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All the Queen’s men: From here, there and almost everywhere

For fans of irony, there could be few sights better than the one England presented soon after winning their first major ICC title, some 35 years after the quest began.

cricket Updated: May 17, 2010 23:35 IST
Anand Vasu

For fans of irony, there could be few sights better than the one England presented soon after winning their first major ICC title, some 35 years after the quest began. Paul Collingwood, from Durham, far from being a cricketing powerhouse, was flanked by Man of the Final, Craig Kieswetter, and Player of the Tournament, Kevin Pietersen.

Kieswetter, born in Johannesburg and once a representative of the South African under-19 team, switched allegiance to England early in life. Pietersen, who was born in Pietermaritzburg and played for Kwazulu-Natal, has the English three lions tattooed on his hand and often behaves more English than the Queen herself.

The wisdom of England's system, which allows foreigners of different origins to turn out for its sporting teams, will be discussed endlessly, but it's fast becoming clear that those who represent the team have completely embraced the English way.

When Paul Collingwood hit the winning runs, KP was the first to run onto the field, chasing his skipper like an obsessed fan. For the massively talented KP to chase Collingwood showed the kind of transformation the Super Ego has undergone in his development as a cricketer.

Perhaps buzzed from the post-match celebrations in the dressing-room, Pietersen seemed disoriented and edgy when he spoke to the media. “Incredible really,” was how he described the week in which he became a father and won the world title.

“It will only sink in in a few weeks' time or when I see and hold my little boy, everything will probably sink in. Right now in the dressing room we will celebrate as a team, but things only seem to sink in a few days later or a week later (sic).”

After a troubled stint as captain and a surgery that nearly ended his international career, it is a chastened Pietersen who does battle for England today. “It's humbling, for sure,” said Pietersen, putting the win in perspective of his troubles, which began to be rectified on a recent tour to Bangladesh where he worked on his weakness against left-arm spin. “You've got to savour things like this. If it wasn't for the help of all the dressing room in Bangladesh and the coaching staff and management, I probably wouldn't have been here - batting the way I did.”

Collingwood, who appears diametrically opposite to KP as a player, had a huge role to play. “The nights and the dinners I had with Colly, reassuring me of how to play when you lose sight of how you should be playing coming back from the injury, really helped.

“It's difficult to believe. But player-of-the-series is just something given to one person,” said Pietersen.

“The team is the most important. One bloke gets a lovely trophy, but if it was not for the team I wouldn't be sitting here. The team have been absolutely incredible, in the journey - and so has the help I've had from Collingwood, Andy Flower and all the boys.” For the England team, helping and supporting Pietersen off the field is worth every moment spent, as he's repaying them on the field. South Africa's loss, it seems, is England's gain.