Kevin Pietersen could not deny Sydney Thunders a Big Bash League triumph but his blistering 74 for Melbourne Stars in Sunday's tense final reminded England what they will be missing at this year's Twenty20 World Cup in India.
England have slammed the selection door shut on the controversial batsman who was sacked in 2005 from the test team after repeated run-ins with the team management.
Plying his trade mostly in Twenty20 leagues these days, the 35-year-old struck a fifty against Perth Scorchers on Friday and enthralled the Melbourne crowd with a scintillating 39-ball knock on Sunday, even if for a losing cause.
The right-hander smashed five sixes and four boundaries to help his team to 176-9 after Thunder captain Mike Hussey won the toss against his brother David and asked Melbourne to bat first.
"We were under the instruction to go out and whack a few balls," a miked up Pietersen said while fielding.
"I've never batted like this .. I'm loving it."
He also took a catch to dismiss Jacques Kallis (28) but Usman Khawaja (70) struck his third successive 50-plus score to help Sydney chase down the target with three balls to spare.
Ben Rohrer hit a six to seal the three-wicket victory for a side competing in their first final after finishing last on three occasions.
It was a perfect farewell for retiring Sydney skipper Mike Hussey, who walked to a guard of honour and left with a heart-warming send-off from the Melbourne crowd.
England will begin their Twenty20 World Cup campaign against fellow former champions West Indies in Mumbai on Mar 16.