Pietersen's return to form was 'priceless'

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The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen's return to his best is perhaps the biggest success story among many in England's trophy-winning ICC World Twenty20 campaign.

The mercurial number three batsman was named player of the tournament, after he and Craig Kieswetter (63) had shared a century stand to help England trounce Australia in the final at Kensington Oval.

It all meant Paul Collingwood had led England to their first International Cricket Council tournament victory, after 35 years of previous failure.

For Pietersen, who finished the campaign with 248 runs at an average of 62 - and as a father for the first time after the birth of his son a week ago - there was huge reason for satisfaction.

The South Africa-born batsman endured a difficult winter in his native country and then Bangladesh as he struggled to regain his poise at the crease and weight of runs following Achilles surgery last summer.

Asked after yesterday's seven-wicket humbling of Australia if he thinks he may be back to his best, he said: "I'd like to think so.

"I spent hours and hours in the nets in Bangalore (during the IPL) and spent an hour-and-a-half at Nagpur in a game where I missed out.

"I just worked as hard as I could, because I was really disappointed in my winter and in the last 12 months."

However well he is faring personally, though, Pietersen insists it is the impact he can have on team success which motivates him.

"To contribute to this, there's no greater feeling," he said.

"To do what we have done here in the past two weeks - priceless."

Wicketkeeper-batsman Kieswetter is another England player to have proved his talent.

Pietersen said: "I have been really impressed with Kiesy since he has come in.

"I hadn't seen him play; I didn't know what he did.

"I knew he hit the ball hard. But on Monday when I was at home [for the birth of his son in London], I watched the game for an hour or so and I saw how still he keeps his head and how he plays - and I was really, really impressed.

"He's come into the team; all the lads have taken to him, and he's done a fantastic job. Long may it continue in his career - what a great start, coming into the team and winning a World Cup. He has been such a great part of it."

Twenty-two-year-old Kieswetter can scarcely believe what has happened himself.

"It's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for the past couple of months, so to be sat here having won a 'World Cup' is obviously a dream come true," he said.

Another person already impressed by Kieswetter is beaten Australia captain Michael Clarke, who expects him to be pushing for England's wicketkeeping role in all formats soon.

"I think he'll put a lot of pressure on Matty Prior in one-day and even Test cricket," he said.

"He has a lot of talent and is willing to take a few risks."

Collingwood, meanwhile, is already busy insisting England must not get carried away with their achievement - but he knows the cricket team can safely pass the baton to this country's footballers, who have a World Cup of their own to win next month.

"I don't know much about football," he said.

"I'd be lying if I started to predict about the England football team.

"But let's hope they can win as well; let's hope this is the catalyst for the other teams to do well."