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Taxi! Follow those Englishmen

If it's Thursday it must be KP in Port Elizabeth. Or hang on, isn't that Freddie in Durban?

Kevin Pietersen celebrates the dismissal of Scott Styris, Bangalore Royal Challengers v Deccan Chargers, IPL, 8th game, Cape Town, April 22, 2009
Pietersen has taken his captaincy duties pretty seriously, as he demonstrates here by making a face © AFP

Cricket tours to India used to involve an obligatory big-game hunt, and I'm beginning to understand the feeling. Not that I'm looking to bag any trophies, you understand. Just that the pursuit around South Africa of two of the biggest beasts out here is in danger of assuming Captain Ahab / Moby Dick proportions. I'm talking, of course, about Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff.

The fascination is more than parochial, although as an English journalist I obviously feel obliged to cover their every gesture in nit-picking detail. But the Indian Premier League is so keen to flaunt its wealth that the market-economy angle is too good to ignore. As you will surely know by now, KP and Fred were both valued at auction at $1.55m, which means there is a certain fascination about the financial worth of the players they are getting out to or being pummelled by.

And so, on Saturday, we had Flintoff being hit for three sixes in four balls by Abhishek Nayar ($40,000 in 2008, upped to $100,000 this year). Last night, meanwhile, Pietersen was stumped off Pragyan Ojha ($30,000). The old cliché about cricket being a great leveller probably never had this in mind.

The follow-the-money tour has made life rather hectic for my travel agent (me). After a weekend in Cape Town, it was off to Port Elizabeth on Monday to see the two titans lock horns (this amounted to four balls from Pietersen to Flintoff, one of which he pulled for four). Yesterday was KP in Cape Town and today it's Fred in Durban. KP arrives to paw the turf at his old stamping ground here tomorrow, before a flight to Cape Town on Saturday takes in Fred again.

Then it's KP in Port Elizabeth (Sunday), Fred in Durban (Monday), KP in Durban (Wednesday) and Fred at Centurion (Thursday). Five successive days in St John's Wood starting on May 6 is going to feel a bit one-paced. Perhaps I can reach Lord's via Edinburgh.

In some respects, Flintoff has it the easier of the two. He gets cheered rather than booed when he walks out to the middle, and as a non-captain doesn't have to face the press after every game. On Monday, he ended up on the winning side against a plainly hacked off Pietersen, who was then charged with dissent just to rub it in.

And yet I've been quite taken with Pietersen so far. He's more alert in the field than any of his England colleagues, often tidying up and anticipating overthrows, and takes his captaincy duties very seriously indeed. When Praveen Kumar was hit on the head last night by a return from his wicketkeeper, Pietersen applied a fatherly arm round the shoulder. Jacques Kallis, one of the senior South Africans in his side and as such not the first person you might think would warm to Pietersen, is known to be impressed.

Now, if he could just could stay in one city for more than 40 overs, my travel agent would be a very happy man indeed.

Lawrence Booth is a cricket correspondent at the Guardian. He writes the acclaimed weekly cricket email The Spin for guardian.co.uk

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