England news February 5, 2014

A career filled with dizzying peaks

ESPNcricinfo looks back at ten of Kevin Pietersen's best innings across all three formats

100* v South Africa, East London, 2004
Kevin Pietersen was playing only his eighth innings in international cricket when he struck what is still the fastest ODI hundred - off 69 deliveries - for England. It was ultimately in a losing effort, as England were unable to chase down 312, but they only got close thanks to the man who had left South Africa to forge a career with the country of his mother's birth. The 'skunk' haircut was to become a familiar sight.

91* v Australia, Bristol, 2005
Not a hundred but a matchwinner, and an assault the equivalent of any in his early one-day career (after which his average stood at 162.25). England were in trouble at 119 for 4 chasing 253 and then lost Michael Vaughan, still more than 100 short. Pietersen, however, struck eight fours and four sixes, shepherding the lower order to a three-wicket victory with time to spare. Afterwards, Vaughan called it an "unbelievable knock".

158 v Australia, The Oval, 2005
In his debut Test series, with England in sight of a first Ashes victory in 18 years, Pietersen brazenly blazed a path to glory in the second innings of the final Test. England only needed to draw the game but were wobbling on the final day, as Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath threatened to unravel them. Dropped on 15, Pietersen fed off the febrile atmosphere, repeatedly depositing Warne and Brett Lee into the stands during a dominant maiden hundred that all but secured the urn.

142 v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston, 2006
A love of the limelight was apparent from his earliest appearances in an England shirt, when he skewered his home country, South Africa, with three ODI hundreds in five innings. Less than a year into his Test career, he produced an outrageous performance against Sri Lanka, which included a switch hit for six off Muttiah Muralitharan - the first sighting of Pietersen's unique contribution to strokemaking. In difficult conditions, across both first innings, the highest score behind Pietersen's 142 (off 157 balls) was 30.

53 v South Africa, Bridgetown, 2010
England's World Twenty20 campaign was picking up speed when Pietersen took apart South Africa in the Super Eights. Batting at No. 3 but at the crease inside the first over, Pietersen survived an edge through the slips and then got stuck into some carnage. He took Dale Steyn for 23 from eight deliveries, which included smacking the ball on to the roof of the stadium and out of the ground, in an innings that no one could match on a slow Kensington Oval track.

47 v Australia, Bridgetown, 2010
England had never won a global limited-overs trophy but their bowlers had given them a decent sniff by restricting Australia to 147 in the World Twenty20 final. Again England lost an early wicket, again Pietersen put his stamp on proceedings, this time winning a duel with Shaun Tait. An 111-run stand with Craig Kieswetter set England on the march to a title few had expected them to challenge for at the outset of the tournament; that Pietersen was Man of the Tournament went some way to explaining things.

202* v India, Lord's, 2011
In the 2000th Test, Pietersen provided a display worthy of celebrating the oldest format. His third double-hundred - coming shortly after his second, in Adelaide, which ended a 21-month period without reaching three figures - set the tone for England in their attempt to wrest the No. 1 ranking from India. He fought his attacking tendencies early on, taking 134 balls for his first fifty, before gliding up through the gears, moving from 151 to 202 in 25 deliveries, amid a flurry of boundaries. KP and England were in their pomp.

130 v Pakistan, Dubai, 2012
On tour in the UAE, England tried a new opening partnership, with Pietersen promoted to bat alongside Alastair Cook: they promptly scored four hundreds between them in the four ODIs. The 4-0 whitewash was sealed by Pietersen's highest one-day score, as he saw off the challenge of early wickets and a pitch assisting Pakistan's spinners. It was to be his last limited-overs appearance in almost a year, as a shock retirement followed soon after.

149 v South Africa, Headingley, 2012
The clouds were darkening for Pietersen, as mutterings about his commitment to the team grew louder, but his talent shone as brightly as ever in Leeds. England were battling to hold on to the top ranking, 1-0 down at home, but as his team-mates struggled Pietersen came out and thrashed the best attack in the world all around the ground - including a straight drive for six off Steyn. The match was drawn but Pietersen almost single-handedly gave England a chance (he also took four wickets and opened the batting in the second innings).

186 v India, Mumbai, 2012
Having been exiled from the team over his communications with South Africa's players during the summer, Pietersen was restored for the tour of India. With England 1-0 down in the series and facing questions about their ability to play spin, Pietersen joined forces with his captain, Cook, for a 206-run partnership that sparked the recovery. On a turning pitch, this was an imperious knock with a chaser of catharsis, featuring his familiar slog-sweep among many crushing blows. It set England on the way to victory in the Test and a first triumph in India since 1984-85.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here