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  • England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day

Pietersen avoided surgery to play Ashes

George Dobell at Old Trafford
August 4, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Kevin Pietersen made his 23rd Test hundred but said that a knee injury could have forced him to miss the series © PA Photos
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Kevin Pietersen has claimed that he almost missed England's back-to-back Ashes series due to the knee injury he sustained in New Zealand.

Pietersen bruised his right knee during fielding practice in New Zealand in the middle of March and, after being forced out of the tour, missed the return series in England, the entire IPL season and the Champions Trophy. He returned, for Surrey, on June 21.

Now Pietersen has suggested he considered surgery to combat the injury and that, despite having recovered enough to play, he still suffers pain in the knee and will be obliged to continue rehabilitation on it for the rest of his career.

"If I'd had surgery I'd have been out for nine months," Pietersen said. "It was a big decision. My knee was a shambles. I could have had surgery but the Ashes means too much.

"Everyone wants to play in the Ashes. Everyone who has ever played cricket wants to play in the Ashes. It's the big stage.

"I like to perform on the big stage when the team need me. I like to stand up and be counted. As an English or Australian player your career is defined in how you play in Ashes cricket.

"I think I'll be in rehab for the rest of my career with my knee. I still get pain sometimes. I have sore calves; I have sore hamstrings. I'm an old man. But I should be OK if I keep being as professional [with rehab] as I have been over the last three-and-a-half-months."

Pietersen's comments are something of a surprise. It had been understood that the bruising of his knee, an impact rather than a wear-and-tear injury, had been fully resolved and that it had been decided some time ago that rest was a perfectly adequate solution. But Pietersen's words suggest the injury may have been worse than previously believed and raise some questions about his long-term future in the game.

Pietersen recorded his 23rd Test century during the day - only Alastair Cook, who has 25, has scored more for England - and sustained England's hopes of salvaging a draw from the game. He also overtook Graham Gooch in the course of the innings to become the highest run-scorer in all formats of international cricket for England.

He was unfortunate to be given out, too. While there is little doubt that the delivery from Mitchell Starc that trapped him leg before pitched in line and would have hit the stumps, Pietersen's review should have seen the TV umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, overturn the on-field decision. There was a suggestion of Hot Spot on Pietersen's bat and audio evidence to suggest an edge.

It left England, by stumps, requiring 34 more runs to avoid the follow-on with only three wickets in hand. But while Pietersen admitted England still had some hard work ahead, he was determined not to moan about the decision and insisted they could still win the game.

"It's all part of the cycle of life," a phlegmatic Pietersen said. "Some days things are good for you and some days they are not. You just have to accept that.

"I don't like to upset a dressing room by throwing and kicking things as other people have to bat and it doesn't help them.

"We're still in a spot of bother in the game, but if we can avoid the follow-on anything can happen still. We wanted to keep their fast bowlers in the field all day - we made them work hard - but we can draw or even win this game still. If our engine room apply themselves tomorrow and we get close to their total there is no reason why we can't."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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