Or is he a cocky opportunist whose ego too often lets down his team mates? A man whose tattoo of England's three Lions might be replaced by one of his own image and whose brief reign as captain ended because coach Peter Moores dared stand up to him?
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One thing there is no argument about is the numbers.
Batting usually at number five, Pietersen boasts a test average of 50.48 from 83 innings, the eighth-best average for an Englishman and far superior to any of his current team mates. He has 15 centuries, 11 half-centuries and an impressive 45 sixes.
In one-day internationals he was the fastest man to reach 1,000 and 2,000 runs and in his 87 matches, playing in a generally under-performing England team, he averages 48.36, his country's best and third in the world all-time list.
His claim to be an all-rounder has diminished with time as his tame off-spin has been rarely used in Tests. He has taken only four wickets in his 101 overs but given the chance, you get the feeling he would probably take the new ball.