AND batsman Kevin Pietersen has warned Australia’s attack to get used to seeing him raise his bat in celebration after claiming to have rediscovered his ruthless touch in Adelaide.
Pietersen ended a personal drought of 18 Tests without a century by recording his biggest international score of 227, inspiring England to an innings victory and a 1-0 lead in the best of five Ashes series.
The South African born star has been accused of playing to the galleries in the past – he was infamously out for 97 against the West Indies last year trying to slog his way to three figures – but the 30-year-old insists his matchwinning contribution in the second Test has heralded a new chapter in his career.
He said: “It’s a case of being a lot more ruthless and more mature in what I do and being a lot more selfish about keeping my wicket instead of just thinking about hitting and hitting then getting out.
“There’s nothing good about that. If I’d have been out for a hundred here who knows where we would have ended up. It needed someone to play with a calm and level head.
“I needed to realise that the best time to bat is when you’ve got a hundred on the board. I have realised that now and when I get in now I need to concentrate on staying there.
“I said to my self the other day ‘I’ve really got to start making these starts count in a big way’, because there is no better occasion than scoring runs against Australia in Australia.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about the ways I’ve been getting out and how I kept seeming to get myself out. I’ve come here and tried to really concentrate hard on batting for a long time.”
If Pietersen (right) continues to bat with the composure and authority he demonstrated under the baking Adelaide sun in the second Test, then England’s chances of retaining the urn will be greatly enhanced.
And Pietersen believes England are capable of wrapping up the series before Christmas if they maintain the discipline they have shown throughout this tour so far.
“If we go to Perth, play good cricket and do not get complacent, then we will keep the Ashes,” said Pietersen, who was named man of the match for his double ton and for snaring the crucial scalp of Michael Clarke with the final ball of the fourth day. “We have to keep doing the right things.”
Captain Andrew Strauss’s thoughts now turn to Melbourne, where England take on Victoria in a three-day match starting on Friday. Tim Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett will be auditioning for Stuart Broad’s spot, after the all-rounder was ruled out of the rest of the tour with a torn abdominal muscle.
Jimmy Anderson is also flying back to England to attend the birth of his second child. The plan is for him to rejoin the squad in Perth on Monday.
Meanwhile, Ricky Ponting, staring down the barrel of a third Ashes series defeat as Australia captain, admits it will take a miraculous recovery from his side if they are to wrestle back the urn from England.
Ponting said: “It probably looks as if we are going to have to be at our absolute best if we are going to work our way back into the series.”