England may be licking their wounds following their dramatic collapse in the Champions Trophy final, but Kevin Pietersen's sparkling innings for Surrey on Sunday ensured there was reason to be positive ahead of the Ashes.
England's late collapse from a position of supremacy at Edgbaston would have been a bitter pill to swallow as the Ashes edges ever closer, but the return of Pietersen provides the ideal remedy.
The 32-year-old had been out of action since March after suffering severe bone bruising to his knee - something which forced Pietersen to miss the return series against New Zealand, as well as the Champions Trophy.
Pietersen made his return to competitive action last Friday in Surrey's County Championship encounter with Yorkshire and - after coming through 136 overs in the field unscathed - crashed an unbeaten 177 in response.
The former England captain hit 17 fours and seven maximums in his 188 ball innings as Surrey declared on 353-7 and, after the conclusion of the match on Monday, Pietersen will make his return to international duty.
Pietersen is in the England squad for two T20s against New Zealand this week - although he is expected to play only the second on Thursday - and is now set to be named in the Ashes party ahead of the first Test at Trent Bridge on July 10.
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