Kevin Pietersen has spoken of the shock and disappointment he feels after a week of negative publicity that culminated in Wednesday's resignation as England captain. However, in an interview with Sky News, he reiterated his belief that he has nothing to be ashamed of, and says he will have no problems going back to face his team-mates in the England dressing room. "I'm not angry with anybody, I'm just a bit let down by the character assassination which has happened since I got back in the country," Pietersen said. "I didn't think it was going to be this bad, especially before anyone had heard my side of the story. I didn't feel I had done anything wrong.
"It has been a really, really dark week but I am coming out the other end. It has been hard and horrible, and it has been hurtful and disappointing. What has been written and said has definitely hurt me. If people wanted to hurt me, they have achieved that. It has been disappointing because it has also hurt my family and friends. I know that I am not a bad bloke."
Pietersen was forced to resign by the ECB after stating in an email to Hugh Morris, the director of England cricket, that he could no longer work with the coach, Peter Moores. But his attempts to oust Moores backfired when Morris sought the opinions of his colleagues, and found that a number of senior players were unimpressed by his actions.
One tabloid even went so far as to describe Pietersen as "the most hated man in cricket". "Everybody likes to be liked," he said. "I know that I am liked and that I have been portrayed in another way. I also know that the media like to kick someone when they are down. I have seen it happen to a lot of people and unfortunately it has been me this week."
Two men widely believed to have spoken out against Pietersen were Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, although Harmison later denied, in his column for the Mail on Sunday, that the pair had fallen out. "If you have a look at what Steve Harmison's written in his column," said Pietersen, "you'll categorically see there's no proper, proper cliques in the dressing room in terms of that hatred they say there is towards me.
"He was the one that [supposedly] led the hatred pack against me and I've spoken to him twice on the phone, I've had text messages from him and he's written a column saying exactly how wrong those statements were. So I don't have any problems going back into the England dressing room."
Pietersen will now answer to the new captain, Andrew Strauss, under whom he played five Tests in 2006-07, and he's adamant that their relationship will have no problems whatsoever. "I'm no expert in captaincy and I know I'm no expert in captaincy, [but] Straussy knows that he can ring me up for advice," said Pietersen. "If he needs advice on a friends basis and on a team-mates basis, I'll totally give him advice. He's a top, top man, he's one of the guys I get on really, really well with so he's going to have no troubles."
As for his personal approach to the game, Pietersen did not believe that the embarrassment of the past fortnight would have any bearing on his playing style. "I don't think I will tone things down," he said. "I have been going OK doing what I have done.
"On the cricket field I still believe in myself. I will do anything to win. I will always try my best and I will never give up. I have a never-say-die attitude. But a lot of what has happened this week has been really, really harsh. My whole life has been scrutinised.
"I am looking forward to the freedom I have when I get on a cricket field with a cricket bat in my hand. I wish I could do that now. It is now a case of me going out and doing my business, doing something I absolutely love, which is batting for England, and getting back on track."
All the same, Pietersen did admit that he was itching to find out who it was who leaked the information of his rift with Moores to the media. "I'd had five or six meetings face to face with the gentlemen on the board," he said. "Then something was leaked, by whom I don't know - I'd love to find that person - and everything escalated from then."