Man of the day: Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen made the most of two reprieves to keep England afloat on day one at the MCG.
By Rob Lancaster
Last Updated: 26/12/13 8:22am
In the build-up to the Boxing Day Test he was asked by the media what he made of the suggestion from former England batsman Geoff Boycott that he should be dropped for the match in Melbourne. His response was simple: ""I have the greatest admiration for Geoffrey Boycott, for what he achieved for England, but the way he batted and the way I bat are totally different."
It seemed at one point on the opening day, however, that KP had taken a leaf out of 'Boycs' manual during his unbeaten knock of 67.
Perhaps almost to prove his doubters wrong he crawled his way to six in more than an hour at the crease before being given the first of two reprieves.
Substitute Nathan Coulter-Nile hauled in a pull shot down at long leg, only to then seemingly become disorientated in terms of his position to the boundary rope, resulting in him attempting to throw the ball back up in the air to keep it in play. Instead, he threw it about five rows into the crowd, doubling the batsman's score in a hurry.
George Bailey then shelled Pietersen at mid-wicket when he had reached 41, though it was an opportunity flashed at the fielder right off the middle of the bat.
Had he been dismissed on either occasion the 33-year-old would have come in for yet more criticism; he'd already been caught out at both positions during a tour that had seen him struggle to make a big impact.
The lifelines allowed him to go on and compile his best score so far Down Under in 2013; his biggest problem after the two drops came when he seemingly swallowed a fly.
His 35th Test half-century wasn't anywhere near his fastest and it certainly wasn't one of his most fluent, but it was a timely reminder of just how talented a player he is. England, not for the first time in his career, are relying on Pietersen to keep them afloat in their bid to restore some Ashes pride.
It should not be forgotten either that during the day he went up to fourth on England's all-time leading run scorers in the longest form of the game, surpassing a certain Geoffrey Boycott on the list.