Pietersen completed his 50th first-class hundred, from 153 balls, in the final over before lunch on day two of Surrey’s Division Two match against Leicestershire at The Oval.
‘KP’ could hardly have timed his performance better, with his former Test captain Andrew Strauss due to hold his first press conference as the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new director of cricket on Tuesday.
Twenty-four hours later, Strauss is expected to lead deliberations before England announce their first Test squad on Thursday to face New Zealand at Lord’s next week.
Pietersen, who will be 35 by the time the Ashes start in July, has been cast adrift from England’s plans since he was dispensed with in the aftermath of their 2013-14 Ashes whitewash defeat.
But incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves, who will officially begin his tenure at the governing body’s annual general meeting this week, provided renewed hope that the South Africa-born batsman could yet return for his adopted country when he hinted in March that runs for Surrey this summer could provide the pathway he needs.
Pietersen responded by agreeing a new contract with the county, and in his fifth championship innings of the summer he duly reached three figures again.
He sought to diminish the significance of Monday’s innings, before taking the field on 35 not out overnight, when he told one of his Twitter followers he did not expect it to have a decisive bearing on his England return.
At the suggestion it could be “the most important innings of your life”, Pietersen posted: “Ha! Seriously? Not sure my career can be decided on one innings on a Mon in London…we get judged on Ashes series”‘.
He took taking lunch on an unbeaten 101 out of 222-5, in response to 292 all out.
Pietersen almost fell short of the milestone, however, off-spinner Jigar Naik failing to hold a tough return chance when he was on 96.
He had to work hard for his runs throughout on a morning when Surrey lost three wickets, including that of Sri Lanka Test great Kumar Sangakkara.
But apart from two loud appeals for caught-behind and then lbw in the 40s, it was only in the 90s that any nerves returned as Pietersen hit 12 fours and two sixes in his hundred.