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The best 5 innings by Kevin Pietersen

| 01.07.2023

Kevin Pietersen is part of the Sky Sports commentary team for the Ashes 2023 and knows all about what it takes to help England beat Australia.

Pietersen’s aggressive batting transformed England’s tactics long before the current philosophy of ‘Bazball’ under Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes.

While the Ashes dominates the sporting headlines this summer, we recall the five best Kevin Pietersen innings during a brilliant career.

158 v Australia, The Oval, September 2005

The knock for which KP will be remembered most fondly by many, as England clinched the Ashes in memorable fashion in 2005.

Pietersen was already a star in the making, gatecrashing the sport’s most historic series with his ‘skunk’ hairstyle, brash demeanour and predilection for dismissive six-hitting.

Then, in the decisive fifth Test of the series, he graduated to the big leagues, recovering from being dropped by Shane Warne to secure the return of the urn with his maiden Test century.

149 v South Africa, Headingley, August 2012

Sometimes in sport context is king. To watch highlights of this innings is to watch a master of his craft – a true alpha male performance as he dominates a supreme pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis.

At times it seemed nowhere was safe to bowl to the swaggering presence of Pietersen at the other end. To watch it with the benefit of hindsight makes it all the more remarkable.

At the end of the match Pietersen gave an astonishing press conference during which he indicated it could be his penultimate Test match, spoke cryptically about tensions with the England and Wales Cricket Board and memorably claimed “it’s tough being me” in the national side.

110 not out v New Zealand, Chester-le-Street, June 2008

Remarkably, given his free-hitting reputation, Pietersen only scored one ODI century in 52 innings on home soil. But that one will go down in history as the one where he debuted the fully-formed ‘switch hit’ in all its glory.

Taking the reverse-sweep one step further, Pietersen chose his moment against Black Caps medium-pacer Scott Styris, changing his grip and stance to reflect that of a left-hander and clobbered a brilliant six.

Just in case anyone failed to appreciate the complexity or innovative nature of the stroke, he repeated the dose soon after. Much debate over the shot’s legality followed, though there were more imitators than bemoaners.

202 not out v India, Lord’s, July 2011

On the grand occasion of the 2,000th Test, and with England needing an emphatic series win to go top of the ICC rankings, Pietersen played a gem at the home of cricket.

It was truly an innings of two parts, his first hundred coming in tricky batting conditions and occupying 215 balls – slower than he had ever moved to three figures before. Having shown unusual pluck in service of the team, he then relocated his muse, scoring another century in just 111 deliveries with 11 fours and a six.

England went on to win the game, series and number one spot.

355 not out v Leicestershire, The Oval, May 2015

The Foxes attack in this unusually high-profile Division Two championship match was not one of the more challenging Pietersen had faced during his career. But, as so often with the mercurial middle-order batsman, he picked his moment with uncanny perfection.

At the time he was trying to resurrect his international chances in a rare first-class stint with Surrey. Naturally, he reeled off the best first-class score of his life, just two shy of the best ever by a Surrey player.

By the time Andrew Strauss, then ECB director of cricket, confirmed the door remained permanently closed, Pietersen had already crafted a storming riposte in over seven-and-a-half hours at the crease. It was the best Kevin Pietersen innings of his career in terms of runs scored.

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Andrew McDermott

Andrew is a sports betting content journalist at PA Media. He is a lifelong Huddersfield Town fan but when he isn't reminiscing about their Premier League days he is also a junior cricket coach and enjoys cycling.