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