Adelaide: England’s Kevin Pietersen is a past master at batting in top gear but it was learning to shift down that helped him end a long lean spell with a double century in the second Ashes Test on Sunday.
The 30-year-old, one of the most talented batsmen in the game, had gone nearly 20 months without a Test century when he walked out on Sunday morning at the Adelaide Oval with 85 runs on the board.
When rain stopped play for the good during the tea break, Pietersen was unbeaten on 213 having not only secured his first century since March 2009 and a second career double century but also played a big part in putting England in control.
“It has been quite tough over the last 18 months,” he said. “But over my career I’ve had a lot of good stuff and a little bit of bad. It’s gone now, so look forward.
The former England captain’s lean run of form was so marked that he was dropped by the national side for some limited overs games earlier this year. He used the time to return to his birthplace and work with one of his old coaches, Graham Ford.
“Fordy’s a legend, the work I did with him in South Africa was amazing,” he said. “He’s known me since I was six or seven years old and two or three little things we worked on has got me back to the way I used to play.”
“The key to what I’ve done is trying to go through the gears to fifth and then being able to go back down to third and then, if needs be, drop back down to first, and then go back up,” he explained.
“I’ve been working really, really hard on it over the last few months. It’s what the team needs, we’re not looking two or three sessions ahead, we’re looking at 10 minutes, 10-run partnerships... keeping things simple.”
England’s top order have batted so well since the second innings of the Gabba Test that Pietersen has had to bide his time to get a chance to bat at all.
He was desperate to bat at Adelaide having missed out altogether in the second innings at the Gabba and being padded up for hour upon hour as Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott put the Australian bowlers to the sword in the second Test.
“You can probably see by how I started, I was trying to get to 50 in five balls,” he joked.
“It was a long time to wait, I’ve not done that in my career before. It was incredible, and long may it continue... (but) it’s more tiring waiting to bat than actually batting.”
Pietersen said he had not been surprised at how well England had batted in making 517-1 declared in the drawn first Test and 551-4 so far in Adelaide.
“We were quietly confident we could do better than we did last time,” he said, recalling the 5-0 whitewash in 2006-07.
“As an England cricketer, that gets your juices flowing. I remember leaving Heathrow airport thinking ‘this is going to amazing’.”
Despite the wet weather, Pietersen was confident England could win the Test -- with spinner Graeme Swann perhaps playing a leading role.
“Rain, no rain, there’s a good chance we can win this Test match,” he said. “Marcus North spun the ball out of the rough today and we’ve got the best spinner in the world in our team.”