Over and out: Pietersen bids Stars farewell in style

Kevin Pietersen has urged the Melbourne Stars to make bold changes next season in a bid to again emerge as a Big Bash League title contender.

In his final match for the Stars on Saturday, Pietersen produced a knock to remember, thumping 46 off 23 balls (six fours, two sixes) in an unfamiliar role at No.6 to help guide his team to a shock three-wicket win over the Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG.

It was only the Stars' second win in 10 matches and they have finished the season at the foot of the table. Changes have already been made, with Pietersen and fellow veteran batsman Rob Quiney retiring and Englishman Luke Wright among those moving on.

Pietersen will meet with Stars chairman Eddie McGuire and club management next week to discuss any potential coaching or recruiting roles, with the Stars already indicating the former England captain is likely to at least be used as an ambassador.

"We need a couple of fast bowlers. We need a bowling or batting all-rounder. I think we need another wrist spinner, an overseas wrist spinner, so two good overseas professionals that can win games," Pietersen said.

"In Australia, you generally get good batsmen that can come and whack it. We need a couple at the top of the order, for sure. I know they are going to go hunting and searching for a couple of Australian batters. Then I think we cover all bases.

"We just need to make sure we have some match winners in the team. I think we have lacked match-winning ability this year which is a great shame."

Pietersen had declared there was nothing to be "sad" about in his farewell fixture, for the time had come to move on in life, with his playing career as a Twenty20 gun for hire ceasing at the end of this year.

Certainly, there was no sadness in the manner in which he batted against the Hurricanes. Rather, it was a carefree joy, highlighted when he smacked three straight boundaries and a six off left-arm paceman Tymal Mills in the 16th over - but fell caught and bowled on the fifth delivery.

"I was looking for an extension, that's what I was doing," Pietersen said.

This proved to be no laughing matter for the Hurricanes, for Pietersen's knock was pivotal in putting their finals hopes in doubt.

Pietersen's farewell, and that of fellow veteran batsman Quiney, were the reasons why more than 19,000 supporters showed up for what otherwise was a dead rubber for the Stars.

While Pietersen's dismissal had left the contest evenly poised, the Stars - needing 12 off the final two overs and four off the final over - completed victory with five balls to spare thanks to unbeaten knocks from Evan Gulbis and Dan Worrall.

Earlier, the Stars had again been frustrating in the field. There was a general lack of pressure with the ball, for they leaked too many stray deliveries. However, they were able to keep the Hurricanes in check through the opening overs because of a regular flow of wickets.

It was an immense help when Ben Dunk, the three-dimensional cricketer who can bat, keep wicket and bowl, snared the competition's wonder boy D'Arcy Short for a first-ball duck, trapping him lbw with an innocuous off-spinner that didn't really spin.

George Bailey, as has been the case through the campaign, threatened to get going but fell just as he appeared set for a major knock. The visitors had slipped to 5-107 in the 14th over before Dan Christian (56 off 37), enjoying his first half-century of the series, and Nathan Reardon (32 off 22) supplied a game-turning 70-run stand.

Through this, there were moments of poor fielding. Worrall misfielded on the rope and conceded a boundary, while Gulbis botched a skied caught and bowled chance off Christian. There was also a whacky final over from skipper John Hastings, who was no-balled for going too wide on the crease, conceded a wide, and even conceded a six when a return throw ricocheted off Jofra Archer's bat to the boundary.

The Stars would revamp their batting order but there was little joy for Dunk. He reached double digits for only the third time but his miserable campaign, having averaged 11.5, was encapsulated when he was caught off a top edge at short third man after attempting to power the ball through square leg.

Pietersen strode out in the middle order - but still with the intention of still putting on a show, as he has done throughout his international and domestic career. The man known as "KP" was given a standing ovation by many, and he soon returned the favour by thumping a Mills slower delivery over mid-off for six.

Hastings provided a cameo but the afternoon was all about Pietersen. While he ended his four seasons with the glamour club without a championship, he was pivotal in the Stars having been a consistent finals threat - and the BBL establishing itself on the sporting calendar.

This story Over and out: Pietersen bids Stars farewell in style first appeared on The Age.