Jarvis ensures a low-key return for Pietersen
Surrey 145 for 4 (Davies 41*, Jarvis 2-50) v Lancashire
When Kevin Pietersen began his last innings for Surrey three weeks ago, he did so convinced that an England recall was in his hands if only he would score enough runs. He certainly did that, plundering an unbeaten 355 against Leicestershire, but to no avail. When he had advanced to 326 after the second day, he was informed by Tom Harrison and Andrew Strauss that he should consider himself a former England cricketer.
Most assumed that would be that in first-class cricket - and perhaps all English cricket. Few had Pietersen marked down as the sort content to play in front of a sparse crowd at The Oval on a gloomy day when floodlights were needed to make cricket possible. Yet, after missing the final stages of the Indian Premier League with calf and Achilles problems, Pietersen told Surrey that he would be available - just as he had originally intended - for Lancashire's visit in the Championship. Given Pietersen's first-class average of 99.50 for Surrey, the club were in no mood to resist, especially as Lancashire arrived as the Division Two leaders.
With most English cricket followers absorbed in another engrossing Test match, albeit briefly diverted by Chris Gayle's unbeaten 151 in the Natwest T20 Blast, there was little attention on Pietersen's return. Perhaps that was just as well.
After getting off the mark with a classic Red Bull run first ball, Pietersen lasted just two more deliveries. Few players would have survived the ball that snared him, a Kyle Jarvis delivery that seamed and bounced late, beseeching an edge from Pietersen's bat en route to Paul Horton at first slip. Pietersen was left to trudge off at an anaemic pace, perhaps wondering how many times he will do so again. After Surrey's next Championship game - against poor Leicestershire again - he is scheduled to go to the Caribbean Premier League. Do that, and Pietersen risks being out of sight and out of mind to English cricket.
He was not the only player in exile from international cricket at The Oval. The nature of Jarvis's absence is very different: self-imposed rather than enforced. It is a source of great regret to Zimbabwean cricket that Jarvis, who moves the ball at considerable pace and, as Pietersen would testify, can generate surprising bounce, no longer represents the country of his birth. Zimbabwe could rather have done with Jarvis in Pakistan, and Alistair Campbell, the managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket, has made overtures to Jarvis to return, but to no avail. "No, no I'm here in county cricket," Jarvis said when asked if there was any chance he could yet play for Zimbabwe again.
So eight Tests by the age of 24 are likely to remain the extent of his international career. Two years ago, Jarvis showcased his qualities by taking 5 for 54 in a Test in the Caribbean. It should have proved the prelude to a fulfilling international career. Instead a few months later Jarvis retired after a player dispute over salaries with the Zimbabwean board, and signed as a Kolpak player for Lancashire.
Finding fulfillment in county cricket has not been easy. After arriving at Lancashire late in the 2013 season, Jarvis spent 2014 failing to make use of his talent, instead alternating between the treatment table and second XI cricket. "There were big expectations when I arrived. I felt the pressure," Jarvis said. He credits Glen Chapple's appointment as bowling coach with adding discipline and consistency to his game. If Jarvis can still bowl too full, here inviting himself to be driven through the covers by Steven Davies, the occasional profligacy is well worth it. This season has brought 36 Championship wickets at 22.05 apiece, with Zafar Ansari following Pietersen in nicking to Horton at slip.
While Jarvis has shaped up as Lancashire's attack leader in 2015, Tom Bailey, who has a solid, dependable action, is a fine foil. After Lancashire had inserted Surrey to bat at an overcast Oval, Bailey helped to justify the decision by delivering four consecutive maidens and then inducing Rory Burns to flash behind.
If Jarvis's dismissal of Pietersen was to the best ball of the day, Jordan Clark's dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara might just have been the most satisfying. With a man at fine leg, Clark delivered a well-directed bouncer, locating a little extra pace that induced Sangakkara to pick out James Faulkner. So there was plenty to justify Alec Stewart's assertion that Lancashire were "the best bowling attack" Surrey had encountered so far in 2015, even as Davies and Jason Roy combined stylishly while the sun emerged in the final hour of the day.
Tim Wigmore is a freelance journalist and author of Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts