Are you the best batsman in the world?
Not at all. The ratings may say that I’m number one, but there are blokes out there that are better than me. With Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden batting like they are, I’m nowhere near them. I’ve got a long way to go and, even if I get there, I’ll probably never say I have.
Let’s cut to the chase. How come England were so crap last winter?
We were letting it slip for ten, 20 overs each game – you lose 20 overs, you lose a game. That was where we went wrong last winter and in the World Cup. It was frustrating – especially for the fans, who deserved better. The Barmy Army are just brilliant. That last morning in Sydney, when we were losing 5-0, was one of the loudest I’ve heard them. They were great all winter – we owe them some good performances this summer.
Have you been making a special effort to entertain this summer?
I think the way I play entertains, but I don’t really worry about that. I’m a positive person who goes out there to score runs, to score them quickly and to dominate bowlers. I don’t think: “Shit, the crowd look bored, I’ve got to entertain today.” It’s more a case of making sure I’m right mentally, then going out there and playing with a free spirit. I hit it hard and if it works on the day, it works and if it doesn’t, so what?
Er, you get out and England lose, or Glenn McGrath hits you in the ribs, you retire hurt and England lose. Was that blow you suffered during the tour down under the sorest you’ve had?
Yeah. Touch wood, that’s the only bone I’ve broken while batting. I’ve broken my leg fielding, but in terms of batting McGrath destroying my ribs was bloody nasty.
Did he have a word afterwards?
No. It was all hyped up before the Australia game in the World Cup but the team and I dealt with him that day, so he couldn’t say much.
Are the Aussies just at you constantly?
They believe in mental disintegration. They don’t abuse you and they’re not really too personal. They talk about your technique, they talk about what the press are going to say if you do something like this, something like that. They go on and on until it works. Players who are not strong enough start believing silly things, little things that they say. They lose the plot and get out. The Aussies break you down until you give your wicket away.
Do you give them crap back?
It depends on how I’m feeling. If I’m really, really up for it, I don’t need to say anything because I know I’m focused. If I’m too relaxed and I need to get myself going, I’ll respond.
Any memorable exchanges?
Some have got quite heated, but I’m not telling you. It stays on the field. I don’t blabber to the press about on-field events, it’s not right.
Moving off field, the Aussie fans are quite famous for coming up with chants. Did you get any rubbish in the outfield this summer?
Nah, they didn’t make any songs up. Aussie crowds are not that clever to be honest. They’re not like our Barmy Army who are very quick-witted and actually have common sense. They’re just abusive. We’ll leave it at that.
The Aussie press call you “Mr Ego” and “GIGJAM” (God I’m Good, Just Ask Me). Does that bother you?
I’ve heard it all before. They say that to any guy the Australians are scared of. They target them. I take it as a compliment, it’s not a problem.
Your British nickname’s KP. They make crisps and nuts. What’s your favourite pub snack?
Biltong [South African beef jerky]. I love the stuff. It’s my only request when my parents come over from South Africa: “Just bring me truck loads of biltong.”
Talking of food, FHM plays a bit of club cricket. We have to make our own teas – ever had to do that?
Er no, never. When I played school cricket we had to bring our own stuff, but my mum always did it for me. Then from about 15 onwards, I was playing a good enough standard that people made it for me.
If you had to do that now, what would you make?
Pie, chips and gravy with a side of biltong!
Pie, chips and gravy! Are there any test grounds that do anything like that?
Sadly not. That sort of food stays in the stands. I have to wait until I get time off to munch that stuff.
Okay, aside from eating, what else do you do on your days off?
I’ve got a Porsche that I love, but driving around London is not fun. I usually end up just relaxing on my sofa watching a DVD.
We hear Honey, I Shrunk The Kids is your favourite?
Well it was when I was growing up. I haven’t seen it for ages, but there’s no doubt it was a goodie in its day. Now I’m massively into 24. Every time I go to bed I chuck on the DVD and watch at least two sessions.
Then fall asleep reading FHM, right?
I tend to read FHM at matches. It’s one of those magazines that always goes through the dressing room every time it comes out.
Is that how you pass the time when it rains?
Yeah, but I can’t sit still for long. I’m a very fidgety person, so I’ll just walk around or if I’ve got friends and family at the ground I’ll go and see them. As soon as it stops raining you are out within ten to 15 minutes, so I head back to the dressing room, listen to the team music and get myself mentally right to go out and play.
Who’s got the worst taste in music?
I don’t know, we’ve kind of got a team iPod that Colly [Paul Collingwood] carries with him around the world. It’s got 5,000 songs on it and he chucks it on shuffle so you never find out who’s put what on. In general the lads have pretty good taste. I’m fairly cheesy. I like rap like Busta Rhymes and, you know, pop and all that. It’s only when the heavy metal or rock comes on that I switch it off or walk out.
Okay then, who’s the worst dresser?
Straussy [Andrew Strauss]. It’s not that it’s awful it’s just, I’ll choose my words carefully here, it’s just that it’s very posh. He’s always got shoes, neat jeans and a collared shirt. But that’s Old Straussy. He’s very posh, bless him.
When we interviewed him last winter we asked him who’d win in a fistfight between England and the Australians. He reckoned Freddie Flintoff and Steve Harmison would do the business for us – are you gutted he left you out?
Nah, I’m a lover not a fighter.
Talking of love, we hear you’re getting married to Jessica Taylor from Liberty X this summer. Any plans to release a Jordan and Peter-style duet?
No way! You’ve clearly never heard me sing. No chance. I’ve got my profession and Jess has got hers. We keep our careers separate and just enjoy each other.
Is it true she made you cut your ridiculous barnet off?
Not quite, but she didn’t like it!
We hear your mum didn’t either. Did anyone?
Maybe at the time they did. It was one of those phases you go through where you have stupid hair, pierce your ears, get a tattoo or whatever. I look back now and think: “What did you do that for?” It won’t be making a comeback!
Darren Gough’s your best man, are you worried he’ll show you up?
Not at all. He’ll make everybody laugh. Mind you, I saw him on Strictly Come Dancing and the way he finished, he’ll definitely show me up on the dance floor. That gives me an idea. I’ll tap into his knowledge and get him to teach me a few manoeuvres before the big day.
Celebrity magazines are no doubt scrambling for the wedding pictures. Have you sold them yet?
No, we won’t be selling them. Jess and I are going to have a private day with our friends and family. There won’t be any magazines around.
What if FHM offered, say, £50?
You lot won’t be getting anywhere near, mate.
Original interview by Stuart Hood in the October 2007 issue of FHM UK magazine