Smiles better: Pietersen celebrates one of his 32 internationals centuries for England, but which was his best-ever knock though?
With recent media speculation, courtesy of Jack Gaughan of the Daily Mail, suggesting that mercurial England batsman Kevin Pietersen will never play for his adopted country again, we take a look back at the star man’s 10 best innings across his nine-year international career to date.
And while we considered knocks from all three formats of the game, in the end KP’s 10 most memorable innings all came in the Test-match arena.
So let us know us your thoughts on our final selections and whether you agree with the innings that we have chosen as being Pietersen’s best ever for England…
In a low-scoring affair in which no other England player managed more than 30, Pietersen somehow made batting looks easy as he scored 90 per cent of the home team’s runs, including his never-to-be-forgotten switch-hit for six off none other than Muttiah Muralitharan.
KP just loves to play against the old enemy, scoring more centuries against the Aussies than any other nation, with this particular hundred helping to earn England a crucial draw in the third Test in Manchester that prevented any hope the tourists had of gaining a foothold in last summer’s Ashes series.
And what made this innings even more impressive was the defensive nature of it, which went against his natural swashbuckling tendencies. Pietersen batted for 70 overs on the third day to keep Michael Clarke’s impressive bowling attack at bay.
Especially memorable, being as it was the South African-born batsman’s first match as captain of his adopted country, and what’s more, it also came against the Proteas too.
And almost inevitably, Pietersen marked the occasion by scoring a match-winning ton in a game in which no other player managed a century.
Incredibly KP had not scored a Test hundred on home soil for three gaping years going into this marquee series three years ago to decide the identity of the No. 1-ranked side in the world.
But Pietersen just loves the spotlight and, like so many of his other most special innings, this particular effort seemed almost inevitable.
And what is more, it was Pietersen’s slowest-ever Test century, and one which also set up a crushing England win.
This was Pietersen’s first Test hundred in Australia, and, to make it even more memorable, it came against two of the best bowlers the game has ever seen in the form of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.
Unfortunately though for KP, England somehow contrived to lose the match, and then the series 5-0.
The middle-order batsman came into this Test having not scored a ton for England since 2008, but Pietersen more than made up for that drought by registering his highest-ever Test score against a decidedly average Australian bowling attack.
Rated by the man himself as one of his five best knocks due to the stifling heat in the Sri Lankan capital that day, per All Out Cricket's Phil Walker, the disdainful manner in which he took apart the home bowling attack was simply wondrous to watch.
In the end, Pietersen’s century came up off just 109 balls, while in total he hit 16 fours and an incredible six maximums as England won the match to square the series and end a run of four straight losses in the process.
This is considered by many experts to be KP’s finest-ever innings for England, owing to the standard of the bowlers on show that day in Leeds. The trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel were rightly considered to be the world’s best pace attack at that time, but Pietersen played them expertly.
Given the situation in both the match and the series, this last-day hundred to earn England a draw, and with it their first Ashes win since 1986-87, was quite astonishing, especially as it also came against one of the finest bowling attacks in the history of the game.
Coming as it did, hot on the heels of England’s abject mauling in the first Test in Ahmedabad, this incredible innings on a dust bowl at the Wankhede Stadium will live long in the memory.
KP struck boundary after boundary in a series-turning knock that finally put to bed all the talk that he had a particular weakness against left-arm spin bowling.