Somerset v Surrey, Taunton, 1st day August 28, 2012

Pietersen a class above on tough pitch

David Lloyd at Taunton

Somerset 42 for 2 trail Surrey 317 (Pietersen 163, Mahmood 4-62) by 275 runs

What is that old line about death and taxes being the only two certainties in life? By lunchtime today, most if not all of those present here would have added 'a Kevin Pietersen century before tea' to their list - and been proved right with five overs to spare.

Batting was not straightforward on a relaid pitch, especially during the morning session when the new ball seamed and swung enough to excite Somerset's pace attack, but the man whose England career is on hold (at the very least) did what had to be done: he battled through.

From then on, it became a case of how many runs Pietersen would score, whether colleagues would hang around long enough for the visitors to post a truly commanding total and when, or if, Surrey's extremely special No. 4 might lose interest and give his wicket away.

The answers, in the same order, were: 163, from 168 balls with three sixes and 20 fours; not really, because while a return of 317 looks more than handy on a surface which should take a fair bit of turn and may produce increasingly variable bounce, the visitors might have climbed to 400; and not at all, despite taking a blow to his left hand after going beyond 150.

Although Pietersen was last out, having arrived in the middle this morning with his side 44 for 2, he perished trying to do nothing more exotic than defend against Sajid Mahmood, Somerset's loan signing from Lancashire. He had batted for four hours but clearly wanted yet more time at the crease.

No-one should need reminding but if there were any doubters among the 2,000 or so spectators here today then Pietersen gave them a good old nudge: this is someone in a different class to most who play this game.

Yes, there was power - paceman Peter Trego and spinner George Dockrell were both hit for sixes. But mostly this innings will be remembered for its certainty and control. Good balls were defended with great respect while almost everything even remotely inviting was put away with crisp authority. Those who witnessed Pietersen's double century against Lancashire at Guildford in mid-July say the two knocks were similar in that there, as here, he never went into overdrive but still scored at a rapid rate.

Having been booed to the crease in Hampshire a week or so ago and then jeered all the way back after making a first ball duck in a CB40 game against his old county, Pietersen was politely applauded when he made his entrance here - and given a long and deservingly warm hand on completing the 45th first-class century of his career.

How much this hundred meant, only the man himself will know (and he continues to reject media requests in the wake of his fall-out with England). But he raised his bat to the dressing room, then acknowledged the crowd's generous response before pumping his fist two or three times - not in a showy, 'look at me' kind of way but simply, it seemed, to underline his pleasure. A hug with batting partner Gary Wilson came next, followed swiftly by another driven four off Alfonso Thomas.

"He's looked as good here as he ever has," said Surrey's team director, Chris Adams. "We've seen him hitting the ball really well in the nets and it is great for him to have gone out there and played as well as he has today.

As Adams pointed out, with a couple of balls having already gone up and down (Stuart Meaker was bowled by a low one late in Surrey's innings) the pitch "was not all in favour of the batsmen". And Pietersen, given all that is going on and with a crucial meeting with England captain Andrew Strauss coming up at some time, might not have been in the mood to play himself in.

No chance, apparently. "He has been superb in our dressing room and worked very hard," said Adams. But how is Pietersen away from cricket? "There are unresolved issues and the sooner there is a solution to those issues the better for everyone, Kevin in particular," added Adams. "My job is to focus on Surrey and make sure he is in the frame of mind to deliver."

As for Somerset, they could have done with facing a fully focused Pietersen like a hole in the head. After a weekend of woe - losing out on Twenty20 Finals Day yet again and then being eliminated from the CB40 48 hours later - they must win this match to have any hope of challenging hard for that elusive Championship title.

The hosts kept 10 of their opponents on a tight rein with only their former all-rounder, Zander de Bruyn, going past 30. And he didn't make many more than that. But Pietersen dominated them so completely that the loss of openers Arul Suppiah and Marcus Trescothick before the close came as no real surprise.

A win here should secure Surrey's Division One status. One thing is already certain, though: they are the only winners out of the rift between England and Pietersen.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Keith on August 30, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Strauss' retirement from cricket ought to refresh the stale atmosphere of the past weeks. New captain Cook needs a wingman for his flying squadron to India toward the end of the year. Look for Cook to find a way through the thicket and settle down the dressing room, which will be an excellent way for him to establish his man-management credentials. If he cannot or will not do this, then I pity the poms as they embark on walking the hot coals of subcontinental spin.

  • moginraj on August 29, 2012, 15:16 GMT

    eng shud really take KP back... i think they will struggle esp in odis without him... also, if all the mistake was from KP's side, i can side with most of the eng fans... but looks like KP was also treated badly by some of his teammates and the management(releasing private convs etc)... it takes two to tango... so eng shud call him up and settle the issues i feel.... esp with india tour coming up, he's a better player of spin than the rest..

  • Robert on August 29, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    KP showed his class. Wish I was in the crowd to see it - what an entertainer as well as a great cricketer

  • John on August 29, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    Obviously a great innings by KP and sod's law it's against my team and had KP been playing for England we might have been firmly ahead in the game. No one has ever doubted his talent etc. As for the game , Surrey (due to KP) are probably ahead as it stands esp as Somerset are without Craig and Nick for various reasons , but my guess is that the weather will yet again affect this game. As I posted before , god seems to have stalked Somerset cricket club with a raincloud all season. Also strange to see Saj (who is out of favour with lowly Lancs) playing for Somerset

  • John on August 29, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    unbelieveable. Still no one gets it. Let me give an analogy. You have a guy who works for your distribution company. He is a brilliant worker , can multitask , fast , efficient etc etc. Best worker you can have. Problem is you then find out that he is either nicking stock or telling customers to go elsewhere to get a better deal etc. Would you still want to employ that person?

  • natmastak on August 29, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    England dont deserve kp.

  • Andrew on August 29, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    Kevin who?????????????????

  • Dummy4 on August 29, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    KP is making it very difficult for England to keep ignoring him, and fans here clearly think that the England management is at fault for his absence from the England team. KP is the author of his own downfall. There is no team in the world that should allow one man to dictate terms, and the ECB are correct to have dropped him, at least until he learns this critical lesson. The fact that he is scoring runs emphasises the point that KP's petulant behaviour and inability to be part of a team, is a huge pity for him and England. His success for Surrey emphasises how badly he has let himself and England down. It is KP's own fault, not the ECB's!

  • Arif on August 29, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    First Gayle for WI and now Kevin for England,boards don't handle special talents like the way Pak handled Akhtar.

  • Jay on August 28, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    It seems to me England love MEDIOCRITY. Cause that's what some of the their batsmen are - MEDIOCRE ! KP was brilliant in this game. I was happy to catch some of the highlights and my word, he was simply superb. England have missed out BIG TIME ! But no, they will continue to shrug this all off and live in self denial. I hope their team takes a deep plunge into the abyss. Bopara ? Morgan ? hahahaha.

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