Ashes 2013-14: Nasser Hussain leads tribute to ton-up Kevin Pietersen
Nasser Hussain has paid tribute to "box office" Kevin Pietersen ahead of the England batsman's 100th Test match.
Last Updated: 19/11/13 6:10pm
Pietersen will reach the milestone in the opening match of the Ashes series in Brisbane, which begins on Wednesday night UK time.
Pietersen is one of the most controversial players ever to represent England, but Sky Sports expert Hussain - a former England captain - says cricket will miss him when he retires.
"He's a box office player and a box office occasion to go to your 100th Test. It's fitting really," he told Sky Sports News.
"It's been an up and down journey. There's been a lot of incident on and off the field. But it's also been a good journey to watch.
"When he bats you definitely stand up and watch. He's a phenomenal player. He disappoints at times. He polarises opinion, not everyone likes him. (But) we'll miss him when he's gone. He's played some seriously good innings for England with some seriously good shots.
"The way he bats has been absolutely brilliant over the years. English cricket owes him, the way he plays, the way he entertains. There have been incidents, but that's all part of being Kevin Pietersen. It would be a pretty dull world if it was all boring batsmen and no incident and it was all Cook, Trott and Bell, lovely, nice guys who don't cause you any problems at all. I think cricket it better placed for having the likes of Kevin Pietersen. There's some characters in the game and he is certainly one of them."
Sky Sports' Bob Willis believes he has been one of England's star performers over the years.
"England's batting line-up is largely very efficient but Pietersen is an outstanding presence in the side - we saw that as soon as he burst on the scene with those three one-day hundreds against South Africa in early 2005," he said.
"You don't have to like and love everyone you play with and Pietersen has had his issues with virtually every dressing room that he's been in but the fact remains he's an awesome talent.
"If Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar are at the top of the tree, then the likes of Ricky Ponting and Pietersen are just behind them.
"Bowlers generally win Test matches but Pietersen, on occasion, has single-handedly on occasions put England into positions to win games."
Australia batsman David Warner is also a fan of the way Pietersen plays.
"He's obviously a very good cricket player," he said. "He plays how he wants to play the game. He always comes out with that swagger. He lets his ego take over. And that's probably helped him. If he goes into his shell it probably doesn't help his cricket. We respect him as a cricket player - he's a fantastic player. What he does off the field, that's his own thing."
All-rounder Shane Watson added: "He's probably one of the best in the world, in all conditions. All around the world he has scored runs. It's always the way he takes on the game. It's something you enjoy watching, but not particularly bowling to him. I know cricketers around the world enjoy watching him bat. I know that's how the public see it too - he's always taking on the game no matter what the situation."
Not everyone was in the mood to pay homage to Pietersen. Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson said: "We're not thinking about the opposition at the moment. To be honest I couldn't really care."
The opening Ashes Test gets under way on Sky Sports 2 HD from 11pm on Wednesday