England v Australia, World Twenty20 final, Barbados May 16, 2010

Pietersen rewarded for hard slog


Life for Kevin Pietersen is pretty good at the moment. He couldn't stop smiling as he sat with the World Twenty20 trophy, the Player-of-the-Series award, his form back to somewhere near its best and a small baby to return home to.

He had unfinished business against Australia after being forced to hobble out of the Ashes with his Achilles injury. His 47 in the final won't quite make up for it - that will have to wait until the Ashes in November - but it could well be another highly significant mark in his career.

"Incredible really," was how he summed the past week of his life. "It will only sink in in a few weeks' time or when I see my little boy to see and hold, everything will probably sink in. Right now in the dressing room we will celebrate as a team but things only seem to sink in a few days later or a week later. Hopefully the ash cloud will stay away and we can get back to our families on Tuesday because its one thing celebrating with the lads but you also want your families around you to celebrate such a successful time."

Even before being forced onto the operating table for surgery he has since revealed nearly ended his career, he wasn't the same man who burst onto the international stage six years as he struggled to accept the way his brief captaincy stint was ended. His batting at least is back to somewhere near a peak and now that he is content off the field, too, it is time for him to reach the levels he has always had the ability to attain.

But it has been a long, hard slog to get back to this point. Longer and harder than many people realise. Pietersen will always be a misunderstood cricketer for a variety of reasons, but no one works harder at their game. It tore him apart to not be able to contribute consistently towards the team cause.

The turnaround began in Bangladesh, where he worked on his weakness against left-arm spin, spending hours in the nets with Andy Flower and he also did some serious soul-searching in Dhaka and Chittagong. By the end of that tour he was batting more freely again, but the big stage is where Pietersen belongs and his success here - 248 runs at 62 - caps off the rehabilitation.

"It's humbling, for sure," he said. "You've got to savour things like this. If it wasn't for the help of all the dressing room in Bangladesh and the coaching staff and management, I probably wouldn't have been here - batting the way I did.

"The nights and the dinners I had with Colly, reassuring me of how to play when you lose sight of how you should be playing coming back from the injury I had, really helped. It's difficult to believe. But player-of-the-series is just something given to one person.

"The team is the most important. One bloke gets a lovely trophy, but if was not for the team I wouldn't be sitting here. The team have been absolutely incredible, in the journey - and so has the help I've had from 'the weed' [Collingwood] on my right and from Andy Flower and all the boys."

A firing, happy Pietersen makes England a much more dangerous side but while he has the statistics and trophy to prove how well he played he preferred to let others make the final judgment.

"I just worked really hard as I can because I was really disappointed in my winter and in the last 12 months," he said. "It is difficult for me to say how well I'm batting, I feel good and to contribute to this, there's no greater feeling. To do what we have done here in the past two weeks - priceless."

Michael Clarke, who was helpless to stop the 111-run stand between Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter which assured England's victory, was gracious enough to say that the sport is better for an in-form Pietersen.

"He's a matchwinner," he said. "He's one of those guys who can take the game away from you on his own. The performances in this tournament have been excellent and it's great for the game that he's back in form. He's in a good place off the field as well and is obviously a very happy man at the moment."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Billy on May 20, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    periperi0000, what a ridiculous comment. Pietersen missed one game to return home, so whilst it's guess work, he could and probably would have scored another 50 odd in that game. His performances throughout the tournament were superb and for that, along with his attitude and dedication, he's not only the player of the tournament, but he's a fantastic role model.

  • hemanth on May 19, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    u r the exceptional cricketer make me see feel & taste the modren cricket every time since 5-6 years...what a stylish man u r !what a hardest character u have !u r a real profetional cricketer & also real entertainer & real match winner.u r exceptional flickers & ur shots all over the ground are amazing..u r the real gladiator ..i beleive u will continue ur form and make us happy ...

  • Abudarda on May 19, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    I havn't any question about the ability and spirit of cricket of indians but extreme bussiness attitude by using cricket hurts me pathetically,so....u understand, i am happy if srilanka,pakistan or banladesh will win world cup but not india!

  • D N on May 19, 2010, 0:47 GMT

    To Mr. ADMSHAFI, When you talk about cricket being safe with any country other than India, just think once again. Did the white countries nominate Bangaldesh or was it India Pakistan and Sri Lanka who pulled the trigger. This is racism of the extreme sort and best avoided by anyone I have no problems if Bangladesh wins the next world but on current form, they will not. I will rejoice if any Asian country wins like we celebrated Pakistan's T20 win the last time around Dil badana Shafi Sab. Blood is always thicker than water!

  • althaf on May 18, 2010, 22:01 GMT

    Congratulations K P for world cup win and for the baby Boy. Truly KP is the instrumental in Englands success at the world T 20. Some of the shots he played against south africa were awesome. Against one of best bowling line ups in the world (south africa ) he played innings of the tournament (At least for England ). After the matches against pakistan and south africa England looked really good to win the world cup, in which K P won the MOM awards. He is no longer a Bunny against Left arm spin. On avg K P has won more matches for England than any body else. He is a perfect team man who enjoys a lot for others success as well. He may be a pre dominantly a leg side player but now a days he is playing all around ground very well. He is completely out of form against South africa but that tends to happen after a long break from game . But now K P is at his distruative Best . He is truly a legend of modern era. He is the right choice for Player Of The Tournament award. K P ROCKS.

  • Shaqiq on May 18, 2010, 21:18 GMT

    This is in response to a couple of comments by some members as to why Jayawardena wasn't awarded the "man of the series" award. Me being Sri Lankan would have loved to see a fellow Sri Lankan receive such an award but yet, look in terms of match winning performances. It is true Jayawardena did score the most no. of runs but his consistency took a turn when his batting was of utmost importance for Sri Lanka's success. Whereas, KP had been consistent right throughout the tournament and has been the key to England's success. I'm sure the selectors would have opted for KP for the award looking in this perspective which is undoubtedly the right way to select the "man of the series".

  • Shaqiq on May 18, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    Kevin Peterson is one remarkable player in today's format of the game. He clearly proved the critics wrong, by winning the "man of the series" award. I think the media should start respecting international player's privacy as that can be the one sole reason as to why KP was going through some "hard times" in life. He clearly depicted his strong will power and enthusiasm for the game by emerging successful in this tournament.

  • Rohan on May 18, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    i have been watching cricket for more than 2 decades now and to me KP's attitude, his body language, the way he looks at the opposition team, the whole demeanor of KP resembles a lot to Viv Richards'. KP is THE biggest match winner in the world at the moment. The way he pulled Shaun Tait first delivery speaks a lot about his frame of mind. good luck KP.

  • Ricky on May 18, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    Definitely KP is on his best. He has proved once again after long poor form period that he is still match winning player. The shots he played were amazing same as he entered in to International cricket.

  • Vidhya on May 18, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    three cheers to KP :) he's near his best now :)

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