The 33-year-old South Africa-born batsman hit 113 for England in the first innings of the third Test at Old Trafford. But this has been a largely frustrating year for Pietersen, sidelined for several months after returning home early from England’s tour of New Zealand in March with a knee injury.
Then a calf problem he suffered at Lord’s last month left Pietersen doubtful for this match. Pietersen contemplated an operation but that would have meant more time out of action.
“If I’d had surgery I’d have been out for nine months. (It was) a big decision,” Pietersen said. “I think I’ll be in rehab for the rest of my career unfortunately.”
Thanks to former captain Pietersen’s innings England are not yet out of this Test where a draw will be good enough for England to retain the Ashes.
Pietersen’s latest knock also meant he’d overtaken Graham Gooch, now the team’s batting coach, as England’s all-time leading run scorer in all forms of international cricket with 13,242 runs compared to the Essex great’s 13,190.
Asked how he felt about surpassing the mark of fellow ex-England skipper Gooch, Pietersen replied: “I didn’t know, so it feels good.
‘Yet to sink in’
“Personal achievements are fantastic. I’ve just got to wait for that to sink in - it’s quite interesting. It’s something nice.
” Asked if he faced surgery ahead of the return Ashes series in Australia later this year, Pietersen answered: “Not if I keep being as professional as I’ve been over the last three-and-a-half months.
“Everybody wants to play in the Ashes. Name me someone who plays cricket who doesn’t want to play in the Ashes?”
It was also his fourth Test ton against Australia, with his average against England’s arch-rivals standing at 50.72 compared to a career mark of 48.71.
“It’s Ashes cricket, I suppose,” said Pietersen. “It’s the big stage. I like performing on a big stage when the team needs me.
“I like to try and stand up to be counted and I think as an English player or an Australian player your career is defined by how you play in Ashes cricket.”