Pietersen hails Stars' carefree mindset
Kevin Pietersen looked relaxed when he walked out to bat at the MCG, and he looked relaxed when he left the ground - 36 balls and 62 runs later - with the Big Bash League semi-final all but won.
It seems the life of the freelancer, away from the prying eyes of international cricket, is treating him well, as he bids for his first-ever domestic T20 title on Sunday. "If I go throughout my career and don't win one but have the most amazing time like I'm having at the moment, I couldn't care less," Pietersen said.
"I have had to deal with the weight of expectation for ten years playing for England," he said. "Every time I walked out to bat, I had people gunning me for ten years. So my personal way of dealing with that is to take the pressure away and trust practice. That's all I do. I train as hard as anyone, I practice with a reason and I do my work with purpose, and I let everything else control itself. If I'm good enough I'll succeed, if not I'm not interested.
"Flem [Melbourne Stars coach Stephen Fleming] lives off exactly the same mantra, and does exactly the same stuff. He's not worried about consequences, he's not worried about results, he's worried about how we perform and how we prepare." This, Pietersen said, has been the message that has driven the Stars to their first ever BBL final. As a result, Sunday's date with Sydney Thunder at the MCG is not a concern.
"We have been drumming into the lads over the last six weeks - consequences? why worry about consequences? Why worry about results? We're not even going to worry about Sunday. We prepare, we turn up, we play the way we play and if we win we win."
Pietersen's fierce half-century helped clear the way for the summit clash, but he was full of praise for the Stars' bowlers, who limited Perth Scorchers' impressive batting line-up to 139. Michael Beer, who bowled a spell of 4-0-22-1, was regarded by Pietersen as "the best trade in BBL history."
"Our bowlers were brilliant. On that wicket to bowl them out for 139 was sensational, absolutely brilliant. It's a sign of a very good side that they could come in there and do a job like that. Win the toss, have form and we knock that off.
"They [bowlers] pulled their lengths back after a couple of balls, tried to swing a couple. [Daniel] Worrall pulled his length back, got a wicket, Hilfy [Ben Hilfenhaus] tried to swing it then pulled his length back. Zamps [Adam Zampa] is a class act, Beer is a class act. He's the best trade in BBL history for a wonderful left-arm spinner like him. We are very lucky to have him in our team, but I think all those guys who went out there and performed for that hour and twenty minutes after winning the toss deserve all the credit."
Should Australia not select John Hastings or Scott Boland to face India at the SCG on Saturday, and release them to play the final, Stars could face tricky decisions with regard to their bowling come Sunday with Worrall, Hilfenhaus and Evan Gulbis - despite an off-night at the MCG - all impressing in their two vital wins over Scorchers in the last week.
Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp