Kevin Pietersen will forever divide opinion.

After the apparent end of his England career, there will still be those who can never forgive his brashness and yet just as many others who will never forget his brilliance.

That has been the trade-off England accepted from the moment they decided, to their significant advantage back in 2005, to provide a 'home' for the South Africa-born batsman's international ambition.

Whether the England and Wales Cricket Board could have foreseen the extremes to which Pietersen would go is a moot point.

The stand-offs with management could perhaps have been broadly predicted for a complex, curious character who had 'previous' in South Africa and Nottinghamshire.

When you have a match-winner, though, allowances will inevitably be made - and more than 8,000 Test runs at above 47 an innings, including 23 centuries, is pretty good currency for any successful gamble.

The pay-off could have come in rands rather than pounds had the one-time Hampshire star - he made fleeting appearances between 2005 and 2010 - not become frustrated with the quota system and therefore quit South Africa, on a point of principle made all the more pressing for him by vested interest.

He swapped Natal for the Birmingham League initially, fired by an apparently unshakeable teenage belief in his own ability - in defiance of nascent career statistics more in keeping with a journeyman off-spinner who could also biff a few down the order.

It was in the west midlands that Pietersen first met future international team-mate Ian Bell.

In later years, supreme stylist Bell would admit his first impressions were merely of a "slogger".

Despite Pietersen's subsequent standing as the most gifted England batsman of his generation, it is not difficult to credit that initial reaction of a man alongside whom he would make so many Test runs. Technically, Pietersen is an oddity.

His favoured foot movement largely comprises a lurch forward, or even walking at the seamers.

To reach scoring opportunities wide of off-stump, there is often no conventional movement in the right direction. But Pietersen's brilliant eye, 6ft 4in stature and long arms have not only got him out of awkward spots but allowed him to dominate Test bowlers like few others can.

Force of personality has played its part too, of course - on and off the pitch.

Pietersen can turn matches, series even - and occasionally simply bat on a different plane to anyone around him.

Yet that same bravado can lead him into trouble too, at the crease and away from it.

At the Oval in 2005, his seat-of-the-pants maiden century memorably clinched the Ashes against the combined world-class threat of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and his then Hampshire captain Shane Warne.

In Mumbai 15 months ago, Pietersen's batsmanship was beyond compare in a masterly 186 from only 233 balls as he energised a double-century stand with Alastair Cook, on a spinners' pitch which made mere survival the benchmark for most.

Pietersen's best innings have been triumphs of will as well as skill, and it is the former which has brought confrontation away from bat against ball.

His relationship with Nottinghamshire became vexed, and five years at Hampshire were notable mainly for the infrequency of matches he was available to play.

In the international limelight, between the centuries, have come the disagreements and controversies.

Pietersen's tenure as England captain lasted barely five months before his power struggle with coach Peter Moores saw both forced out of office.

Three years later, Pietersen had played his part in England's historic Ashes victory in Australia - their first down under in almost a quarter-of-a-century - and helped Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss' team to the top of the world Test rankings.

When he then fell out with management again, it was perceived by many as a case of one individual wanting everything his own way.

The full facts are unpublished and known properly by relatively few.

It is a matter of record, though, that something approaching the best and worst of Pietersen was in evidence at Headingley in August 2012.

He lit up Leeds with an audacious and commanding hundred, at times treating world-beating Dale Steyn and his South Africa pace partner Morne Morkel like net bowlers.

Then, however, came the sting in the tail with an astounding and spectacularly ill-judged man-of-the-match press conference.

It is simplistic, and almost certainly wrong, to depict Pietersen as the sole culprit in the breakdown of his working relationship with Strauss, Flower and team-mates.

But revelations of texts - 'derogatory' or 'provocative', depending on the source - to opposition players, and compatriots by birth, escalated the profile of contractual differences with his employers.

Eight poisonous weeks followed, during which Strauss retired, before another bizarre press conference in Colombo where Pietersen's monosyllabic contrition and ECB chairman Giles Clarke's bombast provided a comical set-piece contrast.

Peace broke out, uneasy perhaps at first, but apparently more substantial under new captain Cook after Pietersen's Mumbai heroics.

He subsequently continued to set his sights on 10,000 Test runs, by definition therefore professing a long-term commitment to England's cause.

Another Ashes win and whitewash later, however - and with it Flower's resignation as team director - the brashness and the brilliance is gone for good.