The Cricketer
Sam Morshead Sam Morshead

ON THIS DAY: WHEN KP DESTROYED AUSTRALIA IN ADELAIDE

The Cricketer looks back on famous moments in Ashes history during England’s trip Down Under

The Cricketer looks back on famous moments in Ashes history during England’s trip Down Under.

Today’s tale is about KP’s fondness for the Adelaide commute, a ridiculous shot against Doug Bollinger and one of the best double tons of recent years...

Kevin Pietersen had gone 19 months without a Test hundred when he walked out to bat at the Adelaide Oval on December 4, 2010. When Australia finally got rid of him, almost 48 long hours later, he had put together his career-best score.

His 227 was an innings of brutal elegance - a combination of cuts, pulls and ludicrous footwork against both seam and spin which left the Aussies in a daze.

It was Pietersen at his very best, the sort of innings that makes the crowd stick with the onfield drinks break schedule and TV viewers protect the remote at all costs.

Yes, KP had his own divisive qualities - perhaps more so than any other active English cricketer - but when he was in this kind of mood everybody wanted to watch.

After waiting to bat for 11 hours as Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott held court at the crease - spread between the second innings in Brisbane and a 173-run second-wicket partnership in Adelaide - it was obvious that Pietersen didn’t fancy hanging around.

Kevin Pietersen goes after the Australian bowling in Adelaide

He danced down the wicket to his second ball, bowled by Xavier Doherty, then cut the left-arm spinner to the point boundary off his third.

“You can probably see by way I started that I was trying to get to 50 in five balls,” he said afterwards.

“It was a long time to wait. I have never done that in my career before.”

Pietersen had almost run out of patience in the pavilion as Cook and Trott piled on the runs and at one point asked Paul Collingwood if he’d swap place with him in the batting order.

“I had pad rash for about seven hours (in Brisbane), then Cook and Trott were doing exactly the same in Adelaide,” he recalled a few years later.

“About five minutes before I had to go and bat I said to Colly: ‘Mate, can we just swap over here. I’ve watched most balls and I’m just on it, can we swap?’

“He was, like, ‘no’ and I was like ‘cool, no worries’.”

Patience paid off for Pietersen.

It wasn’t long before he was taking on all-comers with total bravado. Anything dropped short by Peter Siddle and Doug Bollinger went to the midwicket fence at 100 miles an hour - “I stood like a baseball player, telling myself I'm not going to fall over and die here” - while outside his off stump Pietersen seemed to have an extra second-and-a-half to pick his spot in the cover field.

Then came the most absurd stroke of them all… a giant stride across his stumps, two paces down the track and a flick of the wrists sending Bollinger to the legside boundary. It was as audacious as it was mesmeric.

Pietersen went to his century from 158 deliveries and released a giant roar as he found the single to square leg that brought up his century - a first since the West Indies tour of March 2009.

But he was not done there.

Doherty had been brought into the side in an effort to exploit Pietersen’s perceived weakness against left-arm spin but the theoretical kryptonite had no effect and he was launched for nine fours and one giant maximum down the ground. The Tasmanian finished the third day of his second Test appearance with figures of no wickets for 120 in 24 overs.

Pietersen hands the ball to Doug Bollinger

Pietersen, meanwhile, strolled back up the pavilion steps on 213, made at an excellent speed from 283 balls.

When Doherty eventually did dismiss him the next morning, caught at slip looking to heave the the ball a mile or so over midwicket, the spinner could barely find it in himself to celebrate. And understandably so. Anything more than a timid cheer would have been wholly inappropriate.

Pietersen laid England the perfect platform for a convincing innings victory at the ground he loves more than any other.

The secret to his success? The daily commute, apparently.

“I just like this hotel and the walk to the ground, that freedom and space so even when you wake up in the morning and you put on your gear, you're not in a bus, engaging straight away," he told cricket.com.au

“You've got that time to just feel your way into the day's play, and also at the end of the day's play, you also have that time to feel your way back to the hotel and just have your own space.

"I like having my own space, I like being by myself, I like thinking.”

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