Pietersen makes headlines, but not many runs
Worcestershire 376 for 6 beat Surrey by 286 by 90 runs
Well played Vikram Solanki and Gareth Andrew but, despite hundreds that came from 68 and 58 balls respectively, they won't be making tomorrow's headlines. That honour, if making a headline can be called such a thing at the moment, will belong to a man who made 38. This was an evening of Kevin Pietersen-watching, which began with a grovelling apology for his Twitter outburst the previous day, and ended with him being caught-and-bowled by Shaaiq Choudhry, a 24-year-old left-arm spinner, in his sixth one-day match.
In the first of four Surrey appearances he is due to make between now and the end of the season Pietersen - in front of a crowd of 7,917, which is above-average for Surrey's CB40 matches this year - managed to locate the middle of the bat. That is more than happened at Lord's last week when his first-ball waft was the final push that Andy Flower needed to drop him for the first time in his career. Against one of the friendliest attacks he will have confronted since starting his international career six years ago, he faced 33 balls and struck six boundaries - one of which, an inside-out drive past mid-off, was more like the flamboyant batsman of old.
Pietersen had spent three hours watching Worcestershire pile up 377 for 6, the second-highest 40-over score in history behind Surrey's 386 against Glamorgan earlier this season, but he should have had a wicket when Matthew Spriegel dropped Andrew, albeit a tough chance, running round at long-off. Pietersen was then clubbed for two sixes and the over cost 17.
With Rory Hamilton-Brown blazing a trail during a 41-ball 80, Pietersen opened his batting account with a quick single to mid-on having been cheered to the crease but, on 25, was given a life when he gloved a sweep down the leg-side. However, even without the injured Shakib Al Hasan playing for Worcestershire, Pietersen couldn't escape his left-arm-spinner curse when he thumped a straight drive back at Choudhry. The bowler celebrated with the gusto that comes with dismissing a batsman with over 5000 Test runs.
Paul Sheldon, the Surrey chief executive, called the Pietersen deal "win, win, win" for the batsman, the county and England. It's not costing Surrey a penny due to Pietersen's central contract, and Sheldon insisted Chris Adams, the cricket manager, was fully behind the decision. But he refused to confirm any interest in Pietersen beyond the current loan spell, although with Middlesex out of the running there seem few other options for relocation.
With Steve Davies' call-up to the England squad, it has been painted as a straight swap when it comes to the Surrey starting XI, but that wasn't quite the case in this match with Davies still available. And when Davies departs, Surrey will need a wicketkeeper - Pietersen is probably reluctant to take that role - so Gary Wilson will come into the team, which means somebody who might have played had Pietersen not been here will miss out.
That could be Jason Roy, the 20-year-old batsman, who is rated by many as a future England star. He has broken into the first team at The Oval, and made 76 on his Championship debut against Leicestershire last week to go alongside an unbeaten 101 off 57 balls against Essex in the Friends Provident t20, but wasn't selected on Wednesday evening.
With Surrey out of the running for Championship promotion, the final two games of the season would be ideal experience for Roy. Ironically, the lack of dead matches in the two-division structure has meant counties have found it harder to blood youngsters and now Roy could miss out. Of course it might not be him, but the ECB look to have made a persuasive argument for Pietersen.
"This is more about England than about Surrey," Sheldon said. "We want England to win the Ashes and we want KP back in form and if we can assist in that way then we're absolutely delighted to do so."
Sheldon is right. Retaining the Ashes would have huge benefits to English cricket as a whole, but it will also be interesting to see if there is any reaction from the opposition should Pietersen have success which changes the course of end-of-season games. Surrey may be out of the running for prizes, but both their next two Championship opponents, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire, are gunning for promotion. Now they have to get past Pietersen, too.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo