England scale new heights as Pietersen finds his old fire again - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

England scale new heights as Pietersen finds his old fire again

Former captain ends his poor run in style to crown another perfect day for tourists

Early on this Ashes tour Kevin Pietersen offered an assurance that he was on fire. It yielded a chuckle or two from his audience, who had just watched a skittish fifty and had trouble spotting faint sparks. How foolish of the doubters.

Pietersen was ablaze in the second Test yesterday, scoring a resplendent double hundred that took him triumphantly back to his days of wine and roses. Days, to be honest, that had seemed to be gone forever. If ever a sportsman gave proof to a claim that he liked the big stage, there could have been no more compelling evidence than this.

His innings, the 17th century of his career but the first for 21 months, contained everything that was lovely and irrepressible about his batting. He played determinedly straight when he had to but he was not afraid to impose his will on bowlers attempting to restrict him by rigid field placings.

If England batsmen keep redeeming themselves at this rate, Australia may never break loose from the gum tree up which they find themselves. Pietersen followed Alastair Cook in scoring a double hundred in this series, only the 10th England batsman to do so in all Ashes contests.

Both arrived at this series with justifiable doubts being expressed about their continuing ability to succeed at the highest level. Both have swatted them away in the most assertive fashion as if they had their eye on the Ashes all along.

England finished a shortened third day on 551 for 3, of which Pietersen had made 213 not out. They were within one run (the stand between Pietersen and Ian Bell having reached 99) of having four three-figure partnerships in the same innings for the first time since The Oval in 1938, also against Australia.

By the close, indeed, England had enjoyed such a run of dominance in the series that since the beginning of their second innings in the first Test at Brisbane their cumulative score was 1,068 for 5. Australia were not broken but they were not whole, either. They looked like a side who had spent two days in the field, were hurting and did not know where to turn.

Pietersen's career had taken a turn into a dark corner since he lost the captaincy in early 2009. Although he tried manfully to break out of it on the West Indies tour which followed that, nothing was quite as it had been. Demons of some kind were eating at him. And then came further misfortune in the form of an acute Achilles injury which took months to heal.

That infection was eventually cleared up, but not the one in Pietersen's soul. Whatever he tried did not work, and he was in danger of becoming a parody of his former self, desperately trying to play big shots because that was just the way he played.

The England team's management and his colleagues said repeatedly that Pietersen was sure to come back. If they had doubts they disguised them well. But they must have had misgivings, and last summer he was dropped from the one-day team, the form of the game at which he first made his international name.

That might, in the end, have helped because the team had so noticeably moved on. They wanted him, but he was no longer their gun player, and that must have begun to dawn on him. It might explain his softly spoken, humble press conference yesterday.

"It's wonderful to get runs and put the team into a position where we can win a Test match in Australia," he said. "I love the big occasions, I love challenging myself against the best players in the world and whenever it's tough I love that. It has been pretty tough over the last 18 months or so but this is a challenge I have looked forward to.

"You go through your career and you have good stuff and you have bad stuff. I've had a lot of good stuff fortunately and a little bit of bad stuff. It's gone now and I can look forward.

"The Ashes wasn't a target but it's something you get up [with] in the morning as an English cricketer, this is what it's made of. We were quietly confident that we could come out here and do a really good job, a lot better than we did last time. As an English cricketer it gets your juices flowing. I remember going to Heathrow thinking: this is really going to be amazing."

And amazing it has been. Pietersen, however, recognised that he could not go on as he was. He tried harder, practised more but it was not happening any longer. In the English season just gone his top Test scores were 64 against Bangladesh and an 80 against Pakistan which could hardly have been more sincere in its perseverance but was painful to watch.

In October he went to visit family and friends in his native South Africa and there he might have found the key to what happened here. He sought out his longtime mentor, Graham Ford, who reminded him what took him to the stars. "Fordy is a legend," said Pietersen. "He knows me, he has known me since I was six or seven, and the two or three little things that we worked on in South Africa have got me back to the way I used to play.

"When you're batting for that amount of time you find a pace to go through. The key is trying to go through the gears, go down to third and if needs be drop into first and then go back up. It's what I have worked on."

