Australia had made an indifferent start to their Ashes tour in 2005, but few innings chipped away at their aura as much as this one. Pietersen was by no means a certainty to make his Test debut at Lord's a month later when he walked out to bat on a sunny westcountry afternoon. In any case, there was some serious work to do: England, chasing 253 to win their NatWest Series game against the Australians, had slipped to 119 for four in the 28th over. And when Australia's left-arm wrist-spinner Brad Hogg got rid of Michael Vaughan and Geraint Jones in quick succession, England were teetering at 160 for six.
As with so many of his best innings, Pietersen had done little more at the start than play himself in. His first 30 balls had yielded 18 runs, including an edged four off Shane Watson. But when Michael Kasprowicz disappeared into the stands beyond midwicket, it was clear that Pietersen had decided he needed to win this one by himself.
Hogg received similar treatment in the next over to bring up Pietersen's half-century from 46 balls, before Watson was smacked for successive fours. Pietersen's supposed mid-wicket sledge as the adrenalin flowed - "Just because no one loves you any more", a reference to Watson's recent break-up with his girlfriend - was a rare example of a Pommie batsman getting in the ear of an Aussie bowler.
The gears were changing with alacrity now, despite the loss of Vikram Solanki to a run-out. Jason Gillespie was plonked over midwicket for six the ball after being hit for four, then launched high over long-on soon after. Pietersen creamed Gillespie for two more fours in the same over - a sequence that spelled the beginning of the end for Gillespie as an international force.
Victory by three wickets came with 15 balls to spare, with Pietersen finishing 91 not out off just 65 deliveries. Not only had he played himself into the Test team - he had persuaded a country so used to losing to Australia for so long that the summer ahead might just be different.