KP playing a different game to his team-mates
By Steve James | The Daily Telegraph
07th August 2012 01:41 PM
While the others were mainly enfeebled by South Africa’s relentlessly attritional approach, Kevin Pietersen was unfazed by the pressure and circumstance. He merely attacked and entertained in an innings of rare joy and excitement. He rattled South Africa. He changed the game.
As soon as he arrived you sensed the difference. The previous prodding uncertainty ended. He immediately enlivened proceedings. He discarded his sleeveless fleece sweater after just two balls; he took a single off Jacques Kallis and ran past the non-striker’s end to berate a cameraman for moving his camera (it’s called panning!), and then he changed his gloves. This was his show. This was about him.
He pulled consecutive balls from Dale Steyn for four, the first hit imperiously hard to deep square leg, the second top-edged over the wicketkeeper. A problem with the short ball in the last Test? Pietersen wasn’t going to take the conservative road out of that difficulty here.
At one stage Morne Morkel bowled around the wicket with a short-leg and three men back on the leg-side boundary. There was nobody at cover. Morkel simply had to bowl short. He did, and Pietersen was ready, clearing his left leg, Twenty20-style, and smiting the ball away for two fours in the over. That he was also dropped at short-leg (off the face of the bat) will be easily forgotten in the retelling.
He had greeted Imran Tahir’s arrival into the attack in the 49th over with a four through the covers. Fielders were immediately scattered in all directions. But captains can often seem powerless with Pietersen in such a mood. It ended with Tahir bowling around the wicket into the rough, with Hashim Amla almost at backstop for the fine sweep or maybe the scoop. It was an admission of defeat.
Pietersen passed 7,000 runs in Test cricket. The century was inevitable, even when the new ball was taken. He walked down the pitch to Vernon Philander and nurdled him to midwicket for a single. He ran, he leapt, he pointed, he celebrated extravagantly. We’ve seen it all before, but we haven’t seen too many better innings from him. This truly was special.
The rest of the batsmen? Three maidens to begin the day hinted immediately at the struggles they faced. Andrew Strauss was seriously discomforted by Morkel’s bounce, as Morkel worked him over with the confidence of a bowler who had already dismissed the England captain seven times in 10 Tests.
Strauss appeared mindful of his first-over lbw dismissal in the last Test at the Kia Oval, either moving his front foot too far across his stumps or not far enough. The result was that he played at too many balls that required disregarding. He eventually edged Steyn behind with hands well away from his body.
Alastair Cook fell over, Jonathan Trott, deprived of leg-side sustenance, uncharacteristically lost patience and Ian Bell played a shot that will not aid his slumber in the coming weeks.
James Taylor arrived for his debut. Pietersen met him halfway to the wicket with a beaming smile. And Taylor did look relatively relaxed. In fact he instantly looked like a Test batsman.
He soon struck Tahir down the ground for his first runs in Test cricket. He’ll remember them fondly, but this day was not about him.
Taylor had to sit quietly in the back seat as Pietersen drove his flash car at breakneck speed.
It was some ride.
And Pietersen is some driver.
- India's poor need more purchasing power, not doles
- Japan support sought for Vision 2023
- Rahul aide to pick Nellore MP candidate
- Kerala: PSC guidelines put candidates in a fix
- Dead son's education loan: Bank seeks its pound of flesh
- With Advani visit, Modi begins charm offensive
- Social media goes martial over High Court's marital ruling
- Slum removal scheme tweaked to make it more effective
- Indian Coast Guards help rescue 26 crew from shipwreck near Yemen
- Thousands missing near Kedarnath shrine
- Tata Motors unveils 8 upgraded models of passenger vehicles
- Flaws in Koodankulam plant
- Army Major captures 'UFO' in Kerala
- Prices of 348 drugs to come down drastically from May 15
- 60 killed in Nigerian village attacks
- Callgate: Doctors were prime target for Biju, Saritha Nair