Pietersen had to survive an optimistic review of an lbw appeal before reaching his century. Soon after that Cook's long vigil at the crease ended – it had been 383 runs and 1,052 minutes since his last dismissal in a series in which he has so far batted for more than 22 hours – with an inside edge to the deserving Ryan Harris. Paul Collingwood then helped Pietersen add 102, and Ian Bell was sublime. Australia were resigned.

KP'S RUN WITHOUT A TON

2009
1st Test v West Indies 0
2nd Test v West Indies 49
1st Test v Australia 69 & 8
2nd Test v Australia 32 & 44
1st Test v South Africa 40 & 81
2nd Test v South Africa 31

2010
3rd Test v South Africa 0 & 6
4th Test v South Africa 7 & 12
1st Test v Bangladesh 99 & 32
2nd Test v Bangladesh 45 & 74*
1st Test v Bangladesh 18 & 10*
2nd Test v Bangladesh 64
1st Test v Pakistan 9 & 22
2nd Test v Pakistan 80
3rd Test v Pakistan 6 & 23
4th Test v Pakistan 0
1st Test v Australia 43
2nd Test v Australia 213*

Adelaide Scorecard

Adelaide (Second and third days of five): England lead Australia by 306 runs with six first innings wickets remaining

Australia won toss

AUSTRALIA First Innings 245 (M Hussey 93, B Haddin 56, S Watson 51; J Anderson 4-51)

ENGLAND First Innings

Overnight: Friday 1-0

*A J Strauss b Bollinger1

3 balls

A N Cook c Haddin b Harris148

269 balls 18 fours

I J L Trott c Clarke b Harris78

144 balls 13 fours

K P Pietersen not out213

296 balls 30 fours 1 six

P D Collingwood lbw b Watson42

70 balls 5 fours

I R Bell not out41

76 balls 6 fours

Extras (b 8, lb 12, w 8)28

Total (4 wkts, 143 overs)551

Fall: 1-3 (Strauss), 2-176 (Trott), 3-351 (Cook), 4-452 (Collingwood).

To Bat: †M J Prior, G P Swann, S C J Broad, J M Anderson, S T Finn.

Bowling: R Harris 29-5-84-2 (w1) (6-3-14-0, 7-1-20-0, 3-0-4-1, 3-0-13-0, 6-1-22-1, 4-0-11-0), D Bollinger 27-1-121-1 (w2) (4-0-15-1, 2-0-10-0, 4-0-27-0, 3-0-17-0, 2-0-7-0, 5-0-23-0, 3-0-15-0, 4-1-7-0), P Siddle 26-3-100-0 (w1) (3-0-17-0, 4-1-8-0, 4-1-9-0, 5-1-16-0, 5-0-23-0, 5-0-27-0), S Watson 19-7-44-1 (5-2-12-0, 9-3-19-0, 5-2-13-1), X Doherty 24-3-120-0 (1-0-2-0, 6-2-27-0, 3-0-17-0, 5-1-23-0, 5-0-30-0, 4-0-20-0), M North 18-0-62-0 (1-0-4-0, 2-0-3-0, 7-0-21-0, 8-0-34-0).

Progress: Second day: 50 in 13.2 overs, Lunch 90-1 (A N Cook 35, I J L Trott 39, 27.0 overs), 100 in 27.5 overs, 150 in 43.5 overs, Tea 198-2 (A N Cook 90, K P Pietersen 14, 55.0 overs), 200 in 56.4 overs, 250 in 68.0 overs, 300 in 86.3 overs, Close of Play: 317-2. Cook: 50 102 balls, 7 fours; 100 171 balls, 15 fours; Trott: 50 84 balls, 8 fours; Pietersen: 50 77 balls, 7 fours.

Progress: Third day: Close of Play 317-2 (Cook 136, Pietersen 85) 89.0 overs, 350 in 96.3 overs, 400 in 105.4 overs, Lunch 449-3 (Pietersen 158, Collingwood 40) 115.0 overs, 450 in 116.2 overs, 500 in 131.2 overs, 550 in 142.5 overs, Tea 551-4 (Pietersen 213, Bell 41) 143.0 overs. Pietersen: 100 158 balls, 15 fours, 150 210 balls, 23 fours, 1 six, 200 283 balls, 29 fours, 1 six.

Umpires: M Erasmus & A L Hill

TV replay umpire : B R Doctrove

Match referee: J J Crowe

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week