LONDON: Kevin Pietersen played one of the most jaw-dropping turns of his career in front of more than 23,000 at Kia Oval: an innings nine balls long, strewn with misfortune, that seemed to last a lifetime.
Pietersen walked out in the London derby after seven overs, Surrey having lost their first wicket, Jason Roy, with 68 already on the board. He was touch and go for this match, tweeting earlier in the day that he was hopeful that a dicky calf would not hold him back. He was certainly not in the mood to be restrained.
He had even told Andrew Flintoff in an interview on Sky that he was still good enough to make it into England’s Test top order batting left-handed with no pads.
The match before, against Essex, he told talkSPORT that he might play for South Africa in the 2019 World Cup. Expect him to take off a mask and reveal himself to be Jeremy Corbyn before his next T20 Blast outing. Things went awry immediately. He pushed his first ball to midwicket, set off, and stopped entirely.
There did not seem to be a call: Finch’s reaction suggested if there was, he didn’t hear it, racing to the middle of the pitch before he recognised that Pietersen wasn’t playing ball. He was run out by a distance. Comedy ensued.
At that point, Pietersen realised that he would need a runner. After discussions with Middlesex captain Brendon McCullum, which from a distance did not seem the most amicable, the game was delayed by 10-minutes as Roy – you’d have been a brave soul to ask Finch as he was walking off – kitted up again and walked out to do Pietersen’s bidding. But just as Roy made it out to the wicket, Middlesex, incensed by the delay, held up time themselves by getting into a huddle to make Surrey wait some more. Under the playing regulations McCullum could have refused but he agreed to the request, suggesting later: “I just wanted to make sure it didn’t bother us and we got on with the game. What you don’t want to do is get his back up because he could have played a sublime hand so the smart thing was accept that he needed a runner and to remain on task.” Agencies