanders, stands out in his memory of Pietersen's Sydney experience.
"Kevin made 141 before he was out - Peter's share in the partnership was one run."